The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

Parents and Children April 11, 2006 by RedStar2000

Want to have kids? Does it make sense to want kids? Do we have a planetary "kid-shortage"?

And the "traditional family" -- how's it doing these days?

Lots of stuff here that some may consider "non-political"...but surviving in "late" capitalist society has a lot of political implications.


In a thread in the Discrimination Forum, I wrote this...

quote (redstar2000):

Working class men usually can't afford child support and often successfully evade it; which is why working class women with children are so damn poor!

Under capitalism, children are an expensive luxury...and ordinary people who have and raise them have basically "signed over" most of the rest of their lives.

If there's a "communist position" in all this, it's that we should be telling young women DON'T HAVE KIDS!

Because the way things are set up, you will really be "in the shit" if you do.

Unless, of course, you can marry a really rich bastard...that's your only chance -- not a very "inspiring" message.

To which there was this response...


That is a rather selfish way of looking at it.

So how do you folks see it?

Does it make sense to you to have one or more children given the realities of modern capitalism?

Can you imagine, for example, what even the cheapest college education is going to cost 18 years from now?

Or the wars they might drag your kid off to fight?

Or what would happen to that kid if anything really bad happened to you?

The criticism of women who don't have children is that "they're selfish"...meaning that they don't want to spend a big chunk of their lives doing child care 24/7/365 like a "real woman" does.

Nor do they wish to risk ending up dirt poor...unmarried women with children are right down close to the rock bottom of the social pyramid.

Women who avoid having children do almost as well financially as men from their same class do...and in some cases even better.

To criticize such women as "selfish" is to criticize them for acting like men...avoiding the nearly life-long burdens of child care.

Not to mention a long standing prejudice of patriarchal "biology"...a "normal" woman is "supposed" to want children and spend her life caring for them. To want to achieve things in a "man's world" is "unnatural" and "selfish".

Note finally that these sorts of criticisms are rarely directed towards upper class women...who, if sufficiently motivated, can become leading ruling class figures in their own right.

It is working class women who are "supposed" to be "unselfish" and devote most of their adult lives to raising the next generation of workers...with or without support from either the biological fathers or the bourgeois state.

We are solemnly told that "it's a woman's destiny"...and that's just "all there is to it".

If a guy may be permitted to express an opinion on this issue, I think it's a bullshit "destiny".

If you want to put it in "political terms", I think young working class women should "go on strike" against such a monstrously unfair arrangement...and simply refuse to have children until conditions fit to raise a child are both available and secure.

And until she does not have to pay a "mother tax" in terms of the chance to achieve things in a "man's world".

It follows that I think young men should strongly support the "childless option" for women...unless, of course, you're in a position to set up an irrevocable trust fund for her and the kids...say a minimum of $2 million. *laughs*

I told you that children are an expensive luxury!
First posted at RevLeft on March 10, 2006

Some...well, unexpected responses in this thread.

I'm a bit shocked at the open hatred for children as if they were "little monsters".

I've had very little contact with small children...but never found it to be "truly horrible".

In fact, what I've observed as the worst thing about being around small children is the abusive behavior of their parents. It's a sickening feeling to me to see parents "smack" their kids or speak to them in tones that I'd reserve for a war criminal.

To be sure, such parents are undoubtedly reacting to the crushing financial burden that children represent...and their resentment at the situation they find themselves in "comes out" in the resentment of the children themselves.

Very sad.

I also don't see why we can't "be blunt" and tell young women honestly what fate awaits them if they have children in capitalist society.

Do you want to find yourself begging on the streets for money to buy food for your kids???

It could come to that!

Capitalism doesn't give a shit about you or your kid!

I've actually seen young women with the burden of children to support sink under that burden...just slowly be crushed. Whatever hopes and dreams they might have had before they gave birth just wither away in the atmosphere of constant financial crises.

It's really horrible!

So yeah, I think we revolutionaries should tell young women DON'T HAVE KIDS!
First posted at RevLeft on March 11, 2006

How often does it have to happen?

You know, scratch a Leninist and discover a reactionary?


And rational adults (in this case, parents) have to teach children right from wrong however they see fit. There is no 'one right way' of raising a child.

Just as the Vanguard Party must teach the working class "right from wrong" however it sees fit!

