Saturday, July 08, 2006

Healthy Child-Rearing and the Ideocide of the Left

In Chapter 3 of The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It from Itself, Harrison gets into the question of how culture influences behavior, how cultures change, how cultural values are transmitted from generation to generation, and how we might intervene to promote positive cultural change. You might say that it addresses the question of how we might perform psychotherapy on a pathological culture.

It has always surprised me that more historians and anthropologists don’t look at child-rearing practices to try to understand the basis of cultural health, pathology and change, and why some cultures are so much sicker than others. But hardly any do, mainly because of the dominance of the politically correct view that no culture is better or worse than any other--except for Western culture, which is the worst. And yet, how could it not be? If you have a culture that systematically abuses children in the most grotesque way--say, the Palestinians--why should anyone be surprised that they are arguably the most comprehensively depraved people on earth?

Likewise, being that Jews have been practicing more humane child-rearing for millennia, why should anyone be surprised that, pound for pound, they have contributed more to human excellence than any other human culture? How is it that Jews, who represent two tenths of one percent of the world’s population, have won 15 to 20 percent of the Nobel Prizes, and perhaps constitute an even higher percentage of the world's greatest comedians? On the other hand, the Palestinians have won exactly one Nobel Prize, and it was given to one of the most depraved monsters who ever drew breath. And the Palestinian contribution to comedy has been negligable, or at least unintended--e.g. the wild-eyed imams with their crazed Friday evening sermons, the comical s'alapstiq "work accidents" in which they accidentally blow themselves up, Arafat's sham marriage to a goy named Suha, etc.

Harrison cites a couple of scholars who have attempted to quantify the link between child-rearing practices and cultural progress, in particular, progress toward democracy, economic prosperity, and social justice. As I noted in my own book, the further back in history you go, the more evidence there is of abominable child-rearing practices--what we would now call outright abuse. Perhaps this is why, as Harrison notes, “Early humans were neither democratic nor egalitarian during the first 80-90 millennia of human existence.” Instead, we see ceaseless war, violence, oppression of women and children, and frankly crazy cultural beliefs and practices. The romantic idea that humans were ever peaceful “noble savages” has been thoroughly debunked by anyone who cares to actually look at the evidence.

One of my problems with contemporary liberalism is that around 40 years ago it lurched into romantic irrationalism--cultural relativism, multiculturalism, and the like. For example, Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously identified the pathologies of African American culture in the late 1960’s but was absolutely pilloried by the irrational haters of the left. If only his ideas had been put into practice then, millions of black lives would have been materially and spiritually improved, and saved from prison, poverty and early death. But instead, the left adopted the ideology of victimhood to explain black cultural pathology, with disastrous results.

I don’t think we should shy away from calling this leftist philosophy what it is: child abuse. For to indoctrinate a child with a victim mentality is to murder his soul. Here is what psychologist Jerome Kagan says all American children should be taught in order to grow up psychologically healthy (and remember, this book was written by an avowed liberal--my kind of liberal--Lawrence Harrison):

1) First, children should be taught that “it is possible for every person to improve his or her economic or social position through education and the conscientious application of individual talents.” Conversely, backward and pathological cultures “hold a fatalistic belief that they are passive victims of social forces they are unable to change...” As a result, “improving one’s talents in order to work toward a goal is unlikely to result in a better life; this attitude might be called the ‘helplessness ideology.’”

Thus, when I say that a Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or Ted Kennedy or the whole intellectual apparatus of the left are child abusers, I am not being polemical or bombastic. I am being completely literal. I can’t even imagine indoctrinating my child with such a psychologically crippling ideology. As a matter of fact, the black middle class continues to grow so rapidly precisely because so many blacks reject this self-defeating ideology of helplessness. They teach their children that, while there are always individual racists of all races, America is not only not a racist country, but that African Americans are more prosperous and wealthy here than blacks anywhere else on earth. Not only are most whites not neutral about race, but they actually want to do whatever they can to assist blacks, short of being coerced at gunpoint by the government. In other words, there is still an enormous reservoir of good will toward blacks in this country because of past racial injustices, despite the damage that has been done by disreputable racial hustlers such as Jesse Jackson and his ilk.

2) Kagan writes that all children should be taught that “the political and judicial system is generally fair and just and, therefore, conformity to the law is expected and violations are punished.”

Here again, black scholars such as Thomas Sowell or Shelby Steele fully understand this. If there are a disproportionate number of blacks in prison, it is simply because they commit a disproportionate number of the crimes. It’s as simple as that. And crime is not caused by poverty. Again, this is one of the most persistent and seemingly ineradicable liberal beliefs. Black crime only took off in the 1960’s when they became far more affluent. There was far less black crime prior to the 1960’s. Much of the problem flows from number (1) above, in that, beginning in the late 60's, so many blacks were inculcated with a victim mentality which essentially teaches them that they are entitled to a life of crime because the entire American system is racist, corrupt, illegitimate and rigged against them. In this view, crime almost becomes a moral imperative. If I believed it, I would probably become a criminal. Why not?

