Rationing Love — Another Modest Proposal from Another Swift

“Mother’s Goodnight Kiss,” Mary Cassatt.

There has been plenty of academic literature over the years that views the intact family as the main culprit in promoting “inequality.” Marxists have long called for the abolition of the family.  Clearly that’s because families — and the strong personal relationships that families spawn and broadcast across societies — turn out to be a thorn in the side of State power.  So it should be no surprise that as government grows, attacks on the family become more and more direct. We saw this when MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry flat out declared that children “belong to their communities,” not to their families.  (I wrote about this a while back in an American Thinker piece, “The War on the Family Enters a New Stage.“)

Today we have a new and bigger trial balloon. It was launched by two philosophy academics. One Adam Swift and the other Harry Bridghouse, are peddling the death of families — Jonathan Swift style but without tongue-in-cheek — at the expense of children. Of course they claim they are simply trying to “save” the family by helping us all understand how the family confers unfair advantages. They “only” propose to eliminate private schooling and inheritance, for example, and they question the default right to raise one’s own biological children.  But (so far) they say it’s okay to have a personal relationship with them.

Anyway, Swift and Bridghouse’s work was discussed in Australian public radio, and written up with the headline: “Is Having a Loving Family an Unfair Advantage?” by Joe Gelonesi.  And Jayme Metzgar discusses it in her Federalist article: “The Power Grab Behind Obama’s Support for Parenting Equality.”  Ultimately, it all looks like a proposal to separate and deprive ever more children of parental love and attention.

Here’s a quote by Swift to unpack:

“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, but I think they should have that thought occasionally.”

By stating this, Swift suggests the following to us:  Think of bedtime stories as a source of “inequality.”  Feel guilty for loving and attending to your child.

There are so many distortions in Swift’s picture that we can’t even begin to count the ways.  First off, it assumes that love is something we should all quantify and ration as a society.  It assumes that children are cogs in a machine. Worst of all, it assumes that children who are not getting attention and love from their parents don’t really deserve it.  Leveling down in the name of equality always leads to more leveling down and impoverishment.  And yet Swift’s proposal means leveling down not just the tangibles of money and material resources, but of the intangibles of love and attention. He suggests we provide less of it in a world starving for it.

Whether they know it or not (though I suspect they know it), Swift and company are conducting a war on personal relationships — starting with children and families.  That’s because I suspect they know, as I have noted in the theme of this blog, that most power comes from personal relationships. Strong relationships — especially from the start of life with one-on-one family bonds — are the primary source of knowledge, and therefore of power and of freedom.  They give children the stability and security to gain confidence and freedom.  They give children an accurate moral and emotional compass by which to navigate the world.  To suggest more children should be deprived of such things is essentially an act of violence.

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