Writer Noah Berlatsky united typically warring political factions on social media on Monday after suggesting on Twitter that “parents” are, as a whole, an “oppressive” class, who commit atrocious acts of abuse on the level of economic repression and racism.
“parents are tyrants,” Berlatsky opined. “‘parent’ is an oppressive class, like rich people or white people.”
“there are things you can do to try to minimize the abuse that’s endemic to the parent/child relationship, but it’s always there,” he added, noting that the oppressive “parent class” is also emblematic of the “patriarchy,” and reinforces a hierarchical, sexist society.
Confronted by confused social media commentators who suggested Berlatsky was exaggerating by elevating typical family issues like “doing chores” or “abiding by house rules” to the level of “abuse,” Berlatsky provided a nearly as confusing explanation, likening being grounded to being subject to “solitary confinement.”
“asking people in your home to contribute to upkeep is fine. but sentencing them to solitary confinement if they don’t cater to your whims or preferences is less okay, as if hitting them,” he said. “the fact that capitalism is awful is not an excuse for abusive familial relationships.”
That, of course, is key to Berlatsky’s criticism. The issue isn’t so much that parents are repressing their children, but that traditional child-rearing — and, in particular, child-rearing in religious households — is decidedly un-woke.
Socialism is the solution, apparently.
“do people just not know how kids are treated?” he went on. “parents routinely prevent children from speaking to friends, leaving the house, identifying as queer. parents regularly hit kids and emotionally abuse them.”
“the mechanics of the family and of capitalism are not separable,” he concluded.
It gets worse, of course.
The novel take on parenting drew criticism from across the political spectrum. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro and Matt Walsh pushed back on Berlatsky’s theory, of course, but so did the New York Times’ Elizabeth Bruenig, a self-described socialist.
Berlatsky was quick to find the common factor: “everyone from Ben Shapiro to Liz Bruenig hates the idea that parents have tyrannical power over kids which…is not that surprising given their religious commitments,” he noted. “family dynamics look a lot more ominous when you think about them from the perspective of queer kids.”
“parents are charged with indoctrinating children into an abusive and unjust society,” he theorized. “how do they do that? in part by teaching them to stay in their place and accept injustice without question. again, these are not particularly new insights. does anyone read shulamith (sic) firestone?
“if someone had the right to beat you unconscious, imprison you for using a cell phone, prevent you from going to college, prevent you from seeing friends…you’d see that as tyrannical, even if they didn’t do any of those things. and rightly so,” he went on.
“nothing like Marxists insisting patriarchy is fine because they want to be able to feel good about how they treat their kids,” Berlatsky said, taking aim at his left-leaning critics.
And yes, “patriarchy” factors in: “patriarchy is instantiated most directly through the family; lots of feminists have talked about how the family is exploitive. I’d point you to Firestone if you need the case made at greater length. parents aren’t a benevolent dictatorship. there is no benevolent dictatorship.”
In fairness to Bertlatsky, he knows his socialist thinkers. The philosophy’s fathers — most notably Karl Marx — had no use for the nuclear family because, in a state-centered society, subsidiary, influential non-governmental figures undermined the authority of the all-powerful state.
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