One can employ the well known Hindu fable of the six blind men and the elephant in numerous contexts, to point out the importance both of perspective in understanding an issue, and the possibility of getting to any particular place via a route best suited to a specific audience. Thus, while the fable illustrates the ease of falling into error from a too limited perspective, the underlying reality can be one of the most powerful tools in the Conservative arsenal. The fable deals with an important reality, and to Conservatives, as champions of reality, different perspectives on reality are always useful.
Applying this lesson to present day America--indeed to the West at large--we would suggest that you can advance virtually the entire Conservative position on political, social and general ideological issues, from the perspective of an exposition of the merits--of the social and biological attributes and prerogatives--of the traditional, semi-autonomous family. In contexts where one is dealing with those, who have been indoctrinated in Fabian Socialist shibboleths, endlessly repeated in many of the centers of "educational" pretense, this may stir long benumbed thought processes. Yet whether or not ever actually used in argument, pursuing the concept can be a valuable training exercise--stimulating other useful patterns of thought.
The Conservative, who can rationally explain the basics of his beliefs from several distinct perspectives, has a great advantage over an adversary who has only the verbalized rationalizations and ex cathedra assertions, which have always comprised the core of the "Liberal" argument on major subjects.
The human family--in the sense of a functional household of mated, sexually compatible, adults and their progeny (with perhaps an extra generation still present in body, and many generations present in spirit)--is paralleled in most species of Mammalia. Admittedly, in most of these, there is far less recognition of the multi-generational aspect. (While many species have more fragile and shorter lived relationships, this is not true for all. Some are more clearly monogamous than Man. However, that is not the relevant point with respect to the concept of the family as a microcosm of the Conservative argument.) What is relevant is that no species acts as a species. There is no pursuit of World Government or world identity, of an undifferentiated species, in nature.
Whether creatures cluster and differentiate by herd, pride, troop or by other smaller family structure, or as loners mating for a long or short time that their genes may go forward; no species acts as a species. The universal shibboleths of the Left, the ideals of a macro collective or collectives that will dominate and subordinate the individual families of mankind, fly in the face of Nature--and hence, in theological terms, of Nature's God--as truly as do all the Lies of Socialism, treated in Chapter Seven and elsewhere. While man, in general, has fallen deeply into the limiting strictures of verbalized reasoning, it is probable that there remains a powerful, non-verbal but instinctive, identification with the concept of the immediate family; an identification far stronger than the perceptions promoted by those on the Left seeking to force an identification with humanity at large (Chapter 16). If this assumption is correct, the Family Approach may trigger support deep within the emotional core of many an individual listener.
A significant benefit from this Family Approach, in an ideological debate, is that you may accomplish two purposes of primary importance with a single effort. This is so for two reasons. First, reality is not divisible. What works, works; and the attributes of so obvious a truism must show up in all forms or situations that have anything at all to do with a particular subject. Secondly--but of course only as a reflection of the first--there is nothing more important to any Conservative value structure than the psychological health of the individual families of that Society. This is clear from the fact that it is only through a sense of family function, continuity and purpose, that a people pass on the achievements of one generation to the next. That is what Conservatism is about, preserving (passing on) what is valid in one's heritage to the future.
In such context, all issues become two edged; the obvious, in the immediate conflict, and the more subtle in the conditioning for a broader perception. Let us reflect on basic issues from this perspective, starting with attitudes towards Life, Liberty and Private Property. Of course, new Life comes from the interaction of individuals, male and female. But young Life is protected and nurtured by the family. Indeed, the obvious reason for the traditional family is precisely that: The procreation and nurturing of succeeding generations.
