Children in the Family and in the Commune [2]

Children in the Family and in the Commune [2]

The life of the child in the family and its wider life in society as a whole make up the two sides of the conflict between its private and wider social conditions of life.  In bourgeois society, the initial and informative period of psychological development of the child is centred in the family, that is, within the narrow social arena where its physical and other needs are supposedly met. In this granulated medium, children form their earliest and most significant psychological attachments and dependencies. The establishment, interplay and development of these attachments and dependencies constitute the psychological content and drama of the inner relationships of the contemporary nuclear family.

The relationship of the family structure with the capital order is a diabolical one. It both encourages its formation and continuation and yet, with each passing day, undermines its historical existence. It works both to strengthen and attenuate it, feeding its existence with idealised media representations whilst sharpening its inner contradictions. But the overall historical trajectory is towards disintegration and supersedence.

The dissonance between the ‘public’ life of the individual within society as a whole and the ‘private’ life within the exclusive coterie of the nuclear family is one which can only subsist under general conditions of social alienation. This separation between the ‘private’ world of the individual and the individual’s ‘public’ role in society is a function of the rise and evolution of private property and not something inherently human. It separates out from the primordial, prehistoric commune, positing itself like a crystallised sublimate out of a vapour, as an estranged embodiment of property and control.

This social ‘cleavage’ in the life of each person is reflected in the differences, contrasts and conflicts between the public and private psychology of the individual. The public persona of the individual on the one hand, embracing occupational and professional relationships, and the inner egoism of the private world of thought and feeling of the same individual on the other hand, is just one form taken by this conflict. The painful antagonism between the private and public sides of human individuality reaches its highest point of development in the human relationships of bourgeois society where the social relations engendered by the domination of the capital relation actually necessitate the development, cultivation and perpetuation of this antagonism. It serves to fragment the personality of the individual in his or her psychosocial relationships.

This ‘fragmentation’ is the underlying reason why people feel like ‘halfmen’ or ‘halfwomen’. They do not feel ‘whole’. They feel internally disabled. They seek this ‘wholeness’ in others so that they may be ‘complete’ in their union but only find transmogrified images of themselves in the others. Nobody really finds fulfilment. The global world of the capital order is a billions-gathering of the socially-crippled seeking salvation within the terms of the world which has produced them. To go beyond themselves, they must destroy what has created them and in the process humanise themselves and create a real livable existence.

The dissolution of the family in the global social upheaval and what follows it will mean and ensure that the rearing and socialisation of children takes place on an entirely different, indeed opposite, social foundation to the present one. Children reared through the social relationships of the global commune develop on the foundation of the resolution and abolition of the conflict between the private and public sides of the life of the individual. Children become ‘the children’ of the whole commune – are reared by the whole community – as the psychosocial relationships which characterise the internal structure of the nuclear family disappear.

Biological parents cease to have the same social significance which they have for ‘their’ children reared within the nuclear family in class society. Every adult becomes the social guardian of each and every child.  Hence, the very notions of ‘parent’, ‘brother’, ‘sister’, ‘son’, ‘daughter’ – which express the social relationships of the family –  vanish. In the real social sense, all will be brothers and sisters. Child-adult relationships become transformed in the commune where biological parentage does not have or confer any special, exclusive social role or privilege upon these adults.  The child is reared by the whole commune and grows to maturity without any notions of ‘my family’. The nature of the epoch is always summated and most concretely expressed in the character of its children. They are the human litmus of the age. To know the age, look at its children.

The narrow, exclusive, alienating mode of rearing children in bourgeois society is superseded in the commune. The maturation of children in the commune outside the social relations of the nuclear family will facilitate a higher degree of personal independence and security than can ever exist in class society. This accords with the growing intensity of human freedom that necessarily results from the establishment and development of communist relations. The fears that are associated with the possible or actual non-attainment of needs – food, shelter, clothing, etc – in class societies disappears which, further, serves to dissolve the traditional ties of the nuclear family. The psychosocial relationships of the nuclear family – which grow out of the necessity to satisfy human needs under the conditions of exploitation of class societies – become historically unnecessary and gradually disappear in the onward evolution of communal life.

Shaun May

January 2019

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