The REDSTAR2000 Papers

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

Real Communists Don't Hit Their Kids! November 18, 2003 by RedStar2000

Does it have to be said that bluntly?

Unfortunately, it does...and at great length as well.

Physical violence against children is probably as old as humanity itself and found in almost every culture. I do recall reading a brief account of a primitive tribe in Malaysia which explicitly prohibited violence and coercion against children...but that was decades ago.

In these posts, I argue that violence against children is not an "a-political" issue but is rather linked to the way people are attracted to or repulsed by political ideologies.

I know there is a weakness in my hypothesis. My arguments rely on plausibility rather than on real evidence; I'm not aware that anyone has ever attempted to find a relationship between violence experienced in childhood and political ideas developed in adolescence and adulthood.

It may be something that "no one wants to know"...that is, no one who wants to defend and preserve the existing social order.

But I think that ordinary working people are beginning to grasp the idea that hitting their kids is barbaric...and that does not bode well in the long run for a system based on barbaric practices.

Meanwhile, if you are or want to be a real communist, don't hit your kids!



Being raised by the belt as a kid, I think it's not an evil thing.

See how far we have to go? This is a moderator at Che-Lives speaking.

Having been raised by a sadistic piece of fascist shit, he clearly intends to do likewise to his own kids.


I think parents should be able to physically discipline their children too.


I think that discpline is neccessary.

At least it's not necessary to move this thread; it's in the exact forum where it belongs.

Sieg Heil, gentlemen.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 12, 2003

Haven't you ever wondered just where fascists come from? Or homophobes? Or misogynists? Or cops? Or mercenaries?

Or just ordinary belligerent assholes?

Sure, there's plenty of crap on the dummyvision and, for those who can manage to learn how to read, the fascist or misogynist propaganda is not that hard to find.

But what makes one person initially receptive to that kind of shit while another will more or less reject it?

Is it "in the genes"? That's the current fashionable "explanation".

Here's my hypothesis: as small children we learn about what we are "worth" from the people around us. We learn if we are valued or not; if we are thought worthwhile or not; if our desires or opinions are important or not; etc.

We learn whether other humans are "friendly" and "can be trusted"...or if they are "dangerous enemies" to be feared and hated.

We learn whether "authority" is rational and fair...or if it is irrational, prone to erupt in random violence, characterized by emotional or physical exploitation.

The adult that uses violence or the threat of violence against a small child is teaching that child a lesson...a very ugly one.

"The world is a domain of pain and fear...a place where the strong oppress the weak and get away with it."

For reasons unknown at this point, a few kids will draw revolutionary conclusions from this lesson--Mao did, for example.

Most people, as they grow up, draw different conclusions...fascist ones. Do you think the American mercenaries in Iraq who boast of their murderous prowess fell out of the sky?

A number of civilized countries in western Europe have criminalized parental violence against children. I doubt if there's all that much enforcement yet...but it's a small step in the right direction.

I don't suppose there's much doubt as to where my sympathies are on this issue. But just to nail it down: when I read a news story where some kid has killed a violent parent, it makes my day!

I think it should happen a lot more often than it does.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 12, 2003


If children don't have any respect for their parents, then there is no way they can be controlled.

And if workers have no respect for their bosses, then there is no way they can be controlled.


...because sooner or later reality bites and a line is crossed where yes, only physical punishment is understood...

Yes, it is understood that it is "better" to "kick the ass" of someone weaker than to have your ass kicked by someone stronger.

And if you're not very strong, it is "better" to buy or steal a weapon.

Great lesson, that!


Violent abuse of a child and controlled discipline are two very different things.

Chattel slavery and wage slavery are two very different things...but they stem from the same motivation: profit.

The purpose of "discipline" is to teach obedience to utterly vile and reprehensible idea!
First posted at Che-Lives on November 12, 2003


Completely regardless of Redstar's stance on spanking children, I think that his arrogance towards the working class really comes out in this thread, as he clearly equates children to the working class! Disgusting, Redstar, absolutely disgusting.

Among other effects, it's clear that Leninism rots the brain...interfering with the ability to read with comprehension.