The single mother, without a family, is beyond question, at a terrible disadvantage. While some young widows with small children may have survived incredible hardship on the frontier, no rational person can suggest that such a situation is a desirable alternative to the traditional family unit. Nor can those who endorse the Federal ADC concept, which has subsidized the birth of millions of children out of wedlock, produce any evidence, whatsoever, that such collectively subsidized children can compete effectively with those raised in semi-autonomous families--either in the positive or negative sense. [A word of caution: While the benefits of the traditional family are manifest; the enormous statistical disparity between those born out of wedlock and those raised in traditional families--both in the far greater positive achievements of the latter, and the far greater incidence of anti-social behavior among the former--overstates the actual benefit. It is not, after all, the brightest on average, who tend to have children out of wedlock!]
Liberty? While there is a tendency by some to equate Liberty with a type of social anarchy, that is not the form it takes among those peoples who succeed. Without exception, the Nations which prosper to the greatest extent are those where people use what freedoms, they have, to build traditional families. The rational pursuit of happiness for most humans involves first, the pursuit of a mate, then the building of a life together. A "Liberty" that denies the fundamental mating quest--the pursuit of the social structure that best facilitates long-term contentment--is a "Liberty" of madness.
Liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inextricably connected--even as Jefferson suggested in the Declaration of Independence. Yet such pursuit is not purely philosophic. Most of us, like Jefferson himself, have a material side, also, where that pursuit involves, at least in part, a pursuit of property. (Indeed, a powerful motive for seeking property, even among the more spiritual and esthetic, lies in the attribute of property which makes complex, non-material, private pursuits possible.) Thus the whole basis of the Capitalist system, which has proven by far the most successful in promoting maximum human achievement, lies in the accumulation of property (capital) by those struggling to succeed. Inherent in such accumulative process must be a mechanism to pass on accumulations from generation to generation. The most effective mechanism for that passing forward is the traditional family, with the moral sense that each generation of that family has a primary duty to serve the next.
It is in a challenge to this concept, mounted by theorists on the Left, who in effect claim the accumulated labor of many generations in the name of a Collective, that the fundamental ideological confrontation of modern times has its origin. The principal dichotomy between Socialism, in any of its forms, and traditional Societies, can be explained in terms of the status of the family. If the traditional, semi-autonomous, concept be upheld, Socialism--that which proposes domination by an impersonal Collective--cannot function. If Socialism is upheld, the traditional family must be sacrificed to the collective need. Not unexpectedly, one often finds that a major Socialist theorist despised his own lineage.
Alternatively, we might consider the Bill of Rights, attached by Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, from a family standpoint: The First Amendment involves five principal concepts. The first two concern religion, and are clearly family oriented. In forbidding Congress either to establish a particular religion or to prohibit the free exercise thereof, the Fathers left the direction of religious practice and sentiment to others. Since by then (1791), even those States, which still had Established (State) Churches, had embraced the concept of freedom of individual conscience, the religious training and orientation of children, during their crucial formulative years, remained entirely the responsibility of individual families.
The significance is obvious. All of the great Socialist systems, Communist, Nazi or whatever, depend upon a public acceptance of the moral authority of the Collective--the mob over the individual. Such a socialist presumption is totally incompatible with the concept of family autonomy in instilling fundamental values. While the family determinant may not be so obvious in questions involving freedom of speech, press and assembly; a family religious orientation, imbibed during the formative years, will certainly have a major influence on how family members exercise such other First Amendment rights.
The Second Amendment involves the right of citizens to bear arms for their own and their Society's protection. While there is no doubt that the right is an individual one, the mention in the Amendment of the necessity for a Militia to the security of a free State, represents an historic perspective that is also inherently family oriented. For example, George Washington favored the Swiss system (Chapter Two), where the teenaged males were--and are--trained in the effective use of military weapons; where every private household is equipped with military grade small arms.
