Jan 01.

Stefan Molyneux

1 comment

The State and the Family

The State and the family are two closely interrelated mechanisms for suppressing the moral authority of the individual. The State is a fairly obvious case, in that it corrupts the morals of children for over a decade so they end up, at best, resentful but compliant – and at worst, worshipful. The corruption of these morals is quite simply achieved, by creating imaginary enemies – corporations, environmental degradation, the rich, the free market and so on – and by creating imaginary victories over these imaginary enemies. Thus without the State, we would all be chained to factory benches, poor, sick, hungry and so on.

The corruption of morals is, in essence, the corruption of rationality, and so of empathy. Any rule of instruction regarding human beings must by definition be applicable to all human beings, or it is mere irrational prejudice. The creation of conceptual categories whose moral nature takes precedence over the actions of individuals makes no difference. If I say that lions eat meat, but that a pride of lions is vegetarian, does that make any sense? Of course not. However, if I say that one group of people are greedy and destructive – i.e. capitalists – while another group is noble and moral – i.e. the government – what have I achieved? I have said nothing more than that one pride of lions eats meat, while another is vegetarian. But how can I call both groups ‘lions’ then? If a lion is defined as a meat-eater, then all lions must be meat-eaters – and no group of lions can be vegetarian. The concept derives from the instance, and can add no other characteristics to that instance. Calling a group of stars a constellation does not change the physical characteristic of any particular star. A ‘constellation’ is a conceptual convenience for us, not a magic wand that changes the nature of matter.

By creating categories which change the moral nature of human beings – corporations versus the government – the State destroys the moral logic that children are innately capable of. Children have no problem developing conceptual thinking; they don’t think that the next piece of broccoli is going to taste like chocolate, or vice versa. The natural conceptual abilities of the human mind must be corrupted by an endless stream of propaganda which plays on two additional innate mental habits: fear and tribalism.

We are, of course, designed to be logical – but even more fundamentally, we are designed to survive. In primitive times, when danger was constant, we gathered together in tribes, because only numbers gave us a chance against other – mostly human – predators. Thus fear triggers subjugation to the group for the sake of physical survival, which requires the dissolution of both logic and the individual personality. We are afraid of being murdered, and so we fight. Yet peace is nothing more than the recognition of reality. We fear murder, and if we are rational then we understand that our opponents also fear being murdered. We believe that blind obedience to a leader will save us, but if we are logical then we also realize that it is the blind obedience of our enemies warriors that is what endangers us to begin with. Blind obedience is not our salvation, but what gets us killed. Or turns us into murderers; it is hard to know which is worse.

That State generally takes over the primary task of education when children are five or so years old. Children are usually fairly obedient by this time, so the question then becomes: what is it about the family that prepares children for subjugation to the State?

There are several characteristics of the family which create the irrational prejudice so central to subjugation to the State – and of course this irrational prejudice is primarily designed to serve the irrational authority of the parents first and foremost. The State is, initially, a mere grateful recipient of broken and slavish children. (Later, it turns the children against the parents, but we will deal with that shortly.)

Parents have near-complete control over their children, and parents are rarely logical, since logic is an innate art that has been largely scrubbed from the human soul over the past two centuries or so. Thus if parents were to train their children that reality, logic and the resulting empathy is the highest moral goal, then of course parents would have to be logical and empathetic to begin with, which they are not. In other words, corrupt parents will never teach their children that integrity is a value. They will punish things like inconsequential dishonesty, but only to exercise their own power to control and humiliate, not to underscore any moral or rational principles.

