Why we should speak of “Family vs. State” rather than “Individual vs. State”

posted at 2:30 pm on April 2, 2012 by Tina Korbe

At any given time, I have anywhere from 15 to 20 tabs open in my Internet browser. Occasionally, a tab will be open to a particular article for a couple of weeks before I manage to read the article itself. Such was the case with a March 13 piece by Anthony Esolen for CrisisMagazine.com. Headlined “Progressive Inhumanity, Part One: The State against the Family,” the article is “a think piece,” so I relegated it to last-priority status, an item to enjoy as dessert after digesting “newsier” articles.

This morning, I finally read it and its piercing relevancy compelled me to share it with every social network to which I belong. Crisis is a Catholic magazine and Esolen writes from an unabashedly Catholic perspective, but what he writes has ramifications for anyone who cares about freedom. Esolen writes:

At this point it seems to me coarse to turn to the political; but fittingly coarse.  As jarring as it feels now to refer to so petty a thing as the leviathan, so unnatural it is for the leviathan to attempt to destroy or enfeeble or absorb the family.  So says [Pope Leo XIII]: “The contention, then, that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household, is a great and pernicious error.”  True, a destitute family without friends must be assisted by public aid, and parents who pervert the true ends of the family, by gross neglect or abuse, should be brought to justice, “for this is not to deprive citizens of their rights, but justly to safeguard and strengthen them.”  Yet we tread here upon hallowed ground.  “The rulers of the State,” says Leo, “must go no further: here nature bids them stop.  Paternal authority can be neither abolished nor absorbed by the State; for it has the same source as human life itself.”  Just as each one of us is an unrepeatable instance of the goodness of the Father, so too each child “takes its place in civil society, not of its own right, but in its quality as member of the family in which it is born.”

As I continue to study, think and write about theories and structures of political power, I would like to humbly submit that, to ensure freedom, we must begin again to think of ourselves first and foremost as members of families. In other words, we must think of ourselves as members of families even more than we think of ourselves as individuals.

Other minds have said this better than I ever could. Here’s historian and political philosopher J.N. Figgis, writing in 1911:

“More and more it is clear that the mere individual’s freedom against an omnipotent State may be no better than slavery; more and more is it evident that the real question of freedom in our day is the freedom of the smaller unions to live within the whole.”

Here’s Robert Nisbet, writing in 1953:

“Individual versus State is as false an antithesis today as it ever was. The State grows on what it gives to the individual as it does on what it takes from competing social relationships — family, labor union, profession, local community and church.

And the individual cannot but find a kind of vicarious strength in what is granted to the state. For is he not himself a part of the State? Is he not a fraction of the sovereign? And is he not but adding to his political status as citizen what he subtracts from his economic, religious and cultural statuses in society?

Just as it seems to be human nature to love father and mother as a child, so does it seem to be human nature to find the ties that bind restrictive as an adolescent and to chafe against them. It is part of the project of adulthood, though, to come to grips with the existence of authority and power in the world and to choose between respecting authority or submitting to power. Granting the existence of moral authority would go a long way toward diminishing the power of the State.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

In certain areas of New Jersey, “The Family” sounds no less ominous than “The State”.

Archivarix on April 2, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Brainwashing our youth is easier with a broken family structure.

NapaConservative on April 2, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Families are formed by individuals. There’s no reason to de-emphasize the individual just because Rick Santorum is ranting about “radical individualism”. Too many times, government has overreached or been engorged through the catchphrase of “family values”…little different than the left saying “it’s for the children”.

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 2:36 PM

i had such great hope for this thread….

the problem for conservatives is that we always lose the messaging war.

Dr. Demento on April 2, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Liberals think the family structure is oppressive because it requires sacrifice.

batterup on April 2, 2012 at 2:37 PM

But…but…but…the STATE knows all! Just ask them. The STATE gives all. Therefore, who would be the BETTER parent?

Just ask any Democrat. They’ll tell you!

GarandFan on April 2, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Even as a libertarian-leading individualist conservative, I like this as a messaging frame. It makes it less about “one person and their selfish demands” and more about the state’s hostility to our fundamental social unit.

constitutionalconservative on April 2, 2012 at 2:40 PM

If the left succeeds in destroying the family and replacing G-d with the state, then it’s over. Everything utopians dream of stems from doing this.

Rixon on April 2, 2012 at 2:42 PM

AH, who needs a family anyway when we have Obama to pay mah mortgage and buy gas for mah car?

With the open Satanic attack on the inconvenient pre-born and elderly, the by the organized left – even the individual is no longer acceptable on the good planet earth.

Don L on April 2, 2012 at 2:42 PM

This is why I attack Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid as much as I do. They work to destroy the family. Primarily by forcing other peoples’ children to support people who choose not to have families in their old age. It basically subsidizes people to remain childless. Social Security came first, and shortly after family was relegated to temporary status as marriage became increasingly easier to exit from.

astonerii on April 2, 2012 at 2:44 PM

So says [Pope Leo XIII]: “The contention, then, that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household, is a great and pernicious error.”

The idea that a bunch of unmarried men think they can make laws about how a woman should live her life and hide behind religion is utter nonsense and yes I’m speaking about the Catholic church…

liberal4life

There, thought I’d get it out of the way before she shows up and re-posts the same tired diatribe.

Trafalgar on April 2, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Granting the existence of moral authority would go a long way toward diminishing the power of the State.