While, in theory, a loose assortment of undifferentiated individuals might respond properly as a citizen army, it is clear that what makes the Swiss system work is a sense of personal responsibility: A sense of duty, nurtured by the clear family identification developed during childhood, where each developing member recognizes daily, a profound role in the family and nation; where the daily, loving but demanding calls, that his parents answer on behalf of that family, out of their understanding of personal responsibility, provide a powerful and compelling example. It is this example, which has always inculcated an understanding of ongoing duty and permanent commitment. Whatever the collective strength of any Nation, its continuity ultimately derives from the identification of individual families with a common heritage. In the militia system, patriotism is not instilled from above. It grows out of the self-awareness and mutual awareness in families that share a common historic experience--a sense that responsibility for the whole must be found, family by family, household by household, generation by generation.
The Third Amendment clearly recognizes a species of autonomy--however limited--in every household: No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. Although this may by implication suggest a possible burden on the householder to house troops in time of war--a possible duty to be imposed in return for the protection of the Government--the thrust is certainly to protect the householder against intrusions by the collective. Any implied duty, if it may be so labeled, in time of war, surely reflects the concept of the political Society as a Social compact; an ongoing compact between families that endure, not individuals who perish..
Such, also, is the thrust of the Fourth Amendment, which deals with freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. Addressing the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, is completely consistent with a society composed of semi-autonomous families. Again, while the right would also pertain to undifferentiated individuals; generally those with significant houses, papers and effects, are those who live in family circumstances. In the days when such language was adopted, a man's home was considered his "castle," and every family, effectively, a separate small domain.
Considering other major issues, questions of Race Relations (Chapters 5 and 19), Patterns of Personal Identification (Chapters 11 & 13), Immigration (Chapter 15), and the purpose and direction of Education (one facet of which is treated in Chapter 16), can all--and probably all should--be focused with primary emphasis on the familial aspect. The debate over sex roles and proper relations between the sexes (Chapter 8 & The Feminist Absurdity), can really not be properly treated from any other vantage. The semi-autonomous family, as the herds, tribes, troops, prides and assorted groupings of other Mammals, in fact springs from our sexuality and the sex roles that arise from our distinct natures and common quest for survival.
Whatever the issue, it is in the continuity of the family and--in the human sense--of a realization of the importance of that continuity, that the real strength of the Conservative position will be found. It is in that continuity that civilization endures. In its absence civilization perishes.
A corollary to seeing a rationale for the Conservative ethos in the traditional Western family, is a recognition that in undermining the concept of the traditional family, the Left has very nearly destroyed the infrastructure of our Conservative heritage. Should we conclude from this, that those who seek to disparage or weaken the semi-autonomous family have a much broader agenda?
Such a conclusion is too sweeping. Certainly the Communists and Nazis demonstrated a clear contempt for the traditional family; each seeking to subvert family goals and loyalty in favor of the collective inculcation of statist values. It is equally obvious that the use of the family mechanism to pass on achievements from one generation to the next and beyond, is the natural antithesis of Communist purpose. Yet most of those aggressively promoting the family breakdown in America do not have so comprehensive a focus. Many are merely of the one issue variety of ideologue; others simply undisciplined and self-indulgent; others naive victims of a sham tolerance, promoted by a malignant combination of the devious with the compulsive and foolish.
A prime example would be the Feminist onslaught. While one may pretend that the legislated abolition of traditionally defined sex roles only reflects a general forced egalitarian--i.e. Communist--goal; most of those pursuing such an end are not so interested in achieving the delusion of a Communist utopia, as simply venting a hatred for all things feminine. (Indeed, it is difficult to imagine the typical Feminist being intellectually capable of any serious conspiracy. The true Communist--i.e. forced egalitarian--hates far more than his or her own sex.)
Much the same may be said of the socially destructive movement for easy/no fault divorce. While one of the conspicuous attributes of early Bolshevism, the idea has since been promoted by the simple and undisciplined, happy to buy the rationalization that no one should be trapped in a relationship which renders him "unhappy." Few give serious thought to the role that the availability of so easy an out from a once permanent commitment, plays in undermining the sense of that commitment itself; rendering the less committed infinitely more likely to entertain "unhappy" thoughts in a now less purposeful existence.
