December 07, 2004
Natalism or fatalism?
This article by David Brooks reminded me of some wonderful neighbors I once had:
Natalists are associated with red America, but they're not launching a jihad. The differences between them and people on the other side of the cultural or political divide are differences of degree, not kind. Like most Americans, but perhaps more anxiously, they try to shepherd their kids through supermarket checkouts lined with screaming Cosmo or Maxim cover lines. Like most Americans, but maybe more so, they suspect that we won't solve our social problems or see improvements in our schools as long as many kids are growing up in barely functioning families.A few questions.
Are "natalists" (gay separatists used to call them "breeders") communitarians?
Can a natalist be an individualist or are these two things incompatible?
Back to my neighbors. Maybe they were non-comformists, but as a lovely heterosexual couple who couldn't have children (they wanted to but couldn't), their view of the world was refreshing to me, because they just seemed to have more time to reflect on things. Not so caught up in the chaos which plagues so many others. The fact is, holding down countless jobs to pay for the endless indicia of affluence which peer pressure (or worse, self-imposed ambitious pressure) can bring to bear might challenge beliefs in individual freedom -- even without factoring in the outside pressures on one's children.
Why a childless couple would not only seem free but actually be free and think libertarian thoughts is still unclear. But as they told me many times, when they'd get into arguments with their communitarian friends, they'd have the same line thrown at them: "You only think that way because you don't have children! IF YOU HAD CHILDREN, YOU'D UNDERSTAND!"
So naturally, I used to think that libertarians were either gay, childless, or the occasional crazed egalitatarian. Fortunately, I now know there are more.
But what's with this "natalist" business, anyway? What does it mean to be "too busy to fight the culture wars"?
Too busy to have an opinion? Too busy to have yourself tattooed and pierced? Or too busy (as Jonah Goldberg's reader suggests) to "to take our kids to ridiculous protest marches, bang bongo drums in the streets, wear stupid contumes, chant silly slogans, and disrupt other people's businesses and schedules." (Via Glenn Reynolds.)
I don't do those things, and it makes no difference how much time I might have. Nor would it make any difference if I had children. To me, opposing the culture war has always meant standing up to those who will not leave others alone. This mindset is not limited to the left or the right. Mr. Goldberg's example will do fine as an example coming from the left. In this blog, I have given innumerable examples of what I dislike on the other side. Both sides are tedious as hell, and they make me glad I don't have kids. Imagine trying to raise a child in a culture where the word "family" is seen by ever larger groups on both sides as meaning opposition to homosexuality. Where if you had a kid who wanted to be a boy scout (which kids did when I was a kid), you'd have to drag your 10-year-old kid into either making a stand against the "gay agenda" or else be accused of polluting the culture and ruining Western Civilization.
I'm sure I'm just being paranoid, but it seems to me that once you have a kid, you lose independence in a major way, and I do not refer to the loss of time spent taking care of the kid or earning the extra money it takes to raise a kid. I mean that suddenly, you're supposed to be worried about what the other kids and their parents are doing, what the damned school is doing or not doing. Whether your kid is going to be drugged with Ritalin because he can't sit still and pay attention to a moronic (and bored) teacher who can't spell, add, subtract or teach, but who instead wants to yell at your kid about "gun violence," tell him his country was founded by bigots who slaughtered and enslaved the world, and make him take classes in things like "anger management."
I'm glad I never had to deal with that kind of stuff, and if I had kids I'd be terrified that I'd have stuff like this thrown in my face by people who can't mind their own business.
Whose culture war is this, anyway?
Even thinking about it makes me want to sue them for pre traumatic stress. Hey, my money goes into those stupid schools; maybe I should file a lawsuit for wasting my money or something.
Or are you just supposed to do what everyone else does? Justin told me earlier that San Francisco's bohemians are looking unhappy these days, because nobody's different. They're all the same and it's old and tired. Perhaps the "natalist" movement is a form of rebellion against it. As a rebel against rebellion, I ought to be able to relate to that. But I can't, because I really don't need another "ism" to join.
So what do you do if you don't want to join 'em, but you don't want to beat 'em?
Self-defense is a human right. Its denial is monstrous.Agreed. I was always taught to stand up to bullies, but now schools will have children prosecuted for doing just that.
Are we in England again?
I think we may be. Here's a teacher who was horrified enough to write about the problem:
I started substitute teaching this May. Today I was monitoring the recess of two first grade classess on the play ground. I caught one kid pummeling another kid. THe other kid just stood there and let the other kid kick him and punch him. I stopped the fight and got one of the regular teachers. The regular teacher found out what happend and THANKED the kid who was being hit for not hitting back. She told him "Thank you. Remember, DON"T HIT BACK EVER!" I asked the kid why he didn't defend himself. He said that it was never ok to hit anyone. I said "Oh yeah." Disgusting, they teach these kids that self defense isn't ok at an early age. I don't know what else I could do. I'd probably lose my job if I said anything else.Some things are worth losing your job over.
MORE: None of this is new, of course. Michele Catalano has been dealing with it for some time.
You would think that after a year of complaints about this child, after all the trouble he has caused - and not just with my son - after all the times he has been sent to the main office to sit on the bench and sulk, they would stop with the touchy-feely, root cause, search inside yourself crap and realize what the true problem is: this kid is rotten to the core and he does not belong in a classroom with children who are there to learn, not to be bullied.Such schools should be made to fear the parents. (I'm thinking that like Noam Chomsky, they're not anti-violence at all; they're just on the bullies' side.)
Michele's son eventually prevailed.
But why is self defense being frustrated by school authorities?
I agree that self-defense is a human right, and that its denial is monstrous. It follows that schools which deny the right of children to defend themselves are guilty of nothing less than child abuse. (The obvious logical implications for parents who send their kids to such schools are unpleasant to contemplate.)
MORE: Speaking of whether we're in England again, Wretchard at the Belmont Club has a real horror story of where this philosophy of enforced pacifism leads. Glenn Reynolds has linked it already, but don't miss it! (As for active passivity, I think it's strictly for the Eloi!)
posted by Eric on 12.07.04 at 04:57 PM
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» Does parenthood cause nannyism? from SayUncle
Or rather does it lead to the end of libertarianism? Eric, who has been on a roll lately, writes: I'm sure I'm just being paranoid, but it seems to me that once you have a kid, you lose independence in a major way, and I do not refer to the loss ... [Read More] Tracked on December 8, 2004 12:02 PM
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