Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is the bishop out of order?

The Catholic Church is struggling right now. The latest news is that a Catholic bishop, Mgr Jean-Michel di Falco, has spoken out against parties wanting to restrict immigration into France. Why? The Catholic bishop offers up this theology:
It would be betraying Christ not to proclaim over and over again today his message of love for all, without discrimination of any sort. Remaining silent would be to renounce him. Is the Church like one of those luxury hotels rising arrogantly over shanty towns where everything is arranged so that tourists don't have to come into contact with the misery and poverty? And are the walls of our cathedrals too thick to be permeated by the voices of those who suffer? God speaks through immigrants also. And what if it were the face he takes on to make us rediscover that which is essential? While our indifference and our disdain do not grasp the full relevance for today of Christ's words: "They have eyes that don't see and ears that don't hear."

I wish the bishop would think these things through. Not much can survive such a theology and certainly not the Church.

I'll begin with my minor criticism of his position. If Catholic France were to follow this policy, then Catholic France will abolish itself. If Catholics show their virtue by the degree to which they welcome the mass immigration of Muslim Africans into their country, then you might as well start taking down the cross and putting up the star and crescent.

Is it really the destiny of the Church to abolish itself?

My major criticism is that the bishop's theology dissolves the particular relationships that we are made for in favour of an abstract universalism - and this goes against the Old and New Testaments, the natural law and church tradition.

What the bishop is arguing is that it is wrong to have a particular love for your coethnics, as a particular love discriminates against those who aren't part of your ethny. We should have a love for all without discrimination is the key to the Bishop's theology.

But how then can our other particular loves be defended? Am I allowed to have a paternal love for my daughter as a father? Isn't this a particular love, a love that discriminates, rather than an abstract universal love for everyone equally? What about my wife? Don't I have a particular love for her that is designed to be to the exclusion of all others? How can this be, if there only exists a universal, non-discriminatory love? And is it moral for me to honour my own parents, rather than everyone's parents equally?

Isn't it true that secular moderns use very similar language to that of the bishop to argue against the traditional family? Don't secular moderns say that it doesn't matter what form the family takes, what matters is that we love without discrimination? Therefore, argue the secular moderns, it doesn't matter if a woman deliberately creates a fatherless family, or if we have families with two fathers and no mother. How can the bishop argue in principle against these secular moderns when he is so closely aligned to them?

The Bishop is leaving no place for fidelity: no place for the particular relationships that call us to a service that is selfless in one sense but that nonetheless fulfils important aspects of self and identity

His is a theology that is dissolving of true human relationships.

One final point. The bishop assumes that it is migrants who are the voice of suffering. That is a rash assumption. It is just as likely to be the native French who feel abandoned by those in power; who feel powerless; who feel intimidated; who are subject to violence.

Why is the bishop indifferent to their cause?

A Christian has a choice when it comes to relationships. He can interpret Christ's message the way that the bishop has, as dissolving particular loves and duties in favour of a non-discriminatory, universal love.

The choice made traditionally by the Church, and the one that fits more consistently with the Bible and with natural law, is to retain the particular loves and relationships we were made for, but to recognise that one of these particular relationships is with the stranger, who is made in God's image.

If you take the second option, the one held by the Church through most of its history, then you need to order the relationships in such a way that our duty to each can be upheld, so that one relationship doesn't rule out the others, and each is given its due weight.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why a feminist opposes marriage

Jessica Valenti is a well-known American feminist. She has written a brief post called "The Marriage Con" explaining her opposition to marriage.

She begins by noting that conservatives have defended marriage by arguing that it helps to channel male aggression and sexuality in socially productive ways and that it has emotional benefits for women.

She doesn't bother to rebut these claims. She just states that:
The truth is that this desperate nostalgia for traditional marriage and antiquated gender roles will never be stronger than women’s will to be free from constraining norms.

That's the liberal autonomy theory again. Jessica Valenti has decided that the primary good in life is to be autonomous (to be self-determining). She therefore doesn't like traditional marriage as it includes gender roles which are, to a certain extent anyway, not self-determined but predetermined.

Jessica Valenti has elsewhere said that:
My parents have a wonderful marriage, but they have been together since my mother was 12, married when they were just teenagers and are barely ever separated. They even work together. As a result, I have always thought of marriage as involving the loss of a certain amount of autonomy.

Note how the autonomy principle trumps everything else. It doesn't matter if the decline of marriage sends young men off the rails; it doesn't matter if the decline of marriage leaves many women lonely and sad; nor does it matter if her parents enjoyed a wonderful marriage based on a strong sense of fidelity.

The fact remains that traditional marriage has the potential to curb her autonomy; therefore she rejects it as antiquated.

This story has another interesting angle, though. Back in 2009 Jessica Valenti met the man of her dreams and got married. When trying to justify how she reconciled her anti-marriage feminism and her personal decision to marry she said:
“You come to a point where you give up on holding yourself to a perfect feminist ideal — it just feels stifling."