Which is why the leftist state refuses to acknowledge that there is such a thing as moral authority. When “good Catholic” Kathleen Sibelius was out there dictating that Catholic institutions were to fully pay for contraception and abortions, she was essentially saying that the state didn’t recognize any moral authority other than their own. The woman should be excommunicated for this action alone and I realize what the theological implications of that are and why most Catholics get all squishy when excommunication of politicians comes up- even a murderer like the current HHS head.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2012 at 2:46 PM

There, thought I’d get it out of the way before she shows up and re-posts the same tired diatribe.

Trafalgar on April 2, 2012 at 2:44 PM

And she never explains just how it is the Catholic church manages to get Congress to write the laws they do.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Because ‘Family’ relative to politics is associated with the social cons wing, i.e. Focus on The Family, Rick Santorum etc.

Stick to the time-tested individual liberty.

kevinkristy on April 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Isn’t “We need to strengthen/defend the family” just a social con code phrase meaning “We need to stop the gays from destroying society”? Pretty much every anti-gay organization out there has the word “Family” somewhere in their name. Pretty ironic if you ask me-you’d think that an organization that claims to want to strengthen families would be supportive of states allowing same-sex couples to adopt children in foster homes.

theoddmanout on April 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM

First they came for the Individual……

…..and they started replacing it with the word “Family”.

And I did nothing because aren’t we all Family?

Then they came for the word “Family” and they started calling it “community” and I did nothing because don’t we all belong to a community?

Then they came for the community…..and replaced the term with the notion of “the greater good”.

….and I said nothing because don’t we all want stuff done for the “greater good”?

….and for the “greater good” they stripped Rush of his microphone, Beck of his internet operations, Michelle of her Twitchy and Levin of his Legal Foundation.

When the door shut on the van that day I wish I had said something…

..when they came for the Individual.

PappyD61 on April 2, 2012 at 2:51 PM

The idea that a bunch of unmarried men think they can make laws about how a woman should live her life and hide behind religion is utter nonsense and yes I’m speaking about the Catholic church…

parasite4life

Who compels you to join a church? Does the Catholic church have guns? Can they put you in jail?
No, but the GUBBERMINT can

Liberalism is truely a disease.

Bevan on April 2, 2012 at 2:51 PM

For is he not himself a part of the State? Is he not a fraction of the sovereign?

Above is where the article goes wrong. Individuals are NOT part of the sovereign or the state — they are a sovereign unto themselves. The state is one sovereign and the individual is another.

If you were a government official it might be correct to say you were a part of the state sovereign — but even in that condition, the official is still a sovereign unto himself.

There is no freedom with recognition of INDIVIDUAL rights.

Axion on April 2, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Tina Korbe is the best pundit on HotAir. Know why? Because she never asks a question in her headline. She does enough research to answer them instead.

Rock on with your bad self, Tina!

Kevin M on April 2, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Instant self-gratification is the soup du jour in the 21st Century.

But, it was the latter half of the 20th Century (Post WWII) that it really began and took root. The baby-boomers were flush and everyone eventually realized that they had to get what they could get while the gettin’ was good. That transferred to their children born of the 60′s and 70′s which is when the Christian Family Unit really started to wane. Cosmic Consciousness and pleasuring the self took priority. Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, man. The kids were dragged along — then those ‘Me’ generations had kids of their own.

It continues on and on and now reigns supreme over the majority of the land, hence, governance transforms along with it and abides the individual.

SD Tom on April 2, 2012 at 2:54 PM

For National Socialist Demokrat Party members there is no God other than the state.

jukin3 on April 2, 2012 at 2:55 PM

At any given time, I have anywhere from 15 to 20 tabs open in my Internet browser.
===================

Tina,awesome muti-tasking,and I thought 10 windows open was alot!:)

canopfor on April 2, 2012 at 2:56 PM

theoddmanout on April 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM

My vote is to start with these atheist groups that call themselves “rational” organizations and want to show they are your neighbors. The problem I have with that is twofold. First, their lack of faith is anti-social behavior not something to be embraced. Secondly, they are selfish and inconsiderate bastards because they take up these ad campaigns during Christmas and Holy Week. Of the 52 weeks in a year they have to horn in on Christians highest holiday with their message that faith in a higher being is a bad thing. If they really wanted to co-exist they would respect all people’s views.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2012 at 2:56 PM

So,the State,kinda like,the,

*************** Fatherland *********************!

canopfor on April 2, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Of course, when you destroy the family, you create wards of the State – and that is where the State retains power – on a dependent class that needs the State to provide for them.

But, I can see an even worse “America,” where the destruction of the family creates child informants – who will notify the State when they aren’t being “raised right” – like being exposed to Christianity, or where there are firearms in the house, or where the parents aren’t thinking, or saying, the right things.

If you don’t think that that can happen here, you’re fooling yourselves.

In any country where the children are constantly bombarded with service to the State, dependence on the State, and allegiance only to the State – the Leftist Utopia of tyranny, and the police state, will exist.

Left unchecked, this is where America is headed.

OhEssYouCowboys on April 2, 2012 at 2:57 PM

As I continue to study, think and write about theories and structures of political power, I would like to humbly submit that, to ensure freedom, we must begin again to think of ourselves first and foremost as members of families. In other words, we must think of ourselves as members of families even more than we think of ourselves as individuals.

Of the nuclear family, why not the extended family?

Of the extended family, why not the neighborhood?

Of the neighborhood, why not the town?

