Biopolitical Tyranny?

by Patrick J. Deneen on May 8, 2013 · 35 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Culture, High & Low

Rubens_saturn

John Milbank has written a remarkable critique of gay marriage that points to the ways it will ultimately and immeasurably strengthen the modern liberal State.  The theologian who launched “Radical Orthodoxy,” and who identifies as a man of the Left (indeed, a radical man of the Left), argues that the claim that marriage is merely a word that can be applied to different relationships masks the underlying transformation that is in fact being proposed.  That transformation will not simply “add” same-sex couples to the institution of marriage, like the 26th amendment added 18-20 year olds to the voting rolls.  Rather, it will transform all human relationships in the image of homosexual unions, and becomes the means by which the liberal State will come to rule over the one institution that has proved thus far recalcitrant from its redefining reach – the family.  Homosexuality – an identity based upon non-procreative sexuality and requiring political and technological child-provision – was all along liberalism’s aspirational norm to which procreative sexuality would ultimately have to conform.

Milbank writes:

Where the reality of sexual difference is denied, then it gets reinvented in perverse ways – just as the over-sexualisation of women and the confinement of men to a marginalised machismo.

[Gay marriage] would end the public legal recognition of a social reality defined in terms of the natural link between sex and procreation. In direct consequence, the natural children of heterosexual couples would then be only legally their children if the state decided that they might be legally “adopted” by them.

And this, I argue, reveals what is really at issue here. There was no demand for “gay marriage” and this has nothing to do with gay rights. Instead, it is a strategic move in the modern state’s drive to assume direct control over the reproduction of the population, bypassing our interpersonal encounters. This is not about natural justice, but the desire on the part of biopolitical tyranny to destroy marriage and the family as the most fundamental mediating social institution.

Strong stuff.  But plausible?

We are many steps from a point at which biological parents must “adopt” their children (But getting closer).  But taking gay marriage as one of a number of general devotions of a progressive class, we see an overarching commitment to weakening and ultimately rendering wholly “voluntarist” any intermediary bonds that exist between individuals, of equalizing, rationalizing, and “liberating” the individual from chance, contingency, and unchosen obligations.  Liberal theory has long struggled with the brute natural basis of families and child-bearing, the human association most closely grounded in nature, and hence, not easily subject to the liberal logic of individualistic voluntarism, on the one hand, and primary membership in the State, on the other.  Milbank points out that gay marriage is a deepening of an already pervasive technological remaking of these elemental relationships.  Gay marriage will invariably make technological child-making a norm, indeed, in the foreseeable future, a “right” that must be afforded by the State in the name of equity and “health.”  As child-making becomes ever-more subject to human engineering, as it becomes ensconced as a State-sponsored and State-monitored activity, and thus increasingly governed by political and technological devices, will it be permissible any longer to leave such an important activity to chance?

For those of us who came of age in old-fashioned and sometimes “irrational” and antiquated institutions, it has been breathtaking to see with what rapidity they have been remade in order to accord with State-mandated, rationalized “measurable outcomes.”  Today the university; tomorrow, the family.

Milbank’s argument leads one to at least ponder grounds for the extraordinarily rapid and widespread political and social acceptance of gay marriage.  It has been thought by many – myself included – that its breathtaking success has been due to its strong linkage to the language of rights and the claim to be a further extension of the civil rights movement.  This is doubtless the case.  But it seems to me that there are many claimants to “rights” that are unlikely to find a hearing in the current configuration of an ascendant Progressive class.  Among of those, interestingly, are children growing up in fatherless households, the condition of a third of children in the United States today.  The media is almost entirely silent about this scandal in plain sight, one that negatively effects the life-chances of fifteen-million children.  Why is it that nearly every elite institution – news station, newspaper, sit-com, talk-show, school, university, and so on – has made gay-marriage the object of its most fervent devotions, not children growing up without fathers?

What of other issues that might be on the agenda?  Too big to fail?  Imperial overreach?  Drone strikes?  Massive and growing inequality between the well-off and the working class?  Yes, those are problems.  But is every elite institution devoting anything comparable to similar energies to any of these issues as they are to the drumbeat of “marriage equality”?