Is that not some kind of unprincipled exception? The reality is that most people do not always and every time put autonomy first. There are other great goods in life that also deserve a look in. One of them is the desire to marry and form a family. This necessarily is a "constraining norm". It means that we commit ourselves to one other person to the exclusion of others. It means that we accept parental responsibilities that can be onerous at times. But we do it for the sake of a greater good.

Jessica Valenti's wedding - yet politically she is against marriage

Jessica Valenti can't bring herself to admit this, as it would put a dent in her belief in autonomy as the overriding good in life, and so she justifies her marriage by saying that she was tired of always holding herself to an ideal.

Roebuck's advice to men

I'd like to recommend that readers take a look at a post by Alan Roebuck at The Orthosphere titled Advice To The Single Young Man.

It does not attempt to cover everything in detail, but overall I found it a "remoralising" approach to the issues.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America

The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America was published back in 2004. I've only just now started to read it; so far it has been very impressive (the author is Eric Kaufmann, a politics professor in London).

Kaufmann provides much evidence that the American elites, for most of America's history, had what he calls a "double-consciousness." On the one hand, they had an ethnic consciousness of themselves as Anglo-Saxons, on the other hand they were committed to a liberal view which led to universalist ideas and to open borders. The two commitments contradicted each other, but nonetheless were held in tandem.

The first chapter of the book deals with Anglo-Saxons as the dominant ethnic group in the U.S. Kaufmann notes that on the eve of the American Revolution the white population was over 60 per cent English and nearly 80 per cent British. There was a commonly held belief at the time that the liberal political principles held by the Americans had their genesis in the Anglo-Saxon past; the ethnic and the liberal political became bound together.

Thomas Jefferson, for instance, said after the drafting of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 that Americans were,
the children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; and on the other side, Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon chiefs from whom we claim the honour of being descended, and whose political principles and form of government we have assumed

Jefferson helped to inaugurate the study of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Virginia in the early 1800s. He also said:
Has not every restitution of the antient Saxon laws had happy effects? Is it not better now that we return at once into that happy system of our ancestors, the wisest and most perfect ever yet devised by the wit of man, as it stood before the 8th century?

But Jefferson had a universalistic view of rights which led him to support open borders. He wanted America to be a "sanctuary" for those seeking "participation in the rights of self-government". He wanted open borders despite his belief that migration might lead America to become "a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted, mass".

Kaufmann writes of "how Anglo-American thinkers expressed the latent tensions between their dominant ethnicity and their commitment to liberal-egalitarian principles".

Kaufmann sees this Anglo-Saxonism as being "optimistic" up to the late 1800s. What he means is that those thinking of themselves as a dominant Anglo-Saxon ethny were optimistic that they were assimilating all others to themselves. For instance, in 1887 Samuel Harris, the Episcopal bishop of Michigan, said:
The consistency of divine purpose in establishing our evangelical civilization here is signally illustrated by the fact that it was primarily confided to the keeping of the Anglo-Saxon race...Refusing to depart from its own type, it has compelled other people to conform to that type and constrained them to accept its institutions, to speak its language, to obey its laws.

He is saying that it was given, as part of divine destiny, to the Anglo-Saxon race to establish an evangelical civilization in America and that this race had made others assimilate to it.

Kaufmann seeks to explain at the end of the third chapter how people could live with contradictory beliefs, i.e. how Anglo-Americans could see America as "an Anglo-Saxon country which ought to defend its ethnic boundaries" and at the same time hold to "the universalist idea of the United States as a refuge for the world's oppressed and a composite melting pot".

Kaufmann claims, first, that there was a "general absence of reflexivity" in much nineteenth century social thought. Second, he notes that laws of heredity were understood less scientifically in the 1800s, which meant that people believed that culture could change a person's race. It was thought possible that if people joined an Anglo-Saxon culture, then over time they would start to develop the physical, racial characteristics of Anglo-Saxons as well.

It seems to me that the Anglo-Americans had put themselves in a fix. They had made liberalism part of what defined their ethnicity. Therefore, they were in a losing position. Asserting their ethnicity meant advocating a set of political values which would, in the long run, fatally undermine their ethnicity.

The answer was to see the liberalism for the dissolving agent that it was. But it you have staked so much and built a sense of your destiny and identity on adherence to liberalism, that was no doubt a difficult thing to do. That's particularly the case when, early on, the non-Anglo-Saxon populations were closely related groups like the Germans and Swedes, who could be assimilated over time, and when America was rapidly growing and gaining in status, so that the idea of a manifest destiny seemed to be playing out.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Do Ukrainians really want a "state nation"?

Timothy Garton Ash is a professor of European Studies at Oxford. He has also called himself an FLIO - a friend of the liberal international order.

He has written a newspaper column on the unrest in the Ukraine in which he states that the two possibilities are that the current violence will tear the country apart or else help to bring about the creation of a "state nation".