Of the town, why not the county?

Of the county, why not the State?

To ensure freedom, we must ensure liberty is provided to the smallest minority, that of the individual. To proclaim the individual as subordinate to the “family”, or any other larger group, is collectivist thinking and weakens ANY attempt at holding a consistent moral position.

Hootie on April 2, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Isn’t “We need to strengthen/defend the family” just a social con code phrase meaning “We need to stop the gays from destroying society”? Pretty much every anti-gay organization out there has the word “Family” somewhere in their name. Pretty ironic if you ask me-you’d think that an organization that claims to want to strengthen families would be supportive of states allowing same-sex couples to adopt children in foster homes.

theoddmanout on April 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM

DING DING DING We have a winner.

2 examples:

“Mr. Romney – why dont you feel gay men and women have the right to a family”

“Mr. Romney – are more than 1 wives a typical Mormon family?”

I am more alarmed with “think pieces taking low priority”.. though not surprised with the rest of this “hmm, deep thoughts of someone thinking about political family stuff XXOOXXOO”

Odie1941 on April 2, 2012 at 2:58 PM

The State,worships at the Alter of Liberalism,er,or is it
Progressivism!

canopfor on April 2, 2012 at 2:59 PM

There is no freedom withOUT recognition of INDIVIDUAL rights.

Axion on April 2, 2012 at 2:52 PM

FIFY.

Hootie on April 2, 2012 at 3:00 PM

I don’t really see a ‘why’ in this article anywhere. It looks more like a pass to some philosopher articles telling us that the government is treating both families and individuals badly.

The Nerve on April 2, 2012 at 3:00 PM

It was a waste of my time to read Tina’s writing. I had hoped for at least some idea to object to, but I couldn’t find one in her ramblings.

thuja on April 2, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Conservatives will understand the importance of families in society.

But the message may not work when talking to liberals.

I have a senior citizen friend who gets upset when she hears Republican candidates talking about “family values.”

Since she is a single person, she does not think of herself as belonging to a family and is upset that Republican candidates who talk about “family values” seem to ignore people like her.

I had not heard this perspective before a conversation with her. But since then I have found that it is relatively common among single people on the left side of the political spectrum.

Test out this theory out with your liberal friends (admit it, we all have some liberal friends who haven’t see the conservative light YET.) to see if this is a concern for them.

We must learn how liberals think, if we are going to help them learn how to vote properly before the November election.

wren on April 2, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Tina Korbe is the best pundit on HotAir. Know why? Because she never asks a question in her headline. She does enough research to answer them instead.

Rock on with your bad self, Tina!

Kevin M on April 2, 2012 at 2:53 PM

The problem is that Hot Air used to be about asking the community questions and encouraging debate. Now it’s about preaching in an echo chamber. I guess there’s nothing wrong with the latter, but Hot Air would never have become as popular if not for the former format. Hence…slide.

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 3:03 PM

“we should”

So much authoritarianism.

Sigh.

Dante on April 2, 2012 at 3:03 PM

kevinkristy on April 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM

theoddmanout on April 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM

You guys are missing the point. You’re worried about “the family” as some sort of exploitable code phrase instead of the basic points of the post. Isn’t there room for recognizing the social value of family life in an expansive view of individual liberty?

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 3:04 PM

O/T….NOW!!

Live video: Coverage of the Oikos University, Oakland shooting from @abc7newsBayAreaStory

Submitted 22 mins ago from abclocal.go.com
http://www.breakingnews.com/
=============================

abc7news.com LIVE VIDEO(Streaming Live Feed)
*********************************************

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/livenow?id=6387369

Police just announced, live on CBS5, that there’s an ‘active shooter’ at the Oikos University shooting – CBS5′s

Submitted 13 mins ago
======================

canopfor on April 2, 2012 at 3:05 PM

O/T,OnGoing,and still rolling in!

Oakland college shooting
***********************

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/oakland-college-shooting

canopfor on April 2, 2012 at 3:07 PM

most Catholics get all squishy when excommunication of politicians comes up- even a murderer like the current HHS head.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2012 at 2:46 PM

I suspect that “most” Catholics (it is, after all, a global church) could give a rodent’s rectum about the excommunication of politicians.

I know for a fact that most Catholics got the nudge and the wink when it came to the church’s teachings on contraception, even if large numbers of the church’s priests and its hierarchy never really grasped the bit about how you really shouldn’t be diddling little boys.

One of the candidates seeking the GOP nomination this year, plainly, didn’t get the nudge and the wink. That alone makes him unelectable, even in the abstract. And in the real world, as an actual prospect for POTUS, the best that can be said about him is that he provides some outstanding comic relief in a field already brimming with depressingly unfunny jokes.

JackieB on April 2, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Pretty ironic if you ask me-you’d think that an organization that claims to want to strengthen families would be supportive of states allowing same-sex couples to adopt children in foster homes.

theoddmanout on April 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Yeah man, kids don’t need a mother and a father, any two people who show up will do!

I find it pretty ironic that people who claim to love individualism ignore the individualism of children in their rush to placate the politically correct libertines – the people whose philosophy is freedom without responsibility.

Individuals in free societies have the responsibility not to compromise their standards against tyranny. I would never throw a child into a situation where they could not have both a mother and father. A mother and father created them, so should a mother and father they have.

Though honestly, if the libertines knew a kid was going to half to be adopted in the first place, they’d probably want the kid aborted. Libertines believe the right to life is negotiable, too.