Families excel at training the children in the black art of irrational prejudice by claiming that family is more important than reality. Children are told that they must love their parents, their siblings, their extended family for no other reason than biological or physical proximity. Is this not the basest form of irrational preference? Children naturally love moral, rational and wise people; they do not have to be bullied into doing so. Children naturally withdraw from smelly grandmothers who are distant, false or unkind. Saying to a child: ‘go and give your grandmother a hug’ is irrational and destructive. It inflicts the terrible lesson: love your grandmother because she is your grandmother, and not for any other reason. But what sense does it make to love one’s own grandmother, rather than someone else’s grandmother? If every child must love his grandmother, then every grandmother is deserving of love, but not for any objective reason. Bobby must love his grandmother, but not necessarily Ralph’s. Ralph must love his own grandmother, but not necessarily Bobby’s. Thus what can Ralph and Bobby have in common? How can they empathize with each other’s experience of love? They cannot. Their experiences have been sundered, and they have lost the capacity to empathize with each other’s perceptions of love. In fact, it is even worse than that. If for some reason they end up empathizing with each other’s experiences of irrational preference, they will realize that they were told to love someone simply on the basis of blind prejudice, and will feel violated and angry. It is not just that empathy becomes more difficult – it actually becomes a negative experience. If I am told that I must love the tree growing in front of my house for no other reason than that it is growing in my front yard, what is my relationship to the child across the street, who is told the same thing? How can we avoid fighting each other? He is told to love his tree; I am told to love my tree – how can we understand each other? If we ever do end up truly understanding each other, what we will understand is that our families told us lies – a fact that will collide head-on with the first lie that our families told us, which is that our family is always better than anything else.

There are many corollaries to this first lesson – my family is best – and they spread out like ripples in a pool. The second, usually, is either my country is best – or, for immigrants, my culture is best, for racists, my race is best – or, for classists, my class is best. There are many permutations of this, all designed to give the child false pride in some attribute that he has not himself earned. This is crucial. If a child can be trained to develop a false sense of self based on unearned attributes, he will be far less likely to question the value of those attributes in any fundamental manner, since it will cause him great emotional pain and mental disorientation.

Sports also play their part. The child must be exposed to – and encouraged to participate in – the rank irrationality of sports-team preference. We want Team X to win, he is told. Why? Because they are like us, in some manner, either through cultural, racial or physical proximity. The desire of the opposing team to win – and the desire of their fans for that team to win – is not explored. Again, the child’s capacity to reason – and so empathize – is blunted. We want our team to win is an absolute which utterly divides the fans of both teams.

So, when the child is handed over to the State, his capacity for rationality, morality and empathy is already broken. He cannot grasp the emotional states and preferences of those he is told are unlike himself. He takes pride in inconsequential attributes he has not earned. His capacity for integrity and rational thought has been crippled. In fact, all of the above positive values are now a threat to him, since they utterly oppose the false values he has been taught. If he ever comes close to understanding this, then he will also come close to understanding that his family is corrupt, and destructive, and has crippled his natural abilities for the sake of their own petty and irrational power. That what he was taught was the highest value – family is best – is in fact a negative value, since irrational preference destroys morality. And no children – and very few adults – are capable of that kind of radical reevaluation.

And so, when the broken child is handed from the family to the State, he is ready for his miseducation to continue. The two central principles of irrational preference – that proximity is better, and so categories of people are utterly different – have been so drilled into his helpless mind that the government will have little trouble with him. They can tell him that corporations are bad, and that the government is good, and he will believe them, because he is in a State school, and closer is better. He also believes that groups of people can be utterly different, and so the irrational idea that those in the government are somehow better than those in corporations – that some groups of lions are vegetarian, and some are meat-eaters – is comfortably familiar to him.

However, it is a truth of history that the irrationality that parents force-feed their children will inevitably turn on themselves. If children are taught that they must be loyal to whatever is closer to them, and have no empathy for those who are defined as ‘different’ they will inevitably be trained by the State to turn on their own parents. This is the grim retribution that parents inevitably sow for themselves by breaking their children so early in life. At first, the State merely gratefully takes over these children – but later, in time, it takes over not only the children but the role of the parents as well. Where the parents teach the child loyalty to irrational but personal authority, the State will teach the child loyalty to irrational but institutional authority. The parents want to retain their own power over their children, but will inevitably find their power destroyed by the far greater power of the well-armed State. Their children will be sent to war, to prison camps, and set to work exposing their parents for a variety of ideological crimes. Although we believe that we secure our own power by crippling our children, the truth is that there are far more malevolent forces in the world than parents, who will take up the empty shells we have created, arm them, and turn them against us.

Stefan Molynuex, is the host of Freedomain Radio (www.freedomainradio.com), the most popular philosophy site on the Internet, and a “Top 10” Finalist in the 2007-2010 Podcast Awards.
  • Truly beautiful essay. Struck a chord with me on multiple levels.

    Kaiser Soze / 2:08 pm /
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