What is a state nation? Professor Garton Ash offers the following definition:
A state-nation is one in which a shared civic national identity is created by the state, rather than a single ethnic national identity being embodied in it.

A state nation would mean the end of a meaningful national tradition for Ukrainians. In reality it is just a new term for a liberal civic nationalism in which a shared commitment to liberal political institutions and values is what is supposed to hold a nation together.

I've written a detailed criticism of civic nationalism before. A civic nationalism is dissolving of a national tradition. First, it means that anyone, anywhere can be a member of the nation, just so long as they uphold liberal values. That not only encourages open borders and uncontrolled migration, it also makes a national identity indistinct - the identity of one civic nation is very close to those of the others.

Another problem with a civic nationalism is that it is not the end point in the unfolding of liberal principles. It is merely a staging post. Once it is achieved the next step for liberals is to complain that there is still discrimination on the basis of citizenship, i.e. that benefits are given by the state to citizens that are not given to non-citizens. In the longer run, the moral focus shifts from civic nationalism to internationalism.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Discriminatory for men to be taller than women?

Liberalism is in some ways in conflict with heterosexuality.

Heterosexuality is the attraction of complementary opposites: of the masculine and feminine. Therefore, heterosexuals generally celebrate sex distinctions.

Liberals want individuals to be autonomous in the sense of leading self-defining and self-determining lives. But this means that qualities that we don't get to self-define or self-determine are taken to be negative restrictions on the individual. One of these predetermined qualities is our sex - the fact of being male or female. Therefore, a liberal society comes eventually to the idea that sex distinctions, rather than being celebrated, ought to be made not to matter.

So the political aims of liberalism will collide at times with our personal desires as heterosexuals.

Here's an example. Men are generally taller than women. There are radical moderns who don't like this, as they see it as an embodiment of sex distinctions. A Swedish newspaper, for instance, in reviewing a television documentary on the issue, told its readers that men ought not to be taller than women and that the only reason they were so was due to discrimination:
But researchers have increasingly begun to explore the role sex discrimination plays in injustice and health risks that particularly affects girls and women around the world

The anthropologist Françoise Heritier conducted research in Burkina Faso for many years before she caught the eye of sex discrimination and the different conditions that gave girls and boys during infancy

The mothers did not feed all the children immediately if they cried. It was the boy who was fed the children directly, while the girls' children had to wait, says Françoise Heritier.

According to several anthropologists, it could be thousands of years of discrimination that underlies the difference in size between males and females.

That reminded me of the views of the radical feminist Alexandra Kollontai in the early 1900s. In her public lectures she longed:
for the female body itself to become less soft and curvy and more muscular ... She argues that prehistoric women were physiologically less distinct from men ... Accordingly, sexual dimorphism may (and should) again become less visible in a communist society.

So that's what the political philosophy aims at. It longs for men and women to become the same, even bodily.

But the heterosexual longings of women are the exact opposite:
Is height important in matters of the heart? For women it seems the answer is a definite yes.

And, much to the dismay of those holding feminist ideals, it seems that women want a man who towers over them because it conforms to gender stereotypes and makes them feel protected, secure, feminine and delicate.

According to the study data, the dominant reasons females cited for preferring a tall partner are matters of protection and femininity.

"As the girl, I like to feel delicate and secure at the same time."

So how do people manage to combine both liberal beliefs and heterosexuality? They compartmentalise the two. They assent at a formal level to the liberal principle by which sex distinctions aren't meant to matter, whilst unofficially doing what works for them as heterosexuals (this is Lawrence Auster's idea of the unprincipled exception at work). Possibly too it is an example of doublethink.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The matter with Kansas

Salon is a lefty magazine, but I found an interesting article there on American politics. The author, Thomas Frank, observes that the economic decline in a state like Kansas hasn't led the working-class to move leftwards but instead to become conservative. The working-class, populist rebellion is focused on opposition to a liberal elite.

What interests Thomas Frank is that the powerbrokers on the left believe that they can safely ignore the rightward shift of the working-class. Why? Because they believe that they can rely electorally on a "coalition of the ascendant," namely upper-class professionals, minorities and millenials (Generation Y).
These days, the big thinkers of the Democratic Party have concluded that they can safely ignore the things I described. They’ve got a new bunch of voters these days — the famous “coalition of the ascendant,” made up of professionals, minorities and “millennials” — and it pleases them to imagine that with this unstoppable army at their back they will win elections from here to eternity. There is no need to resolve the dilemmas I outlined in “Kansas,” no need to win back working-class voters or solve wrenching economic problems. In fact, there is no need to lift a finger to do much of anything, since vast, impersonal demographic forces are what rescued them from the trap I identified. They now have the luxury of saying, as Paul Krugman did on the day after the 2012 election, “Who cares what’s the matter with Kansas?”