Once again you expose your authoritarian bias!


The likelihood of a mother having to beg on the street for money in order to raise children is so low in any Western country today, that only the most pessimistic neo-Malthusian could even suggest such a thing.

And like most Leninists, you are fucking blind as well. I have seen women with small children begging on the streets in several cities in the United States.


Marxists are not in the business of gloom-and-doom politics.

Marxists are "not in the business" of lying to people.

On the other hand, Leninists...
First posted at RevLeft on March 15, 2006


If your idea of 'real communism' is telling people how to raise their children, I guarantee you that it isn't mine.

Oh? Is it your view then that children are their parents' property to do with as they damn well please?



Telling people how to raise their children is something that comes from the same people who feel that they have the moral authority to tell us how to eat, smoke, drink and have sex.

Sometimes...and sometimes not. The physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children in the name of "parental right" is not ok with me.

I don't think neo-puritanism has anything to do with the matter.


There has never in history been a better time to be born; there has never been a better time to be alive.

How the fuck would you know? I am 64; how old are you?

What's your standard of comparison?

When I was a child, my parents both worked...but they could afford to buy a reasonably spacious house, two mid-range cars, medical insurance, vacations, stuff like that. You think that's possible now?

People are indeed "living longer"...lots of them in "nursing homes" which are total shitholes.

What do more and more young working people have to "look forward to" now? They can't afford to go to college without plunging deeply into debt. Their job prospects: a bunch of shit-pay temp jobs. Lots of them can't even afford to move out of their parents' house...the rents are just too high!

At the lower end of things in America, there are people with full-time jobs who are living in their fucking cars!

Why the hell do you think so many young people in France are so pissed-off? Because the future looks "really great"?

Why not try a bit of Marxism here...if the word doesn't offend you.

What happens when an aging capitalist society approaches "the end of the line"? What do you think life "will be like"?

It will be shit! Closer to the 19th century than the 20th!

I have seen things get worse since the 1970s...with my own eyes. I see no reason whatsoever to expect any improvements and every reason to assume the decline in living standards for the working class to continue.

At this point, I would expect you to interject a load of Trotskyist babble about how we should "fight for reforms" to "stop the decline" and "make things better".

Well, you can forget that! There ain't gonna be no more "reforms". That era is over.

What there's gonna be is more and more shit from here on out...until people are ready for a revolution. And that may still be many decades into the future.

So I repeat: DON'T HAVE KIDS! The chances are if you do, you will just make things even tougher on yourself then they're already going to be anyway.


Your gloom-and-doom politics are not radical in any way...

And yours?

Want to tell us that the Bright Sun of Trotskyist Splendor is just about to rise, driving away all gloom and despair?

You should be a stock-broker. *laughs*


Money is not good parenting.

And poverty is?

Kids need good medical care...can you pay for it? Kids need a good school to go the money? Kids need books and computers...are your checks covered? In most parts of the U.S., they'll need their own's your credit rating?

To "do the job" right costs a bundle! To do the job half-assed is cheaper...but then what have you done?

Arranged things so that your kid will have an even worse life than you've had?

Good work!

If you happen to live in the U.K. (and are feeling smug about how much better off you are than us poor yanks), see this new thread...

Blair's Education "Reform" Bill

That's what any kid you might have has to look forward to!
First posted at RevLeft on March 16, 2006


My children will have a better life than I have had regardless of what I have to sacrifice to provide it for them.

I've never heard a parent say otherwise.

But good intentions perforce yield to material reality. I wish the best for you and your family; and you sound resourceful enough that you may indeed "do a lot better" than "the odds" would suggest.

But my perspective is a general one -- what's the "best thing" that working class people, especially young working class women, can do given the all around situation that the working class can expect in the coming future?

I maintain that the "best thing" is not to have kids.

The people here who "take this advice" are likely to have a less rough time of things than the ones who go ahead and "have kids" because "that's what's expected of them"...or, as some put it, not to have kids would be "selfish".

There's nothing inherently "reprehensible" about trying to protect yourself as much as possible from the negative consequences of living in a decaying capitalist society.