It is bosses that regard the working class as disobedient children who must be disciplined.

The parallel I was drawing is between those who want to "control" their children and those who want to control "their" workers.

Is that clear?


Is obedience to your parents as the first authority figures in your life an evil thing?



Not the discipline of the belt but discipline administered by love which will unfortunately and hopefully infrequently include a physical correction like a swat on the behind.

Gee, that doesn't sound so "bad", does it?

This isn't the first time this issue has been raised at Che-Lives, and I've noticed an interesting pattern. It begins with a loud "belt" and then sort of "mutes" into a quiet "swat".

As if "if only" the right (innocuous) words can be found, then it will be "ok".

That may fool others, it does not fool me. The purpose of violence is intimidation pure and simple. Directed by an adult against a child, it is utterly disgusting...regardless of the "spin".


If there is a better solution, please inform me.

What "problem" are you seeking a "solution" for?

If you think obedience to authority is a "good thing", violence works great.

Applied in careful dosages, you can emulate the early 20th century Prussians and create your own little private Wehrmacht.

If you want your kids to grow up loving freedom and willing to fight for it, then you must not terrorize or intimidate them, physically, verbally, or emotionally.

Get them used to freedom when they're young...and they won't accept oppression when they grow up.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 12, 2003


I do not understand what you are implying. The simple act of correcting the behavior of a child is going to cause a fascistic society to raise up? I could do the same with my own home Nazi starter kit?

I am not "implying" it, I'm asserting for a fact that the origins of fascist attitudes lie in violence against children in the name of "discipline", "order", "control", etc.

Is it not a fact that right down at the very core of fascist ideology is the view that "the strong should rule the weak with an iron fist"?

How do people become receptive to this idea? Why, the same way they become "receptive" to religion...they have it pounded into them when they are weak and helpless, both physically and intellectually.


Children need to be disciplined.

As I noted previously, every despot always feels that way about "his" subjects.


We are not born with an already programmed knowledge of how the world works. Cause and effect. Yes, let a child fail, fall, skin his or her knee and learn their own lesson in life.

What does this have to do with violence against children, be it "belt" or "swat"? The real world has forceful if mindless ways of teaching small children the laws of practical physics and the limits of human abilities.

Having minds and (supposedly) being adults, can we not do better than that?


But some lessons are better taught by a simple No and a swat on the buttocks because that result is a lot less painful then if the child would learn it on their own.

It is not simply the intensity of pain that is the measure here; it is the source of pain. Children are very trusting of their adult caretakers...they do not anticipate pain being inflicted on them by someone who they think "cares" about them.

Granted, you may upset a child by violently snatching her from the path of an oncoming vehicle...but that's not the same as hitting her for stepping into the street without looking.

As it is, the world is a rather unfriendly place for children...human artifacts are mostly designed for "big people" and "little people" have difficulties enough in the simplest activities.

To patiently teach children how to survive the dangers of an unfriendly world takes a good deal of time and effort.

It's easy to think of parental violence as a "short cut"...a quick, efficient way to get the kid to do this and not do that..."for the kid's own good" of course.

What you are really teaching is the old Prussian slogan "Befehl ist Befehl!"

An order is an order...and must be obeyed.

Once they learn that one, fascism is easy.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 13, 2003

I think it's interesting--and revealing--that there's been little said in response to the explicit points raised by others and myself.

Even when someone raised concrete examples, the response was "that's abuse, not discipline".

Where is this mysterious line to be drawn...except in the mind of the abuser?

What parent is going to get up in public and say "of course I physically abuse my's good for them"?


So RedStar, when your children would talk back to you and call you a fucker or something, you'd just let it slide.

I might reply "Oh yeah? I think you're being a worse fucker than me!"

It's not the word "fucker" that is relevant's that fact that there's a disagreement of some kind taking place.

But your question suggests that kids should "never talk back"...never express an opposing opinion--and if they do, you should hit them.

One thing for sure...once they connect the idea of open disagreement with getting hit, there's an excellent chance that they'll always be afraid to disagree.

Just what every boss dreams of.