That's interesting. In Australia politicians still have to win over some of the working-class vote to get over the line. So they still have to be seen to care to some degree, at least around election time. But what happens when that's no longer necessary? It seems that the left-wing party can then drop the pretence.

Maybe we traditionalists will end up working amongst those left behind.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wealthy women prefer conservative men

I'm not going to rest a lot on stories like this, but they're worth a quick look:
Nearly 77 per cent of democrat female millionaires, and 82 per cent of female millionaires overall, said they 'would prefer to date a conservative man,' according to

So even leftist wealthy women would prefer to marry a conservative man. Why? Some of the reasons given include the following:
'I don’t want a liberal man, I want someone who believes in a traditional family,' said one female millionaire.

Apparently, democratic female millionaires also find liberal men 'less masculine'.

'Simply put, conservative men are real men. They are the breadwinners, they wear the pants and they treat you like a lady,' one woman said.

There's a similar story about a government sponsored initiative in Switzerland to have 20% of men work part-time. A newspaper interviewed several young, ambitious careerist women, but none of them wanted their men at home:
Although all of them wanted an equal partner, none wanted a househusband who does the housework and organises the family.

One woman, Tamara Hernli, put it very strongly:
To still have on cleaning gloves, when the wife comes home from work and longs for sex would be the absolute horror scenario.

I don't think this means men shouldn't help out at home. It does mean, though, that it would be a mistake for a husband to think he was going to establish the right kind of relationship with his wife by doing domestic chores. That's not what is going to nurture a heterosexual relationship.

As for part-time work, I can see it having a positive side if it allows a husband to exert more of a paternal influence at home. I wouldn't choose it for myself, though, because I've seen what happens when a work-force becomes part-time: work demands start to fill up the "time off" so that work that was once paid becomes unpaid. The ideal is, wherever possible, for men to be paid a living wage and to have enough time off, as part of their conditions, to be able to spend time at home with their families.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Will this really help Max?

Why does violence against women exist? The answer we give is important. Leftists often argue that sexual violence is part of a patriarchal system designed to dominate and oppress women. In this view, traditional masculinity itself is created to inflict sexual violence on women; therefore, the blame for sexual violence rests with the ordinary masculine man who has the power to end violence against women by turning against masculine norms.

The traditionalist view is very different. We would point out that masculinity is oriented to the physical protection of women rather than to inflicting violence; that traditional Western societies did not permit violence against women; and that violence against women is associated not with social norms but with anti-social behaviour.

Lisa Price lives in Walsall, England. A year ago she was persuaded that the leftist view was the correct one, having read some information on parenting websites. Therefore, she took the next step and decided that her son, Max, must not be raised along normal masculine lines:
Lisa, a full-time housewife, took the decision to allow Max to identify as either a girl or a boy 12 months ago, after seeing high-profile rape cases being discussed on parenting websites. "Gender stereotypes can be so damaging.

"They teach little boys to be aggressive and dominant over women," she argues. "There’s research out there saying that the whole “boys will be boys” thing basically teaches lads that it’s OK to be a certain way, because it’s in their nature to be aggressive. It’s detrimental for them and for females."

Max Price

Lisa Price also justifies her decision to raise her son to be gender neutral in standard liberal terms, namely as part of autonomous choice. This view assumes that raising a boy to be masculine will hamper his freedom to be whoever he chooses to be:
"If Max wants to wear a pink tutu and fairy wings, then he can wear it," says Lisa. "He’s just expressing himself. I don’t want to put him in a certain box and treat him that way. I want to teach him to be whatever he wants to be."

The focus here is on our sex as being something limiting or restricting to self - which assumes that our self is something set apart from our masculine or feminine being. The traditionalist view is that it is not set apart and therefore the point is not to choose a gender but to best develop the masculinity that is embedded in our identity as a man or the femininity that is embedded in our identity as a woman.

I would note here that Lisa Price herself has followed a feminine path in being a stay at home mother and that she presents herself in a recognisably feminine form. The mum wants something for her son that she has not followed herself.

I wonder too if she has considered what qualities her son will need to be successful in his life. We don't just get to choose what the opposite sex finds attractive in a partner; nor do we get to choose what demands are placed on us at school or at work or in the home. Men do still need to have masculine strengths to bear the burdens placed upon them; the questing and resilient spirit of men also helps us to forge a path and to find our higher fulfilments in life.

So Max's mum is not doing him any favours in steering him away from developing along masculine lines.

Do not let the state...

I've seen this photo at a few sites now. It's from a demonstration in France and reads: "Families of France, do not let the state be the parents of your children".

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A right-liberal thought experiment

Let's say, as a thought experiment, that right-liberals got what they wanted, so that in 50 years' time all that existed were deracinated individuals each pursuing their rational self-interest in the market.

