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Monday, September 19, 2005

Was Karl Marx Right?

A recent series of e-mails from a self-described “pro-life feminist” demonstrated how badly even well-intentioned people understand the basics of human life and interaction. Though a graduate of an orthodox Catholic school, Franciscan University, she was apparently uncontaminated by its teaching.

For instance, the woman took issue on several levels with homeschooling. She asserted a homeschooled child could never be as well-taught as someone instructed by a professional teacher. This was especially true in Florida, she said, a state with “real standards.” She felt homeschooling was “demeaning” by being forced to stay home with her children. She insisted she would never obey her husband or submit to his authority.

Instead, she intended to get her doctorate in education and work at a job somewhere, competing with men for the most important thing: money.

The immensity of her errors were breathtaking. They are worth examining in detail simply for the instruction they provide.

Completely oblivious to the fact that homeschooled children do as well or better than their public school counterparts in every area, she did not realize that Catholic parents are required to teach their own children about the Catholic Faith. Spiritual instruction cannot be left up to a school or external agent.

A parent is not simply one who gives biological life – s/he is one who gives spiritual life by introducing the child to the God who is the source of life. To the extent a biological parent does not perform the spiritual task, that parent is not fully a parent.

Similarly, she seemed unaware that authority derives from service. To the extent that anyone does not serve, that person has no authority. Thus, when Scripture commands submission to authority, it assumes that the authority in question is serving the needs of the one submitting. If that is not happening, no submission is required. God has authority over us in part because He answers our every need.

We all instinctively know this relationship between authority and service exists. President Bush’s authority was called into question in the New Orleans crisis precisely because he was accused of not having served the people of that city well. The local government of New Orleans stands accused of precisely the same offence. To the extent that a man does not serve his wife, he has no authority over her, and to the extent that she does not serve him, she has no authority over him.

But the most interesting error was the last one: career and money. Although she called herself a feminist, she clearly saw the male career path as the superior choice. Money, power in business circles, careerism: these were her highest goals. In short, this “feminist” put the pursuit of wealth above her relationship with her own future children.

Karl Marx held that capitalism, the pursuit of wealth, led inexorably to atheism. Now, he also thought it would inexorably lead to communism, but that was primarily because he misunderstood one aspect of human nature. He agreed with Rousseau that mankind does not suffer from original sin, thus, he thought everyone would eventually learn to share everything in common.

As it happens, this is not the case. Because we are all greedy bastards, that is, because we suffer from original sin, we kill each other in order to acquire things. But the acquisition of things at the expense of building relationships with one another does most assuredly lead to atheism.

This was the misunderstanding our “pro-life feminist” held. Because she was a capitalist, she held the mistaken belief that life was about acquiring things. Thus, her “feminism” necessarily meant repudiating children, even repudiating her own womb. She necessarily undervalued women’s work because it does not revolve around acquiring things, it revolves instead around helping small people develop into adults.

As I pointed out to her, she held onto a false feminism. She wanted to compete with men in the business world because she was instinctively afraid that she was not good enough to compete with women in the creation of a good home.

As has been noted previously, while capitalism is certainly superior to most alternatives, it does have its own inherent excesses to contend with. In short, while there are certain mistakes that only a communist could make, there are other mistakes that only a capitalist could make. This young woman demonstrated that truth in spades.


Nârwen said...

*As I pointed out to her, she held onto a false feminism. She wanted to compete with men in the business world because she was instinctively afraid that she was not good enough to compete with women in the creation of a good home. *
But what if she's right about herself ? Not all women make good mothers. (Not all men make good fathers, either...)
(I'm thinking of my own family as well... if my one of my elderly relatives could had let her husband stay home with their daughter and been the corporate raider she was by temperment, everybody would have been happier...)

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Well, recognizing that one is not a good mother is quite a different thing from proclaiming oneself a feminist and denigrating the stay-at-home mom.

The woman I was conversing with considered women who were pregnant, barefoot, in the kitchen and happy about that to be little more than unenlightened savages, held down by a remorseless patriarchy that exploited them.

She similarly considered misogynistic any attempt to defend those women who wanted to stay home and take care of their children.

That's not feminism, that's an insistence on the pursuit of raw material gain.

Nârwen said...

Oh. There is a huge difference between understanding one's own limitations and denigrating the abilities of others in order to make oneself feel better...

Patrick said...

As an interesting sidepoint, this may simply be someone unable to get over her biology. There was a recent science article that was describing how, much like proclaimed homosexual men have less of the male hormone testosterone percentage than average, many female feminists have tested as having more of the male hormone percentage than average women. I am not saying this was necessarily the case in this instance, however arguing the money over family relationships certainly is not a common female viewpoint.

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