Friday, December 9, 2011

Fatherhood and Democracy

Laura Wood writes:
The ideal citizen in any high-functioning democracy is the father. He is more important politically than the mother; more important than the young man without children or the single woman; more important as a type than even the property owner. If I were to build an infant republic, I would limit the franchise to all fathers, of whatever race or creed, who were also property owners.

There may be great statesmen or thinkers who have no children, men such as Alexis de Tocqueville who possess vision and insight. There may be celibate spiritual leaders and occasionally a great woman leader. But, it is the ordinary father who is the human cell of democracy, without whom it cannot prosper over the long term.

In the father, the impersonal and personal, the abstract and concrete, the public and private are more likely to exist in the sort of harmony that makes for good political judgment. By father, I don’t mean any man who has biologically reproduced, but the man who takes part in rearing his children and has an active bond with them, whether they are young or adults. The man who never sees his children, has no interest in them, or only supplies compulsory financial support does not meet this definition.

For a woman, the world is too personal and parochial; she seeks security first. For the man without children, the future is sterile; even property or personal wealth will not make him care for those who will live many decades from now. The father is more apt to possess both public-spiritedness and loyalty, dispassion and compassion.

Patriarchy is often misunderstod. Too often it conjures images of despotic chiefs or overlords. A democratic patriarchy is the rule of ordinary fathers. As Pericles said in his famous funeral oration:

… for never can a fair or just policy be expected of the citizen who does not, like his fellows, bring to the decision the interests and apprehensions of a father.
Bene dictum, except for the democracy term. A proper patriarchal republic as Laura so sensibly advocates would be more aristocratic than democratic. Democracy is the enemy of aristos. The illusion of its benefits comes from the safety-minded. The very word promotes mediocrity and group-think over the aristocratic pursuit of excellence and the risk of failure.

Women of course play important roles in the maintenance of a healthy aristocracy, but "behind the scenes," as informal yet powerful social and cultural supporters and critics, nurturers of the patriarchs and of healthy families and communities, and upholders and examples of virtue.

It's a reciprocal arrangement. Virtuous women give good men something worth fighting for, something to protect, something to strive for, to better themselves for. Virtuous men arouse in women the desire to be faithful and supportive lovers, to have children, and to keep a more healthy, happy home.

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