When the media want to express a potentially controversial opinion, they turn it into a question:
What the headline editor actually means is
Having a loving family is an unfair advantage.
This is an opinion piece published by ABC in Australia. Australia, like the rest of the Anglosphere, is culturally messed-up. It’s basically about how families should be abolished because they create “unfair” advantages for children growing up in nurturing families, as if it were the fault of good parents that some other parents can’t or don’t provide as many advantages to their own children.
For the record, abolition of the family has been tried several times. The Communists (you know, the biggest all-time mass murderers on the planet, in all of history) intentionally broke up at least some families in several countries, and the Zionists tried it on themselves on their Kibbutzim (agrarian or semi-agrarian collectives in Israel). Kibbutzim still exist, though collective child-rearing was apparently mostly phased out by the late 1980s. It is extremely taboo to criticize Kibbutzim in Israel, but apparently some people who grew up in one didn’t appreciate the “favor” and would rather have had a nice, normal family.
Back to the editorial:
Some still think the traditional family has a lot to answer for, but some plausible arguments remain in favour of it. Joe Gelonesi meets a philosopher with a rescue plan very much in tune with the times.
Beware of media references to anonymous authorities. Beware of people who tell you that they’re trying to save something from itself, especially if its none of their business! That’s typically a pretext for a controversial change, or getting rid of it altogether.
So many disputes in our liberal democratic society hinge on the tension between inequality and fairness: between groups, between sexes, between individuals, and increasingly between families.
The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.
‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’
The editorial goes on with some kiss-off suggestions for “rescuing” the family as opposed to just abolishing it outright, that entail parents doing less for their own kids, and more for kids collectively, presumably through government institutions.
- Why should these people get to decide what’s best for the rest of us?! By what right?! Who died and left the philosophers God?!
- They claim to be motivated by a desire for equality. If that’s even true, which I doubt, so what? Equality isn’t a value. It doesn’t make the world a better place.
- People aren’t equal, and you can’t make them equal. Whoever has the power to take away from one and give to another is obviously above the peasants who don’t have that power. That’s presumably rather the point!
- More likely, they want to abolish families for the same reason that farmers don’t usually let their livestock raise their own broods anymore. This is an assault on your personal autonomy. Do not allow this!
- Aside from thinking of the rest of us as their livestock, the real reason the rich and powerful are open to ideas like these is that they don’t raise their own children anyway; nannies do. It sounds like a good idea to them because it’s similar to something they’re already doing.
- These philosophers want to take something away from you. The correct response is to defend what’s yours.
What would really happen if these philosophers got their way would be:
- The wealth gap would INCREASE, not decrease, because you wouldn’t be allowed to make choices for your own benefit.
- The winners would be cheaters and sociopaths, like in the former Soviet Union where a few high-ranking members of the Communist party ended up as billionaires through mafia activity, and everyone else was a peasant living in squalor.
- This scheme creates a backwards dependency chain. Quarks do not depend on electrons to maintain their integrity. Electrons do not depend on atoms to maintain their integrity. Atoms do not depend on cells to maintain their integrity. Individuals should not depend on collectives to maintain their integrity; that’s not sustainable. This scheme and others like it are already destroying the integrity of the system.
Obviously, don’t feel guilty giving your children every advantage that you have earned through your own effort!
Coming soon: tips for subscribers from a book about how to help your children, and yourself, survive in the post-employment economy. It’s full of ideas about how to learn marketable skills faster and cheaper than conventional ways.