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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

VIII — The Family

page 46


The Family

Dear Mr.——,—Hitherto I have dealt chiefly with the economic side of Socialism. I want now to turn to another aspect. People sometimes talk as if the only object of the Socialists was to destroy private property—that is, as if from the Socialist point of view private property were the sole enemy. That is a great mistake. Socialism involves not only the destruction of private property, but quite as certainly the destruction of the family. When I say this, please do not think that I imagine that any great number of Socialists deliberately desire to destroy the family. On the contrary, I am convinced that the majority of them are perfectly sincere when they declare that nothing is farther from their thought, and that they desire and intend, quite as strongly as their opponents, to maintain the family. Unfortunately, however, mere good intentions are not of very great service in this matter. What we have to page 47 consider is not what the Socialists intend, but what will be the ultimate result of their system. Now I say unhesitatingly that it is quite impossible to establish Socialism, or to carry out the schemes which the Socialists tell us are necessary to bring about the reign of Socialism, without the destruction of the family.

My first proof of this is that the clearest thinkers among the Socialists of ancient and modern times—the men who by the aid of reasoning and analysis have thought out what would happen under Socialism—have been obliged to recognise that it could not be maintained without the destruction of the family. No human being was ever possessed of a clearer brain than Plato, and no man ever thought a thing out to its final conclusion more clearly or squeezed more thoroughly the intellectual sponge. When he came to set forth his ideal Socialist Republic, Plato saw that the abolition of the family was essential if his State was to have a secure foundation. He would not even leave the vestige of a foundation upon which the family might be re-created lest it should ruin his fabric. The most elaborate precautions are taken in the ideal community whose laws are set forth by Plato that no man shall know his father or his mother, his brothers or his sisters; and, again, that no father and no mother shall ever know their children. Family ties are to be severed almost from the page 48 moment of birth. Aristotle, the other great Greek thinker who followed Plato, noted this fact, and realising how essential it was to blot out the family in order to create a community such as that described in the Republic, asserted that the whole scheme must fail because it would in fact be found impossible to destroy the family. He somewhat quaintly predicted that owing to family likenesses fathers and mothers would recognise their offspring in the children of the State, and that in the family ties thus based on guesswork would be found the little rift within the lute which would in the end destroy the complicated mechanism of Plato's State.

Though Aristotle's criticism was acute and interesting, I am afraid that the family is not quite so hardy a plant as he imagined. The family, or at any rate what is worth preserving in the family, can, I fear, be destroyed far more easily than by the drastic proposals made in the Republic. Even without the obliteration of the knowledge of fatherhood and motherhood—which, of course, I fully realise is not now proposed by any Socialist—State Socialism may ruin the family past repair. By doing the whole work of the family, and undertaking all but the physical offices of parentage, the State will in fact destroy the family. Those, therefore, who believe the family to be essential to a sound and healthy State must withstand that undermining of the page 49 family to which Socialism is now unconsciously directing its efforts.

Let me ask you to remember that a limb may be destroyed just as well by depriving it of its proper uses as by cutting it off. If you take a man's arm and bind it so tightly that the blood cannot circulate or the muscles be used, you will in a short time destroy it past all repair. The only difference between that and amputation is that the process of destruction is somewhat slower. The attack on the family by the Socialists is at present made up of three different proposals:—(1) Old-age pensions; (2) the State feeding of schoolchildren; (3) the so-called endowment of motherhood. These three proposals I propose to discuss in order in future letters.—Yours very sincerely,

J. St. L. S.