Thursday, 19 November 2009

The misnamed "Nanny State" should be called "Daddy State"

One of the most typical criticisms of Europe by the American Right is that Europe’s big governments constitute a “nanny state” that serves to cause:
  1. regulation of every aspect of people’s lives, including trivial matters like obesity of parents or the beliefs of children
  2. lack of responsibility
  3. dependence of the elderly on the young
  4. inability to innovate due to a “sedating cocoon” protecting people
  5. people being told what they can and cannot think, in order to exclude traditional values of Western Civilisation regarding sexuality, marriage, traditional culture and the unregulated market
  6. a point where it is impossible for people to “live free” because of government regulation and the State gives people exactly what they want - at the cost of responsibility and commitment to the point of total self-interest
Although I am aware that an unrestricted free market can have very undesirable ecological effects in fragile environments like Australia and sub-Zambezian Africa and of itself encourage things like mass migration (and I presume mass tourism) often criticised by conservatives, I have long had sympathy for direct action rather than relying on government to deal with problems and so can be very suspicious of the situation Steyn says Europe is in.

There is one issue here I have long been wanting to speak about, that being the misuse by Steyn of the terminology “nanny state”. Steyn and too many other conservatives often speak wrongly of “feminising the males”. Whilst on the surface the low levels of violence and conflict in European cultures can give an impression of a gentle, compassionate society, Arthur Brooks completely annihilates that idea with his research in Who Really Cares, showing that Europe is an extremely tough society in which compassion is more or less viewed as a sin. In the process he confirms a long held suspicion of mine that “secularisation” and “masculinisation” are synonyms for one process. It is in fact the hatred of passive acceptance and helping others voluntarily that makes Europeans unwilling to accept even a small pruning of from their huge welfare states. Politicians in nations like Sweden would know there is the potential for enormous bloodshed if they carried out policies recommended by the likes of Hans Hoppe or Thomas Woods. Following upon Europe’s working-class radicalism after the earliest Industrial Revolution, governments have been forced to develop generous welfare states even where, as in Italy and Spain, they were long resistant to secularisation and their policies created entirely false impressions of strongly Catholic and traditional cultures.

The very essence of the welfare state is not gentle and soft, but tough, even manly. It should thus not be called a “Nanny State” but a “Daddy State”, to show the reality of a culture where being gentle and nurturing is effectively viewed as sinful.

The term “nanny state” can be far more accurately used to describe the traditional Australian state with its limited subsidies to help people in the dire trouble that Australia's erratic climate and rivers cause. A “nanny state” would never interfere in the personal affairs of its citizens as most European states (and those of Canada and New Zealand) do today. It would allow for general freedom in education, religion and development, quite unlike the “Daddy States” of Europe today. One can see such a true “Nanny State” in Australia’s combination of unsubsidised farming with drought subsidies that are of themselves destructive because they stop farmers from suing ecologically vandalous car and fossil fuel corporations for the changes they have caused to our climate.

It really is time people see that even the intention of the big governments of Europe, Canada and New Zealand is in no way gentleness but responding to working-class (and student) militancy that is the opposite of the gentle marianismo that is the essential value preached by the Right. A writer who uses mistaken terminology should be properly criticised.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am from Melbourne too.
I came across your site via your Avatar posting.

Please find some reference by a Real Avatar on the origins & consequences of the current crisis.