Let's say that you were one of those individuals. Who would you then vote for? Would you vote for a right-liberal party emphasising small government, low taxes and equal opportunity, or would you vote for a left-liberal party emphasising the idea of high taxation in order to redistribute wealth from the upper middle-classes to the lower classes?

It seems to me that in the most ideal right-liberal conditions most people would vote for the left-liberal party. Why? Because it would be in their rational self-interest to do so. If all that I am told is that I must pursue the best material outcomes for myself, and I belong to the majority which will benefit from a redistributive state, then why wouldn't I vote for that state?

What right-liberals really have to think about is why someone from the majority social classes would vote against their own material self-interest and in favour of small government, low taxation and low welfare.

And the problem here for right-liberals is that the reasons people might do so are not supported by right-liberalism itself.

For instance, a working-class man might from a sense of masculine pride prefer to stand on his own two feet and support his family from his own labours rather than having things handed to him by a welfare state.

But this requires a culture of masculine honour, as well as a very strong sense of a masculine provider role, that the materialistic and individualistic ethos of right-liberalism cannot uphold. Right-liberalism does not reach deeply enough into men's souls to be able to draw on such motivations.

Similarly, if the middle-classes thought of themselves as belonging to a distinct, historic people and as having a duty to promote the highest existence of themselves as a people, then they might forego material self-interest to promote the overall well-being of their own tradition. They might then reject welfarism and statism as sapping the energy and spirit of their own people, and as disrupting intermediary forms of communal life, such as the family.

But right-liberalism is again too individualistic to allow people to form such motivations. Right-liberalism encourages us to identify with ourselves alone as individuals.

Is it really so surprising that nineteenth century right-liberalism was followed by twentieth century left-liberalism?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Would right-liberals advocate leaving America?

A reader sent me a link to a post at Bearing Drift, a website representing the Republican Party in Virginia.

It's an interesting post because it highlights how profoundly different right-liberalism is to a traditionalist conservatism.

The post is about amnesty for illegal immigrants in the U.S. The writer of the post not only wants amnesty for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, but he wants those opposing amnesty driven out of the Republican Party.

That's not surprising when he describes the aims of the Republican Party in these terms:
Free markets, free speech, and a free society — that is the cornerstone of American conservatism.

If that is all you believe in then of course you can invite the world to live in your country. As I've pointed out before, right-liberals believe in the aim of being self-made in the market. That means that they look up to economic migrants who cross the seas to improve their material standard of living - after all that's a mark of a moral life for a right-liberal.

And so the author at Bearing Drift says of the illegal immigrants:
There are 12 million people in the United States today who want a better lives for themselves and their families, whose only crime was that they came to America to do it.

And this:
Conservatives embrace the idea of more Americans coming into this country to work hard and prosper.

There is a contradiction in this kind of "conservatism" (i.e. right-liberalism). The author writes:
The Republican Party is the party that is fighting against welfare, fighting against the entitlement system, fighting for individual freedom.

And it is true that right-liberals don't like welfare or entitlements. But in pushing for open borders they are effectively guaranteeing the victory of a left-liberal statism. Those 12 million Mexican illegals are going to be amongst the biggest users of state welfare and, therefore, reliable voters for the Democrats. Whereas only 6% of immigrants from the UK in the US rely on welfare payments, 57% of those from Mexico do:
Families headed by immigrants from specific countries or areas of the world range from just over 6 percent for those immigrants from Great Britain to more than 57 percent of those from Mexico using some type of welfare.

In that sense, right-liberalism is self-defeating. It promotes open borders, which then fuels the ascendancy of the left-liberal welfare state.

It is also shallow and materialistic. The logic of right-liberalism goes something like: we should be free to pursue our rational self-interest and our rational self-interest is a materialistic one of maximising our individual profit-seeking behaviour.

This is a vision of Economic Man, one which leaves out the less "scientific" but nonetheless real human qualities of identifying as part of a larger communal tradition, one that we feel a love and affection for and that is a good in its own right.

Finally, here is a thought for right-liberals to ponder. If the Mexican economy is not as prosperous as the American one; and if that means it is a virtue for Mexicans to seek to improve their standard of living by moving to America; then doesn't that also mean it would be a virtue, if the American economy were to decline, for Americans to pack their bags and head elsewhere?

What if China ends up with a better standard of living? Is the correct moral response of Americans then to seek entry to China? Would the best Americans, by definition, be the ones who departed America?

Swiss back referendum

Some more good news from Europe. The Swiss have voted in favour of a proposal to apply limits to immigration.

This has brought criticism from government and business leaders in other European countries. Interestingly, the line of criticism has mostly been "you can't expect to trade with other countries in goods and capital if you don't have a free movement of labour".

That's not true - there's no reason why, for instance, Australia can't supply iron ore to Japan whilst Japan sells us cars, without a mass transfer of population between the two countries. You don't have to have open borders in order to trade in goods.

