"Family Values" and Social Totalitarianism
There are many who claim that the “family unit” – which they use to mean one particular kind of a family unit – is the basis of society and the reason for its successes. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The family unit existed in Europe, Middle East and India long before it existed in America or Australia. For most of that time, these societies did not do well at all. During the 1000 years of fully Christian Middle Ages, the white man was at the bottom of the world and could not hold his head up to China, India, Baghdad or Timbuktu. The shameful history of Islam continues till present day, as a part of the world that was once home to its greatest civilizations is mired in brutality, poverty, corruption, ignorance and bloodshed that does not end.
America – and the rest of the West - got ahead and became successful, not by looking backwards, but by looking forwards. It was through its embrace of – knowledge, reason, democracy, science and technology – that the First World became the First World. It success is due, not to a tradition that has existed for much longer than it has itself and that was most pronounced in the worst times in the world’s history, but to innovation and ingenuity.
And innovation also means this: In matters of lifestyle.
Nobody is denying those who want a 1950s-style home the right to have such a home. The problem is that the people who claim to be speaking for “tradition” and “family values” want to deny people the right to live any other way. And this is in stark violation of liberty promised by Western Constitutional covenants, which means first and foremost the liberty to decide one’s lifestyle and to be able to choose whether – to have a 1950’s style home; to practice polygamy as do the Muslims and the Mormons; to be single and unattached; to be a single parent; to be homosexual or bisexual; or to have a man-woman relationship and family life in which the partners relate differently as they did in 1950s and afford each other greater equality and greater freedom.
Sure, there are many who claim that the nuclear family is much more likely to produce successful citizens than any other arrangement. Then why are the Israeli kibbutzes continuing to produce highly successful people? Why do the Mormon polygamous households? Why are parents who remarried? And why was the most successful man in the world – the President of the United States of America – raised by a single mother?
A path to a liveable future does not come from embracing the worst elements of the past and forcing the same on all people. It comes from understanding the issues involved and developing reality-based covenants. In this case, the reality is that people are different and that different people would be suited with – and suitable for – different kinds of arrangements. This is the case for all of the lifestyles described, from 1950s type households to single parenting to homosexuality to childlessness to heterosexual marriages with greater equality and greater freedom.
As practiced, the family-values rhetoric is nothing less than an attempt at imposing tyranny upon the population of free countries. One lifestyle, and one form of relationships and man-woman interactions, is forced on everyone – something that has no business taking place in countries intended to be free. Freedom means freedom, and that means over one’s lifestyle. This is as much the case for those who want 1950s style arrangements as it is the case for those who want other arrangements.
Besides being used as cover for de facto totalitarianism, family values is also being used as a cover for brutality against women and children. And in all such cases, the concept of family values (as that of family, and that of values) is profaned. A man who truly cares about family, or integrity, or values, will not be going around battering his wife and raping his children. He will be holding himself to a higher standard of conduct than that and teaching the same standards of conduct to his children.
As for societies, these change all the time, and in all sorts of directions. Some changes are mostly positive; some are mostly negative; most are a mix. If the “family unit” had been responsible for success of Western societies, then the Western societies would not have been the disaster zone that they had been for the bulk of the time during which “Christian family values” had been practiced. The same is the case, as is observable presently, for “family values” of Islam.
In the family-values debate, it is time therefore to say that the king has no clothes. “Family values” were never responsible for successes of Western societies; these are result of the West’s embrace of ingenuity and innovation. Before such were practiced on a significant scale, the Western world was a massive failure. And it is to the same massive failure that many of those claiming to speak for “family values” want to return the First World.