Many traditionalists believe that the government must subsidize families and traditional morality. They will call for the state to support their ideas through forced morality or other incentives. Where traditionalists go wrong, however, is that they ignore the fact that any government is inherently harmful to the family.
There is no government policy that can truly aid the traditional conception of the family. If one truly supports the family as fundamental to society, then they would support keeping the government as far from it as possible.
Governments Grow at the Expense of Families
In Robert Nisbet’s The Quest for Community, Nisbet argues that as the community declines, a hole opens in the heart of humanity. This is particularly true as families decrease in social relevance. Because of this sudden loss of necessary social structures, governments take its place.
Andrew Breitbart is correct: politics is downstream from culture. What Nisbet miss out on, however, is that the growth of government is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whereas family, church, and community was the support system in the past, the government has tried to take that place in modernity.
In order to do this, the government must destroy these institutions. By establishing a massive welfare state, people believe that the need for family, church, and community is no more. Why have families when you can have welfare? Why have a community when the state defines who you are? A national identity is a direct attack on a family identity. The goal of the state is to make you one of theirs. This means that they must take you from your other social institutions.
The Family as a Defense Against the State
If Marx was right about one thing, it is that the family is a necessary aspect of capitalism. Marx, of course, means this in as negative of a light as possible, but why would anyone believe that to be a bad thing? Instead of relying on the state, families encourage people to provide for themselves and for those that mean everything to them. The family, in fact, is the first source of loyalty we as human beings will ever feel. This institution of civil society prevents us from giving our entire hearts to politicians. Whereas the government can provide material happiness, families do so much more.
Families provide an emotional backbone. They empower people to discover themselves – to be the best they could possibly be.
But as Jeff Deist points out: “But government wants us atomized, lonely, broke, vulnerable, dependent, and disconnected. So of course it attempts to break down families by taking kids away from them as early as possible, indoctrinating them in state schools, using welfare as a wedge, using the tax code as a wedge, discouraging marriage and large families, in fact discouraging any kind of intimacy not subject to public scrutiny, encouraging divorce, etc. etc.”
This is why families are so important. The Family is our first line of defense against the alienating forces of government. They give you somewhere you belong. But social conservatives get it so wrong when they claim that governments must support the family.
Since the dawn of government, the state has oppressed the family. Politics has every incentive to destroy the family. By doing so, the government alienates you from civil society so that you need the government.
The single best way to oppose the government is to support the family, for it helps empower independence from the state; and the single best way to support the family is to oppose the government.