Most of the discussion of parenting above assumed the context of an illibertarian society, one in which the state, through direct empowerment of biological parents, and indirect paralyzing the young of the ability to survive independently (through truancy laws, child labor laws, etc.) artificially creates a climate in which adolescents have no practical options but to accept dependency on parents as almost a metaphysical reality of their existence.
In the absence of such controls, a great deal of this talk of "proper upbringing" would suddenly change tune very quickly. It is true that financial support, via contract and property rights principles, grants some valid sanction to parential authority. But the meaning of this changes drastically in an atmosphere where a young person practically can, and often will, leave home if parents, including Objectivist ones, decide to control their children's lives "for their own good".
In a free society, especially with a lack of rent control and a variety of models of education- including various apprenticeship traditions, a young person who leaves home at say, 13, would have a very reasonable chance to do well on their own- even if the struggle would be hard. There are many adolescents- particularly those of the most independent minds- who have prized their liberty over security and have throughout history have done just that.
I ask those here who support controlling models of parenting- do you stand in the pride of knowing your children are grateful for your upbringing and education, enough to stay with you in the presence of alternatives? Or do you feel assured you know better than they do, and quietly rest an atmosphere where your children have no choice but to obey?
I believe parents might suddenly remember to do a lot more 'teaching by example' and a lot less 'you're too young to understand' if they realize their child might think an apprenticeship program or a childless adult friend might gladly take them might be a better deal than sancted mother and father. I doubt parents would try to discourage romantic affairs between 13-year olds if the young lovers might just decide to break and run and set up a household together in some cheap (sans rent control) apartment.
And this is no hypothesis. Had such things been possible, I would have left home the moment I could support myself. So would many, many people I know. Incidentally, those from cultural background which trained children as if they could support themselves at 13 had very benevolent relations where the young person had no desire to leave. Those where young people knew they had no other choices produced a lot of blind sheep, a number of nihilistic rebels, and a few messed-up misfits.
Conservative preachers of market discipline, beware, take some of your own medicine! I'd like to see the sight of parents having to compete on an open marketplace.
I find it shocking- but typical- that while Rand could show Kira as a heroine for walking out on her family in Soviet Russia- those here place themselves exclusively in the position of parents, instead of applying their individualism to the question of: how should I, as the maiden or youth, strive to realize my happiness on Earth? And those who do so have little to say except to counsel postponing sex and passion to get somewhere in the social world. Some precious doctrine of happiness! Such is the doctrine in blank name of dreams deferred. What I hear is the exploitive egoism of "it's my children", or the alienated egoism of "it's my future (for which the present must be repressed)". I here very little "it's my life, my dreams, my passion, and I demand the right to explore my passions, my friendships, my sexuality, my dreams- and my society and my parents can just get the Hell out of my way."
I myself discovered in Rand, once long ago, that my life belonged to me, and not to my parents, my elders, my society, or those who "knew what was best for me." I found that my judgement was my own, and that if that judgement conflicted with others I should act on it or call tyranny upon my life what it is. And I once read in Rand that one should seize one's dreams, fight for one's passion in the full conviction of one's right, that one should set out on one's own, take risks, that Platonic love was a vice, unfulfilled, represses, and deferred dreams were sins. I remember a world in which one should distrust those in whom the impulse to guide, patronize, and care was powerful, most certainly including parents. That Rand's ethic should now be used to support parents managing their childrens' romance, or children denying romance for success in the world on its terms, is treasonable. Or it would be treasonable if Rand had not yoked her violent, revolutionary, and passionate aesthos to the name of Hobbesian security and the substance of a tepid and reasonable American middle class that expressed few of her virtues, and if cultural embeddednesses did not in the end always have the power to bend ideas for their own purposes.
I am now 26 years old, and though many of my ideas have changed, and have sadly let Rand go after finding she could not keep her promises of passion, I have never regretted- but for one black moment of despair- having chosen to live my life, and an education an experience beyond most Americans my age have not shown me that my parents' plans for me contained wisdom but rather held deeper horrors than I dreamed. I say in no shame or retreat, yes, my upbringing showed me some rawer horrors of parential authority than most, and this experience factually has a great deal to do with why I cannot stomach ordinary conformities most take for granted, wherein I see an evil that sickens my soul against whom I will find few allies. Yet I am not the only one, nor the only one to suddenly find a wall of steel at my back as soon as I found in the Life a place where my passions can live in this world.
