On The State,War and Family

From Cogan (2017), The Cost of Good Intenions (pg. 158)

“From 1945 to 1949, the number of public assistance recipients increased by more than 50 percent…the number of children on the welfare roles more than doubled.

In 1934, four out of every five recipients of state mothers’ aid programs were the children of widows. By 1948, only on in four were. That year, nearly half of all recipients (45 percent) were children in families in which the father was absent because of divorce of desertion or because the child had been conceived out of wedlock.

Large societal changes in the postwar structure of families, compounded by state government welfare program liberalizations, drove the surge. Hasty wartime marriages, lengthy wartime periods of separation between spouses, and high migration rates produced a sharp rise in postwar divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births. By 1948, the U.S. divorce rate was 35 percent higher than its prewar level in 1940; the out-of-wedlock birth rate was 44 percent higher.”


Blessed are those who sorrow. What is in the sorrow is the appreciation of the significance of the trouble. Only he who grasps significance will be motivated to plan and allocate so as to move closer to what is good or avoid what is evil.

As in almost any selected event in history the meaning extractible from it is almost inexhaustible. A couple of thoughts:

First, it has taken me some time to begin to integrate the role of war into the sociological troubles we face as a society. Much of what is attributed to welfare policy, and I do not for one moment judge such coerced charity good, needs to be integrated with the other state activity that has made it more attractive. Handouts and dependency are only attractive from a position. The position in which great changes in that most sacred social institution of the family are noted above is post-war. And much of war can be laid at the feet of the state.

Second, the catastrophe that is the state can be seen both as disease spreader and snake-oil salesman. It is the state that marshals resources and men to war (at the threat of punishment for not participating through taxes or conscription) and then once the fall-out occurs (social disintegration) it is the state that re-justifies the higher taxation and increased control of the economy called for because of war as a salve for the trouble it has caused. In both cases it is the productivity of non-parasitic private citizens which bears the burden.

Third, as an example (a technical term in Aristotelian rhetorical theory), this set of events and the causal laws made manifest, is an instantiation of a more general truth. But just as the sage instantiates logos, these events events instantiate anti-logos, not order and structural integrity but disorder and structural weakening. What is the general truth that is worth sorrowing over, and appreciating the significance of, and so preparing to move toward or away from? Where there is attack on private property, initiated aggression against non-aggressors, there will be signs of trouble that will increase with the severity of the attack. The state is the claimed legitimacy of attack on private property owners. The ramp up in state activity as cause is visible in the destructive effects.

In a next post, I will deal more practically with the most common inadequate response. You will find the inadequate response in the policy initiatives of the person who senses the trouble of the state but hopes it can be avoided while preserving the legitimacy of initiated aggression against non-aggressors. This person senses that there are many goodies provided by that aggression that will become, they think, more insecure with the commitment to the dissolution of the institution that claims the right to initiate aggression against non-aggressors.

With that done, maybe we can deal with the tactical move of the above defendant of the state. Once it is established that the trouble is in the claim to the right to initiate aggression against non-aggressors, the interlocutor usually makes the following move: “Objection. Objection your honor. This theoretical argumentation is all well and good, but practically it is impossible! C’mon.” This is the the costs are too high objection. We must always be ready with response. It comes.

Published by Purilib

Anonymously interested in grasping the good life.

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