Children do not consider reasonable argument or logic, sibling infants will naturally resolve disputes with violence before any adult has laid a hand on them...

It is (unfortunately) the way of the jungle...

Which your strategy will reinforce.

Is that what you want?

Do you want your kids to learn how to respond to rational argument?

Or do you want to encourage their "natural instincts"?

Or do you see them as "hairless chimps" that are incapable of reason?

I have discovered that even cats be can taught non-violently not to do things that piss me's a matter of looking at things through the cat's eyes.

It ought to be a lot easier to see things through the eyes of a human child...but how few ever make the effort?

It's so much more convenient just to hit them.


Parents must be trusted to raise their children to respect them, themselves and others...

And in the absence of cogent arguments on behalf of such desirable goals, violence will serve, eh?

At best what you have "taught" is respect for superior strength. Perhaps that will suffice, in your eyes.


I think we can all agree that children must be controlled, they cannot be left to control themselves in every situation.

Be specific. What do you want to "make" your kids do? Or not do?

Learn the proper use of an indoor toilet? Learn to pretend to like the taste of spinach? Learn to drop to the floor and bow to your exalted presence whenever you enter the room?

The general statement is uninformative and useless...and I do not "agree".


...but I firmly believe in spanking a child...young children do not have the mental capacity to understand what a "time out" are not spanking the child to hurt them, you are spanking them to jar their system into realizing what they did was wrong...

When your computer fucks up, does it help to kick it a few times? The brain of a child is a far more sensitive "device".

Young children understand perfectly well the equation: isolation = disapproval.

Being naturally sociable (like all primates), they will make the connection between isolation (which they don't like) and some disapproved activity.

The very spread of the "time out" approach suggests its effectiveness...had the idea been a useless one, it would have quickly died out. (Even cats kind of understand it, by the way.)


There is a problem nowadays where you have all these "P.C." parents raising their children, who then become such problems when they hit teenage and early twenties...there are a lot of problems now that arise from this...

Thanks for that. Now stay tuned to Fox for an upcoming report on American progress in Iraq.


Children are curious, they will get into mischief, they will test the limits of right and wrong. Without guidance how can they find these limits? A set of values must be instilled.

No question about it; but that's not the issue in this thread, as you well know.

What values? And "instilled" in what fashion?

The use of violence by the strong against the weak to command obedience is a "value".

Hitler's father used to beat the crap out of his kid...and did Adolph learn or did he really learn?
First posted at Che-Lives on November 13, 2003


Okay, school, for example. Are you going to say, "Johnny, would you like to go to school today?"

When kids say they "don't want" to do something that you want them to do, are you willing to ask why? And listen?

And if the reasons are good ones, are you willing to modify your own behavior accordingly?

Kids who are being bullied are often markedly reluctant to accept that. Are you prepared to back them up?

Some bright kids are bored shitless by school; what are you prepared to do about that?

On the other hand, some kids find academia to be too makes them feel stupid and worthless? What's your response?

Want to really take the trouble to look after your kid? Or exchange it under the universal warranty plan for a "trouble-free" model?

Or scream at the kid? Or try to intimidate the kid? Or hit the kid?

For the moment, you can still do whatever you wish...but there will come a time when that will no longer be possible.

In 1830, people who were opposed to slavery were thought to be idealistic nutballs. The same was said of the first feminists in 1848.

You know the direction of history just as well as I do; the time is coming when kids will be free.

Relish your "authority" while you still have the chance.


So you would let your child argue with you and not have him or her realize any penalties behind arguing an incorrect point, being disobedient to his parent, or just being disrespectful?

Notice how that word "parent" is in bold-faced type?

In 1600, they would have said king. Or pope. Or even Almighty God.

We don't go in much for that kind of silliness any more...but there are still those who believe that an act of sexual intercourse followed by conception and birth confers, in some mystical fashion, an "obligation" on the part of the resulting child to express "special deference" to the adult parties involved..."parents".

It's called "respect" and what it really means is submission.

Rational criticism is almost irrelevant in this context; we're talking about an age-old superstition...that the old are inherently superior to the young and are automatically entitled to obedience by the young.

