Strengthening the family
by Erika Vögeli
In all cultures, it is the family that represents the basis and heart of human community. As a social being, man depends on solid human relationships for his entire physical, spiritual and intellectual development. In the ‘social womb’ of the family (Albert Portmann), being the very first human community, the child experiences the emotional support which is a fundamental influence to the development of his entire personality. The family is seen as the natural social entity, anthropologically as well as psychologically, which can provide for the development of the human being best.
Even if in individual situations this responsibility fails or is too little safeguarded – no state and no institution are able to perform the humane commitment that mothers and fathers contribute on a daily basis and throughout the years to the raising of their children. Living together in a family is an entirely personal and intimate matter antecedent to the state – and it is the top responsibility of both the state and a sensible system of laws to protect and encourage this sphere. The family is the basis of a free democratic political system and not an object of stately influence and control. This is no argument against pedagogically well-run nurseries – they are needed as they provide a valuable and indispensable contribution for many families as well.
Unfortunately the discussion regarding the significance of the family has been totally twisted in the last decades through gender–mainstreaming and equal rights debates. Everything that has happened and is still happening in this spirit was defined as an advancement per se. The woman, who decided to raise her children herself, was degraded as ‘the good housewife’. The significance of educating a child was looked upon as a secondary organizational responsibility next to the career. People thought it was all about emancipation and freeing the woman from out-dated clichés, about equality and equal opportunities for careers – only a few added that this was like throwing the child out with the bathwater and undermining the basis of human nature as well, i.e. freedom and democracy.
The label of ‘progressivity’, well covered by the media, seems to have sustainably blocked any question about the ‘cui bono?’ of this development. As the article “Family politics in international contexts” clearly explains, there are other powers interested and involved in this development. And when above all Goldman-Sachs advances the gender debate mentally and financially1 in order to generate more potential for economic growth, it should also be reason enough for careful consideration. No one has any serious objections against the equality of women. We do however object the one-dimensional over-rating of the parental contribution to economic growth against the significance and value of the educational tasks. In Norway – certainly not a “conservative” state in this respect – the women, if asked, testify that they have little desire to increasingly push into the man’s world.2 And speaking about career, we obviously think of highly trained women in the first place – whether the female workers at the assembly lines, in the factories, in the cleaning service, etc. realize their potential through their contribution to economic growth is another question.
The opponents of the initiative argue that a ‘YES’ to the family initiative would diminish the motivation towards a professional career. Even the Message of the Federal Council3 clearly expresses that the deduction for external childcare had lead to the fact that more often both parents were earning a living or they increased their employment. “Subsequently a higher employment participation was achieved – particularly among mothers.” It is equally obvious that it is not at all about less qualified women. Many families are actually existentially dependent on the wife’s additional income – these women, however, can hardly afford external child-care. (Message of the Federal Council, p.7224). Therefore well-trained women contributed increasingly to the job market and added to economic growth. In other words: the introduction of the deduction for external childcare does not have anything to do with fiscal justice but was rather used as a control instrument towards the implementing of the support of certain “societal and political growth effects” (Message of the Federal Council p.7235).
This deliberate control of the family is unacceptable, a Yes for the Family Initiative would set a counterpoint and be an expression of the esteem we owe to one of the often most beautiful, sometimes very challenging, but certainly most valuable contribution for the common weal and the state.
1 Cf. Goldman-Sachs website, Womenomics etc.
2 Source: cf. Norsk Gendergate – 56 Millionen für Brainwash ausgegeben und das Gegenteil erreicht! http://agensev.de/wp-content/uploads/Norsk_Gendergate.pdf
3 Message of the Swiss Federal Council on the people’s initiative “Familieninitiative”