Destroying the Family to Achieve Utopia
Two eggheads make the case for eliminating “unfair advantage.”
For decades, progressives have embraced radical egalitarianism, a concept demanding the elimination of all differences in sex, race and class, and all the “inequality” such differences inevitably produce. Freedom and individuality would be completely crushed in the attempt to equalize outcomes, irrespective of vast differences in talent, ambition, physical attributes, etc. But leftists consider that a reasonable tradeoff to achieve their dream socialist utopia. They completely ignore the historical wreckage and the millions of deaths that have accompanied every attempt to make such concepts as sloth and ambition, or talent and a lack thereof, completely interchangeable in every “workers’ paradise” where it was attempted.
Enter the latest promoters of egalitarian insanity: University of Warwick professor Adam Swift and his partner, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Harry Brighouse. In an article published by the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC), Swift and Brighouse bemoan the inequality that arises from the difference between good parents and bad ones. In 2014, their musings produced a book, “Family Values: The Ethics of Family-Child Relationships,” in which the duo attempt to explain “why a child’s interest in autonomy severely limits parents’ right to shape their children’s values, and why parents have no fundamental right to confer wealth or advantage on their children.”
Speaking with the ABC, Swift reveals his infatuation with equality of outcome. “I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families,” he declares. He was especially concerned with unequal outcomes that attend families who live in better surroundings, whose children go to better schools, and whose parents get more involved with their children’s activities.
Swift’s solution to such an “intractable” problem? “One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family,” he posits. “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.”
Perhaps the social justice problem might be better served by eliminating crackpot philosophers. Yet even Swift recognizes the impracticality of family elimination. “Nearly everyone who has thought about this would conclude that it is a really bad idea to be raised by state institutions, unless something has gone wrong,” he concedes. Nonetheless, he still feels compelled to single out certain “undesirable” variables that contribute to the disparities between families he and Brighouse find problematic. “Private schooling cannot be justified by appeal to these familial relationship goods,” Swift insists. “It’s just not the case that in order for a family to realize these intimate, loving, authoritative, affectionate, love-based relationships you need to be able to send your child to an elite private school.”
He has even greater disdain for … bedtime stories. “The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” Swift complains. And while he remains adamant about the elimination of private schools, he realizes eliminating bedtime stories is a bridge too far, admitting, “We could prevent elite private schooling without any real hit to healthy family relationships, whereas if we say that you can’t read bedtime stories to your kids because it’s not fair that some kids get them and others don’t, then that would be too big a hit at the core of family life.”
Still he offers a caveat. “I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children,” he says, though he argues, “I think they should have that thought occasionally.” In other words, one should feel a certain amount of guilt for being a better parent than someone else.
What about the plethora of seemingly unquantifiable inequalities that define the difference between families? The professors developed a test based on what they call “familial relationship goods” that contribute to flourishing families. Yet both professors believe the aforementioned private schooling, along with inheritance and other methods of conferring aspects of economic advantage, are morally and ethically unacceptable.
They also disdain parental authority, insisting that while it makes sense to parent one’s biological offspring there is no inherent right to do so. To them, the biological origins that form the heart of people’s identities are a largely unnecessary “social and cultural construction” and one “could imagine societies in which the parent-child relationship could go really well even without there being this biological link.” Even the idea of two parents is anachronistic. “Nothing in our theory assumes two parents: there might be two, there might be three, and there might be four,” Swift asserts, echoing the refrain of Hillary “It Takes a Village” Clinton and her equally detestable statist ambitions.
What to make of such “forward” thinking? Reminding people what animates it — and why it is doomed to fail. The urge to make everyone equal in every way possible is nothing new, nor is the historical wreckage of gulags, re-education camps, purges and wholesale slaughter that has arisen out of every attempt to do so. Yet in their monumental hubris, progressives look at what inevitably produces the equality of misery, and reach only one conclusion: Such failure occurred because the wrong people were in charge.
And therein lies the ultimate contradiction: There is no such thing as radical egalitarianism with people in charge. Maintaining such a society would be impossible absent an army of enforcers cracking down on anyone daring to be better than anyone else. The egalitarians have always insisted such an army would be needed only on a temporary basis. But history has demonstrated that an inner circle of party apparatchiks keeping everyone else in line has invariably rewarded itself quite richly for engaging in such “noble” efforts, even as they have never made the effort to disband.
And why is equality of misery inevitable? Because the elimination of incentives that produce inequality — of excellence — ensures everyone will do the barest minimum to maintain their place in the unalterable status quo required by their overlords.
“Swift and Brighouse are philosophically inching their way to a novel accommodation for a weathered institution ever more in need of a rationale for existing,” the ABC article states. No, they are not. They are attempting to undermine the foremost “weathered institution” that stands between Liberty and tyranny. And no amount of pseudo-intellectualism that attends such “inching” should obscure reality: These two and their philosophical soul mates are monsters.
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