Comparing this myth to real-life experience is sufficient to utterly demolish it...but, like religion, it's very hard for some people to do that.

Perhaps it's further evidence of my "cynicism", but I can't help but suspect that some of those who were on the shitty end of the stick have now begun to relish the prospect of being the blow-giver rather than the blow-taker.

Like some emancipated slaves in Roman soon as they could afford it, they went out and bought themselves a slave.

Pretty sick, huh?


...a sense that the world revolves around him or her.

It does. That's the definition of an individual.

Anyone who says "I'm just doing what I do to help you" is not only lying but is probably a rogue.

Liberation is not a "charity" is an act that is first of all in one's own direct self-interest.

Someone who thinks the world revolves around somebody besides themselves is fit only to be a groupie...or a stormtrooper.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 13, 2003


I got hit when I was a kid. Not all the time, just when I did something and deserved it.

What a sad statement!

What "somethings" you must have done!


But I also got plenty of love and compassion.

And that is supposed to "make up" for being hit.


I went to a school with corporal punishment as well.

It's only been in the last half-century that "educators" have finally begun to grasp that one does not have to use violence or the threat of violence to "make" children learn.

Prior to that, the superstition was universal that kids would never learn anything without having it beaten into them.

In a way, this thread demonstrates how stubborn that old superstition is and how difficult it is to root it out...for all the pro-violence views expressed so far rest on the assumption that "kids will not learn XYZ unless they are physically hurt".


I believed it all molded me into the respectful, responsible person I believe I am today.

Well, you "have" to believe that, don't you? Otherwise, you'd be a very angry person, wouldn't you? You would have spent the most vulnerable years of your life under constant threat of violence...doesn't that piss you off? And not violence from strangers (you can hide from strangers) but violence from those who you lived with...from whom there was no escape.

Should you ever conclude that the violence used against you was unjustified, then you'd have no rational choice but to hate those who did it...and you don't want to do that, do you?

It's...uncomfortable to think about things that way.

The shrinks even have a word for it--cognitive dissonance. It means the conflict caused by realizing that things are not what they seemed to be.

People who love you are not "supposed" to hurt you; if they do, that must really mean that they didn't love you.

Do people get nervous when they approach that "abyss"? Do bears shit in the woods?


I, however, would not hit my own children.

Ah, the escape. I "can't" challenge directly the outrageous behavior of my parents...but implicit criticism is "safe". I simply refuse to treat my kids the way my parents treated me.

An utterly damning conclusion!


I bet Karl Marx never beat his kids, I don't know about Engels though.

Engels didn't have any kids, at least "officially" (it was the Victorian Age, after all, and Engels never married). Visitors to the Marx household reported that the kids had the run of the place...pages of Das Kapital were scattered amidst the toys.

But no one really knows.


Redstar I disagree with your isolation torture. Isolation has been denounced by Amnesty International as cruelty.

Well, I don't think AI was talking about "time outs".

But, in principle, you're right. There have been cases where parents have kept their kids in closets for weeks, months, and years at a time. This is torture just as much as physical violence is and is just as reprehensible.


Don't get me wrong; my brothers and I deserved to get hit with the fly swatter. Heck they probably should have been harder on us.... we deserved it.

Again, I note that this is something that you "have" to say...because the alternative view would lead you to some extremely uncomfortable conclusions.


From then on whenever we did anything wrong Dad would concoct a meaningless work activity that was so boring that we prayed for the day or week or month to end.

Good training for life under capitalism.


In the dire cases I got my "flaws" swatted. I always knew that it was out of love that it happened. When the punishment didn't happen I feared I had lost their love.

Put that in logical form:

1. People show their love for their kids by inflicting physical pain on them.

2. You've stopped doing that.

3. Therefore, you don't love me any more, QED!

For some strange reason, I find the initial premise so obviously absurd that I have no choice but to reject the conclusion even though the logic is impeccable.

Here's one that makes a lot more sense to me:

1. People show their hatred for other people by inflicting physical harm on them.

2. You don't do that to me.

3. Therefore, whatever your feelings for me might be, hatred is not one of them...QED!


I am sorry to disagree but a swift spanking to re-enforce a lesson to a child is not going to make another Hitler.