BKennedy on April 2, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Yep…us single people are worthless. Not to mention people who may have different ideas about what a family is or the families that just plain suck.

Why is treating people like individuals so scary/controversial to so many people?

ChrisL on April 2, 2012 at 3:11 PM

When going outside its enumerated powers the State diminishes and harms everything it comes into contact with – Besides cronies.

Family, individual, church, community, business – all of it.

forest on April 2, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Hmmm. I think it is both the Family vs. State and Individual vs. State. And in being pro-family, be careful not to sound anti-individual and tick off conservative singles like myself.

And I say that as a Christian single. I get suspicious when politicians or churches are so family this and family that, that they sound as if they consider singles to be second class citizens.

I’m not saying you are doing that. And I’m definitely not saying the family is a very important institution from God that we must protect from the ravages of the Almighty State.

But it is the individual vs. the State, too. And we should back up the individual in that fight, not put him or her down.

WannabeAnglican on April 2, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Yep…us single people are worthless. Not to mention people who may have different ideas about what a family is or the families that just plain suck.

Why is treating people like individuals so scary/controversial to so many people?

ChrisL on April 2, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Because they desire to be controlled. They are afraid of freedom.

Dante on April 2, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Of the 52 weeks in a year they have to horn in on Christians highest holiday with their message that faith in a higher being is a bad thing. If they really wanted to co-exist they would respect all people’s views.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2012 at 2:56 PM

So I guess it is safe to assume that you (and most of the rest of us!) would consider the “Hunky Jesus Contest” that is held annually by the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” in Dolores Park in San Francisco on Easter morning to be a lack of respect for the views of others?

Google it, if you want to see the photographic evidence.

I will never understand why San Francisco has a reputation for being a “tolerant” city.

wren on April 2, 2012 at 3:16 PM

If you don’t protect individual rights, then no one is protected.

Charm on April 2, 2012 at 3:16 PM

While speaking of “the family versus” might resonate with religious activists, it distorts and strips meaning from the concepts one references when one speaks of individuals vs. the state.

It’s like watching someone combine two good points to make one bad one, and it suggests a dissident viewpoint which relates strictly to today’s climate for “family values” crusaders.

contrarytopopularbelief on April 2, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Destroy the family, you destroy the country.
Vladimir Lenin

Chip on April 2, 2012 at 3:20 PM

And I say that as a Christian single. I get suspicious when politicians or churches are so family this and family that, that they sound as if they consider singles to be second class citizens.

Weren’t you born in a family?

Don L on April 2, 2012 at 3:21 PM

The family is the foundation of society. Destruction of the family is the destruction of society.

Studies show that if you do three things:

1. Graduate from high school.
2. Wait until you are 20 to get married.
3. Wait until you are married to make a baby.

There is an 80% probability that you will never live in poverty.
Miss any one of them and there is an 80% probability that you will live in poverty.

It is most sad to see teens having sex, getting pregnant and dropping out of school. Then some get married and think that is a solution. (These marriages seldom last.)

Add a forth item:

4. Stay out of jail.

And the probability of living in poverty drops to 5%

How do we solve this?

1. Kids do well in school if they have both parents in the home.
2. Girls that have a strong, loving relationship with their fathers are far less likely to have sex at an early age.
3. A mother’s regulation keeps kids away from drugs and sex.
4. Over 80% of those in jail come from a fatherless home.

The government promotes sex among out young. Our society is designed to fail. Prohibiting prayer in school implies that there is something wrong with religion. Tax law penalizes marriage.

Our society is designed to destroy the family at present.

No amount of government can compensate for the destruction of the family.

Strong families mean far less poverty and far less crime.

The Rock on April 2, 2012 at 3:22 PM

You must preserve liberty at the smallest possible level, which is the individual. If it is preserved there, then it follows naturally that it is preserved at higher levels of individual organization. With individual liberty intact, people are free to associate into like minded social organizations as they see fit, and leave those oprganizations as they see fit.

Sorry, Tina, I think you’re wrong on this one. It is then up to the individual in conjunction with the family to decide which rights they are willing to concede towards the collective good of the family, rather than the family to decide as a collective which rights to deprive from the individual involuntarily. An important distinction, in my opinion.

gravityman on April 2, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Would any libertine care to make a coherent argument that the relationship between the individual and the state is more inviolable than the relationship between the parent and the child?

There is a difference here. You don’t have to be “afraid” of freedom or liberty to identify it, nor do you need to reject the importance of the family unit for the sake of individualism.

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Would any libertine…

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Hint for commenters: when someone conflates libertines and libertarians in their first post, it’s not worth engaging them. They already despise your worldview.

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Why we should speak of “Family vs. State” rather than “Individual vs. State”

Why this is a steaming pantload: The Bill of Rights protects individual rights. The Constitution does not contemplate family units and does not recognize familial rights. The Constitution contemplates the State’s duties and the relationship between the individual and the state.

Jazz on April 2, 2012 at 3:31 PM

….make a coherent argument that the relationship between the individual and the state is more inviolable than the relationship between the parent and the child?
JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 3:23 PM

What for? It’s agitprop. Our Founders were very methodical and enlightened in their linguistic choices. It’s already covered.

p.s. Not everyone becomes a parent, or relates to family building.

contrarytopopularbelief on April 2, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Studies show that if you do three things:
1. Graduate from high school.
2. Wait until you are 20 to get married.
3. Wait until you are married to make a baby.
There is an 80% probability that you will never live in poverty.
Miss any one of them and there is an 80% probability that you will live in poverty.

