The compassion and fairness evoked mindlessly by those who would redefine marriage en route to Utopia place the dissenter in the position of Patrick McGoohan’s Number Six (The Prisoner, 1968): an “unmutual” enemy of the collective.
The following is an excerpt from a piece that I will post in the summer edition of Praesidium (the quarterly journal of he Center for Literate Values, at http://www.literatefreedom.org). The essay’s author is a college professor of several decades’ experience who, for all his long service, fears loss of employment if the splendidly sensible views he expresses here should be connected to his true name. Who can say, in these times, that his fears are paranoid?
The essay’s beginning presents the idea that the “gay marriage” initiative may be an unwitting accomplice (at least with reference to most of its naïve young advocates on campus) in the vast regressive takeover of our political system and our culture.
The section reproduced below comes at the issue from the “progressive autocrat’s” direction—and you will notice that “gay marriage” is not even mentioned until about two-thirds of the way through the plan of attack.
Perhaps if our young “crusaders for equality” could see what mere pawns they are in the ambitious but invisible hands that fund and incite them, they would take a straighter path to freedom; for Progressivism is but universal servitude to a fantasy, and the rhetoric of freedom with which it arouses general disorder is the hammer that closes the chain’s links.
A government committed to ongoing change in the direction of progress requires the willing cooperation of its citizens.
This simply means that such a government has to get citizens “on board” in order to prosecute its agenda. “Willing” does not imply absence of duress. A citizen may “will” to abandon his faith or ancestral customs if the one other option offered is incarceration or extermination.
The type of government envisaged here, therefore, is not necessarily of the republican form. In fact, it is very arguable that all progressive governments are essentially autocratic, insofar as constant “progress”—in the sense of constant abandonment of cherished customs and adoption of ways repugnant to established taste—opposes basic human nature.
The ultimate progressive project is nothing less than “liberating” human beings from their basic nature in favor of another nature designed for them by “specialists” and “visionaries”.
Willingness, then, is somewhat open to interpretation. The cooperation of citizens in the changes as laid out on the autocrat’s drawing board need not be happy or self-motivated. It only needs to be energetic. Energy can be manufactured at the muzzle-end of a gun (to paraphrase Mao); but it can also be tapped by cleverly manipulating the very discontent that arises when traditions are torn away.
People may not know that their sense of being adrift and lacking an identity results from the vaporization of their cultural heritage unless they are old enough to have imbibed part of that heritage. Hence the central importance of the following observation.
People acquire their basic values as children.
If the kind of government in question can somehow program young people to be suspicious of their cultural heritage, or can keep that heritage from being transmitted, then resistance to the progressive agenda will be slim to none. Obviously, this means intervening in the education of young “citizens” (a.k.a. children) as early as possible.
The progressive has no coherent explanation of where knowledge of right and wrong comes from; for on the one hand, he insists that all such knowledge is conditioning (by culture, by social environment, by basic biology, etc.)—but on the other, his own plan is always supremely good because it is grounded in perfect rationalism (as he declares).
He is correct to this extent: children are not born understanding moral principles, and their upbringing plays a major role in reducing the time they require to infer those principles. Control the upbringing, and you control what the young adult will consider to be right and wrong. (Older adults who should begin to figure things out on their own by a different light may always be rendered irrelevant or disposed of.)
Hence progressive regimes are always at war with the mature and the elderly, as representatives both of tradition and of more stable and independent reasoning. The agents of such regimes flatter the young, praising their fresh view of life and their robust vigor and their fearless willingness to experiment and… and so forth. This cynical claptrap is ever and always intended only to turn the young away from the lessons and guidelines of the past.
What the ignorant targets fail to understand is that their originality is in fact prized at nothing—that all acceptable expressions of creative vigor are being fed to them by a system intent on molding them into dutiful little tin soldiers of the Movement. Since young people are actually quite sensitive to their appearance before others and have little will to strike out in any radically new direction, the job of molding can proceed with an almost mechanical efficiency.
