Very occasionally, in the morning when the weather is not too hot, I step out onto my front porch and sit on a broad wooden bench, looking out into my front yard and that of my neighbor’s, enjoying the coolness of the air with nothing save birdsong to disturb the silence. I may bring a cup of tea with me, and perhaps one of my cats will come to sit near.
For the moment, I am at rest. I own the ground upon which I sit. I am fully provisioned and no enemies appear on my immediate horizon. I am well aware that this is an illusion, but choose to pretend in the moment, that all is well. Now in my fifties, my ambitions are modest. “A home, respect, freedom, and neighbors who want the same” (Lamar). I desire peace and quiet broken only by the occasional company of my extended family and close friends. I think that this is a desire commonly held by the overwhelming majority of mature adults existent across the face of the earth, irrespective of their culture, their history, or their present social and economic position within their particular communities. In the following pages it is my intention to describe the realization of this desire by a certain class of men among the petit-bourgeoisie whom I shall refer to as neo-patriarchs.
To those who rush to praise us when we say
they should do what is right in their own eyes.
All men or women having their own way
to live precisely as they would surmise.
To those who laud our liberality;
our tolerance of every faith, and creed,
and every sexual proclivity,
we ask the same consideration cede.
Each man the Lord and Master of his home.
This is the view WE fervently avow;
if he be familièd or live alone.
…At this they gnash their teeth and knit their brow.
The warrior knows how to deal with these,
who prove at last impossible to please LWR
The Sovereign Self
Those who have reached the conclusion that God is an intellectual construct are faced with the challenge of justifying man’s intrinsic value or ultimate noble purpose. What valid arguments can be made that a man has a right to be sovereign or has claim to autonomy? Why should he have a right to hold some small piece of property and live there in peace, eking out his existence by agriculture or some other rude trade? Why is it wrong for a stronger culture to simply sweep him and his kindred away, or enslave them and take his land? Surely this has been done in the past. Faced with the persistent realization that we live in a shrinking world with limited resources, logical arguments can be made that the world would be a much better place if there were far fewer people in it, given the caveat that we are among those remaining. Others posit a solution where an overarching will be imposed upon the people of the earth with the goal of helping them achieve a “greater good.” I will not attempt to answer these questions in this essay but remind the reader of them because we know from bitter experience that there are those who do not believe that men have such rights. Older men, considering their own increasing vulnerabilities and the safety of their loved ones and property, form alliances for the protection of the same. This is the essence of what is commonly called the “social contract” and it is first formed at the lowest political level, neighbor to neighbor and family to family. It seems to me that any world-wide communitarian effort must acknowledge this basic political reality and moreover recognize that any truly successful effort to develop universally accepted norms would have to be encouraged and driven from this level.
Those who have reached the conclusion that God is an intellectual construct must also rely on theories such as the ones put forth by the sociologist Max Weber and embraced by the anthropologist Clifford Geertz that “man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun.”(Geertz, Pg 11) Rather, it may be said that he is suspended in webs his forefathers have spun. An individual constructs his or her identity from the impressions and cues they receive from those around them, initially from their parents and siblings and then from others in their immediate community. The neo-patriarch is an example of the “warrior-citizen.” (Taylor, Pg 25) These men purport to value personal liberty over life itself. (McCants, Pg 123) This pride of sovereignty, autonomy, and honor has given rise to a self-perpetuating tradition of sovereign households which, like the arrangement of the several states, lay claim to rights and powers reserved exclusively to the individual. In view of this they operate their households as mini-states with a corresponding hierarchy.