Which leads me to think that Milbank is onto something.  All these other issues are just policy matters on which reasonable people can disagree.  Gay marriage, on the other hand, is an extension of a 500-year agenda of remaking every social institution in the image and likeness of liberalism – the autonomous rights-bearing individual freely consenting to, and identifying primarily with, the liberal State.  The family was an intractable challenge and its undefining was liberalism’s ultimate goal.  Gay marriage is the political vehicle on which reproductive technologies will now be enabled to finally remake that most recalcitrant institution.  The fact that every other institution has already been effectively reordered by liberalism’s logic – regions, States, neighborhoods, schools, universities, and churches – has made even the family fairly easy prey.  If it weren’t happening before our eyes, it would make for a pretty good science-fiction novel.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Jack Shifflett May 8, 2013 at 8:24 am

Mr. Deneen: If Mr. Milbank is correct when he writes that the entire gay marriage agenda is in fact a “strategic move” by the “modern state,” perhaps either you or he would be kind enough to cite one person–President Obama? Kathleen Sebelius? Hillary Clinton?–who has written or said anything remotely suggesting a desire “to assume direct control over the reproduction of the population”? Or is it the case that the “modern state” has a mind of its own, and so the actual expressed opinions and desires of actual elected officials are irrelevant?

avatar ck May 8, 2013 at 9:17 am

“Gay marriage, on the other hand, is an extension of a 500-year agenda of remaking every social institution in the image and likeness of liberalism – the autonomous rights-bearing individual freely consenting to, and identifying primarily with, the liberal State.”

There is good evidence to substantiate this claim. Look to an essay written by John Milton called “On the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce” which well describes how liberal America views marriage, from the Terri Sciavo tragedy to gay marriage:

“NInthly, I suppose it will be allow’d us that mariage is a human Society, and that all human society must proceed from the mind rather then the body, els it would be but a kind of animall or beastish meeting; if the mind therfore cannot have that due company by mariage, that it may reasonably and humanly desire, that mariage can be no human society, but a certain formality; or guilding over of little better then a brutish congresse, and so in very wisdome and purenesse to be dissolv’d.”

This is an important work that should not be ingored with respect to the current issues surrounding gay marriage.

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/ddd/book_1/

Ultimately, it is the “Papists,” as Milton referred to them, who will have the firmest ground to stand when it comes to this issue, while the Protestants will have to contend with what its forebears like Milton unleashed.

avatar Djmontrella May 8, 2013 at 9:33 am

societies objective – strengthen the family- a gay couple is a family, a union that helps stabilize a community of all, a natural occurrence, and an abomination for them delivered by us.

avatar Ray Olson May 8, 2013 at 9:39 am

While I find Mr. Deneen’s abstract of Milbank’s argument and his, Mr. Deneen’s, observations prompted by it very compelling, I share Mr. Shifflett’s concern that this may be another case of the antis making ammunition for the pros, John Milton notwithstanding (fat chance that gay-marriage advocates know more of Milton than “better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”).

It may be–indeed, I think it pretty surely is–the case that we are living in an epoch of liberalism that shall continue to burgeon for the foreseeable future. Let us who see its evils steadfastly live in the light of Christ.

avatar Skyler Reidy May 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm

I’m reminded of Bertrand De Jouvenel’s writings, especially On Power, which describes the state breaking apart all other forms of social organization and control, and amassing their power for itself. De Jouvenel emphasizes that this expansion of power often succeeds because it presents itself as liberation. However, the power contained in old social forms is never destroyed, only centralized. Witness the abolition of feudal privilege during the French Revolution. This was applauded by many peasants as a new birth of freedom, yet the Republic assumed all the authority of the old lords and more.

De Jouvenel’s theories may not scale down to the nuclear family (the smallest political unit he discusses is the clan). However, his model–of inherently expansionist power using egalitarian and liberal impulses to remove impediments to itself–may be of some interest to anyone following Millbank’s line of reasoning.

avatar Carson May 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm

The ideal human of the postmodern state and global economy is metaphysically lesbian. The androgynous Consumer.

avatar Tim May 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm

“Strong stuff. But plausible?”

No. Logically weak stuff, unpersuasive, and small-hearted to boot. Legal recognition of gay marriage “is a strategic move in the modern state’s drive to assume direct control over the reproduction of the population, bypassing our interpersonal encounters.” This seems to me beyond the pale. Granted there’s some chatter going on that seems intended to sound like high reason, but it escapes me (as the marriage-is-for-procreation “reasoning” has escaped our judges, but maybe they’re all just lackeys of the state). We have a lot of crises; people of the same sex wanting to get married is not one of them. It’s not fundamentally THE STATE we should fear, but private corporations that have gained control of it, and nothing makes them happier than seeing the people fixate on non-issues like gay marriage instead of real issues like corporate destruction of the commons.

