April 11, 2013
A fundamental clash of worldviews lies behind Ms. Harris-Perry’s controversial statement that children are the responsibility of the whole community. Conor Friedersdorf’s article in The Atlantic does an excellent job highlighting the impracticability of her proposal because
[…] children are raised by individuals, not diffuse collectives. Mother and father are in fact responsible for getting baby her shots, strapping her into the car seat, childproofing the house, noticing her allergic reaction to peanuts, and enrolling her in primary school. If they fail to do these things, or to find someone who'll do them on their behalf, baby suffers . . . The fact that most parents feel this responsibility deep within them is literally indispensable to our civilization. Kids whose parents don't feel or ignore it are often seriously disadvantaged (emphasis added).
But aside from the practical aspect of child-responsibility lies the fundamental question of society’s order: who, or what, is responsible for the individual and the family? Does individual liberty and a moral conscience make adults responsible for their choices and parents responsible for their children? Or is the government the organizing principle of society, taking the place of choice, and mom and dad?
While I am not assuming that Ms. Harris-Perry desires to promote anything other than the best interests of children by her statement, the worldview behind what she said is destructive to marriages, families, and thus the very children she wants helped. In “The Activists Game Plan against Religion Life and the Family: The UN, the Courts, and Transnationalist Ideology,” Pat Fagan and Bill Saunders compare the views of cultural Marxists with those of traditional society and observe:
Influential intellectual roots of anti-family and anti-religious efforts can be found in the writings of Karl Marx's collaborator, the German philosopher Friedrich Engels. Engels, in his vision of state ownership as the means of production and the ultimate triumph of the proletariat, was keenly aware that two institutions would stand in the way of his communist vision: the family and organized religion. He understood that in order for the international communist vision to come to fruition, the natural primacy of family and religion in society must be undermined (emphasis added).
One thing that Marx and Engels understood was that in a society of personal responsibility and strong families, communism would not be able to flourish. To advance their ideology, family and religion must be undermined. Any idea that transfers responsibility from parents and gives it to the “community”—not the community as embodied by one’s church, school, and neighbors, but the “community” as enforced by national regulation and sustained by government services—does just that. Fagan and Saunders continue that “Cultural Marxists”
[…] try to undermine the family and religion through more subtle means than Lenin used. This is accomplished in an interrelated process: simultaneously, the power of the state is increased while that of the individual and his community is decreased, and laws pertaining to family and religion are undermined. Thus the traditional supports of society-family and religion-are crowded out by government.
When parents’ responsibility is diminished, whether through tragic neglect or government interference (see Mr. Friedersdorf’s article and a family’s encounter with child protective services), something will fill that void. Legitimate inability on the part of parents may be a time when suggest a family needs help. But the idea that, by default, children belong to the community is another insidious way of stating that there is no such thing as personal, and thus familial, responsibility. This subverts the God-ordained family and the very foundation of republican government.