It is obvious that we exist in community. Within that community, each child constructs its identity from its interaction with parents and relatives; as it learns the traditions and attitudes held to be the norm by others around it in the political conditions that prevail. (Taylor, Pg 35) As yet, no child has ever opened his eyes in this world or survived for long without a period of respite in a mother’s womb and the subsequent succor and general assistance of that mother or another human being. I trust that the day will never come when an infant is not assumed to be entitled, ipso facto, to such care and respite. However, the loving care of a mother or of some other guardian, while greatly desired comes with a price. Every child is born into a position of subjection and subordination and that child further incurs an obligation toward its caretaker and to those who have helped to create and support the environment within which that care is given. “But”, the child may say, (then or later) “I did not express a wish to be born.” “Fine”, comes the reply, “There is a precipice, throw yourself off and be done with it.” Assuming that they choose in that instance not to take this advice, they tacitly agree to assume the obligations and responsibilities of birth into the human experience in much the same manner as Socrates agreed to be bound by the laws of Athens (Crito 52b).
What are those minimal obligations that accompany the opportunity that life affords the individual? It would seem first that an obligation of gratitude is incurred to the woman within whose womb he first found shelter. He has a debt of honor to preserve her life as she preserved his or failing that to preserve the lives of others like her who yielded their bodies a haven for others like him. He has an obligation of gratitude to those physicians and midwives and relatives who ushered him into this world and to those who provided his early food, shelter, clothing and rude care. He has a debt of honor to ensure that those who provided for him or others like him will not lack similar assistance when, in their advanced age, they become helpless once again and require food, shelter, clothing, and care for their basic needs culminating in being compassionately ushered out of this earthly sphere. Finally, he has an obligation of gratitude to those who sought to establish, secure, and make prosperous a nation-state within which small communities might find the peace and tranquility to consider possible and profitable the mundane activities of childbearing and domesticity. He has a further debt of honor to ensure that his life contributes in some way to the establishment, security, or prosperity of that nation-state or of others like it. To the extent that our newborn is obligated by the receipt of these boons from those who have come before him, so too are those who will come after him entitled to receipt of the same from his hands. All these may be considered a part of the “natural duties” that Rawls speaks of. (Rawls, Pg 114)
To the extent they are accepted and nurtured children in a community have access to basic education and training in those subjects and skills thought necessary by their parents to fully equip them for adulthood. Neo-patriarchal communities view children within their purview as an investment in the community’s future survival. No one knows which child has the capacity to rise above its peers and bring some great good to the society into which it was born. If not the provider of some great benefit to mankind at least a child may be properly raised, indoctrinated and assimilated into the community as a productive, participative member. As such, children must be provided access to the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education and mentoring.
Assuming that an individual reaches the age of majority, they arrive at that age prepared or unprepared to assume the responsibilities and partake of the opportunities available to them as an adult. My thoughts on this subject have been that:
They [boys and girls alike] should have received an elementary education in to reading, rhetoric, grammar and penmanship, arithmetic, deportment, and basic etiquette, With a strong grounding in the fundamentals, children in the fourth through six years of elementary school should begin the task of reading in specific areas, and learning to write and speak about what knowledge has been gained during this process.
Students graduating from this type of elementary school would be fully prepared to read about, comprehend, write about and discuss any mundane subject, and would have all the necessary skills to continue to self-educate for the rest of their lives. Students graduating from this type of elementary school would have the mathematical and life skills necessary to function as a citizen in an advanced society, as well an appreciation of what priorities must be set upon work, and what pleasure might be obtained from the enjoyment and practice of the arts (Rose 2003).
Such young people will have been taught how to think, not what to think. Geertz quotes celebrated anthropologist Ward Goodenough’s 1957 pronouncement on culture, stating that “A society’s culture consists of whatever it is one has to know or believe in order to operate in a manner acceptable to its members.” (Geertz, pg 11) These things are best decided within the local community. At a minimum upon reaching adulthood a person must be able to think and act independently and analytically. They should be able to move about their own society; well acquainted with its culture and traditions, as well as those of other societies. They should have a general idea of all the knowledge the world has amassed and an understanding of how an individual might obtain the particulars of any part of it, even as they are taught the specific traditions of their own cultural environment.