The nuclear family does not necessarily produce children with values amenable to progressive change.|
The nuclear family is the single greatest impediment to the molding project, for it is in this context that young people learn most immediately and forcefully of the values of the past. No one, traditionally, has more authority over their lives or more occasions to exert that authority in the typical day. Teachers come and go, priests and ministers might be heard once a week for an hour… but the parent is always present even when absent, for the echoes and images of his or her constant coddling and fussing since the cradle are almost impossible to eradicate in any sort of debriefing.
The ideal, for the progressive autocrat, would be to have all children raised from the cradle by government-trained-and-licensed caretakers. Effecting such a radical overhaul of human society would be a formidable challenge, however. Among other things, it would almost certainly require killing adult citizens in such number that few would be left to begin the massive project of re-education; and much re-education of the young would be needed, for at any given moment huge numbers of partially conditioned adolescents would have to be handled somehow.
A far better proposal for the transitional phase, therefore, would be to undermine the parents by their own consent: that is, to persuade them that parenting is an onerous and unpleasant burden. Once parents cease wanting to parent, they will cheerfully surrender their children to agencies of the state. Indeed, they will cry out that they have the “right” to make such a surrender.
Parents have not traditionally surrendered their right to rear their offspring because they view themselves as owning the product of their bodies.
How to get from the loving parent to the parent that demands relief from parenting? Nature, once again, stands firmly in the way. Perhaps no bond is more powerful than that which a human female feels with a helpless little creature carried in her bowels for almost a year, or that which a human male feels with the little squab who bears the imprint of his own eyes and hands. How to neutralize such feelings?
This view of ownership could be subverted if child-bearing were represented as somehow inhibitive to happy sexual union.
The answer, of course, has also been supplied by nature: sex. Glorify the joys of sex as the greatest thrills life has to offer, and emphasize that conception is merely an accidental consequence of this heavenly amusement. Jonathan Swift had his small-minded Lilliputians embrace the position that parents had no right to the custody of their children for this very reason: i.e., because they had conceived them in a casual moment of chasing after their own pleasure.
The Lilliputian state claimed the right to educate these citizens-in-becoming, and the parents scarcely retained a right to visit their children briefly on very rare occasions.
We must suppose, of course, that Dean Swift was satirizing the apparent “rationality” of this crude and inhuman system (which is also self-contradictory: for if it is assumed that all children are conceived in moments of hungry concupiscence, then why should any impulse so irresistibly natural be grounds for the parents’ later disgrace and forcible surrender of their “accidents”?).
The clever autocrat needn’t replicate this mistake of shaming parents into giving up their children. He need only celebrate in every way possible—publicly, ritually, and institutionally—the “joy of sex” as a refined pleasure best appreciated by cultivated people. The reason for this strategy is as follows.
The celebration of sex as one of life’s unconditioned “goods” diminishes the importance of child-bearing.
People who desire constant renewal of their sexual experiences—who are obsessed with and (as we say nowadays) addicted to sex—are not likely to want children on the scene, in fetal form or even less as demanding little dependants.
For the woman, pregnancy is often arduous, bringing morning sickness and other discomforts. Its inconvenience may be so strong as to dissuade her from engaging in sex, simply in her fear of getting “knocked up”. The man finds all the necessary postponements to his urges inconvenient, as well, and also is likely to regard his mate as less and less attractive as she swells and swells. The nuisance of living children waking up and screaming in the night or leaving both parents so tired that they want only to sleep in bed need hardly be mentioned.
The paragraph above expresses several vulgar ideas—but they are the ideas, it must be emphasized, that the autocrat wishes to become current in his decaying culture (as being instrumental to its decay). The more that adults organize their lives around sexual excitement—and do so without any sense of guilt or restraint—the more they will fall out of love with the notion of being “saddled” with children.