Don't join armies. Avoid the attentions of the police. Don't borrow large sums of money without a well-thought-out plan to avoid having to pay it back. Never steal unless you're absolutely sure that you can't be caught. Avoid physical confrontations unless you are bigger than or outnumber your adversaries...and unless there's something important involved. Don't drink and drive.

And don't have kids...unless you have secure pots of money to raise them.

It's the rational choice.
First posted at RevLeft on March 17, 2006

I think the incentive is too small. Instead of a lump sum of $200 or $300, it would be better to send them $200 or $300 per month.

Even better still: free abortion on demand!

And best of all: a serious payment upon receipt of an abortion...say $1,000.00 or so.

Poor women under capitalism need all the financial help they can get.

It won't ever amount to anything significant, but it's rare enough to read of a charity that actually helps people.
First posted at RevLeft on March 17, 2006


You mean you actually like the initiative?

What's not to "like"? Aside from the paucity of the amount, that is.


They're getting paid to have themselves sterilized!

Is that some kind of "horrible" thing?

Is there a "human right" to have children when you are unable to take care of them?


When you say permanent birth control (sterilization) you've basically given up on these people.

As parents. What else will happen to them is a matter of indifference to the ruling class.


Sterilisation has historically been used as form of social control. Sterilising 'undesirable' elements of society, working class people, Africans, queers, people with mental 'problems', indigenous peoples has all been driven by this 'desire'; many have been manipulated or just plain forced into this sterilisation in the past.

Both the United States and Nazi Germany had compulsory sterilization laws in the 1930s...I'm not aware of any examples since then.

As to "manipulation", aside from what a doctor might say to a patient, I'm not aware of any "formal campaign" in that direction.

From what I've read, the consensus opinion among U.S. doctors is against sterilization of women under's quite difficult to find a surgeon to perform such surgery even when a young woman wants it.

Those who bothered to read the link know that this charity will give the money to women who choose the "implant" method of birth control.

And male vasectomies are highly reversible.


There is a clear power asymmetry between (imprisoned) crack-addicts and charities such as this, and the group is taking advantage of people who very likely to be living in poverty, poorly educated, and potentially, psychologically unstable.

What "advantage"? They're giving people money who otherwise wouldn't have it.

Just not enough money.


How about instead of sterilising people who are addicted to crack, the community tries to actually support them? Help them fight their addiction? Help them raise their kids? Or if they desire, provide free abortions when an unwanted pregnancy does occur.

Your suggestions have been taken under advisement by the Municipal Soviet of Workers' Deputies and will be scheduled for discussion on March 18, 2088.

Until then...


What happens to all these people after that 200 bucks is gone? Their lives will be the same.

Yep. That's capitalism.

Meanwhile, $200 is better than nothing!
First posted at RevLeft on March 18, 2006

Well, you are clearly more informed about the history of "official sterilization" than I am...and I cheerfully defer to your superior expertise.

I was likewise unaware that the implant is no longer an available option.

What I can't understand is the "reasoning" behind your evident outrage.

Is the world suffering from a "baby shortage" that we have to "make sure" that every fertile female "has some"?

Is not having "one's own" children to raise a "tragedy"?

A "monstrous horror" comparable to...what?


It is disgusting that they're paying people to get permanently sterilized. As I said, this means you've given up on these people, assuming they will never again be clean, and capable of raising children.

That's the view of that charity; not necessarily mine. My crystal ball has been in the shop for repairs for a long time.

On the other hand, just because a drug addict has quit using the drug and "turned her life around", does that mean that she should have kids?

Should every woman have matter what?

Is that what women "have to be able to do" in order to "fulfill their womanly potential" or something?

A woman who is "not fertile" is somehow "damaged goods"??? No longer a "real woman"???

I don't understand what you guys are getting at.
First posted at RevLeft on March 19, 2006


What if instead of paying them $200 to get sterilized, they were paying them $200 to carry a rich couple's child? Would that be okay?

Last I heard, the going rate for that "service" was $10,000...and it's probably more now.

By capitalist standards, it's "ok"...and it does seem to me that there's lots worse things that take place routinely.

Look at the folks who try to sell their organs on the internet in order to finance high tech medical care for their kids that's otherwise simply unaffordable, for example.

Talk about horror!

This particular charity may not be "nice people" -- bourgeois charities rarely are -- but I simply can't muster up a sense of "outrage" over their activities.