So far, it's just made one...and that was one more than we needed.

But what of the seven million Germans who joined the Nazi Party? What were their childhoods like?

What of the mercenaries in America's armed forces in Iraq (and too many other places to list)? What were their childhoods like? What environmental circumstances shaped them into people who would do what they are doing and think it right?

Want to take a wild guess?


No real parent feels big when they have to discipline their child. No parent really enjoys it.

I didn't suggest they were doing it "for fun"...I said they were doing it for convenience. Physical violence against children is a "quick and easy" way to train kids to obey your whims without having to actually justify them.

Whatever lesson you think you're teaching, the real lesson is obey authority or suffer physical pain and humiliation.


Again, there must be a distinction - unless you seriously consider a controlled smack on the butt for extreme misbehaviour equal to random acts of sadism..

Surely you can see the difference...

The only difference I can see is in the extent of the physical harm that the child suffers.

After all, even sadists have their "standards". One might say--in court--that "I broke my kid's arm but at least I didn't crush his skull."


No, respect for the parent...

...who is stronger than the child and able to inflict pain without fear of retaliation.

You are teaching the rule of the strong over the weak...a fascist lesson.


...but the parent must decide not the state.

The present-day capitalist state is hardly to be trusted to do anything right.

With that understood, I think any parent who "swats" their kid should spend 30 days in the local jail; more serious abuse should be punished with increasing severity.

In communist society, on the other hand, the "punishment" would be entirely different. You hit your kids and you lose them...forever. And should you inflict grievous bodily harm on them, you'll probably just be taken out and summarily shot.


Both, only by instilling clear definitions of right and wrong is this possible.. That is every parent's responsibility...

I'm afraid this is an "either/or" don't get "both" in the real world.

And I'm also afraid that "clear definitions of right and wrong" are "out of print" at this time with little chance of renewal anytime prior to proletarian revolution.


...children are bright, they can learn quickly how to manipulate their parents through emotional blackmail.

Why those little devils! I'll give them a taste of my belt!

Emotional blackmail, indeed. A truly terrifying weapon in the hands of the small and weak vs. the physical strength of the large and strong.

Yes, it's a "fair fight", isn't it? Well, isn't it?


They know when they've done wrong--if suitable punishment isn't forthcoming they may start to believe they can continue to do wrong, in the real world (which is what we are dealing with here) such mentality will have consequences...

Ah, but what is "wrong"? Not flushing the toilet? Not eating spinach? Or not respecting authority?

Just imagine the consequences of "not respecting authority"! er...revolution? Maybe?


If my parents didn't make me go to school, I wouldn't go. Am I stupid? No. Am I a genius? No. I'd just rather be here. My parents know that and respect that, but school is more important, isn't it?

I don't know, is it? Perhaps you are not a "genius", but perhaps you are bright enough to be bored shitless in the school you are attending. Perhaps you should be going to a different and more challenging school; perhaps you should spend seven hours a day in a large library reading serious books (and taking notes!); perhaps you'd actually learn more by spending all your time on the internet.

Learning is, when you stop and think about it, too important to be left to the whims of others--you must take responsibility for that yourself.


I doubt that one of the sources of the pro-violence against children outlook will come as any surprise. One quote among many...


6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence...Hebrews, 12:6-9

Clearly, it is far better to be a "bastard".


For the civilized, I suggest...

Taking Children Seriously
First posted at Che-Lives on November 14, 2003


If you really consider light disciplining something that is harmful for the child, how do you feel about all that second-hand smoke you'll be blowing into little Timmy's face?

An irrelevancy; but, since you asked, I do not find the evidence of harm resulting from "second-hand smoke" to be convincing.

For that matter, I'm not impressed with the evidence for damage resulting from "first-hand" cigarette smoke.

If "little Timmy" wants to smoke, that's ok with me & I'll even purchase his favorite brand for him.

Make the most of that if you will not lighten the burden of your own deeds.


I think that parents are more than qualified to make important decisions that their children cannot make wisely. Nobody has the best interests of children in mind like the parents of the children, not even the children themselves, sometimes.