So much humble, careful and big-hearted thinking on big issues here at FPR– then you get into gay marriage, and suddenly it all turns a bit silly.

avatar Anymouse May 8, 2013 at 10:00 pm

How is homosexual marriage to be viewed in a different light than things like single motherhood, or divorce, other great issues of late modernity?

Maybe the issue of marriage isn’t a big one, but certainly divorce, abortion, and the rest are. And all of those can dovetail quite nicely with the issue of state power and financial power.

avatar Katy May 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm

No, the argument is not beyond the pale. While Milbank’s article seems lofty, what will happen (if it does, and I hope it won’t) will be quite ordinary and ordinary folks will accept it. Attached to the hospital delivery fee will be a federal or state “fee” to grant you parentage of your biological child. Perhaps it will be masked as payment for a service or training to make sure the parents are ready to receive the baby into their home. A number of reasons why I do not think this is conspiracy theory and completely plausible:

1) No one thinks twice about income or property tax–not even conservatives . Who cares about a birth tax? (Although it probably won’t be called “tax”) Most of the time parents will just bring their baby own as they always have–unless the state sees reason

2) Obligatory idiotic comments about “they should require a license to have a kid” after every news story about filicide or abuse or neglect. Many, many people are serious when they say this.

3) It would limit families who couldn’t afford the adoption fee (or whatever it’s name–Family Permit?) to smaller families, which many think would be a good thing.

4) Ask anyone who has tried to adopt or use IVF. Both are very expensive and and very emotionally draining. It’s really not fair that those who can not have children (either because they are infertile or because their partner has the same reproductive organs as they do) must pay more and go through more hoops than those who just get their kids through the old heterosexual means. Everyone must be equal and all that.

5) Have you noticed how cash strapped our states and Washington is? What a great money-maker. That’s the best argument. Requiring biological parents to apply to adopt their own children will make lots and lots of money.

avatar Art Nesten May 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Or is it the case that the “modern state” has a mind of its own, and so the actual expressed opinions and desires of actual elected officials are irrelevant?

Or maybe it’s the case that elected officials understand better than you do what’s effective…

avatar Thaddeus May 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Milbank is prophetic and courageous. Do you think an Obama or Clinton would admit their plans explicitly? If someone told you twelve years ago that a pressure cooker bomb at a marathon would lead to thousands of citizens forcibly thrown out of their homes at machine-gun point cheering “USA!” USA!” would you have believed it? Would you have believed that a U.S. president would be able to murder thousands of innocents abroad with robot planes, and that he would be given authority (NDAA) to detain and imprison Americans with no evidence or trial? Milbank’s predicition is tame, as it seems to me, compared to what is really being planned for those who question Big Brother and who dare to assign blame to anyone but Emmanuel Goldstein.

avatar Ray Olson May 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Allow me to reverse course a bit. Tim speaks my mind to some degree, too, when he says, “We have a lot of crises; people of the same sex wanting to get married is not one of them. It’s not fundamentally THE STATE we should fear, but private corporations that have gained control of it, and nothing makes them happier than seeing the people fixate on non-issues like gay marriage instead of real issues like corporate destruction of the commons.”

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that gay marriage is a non-issue, but really, it’s not nearly of the same degree of importance as the “other issues that might be on the agenda” that Mr. Deneen instances.

avatar Robert May 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Ray,
The line between State power and corporate power is a fiction. The corporate destruction of the economic commons and the government destruction of the social commons (advancing now to the level of family) are two sides of the same coin and have been progressing in tandem for 500 years now.

avatar Tim May 9, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Robert
There’s truth in that, but the Brave New World version of state tyranny rings obsolete. The problem seems to me to be in the notion of “state control” and its implication of a fascistic order imposed on every aspect of national life. The power is in the hands of private corporations, and the laissez-faire utopia they seek is not characterized by order but by what Cato Institute founder Murray Rothbard called “anarcho-capitalism” — or what most people would call chaos. It’s markets they want to control (and mostly overseas markets these days, as that’s where the growth and greatest ROI is), not the bonds of citizens. In fact, the fewer bonds of affection in the populace the better, as far as they’re concerned. Commodifying workers is easier the less bound they are to others. The aim of our ruling oligarchy is minimizing regulation and placating citizens who naturally rebel at the threat of annihilation at the hands of profit-driven anarcho-capitalists. Again, my guess is that nothing is more gratifying to those worried about corporate regulation than seeing us all distracted by gay marriage.

