Families and identity politics

Michael Brendan Dougherty writes at National Review Online about the political impact of the shrinking family.

Shrinking families means smaller networks of kinship and familial care, which spreads out. Your friends and neighbors have fewer brothers, sisters, and cousins who might serve as role models or a kind of professional network for those who don’t go to top-tier universities.

Now, in her new book, Primal Screams, [Mary] Eberstadt explores how the unstable, half-formed, and shrinking family explains the urgent cries and screams found in modern identity politics, which emerged just as the sexual revolution was radically transforming the default family life for most Americans.

She begins with an evocative introduction about the myth of the “lone wolf” and our misunderstanding of a fundamentally social creature. …

… The heart of Primal Screams is an argument that humans form their social identity and their sense of self through their relationships to their parents, siblings, and an extended network of cousins, aunts, and uncles. Not only this, but they previously may have found peace and purpose through their religious identity, which puts them, their neighbors, and all of society into a familial relationship with God, the father. In the absence of these character- and self-forming influences, atomized individuals are seeking solace, consolation, and power — occasionally vindictive power — in the most abstract form of political identity groups.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

Reader Comments