The State v. Christian
October 21, 1999
times and places of which history has some record, it has been
taken for granted that the duty of a good ruler is to govern in accordance
with the customs and morals what we now call the
culture of his people. Even the cruelest tyrants have
usually been preoccupied with nothing more than advancing their own
personal interests and appetites. They may violate the commonly accepted
morality of their societies; they may murder, torture, rape, and rob; but
they seldom try to change that morality. Breaking the rules is one thing;
overthrowing the rules is another matter altogether.
But in the twentieth century we have
seen the eruption of a new kind of politics, whose goal is to build a
new society. This ambition goes far beyond changing regimes (from
monarchy to republic or democracy, for example); it aspires to use the
power of the state to change the very fabric of social life.
Soviet Communism is one of the most
spectacularly grim examples. The atheistic Soviet state, from Lenin on,
tried to extirpate religion, abolish private property, and even
revolutionize family relations. The first two of these aims have gotten
more attention than the third. But its well worth recalling that the
Soviet state, which of course controlled all formal education, taught
children that their first loyalty was not to their parents but to the state
itself. A major street in Moscow was actually renamed in honor of a boy
named Pavel Morozov who had informed on his father; when the father was
condemned as a traitor, Pavel was killed by furious relatives. The regime
treated him as a martyr and model for all Soviet children.
Part of the Soviet agenda was sexual
freedom, including abortion on demand. Lenin held that sexual intercourse
should be as casual as drinking a glass of water, not because he valued
freedom as such, but because he wanted to separate sex from procreation
and family ties. By establishing this principle, family loyalties would be
cheapened and weakened, reducing every individual to nothing more than a
unit of the state.
American collectivism, traveling under
the banners of liberalism and feminism, has been less audacious (and,
fortunately, less powerful) than the Soviet brand, but it has shared the
ambition of transforming society rather than supporting
traditional institutions. It has progressively legitimated divorce, adultery,
fornication, contraception, homosexuality, and abortion;
moreover, it has exalted them as rights, condemning
ancient objections to them as benighted and, in fact, immoral. The
New Morality isnt an option; it increasingly has the
compulsory force of law behind it. At bottom, its a campaign to
destroy Christian culture.
I have written before about the
inconsistency of those who claim to be pro-choice, not
pro-abortion. I cited their indifference to forced abortion in
Communist China. This was demonstrated again during President Clinton's
visit to China, when his list of human rights failed to include
reproductive freedom. The point was underlined when Mrs.
Clinton, in her own syndicated column, wrote about the chief concerns of
Chinese women; she mentioned jobs, education, and discrimination in the
workplace, but not a word about the right to have children.
Meanwhile, feminists have mounted a
campaign to abolish the cruel practice of female circumcision in parts of
Africa and the Middle East. Horrifying as this custom is to Westerners, it
is deeply rooted in local cultures, unlike the relatively recent
forced-abortion policy of the Chinese regime. Parents often perform it on
their own daughters. And it can hardly be more painful than being forced to
undergo the murder of a well-developed child in the womb.
So why the disparity of outrage among
Western feminists? I think the answer is that they regard the deprivation
of sexual pleasure with infinitely more shock and horror than the
deprivation of parenthood. The sexual revolution exalts the orgasm but
despises the family and the child. So the Chinese policy is in keeping with
the feminist agenda; the custom of female mutilation is not.
Chinese Communism has come to terms
with capitalism, but it continues to make war on cultural tradition. Its
imposition of forced abortion from above is not so different from the U.S.
Supreme Court's imposition of abortion on demand on all 50 states.
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