avatar John Médaille May 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I think Carson nailed it: “The ideal human of the postmodern state and global economy is metaphysically lesbian. The androgynous Consumer.” This is not the left vs. the right, and we should not be surprised that this is written by “a man of the left,” just as we are not surprised to see so much support for homosexual marriage on the right. Rather it is a battle within liberalism, which now encompasses both left and right. This is a battle between state and corporate bureaucrats, who do not disagree on fundamental issues. Tim points out “the Brave New World version of state tyranny rings obsolete. … The power is in the hands of private corporations, and the laissez-faire utopia they seek is not characterized by order but by what Cato Institute founder Murray Rothbard called “anarcho-capitalism” — or what most people would call chaos.” I think this is correct, and gives us a better basis than “liberal/conservative” to understand this, and most of the other issues which confront us.

avatar Horsa May 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm

“Or is it the case that the “modern state” has a mind of its own, and so the actual expressed opinions and desires of actual elected officials are irrelevant?”

I actually think you’ve hit upon something rather important here. A transnational corporation is essentially a profit-making machine using individuals whose intentions temporarily line up with the “intention” of a corporation (that is, to expand profit) as energy cells. When a cell does not line up with the system as a whole (when an board member or shareholder decides that he is morally opposed to the company’s practices), the cell is shed, dies. The corporation goes on running. Huge ideological abstract systems like this do not require individual intention or will to get things done.
In a similar vein, the Idea of America is a ideological abstract corporate system that uses individuals like Obama or whomever as energy cells to fulfill itself. It’s a hyper-object with power and something akin to its own will running indefinitely, and it will require a massive amount of energy to slow it.
That is why John Milbank’s theory is powerful and why “gay marriage” is an issue. Not because of the issue itself, although to many people it is distressing. But because it is yet another bursting forth of the unstoppable algorithm that projects the Nation-State into its own technocratic oblivion. The abstract is now, through this issue, enacting another victory over the concrete.

avatar RiverC May 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Emphasis however, on the ‘control of corporations’ is a canard, Tim. It’s a tactic to get the eyes off of the government, much like the tactic of Republicans to point to Democrats, Democrats to Republicans, and so forth.

If you look at a graph of the crossover between large private corporations and government positions, it is staggering. However, your predisposition will color how you interpret these facts; if you are predisposed to see the government as benign you will see it as corporations controlling the government. If the other way around, you will see it as government controlling the corporations.

I think the reality is, as Robert said, the line between is a fiction. We must look at government as our own documents tell us to, as a set of people. It is a reality that there is a kind of shadow aristocracy (shadow only in the sense that it is unofficial) wherein people possess a patrimony in government and corporate interests.

The large corporations are simply corporate governments, as their structure often reflects. Worrying about corporate control of the government is merely a way to avoid the truth that certain persons have variously acquired a lot more power than is healthy, especially in a system such as our own. To point the finger at the government or the corporations is to provide cover for these people.

The shame here is that this aristocracy is all the things that could be worst about an aristocracy; it is cosmopolitan, it is effete, it is violent, it is incompetent, and it is an ‘inner circle’ in the sense Lewis discussed in his famous essay.

If you look at how Marxism really worked out, it was an elite trying to find a particular way to secure its power for perpetuity. Marx’s ideas were one thing, but Trotsky, Lenin, Stalin – they were something else, weren’t they? The form – state tyranny – is just a way to mask what is really going on – personal tyranny. The theme of 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World, etc, is the banality and ugliness in inhumanity of tyranny, expressed as a state tyranny.

That the logic of homosexual ‘marriage’ is so natural to so many is what is most telling; it is like arguing the filioque controversy with a Protestant.

If there are going to be these mega-aristocrats, they shall not appoint themselves; but their horizontal power evades our normal detection… they must come under scrutiny, but who shall scrutinize them?

avatar RiverC May 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm

What I am aiming to say, since I was so long-winded, is that these mega-aristocrats ARE the biopolitical tyranny; they are the tyrants. It is as much Dick Cheney as it is George Soros as it is Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, the Bushes, and so forth.