The Rock on April 2, 2012 at 3:22 PM

1. Which studies “show” these things? Try to be precise. Name the studies and their data sources (I did graduate, a little beyond high school).
2. What do those studies say about people who begin life in poverty?
3. Are you a dunce?

JackieB on April 2, 2012 at 3:36 PM

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Absolutely not true. But I’ll take it you don’t have an answer.

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 3:36 PM

The creation of the family is the most powerful act we take as individuals. And it is a creation, done voluntarily, that yields the family which is that first piece of society from which so much comes. By setting aside our negative liberties to safeguard our family, we set foot on the path to society, Nation and civilization.

Society we foster within our family and then amongst families near us, and that is a positive exercise of our liberties by not only utilizing our skills and abilities to help other families but to agree, amongst ourselves, not to exercise our negative liberties so as to protect each other from the fallout from them.

The Nation is created by man and woman who come together to create a family: it is thus we get Law of Nations from this simple and most powerful act of creation in the commitment to a family. You cannot have a Nation by individuals acting kindly to each other, you can only get it via the procreative safeguard for our children that a family yields to us by our creating it.

From Society and Nation we now self-govern amongst our families and seek to instantiate those things that protect us from the negative exercise of our liberties. Agreement between us starts us on the path to the necessities of continuity of agreement, and that includes such things as language to communicate our society. As we age we should gain wisdom and keep the memory of what we did alive and enforce the practicing of those positive aspects to enrich society. Sadly this is not paradise as we are fallen from grace, and we must then create the organ of society that will allow this continuity of society to be protected from those outside it and to regularize the agreements inside of it. We call this organ of society: government.

It is not as simple as individual or family against government, I am sorry to say, and conservatives need to recognize the complexity of the simple acts we take and why there are necessary acts of creation that we do, here on Earth, that require moral guidance to help us safeguard these creations.

Do note where government falls in all of this: it is not a positive creation but one to safeguard our negative liberties. Government is not the organ of thought, nor the organ of circulation, but the organ of elimination so as to keep society from being polluted. When the gut goes cancerous the toxins run freely into society endangering it, civilization, family and individuals all and without exception. That is why powerful governments create crashes of themselves: they try to become something other than the organ of elimination and, missing this vital function, fail.

So sad to see individuals try to vest the power of wisdom and oversight to the organ of elimination for society, for that is the most base hatred of your fellow man you can foster. It only leads to ruin, that path does. Usually to these things known as Dark Ages that come with Iron Times.

I do not hate government.

I seek to cut out the cancers of it so that it can perform those few things we seek of it.

ajacksonian on April 2, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Acht, I had a typo. Correction:
And I’m definitely not saying the family is NOT a very important institution from God that we must protect from the ravages of the Almighty State.

Of course, the family is very important in other words. But don’t sound like you are diminishing the importance of individuals. Many do not respond well to that, including many conservatives as I think several comments illustrate.

WannabeAnglican on April 2, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Destroy the family, you destroy the country.
Vladimir Lenin
Chip on April 2, 2012 at 3:20 PM

…they’re trying!

KOOLAID2 on April 2, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Absolutely not true. But I’ll take it you don’t have an answer.

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 3:36 PM

I do: it’s not a matter of competition. The Constitution of the United States, the binding contract that forms our government, discusses the relationship between the State and the Individual, not familial relations, nor any relationship between families and the State. Given, also, that not all individuals have or are members of families, this new framing of the argument is useless. Everyone in a family is an individual, and so is everyone who is not in a family. Trying to adjust our language into the “family-over-individual” paradigm is a fairly transparent segueway to get conservatives adopting Santorum’s holy roller attitude where “radical individualism” is the true scourge of our society.

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 3:45 PM

So says [Pope Leo XIII]:

The pope doesn’t speak for me.

parents who pervert the true ends of the family… should be brought to justice,

slippery slope

“More and more it is clear that the mere individual’s freedom against an omnipotent State may be no better than slavery;

I doubt this was Hayak’s meaning in “Road to Serfdom.”

The State grows on what it gives to the individual as it does on what it takes from competing social relationships — family, labor union, profession, local community and church.

Why doesn’t the inclusion of labor unions in this post by Tina surprise me?

This is Bill O’Reilly SoCon “conservatism.” I’m a libertarian conservative myself. That means I don’t disrespect family and religion (as pure libertarians do), but I don’t want the State promoting it either. I do think decent family values are important (the parent’s authority over children, etc.) but the State can keep it’s nose out of it, please.

Burke on April 2, 2012 at 3:47 PM

“True, a destitute family without friends must be assisted by public aid”

Not that any republican actually believes this…

ernesto on April 2, 2012 at 3:53 PM

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 3:45 PM

“Holy roller,” eh?

We give up elements of our absolute liberty to be a part of the civil society. This is recognized by the Constitution. The primary political arguments concern how much of this liberty you give up and how much is retained by the individual within that framework.

We do not give up any elements of liberty to our government to take part in the family unit. The familial relationship exists outside of any governmental control and is fundamentally different than the relationship between the citizen and the government. That’s why governmental interference is more pernicious when it deals with the family.

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 3:54 PM

“Holy roller,” eh?

Is that offensive to you? Or do you not believe the phrase applies to Rick Santorum? Either way, I don’t really care, because it’s not, and it does.

