(November 1996)


Last month I said I would write more about ways in which agents of the collective break up families. This is a very important feature of modern ideology along with the desire to protect agents of the collective from criticism. Thus, when a Harley Street gynaecologist was found guilty of sexually harassing a waitress, at least one newspaper sprang to his defence, saying that the girl concerned was a nobody, while he was a highly respected medical specialist, and what did she think she was doing damaging the career of somebody like him.

The opposite principle applies to parents. Nobody takes any notice of the harm that might be done to their lives, or indeed to the lives of their offspring, by accusations levelled against them. Recently the papers reported the case of a father whose life was ruined because he was accused of having boxed his son's ears, or something of the kind. It is not necessary to be in favour of corporal punishment to wonder whether the son's life was really improved by having a ruined father who had been dragged through court cases and had finally lost his job even though he had been convicted of nothing.

Another case concerned a woman who fell down the stairs and was accused of having deliberately harmed her child. She was forbidden to keep the child as being unfit to care for it (and I wonder whether the child was very pleased to be deprived of its mother's company), but eventually she was exonerated, because a qualified doctor diagnosed her as having epilepsy and was able to account for the fact that she had accidentally fallen down the stairs. But doctors are not so reliable at diagnosing everything that one would wish one's freedom from guilt to depend on their diagnoses. Suppose there had been no doctor willing or able to point out that she had epilepsy, then she would have continued to be separated from her child because she had fallen down the stairs in an inexplicable manner, and it might have been culpable negligence on her part. How about the principle of being innocent until you are proved guilty? The effects on both mother and child of being separated may have been fairly traumatic.

Modern society wishes to protect the offspring from the misdeeds of their parents, without consideration of the harm that may be being done to the parents, or indeed to the offspring themselves. Or rather, modern society pretends that its motivation is protective; in fact, this opens the way to destructive interference. There is in practice extremely little awareness of the harm that may be being done by interference, even if a situation has been correctly interpreted, and even less awareness (if that were possible) of the harm that might result from a complete misinterpretation of a parent-child situation. It was the 1944 Education Act which gave educational authorities powers of supervision over any freelance forms of education that parents might devise for their children; a fairly crazy piece of legislation. This is like agreeing to let the enemy supervise your battle strategy in time of war. Parents are the only people who may have any motivation to promote the interests of their offspring. Agents of the collective express the will of the collective, that is the will of each individual's united competitors.