This story is absolutely routine, so the Irish Examiner doesn’t bother with any discussion: EU tells Ireland to reform childcare and gender equality. The basic point is that in accordance with EU standards and initiatives the Irish government is to provide almost half a billion Irish pounds for childcare and place a renewed emphasis on “gender equality measures.”
Ho-hum. Nonetheless, on occasion it’s worthwhile pointing out the obvious:
- At one time people might have gotten married, established a household, had kids, worried about how to support the arrangement, and split up duties so that childcare, household management, the production of income, and pursuing whatever else in life seemed worth pursuing could be taken care of in a civilized and satisfactory way. Since households and families were functional, they featured functional differentiation—more specifically, sex role stereotyping and a strong principle of parental authority—and defended themselves with rather strict rules of sexual morality.
- That arrangement, in which people made their lives together in accordance with community experience and habitual understandings, isn’t good enough anymore from the standpoint of our rulers. Among other things, it makes the aspects of life that our rulers control directly—large formal public institutions—subsidiary to other concerns.
- Consequently, as a matter of basic social principle, obligations relating to family and childcare—and therefore the family as a significant social institution—are to be done away with to the extent possible because they might interfere with the universal availability of everything and everybody to the economic machine, the care and feeding of which is now the summum bonum.
- That organizational demand corresponds to an understanding of human life and destiny: to be human is to be fully integrated as a productive and hedonic component in the universal rational economic machine. To be a wife and mother, except as an optional leisure-time activity, is oppression. To be a husband and father is bizarre and discreditable. To be a consumer and a functionary in some bureaucracy is fulfillment and communion with what is now understood as the Good, Beautiful and True.
- The institutional abolition of something as basic as the family in favor of rationalized technological hedonism naturally has endless repercussions. One such is the abolition of sex as a principle of human connection and its consequent reduction to a pure consumer good: consider, for example, Friends, Friends With Benefits and the Benefits of the Local Mall, a New York Times account of “hooking up” (absolutely casual sex) among young teenagers.
The accepted view is that if you have a serious basic problem with any of this you’re really weird. Personally though I don’t think it’s going to work. We shall see.