3) Kagan writes that “individual who are members of a social category that has experienced prejudice are entitled to dignity, freedom from bigotry, and an opportunity to improve their lives. The [leftist] belief that members of some social categories are inherently less talented or less virtuous than a majority” is “a formidable obstacle to the goals being sought.”

This is why racial quotas are such a pathological and self-defeating policy. If you impose a racial quota, the culture in question cannot receive the vital feedback it needs from reality in order to self-correct. It amounts to punishing Asian or Jewish culture for its success and rewarding black culture for its lack thereof. This most certainly does not help black culture--quite the opposite--and it’s questionable whether it even helps individuals without robbing them of their dignity. Imagine, for example, that your child needs a lifesaving operation. There are only two doctors, one of whom was admitted to college and medical school because of considerations of “diversity.” I don’t care what your race is--which doctor are you going to choose?

Harrison writes that children must be taught from the outset that they are not primarily members of a “race.” Rather, “identification with the nation must be stronger than identification with tribe, clan, or region.” I have always believed this, which is why I used to be called a liberal, whereas now I am called a conservative. I haven’t changed. It’s just that liberalism has been hijacked by illiberal leftist ideologues.

4) Lastly, Kagan notes that children should be taught that “the accumulation of wealth, which usually brings status, is a virtue; it should not be assumed that a person has violated some ethical standards simply because he is more advantaged....”

Of course, denying the Left its envy and class warfare would mean an end to the Left, so it is unlikely that they could ever accept this prescription. Instead, they will continue to teach their children that America is unfair, that it is controlled by a wealthy few, and that no one can get ahead without Democrats and a large, intrusive state.

Kagan concludes that it is every family’s responsibility “to praise perseverance, academic achievement, and autonomy in its children and to chastise the avoidance of responsibility, school failure, excessive dependence, and passivity.”

Wait a minute! This kind of healthy child-rearing, er, right-wing propaganda, would amount to cultural genocide--the complete elimination of an entire primitive people--the Left!


Tomorrow: more on ancient child-rearing practices, both in antiquity and today, in the Muslim Middle East.


dilys said...

Bob-o-commentor Assistant Village Idiot has two interesting posts on what kind of thinking is currently rewarded in the young in "liberal" education. Not exactly bedrock childraising issues, but somewhat related here.

My own observation is that the more recent products of public education are less than familiar with methodical factual material, and rush to conceptualize and mix'n'matchthe abstract [rather like moi on a bad day, but more of them :-) ]. Anyway, he offers a sense of how this happens.

You might some day have a comment on the issues of fostering the mind as a foundation for the Vertical.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Thanks dilys. I was just about to bring some of that info here. I will shorten it.

I come from the generation and class which thought that money-grubbing professions were inherently tawdry and unethical, while the more useless disciplines, such as what I studied, had an inherent nobility which made us more refined than people who majored in business or engineering. What a crock!

They still say it behind closed doors.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that some people, in their efforts to overcome them, misguidedly perpetuate, in the ways you describe, the very conditions you mention with respect to such things as black anger and underachievement. But what has Ted Kennedy specifically said or done as a politician that you see as constituting "child abuse" in the sense that you describe? Specific quotes or other concrete examples would be appreciated.

Gagdad Bob said...

"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood."

gumshoe1 said...

i only read the initial paragraphs
of the post,Bob,but the idea/image that came to mind was that
"modern society" has a linear image of "progress" and for that matter a "scientistic" view of psychology('eventiually ALL human behavior will be categorized and 'cured')...
but when we stop and look around
we're living with all of this "progress" ain't pretty.

yet another argument for the vertical search.

gumshoe1 said...

and for all the disasters
"modern society" spawned,
"post modern society" ahs barely gotten started.

Mr. Spog said...

"All children should be taught that the political and judicial system is basically fair and just..." Except that it might not be. In which case one would have to teach a moral code that took precedence over the law.

I'm thinking e.g. of the situation facing Southern blacks before the civil rights movement, when looking at a white woman the wrong way might get a black killed, for instance (Julius Lester, Lovesong). But a large proportion of blacks at this time had a strong moral code, quite different from the later concept of victimhood, by which they overcame such obstacles, Lester says.

Nowadays, leftist tendencies in the judicial system might also force someone with moral integrity to break the law in some cases, particularly in Europe, I imagine.

pete(y-not) said...

"... what has Ted Kennedy specifically said or done as a politician that you see as constituting "child abuse..."

Ever see/hear him do his (thankfully) inimitable "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" schtick?

OTOH... there is the typical (il)liberal long-standing backing of the NEA & all its "programmes".

cosmophile said...

Fabulous. This is why One Cosmos is the top of my bookmarks...

Jake said...


Society, as a whole, moves forward. It does not move upward. (Nor is it "twirling towards freedom," but that's another distinction entirely.)

The upward movement is, I feel, meant to be carried out by the individual on his own behalf. Attempts have been made, all of them unsuccessful, to shove society as a whole up a level; they keep trying to immanentize the eschaton, so to speak, on a scale that is not possible in this world or with this human race.