The Family and Ideology

Frank Holl - Gone ca_ 1877

Gone (1877).  Frank Holl.

Whether it is a conscious process or an unconscious one, the values of bourgeois family life are perpetuated within the ranks of the working class family. At this point we can digress to consider the so-called middle-class or middle-strata family. The middle-class does not exist, as an actual social class, but as a hotch-potch of transitional elements, small producers, petty-bourgeois, professional workers, and remnants of social strata that could not compete with the bourgeoisie. As  a strata they possess none of the unifying factors shared by the real social classes and therefore remain a fluid, unstable, inconsistent and oscillatory section of society between the minority ruling class and the mass of the working class. Objectively they are really workers who are further removed from the point of production than the actual production worker and, as a result, occupy a less well defined position on the line between production and realisation of profit on the market. Subjectively these middle strata elements often adopt wholesale the values and postures of the class above them, to which they aspire. They are, conscious of the fact or not, exploited, despite their function to service the professional and managerial positions in society.

However, this oscillating section of society is now more than ever coming close to the working class position in opposition to capitalism, even though ideologically they may perhaps still identify more consciously with bourgeois ideas and morality. Hence we can digress to note that such elements can affect the working class, they can if permitted taint the political organs of the working class. It is the petty-bourgeois elements within the ranks who bring divisive and romantic infantile views to the proletariat.

At times the middle strata functions as a reserve potential and talent to reinforce the flagging human resources of the ruling class, and the same can apply to the working class where the brightest or influential are siphoned off. They are tempted to rise above and desert their own because they may even pose a threat to the bourgeois. To maintain capitalist security it is deemed necessary not to allow them to remain as ‘un-castrated’ members of a restless proletariat. Hence the   temptations of temporary reward and opportunism may rob the working class not of its best but its worst. In defiance of the ruling policy that the political ‘eunuchisation’ of the working class is preferable to the prospect of millions of “Moses’ “. It can now  be seen how immensely important it is that the capitalist class enables, and encourages, the working class to ideologically reproduce bourgeois values and ideas within the family.

The maintenance of the bourgeois family is realised through ideology. Important differences exist between the families of the working class and those of the ruling class. The main, central characteristic of all bourgeois families is the general occurrence of the monogamous, male supremacy, unit. This family unit typically demonstrates sex inequality, and as far as possible it strives for economic independence. An important ideological feature of such a family is the concept of the subordination and thence suppression of women. The woman therefore finds herself in a position where her world has become defined in terms of her home, her man, her children. The family life of the bourgeois reproduces the general contradictions of capitalist society – a situation that privatises the life of the woman. This contradiction manifests itself in capitalist society as that between private appropriation and socialised production. When applied to family life the contradiction appears in the form of socialised family functions that mark the increasingly privatised relations within.

The subordination of women is reinforced in publications, school, and the mass media by using sexual and psychological techniques to create an image of a stereotyped woman with a passive, dependant social role. The image presents, it is hoped, a weak and trivial, sexually titillating, undemanding creature that exists merely for the male purpose or pursuit until the time occurs for her to be initiated into the veiled mysteries of motherhood and thence obscurity.

The psychological effect of such ideological poison that is embellished with concepts of social idealism creates inevitably feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and inferiority. This sexual philosophy and outlook is better known as sexism, and unfortunately has been misunderstood and bereft of class analysis by the pseudo-intellectual feminist element within the women’s  liberation campaign, who obviously are not generally the product of the working class family. Sexism divides the working class because, as an ideological force, it weakens the unity and cohesion between men and women of that class. Such an ideology artificially polarises the interests of men and women, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, makes them different and opposed, with the result that the family becomes socially split within the home and destabilised by the eruption of selfish individualism.

Alienated relationships derived from the nature of production relations are a general feature of capitalist society. The role of the family is presented as an alternative, a counter-balance to alienation. The family model stands for security. It supposedly represents a haven in an uncaring society or security in the midst of insecurity. To many people the family epitomises love, but like security, it stands isolated and surrounded by hate. The family to such an ideology becomes an escape from reality, an escape from alienated and depersonalised social relationships. The contradiction of such a refuge is that internally it has become impersonalised, a mirror of the inequalities generated by the private ownership of property, and the division of society into antagonistic classes.

These ideological positions are bolstered by an entire arsenal of pseudo-scientific extrapolations and misconceptions. Konrad Lorenz, Desmond Morris, Robert Ardrey, Robin Fox, Lionel Tiger – the pundits of anti-human mythology are legion. The family, just as the whole history of evolution, has become the target of a battery of ‘nothing but’ assaults  and ‘reductions’. Human ingenuity as another sphere is belittled by the regurgitated theory of ultra-diffusionism exemplified by Thor Heyerdahl, and the ideas of Peter Kolosimo and Erich von Daniken who represent the extra-terrestrialisation of diffusionist theory. The ‘nothing but an ape’ corpus attempt to popularise the myths of pair-bonding and sexual fidelity, not withstanding the erroneous conception of the eternity of monogamy. Psychology and developmental studies of the metaphysical kind take pains to expound theories of attachment imprinting alienation at birth. These postulates provide no scientific or social insight because they ignore the economic determinants of societies. The truth of where the family originated and where it is now, still less what its future is, will never be found in pessimistic, nihilistic writings and incantations of the neo-Malthusians and other prophets of doom. Human beings are not naked apes completely pre-occupied with frontal nudity, nor are they apes that have become orgiastic predators, and neither are they land hungry aggressive apes who covet every piece of land, with an inner compulsion to make war, as soon as say boo to a greylag goose.




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