For roughly the last century and a half, the major Western states have been attempting to supplant the family with its own systems of obligation and provision.
This has a certain logic to it, because while monarchical systems, empires, and even despotic states rest on the leadership of a solitary father-figure, bureaucratic nation-states are run by administrators and enforcers who execute the law. The laws are the arbiter of who gets what and when, rather than the independent judgment of any single family head.
Whereas in one system, the metaphor is that of government by the father-of-fathers, under a more egalitarian government, the principle is primus inter pares, or ‘first among equals.’
The family is a thorn in the side of political idealists, who hope for a human race without natural tendencies, a race which can be designed in the same way that an engineer might design a suspension bridge or software program. It is both a problem and a necessary tool for the state to defray its expenses, which is why speech-writers so often appeal to ‘making families stronger’ regardless of what the policy being advocated is.
The great difficulty is that citizens born without intact families have a tendency to become dangerous, unproductive, and often counter-productive compared to how planners might like society to be.
The theory is that the son of a strong single mother can become just as productive as anyone else raised in a two-parent household. The practice has been that bastard children are far more likely to become sources of disorder and additional ongoing costs to not only the state but the private communities upon which the state relies.
At the same time, many organs of the state supplant many traditional functions of the family — the care of the aged, the care for the sick, the instruction of the young, and the implementation of discipline. Without being able to supplant those functions, those organs would stop existing. Because humans, like many animals, imprint upon their caretakers, the nation-state has accomplished almost total loyalty across most of society, specifically around the programs that replace the functions of the family.
People fiercely believe in these programs with the ferocity typically reserved for the love and respect of mother & father, or even the veneration of religious figures. The authenticity of this faith makes it impossible to persuade people using accounting and statistics showing that the state will be unable to discharge its obligations to the mothers, fathers, bastards, and cripples that it has promised unlimited funding and care to.
At the same time as anyone who can read the figures says that it is important to have a ‘national conversation’ about this issue, it is entirely impossible to have such a conversation, because of the depth and profundity of the emotions around it among the general population.
Conservative radio commentators speak of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, M.L. King, and Franklin with the attention to detail once reserved for the lives of the saints, whom more Orthodox Christians pray for the intercession of. The portraits of presidents and notables past in our modern schools would be readily recognizable as ikons to medieval Europeans.
The essays that students write to these characters are more like devotional prayers than real ‘essays’ — essays are intended to persuade, whereas school-reports are devotionals.
We can see from this that the state has taken on the functions of family and religion both, at least within the minds of its citizen-subjects, but the results of this facsimile of the natural environment leave some things to be desired. The public school is to acculturation, accreditation, and training in the classical sense as a picture of a woman painted on a hug-pillow is to a real wife.
It is the photograph of a jungle pasted on the back of the diorama of a pet lizard to make him feel more comfortable, the heat-lamp in the place of the sun. They are substitutes, maybe even acceptable substitutes, but not as good as the real thing. It’s for this reason that the western nation-state has found itself in such a dire bind — the dedication which it was designed to inspire makes it impossible to devolve in an orderly, rational fashion.