Other strategies can concurrently undermine child-bearing as a desirable behavior.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat. In the contemporary political environment, almost every issue has a “green” angle—and so it is in this case. Child-bearing can easily be represented (and is frequently represented) as a “sin” against our common parent, Mother Earth, whose generous womb we are straining to the bursting point with out-of-control over-population.
The conscientious New Age citizen recognizes a solemn moral obligation not to have children. Adoption of the world’s many unwanted children is a preferable option (and this righteous citizen sees no contradiction between embracing both the view that children are undesirable and the duty to help those children who are now unwanted). Only the ignorant and the selfish have large families, in the progressive era’s heightened global consciousness.
Children are also represented as the ball-and-chain which males leave affixed to the female after they finish exploiting her (often referred to as “raping” her, even in legal and consenting monogamy; more than one feminist has pronounced that all sex between male and female is rape).
Natural maternal feelings may thus be contorted into feelings of victimization and vengefulness. The fetus is no longer part of a woman’s own body (or is so only when she wishes to amputate it): it is a dreadful infection spread to her through male contact—a kind of venereal disease.
Males get to have their fun and then move on to the next partner: females suffer permanent impairment of their life ambitions through having responsibility for another life suddenly thrust upon them.
Everyone has a right to enjoy sex—but the male manner of enjoyment is irresponsible and even destructive. The issue has now been framed in terms of basic rights versus abused rights.
The promotion of abortion instills the notion that child-bearing should be “on demand”. For decades now, abortion has been legally accepted as one solution to male abuse of sexual rights. It is the procedure that removes the infection spread by males—the “tumor” that grows after they have injected the female body with their toxin.
This is probably a view which has still not achieved widespread endorsement outside of college campuses, for it vilifies the most nuclear of all human interpersonal bonds (the mother/child bond). Nevertheless, its ripples have affected the general populace deeply. Couples who would describe themselves as religious in some way, who are legally married, who own a nice house in the suburbs and a minivan, etc., seem often to concede that having more than two children is a challenge to strained planetary resources (as well as to their two careers and their desired lifestyle).
Abortion is not frowned upon in the event of an unwanted “surprise”. Also relatively new to the scene is the “designer family”, where a male child already exists and subsequent pregnancies are terminated until the desired female child shows up on the ultrasound. One even hears of terminations when technology reveals that the child will be short or have black hair instead of blond.
While some of these reports are more urban legend than statistically based research, it is difficult to deny the general proposition that the American public now largely views children as an “on demand” commodity, to be supplied and customized on a whim like a new car on special order. Child-bearing has become thoroughly objectified. As such, it is ever more easy to separate from sexual activity, which can now be focused more explicitly on pleasure.
The day may be at hand when reproduction will be an entirely in-the-lab operation (after the Aldous Huxley fashion) while sexual needs will be serviced by ingeniously designed robots. Those shores have not yet been reached, but they are in sight.
Once child-bearing is distanced from the new concept of marriage as maximizing sexual gratification, “unnatural” unions cease to have a stigma.
In the dark light of the new marriage, child-rearing is not irrelevant—but child-bearing may well be so. Sex and conception now have nothing to do with each other, but for the cumbersome fact that Mother Nature had once forced them into a proximity which the Lilliputian mind quickly sees to be inconsistent.
As society progresses, technology “corrects” such natural blunders. People have sex because it’s the greatest good life has to offer; people have sex with the same partner when they find really good sex consistently in that company; people want to be around the good partner when tastes in food and movies and politics turn out to align as pleasantly as the all-important moves in bed; people who find a special bond of this sort want to “celebrate” it—which apparently means to tell the partner and the rest of the world how great their personal happiness is; and from this symbolic gesture born of narcissism, we have marriage.
The children, once again, are add-ons. They may be acquired through adoption or a laboratory when and if the happy couple (or threesome, or foursome) senses itself to be “missing something” as neighbors talk about their offspring’s crayon masterpieces or exploits on the soccer field. There is no longer anything unnatural in such a sequence of events—no more than air-conditioning or car-transport is unnatural. Practices change as the human genius imposes its will upon the raw jungle.