What will you do, O traditional parents, when you have no laws to brace you, and every independent spirit can do as I did- as I would have at 16 had I been born a genetic female or lived in a context where state medicine did not make early start independent transitioning all but impossible. What will you do in a free society where we, and the counterculturalists, and the gay and lesbian world, will openly offer what you cannot- a culture of freedom, undoubtedbly decked out with full parallel educational and apprenticeship institutions- where the conformities of your culture are not in force? What will you do when you remember that some of us in the Life have not at all forgotten the traditional function of sex work as a mother of exiles from the passion-bending and -bleeding conformities of a world enmeshed in conventions of vicious moralism and sad necessity? What will you do when- and I gaurantee I am not the only one serious about pleasure as a cause who would jump at the chance tomorrow- what will you do when we open our doors as an open resource of defiance against your culture? How long could you survive- unchanged- faced with free competition?
Jeanine Ring )(*)(
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This is the proper end, but I here attach a long note which I think some here will appreciate and understand:
Those here who uphold an "old high culture" have little to worry about. It's no accident that those who share this aristocratic common sense are also those in this forum most open to and appreciative of courtesanship. Allowing for a degree of artful politiqueing and deferrence, the middle stratum of the cultural memory of sex worker subculture is adapted to an existence alongside such 'old high cultures', and my own style and form recalls the practice of sex work in societies- past and contemporary- when old high culture as opposed to base Christian virtues set the social tone. This tone is not perfect from the perspective of the ethos at the core of sex-work's historical self-conception, but it will do, doesn't harm anything important and gives space for a classical liberal's flourishing minus a few sighs, shrugs, and allusions a little bitterer than they're meant to be taken. This is the cultural pattern of modern Japan and most of the Far East, as well of that of Enlightenment salon culture, Rennassaince Italy and the Hellenic and Hellenistic and classical world. I have little doubt that those who hold to these cultures have little to fear (little, not nothing) of their daughters running off to join the Life- these cultures are structured internally to provide for eroticism and self-realization within their frameworks, and their cultural evolution had existed historically in an arm's length tandem with a sex work subculture, whose members poorly adjust to larger social norms but do better in a niche subculture with different rules. 'Old high cultures', instead of trying to crush 'immoral' dissidents, incorporate the marginal elements into the social structure: they live with competition, and the larger sense of liberality in this atmosphere requires the primary culture to actually offer something in its socialization more than moral commands. The result works fairly well for everyone, more or less; most do fine in the mainstream; those who who not do well enough to develop alternative excellences (with a bit of begrudgement). Sex work is only one example; such 'gentlemanly' cultures develop military, intellectual, commercial, and scientific parallel subcultures, all of which are adapted to various divergent psyches and have mores which quietly accommodate mores unacceptable in the larger society. 'Old high culture', in other words, has its one well-fortified traditions that see little defection, a fairly tolerant and mutualist ecology with those who who defect, and understood social niches for defectors. This isn't ideal for those who end up marginalized, and whose central experiences- whether erotic ecstasis, a warrior code, philosophic friendship, or scientific curiosity- all feel by rights a claim to a much larger preeminance in setting the tone of a polity. Nevertheless, an "old high culture" can maintain a liberal atmosphere without the need of strong political controls, a crushing moral intolerance to replace political controls, or even a perfect legal libertarianism. "Old high culture" represents a pragmatic, sensititive, civilized conservatism which can tolerate flourishing countercultural pockets and- depending on your point of view- either patronize of coopt them for a functional and reasonably happy society.
On a personal note, one reason I love San Francisco is that it in many ways is an "old high culture" city, influenced by Chinese and Japanese values, Latin high-church Catholicism, European emigres, and various Pagan strains preserved in gay, lesbian, and counterculture influences. The result is a city in modern-day America where, when I borrow the customs and understandings of courtesans in 5th century Greece or 16th century Venice, almost everyone except culturally mainstream Americans falls into the social patterns as if 'by instinct'. I am just put into a different social category, expected to step aside and speak discreetly but also exempted from a lot of normal social expectation, and that's that. Where a typical American would see at a brightly colored transgendered woman wearing an Aphrodite pendant as a wierdo or just an individual (and not "get it"), an Asian or European businessperson give me precisely one glance, reads "courtesan", and deals with me and expects me to deal with them as such. To Americans this seems shockingly anti-individualist, and to feminists patriarchal, and I sympathise with both intellectually- I'm essentially living under a diluted version of premodern rules. But as a practical day to day matter it allows me to express far more individuality in my chosen sphere than would head on universalistic moral confrontations and fights over the expectations of all citizens in the absense of defined social place.
anyway, just mused thoughts.
Jeanine Ring )(*)(