If drugs were legal and inexpensive, perhaps this charity would have far fewer "clients"...I don't know.

Perhaps if society as a whole assumed financial responsibility for all children, that would make a terrific difference in women's outlooks on this sort of thing.

Neither of those two options look plausible in the foreseeable future.

So if some poor woman "gives up" her "right" to have children for $200 that she needs...well, I really can't criticize either her choice or the people who give her the money.

Except, as I noted before, that it should be a lot more.
First posted at RevLeft on March 19, 2006


CRACK is then is basically only the fall back plan when her plans to forcibly sterilize and imprison these people was blocked. Do you still think this is innocent RS2000?

Is anything "innocent" in a capitalist society?

Regardless of their motives, they are, in fact, offering material assistance to women who cannot afford to have or raise children.

You can certainly argue, if you wish, that this is a plan to "purchase women's bodies"...but aren't our bodies all for sale in this society?

Perhaps you and others think this is a "particularly reprehensible" form of "sale"...because the recipients are particularly desperate to sell.

Who of us has never done anything out of desperation for immediately needed cash?

Lucky you...if you've never done it or felt pressured to do it. I was at a point once (many years ago) when I seriously planned an act of armed robbery to avoid homelessness...but I caught a lucky last-minute break and didn't have "to go through with it".

I've actually had three girlfriends in the course of my life who were heroin addicts...and believe me, none of them wanted children then or ever. I suspect they would have appreciated a group like this one...without worrying about their motives.

As long as the "war on drugs" continues, people who use drugs are going to be desperate...and clearly need all the help they can get.

If you were a Jew in the Third Reich, would you get picky about the motives of some group that offered to smuggle you out of the country?

That's the approximate position of drug users in this country...they face imprisonment for the "crime of existing".

Being freed from the potential burden of pregnancy and child-raising can only help them to survive a little longer outside of prison.

Why is that "bad"?
First posted at RevLeft on March 22, 2006


Oh come on, you are basically arguing in favor of taking advantage of desperate people.

Where's the "advantage"? This charity thinks that drug-addicted women shouldn't have or attempt to raise children...that it's just an all-around catastrophe for everyone concerned.

Does that make sense or not?

Now, I think you'd have an argument if you could show that this charity violated confidentiality...for example, revealing the women's names and addresses to the police. If they did that, then I'd be on them like the proverbial "ton of bricks".

But in the absence of that kind of treachery, it seems to me that this charity is providing genuine material assistance to women who otherwise would get nothing from the existing system except prison.


It's the same as the rightwing libertarians who say 'hey Nike might be paying Malay kids 2 cents an hour but they need the money so Nike is really doing Malaysia a great service,' or congratulating a pimp for giving some teenage hookers a place to stay if they work for him.

No, I see no resemblance at all.

They are not forcing these women to work at starvation wages to make expensive shoes for western yuppies.

Nor are they forcing them into prostitution.

In fact, it's the Nazi-style drug laws that make drugs so expensive that some female users do become prostitutes. If heroin or cocaine could be purchased over the counter at Walgreen's like aspirin, do you think there'd even be such a thing as a "crack whore"?

I think we have to make a distinction between yap and real help. Sure, there are plenty of bourgeois liberals out there who piss and moan about "help for drug addicts", blah, blah, blah. That doesn't keep them from regularly voting for more drug laws, more police, more prisons, etc.

Now this charity comes along and says they don't like the idea of babies being born addicted to they'll pay women who use drugs to get an IUD insertion or a tubal ligation procedure so they can't become pregnant.

That's real help!

You know I rarely have anything good to say about the big charities in the U.S. The only one I ever saw provide any real help with my own eyes was the American Red Cross after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They actually came through with $900 or so to help save my sorry ass!

Their motives (a "better public image", a bigger limo for the CEO or a better class of lunchtime blowjobs for the management team) were of no concern to me at that I was pretty damn desperate.

I surmise that the women who take advantage of this charity's offer are in a very similar position and need the help!

Who else is going to help them?

Compassionate conservatives?

If it could be demonstrated that this charity was pushing an agenda -- Accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior or you don't get a dime! -- that would be an entirely different matter.

But even then, the help would still be real and one could always lie!

