Reason Magazine has a book review of Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions, by Steven Horwitz,
I have not read the book but wanted to give some commentary on quotes found within the review itself, which includes both Horwitz and the reviewer.
All bold emphasis mine.
Conservatives, he writes, typically “believe that the family is an institution under attack by the culture and by public policy.” As a result, they position themselves as defenders of the “traditional family” and lionize “family values.” Yet the institution these conservatives see themselves as defending—”a married, heterosexual family with children where dad is the primary earner and mom the primary caretaker of the household“—isn’t as traditional as they suggest. That model, Horwitz shows, was historically contingent, predominant for only about 20 years after World War II, and culturally nonuniversal.
This family model may not be “traditional” but it is natural. Socially, culturally and biologically men have a desire to provide for their wife and children. Wives sometimes can and do act as the breadwinner, but there is no expectation that they financially provide for the family.
Women naturally want to give birth to and raise kids.This is why it’s nothing to see a 16-year-old girl working as a nanny or a baby sitter. A 16-year-old boy applying for the position would get a visit by the local cops and stares from the community.
A counselor at my college told me every girl he counseled on their academic careers told him they secretly just wanted to get married and have kids.
The state has to indirectly and subversively condition them to act against their own nature.
There are a lot of major externalities for why families in the past and to some extent today could stray from this model.
- Wives needed jobs so the family could just pay basic bills
- Education system, society and culture reinforced values taught at home.
Today, too often the wives have careers for the sake of having careers. It’s not because they need the money; it’s because that is what they’ve been taught since childhood. It’s to finance a “have it all” lifestyle that goes contrary to her biological imperatives.
There’s a reason for the one in four anti-depressant use among women.
I’m sure the government doesn’t complain when mommy drops off her infant at daycare to work a corporate job that barely covers the costs of the daycare and other related expenses when all is said and done.
With this model, rather than just taxing the husband’s income, the state taxes three; the husband’s, the wife’s, and the daycare worker’s.
Feminists like to think they “empowered women” by sending them into the workforce, but all it did was enable the government to tax their labor as they had been doing to men since 1913.
We have a word for that: It’s called a “racket.”
Today, “traditional” parents have to send their kids to pricey private schools to ensure that some of their beliefs aren’t trampled on by the people educating them.
Not so long ago, if both parents had to work they could do so with the knowledge that their neighbors, local cop, teachers, coaches, i.e. the community would have their backs. Now they’re eager to stab those backs.
Also, state-coerced diversity and multiculturalism teaches that having separate beliefs from what is approved by the state is wrong.
Again, I’m sure the government loves it when two parents are working and don’t get to raise their own kids. The state will more than care for them. This is why it promotes the r selection reproductive strategy and punishes the k selection strategy.
Conservatives are absolutely right; the family is under attack from state policy. Having a single mommy with five kids from three different dads would not occur if someone wasn’t forced to pay for it. Divorce would not be 50 percent. Illegitimacy would not be 40 percent.
What conservatives don’t realize is that they feebly, incompetently, attempt to preserve a family structure that is increasingly removed from what they think they’re defending.
The cultural shifts that progressives generally regard as good—marriage as a voluntary union of autonomous equals, children as persons, the right to exit an abusive relationship—are the result, Horwitz argues, of the market revolution and the explosion of productivity it made possible.
Progressives love to talk about getting the government out of the bedroom but everything they promote does just the opposite, from abortion on demand paid by taxpayers and creepy “yes means yes” affirmative consent laws to no-fault divorce and imputed income. Believing that women should pay for their own birth control is considered a “war on women’s health.”
Marriage today is not a “voluntary union of autonomous equals” but a fraudulent state license passed off as a contract.
By changing families’ functions, industrialization and markets allowed changes in families’ forms. If the point of getting married is no longer the economic necessity of producing farmhands, but rather to provide emotional satisfaction and happiness, this opens up the possibility of the spouse being of the same sex.
This argument is hard to take seriously.
Homosexuality existed in both ancient Rome and Greece. But they never called it “marriage” and the reason had nothing to do with economics or farming. They understood marriage wasn’t just a sexual relationship or a form of commitment between two people.
Men aren’t turning to same-sex marriage because they no longer need kids to work their farms. It’s about making a political statement. It’s an open secret the gay community reviles monogamy. Almost half of same-sex marriages are “open.”
Contrary to what you’re told, marriage as an institution was stable until around 1960. The changes after that weren’t caused by free market forces but by direct state intervention, starting with no-fault divorce.
“Where conservatives will have to reconcile their supposed love of capitalism to the reality of the dynamic cultural change it produces that they dislike,” he concludes, “progressives may have to recognize that the diversity of family forms that they rightly celebrate is significantly due to capitalism and the wealth it has created.”
We don’t live in a free market society and haven’t since 1913. Thank you, Fed.
All of this is thanks to the state. Not capitalism or the free market.
The takeaway lesson Horwitz offers for conservatives is that there is no cause for alarm if same-sex couples get married or if unhappy partners divorce.
Conservatives aren’t alarmed when Adam and Steve get married. They’re alarmed when the two show up to their bakery or florist shop and insist they provide goods and services against their will under threats of state violence. They’re alarmed when their kids are taught at their state-run school to embrace these values when it contradicts what they teach them at home. They’re alarmed when these groups try to force their way every single institution to accept them and sue when they don’t compliance.
If two parties voluntarily agree to divorce on the same terms that is one thing.
But that never happens. Roughly 80 percent of marriages are ended against the will of the other spouse. Usually because the divorcing partner intends to clean them out.
No-fault divorce allows a cheating partner to walk out of a marriage with the same amount as a spouse that walks out because of abuse.
No one would ever agree to this setup within a voluntary contract.
That is a cause for alarm.
Modern marriage also allows a spouse to leave without any fault on the part of the other yet they will still have their children taken from them at gun point by the state, forced to pay child support, possibly alimony, and also take other possessions such as the house.
What idiot would voluntarily agree to this?
Which is why the state enforces every step of it.
Also a cause for alarm.
At the same time, progressives who appreciate recent changes in family form need to be more aware of the political and economic changes that have brought us where we are.
I’m sure Progressives are aware of this, because it is only through the intervention of the state any of this would occur.
Libertarian family values are ones that conform to the natural order of things. If they are not sustainable without coercion or aggression then it is not libertarian.
One can argue theoretically some of these things are possible, but if that something requires state coercion right now it is a good bet it wouldn’t last long in a voluntary system.