Excerpt: Family

On the Role of the Family:
A mother who is thus able to require of her child that he treat her to an ever increasing extent as a sovereign individual instead of a mere instrument for his ends has profound significance, not just for the child's growth but also for the broader social order.  In the family that facilitates his growth to competence rather than to character disorder, a framework of family "law and order" obligates the child to reciprocate the loving embrace from which he consistently benefits.  Among other things, this framework demands of the child that he play by the rules:  that he respect the persons, property and sensibilities of others and do what he agrees to do.  The family communicates and enforces this obligation as both an expression of their love and a condition of it.

Consistent with the broadly destructive effects of its social philosophy, modern liberalism has had significant success in undermining the foundations of the traditional family despite the fact that its concept of society is modeled on the family.  These effects have resulted from the agenda's legislative initiatives and from its persistent invitations to relax the constraints of conscience.  The middle and later years of the twentieth century, in particular, witnessed the agenda's advocacy of alternative life styles, sexual permissiveness, drug abuse, easy divorce and dissolution of the family; its promotion of personal gratification at the expense of personal responsibility; its contempt for religion and traditional moral codes; its support for tax codes favoring single parent families and penalizing marriage; and the institution of welfare programs fostering wide spread economic, social and political dependency.  These policies seriously undermined the foundations of American society.  They were especially devastating to the family, and most notably to black families, which had managed to remain largely intact through the first half of the century despite the effects of continuing prejudice.  These efforts to redesign the terms of human relatedness at individual, family and society levels continue in the late 1990's and early 2000's, although a succession of defeats in federal and state elections in these years have led liberal politicians to mute their customary socialist message.  This tactical change has not altered the basic liberal strategy, however, which remains that of infantilizing the population, collectivizing the major dimensions of social intercourse, and bringing them under the ever increasing control of the state.

When this level of function is present and mature adulthood has been achieved, it is reasonable to speak of the competent family as a compliment to the ideal of a competent adult.  When embedded in a society committed to liberty and cooperation, a competent family functions at or near the levels just listed by rearing its children to self-direction, self-responsibility, cooperation and altruism.  Note that the competent adult and the competent family have an obvious reciprocity between them:  competent families are best equipped to produce competent adults while competent adults are best equipped to create yet another generation of competent families.

But this argument can take still another logical step:  given earlier observations on the reciprocal influences between individuals and families, on the one hand, and the society in which they are embedded, on the other hand, it also makes sense to speak of a competent society, one which supports the efforts of competent families to rear competent adults and validates the virtues of both.  In this conception, the competent individual remains the primary economic, social, and political unit, the competent family continues to be the primary civilizing and socializing institution, and the competent society provides the overarching structure of ordered liberty.  The tradition of western individualism, it will be noted, is clearly alive and well in this conception and lies at its core.