Two points:

1. It's a matter of direct public evidence that some significant number of parents do not have the child's best interests in mind...see any edition of any daily newspaper.

2. Parents can indeed "want to do the right thing" and still be wrong. Many parents sincerely believe that hitting their kids is "good for the kids"'s an old tradition.

Like a great many old traditions, it just happens to be complete bullshit.


I would personally feel extremely neglected if my parents allowed me to learn everything firsthand and if they gave me only suggestive guidelines.

Would it be "too cruel" to suggest that this is the source of the appeal of Leninism to you? You want someone to tell you what to do. You lack the confidence in yourself to actively "figure out" what to do.

This lack of self-confidence is exactly what repressive parental styles cultivate. They are teaching you that the "best" thing to do is whatever your "superiors" tell you to do...because you are "incompetent" to figure things out on your own.


When asked not to swim after eating, how many children would obey because they want to? If advised to wait, who would actually wait? Children don't know these things, Redstar.

If I'm not mistaken, I believe the "don't swim after eating" thing is an urban myth.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 14, 2003


You and I both know that there are other examples of what children are told to do that they don't want to do. Eating in many cases is a good example. Taking medicines, etc.

As I said before, be specific.

You want to "generalize" the matter because your evidence is shoddy or non-existent.

Eat what? Spinach? You can live to be 100 and never eat a single serving of spinach and you know that! In fact, kids could eat pretty much whatever they liked and, as long as they took a children's multi-vitamin every day, they'd do fine.

The reason, by the way, that children dislike vegetables in general (both taste and smell) is that their youthful receptors are more sensitive than those of adolescents or adults. Trying to force a kid to eat some kinds of vegetables is rather like trying to force an adult to eat a pile of vomit.

Yeah...I'm not exaggerating.


And I already said I am against physical discipline. But you cannot deny that parents generally know what is best for the child's health and prosperity in life, because they've been there, children haven't.

As a general principle, I do indeed "deny it". On a particular issue--a specific parent, a specific child, a specific issue--it may be true that "parent knows best".

I do not think there is any evidence to justify the "general principle" in many parent-child conflicts.

To those still in the grip of repressive parenthood superstitions, evidence is irrelevant. They're "right" because they're bigger and stronger.

And meaner.


Or saying that a higher percentage of kids who are disciplined will grow up to be Hitler lovers. Take a poll on che-lives of people who were "disciplined" (not abused, mind you. there is a difference), and I'm sure you'll see we have our fair share of "mistreated" children.

Well, the "Hitler-lovers" didn't just "fall out of the sky". What explains their existence?


I agree that Che-Lives does have "it's fair share" of people who were abused--or "disciplined" as you like to call it--as children.

What intrigues me is how they would "line up" with regard to the "left-right" divisions on this board?

My hypothesis is that the kids who were abused would be more likely to be among the "conservatives"...Leninists, right-wing "socialists", neo-puritans, god-believers, etc. while those who suffered little or no abuse would be more likely to be "ultra-leftists", extreme libertarians or anarchists, etc.

But recall that I also suggested that a small minority of kids draw revolutionary conclusions from their abuse...and cited Mao as an example. He actually wrote about his own life that his career as a revolutionary began in rebellion against his father's tyranny.

It may well be that at Che-Lives, we are getting a "skewed sample"...we are attracting the minority of kids who drew revolutionary conclusions from being abused.

So it's hard to say what a poll would reveal.

Particularly since people are reluctant sometimes to admit that they've been abused at raises all those "uncomfortable" questions that I mentioned earlier.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 14, 2003


What if the kid doesn't want to take his vitamins?

Dear me! You put the vitamin in a spoon of jam or like jam/jellies, in case you hadn't noticed.

There, that wasn't so bad, was it?


Surely you're not suggesting that children ought to be left to decide upon their hygiene and health necessities on their own.

Well, yes and no. I've observed that some parents impose draconian regimes upon their children "in the name of hygiene/health" that actually have very little to do with either.

They are really "power trips" on the part of the parents.