Parents who pressure their children to choose the same philosophy, theology, or lifestyle as their own may be motivated by power and control issues or because of a genuine desire to see their offspring follow in a path that has been successful for them. It seems to me that practically without exception, the family provides the only place where an immature person can obtain instruction, advice, and counsel offered in a true spirit of altruism, solely for the benefit of the recipient, and without hope of personal gain or the advancement of some hidden agenda (Rose 2003). Even if a parent does hope to receive some benefit from their offspring, by way of support when they are aged, or from the pride and honor gained from being the sire of outstanding progeny, it is logical for parents to want their children to be provided with every opportunity and skill necessary for them to be give a good account for themselves, to be successful in their lives, and to be happy.
Neo-patriarchy is best viewed as a system of subordinate equals. All individuals have their position within the patriarchal society and all are subordinate to someone within it. Children are subordinate to parents, and while not yet equal in adult privilege or maturity, any more than an immature fruit tree is equal to its mature ancestor, certainly both their future potential and present helplessness and innocence accord them other privileges appropriate to their youth. It is also reasonable for their elders to rule over them benevolently always with a concern for their natural bent and future. (Rawls, Pg 209) Goodwives, equal or superior to their husbands in intellect, character, or earning capacity, are by prior voluntary agreement subordinate to their husbands. Single men and women subordinate to the ruling heads of their families by birth, or if they be completely independent, subordinate to the civil authority by obligations I have outlined earlier. Individuals in a society have full political autonomy but still must act within a framework of “principles of justice”. (Rawls, pg 77)
The question will arise, “Why patriarchy instead of matriarchy?” In theory either is possible. The ideas of marriage and family are influenced by social and civic mores. From a purely civil point of view marriage is a contractual agreement between individuals and may be likened to a trading partnership with equal partners, or with senior and junior partners. Liberal philosophers maintain that an individual has the right to form such contracts, including naturally the decision of whom he or she will marry (Nozick, 269) Individuals also have a right to associate with who they wish and not associate with those they do not. If a woman wishes to establish as a private enterprise a family with herself as ruling head, she need only find a man who is willing to agree to such an arrangement. Those who do not wish to enter into such a relationship need not do so, and are free to disassociate themselves at any time should they wish. The current divorce rate is proof enough of this. No one is forced to socialize with those who enter into patriarchal or matriarchal relationships anymore than they are forced to associate with anyone else.
Ruling heads of families are subordinate to the ruling elders of their church, or to the social and political pressures of some other peer group, tribe if you will, and all certainly subordinate to the duly elected civil authorities. Civil authorities subordinate to the will of the electorate at whose pleasure they serve and are additionally accountable to each other by virtue of their respective offices. Ruling elders of churches are accountable to each other and to the group of elders as whole or to ecclesiastical courts. Under girding this society is a political philosophy acknowledging the basic rights of individuals embodied in constitutional forms of government but also declaring those rights to exist inalienably and independent of government.
Individuals who live long enough reach adulthood and are found in various political situations. They may be completely dominated, in abject slavery, abused or imprisoned. They may be in a subordinate position voluntarily or involuntarily as a wife, son, or daughter of a nuclear family, or as lesser brother, sister, aunt or uncle within an extended family. Finally, it may be the case that they find themselves single, independent individuals either voluntarily or involuntarily.
The Single Person
The foremost benefit of remaining single is the retention of complete autonomy over one’s own life. Any opportunity may immediately be taken advantage of without the consultation of others. Life may be lived as luxuriously as one’s budget will allow or as stoically as possible in order to save capital to realize future plans. Travel to anywhere in world is possible and one may leave at any time, on foot if desired. One may seek the company of others wishing to be social, or enjoy solitude indefinitely. Familial responsibilities are usually minimal requiring little more than the occasional card or letter. After satisfying the necessary economic requirements, one’s time is one’s own with much time for reflection, for study, for personal and economic enrichment, for sleep. One’s home and person may be kept meticulously clean and in order or as slovenly as a pig’s sty.