As Goldberg suggested, it is a soft tyranny, a ‘liberal fascism’ – one, as ominously intoned by Lewis, “one enacted for the good of its victims.”

avatar Tim May 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm

RiverC raises “the logic of homosexual ‘marriage’” and that may be the crux of the problem here, as he may be trying to say without following that fact to its obvious conclusion: true marriage is a matter of affection more than logic, and yet many are trying to place it in an entirely logical framework — perhaps because they enter the topic projecting a heterosexual orientation that can’t (or won’t) contemplate homosexual unions as authentic. Hence, in the search for first principles on this matter the BIOLOGY of the communion of two souls — the silly argument that marriage is for procreation — reigns rather than the claims of the heart. And where claims of gay hearts are discussed, they’re blindly dismissed as shear lust. Why? Because no other conclusion is logical. Do you see the problem?

As for the view of the tyrannical state expressed here, it seems based on a belief in human nature as fundamentally inclined toward megalomania. That seems yet another matter of faith, hence hard to argue, but a faith that I don’t share. Far less debatable, it seems to me, is the enormity of power inherent in the drive for capital accumulation and corporate self-preservation and expansion. I admit the entwinement of state and big capital, but not that the state’s origin and entire existence is owed to big capital. My grounding on this is in Karl Polanyi’s argument in The Great Transformation. Governments are battle grounds where private capital and the public interest duke it out. Yes, the public interest is losing badly right now, but it hasn’t always, and there’s plenty of history of government representing the public interest (FDR vs. “the economic aristocracy”; Ike vs. the military-industrial complex). When it fails in that purpose, it works more like a hapless errand boy for the powerful than as the well-oiled headquarters of a shadow government of what are in many ways, after all, competing interests. By the way, I do admit the problem of scale and believe the U.S. government has far exceeded a scale at which it can justly claim to be by, for and of the people.

What no one’s explained to me is, if one doesn’t want the state meddling in marriage, why admit its right to approve ANY marriage? Marriage as we know it, the institution so ferociously defended by the anti-gay marriage crowd, entails recognition by the state–the very state they despise. For those who don’t want the state meddling with the family, that seems to me the place to start. Why not campaign against ANY government-issued marriage licenses? And if you don’t approve of the state’s authority in matters of marriage, why would you jealously defend the state in that role in your own marriage, and its right to define marriage, by denying its claims regarding the marriages of others? It all seems highly hypocritical.

Finally, why not rescue such personal matters as love and marriage from the abstract realm of THE STATE and return them to local communities–civitas? That would be the civilized thing to do.

avatar John Gorentz May 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I sometimes tell people I remember the 1890s like it was yesterday. Actually, I don’t remember the 1890s – it’s the stories my grandfather told about growing up in that decade that I remember.

Still, I have to choke back tears of nostalgia when I hear people rail against the power of private corporations, as if it wasn’t the cronyistic relationship between big corporations and big government that’s the problem. Makes me feel like I was back in the 1890s again. And I have to admit, I enjoy the escapism of pretending we don’t have a Leviathan state that grants private audiences to the news media so they can all coordinate their stories.

avatar James Chastek May 11, 2013 at 10:33 am

“Or is it the case that the “modern state” has a mind of its own, and so the actual expressed opinions and desires of actual elected officials are irrelevant?”

Milbank is talking about the logical consequences of an idea. How often do the people who advance an idea understand all of its logical consequences?

A better critique might be this: Milbank argues that if SSM is the paradigm for parent-child relations, then all parent-child relations are sorts of adoptions. But this is not so: some SSM couples might have children from previous hetero-relationships, other couples might conceive through third-party sperm donations, etc. I don’t know that this is fatal to his argument, but he needs to do more work in shoring up the connection between the essential infertility of the SSM couple, which requires some third part to contribute to any offspring they might have, and the need for the third party to be the state.

avatar James Chastek May 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm

One response to my last argument would be to say that all SSM relationships involve adoption in some way: if partner A has children from a previous relationship, then partner B has to adopt the child to have a legal right over them; and if one member of a SSM couple gets pregnant, then the other partner would have to adopt the child to have a legal right to it.

