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The Reactionary Utopian (classic)
November 6, 2008

The State v. Christian Culture
by Joe Sobran

In most 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 witnessed the eruption of a new kind of politics, whose goal was to “build a new society.” This ambition went far beyond changing regimes (from monarchy to republic or democracy, for example); it aspired 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 it’s 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” isn’t an option; it increasingly has the compulsory force of law behind it. At bottom, it’s 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.

This column was originally published by Griffin Internet Syndicate on October 21, 1999.

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