Sackerson is perfectly correct. The revolution will not happen. The populace will not march on Westminster, MPs will not be hanged from the lamp columns, Mandarins will not be immolated on piles of computer print-outs. Threats to the power of the Central State from groups of bloggers are risible. Already we can look back at chaps dressing-up in Guy Fawkes costumes and strolling politely around Whitehall as amusing naivety rather than effective political protest. No, the real threat to the Central State comes not from seditious internet cabals but from the humble family.
Whether the government of the day is Labour or Conservative, whether our rule comes from Westminster or Brussels, our rule by a Central State that draws its power from the distortion of the popular will in the realm of equality is the pertinent fact. Everyone believes in equality, and there is no denying the benificent reforming power of the Central State, for example in abolishing slavery, or for emacipating Catholics, and the democratising effects of technology have proven effective in increasing equality of chance for all. But the distortion that sustains the despotism of the Central State is not the equality of chance but the equality of result.
The war between the family and the State is very ancient, wrote Robert Nisbet; when one is strong, the other is generally weak. That black dog Rousseau was so fearful of the countervailing authority of the family that he wanted to take children from their fathers lest they value the authority of the family as greater than the authority of the State, a credo that seems to have found a fertile echo amongst the country’s Directors of Childrens’ Services.
That other black dog John Rawls, the inspiration for Gordon Brown’s take on ‘fairness’ (meaning equality of result) and for Balls’ whole economic policies, also regarded the family as the greatest enemy of a Central State founded on equalitarianism. As Nisbet wrote in ‘The New Despotism‘;
This principle means simply that there shall be no inequalities of “social primary goods” in society unless it can be demonstrated that such inequalities are in the interest of the less advantaged. There must be no differences among individuals in social position, the fruits of knowledge, talent, and enterprise, as well as in income and property, except insofar as superior possession among some can be demonstrated to rebound to the welfare of others. This, succinctly stated, is Rawls’ difference principle.
Liberty for Rawls, as for Rousseau, means not the freedoms, autonomies and immunities that give the family its power, but a mere equal share in something called Liberty that is ‘owned’ by all. For Rawls and Rousseau, as for Brown and Balls, Liberty means Equalitarianism.
Nisbet quotes Shumpeter in reminding us that
… it was not the isolated individual, so dear as an abstract concept to the classical economists, but the household that was the main engine of modern capitalist development. It is not economic man, but quite literally, the head of the household working for the present and future of themembers of his family, and hence saving and investing, in however small degree-who is the central figure in the capitalist drama, as in all earlier forms of economy.
Wherever there is private property there is a strong family system and strong bonds of kinship and clan. The family is the final enclave of political and economic privacy. It is also the final and most formidable barrier against the redistributionism of the Equalitarians. Again to quote Nisbet;
The New Equalitarians of our day seem to detest the central elements of the social bond quite as much as Rousseau did. I refer to the whole tissue of interdependences, interactions, conflicts, coercions, conformities, protections, and disciplines which are the molecules of social order. It is with good reason that our equalitarians detest such interdependences, for, in whatever degree or form, inequality is the essence of the social bond. The vast range of temperaments, minds, motivations, strengths, and desires that exists in any population is nothing if not the stuff of hierarchy. When associations are formed for whatever purpose, cooperation and mutual aid included, inequality is immediately apparent. Even the New Equalitarians would presumably baulk at the thought of holding all musical talents to the same limits; and no doubt they would feel the same way with respect to academic and intellectual talents. It is the “economic” realm that they have in mind. But, as I have said, it is cultural, psychological, and social inequality that galls once equality is declared the ascendant ideal. Rousseau detested the arts and sciences, just as he did all social interdependences, seeing correctly that in these areas inequality is impossible to contain.
Support for the family as an independent baulk to the authority of the Central State and for the rights to private property founded in horizontal ties of clan and kinship comes also from what may be an unexpected quarter; Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum;
Hence we have the family, the “society” of a man’s house – a society very small, one must admit, but none the less a true society, and one older than any State. Consequently, it has rights and duties peculiar to itself which are quite independent of the State.
That right to property, therefore, which has been proved to belong naturally to individual persons, must in like wise belong to a man in his capacity of head of a family; nay, that right is all the stronger in proportion as the human person receives a wider extension in the family group. It is a most sacred law of nature that a father should provide food and all necessaries for those whom he has begotten; and, similarly, it is natural that he should wish that his children, who carry on, so to speak, and continue his personality, should be by him provided with all that is needful to enable them to keep themselves decently from want and misery amid the uncertainties of this mortal life. Now, in no other way can a father effect this except by the ownership of productive property, which he can transmit to his children by inheritance. A family, no less than a State, is, as We have said, a true society, governed by an authority peculiar to itself, that is to say, by the authority of the father. Provided, therefore, the limits which are prescribed by the very purposes for which it exists be not transgressed, the family has at least equal rights with the State in the choice and pursuit of the things needful to its preservation and its just liberty.