Now human society has conquered one more relic of savagery (held over from that rainforest for whose preservation we are supposed to achieve below-replacement-rate reproduction). Now it all makes sense. What makes sense, to a human being (to the progressive human being), is that which adapts the environment to his needs as his needs adapt to the environment.
The complete absence of objective reference in that formula is not viewed as a shortcoming, for facts are not static on our journey into the future.
The regularization of “unnatural” unions will permanently alienate the culture from the notion that child-bearing is an integral function of marriage.
In his futuristic novel, The Forever War, Joe Haldeman imagines a world where homosexuality has become the norm due to over-population and heterosexuality is severely stigmatized. Whether or not Western society is heading down that particular road, there is unquestionably a growing rift now between the practice of sexual intercourse as its own end and sexual reproduction—a rift which presents opportunities to social engineers.
The child increasingly belongs to the state. In American society, certain ethnic and racial minorities have illegitimacy rates rapidly approaching 100%. These segments of the population have not purged child-bearing from their sexual life nearly to the extent that the more educated and affluent majority has done. They have indeed, however, turned their collective back on the nuclear family. Their children are wards of the state from the instant of delivery, and often as long as they live.
This is probably not the sort of dependency ideally desired by the progressive autocrat, to be sure. There is altogether too much dependency here—too much siphoning off of valuable state resources—and too little “quality control” (in the eugenic sense that all true progressives understand without having to enunciate).
The ideal would be something more in line with Haldeman’s fiction: barren coupling exclusively for sex, where the production of the next generation can be scientifically monitored and expertly programmed. Universal homosexuality could be one version of that ideal.
Another would be habitual (perhaps enforced) promiscuity in tandem with infallible contraceptive measures (a stratagem also imagined by Haldeman in his novel’s earlier days of relatively primitive time-travel).
An era of “scientific” child-bearing and -rearing may now be arranged with broad public support.
From this latter scenario, we are not at all distant. Ironically and significantly, as homosexuals clamor for the right to bless their sexual unions, more conventional heterosexuals are less and less interested in the marriage commitment and more and more willing to rupture its bonds when they have a bad month.
The serious social analyst has to read both of these trends as expressions of the same ethos. Certainly one coherent way of doing so is to see the definition of marriage as ever more sexualized (or eroticized) and ever less about child-bearing and -rearing. The gay couple obviously does not come to the altar in a desire primarily to have a family, and the hetero couple does not renounce vows said before the altar primarily for the good of the children (though this is a popular pretext).
Money, of course, is often a major factor in divorces; but the desire for and expectation of affluence belongs to the same hedonistic set of ambitions that elevates sex as a fit reason to get married. There is no contradiction here.
The progressive autocrat must be as happy to see conventional marriage melt away as he is to see gay marriage grow more accepted by the year. In either case, the children become a missing factor in the equation. They are now within his reach. He can have them very early, fill their minds with whatever ideological fantasies he wishes to promote, and never worry about their going home to be disinfected by a loving parent. Increasingly, the parent isn’t there.
Thus ends the excerpt. Yet I should be remiss in not adding that the anonymous author emphasizes his good will toward young people struggling with their sexuality. He recognizes that the corruption of our culture has stirred this perplexity, sometimes (even often) with malicious intent to exploit.
The objective of his essay is not to impugn homosexuality: it is to draw attention to how the gay agenda—as well as the black, feminist, Latino, and senior-citizen agendas—have been driven by unscrupulous behind-the-scenes players who crave a further centralization of power. To look for freedom from the devices and desires of such wicked minds is to thank the wolf pack for driving away the fox.
John Harris is president and founder of The Center for Literate Values, and a semi-retired professor of classical and medieval literature. His new book, Climbing Backward Out of Caves: A Case for Religious Faith Based on Common Sense, is on sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major distributors.
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