But, then again, marriage makes the spouses the presumed parents of the children, and so SSM would presumably do the same. Taken in this sense, SSM would in fact weaken the idea that adoption necessarily characterize same sex couples, since it would make one parter ipso facto the parent of the others’s offspring without any need for adoption.

avatar Rob G May 11, 2013 at 10:16 pm

“It’s markets they want to control (and mostly overseas markets these days, as that’s where the growth and greatest ROI is), not the bonds of citizens.”

Phillip Blond calls today’s two-headed Leviathan the “market state.” One shouldn’t downplay the role of either head — the corporate one or the government one. This market state sees itself as in direct authority over the consumer-subject, and any third party group, affiliation, community, etc., that inhibits this direct authority must be either marginalized or eliminated. This includes, most importantly, the traditional family. As Prof. Deneen says, up till now the family has been resistant to this authority, and it seems an impossible task to eliminate this institution altogether. What can be done, however, is to redefine it in such a way that it becomes so broadly understood and watered down that its ability to resist state influence and control is severely lessened. When the defintion of a word is so diluted that it can mean anything, then in reality it means nothing. And a “nothing” can’t resist state power. Liberalism is inherently tyrannical, and will allow no real competition with itself.

avatar Rob G May 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm

“true marriage is a matter of affection more than logic, and yet many are trying to place it in an entirely logical framework — perhaps because they enter the topic projecting a heterosexual orientation that can’t (or won’t) contemplate homosexual unions as authentic. Hence, in the search for first principles on this matter the BIOLOGY of the communion of two souls — the silly argument that marriage is for procreation — reigns rather than the claims of the heart.”

The claims of the heart can be frightfully errant, as in an adulterer’s “love” for someone not his spouse or a pederast’s “love” for a little boy or girl. Why should the homosexual’s claim of the heart be given a pass here? Just because 40 years ago a group of psychiatrists woke up one day and declared it “normal”? If a similar group declares the same thing about pedophilia in 2033 are we all expected to just jump on board because “Hey, that’s what the experts say!”?

avatar Ray Olson May 12, 2013 at 11:56 am

Mr. G–You writw, “The claims of the heart can be frightfully errant, as in an adulterer’s “love” for someone not his spouse or a pederast’s “love” for a little boy or girl. Why should the homosexual’s claim of the heart be given a pass here?”

The answer to your question is that the homosexual’s claim shouldn’t be given a pass, nor should it be assumed, as you seem to assume, that it is always the equivalent to the adulterer’s claim or the pederast’s claim. If the homosexual’s claim is in practice abusive, as are the claims of the adulterer and the pederast, then it merits disapprobation–but only then. I know many homosexual couples who have never to my knowledge committed either adultery or pederasty. Read again what Tim wrote, “where claims of gay hearts are discussed, they’re blindly dismissed as shear[sic] lust. Why? ” And answer his question.

avatar Rob G May 12, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I would not dismiss them as sheer lust, but I do believe they are fundamentally disordered. Be that as it may, if Tim considers it “silly” to link marriage to procreation, I consider it far more silly to excuse unnatural behavior on the basis that (breathless pause) “We love each other!” All sorts of damage has been done on the supposed rationale of those four little words. Isolated “claims of the heart” mean exactly nothing, and it’s romantic rubbish that says they do.

avatar Tim May 12, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Well, then, Mr G, clearly the state should only be granting marriage licenses to couples who a) can prove they’re fertile (all marriages winning the state’s blessing but that don’t eventuate in procreation would, of course, be dissolved), and b) swear they have no love for each other.

Come to think of it, if that’s where the marriage-is-between-one-man-and-one-woman argument leads, perhaps it is HETEROSEXUAL marriage, properly loveless (therefore something for which “there was no DEMAND”), that is “a strategic move in the modern state’s drive to assume direct control over the reproduction of the population, bypassing our interpersonal encounters,” or at least affections, and greatly simplifying the state’s necessary duty to keep the populace reproducing by eliminating the messy problem of so-called “love”. Strikes me as at least as plausible as Mr Milbank’s argument.

Finally, reading history and anthropology hardly supports your belief that homosexuality is unnatural.

avatar RiverC May 13, 2013 at 11:02 am

@Tim

to place the issue as either ‘emotional’ or ‘logical’ is part of the problem. It simply means that the West cannot in final analysis, overcome the dualism (mind/heart) it created in its religion and get to a higher third. Either it must be logical, or emotional. What if it is prior to both? The primordial thought is neither strictly speaking an emotion or a word; it may be both or one or the other. That marriage is between but a man and a woman is primordial in this fashion, attempts to set it either as logic or emotion are foolish because both our logic and our emotion are broken. The emotion of many people, homosexual people included, are broken. The logic indeed also, is.