We give up elements of our absolute liberty to be a part of the civil society. This is recognized by the Constitution. The primary political arguments concern how much of this liberty you give up and how much is retained by the individual within that framework.

We do not give up any elements of liberty to our government to take part in the family unit. The familial relationship exists outside of any governmental control and is fundamentally different than the relationship between the citizen and the government. That’s why governmental interference is more pernicious when it deals with the family.

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Where did I talk about absolute liberty? Once again, you are floating off into addressing libertines that aren’t talking to you, or are even on Hot Air.

And once again: it doesn’t matter whether the individuals being encroached upon by the federal government are in a family or not. Either way, they are individuals. That’s all that matters. By taking additional grievance against the government when the individuals in question ARE part of a family, you demonstrate both that you care less about American individuals than American families, and that when a legislator claims that their own ideas for government encroachment are “pro-family”, you’ll happily go along with it.

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 4:01 PM

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 3:45 PM

I am someone that believes firmly in the family. As individuals my wife and I chose to build a family with a set of values that carry us through thick and thin. I want to commend you for your points people need to consider that without individuals and individual freedom you are braying at the moon when you try to shoehorn families into a position they don’t have.

chemman on April 2, 2012 at 4:03 PM

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 4:01 PM

There’s no use arguing with you about it. You’re too busy building straw-men in the shape of Santorum.

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 4:06 PM

I do think decent family values are important (the parent’s authority over children, etc.) but the State can keep it’s nose out of it, please.

Burke on April 2, 2012 at 3:47 PM

This. And a caution for the atheists busily hacking away at religious institutions: unless you have discovered some replacement I don’t know about, you might want to restrain yourselves. Society’s other major institutions have proven themselves ill equipped to provide the reinforcement for the family that religious institutions naturally provide as a matter of course. Academia has begotten socialism, media has begotten ignorance, and government has begotten tyranny. What’s the Great Replacement?

Nom de Boom on April 2, 2012 at 4:08 PM

There’s no use arguing with you about it. You’re too busy building straw-men in the shape of Santorum.

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Yeah, how crazy for me to address one of the two major presidential candidates…that has been endorsed on this website…and has spoken often in the very vein this post explores…when I talk about it. How dare I, right?

Thanks, though, for proving I was right to begin with.

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 4:10 PM

freedom is a zero sum game. it is not like economics where you can grow the economic pie. For every bit of freedom you give up another group gains power. the trick as the founders found is to limit the freedom you have to give up to get what you need.

unseen on April 2, 2012 at 4:11 PM

I am someone that believes firmly in the family. As individuals my wife and I chose to build a family with a set of values that carry us through thick and thin. I want to commend you for your points people need to consider that without individuals and individual freedom you are braying at the moon when you try to shoehorn families into a position they don’t have.

chemman on April 2, 2012 at 4:03 PM

My point exactly. Families and individuals are not at odds any more than classes and students are at odds. One is made up of the other. What affects individuals affects families. There’s no need to split us up into imaginary groups just so we can splinter the conservative movement further.

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 4:12 PM

What’s the Great Replacement?

Nom de Boom on April 2, 2012 at 4:08 PM

individual freedom and responsibility

unseen on April 2, 2012 at 4:12 PM

individual freedom and responsibility

unseen on April 2, 2012 at 4:12 PM

That’s the product, not the institution. Which institution produces it on a mass scale?

Nom de Boom on April 2, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Thanks, though, for proving I was right to begin with.

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 4:10 PM

LOL burn em’ all to the ground!

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 4:24 PM

And how does this apply to people who are without families? To wit, if a person does not enjoy a family structure; many do not through no fault of their own; why should their claims of citizenship or rights be marginalized as secondary to those who do enjoy the privilege? Furthermore, how do the basic rights applied at an individual level as enshrined in our Bill of Rights receive the same deference and protection when applied at a family level? The right of individuals to keep and bear arms becomes suddenly less effective and more problematic politically when individuals is replaced by families. Do only families enjoy the right of free speech, so that those who live alone or those that are not the head of their households are denied the same rights? Ultimately, every person is an individual, and as an individual, freely associates with groups, such as families. What I think you’re really arguing for, though you don’t know it yet Tina, is an understanding that people do not lose their rights when they associate as members of groups, such as families, and that these groups should enjoy the same constitutional protection of individuals. Fortunately, we’re moving in the right direction, as Citizens United indicates, despite the desires of half of the political spectrum (that believes rights are whats left when the government is done telling you what to do).

Professor de la Paz on April 2, 2012 at 4:28 PM

That’s the product, not the institution. Which institution produces it on a mass scale?

Nom de Boom on April 2, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Nobody on this world makes individuals free. individualism and personal responsibility are not products. and no institution produces it. In fact ALL instituions take freedom from you including the family. If you want a society you will have to give up some of your freedoms. the less of your freedom you have to give up the better. anarchy would allow the most individual freedom but will not produce a very good society.

unseen on April 2, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Professor de la Paz on April 2, 2012 at 4:28 PM

nice post

unseen on April 2, 2012 at 4:36 PM

To wit, if a person does not enjoy a family structure; many do not through no fault of their own; why should their claims of citizenship or rights be marginalized as secondary to those who do enjoy the privilege?

Professor de la Paz on April 2, 2012 at 4:28 PM

They shouldn’t be. Individual rights are what they are – the institution of the family should not marginalize them. But the government has no legitimate claim of control over competing social relationships such as the family. That’s why government interference in this area is distinct and dangerous.