I hate to say it, but I think some folks here don't have a personal acquaintance with what things are really like "down towards the bottom" of's pretty unpleasant, to put it mildly.

Look at the folks who sell their blood just to survive another week.

I think some states actually have a law against that now...removing one more way that some poor people could "get by".

Or consider how big pharmaceutical companies recruit people to act as test subjects for their new drugs...people who are desperate for cash.

Giving the expression "you bet your life" a whole new meaning.

Capitalist life is ugly...and there's no "getting around" that.

But this particular charity seems to be doing "a good thing"...and it seems to me that the outrage focused on it has many worthier targets.

Consider, for example, the American Lung Association...which raises huge amounts of money to persecute cigarette smokers while remaining discreetly silent about industrial and automotive air pollution.

Talk about bastards!
First posted at RevLeft on March 23, 2006


Attachment to parents and a close relationship with your family is the best predictor for success in school and in life? As opposed to "socio-economic status" which you guys say otherwise?

Many existing studies have shown that parental "socio-economic status" (class) is far and away the "best predictor" for success in higher education.

"Success" in "life" is much more problematic...unless defined as attained (or retained) "socio-economic status".

That is...

Moved "upwards" = "success"

Stayed the same = "success"

Moved "downwards" = "failure"

A study reported in The Economist demonstrated that "social mobility" in the United States is decreasing with the passage of "close parenting" is not necessarily a "free ticket" to economic "success".

Ever higher society, ever harder to ascend

There have been many studies that demonstrate that growing up in a "traditional bourgeois family" (husband works, wife stays at home) is a pretty good predictor of economic success in life. Such people are less likely to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol, less likely to use illegal drugs, less likely to come to the attention of the police, more likely to attend church, more likely to join the military, more likely to enjoy success in college, more likely to enjoy occupational success, more likely to marry and establish a new "traditional bourgeois family"...and, if all that weren't bad enough, the sanctimonious bastards live longer!

Fortunately for us, this traditional family structure is in "deep shit" and sinking deeper. Working class families need two (at least) full-time workers just to get by. And even in upper-class families, women are no longer content to "stay at home" and "take care of the kids". It's boring!

Thus "close parenting" is becoming "a thing of the past".

Of course, as in many things these days, the internet plays an increasingly important role in "social ties". Instead of being constrained by the number of people who happen to live in our immediate vicinity, we are free from the age of 8-10 or so to develop relations with an enormous number of individuals from all over the world.

That's got to make a difference...though I suppose it remains to be seen what sort of difference it will make.
First posted at RevLeft on March 27, 2006

Your link will only display the first page of the study. But that's ok, it gives me enough of an idea to see what they're getting at.

"Attachment theory" strikes me as a little on the "crude" side...but there may be something "to it".


But you'll never meet those people in person. Some will but many won't. And that can't be all good as with the advent of online predators and clever bastards who have an expertise in manipulating children's minds with their warped views.

Kind of like what you communists do. And there are other assholes out there as well that take advantage of this so-called "social progress".

"Oh look Johnny is into death metal and is infatuated with suicide and drugs...but nobody shares his views...the poor thing...oh wait...thanks to the internet he can find likeminded kinship..."

No child should use the internet for those purposes or any purpose for that matter. When you turn 18, knock yourself out.

This is your idea of progress?

Not very good. I don't think it's a good idea that a nihilistic and alienated youth will be able to find someone as fucked up as he/she. I think the people who look towards the internet to find people like themselves are screwed up to begin with.
-- emphasis added.

Excellent rant, Mr. Ludd.

Even if it does impugn the contemporary relevance of "attachment theory". *laughs*

The system that you admire continues to revolutionize the "human condition"...and you sound rather less than pleased with the results.

But it's "part of the package"...and if you imagine that you can keep your kids in pristine isolation from "internet corruption", you have a big surprise coming.

Have you heard the latest? Teens are making "big money" these days selling nude pictures of themselves over the internet...or so it has been reported.

Capitalism has led us into some very unexpected realms, that's for sure.

But Marx had it right all along: in capitalism, all human relations become commodity relations.

Good luck in trying to market "close parenting". *laughs*
First posted at RevLeft on March 28, 2006


How is that a bad thing? Are you jealous or something?

