Neighbourhood can replace the family?

Naturally, at Christmas, Churchmouse put out a post about the Queen’s Christmas speech, in which he wrote:

She spoke about the importance of the traditional family structure and reviewed events in the Royal Family’s own life — including the two weddings of the past year — on unity and support in times of trial. Perhaps in a nod to those without family nearby, she added that neighbourhoods and communities can serve as a means of mutual support and friendship when we need them most.

I can’t help but be alarmed by:

Perhaps in a nod to those without family nearby, she added that neighbourhoods and communities can serve as a means of mutual support and friendship when we need them most.

“Neighbourhoods and communities”, you’ll note, not “friends and colleagues”, not the local church or hospice.

It may be an entirely innocent remark which slipped in unawares in a keynote speech but such talk is pure communitarianism and it goes something like: families are increasingly fractured [though not through our policies], therefore we, the State, through our mentoring programmes [not brainwashing in the least and not intended to get children onto the state nannying teat], at the behest of our caring Common Purpose philanthropists and using an army of PC-rich, entirely uncloned social workers, will take over responsibility for you and for your child, should we suspect the slightest dysfunction.

Even now we’re busily trying to track down home-carers through clandestine supermarket surveys at checkouts.

One Saul Becker, Professor of Social Policy & Social Care, one of his main claims to fame being “the development of psychometric instruments for young and adult carers”, is heavily involved in this identification and he says, among other things:

This is closely allied to Mentoring, which even in the official literature speaks of armies of volunteer mentors who are, of course, trained by “those who know” into labelling newly-identifying vulnerable families. So we even have “reverse mentoring“, all of which comes back to the programmes developed by academics in thinktanks at universities, co-opted by the government to get barely trained, often unemployed, non-professionals to go into homes with government clout behind them and to do their stuff.

The issues arising in this cascading chain – from the supermarket informer to the family labelled by the state and therefore justifying intervention – hardly need explanation. It’s not that there are families which have become largely dysfunctional – there are and that’s another post as to why – but of who is involving themselves in the vulnerable and the methods they’re employing to do it. There are legitimate questions of competence of staff taken on to do it and the basis on which they are taken on in the first place.

More than this though is the universality, the ubiquitousness of all this mentoring and identifying, at the same time that communitarianism is also being pushed as the third way and then there is the rhetoric, the form in which the thing is organized. Am I alone in being highly suspicious about this:

Committee of 100? Seeking Common Ground? Run by whom, funded by whom? And returning to our own side of the pond, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects everyone’s “private and family life, his home and his correspondence” from state interference – is that so?

Yet here is the state co-opting people to train volunteers to go into people’s lives and make executive decisions confirmed by their supervisors, themselves trained by the self-learning programmes developed by whom? What organization does every council have lurking in the shadows, overseeing its operations?

Rob Lyons, at Spiked [on obesity but it equally applies across the board]:

Tam Fry, a trustee of the UK National Obesity Forum (NOF) … told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘I know some people will think this goes too far down the road of the nanny state, but I think if you tell people that their own habits can put their future children at risk they just might listen.’

National Obesity Forum. Sigh. It’s relentless. They never sleep, never let up. They’re gripped by a skewed perspective, a woeful education, lacking experience and in some cases, competence and a keen sense of the “good” they’re trying to force on society.

Deliver us.


Some notes on Communitarianism, by the way:

Antecedents of communitarianism:

Roots, defining the debate and religion:

Communitarianism in practice:

The Communitarian and the libertarian:

Vaclav Klaus spoils a Communitatian talkfest:

3 comments for “Neighbourhood can replace the family?

  1. Andrew Duffin
    January 5, 2012 at 8:58 am

    “…if you tell people that their own habits can put their future children at risk…”

    At risk of what? Obesity, or being taken away by the State?

    Terrifying stuff.

  2. January 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Re National Obesity Forum. Please note: this is not a traditional taxpayer-funded fakecharity, it is a lobbying organisation for Big Food.

  3. Voice of Reason
    January 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    And all of this interference pretends to be science, but isn’t. Most, like education reforms, assumes that we can treat people like production engineering.

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