What the criticism of Switzerland shows is the mindset of those in charge of most European countries. They are committed to a regulation of society by markets and bureaucracies. They are pressing a market logic by which people become interchangeable units of labour rather than persons with deeply felt communal identities to uphold.

Anyway, congratulations to the Swiss People's Party for having taken the initiative to organise a referendum on the issue.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Can liberalism do without the traditional family?

Can liberalism do without the traditional family? A great many liberals seem now to be answering "yes." They want the traditional family to be, at best, just one family option amongst many. For them, family can be defined as we wish, with no particular family type being preferable.

However, there does still seem to be some hesitation amongst the political class in accepting this shift. I'm not sure that everyone in the Western political class is convinced that you can transition to a "post-fatherhood" family and still have a high-functioning system.

There's enough doubt for the time being for voices defending the traditional family to be aired in the mainstream media. The latest such voice that I noticed is Kay Hymnowitz. She has a column in the New York Times under the heading "How single motherhood hurts kids".

She begins by noting that many voices in America on both the left and the right have accepted that single motherhood is associated with poverty. She points out, correctly, that there is a different response to this: the right wants to encourage stable marriage to alleviate the poverty, the left wants the welfare state to step in to raise living standards for single mothers.

Kay Hymnowitz has looked at some of the data relating to low-income, unmarried women in the U.S. and is concerned by what she discovered. For instance, only one third of these women will still be living with the partner they had a child with when the child is five. Furthermore, these women often have children with a variety of men: 70% of children born to lower-income women will have a half-sibling by the time they're five.

There is statistical evidence that this "domestic churn" isn't good for children:
this kind of domestic churn is really bad news for kids. The more “transitions” experienced by a child — the arrival of a stepparent, a parental boyfriend or girlfriend, or a step- or half sibling — the more children are likely to have either emotional or academic problems, or both. (My own research indicates that boys, especially, suffer from these transitions.)

Part of the problem is that a nonresident father tends to fade out of his children’s lives if there’s a new man in his ex’s house or if he has children with a new partner. For logistical, emotional and financial reasons, his loyalty to his previous children slackens once he has a child with a new girlfriend or wife. Nor is it likely, from the overlooked child’s point of view, that a mother’s new boyfriend or husband can fill the gap. There’s substantial research showing that stepfathers are sometimes worse than none at all.

Kay Hymnowitz points out that a problem with the leftist solution, namely that of providing a lot of state welfare to single mothers, is that it can then make single motherhood a more attractive and viable option for women:
Increasing government largess could actually incentivize, or at least enable, parental choices that everyone admits are damaging to kids.

So what is the liberal state going to do? At the level of ideas, the liberal political class seems to be turning decisively against the traditional family. But the countervailing pressures are:
  • popular resistance as in France
  • pressure on the welfare state in some European countries
  • a deteriorating situation amongst the lowest socio-economic groups clearly related to family decline
It's a question then of which factors kick in hardest and earliest.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Successful meeting

I always like to report some good news. We had the first meeting of the Eltham Traditionalists for 2014 last week. We had three new faces and the largest number overall we've ever had. It was a great start to the year and a continuation of the modest but very consistent growth that we've had over the past year or so.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Liberalism wants to make sex distinctions - the differentiation between men and women - not matter. Someone who has really got with the liberal programme is an English musician who was once called Janine Rostron.

She has done what she can to blur gender lines, including changing her first name to Jam (her stage name is Planningtorock). She has made an album in which she claims that sex distinctions are untrue:
Rostron’s lyrics blaze with her new found confidence; on “Human Drama” she sings of gender being “just a lie”

She prefers, as far as possible, to be ambiguous in her gender:
Rostron continues to use vocal effects to de-genderise her voice – it can be hard to tell if you’re listening to a man or a woman.

She explains her decision to hide her sex in this way in terms of wanting to be self-defining:
playing around with gender alongside communicating what I feel is the emotions within the songs. Because I am really interested in expanding upon the limits that we live in – how we are defined – and it is an experiment.

It's that liberal idea that predetermined qualities that we don't get to choose, like our sex or our ethnicity, are impediments to a creative freedom to self-define who we are.

This makes her think of her womanhood as a limit on self to be liberated from, rather than a profound dimension of self and identity to be experienced and fulfilled.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

A victory in France

A week ago tens of thousands of French people protested in the streets of Paris against the family policies of the French Government.

The good news is that the French Government has backed down and has shelved plans to introduce the proposed legislation. That's a rare, but welcome, victory against the imposition of a liberal agenda in a Western country.

I thought some of the most interesting commentary on this came from a blogger named Autheuil, quoted by Tiberge at Gallia Watch. Autheuil is not sympathetic to the protests:
It didn't take twenty-four hours for the government to beat a retreat. After the success of another demonstration by the reactionary right (after all, 80,000 persons), the government announced the postponement of a law that should have already been submitted...After such a backing-off, it isn't even worth the effort to hope for the slightest societal reform before the end of his term in office.