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 4:38 PM

The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.

- Ayn Rand

Good Lt on April 2, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Let’s abolish all the burdensome taxes and regulations that damage the family unit, yes.

Let’s help out single parents (without putting them on government assistance), yes to that as well.

But we’re only contradicting ourselves by discriminating against same-sex couples adopting and raising children, not to mention allowing them to receive all the same benefits and privileges as traditional-married couples. Let them have their civil unions and children, and move on already. Two-parent households are better than one, right?

I have yet to hear a convincing argument against gay marriage/civil unions. The vague “it’ll destroy/belittle/make a mockery of the institution of marriage” explanation excuse doesn’t cut it.

TMOverbeck on April 2, 2012 at 4:54 PM

The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.

ShainS on April 2, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Oops — copy/past problem:

The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.

- Ayn Rand

Good Lt on April 2, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Beat me to it, Good Lt. Well done!

ShainS on April 2, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Tina, this is a great post.

Some thoughts: ‘family’ is a morally charged term. we’re advocating something here that not everyone agrees with. Feminists, for instance, would go nuts at the idea of a nuclear family that involves Leo’s idea of paternity. also, i agree w/ GoodLT and his Ayn Rand quote–the individual is sacred, too. but only in an intellectual way, i think. people should vote individually. but everyone exists in the social contract as a member of a family.

Steven McGregor on April 2, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Focusing on family is good.

But the whole point of family is that it culminates in multi-generational continuity.

Ultimately, the government needs to stop abolishing communities and neighborhoods with the stroke of a pen. Otherwise it’s really tough to maintain long term family continuity.

David Blue on April 2, 2012 at 5:15 PM

At any given time, I have anywhere from 15 to 20 tabs open in my Internet browser.

For a minute there I though I was hearing TheRaceCard.
It used to say that all the time, like he was some kind of genius for it.
Not that you are, Tina.
I was just taken back to that moron’s comments so long ago, before he was banned.

Badger40 on April 2, 2012 at 5:21 PM

but everyone exists in the social contract as a member of a family.

Steven McGregor on April 2, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Remember that not every family is a Norman Rockwell painting.

Some families are horrible, abusive, dysfunctional and destructive to the individual, and when the youth are old and capabale enough, the best thing for them may be simply to get out of it.

Which makes, again, the individual the frame of reference. Not the group.

Children are only folded into the group unit until they are a certain age. At that time, they become autonomous individuals as society is concerned.

Good Lt on April 2, 2012 at 5:52 PM

family is the basic unit of society and every individual originated in a family of some sort. The the power of the state grows in direct proportion to the decrease in the influence/stability of the family. While the term family may make people uncomfortable, and while family isn’t mentioned in the founding documents, that is insignificant in terms of the basic premise. Family dysfunction necessitates the intervention of larger societies, firstly the extended family, then civic society through the interventions of local, state, and federal gov’t. But also the more interventionists these institutions are, the greater the dysfunction engendered in the family.

Intact and stable families (with the father present) are a threat to the state even while the state is dependent upon them for its income through taxes and fees. The family doesn’t require the state except insofar as the state provides protection from crime or foreign invasion. The state however is very dependent on the family.

theblackcommenter on April 2, 2012 at 5:58 PM

They shouldn’t be. Individual rights are what they are – the institution of the family should not marginalize them. But the government has no legitimate claim of control over competing social relationships such as the family. That’s why government interference in this area is distinct and dangerous.

I agree, and I think that’s what Tina was trying to get at, just in a more convoluted way that will require a few “revelations” of some sort to correct her path away from dangerous group-based illiberal (small l liberal) logic.

Professor de la Paz on April 2, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Good Lt on April 2, 2012 at 5:52 PM

I agree bro. but we still recognise broken families as partial families–they aren’t new, more preferable social groups. and broken families don’t create a strong society either. Peter Hitchens had a good essay about this recently–this idea about what kind of society do we want to encourage and advocate? he was arguing in favour of trying to support marriage instead of fighting all the variations (civil partnerships, serial monogamy, etc).

Steven McGregor on April 2, 2012 at 6:40 PM

The individual is a concrete fact, the family is an abstraction. Do I assume Tina will next advocate “family rights” that supersede individual rights? What is the difference in principle between familyism and socialism? Not a thing. The essence of both is the sacrifice of some to others. This idea is merely a new rationalization for a collectivist politics based on an altruist ethic; the sacrifice of all to all. Individualism rejects all sacrifice and as a consequence, worships individuals who win in that market.
Those readers of Hot Air who agree will find a thorough presentation of a rational, individualist, capitalism in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (who was, by the way, married, since that’s what seems to matter to the readers of Hot Air).

WyattsTorch on April 2, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Isn’t “We need to strengthen/defend the family” just a social con code phrase meaning “We need to stop the gays from destroying society”?
theoddmanout on April 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM

I thought it was about the state taking over the traditional role of fathers leading to less marriage, children being raised by single parents, loveless consequenceless sex and semi-adult young males dominating their now smaller mothers because there is no adult male in the family; but then, what do I know about what I mean by strengthening the family.

KW64 on April 2, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Families are still a group of individuals. Unless you think all families should think the same way and hold the exact same opinions at all times. But if that’s the case then why not everyone of the same skin color or sexual orientation or political party or gender. See the problem with replacing the individual with a group of ANY size?

