Family and the Community

Family is the bedrock of a healthy society, with children doing significantly better in education if they have a stable family. Family is what recreates the orders and flows of a society, allowing it to maintain a formed culture and idea of nationhood. However, family is only one element of this traditional, culturally conservative society. The other important element is community. This is what the fake conservatives, the neoliberals and neoconservatives, ignore. Community is anathema to their ideology of unhinged neoliberalism which chooses to commodify social relations and destroy tradition. Rather than society being a collective contract to be governed by the little platoons as Burke described, neoliberals and neoconservatives see it as something to be moulded to the interests of capitalist elites. Rather than the altar and the market being two realms controlled by social hierarchies, cast by its constituent actors, with the mutual clericalism and mutual aid of the former, and the local character and decentralised control of the latter, the economy and community are centralised through the state, creating uniformity and destroying culture.

In redeveloping family for modern society, recreating the traditional and rejecting the modernity of civilisation, a new conception of community and economy needs to be reckoned. A socio-economic order chained to the interests of continual capital accumulation and growth is destructive to the positivity of family. Three such alternatives present themselves: Gibson-Graham’s concept of the community economy, distributism and the left-libertarian concept of the market.

The first is simply the creation of a discursive politics of economy that recognises it as an overdetermined concept, fed by multiple narratives and concepts. Such a weak reading of economy allows for the development of an economy shaped by narratives and actions of its actors rather than a top-down ideological concept such as socialism or capitalism. In a community economy, relations are shaped by the ground-up institutions and firms developed, with many different forms of ownership, surplus value distribution and labour. It’s a fundamental re-embedding of an economy within its social relations.

Distributism is similar in its application, placing the economy within social relations of the clerical, with economic relations shaped around conceptions of Catholic or Christian morality. Here economies are localised, similar to a community economy, and labour relations are placed within artisanal associations and production guilds, with production relative to the direct economy rather than a reliance on state-subsidised mass production. In monetary affairs, usury was outlawed in the Catholic-influenced economies by the social power of the church rather than state enforcement.

The left-libertarian idea of the market relates to both of the previous concepts, allowing for discursive politics to create multiple conceptions of an economy that can develop and flourish. Capitalist conceptions can easily be outcompeted by more efficient, decentralised means, such as cooperative and worker ownership, distributed and commons property relations, and more equal distribution of surplus value.

All of these can be reconciled with the family, allowing it to flourish as it allows for a localised economy embedded within culture created by a familial society. Family-owned firms can become a major player in local market economies that aren’t quashed by the state-subsidised megaliths of Wal-Mart and Tesco. Non-usurious monetary relations mean a limitation on the indebtedness of an economy or society, meaning that the modern necessity for both family members to work needn’t be a reality. The development of new forms of mutual aid, such as a basic income, allows for the family to be redeveloped, allowing parents to actually raise their children rather than chain them to the alienation of wage labour, as well as rewarding house workers as genuine labourers. By reorienting the economy back to the space of the community, the family as a social reality can flourish and maintain that natural conservatism of society.

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