He calls the protesters the "reactionary" right. He believes that they are currently a significant political force in France:
The government acknowledges that the reactionary right ... really weighs heavily in France. One can be in disagreement with their positions (as I am) and recognize nonetheless that they are a political force to be reckoned with. That the movement is still able, one year after the great demonstrations against "marriage for everyone," to mobilize 80,000 thanks to a threat as unlikely as "gender theory," is an important sign. The reactionary right is back in France, and it isn't an epiphenomenon, it's a groundswell, begun no doubt years ago, that will last a little while longer.

That's the terrific thing: the French mobilised to defeat an aspect of liberal ideology, namely gender theory (the idea that our sex - our being male or female - can and should be made not to matter).
What is unfortunate for the left is that they are very well mobilized but François Hollande has done almost everything in his power to dissuade part of his voters and to make them stay home in disgust during the next election. An election is won or lost on the ability to mobilize the voters. What is also unfortunate for the left is that this movement is acquiring an intellectual armature. True, it's very reactionary (in the original sense of the word) but we would be wrong to see it as just a lot of gobbledegook behind the ranting and raving about "djender". This movement is a violent opposition to the eradication of the difference between genders in Western culture. It is the anthropological protest in favor of maintaining a social structure based on the difference between masculine and feminine, implying differentiated roles, hence a different place for men and women.

Tiberge cleverly titled her post "Tradition rules the streets (for now)". Who would have thought? Usually it's the radical left that rules the streets. Note too that Autheuil is worried that the opposition to liberalism is developing an intellectual "armature". He recognises the strength that a movement gains when it learns to defend its positions intellectually. Autheuil, in the above paragraph, also fairly portrays the aims of those opposing gender theory (an "opposition to the eradication of the difference between genders in Western culture").

Finally, a reader has created a larger version of the iconic photo of the protests that I used in my previous post (if you click on it you'll see it full size).

Friday, February 07, 2014

Can Elle Hardy's definition of the right hold?

I was interested to come across a post at The Guardian titled "What's wrong with the Australian right - and how to fix it." It's written by a young woman named Elle Hardy. She claims to be a rightist, but here's the problem. She attempts to define the right as follows:

It is of course difficult to define the range of views held under the banner of those who consider ourselves "right", as it spans conservatism and liberalism. But broadly, we can class our fundamental beliefs as follows: limited government, belief in the rights of the individual, and the desire to preserve the institutions that make our democracy function.

This is the problem with attempts at "fusionism" between conservatism and liberalism. The fundamentals of liberalism remain untouched, and the role of conservatism is limited to preserving liberalism itself.

That's why Elle Hardy has not escaped that limiting framework of politics, in which the big debating point is still how to best regulate a society made up of millions of abstracted, interchangeable individuals each in pursuit of their own self-interest.

For left-liberals the answer is regulation by an interventionist, technocratic state. For right-liberals like Elle Hardy the answer is regulation by the free market (and along the formal lines of statements of individual rights). She sees the market as a source of morality and freedom; her politics is a vision of Economic Man. And so she writes:
Intellectual and moral leadership is required to bridge the gap between populist policies, with which we must grapple as ardent democrats, and the promotion of fundamentals such as free markets and natural rights.

She complains about the left,
rejecting the benefits of technological advancements such as fracking and necessary workplace relations changes to compete in a globalised economy. We need to build the intellectual heft to prosecute the case against the propensity for government intervention.

And that,
As many of the left devote their time to demonising capitalism, posting comments from their iPads, it is crucial that we continue to endorse its benefits and inherent morality...Foreign ownership of farms, and the natural shift of our economic base away from manufacturing are both positive things, and we cannot allow a selective fear of Chinese capital to flourish.

Even when she writes to defend civil society, she does so in reference to the market:
A strong civil society helps to keep government out of our lives, strengthens our interactions with the free market, and aides inclusiveness

Which leads me to the main point I want to make. We are kidding ourselves if we think that this right-liberalism is a suitable vehicle for defending the traditions we belong to. To help prove my point, take marriage as an example. What does someone with Elle Hardy's mindset think about marriage?

Not much. She writes:
Historically, the institution has much of which it should be ashamed. Marriage likely evolved due to men’s desire to secure their agricultural and human property, and ensure legitimate succession...

Marriage has been antithetical to liberty for the majority of human beings who have inhabited earth throughout the ages, most notably women (or girls, as so often has been the case). Today, in many parts of the world, legalised marriage continues to be a tool of oppression...

The history and traditions of marriage show it to be a patriarchal institution of the highest order. 
Why, then, are Western liberal democracies so polarised between defending and fighting for something which has been such a pejorative concept to so many, for so long?