Cyhort on April 2, 2012 at 7:47 PM

…we must begin again to think of ourselves first and foremost as members of families. In other words, we must think of ourselves as members of families even more than we think of ourselves as individuals.

Most of my objections to this heinous post have already been stated the comments preceding mine, but Tina, if you really think this, then maybe you should re-examine whether any sense of conservatism – economic, moral or otherwise – is right for you. It sounds more and more like you’d prefer a benevolent dictator to any sense of personal responsibility among the great unwashed.

If we cease thinking of ourselves as individuals first, there is no hope for, among other things, the right to individual life. Intentionally or not, what you are provoking is a trapdoor to collectivism. You may think your notion of family is firm, but the American left, our POTUS included, has no issue invoking the “brother’s keeper” bit to justify a curtailing of freedom and a smorgasbord of redistributionist economics.

King B on April 2, 2012 at 7:55 PM

Thanks for the comments on this; it’s an issue I’m going to continue to contemplate. I still maintain that “the family” is different than “the neighborhood” or “the community.” We come into the world as “daughter” or “son”; we don’t just spring from the earth fully formed. In that sense, we exist from our first moment “in relationship.” We never exist in strict isolation. In that sense, no one is ever “single.” John Donne’s whole “No man is an island” and all that …

Tina Korbe on April 2, 2012 at 10:04 PM

No, thank you. I want my individual rights protected so I can live as I see fit, not as politicians, bureaucrats, or my family members see fit.

Cara C on April 2, 2012 at 11:36 PM

Obama wants complete control of America. Period. This kind of discussion is meaningless in terms of human nature. Who’s going to identify/define the ‘family unit’? Government, Religion, Academia? Now try to define ‘moral authority’, or even ‘morality’! lol These definition are determined by the belief systems which most influence individuals.

dahni on April 3, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Obama wants complete control of America. Period.

dahni on April 3, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Always charming to watch someone actually write their punctuation.

It never looks stupid. Never.

And you can always trust the opinions of the people who do it.

JackieB on April 3, 2012 at 3:09 PM

JDF123 on April 2, 2012 at 4:06 PM

He’s had a lot of practice. It’s too bad, really, because he has a lot of valid points and interesting arguments otherwise. He’s obviously not stupid, but it’s getting increasingly obvious that the social-issues chip on his shoulder has become quite the irritant and that does lead to posts laced with bitterness and the faint flavor of liberal indignation at anyone who’d dare “preach” morality. I assume his handle is based on the city and not the namesake of that city, who would not approve of much of the bile he regularly shows social conservatives. Not that Santorum’s perfect by any means – he’s very flawed, in fact – but MC’s posts read like those of the stereotypical leftist sometimes. Not that he approaches the sheer level of disgusting bigotry typical to them, but he does seem to often come to similar conclusions when judging those who aren’t socially liberal (railing against theocracy and other – again – strawmen).

CanofSand on April 3, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Studies show that if you do three things:
1. Graduate from high school.
2. Wait until you are 20 to get married.
3. Wait until you are married to make a baby.
There is an 80% probability that you will never live in poverty.
Miss any one of them and there is an 80% probability that you will live in poverty.

The Rock on April 2, 2012 at 3:22 PM

1. Which studies “show” these things? Try to be precise. Name the studies and their data sources (I did graduate, a little beyond high school).
2. What do those studies say about people who begin life in poverty?
3. Are you a dunce?

JackieB on April 2, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Dear T. Rock,

I have reason not to trust any of your opinions, especially your opinions about the education of children.

Your handle is a link to a website offering paid services to individuals who want to educate their children at home.

In the “about the company” section of that website (http://www.accelerated-achievement.com/?page_id=116), in the second sentence, your readers are regaled by this gorgeous certainty: “We are a small home business working to provide homeschooling families with exceptionally high quality education materials at a price that puts a quality education withing [sic] the reach of every family …”.

Withing? Really? Withing? And you’re going lecture us on how to educate children?

Excellent. I really want you to educate my kids. Really. Where do I sign up?

JackieB on April 4, 2012 at 3:12 PM

JackieB on April 4, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Grats, you found a typo. Meanwhile, in the real world, where more important things are given weight:

http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/long/wb/299001

I’ll refer you first to a study of poverty by William Galston a few years back. Galston drew some important conclusions, which some have heralded as common sense in statistical form and which others seem to prefer remain unspoken.

What he found is that doing three simple things almost always allows you to stay above the poverty line: Graduate from high school, don’t become a parent until you marry, and don’t get married until you are at least 20. I added two other factors in my previous column: Stay out of jail and off of drugs.

Galston’s study concluded that people who do these three things fall into poverty only about 8percent of the time – in other words, are not poor about 90 percent of the time. Those who fail to do all three land below the poverty line about 80percent of the time. Galston, incidentally, was a domestic policy adviser to President Clinton, not some heartless Republican plutocrat.

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Perspectives/Default.aspx?id=1408938

… the “traditional family unit” is an increasingly threatened species, and at a high economic cost to our society. Author Frank Turek points out that kids raised by their mom and dad are: “a. Seven times less likely to live in poverty; b. Six times less likely to commit suicide; c. Less than half as likely to commit crime; d. Less than half as likely to become pregnant out of wedlock; e. Develop better academically and socially; f. [Are] healthier physically and emotionally when they reach adulthood.” You had better believe the breakdown of the family has massive economic implications.

CanofSand on April 4, 2012 at 7:10 PM