One of the hallmarks of any totalitarian society is an unremitting hatred of the nuclear family. So long as the family remains the primary educator of children and the primary building block of society, totalitarianism can never take root because success requires the individual’s primary loyalty to be to the state. This is not a secret. One of the elements in the Communist Manifesto, right before the abolition of the nation-state, is the abolition of the family.
We’ve seen a gradual chipping away at the health of the family under the guise of good intentions. We’ve created a society where out-of-wedlock births are the norm rather than the exception. Where state provided daycare and before- and after-school programs act in place of parents. We have a school system that actually believes it knows best, and so you, the parent, can’t send your kid to school with aspirin without the royal assent of school administrators, but school officials can arrange for your child to have access to birth control devices. The hostility of the public school mafia to homeschooling is often packaged as one of competition for resources. It isn’t. It is about control of what your child learns and what they imprint as values. Just as the Hitler Youth scheduled activities for Sunday mornings to be in direct competition with church attendance, we are seeing that youth athletic leagues in this country do the same thing with increasing frequency.
In totalitarian societies, real and imagined, children betraying their parents to the state has been held up as behavior to emulate. The Soviet Union went so far as to actually create, in the best traditions of Comrade Ogilvy in the novel “1984,” a fake child-hero, Pavlik Morozov, who was supposedly killed by his own family for informing on his father. (The real truth is a lot muddier, but the fact that turning your father over to the secret police was held up as a sufficiently laudatory character trait to cause a national hero to be created is the point.)
Orwell alludes to this child-as-snitch role model dystopian novel 1984:
‘Who denounced you?’ said Winston.
‘It was my little daughter,’ said Parsons with a sort of doleful pride. ‘She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? I don’t bear her any grudge for it. In fact I’m proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway.’
They beat her, bound her and led her from home. She knelt before the crowds as they denounced her. Then they loaded her on to a truck, drove her to the outskirts of town and shot her.
Fang Zhongmou’s execution for political crimes during the Cultural Revolution was commonplace in its brutality but more shocking to outsiders in one regard: her accusers were her husband and their 16-year-old child.
More than four decades on, Fang’s son is seeking to atone by telling her story and calling for the preservation of her grave in their home town of Guzhen, central Anhui province, as a cultural relic.
We’re seeing the same trend towards the government attempting to enlist children as informants here. Over Thanksgiving, we were all told by the pandemic-mongers to not visit friends and relatives but, rather, cower under our beds with facemasks and cold porridge (for the Facebook fact-checkers, that is just sarcasm and not a claim of an actual event). To ensure that we took it all very seriously, some governors, like Vermont’s Phil Scott, ordered schools to quiz returning students on what their families did for Thanksgiving.