“Abolish the Family”?

Yes, that idea is being seriously proposed to “Dismantle Capitalism”.  Here’s an archive link.

How about “no”?  Does “no” work for you?  If not, then how about “hell no”?

If anybody’s been paying attention (like, say, looking at yesterday’s blog post) they know just how important I consider family to be.  I’m far, far from alone in that.

The theory in socialist/communisty/whateverist ideas is that if you eliminate the family, and the attachment people have to family, they’ll transfer that attachment to “the people” or more accurately, the State: “The State is mother.  The State is father.  We live for the State.  We die for the State.” Once that happens, the theory goes, we can eliminate this crass materialism and people seeking their own advantage and everyone can live in harmony in a perfect socialist paradise.  And, yes, people have tried that, whether by simply trying to minimize the roll of parents, undermining the familial connection between parents and children, or even outright taking children to be raised by the state.

It never leads to a good end.

It doesn’t work.  It never works.  Even if you eliminate the biological family:  Keep people segregated.  Reproduce only by artificial insemination.  Hey make it in vitro fertilization and artificial wombs to remove the parent child relationship entirely except as purely genetic.  Raise children in creches with no idea who provided the genetic material and who among others might possibly share some of that genetic source material.  You still won’t eliminate the drive to family.

Family is important.  Family is vital. Family is what makes the world go around.  Milton Friedman noted that the smallest economic unit isn’t the individual so much as it’s the family.  In situations of voluntary exchange, individuals will routinely make changes that are detrimental to them personally if it benefits their family.  Which is a fancy way of saying that people are quite willing to make sacrifices for their families.

Take that away and people don’t then gravitate to the faceless collective of “the people” (nor to their self-selected “representatives” of the regime in charge).  Instead, they create new units of their own to replace that familial bond.  A common example of that is gangs serving as surrogate families for gang members.

You cannot eliminate the family while still retaining anything resembling human.  Separate children from their parents and they find surrogate “parents”.  Separate siblings and they find surrogate siblings.  What they do not do (with perhaps rare exceptions) is sublimate their drive for family into humanity at large.

The results of attempts to eliminate family have always been abysmal.  The substitute families almost by definition tend to be highly disfunctional (not to say that “natural” families–which have taken many forms over the course of recorded history and before–are all shining examples, but they’ve generally worked out better than not*). The idea of family has been so universal across the multitudinous cultures of humanity that one might almost think there is a reason for it, if for no other reason than, from my experience, people have generally been happier in a family relationship than not.*

So, to repeat:  “Abolish family”? How about “no”.

*Yes, I am well aware that there are counterexamples to these ideas.  And, no, I don’t have anything more than a general impression of the truth of the basic principles.  I just also happen to think that family would not have survived so long, through so many iterations, in so many widely disparate cultures, if it didn’t fulfill an important, fundamental need in the human species. “Happiness” and “worked out better than not” will serve as terms for the fulfilling of that need.

5 thoughts on ““Abolish the Family”?”

  1. It’s occurred to me that family is akin to the molecular bonds that hold matter together. Not only do these bonds account for the properties of society, but messing with the nature of these bonds can have unpredictable, and almost always negative, effects on society.

    This applies whether you’re trying to eliminate bonds (abolishing family) or saturate the field with extra bonds (defining same-sex marriage as equal in standing to opposite-sex marriage).

    Jumping over to biology, it’s a fact that large-scale mutations are almost always detrimental. The odds of a large change leading to an improvement are extremely low. The same would likely be true with large-scale mutations in a society.

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  2. Macdonough’s Song

    WHETHER the State can loose and bind
    In Heaven as well as on Earth:
    If it be wiser to kill mankind
    Before or after the birth—
    These are matters of high concern 5
    Where State-kept schoolmen are;
    But Holy State (we have lived to learn)
    Endeth in Holy War.

    Whether The People be led by The Lord,
    Or lured by the loudest throat: 10
    If it be quicker to die by the sword
    Or cheaper to die by vote—
    These are things we have dealt with once,
    (And they will not rise from their grave)
    For Holy People, however it runs, 15
    Endeth in wholly Slave.

    Whatsoever, for any cause,
    Seeketh to take or give,
    Power above or beyond the Laws,
    Suffer it not to live! 20
    Holy State or Holy King—
    Or Holy People’s Will—
    Have no truck with the senseless thing.
    Order the guns and kill!
    Saying—after—me:— 25

    Once there was The People—Terror gave it birth;
    Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth.
    Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, O ye slain!
    Once there was The People—it shall never be again!

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  3. Experiments in raising children in situations where they aren’t cared for, held enough, loved and shown affection have resulted in detrimental effects on the psyche and health of the children. The false assumption is if you simply answer for the child’s ‘basic’ needs – clean them, feed them, keep a roof over their head – they’ll become like people raised in good families now, instead of becoming like the kids who were raised in bad, neglectful families. Further, another false assumption is that employees of the state will ‘care’ for the children ‘better’ because it’s their mandated duty by the state; this assumption exists as one of those automagical things that ‘simply will be.’

    None of the assumptions will ever hold 100% true, or even 75% true, in a setting like they imagine. Simply because in such settings, there will never be enough caregivers to go around to care for all the children, as well as people simply ‘mandated’ to care for someone else doesn’t necessarily result in care. (I mean, just look at aged care or disabled care facilities even now; the worse off ones are bad. And look at the problems with the VA.)

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