June 27, 2014
FAMILY MATTERS DO MATTER!!!!
Some people are SO DARNED BRILLIANT and TALENTED…
This is only part of Goldberg’s total column. He had me laughing all the way down the page…especially in contemplating the various ways of engineering a Democratic presidential bid that has Hillary shooting herself in the foot – a ricochet from her attempt to kill her opposition.
BUT…I just had to risk a call from Goldberg’s attorneys with this post of his comments on FAMILY MATTERS. Goldberg hits a BULLS-EYE on all of the matters…FAMILY MATTERS… that matter most to us here…FROM THE HOME FRONT.
The Goldberg File
By Jonah Goldberg
June 27, 2014
[DELETED – matters in Goldberg column not related to the FAMILY or FROM THE HOME FRONT]
While I was in London, I had some really interesting conversations with some British conservatives. It was a disparate bunch, but there was a consistency to a lot of what they had to say. Nearly all the Brits I talked to think their country has lost its cultural confidence. They also think that the U.S. is in the process of doing likewise. That’s a worthy topic for discussion, and I think both contentions are largely true. But I want to talk about something else. When talking about politics, many of the same Brits would cavalierly mention that they don’t care about “social issues” or that social issues aren’t relevant in British politics. As an analytical matter, that seems right. But I couldn’t help but wonder if there’s a connection there.
Now of course, it depends what you mean by social issues. But it seems to me that as a broad generalization, social issues revolve around the role and authority of the family. Arguments about abortion, gay marriage, obscenity, sex ed, etc. all connect to the family directly or indirectly. Even gun rights have a lot to do with the family, and not just because “gun culture” is primarily learned in the home. Guns fit neatly into the conception of the autonomous family and the role of parents as primary protectors of their children.
But the key word is culture. No institution transmits culture more effectively than the family. We learn language, dialect, and accents in the home (we learn grammar at school). We get most of our religion and morality at home. We learn from our parents how citizens behave in a society and what they should expect from society and government. It’s important to keep in mind that while parents teach their kids by telling them things, the real learning comes from watching what parents do — or don’t do. Kids are wired to emulate their parents. They see how we divide our time. The habits of the heart are formed in the home.
And this is why progressives of all labels have had their eye on the family. It is the state’s greatest competition. As I’ve written a bunch of times around here, if you listen to Barack Obama’s vision of America, it’s one where there’s the state and the individual and pretty much nothing in between. Civil society, mediating institutions, and other “islands of separateness” are problems in Obama’s eyes. Well, the family is the truest island of separateness. In the Life of Julia, the state is her family.
I’m reminded of a passage from Liberal Fascism where I am discussing “children’s rights” — a concept developed precisely to get the state into the home as quickly as possible:
Since Plato’s Republic, politicians, intellectuals, and priests have been fascinated with the idea of “capturing” children for social-engineering purposes. This is why Robespierre advocated that children be raised by the state. Hitler — who understood as well as any the importance of winning the hearts and minds of youth — once remarked, “When an opponent says ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already . . . You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this new community.'” Woodrow Wilson candidly observed that the primary mission of the educator was to make children as unlike their parents as possible. Charlotte Perkins Gilman stated it more starkly. “There is no more brilliant hope on earth to-day,” the feminist icon proclaimed, “than this new thought about the child . . . the recognition of ‘the child,’ children as a class, children as citizens with rights to be guaranteed only by the state; instead of our previous attitude toward them of absolute personal [that is, parental] ownership — the unchecked tyranny . . . of the private home.”
James Pethokoukis cites a fascinating passage from George Weigel’s biography of Pope John Paul II:
Perhaps the hardest-fought battle between Church and [Poland’s] regime involved family life, for the Communists understood that men and women secure in the love of their families were a danger. Housing, work schedules, and school hours were all organized by the state to separate parents from their children as frequently as possible. Apartments were constructed to accommodate only small families, so that children would be regarded as a problem. Work was organized in four shifts and families were rarely together. The workday began at 6 or 7 a.m., so children had to be consigned to state-run child-care centers before school. The schools themselves were consolidated, and children were moved out of their local communities for schooling.
Marriage Is Great for Straight People, Too
Now I don’t think today’s progressives (at least not most of them) are consciously at war with the traditional family. But they are certainly not its biggest fans, either. Perhaps the most depressing thing about the Democratic party is that its electoral success hinges on the continuing unraveling of the traditional family. The more Julias, the better. Democrats have a huge advantage among single women. Married women recognize that the government can never be a family.
Getting married was once a celebrated life goal. It still is for millions of people, of course, but it’s less and less celebrated as a cultural priority — at least not for heterosexuals. One of my biggest peeves is that 99 percent of the time you hear a liberal saying anything positive about marriage, it’s about gay marriage. And now that we’re getting gay marriage, some activists don’t feel the need to saying anything nice about it at all.
Think about how often you hear politicians, economists, educators, and journalists talk about the importance of going to college. Now consider that getting married is about as beneficial to your lifetime economic prospects as going to college. And let’s be clear: It is far better for children to grow up with married parents (even if they didn’t go to college!) than it is for them to grow up with a single parent with a degree in gender studies from Princeton.
Charles Murray exposed the ugly secret of the American elite in his book Coming Apart: The rich and successful are closeted traditionalists when it comes to how they raise their own children. They’re just horrible hypocrites when it comes to everyone else’s children. “It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, told the New York Times.
As Charles puts it, the biggest problem with today’s elite is that they refuse to preach what they practice.
Anyway, I guess my point is that when I hear people say they don’t care about social issues but they worry about a loss of “civilizational confidence,” creeping socialism, and the rest, I just wonder if they’re not part of the problem. I’m not saying that there’s a direct link between, say, being pro-life and supporting laissez-faire capitalism. But I do think that much of what passes for laissez-faire capitalism is an artifact of our cultural heritage, and that cultural heritage is formed and transmitted by cultural institutions. Change those institutions, subvert them to the state by making them dependent on the state, and the culture goes with them.
Not All “Social Engineering” Is the Same
Opponents of child tax credits and the like are shouting “social engineering!” I like and respect some of these critics, but I think that this is an asinine criticism.
Think of it this way. I love artificial reefs. They provide new habitat for all kinds of wildlife. Over time a pile of concrete or a sunken oilrig can turn into a whole vibrant ecosystem. But it is absolutely true that building artificial reefs is a kind of meddling with the natural order. I have no problem with meddling with the natural order if the meddling helps the natural order heal from other negative meddling we do all of the time. The oceans are overfished and too polluted. Why not help counteract that?
As Brad Wilcox, Ramesh Ponnuru, Robert Stein, and other champions of a conservative family policy will tell you, their proposals are aimed at counterbalancing the burdens liberal social policy has put on families. It’s a bit like Bill Buckley’s famous line about moral equivalence. If one man pushes old ladies in front of oncoming buses and another man pushes old ladies out of the way of oncoming buses, you simply cannot describe both men as the sort who push old ladies around.
If one political party wants to engineer family formation and another political party is invested in engineering the destruction of families, you simply can’t denounce both approaches as “social engineering.” Or I guess you can, but doing so is dumb.
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