Nationalization of the family

Great analogy from Professor Vaidyanathan of the Indian Institute of Management, subject of a column by Mark Steyn, Bringing It Home:

Bangalore is also home to the Indian Institute of Management, wherein resides Professor R. Vaidyanathan. The professor has an arresting phrase he likes to use: “the nationalization of the family.” I would doubt he’s the chap responsible for the coinage, but he applies it brilliantly, as the defining fact about the decline of the West. He has a certain post-imperial chippiness and he’s nobody’s idea of a right-winger, but I think he’s on to something. Once upon a time, in Britain, Europe, and beyond, ambitious leftists nationalized industries — steel, coal, planes, cars, banks — but it was such a self-evident disaster that it’s been more or less abandoned, at least by those who wish to remain electorally viable. On the other hand, the nationalization of the family proceeds apace. “The West has nationalised families over the last 60 years,” writes Vaidyanathan. “Old age, ill health, single motherhood — everything is the responsibility of the state.”

…The nationalized family is the key to understanding why the West’s economic “downturn” is not merely cyclical. Like any other nationalized industry, the nationalized family prioritizes more and more perks for its beneficiaries, is unresponsive to market pressure, and revels in declining productivity. Literally: The biggest structural defect in the Western world is its deathbed demography, the upside-down family tree. When 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren (as in Greece), it is a societal challenge under any circumstances. When 42 grandchildren have to pay off the massive debts run up by 100 grandparents, that’s pretty much a guarantee of disaster. The Great Contraceptive War of 2012 is a classic nationalized-industry story straight out of moribund pre-Thatcher Britain: The workers are demanding more pay for less productivity — or, to be precise, no productivity.

…In the end, in Britain and much of Europe, the nationalized industries of the post-war years got privatized — which is how an Indian tycoon came to own the formerly state-run Jaguar and Land Rover. Privatizing the nationalized family will prove a tougher proposition.

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One Response to Nationalization of the family

  1. Paul Marks says:

    It goes back a lot further than 60 years (although in this time period it has become obvious – apart from to the willfully blind).

    In theory it goes back thousands of year (to Plato and the rest) – however in terms of “successful” practice it goes back only really to Frederick the Great.

    There have been many despots in history (for example just before Frederick’s time period there was Louis XIV of France the “Sun King”). However, in the end, there statism was not judged “sucessful” – Frederick statism was judged (by many people in many nations) a success. For example, he was wildly popular In Britain – including with liberals. Indeed the word “state” first starts to be used in the English language in a positive way about this time (the word “state” being used almost as sacred term). And Frederick’s statism included the family – for example EDUCATION.

    Many German philosophers (and other philosophers – and political figures such as Thomas Cromwell in 16th century England) had dreamed of the state taking control of education (and poverty relief, and careing for the sick, and old age provision and …..), but Frederick actually had made successful moves to a state edcuation system

    Frederick was the inspiration of Bismark – and Bismark (in the late 19th century) did other things that the statist thinkers had dreamed of and also made a “success” of them (old age provision, sickness – and on and on).

    If the state finances the education of the children, the treatment of the sick, the provision for people in their old age (and on and on) then what is the point of the family? Or of any civil society cultural institution?

    This may have only become obvious in recent times – but the seeds (and Bismark’s schemes were very small when they started) of the destruction of Western civilization (yes it is that radical in effect) were planted long ago.

    Last point – the Indian thinker should beware, for the very same things are happening in his own country.

    “But the public services are smal in India” – they started small in Europe and North America also. Once the committment is made (to look after all the basic needs of the population – from eduction to health care to…..) then the spending follows.

    And that is already happening in India – look what has happened to health, educartion and welfare (income support) spending in recent years.

    Eventually this will lead to economic bankruptcy (the budget deficit is growing) but it is more than that – even the Indian family (as strong as it now is) can be undermined. And present policy will eventually do that.

    I find myself actually hopeing for economic bankruptcy – financial bankruptcy (the final collapse of these “successful” schemes) before they can finish their true work.

    Social bankruptcy – the undermining of civil society itself via the undermining if such independent cultural institutions as the family.

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