But, we cannot help but accede that the biology – something concrete – supports this primordial intuition, as well it should. Marriage can only be a matter of love IF love is not an emotion. If love is an emotion in the sense we treat sadness, happiness, fear, anger and so forth, then love is transient and cannot be the basis for marriage. This could be then categorized properly as either lust or infatuation. Neither is a solid basis for a relationship which forms the core of the family which is itself the fundamental unit of human society. However, the modern state is its own basis and does not see itself – in its own logic – as needing the family. Thus the logic of homosexual unions. Romantic love is not evil only if it is practical; otherwise it is either infatuation or lust. To look at American writing since the Romantic era is simply to see an infatuation with infatuation or lust; an obsession with adultery. Thus we fall under the condemnation beginning with, “This adulterous generation…” this infatuation only looks to more than lust and infatuation when it finds its home in obsession, such as in the Great Gatsby. Everything else suggests not just lust and infatuation, but also envy; greed which everyone thinks about first really plays second fiddle in our society and culture, it is fueled by the wounds of lust and envy.

Either we follow a moral tradition or we abandon it for something else – what else will have the strength to convict most men? We will get some kind of system, Tim. This is one reason I don’t read FPR much… too many mushy-headed libertarians and ostriches.

Libertarianism is like communism in this way: it converts all spheres of society into one sphere, which does not eliminate the others, but merely creates a vacuum which must be filled. It literally draws in the nearest available substitutes. One of them may be Islam. For communism, rule by thugs and mobsters replaced the lack of formal politics in Marx’s theory. The lack of hierarchies (by which men are naturally arranged) was replaced with the meanest and basest of hierarchies: the crowd and the tyrants.

Affections are more complex than you think, Tim, and more disordered in history and in so-called cultural anthropology than we yet understand.

avatar RiverC May 13, 2013 at 11:09 am

For instance, trying to determine what ‘normal’ human sexuality is by looking at animals is entirely fruitless. It’s an exercise in confirmation bias: Thus you will see overplaying the sexuality of Bonobos, which fit the preconceived notions of openness to group sex and homosexuality preferred by the left-leaning part of this biopolitical oligarchy; but even the right side has a preconceived fluidity regarding relationships and the transience of love – all very Bonobo. But there are some animal species that strictly monogamous to the point of NEVER TAKING ANOTHER MATE if their mate dies. So the idea of establishing ‘natural’ sexuality by ‘is’ instead of ‘ought’ – by science instead of moral tradition – is fruitless and represents the exhaustion of a people’s conviction and strength, grasping for something solid to hold them up like a dying man with a broken cane.

avatar Tim May 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm

RiverC–
I think you’re replying to my comments, since you address me by name, but you don’t address my comments and hence miss the mark. So I won’t bother to defend positions I don’t hold. I have not framed the matter dualistically (pointing out the role of love is not to dismiss reason as an element in marriage), nor from a libertarian position (I understand many support gay marriage on libertarian grounds, but those are not my grounds), nor in terms of the norms of other species. Perhaps you’ll read my comments more closely and fairly and not lean so heavily on the broken cane of prejudice.

avatar RiverC May 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Tim,

Yes. I take your reply to mean you have no defense then. Perhaps you missed that your own reply did not answer my original comment.

avatar Pete the Greek May 20, 2013 at 8:01 am

Personally, I think things will implode before this comes to pass.

avatar Hcat May 23, 2013 at 8:02 pm

A Classical Greek, dropped into the modern world, might conclude that heterosexual marriage, what with this “soulmate” and”falling in love” and all that, had already been reshapec to resemble the homosexual relationships of his culture, except between ppposite sexes.

avatar Roger U May 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm

The purpose of gay “marriage” and anything else “liberal” is the further destruction of Christian norms.

avatar Ray Olson May 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Mr. U–Do you think that supporters of gay marriage are all either purposely anti-Christian or unaware of the purport of what they advocate? Either seems incredible to me.

Also, are you aware that you have chosen an obscenity as your Internet pseudonym?

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: