Fraud Alert, John Taylor Gatto edition

If you’re going to set up alternative sources of authority, you need to vet them for fraudulence.  John Taylor Gatto is demonstrably set up as a homeschooling authority figure and even when his name isn’t directly mentioned, the boilerplate about the “Prussian system” and “everyone was college-level literate before the evils of public school” shows up in plenty of conservative advocacy of homeschooling. But Gatto’s claims are not vetted, and when they are questioned, the response is that *footnotes are a tool of the man to keep you from going on a heart journey*.  An example of not vetting Gatto is the claims he makes about literacy being higher before compulsory public education by comparing WWI literacy *data* with literacy *reports* from before WWI.  Subjective reports that ranged from being able to compose a complex essay to being able to sign one’s name are not really a useful way to assess historical literacy or compare it to hard data after the World Wars, yet that very digging into the primary sources and trying to get at the heart of things is ostentatiously absent when it comes to Gatto among homeschool advocates. This is part of a larger problem with modern people conservative and liberal alike running screaming from explicit authority, but then becoming ensnared by the allure of false authorities.

Have Stay at Home Daughters support the community and not Daddy’s ego

yep, I went there!

I am aware it’s a small subculture within conservative American Christianity, but it’s a reasonably influential one even given that, and like youth groups being about short-term narcissistic moral feelgoods instead of sustaining community, it’s also a movement in which the focus is not on total real community but on aggrandizement of men who are doin’ it rong when it comes to patriarchy.

A nuclear family is not a family, that’s why there’s an adjective.

Raising children as a married couple in total isolation is not “family”, it’s just “atomic household unit of economic production”.

A father and mother raising children in a private, independent household separate from either’s extended family and/or parish is an invention of the industrial age.  It has become normalized to the point of being considered the only real family among conservatives, who fail history 4eva on this particular front.

There are a number of folks in the far end of right-conservative land who talk a great deal about how such and such a ‘european’ ethnic group has ‘always’ had nuclear families, but this is just a sign of how poorly educated they are about their own ethnic histories.

The pioneer family model wouldn’t exist without a lot of technology.  In some very real ways, the Ingalls/Wilder pioneer family is about as modern as families now in terms of sheer social isolation and dependence on the nuclear family for emotional needs to the point of neurosis.

The shift from clan to family to “extended” vs. “nuclear” family is just tracing the steps of technology and modernity and insane amounts of wealth in tearing us all away from the real forms of kin and kith.

Also, defining family in terms of the nuclear structure saves a lot of people the trouble of being held to account for their obligations and responsibilities to their familias/clan/bondsmen/etc.  Webs of intersecting authority, hierarchy, devotion, obligation and love.  Those are lost today and to get them back for the supermajority would require a lot of people to stop egotripping.  WOE.

Anyway that’s all I have to say about this right now.

 

Employ marginal men and women

Conservatives could employ the marginal instead of arguing that the marginal should magically make themselves functional in specific ways (the bootstraps argument).

There are a variety of ways to do this, as it is possible to employ many of the marginal *who want to work*.  This is not that hard to determine.

By marginal I mean people like ex-criminals, ex-drug addicts, and so forth.  A lot of these people can still do work and want to, but it is very hard for them to find work.  Sometimes privately funded job provision is the way to grant people dignity and a chance to be responsible for their lives.  It is a perfectly valid form of charity.

It’s not denigrating your husband to have help that’s not him

One of the most saddening examples of the atomization that marks conservative aping of what they believe to be traditional living is the idea that if your husband helps out to any significant degree, you should just fall over yourself in abject relief and never consider any other members of your larger community for help/support.

So women who are being totally failed by their neighbors, church members, friends and relatives ignore this in favor of declaring that asking for help beyond ‘husband does lots more housework and childcare’ means you’re denigrating your husband and failing Christian wiving 4eva.

This was brought to you by a very upsetting series of posts by a conservative bloggess where she disregarded medical advice for bedrest as stupid because her husband couldn’t take an infinite number of days off work, because obviously nobody else could possibly help out a heavily pregnant woman with a bunch of kids under age 8.

The idea that your husband should be your sisterwife and also work the full time job that pays for everything is in fact destroying the ability of families to live normal lives.  This isn’t to say that men can’t change a diaper, it’s to say that husbands and wives aren’t an island, or shouldn’t be.

It is perfectly traditional to not cook or not cook daily.

It totally is.  The idea that cooking daily is some kind of harkening back to a properly traditional time is itself fairly modern and part of the ongoing conflict between male and female spheres of power.  It’s also a sign of how far removed modern conservatives (and everyone else who promotes daily and often fancy/gourmet cooking) are from the normal life of living in a smallish community where specialization and division of labor were taken seriously *and that included cooking*.

The sandwich lady is still around, and she was around in the early 20th century too.  Also the 19th.  Or the food truck guy.  Whichever, you can go all the way back to fairy tales and folk tales (and, like, historical documentation) and find out that *gasp* the idea that women cook at home and men cook professionally is not consistent with historical reality.  Neither is the idea that individual women cooked all the meals for their individual families.

Cooking has historically been a specialty task, with elements of group work.  And it wasn’t sex-segregated as far as whether it was professional or home cooking.  Women were sometimes professionals and men sometimes did the home cooking.  The divisions were more fluid than is socially acceptable now.  And for all the judging among far too many conservatives of women who don’t cook purely from (fake) “scratch”, it’s also been the norm in history to streamline and utilize convenience and quick foods when possible.  The equivalent of McDonald’s has a long and storied history dating back to the Roman era that I can immediately think of offhand.

This doesn’t mean sitting down to eat delicious food with your family is untraditional, it just means there’s a difference between the various ways that people traditionally dealt with the big job of cooking historically and an imaginary “traditional” family where Mom makes three or four meals a day every single day by herself from completely fresh ingredients and also mysteriously manages the other tasks of the home, plus set up and clean up of each meal.  In reality, this type of cooking precludes even trying to do much else around the house.  Which is why it sure ain’t traditional or a great idea to advocate as some kind of norm (which I am sad to say I have seen among conservative SAHMs).

And not wanting to cook and finding someone else to prepare your meals is TOTALLY TRADITIONAL AND NORMAL, even among historical SAHMs (although they did tend to assist working mothers more often for obvious reasons).

Accept the implications of real community, not community of affinity

Those implications are that it’s not about your social life and only hanging out with people you think are groovy.  It’s about the reality that if you want institutions to persist when unusually charismatic/high energy people are not running them, you have to work with and spend social time with people you would not otherwise be inclined to hang out with.

Interestingly, for all the conservative rhetoric about real community, they are just as interested in only being around people who are “good fits” as everyone else.

Affinity as the primary socialization mechanism is a sign of a degenerated culture.