's A People's History of the United States
is a book whose first page I could never get past. The author's cartoonish juxtaposition of the Noble savage
of the Americas with the "Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money"─what's wrong with the first two? [My college friends from The Seneca Nation Of Indians
taught me to have little time for latter-day Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Still, I've been meaning to get around to reading the yellowing book with its crisp spine that sits on my shelf, but this quote from a post over at catholicanarchy.org
─Howard Zinn on families as “pockets of insurrection”
─despite the kernal of truth amidst its many errors, leaves me lukewarm:
In the problem of women was the germ of a solution, not only for their oppression, but for everybody’s. The control of women in society was ingeniously effective. It was not done directly by the state. Instead, the family was used — men to control women, women to control children, all to be preoccupied with one another, to turn to one another for help, to blame one another for trouble, to do violence to one another when things weren’t going right. Why could this not be turned around? Could women liberating themselves, children freeing themselves, men and women beginning to understand one another, find the source of their common oppression outside rather than in one another? Perhaps then they could create nuggets of strength in their own relationships, millions of pockets of insurrection. They could revolutionize thought and behavior in exactly that seclusion of family privacy which the system had counted on to do its work of control and indoctrination. And together, instead of at odds — male, female, parents, children — they could undertake the changing of society itself.
The idea of "millions of pockets of insurrection" appeals to me greatly, but the author gets the first part all wrong. The family was chief among Edmund Burke
's Little platoons
, "the spontaneous social groupings that people create for themselves as bulwarks defending civil society against despots and revolutionaries" or "the glue that holds society together and makes it tolerable." The family was the most fundamental of the corps intermédiares
and voluntary associations
that Alexis de Tocqueville
knew to be the only buffer between the individual and the State. The ideal of the family is even more deeply enshrined in Confucianism
, as the five relationships
are not voluntary. To whatever tradition one turns, the family, not the individual, is the basic unit of society.
In Mr. Zinn's "liberation" is the germ of the destruction of the family, the very "pocket of insurrection" he advocates. Why does Mr. Zinn suggest that "to be preoccupied with one another, to turn to one another for help" are not good things? He advocates "women liberating themselves, children freeing themselves," but from whom? From the father, thereby leaving women and children in poverty? From the family itself, thereby leaving them as atomized individuals defenseless against the State? Was it not in the Garden of Eden where "men and women beg[an] to understand one another"? Is not this "Battle of the Sexes" a modernist creation? Of course, it is true that in some familes, members "do violence to one another," but we must remember that even if this were more often the case, Abusus non tollit usum
, in Look Homeward America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists
, reminds us that both Mother Jones
and Emma Goldman
opposed women's suffrage and knew that having wives institutionalize their children so that they might join their husbands in Wage slavery
was not "emancipation." The early labor movement fought tooth and nail so that their women would not be forced into the factories. Mr. Zinn should be made aware of this inconvenient truth. Rosie the Riveter
won out in the end with a little help from FDR. Consumerism
then lead to the creation of Youth subculture
, and parents and their children not only bought different things, they now spoke different languages and belonged to different cultures. The Great Society
's War on Poverty
was really a war on the black family, which, despite some pockets of insurrection, has largely been defeated, and, like the losing side in the Indian Wars
, has been reduced to being a client of the State.
Yeah, I'm all for making The Domestic Church
into "millions of pockets of insurrection." Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
Labels: American History, Confucianism, Family, Leviathan, Modernist Tomfoolery, Politics, Race Matters, The Catholic Faith, The Second Amendment