Cohabitate and the picture is dramatically different especially if marriage is the object of the relationship. Any change of plans must be discussed in detail even if it is a choice of which restaurant to frequent that night, let alone major decisions such as changes of career or living quarters. Connubial relationships, while rewarding, require constant emotional maintenance. Substantial blocks of time must be set aside for marital discourse; appropriate tokens of esteem must be acquired and presented at appropriate intervals, and of course there is the responsibility for maintaining a satisfactory level of sexual euphoria for one’s partner, at least in the early decades, a task which, while exceedingly gratifying, nevertheless requires a significant amount of time, effort and imagination. Various mutually agreed upon rules and regulation for the administration of the home must be negotiated and enumerated and accorded their due solemnity. All this and the additional complexity of children has yet to be discussed. To marry and have children causes an individual to bear the responsibility for providing and caring for those children that severely reduce one’s freedom to change careers at will. (Friedan, Pg 137) As for the economic cost, I have often said, “Without my wife I would have nothing – with my wife it seems I must have everything.” Benjamin Franklin quoted an old English proverb in his autobiography: “He that would thrive must ask his wife.”
To what end would any individual male or female enter into such a relationship which so dramatically curtails one’s own autonomy? Sexual union and procreation must be the primary motivation for all other objectives may be accomplished outside of the bonds of matrimony. It would seem that friends or siblings could live an entire life together, own property, travel, go into business, care for one another, or embark upon any conceivable number of enterprises. Proponents of evolutionary theory, where changes in species are effected over hundreds of thousands of years, must logically give assent to the idea that nothing has changed the basic overwhelming drive to reproduce the species over a mere eight thousand years of recorded history . It is a universal desire of men and women to procreate their lineage, and further desire that their children should exist in an environment where they should live and prosper. This is the most basic realization of the greater good.
Sex is the lingua franca of youth. The idea of the sexual double standard is a much abused myth. It has never been acceptable in honorable circles for young men to go about sowing wild oats, deflower virgins, or consort with prostitutes. Neither is it appropriate for young men to transfer their affections from one young woman to another, and then to another. No parents who loved their young and inexperienced daughter would ever want to knowingly admit such a visitor into their home. Men who wink the eye and make light of such behavior are themselves equally debauched , not because of some esoteric theological pronouncement but because of the scant value they attach to this most powerful social mechanism. If it appears that women up to this time seem to be more socially stigmatized by engaging in promiscuous behavior it may be due to the fact that they suffer a significant loss of dignity by allowing their physical integrity to be breached merely for the purpose of a recreational activity. (Honneth, Pg 129) Sexual activity is part of the process whereby beautiful, creative, reasoning, human beings of supposedly limitless potential are brought forth upon the earth. This is a further reason why abortion is considered by many to be so heinous an act; it interrupts the process of creating individuals of purportedly immense intrinsic value and therefore is a process that should not be initiated or interrupted haphazardly. Famous prostitutes heralded for their blatant sexuality in the media are not lauded for being “great lovers”. Neither is this meant when the appellation is applied to some infamous Lothario. Rather people such as these, while known for being able to love ubiquitously, are pitied for not being able to love deeply. Sex used solely for the purpose of recreation is akin to writing a grocery list on a Rembrandt. Sexual activity outside of the bounds of marriage is an impediment to personal development in that once an individual has been initiated into its delights he spends considerable time or money in the procurement of same or remains distracted and frustrated at its regular absence. Sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage presents an obstacle to forming a happy and permanent relationship with the person one is having sexual relations with. The passions of the flesh obscure the rational reasoning process that might take place when people who differ on basic issues debate and therefore these issues may remain unresolved. In other scenarios, sexual favors are used as a bargaining chip because the one knows that the other cannot control their sexual appetites and will ultimately give in, a form of coercion counter to rules of discourse ethics.(Habermas, Pg 89) Finally, a casual attitude toward sexual activity presents the person who does eventually marry with an additional obstacle to remain faithful, as they wistfully recall the variety they once had rather than focusing on the task at hand.
Let us instead consider the alternative. Imagine two attractive young people who have reached their majority as virgins. Both are well equipped with all capabilities economic, physical, and intellectual necessary to function within their community as adults. Both are recognized as sovereign, autonomous, responsible, and honorable individuals. If they are not totally independent as well, they are certainly independent of each other. To be sure the great part of the knowledge that they possess is theoretical rather than experiential, including necessarily their own knowledge of carnal matters. Nevertheless, they are well supported by trusted counselors of their own age and older single and married individuals on both sides who support the idea of a chaste and celibate existence before marriage.
Whether thrown together by chance or by the determinate actions of others, the two individuals recognize a mutual attraction. They open negotiations, informally at first, on various fronts, romantic, political, intellectual, religious, and social as each determines if they are in agreement or compatible with the other on scores of issues obvious and subtle. If they arrive at some major philosophical impasse, they may “break off” for a time to consider matters, or may do so permanently and there is no harm done, no betrayal of honor, no personal debasement to be ashamed of. Because both have remained chaste they have respect for each other’s strength of character. They may, will little difficulty, remain friends and rejoin the social gathering of their young unmarried peers. Or, as the case often is, they may decide after a period of reflection to resume negotiation. It is perhaps easier here as in no other type of give and take to put oneself in the position of the “other”, to hear their opinions with an open mind and a true desire to understand. Marriage may be said to be the model of political compromise which is why the marriage of royals has served at times as the linchpin for alliances between sovereign nations. As the discourse proceeds it becomes apparent to the couple that no one has ever listened and considered their individual opinion in the manner that they have with each other, and being more or less agreed, they form an alliance, becoming a couple, leaving their parents and cleaving to each other , while declaring so to the community.
Much has been made of Engel’s comments that marriage was created to control women and children. (Engels) In contrast, Alan Keyes has said that “Marriage … exists in order to respect the responsibilities and obligations of procreation, and to signify society’s recognition of those responsibilities and obligations, and its support for their fulfillment by the parties to the marriage.” (Winn) It is the basic unit of community and of political power and as such may be reasoned to be an “honorable estate” . As our ideal couple consummates their marriage their relationship becomes practically ironclad. They alone are privy to the secret of their love and as it deepens they become better lovers, more familiar with each others idiosyncrasies both physical and psychological. The sex act itself influences the social relationship between the couple. The woman presents herself physically to the man encouraging and supporting his action. She must yield herself if he is to be successful and that happily and willingly if their lovemaking is to be mutually enjoyable. They must both be able to relax and express their desires frankly and honestly. Assuming that the process progresses normally, they become completely trusting of each other and confident in the emotional and practical support that each provides for the other. As such they are able to act more confidently individually in their respective social spheres and as a couple forcefully impacting the local community. As they are now bonafide members of the married society, to the extent that their peers conduct their marriages responsibly and honorably the new couple has access to the additional information and counsel on how they are to exist and progress as husband and wife.
Neo-Patriarchy assumes that marriage will be the standard for a community and that males will provide leadership in family and social situations. This may of course result in males having a great influence in the civil sphere as well. Some religious traditions also mandate that men occupy sole positions of doctrinal authority. This does not preclude women from holding any position of authority in the business world, or in political life. Women may be business owners, corporation presidents, tradesmen, doctors, lawyers, professors, artists, judges, and politicians up to and including head of state without infringing in any way upon the domain of neo-patriarchy.
In the neo-patriarchal system authority in the home is vested in the husband. The individual male may adopt this ideology for various reasons. While he may be willing to diminish his autonomy as described above in order to enjoy domesticity, he is unwilling to further abrogate his sovereignty. He desires to be in control of his immediate environment. He may have specific plans for his future and the future of his household that he desires to implement. His theology may dictate that he rule his own home. Whatever his reasons, he is sure to make his desire to rule his home clearly understood to women he may be considering as possible spouses. Women desirous of retaining their own sovereignty reject him as a suitor out of hand, wishing to find a partner who will in every situation compromise with them, or one who they can rule over. Nevertheless there seems to be no lack of women who seek a strong and assertive man to whom they are willing to subordinate themselves to, providing that he appears gentle and compassionate; capable of fidelity and love. While a man is expected to provide support for his family just as he would if he were an adult still living in his parent’s home, the fact of his authority does not depend upon his providing all or any of that support. His primary function is to provide leadership. All members of the family including children of a certain age are expected to do whatever they can to ensure that the family prospers. Feminist initiatives have been beneficial for the family in that they have provided women with additional economic opportunities to provide economic support giving them the ability to elect to pay for necessary goods and services that they themselves would have otherwise provided. However, in order that a “home” environment may be created where small children can be nurtured the man often does elect to provide the sole support. Up until the time they marry both individuals are autonomous and individually sovereign, notwithstanding their subordination to the legitimately established government. They mutually commit to a lifestyle that is family oriented. The man does not dictate or rule by force but relies upon the vows of marriage establishing his authority and agreed to by his wife before they marry. He in turn vows to make his wife and his family’s care and happiness his primary overriding concern. As these vows are binding for life, they are “not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly,[or] lightly.” While a divorce has become easy to obtain and thereby discounting lifetime vows, some couples are making the decision to enter into “covenant marriage” a new form of contract that makes it considerably harder to divorce. (Corke) The life long nature of the marriage vows subject them to criticism by those who feel that they unfairly restrict the freedom of choice of the participants who are, if I may rephrase it, liable to “marry in haste and be forced to repent at leisure.” But the argument may still be made that children have a right to a mother and a father near at hand. Parents choose occupy these traditional roles in order to nurture and care for their and raise them up to be capable adults. (O’Beirne, Pg.2) An inviolate, cohesive, established marriage and home is the ideal environment for this activity. A further argument may be made that a man or a woman who devotes a substantial portion of his or her life and/or psyche to so intimate and all-inclusive a relationship should not be able to be so easily cast aside for frivolous reasons. Couples that take on these traditional roles and enter into this ancient form of marriage create a new family, a political entity that stands in opposition to the powerful influences of the state and the public sphere, providing a refuge for the relatively weak, immature, and inexperienced children who are to be born into it.
Friendship and the Public Sphere
It seems that whether gregarious or introverted most men have limited opportunities for socialization once they enter the working world. Out of a hundred and sixty-eight hour week, seventy hours may reasonably be subtracted for sleep and other necessary functions such as bathing, dressing, and the like. Subtract an additional fifty hours for time spent at work and travel and you are left with forty-eight hours, a little less than seven hours per day. Many men work longer than forty hours leaving them even less time to attend to their personal development or chores or getting together with friends to play a round of golf or share a glass of beer. A married man has practically no time for such activities. Encounters with other men that they consider friends or acquaintances are often impromptu and occur in the course of their movements through public spaces, i.e. gyms, taverns, and clubs. (Kimmel, 393) When meeting together corporately, at church for example, incidental conversations are by nature superficial and brief. Nevertheless, the neo-patriarch would agree with Epicurus that “nothing enhances our security so much as friendship.” With a close friend we are able to express concerns and advance ideas while being ready to receive honest criticism without loss to personal reputation. One may even talk of treason without fear. Close friendship, like family, is a relationship outside the civil structure and its law. True friends and family will protect each other from discovery, arrest and prosecution, even while being personally appalled at the other’s behavior. It is this social mechanism that allows revolutionaries, freedom fighters, and of course terrorists to operate successfully. Jews who were hidden from the Nazis were hidden by friends or by individuals who acted as friends. This alter-network of friends acts as a buffer to ill-conceived or undesirable government initiatives.
The percentage of individuals in a particular community who actually involve themselves in local party politics is exceeding small, far less than the number who actually turn out to vote. In the 2004 election, approximately seventy-two percent of the eligible population registered to vote, and eighty-eight percent of those registered, or sixty-four percent of the entire eligible population voted. (Holder, Pg. 2) These figures are impressive for a country with a reputation for voter apathy. But voting is after all the least one can do. More telling is the fact that during the 2004 election in Duval County, Florida the Republican Party had five thousand active volunteers out of one hundred and ninety thousand registered Republican voters or less than three hundredths of one percent who were actually involved in the campaign. This means that the percentage of individuals who actually influence and mold party opinion at the county level is of course substantially less than that and that the overwhelming majority of individuals have made the choice consciously or unconsciously to stay home and not concern themselves about such issues. Even in the tavern or around the dinner table it is rare to hear conversations about particular issues that last for more than a quarter hour without a radical change in subject. Is everyone basically in agreement on this issue? Three cheers and on we go to the next item for discussion. Do deep fundamental disagreements emerging among the company? Well it is not wise to argue for too long, make your points and move on. No need to argue, as no one has any intention about actually doing anything about the issue, save perhaps writing a letter to the editor, or perhaps a check to this organization or that PAC. All that occurs is a brief exchange of ideas, a testing of the political waters. This is a part of the conscience collective, the social combination of members of society that Durkheim spoke of (Giddens, Pg 133); Habermas’ Public Sphere. It is not driven by a desire for political change but rather for a desire for political stability, for maintenance of the status quo if at all possible, to simply live an ordinary life. (Taylor, Pg 14) It is for this reason that Thomas Jefferson wrote:
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
Men wish to be left alone to tend to their businesses or otherwise individual pursuits. They resent the intrusion of the state into their lives even on issues so mundane as seat-belt laws or prohibitions on smoking which many are wont to disregard on principle, even at the risk of their own health and safety. Any initiative to detect universal norms must find a way to survey public opinion unobtrusively using the same sporadic mechanisms by which it is formed.
I have attempted to outline the cultural framework of a small segment of American society and suggest universal norms and practices that may be operational within it. Not the least of these is a simple desire for a status quo within which to live essentially unmolested from the world at large. Nevertheless we are faced with the political reality that the world is a closed system and each day new issues arise which must be dealt with by concerted global action. The management of global warming and other ecological concerns, shortages and fair usage of natural resources such as fresh water, and the ever increasing threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction by rogue states necessitate that the individual give consideration to and cooperate with not just his next door neighbor, but with the fellow on the other side of the planet. Worldwide cooperation through international deliberative bodies, law, and public administration would seem to be the only way that this can be effectively accomplished and it would be naïve to assume that such collaboration would be devoid of strong social influence and change. The more incrementally and unobtrusively such changes are introduced the more likely they are to be accepted and incorporated into the local body politic. But the idea that international bodies must be promulgated to determine and promote the “balance both between rights and responsibilities and between individuality and community” (Ross) contains within it the very seed of tyranny. Historically it would seem that men are willing to tolerate anything and that almost indefinitely. American slavery and the current situation in North Korea are two examples that come immediately to mind. So it seems to me that there is a very real danger of individuals within unique and small viable communities being burdened and compromised by the intrusion of well-intentioned but unrealistic social polices that are doomed to failure in much the same way that Marxist-Stalinist economic policies failed in the Soviet-Bloc nations. The case for true social change that moves decisively toward the greater good must ültimately come as a result of persuasively reasoned arguments that are allowed to percolate and ferment in the soup of the public sphere finally emerging as “obvious” conclusions in the minds of the people who participate in that sphere, including men of good will who rule their homes.
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