Another example would be the organized agitation for the acceptance of Homosexuality as an "alternative lifestyle"--a compound oxymoron. (Without normal sexuality, there is no life. Normal sexuality is not a life style, but the mechanism by which life is perpetuated.) The militant deviant, however, seldom has a broad Leftwing orientation. He or she is more interested in personal justification and opportunity than in destroying Civilization. Still, quite apart from any moral issue, the practical aspect of an acceptance of such alternative lifestyle is to diminish the common perception of the overriding importance of the normal mating quest. Inevitably, an acceptance of Homosexuality, as quasi-normal, weakens the traditional family. Yet for most people, vague not really thought out perceptions are more significant than any serious analysis of social phenomena. Only a very tiny minority of the population ever think deeply about complex subjects.
Similar, more limited considerations, effect the destructive demographics of the Welfare State (Appendix). Consider the explosion of illegitimate births in America: While there may have been devious intent involved in the original conception of the ADC program, which began the subsidization and took away much of the social stigma from births out-of-wedlock during the New Deal; most of the advocates were of the naive "do-gooder" rather than conspiratorial variety. Most of the women, corrupted by the subsidy, were and are virtually clueless as to the implications of their conduct on the march or retreat of civilization.
Few politicians who regularly identify with "Paul" in the "robbing Peter to pay Paul" aphorism, used to describe Leftwing schemes to redistribute wealth, have ever thought further than the constituency they seek to recruit at the next election. To suggest that they seek to undermine the American family would be a serious overreach. However, whether intended or not, that is the ultimate consequence of reversing the traditional American ethic of self-reliance and personal responsibility in favor of a collectively imposed equality.
Again, as repeatedly suggested in other Chapters, the most destructive delusion of the 20th Century is that which induces normal people to reject a preference for natural patterns of human identification. Thus racial, ethnic, tribal, religious and community, preferences have all been made suspect in the Leftist pursuit of an undifferentiated humanity. While Gordon Allport (Chapter 16) did include the family in his list of the sources of "prejudice," generally the Left have been less brazen. But, whether carefully planned or achieved as an incidental benefit to the Left from a corrupting ideology, that which diminishes or destroys the strength of the individual family effectively undermines the last major facet of traditional infrastructure.
In suggesting a benefit from considering the Family Approach to the debate, we emphasize a concept with importance well beyond the clash of views or hypotheses over any particular issue. We have touched upon the double benefits from the standpoint of the broader argument. But there are benefits quite apart from and beside any controversy between Right and Left--the battle between tradition and chaos. In stressing the semi-autonomous family in debate, we may trigger at least a brief scan within each individual as to what is really essential to personal happiness. In stressing what has worked in Society, as part of an intellectual presentation, we may actually contribute to the healthier personal orientation of each listener. And this in turn, however round-about the mechanism, must ultimately strengthen our position.
One can determine patterns of human instinct by examining the forms of human play. Consider what is really involved in most games; in popular sports--both spectator and participatory;-- what movies work best; what themes recur in successful literature; what people talk about. Basically, we come back to varied pursuits of romance and adventure. Romance--as plot material--works best when it leads to real bonding. Adventure works best, when deeply challenged by interests conflicting with those of the adventurer. In coming to see life as a challenge to family interests, and joy in overcoming such challenge as a family, acting for the family--cooperative with others similarly situated, of course, but with each unit remaining unique, just as those we identify with in drama or once sought as personal role models in our youthful development--we all come closer to our true nature. In returning to such sense of adventure--originally essential to survival, and no game whatever--we regain our inherent strength.
Socialism, as a war against reality, has always benefited from distortions in normal perceptions of life. A Society, where people are encouraged to pursue the instinctive mating and family quest that has underpinned social progress throughout history (especially in the more advanced cultures), is a Society less susceptible to the blandishments and intrigues of those who play on the fears and compulsions of the disoriented. In the subliminal perceptions encouraged by such reorientation, we may find the greatest benefit from a Family Approach to the Conservative argument.