Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Misplaced ideology

Freedom uber alles Jay Currie, a bright, readable guy, has done a few posts on SSM, as has every Canadian blogger in the country it seems. Jay surprised me with the suggestion that the government has no place in the dealing with marriage. None. Let it all go, he says:
The real issue in this entire debate is what the devil the government is doing involved in the solemnization of marriage in the first place. If the socons had their wits about them they would be pushing for the abolition of all legal recognition of marriage in whatever form. Get the State out of the bedrooms of the nation and let individuals, in consultation with their God, priest, imam or the guy down the street set up whatever arrangements they happen to want to.
I read this and I am left slack jawed. Despite what my detractors might say, that is not my normal position. I am immediately put in mind of all the wives whose husbands will simply walk away from them when the she begins to bore them, or when she gets a little wrinkly. Perhaps she's been a stay at home mom for twenty years. Oh well, she's in the street now and the state shouldn't do anything about it? Freedom, gotta love it. Maybe the wife in this situation has returned to work, but that ten year absence from the workplace has put a real crimp in what she can earn. She gave up work experience and education to raise those kids. Oh well, if it's in the name of freedom it must be ok. Maybe the wife in question is still young and still has kids to look after. It's hard for her to attract a new mate with the kids around. So now she's on welfare. Big state to the rescue. But it's in the name of freedom, so it's ok. Heck, sometimes her daughter is more attractive to her dates than she is. Can't have that. So the kids are abandoned to the state. That's great. Now the wife is "free" too. Now the state can raise them. Freedom, isn't it great? These kids raised by the state suffer from neglect and have serious trouble bonding with anyone - family, friend, and potential spouse. Perhaps they act out a bit, do some vandalism or worse. Now they're in jail or unable to create a lasting relationship that might lift them from poverty. Either way, there's more expensive government money to be spent on them now. Maybe Mom and Dad don't split up. Maybe they just bring another couple into the marriage. Now there's twice as many parents! Isn't that great? No, it isn't. Step parents have a wary reputation for a reason. Parents tend to favour their own kids. Favoritism now becomes another reason for the parents to fight and split up. Then again, maybe they split up because they can't figure out who brought home that nasty case of... whatever. Maybe mom is pretty enough to marry a really rich guy who has a large number of wives already. She hardly sees him but she lives well. Maybe lots of women take this route, leaving lots of guys with no one. Maybe that's what SSM might be good for! Freedom uber alles! ****** It's probably past time I stopped picking on Jay. The reason I chose to criticize his post as much as I have is twofold. First, I just expect better from him. Second, the error he makes is a very common one and I wanted to address it. I'm not mocking freedom, I'm just trying to point out that it isn't free. Never has been. It takes hard work and sacrifice to win your freedom. You have to create a society in which a certain floor of civilization is reached. We all know about protecting our borders and the right to own property. Families are a part of that floor; they are, like the other two things I mentioned, pillars of a free society. They provide labour and soldiers and yes, darn it, lawyers too. Other cultures have attempted to use different methods of family organization. We don't have to run that experiment. All we have to do is look at the results. Polygamy is an inferior institution. Playing fast and loose with familial commitments is not at all conducive to small government. The government has every right to favour that form of marriage which is the best and least expensive method of producing happy and productive citizens. Those citizens, and the low overhead, are what make a free society possible. The Free Market is a good thing, but marriage is a concept that it is almost entirely unsuited to. Free markets work in creating and distributing X-boxes. X-boxes don't take twenty years to develop, and they don't have feelings. You can store them in warehouses and have a clearance sale. Kids? Not so much. I'll close with some insights from Roger Scruton, in his book, The Meaning of Conservatism:
The family is the origin of self respect, being the first institution through which the social world is perceived. Almost nothing of the family union rests in contract or consent, and none of the values that arise from it can be understood except in terms of the peculiar lastingness with which it [the family] is endowed. ... conservative politics seeks to conserve social continuity, so that people may envisage generations which stretch out before and after them. Without that vision much of the motive for procreation is lost, and children become an accident, an anxiety, a reminder of one's isolation - and, in due course, the responsibility of not the parents but of the state who deprived the parents of power.
I also have a Amazon List with a number of books on it that present Big "C" Conservatism quite well, far removed from the hyperventilating mouth breather it is mis-characterized as. If social conservatives are a mystery to you, I'd suggest a look.

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