Where have all the villages gone?

You do see this point made in some form in many articles on free-range parents. I made it myself: “In suburbs and small towns, stay-at-home moms formed ‘eyes on the street,’ so that even if your kid was roaming the neighborhood, there was a gentle adult eye periodically sweeping across their activity.” But these parents see things very differently; they don’t want to be “eyes on the street,” and they resent the Meitivs for forcing them into that role.

The idea of parenting that these people embrace is the natural result of a broad liberal conception of how society should work. One the one hand, you have a narrow private sphere, which is mostly confined to the home and children and perhaps churches. The rest is public space, and as Yuval Levin pointed out in an essay on the Hobby Lobby case, the vanguard of this movement is increasingly trying to “establish a public monopoly on the aims of social action.”

“American progressivism,” he writes, “has always wanted to clear out the space between the individual and the state and to confer rights only on individuals, rather than encouraging people to form complex layers of interacting institutions with diverse views of the good that each pursues with vigor and conviction.”