According to Elle Hardy all that matters is the right to choose whatever we want as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. Therefore, the state should not restrict who may or may not marry; marriage should be a private matter in which we might marry a group of people if we so desire:
When Kevin Andrews preached his views to us last year, he disguised socio-economic disparities to make the case for marriage in his book Maybe “I do” – Modern Marriage and the Pursuit of Happiness. Central to his argument was the logical fallacy of the slippery slope: “Once the state can no longer insist that marriage involves a commitment to a member of the opposite sex, there is no ground (other than superstition) for insisting that marriage be limited to one person rather than several.”

There is no justification in his diatribe as to why government should play a role in enforcing this view. The principles of liberal democracy hold that consenting adults should be able to make any union they so wish, provided it does not interfere with the rights of others.

There is simply no role for state regulation of group marriage, homosexual marriage, or heterosexual marriage in a democracy

Finally there's this:
That which we know as marriage – a nice, albeit expensive, celebration of commitment, which comfortably dissolves into drunkenness and bad dancing – is not a bad thing in and of itself. On a semantic level, it would be futile to try to stop the use of the word marriage, or to change its heteronormative nature. But it is important for people to be able to define marriage of their own free will.

We must immediately, symbolically, give all people the right to marry whoever they choose.

I rest my case. This is liberalism and not anything that can truly be termed conservatism. She does not want to conserve an institution that is inherently meaningful, she wants to uphold the right of the individual to self-define what the institution means. It is the right of autonomous choice that matters to her and this leads her to take a very negative view of marriage as being an impediment to individual freedom, rather than an institution which fulfils aspects of our natures as men and women; which provides a relatively stable environment for the expression of marital and parental love; and which encourages individuals to invest in the societies they belong to.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

France resists

The French state is attacking the traditional family, but there is a continuing resistance from thousands of ordinary Frenchmen and women.

The attack is not exactly a subtle one. I reported a debate in the French Senate in which the Minister for the Family admitted that he was attempting to bring about "a silent revolution." One senator then stated that the aim was "to lead the family out of the fantasy of one mother, one father and one child" and to tackle the problem of the "idealized hetero-patriarchal-white family." Another senator then chimed in with this:
The child needs a father and a mother? Pure ideology, just like the concept of a traditional family, the pattern of "daddy-mommy-child" is a broken model

Well, look at the photo below. It was taken at a demonstration against the French Government's family policy that took place in Paris on Sunday. Organisers estimate the crowed at 500,000, police gave a lower but still substantial figure of 80,000.

That's a great, iconic photo. The flag of the traditional family is being raised aloft, alongside the colours of France. It represents a determination to uphold a culture of family life, in which the roles of both father and mother are considered vital, rather than dispensable.

The demonstration was also against the imposition of gender theory in French schools. The banner below simply reads "No to gender theory".

What is gender theory? Marguerite Peeters explains it well:
According to the social engineers who have been fabricating the gender theory since the 1950s, the feminine and masculine identity, the ontological structure of the woman as spouse, mother and educator, the anthropological complementarity of man and woman, fatherhood, heterosexuality (“heteronormativity”, dominant in all cultures), marriage and the traditional family would not exist per se, would not be good in themselves, but would be social constructs: sociological phenomena, social functions constructed over time, stereotypes to deconstruct by way of education and culture as they are deemed discriminatory and contrary to equality.

The French Government has begun to implement a policy (The ABCD of Equality) to push along the process of deconstructing gender. This has led to an effective protest in which parents have withdrawn their children from schools for one day a month. At some schools, about one third of students have been withdrawn.
Thousands of French parents kept their children at home on Monday following warnings that schools were introducing "gender theory" classes that would teach pupils they could choose their own sexual identity.

The government was forced to deny what it called "totally false" rumours that children would be told sexuality was a mere "social construct", after a nationwide boycott of classes.

Well, it's difficult to accept that the claims are totally false when the ABCD of Equality is explained this way:
The program provides detailed advice online for teachers about how they can challenge young children's views about what is typically seen as "girlish" or "boyish." In acting out fairy tales, for instance, boys should be encouraged to play the part of Little Red Riding Hood, and girls the part of the wolf.

The program also urges teachers to encourage reflection on gender issues in other areas such as physical education, art, and history. They might examine the Renoir painting Madame Charpentier et ses enfants, the government suggests, and note that poor Mrs. Charpentier is forced by convention to wear a suffocative corset, and that little boys, as well as little girls, used to wear dresses.

In history lessons, the ABCD of Equality suggests teachers point out that Louis XIV wore high heels and ribbons.

And there's this:
There was anger last June when a primary school-teachers' union suggested pupils should be read a book called Daddy wears a dress about a boxer who becomes a ballet dancer.

And a report by the IGAS (General Inspectorate of Social Affairs) recommends:
"replacing the terms 'boys' and 'girls' by the neutral terms 'friends' or 'children', telling stories in which the children have two dads or mums, etc." According to the report, the aim is to "prevent sexual differentiation and the interiorisation by the children of their sexual identity"

It is an agenda that ought to be resisted and that is what thousands of French people are now doing.