Well, to me it sounds pretty much like serfdom. A mental horizon so incredibly cramped and constrained that it's almost like being an animal in a cage for your whole life.

Evidently it looks that way to a lot of the numbers of people who actively choose to live like that continue to decline.


Or so you say? Are you against all families or just ones where the parents abuse the kids (and each other) constantly?

It's not so much a matter of my opinion (or any individual's opinion)'s more along the lines of what seems to be happening.

The more sophisticated we become, the more unsatisfactory we find the "traditional family".


You're making it sound like families are becoming extinct and virtually useless which clearly isn't the case.

They seem to be "on that road". I have no idea if they will eventually become entirely extinct or not...but it wouldn't surprise me if that happened.


So you'd rather have all kids be more close to total strangers on the internet rather than their parents and siblings?

Well, the point is that they don't stay "total strangers". They find people who "think like them"...which is very different from living with relatives who may not "think like you" at all.


I don't think I have a commodity relationship with my family nor friends. Maybe I do and just don't realize it. What exactly do you mean by this?

Marx meant, I think, that as capitalism matured, all human relations would tend to become a matter of calculated self-interest.

For example, mainstream popular magazines speak of "emotional investments" and "what kind of return are you getting". Children are often spoken of in terms of "investments in the future"...which will presumably "pay off big time" someday. *laughs*

The "friendships" in the business world are usually bluntly spoken of in terms of "what can you do for me" and "what can I do for you".

We are even being taught to see ourselves as "something we invest in".

To be sure, there's evidently always been a kind of psychological "exchange mechanism" at work in human relations...but in modern capitalism it has "moved to the forefront". Even "holy matrimony" has become a business a corporate merger with everything down in writing.

Lots of people "don't like this"...but one must "protect oneself" against predation or risk being "taken advantage of".

Whenever you meet someone new, it's caveat emptor all the way.
First posted at RevLeft on March 29, 2006


Also, I don't know much about psychology but isn't there a natural bond between parents and their children?

There's some evidence to suggest that primates (of which we are one) seem to have a "built-in" preference for "small & cuddly"...both the young of our own species and that of other species as well.

We tend to "bond" with any person much younger than ourselves with whom we come into regular contact.

So it's not really a matter of "biological" parenthood but rather any child for whom we've assumed some kind of care-giving responsibility.
First posted at RevLeft on April 2, 2006


There is a natural bond between a kid and his mother that cannot simply be canceled.

If that were true, then how to explain the observed phenomenon of women abandoning their new-born infants?

It's a rare occurrence, but it does happen.

It's also known to happen that large hospitals sometimes make mistakes and new-borns are "switched"...yet the outcome remains the same. That is, the mother "thinks" the baby is "hers" and the infant "thinks" the woman is "his/her mother" they bond anyway, with no "natural" tie at all.

Finally, and I've seen this happen with my own eyes, some women have a genuine "gift" for "mothering" and other women are just awful at it. If there were some "natural rule" as you suggest, then how could that be?

What there seems to be is a "natural bond" between children and whoever takes care of them...and it starts to weaken as soon as children are old enough to interact with their peers and select their own "role models".
First posted at RevLeft on April 2, 2006

I dismiss with contempt the notion that if we all "became vegans" then we could "feed more people" -- this planet groans under the weight of more than six billion people now and, by 2050, perhaps ten billion.

If you want to "do something for the planet", don't make babies!
First posted at RevLeft on April 5, 2006

I have known a number of young couples over the years (decades) who've told me that the social pressure on them to have kids is sometimes unbelievable...both from their respective parents and from their peers who already have children.

And it's a "kind" of social pressure that's particularly "awkward" to respond to. What can you say when a co-worker greets you in the morning with a blunt "expecting yet?"!

Any rational discussion of why you don't want to be pregnant is not going to really sound "socially acceptable" no matter how diplomatically you try to phrase it.

I read of one woman who "turned the tables" on her nosy co-workers by saying, with a sniff, "my doctor says I will never be able to have any kids". *laughs*

I've also read that unmarried males and married males without children are statistically less likely to be hired; though it works just the reverse for women...who are less likely to be hired if they are married and especially if they have small children.

When applying for a job, it pays to lie about this stuff!
First posted at RevLeft on April 5, 2006
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