When a child is obviously in need of professional medical care, you needn't stop and inquire as to her take her to the doctor.

But consider this example: as it happens, my apartment building is located right next door to a small dental clinic. Every day, I see parents dragging their small children to the dentist...even though dental work is obviously a waste of time and money on childhood teeth. (Dentists claim otherwise, of course. Since they have a financial stake in the outcome, their advice is not neutral.)

Dental work is, as you know, very painful. What happens when kids are exposed to this is not difficult to figure out; as soon as they are old enough, they simply stop going to dentists at all. Because they were unnecessarily hurt when they were very young, they end up hurting their own health when they get older.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?


A kid steps on a nail. He refuses to take a shot. Their is no satisfactory medium that can both please the kid and protect him from tetanus. He is severely infected and nearly dies. Good going, Redstar.

It's been 50 years since I was a child and I'm amazed that you can come up with the same things that I heard when I was a little kid.

Do parents still worry about kids "stepping on a nail"? Really?

I suppose it must happen on occasion...though I have never heard of a real-life example.

Be that as it may, I suppose the kid has to take the shot. It's interesting to note the substantial number of kids who are utterly terrified of needles...and I wonder why that is so. Even some hospitalized kids suffering major illnesses and in extreme pain will try to hide their pain and refuse pain-killing medications for fear of the needle. True.


You'd be an awesome, albeit probably bad, parent.

I will never know.

But, for what it's worth, I do seem to get along with kids better than many.


The bad childhood has been used to explain everything from Bill Clinton's special handshake in the oval office to Micheal Jackson raping small boys.

Funny. But that doesn't answer the question, does it? I'm not in any sense a Freudian and, in fact, think most of his ideas were mystical nonsense and not scientific in any sense of the word.

Except one: our childhood environment has enormous (and still largely unknown) influence over what kind of people we become.

That is an "insight" that makes sense to me...regardless of how complicated the factors actually turn out to be.

In adolescence, we see the outcome of what happened earlier: one kid is "receptive" to Nazi ideas, another is "receptive" to communist ideas, and most are not really "receptive" to any ideas but just go along with whatever happens to be fashionable at the time.

When I was 13 and curious, I actually read Hitler's book. Why? Because I started from the premise that anything that my culture condemned couldn't be all bad.

Well, I was wrong...Hitler's book is crap and that becomes clear in the first dozen pages of a 600-page book. It wasn't what I was looking for; I was "unreceptive".

I also read the Communist Manifesto at the same time and for the same reason...but I lacked the background knowledge to really understand it. I didn't think it was crap; I thought it was too complicated for me to understand and just put it aside.

What was I "looking for"? I think you can guess: I was looking for a radical critique of a culture in which big people dominated little people. I was looking for a literature of "children's liberation"...even if I had no idea that such a thing existed.

Oddly enough, at the very time I was looking, Paul Goodman was writing Growing Up Absurd...though it would be another eight years before I read it.

Even now, as this thread has demonstrated, the idea that kids are people, not some kind of parental property, is still held by the smallest of minorities.

Even the idea of "children's rights" is still considered "the work of the devil" by conservatives of all faiths.

And even here, among people who want to "change the world", there are many who don't want to change that...who still believe that parental authority is "sacred" and are willing to approve of violence against children to maintain it.

There is such a long way to go.

But, unless we humans render ourselves extinct, the journey will be made.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 15, 2003


So you condone capital punishment - the ultimate enforcement of authority through violence. Yet condemn a loving parent's right to raise their children as well as their ability to effectively gauge what discipline is necessary for the child...

Yes, as it happens, I do "condone" capital punishment under several circumstances...grevious bodily harm to children being one of them.

Believe it or not, I'm of the view that execution is actually more humane than lengthy imprisonment.

Now let's get to that "loving parent". I don't know about you, but I haven't noticed many of them over the last half-century or so. I know they exist...indeed, I know one couple very well who are absolutely incredible with their 14-month-old toddler--he's a really lucky kid and, believe me, it shows.

I would be shocked to hear a harsh word from them toward their little one...much less a blow.

Now, how typical is that couple? Well, older kids and young adults will often, in the course of conversation, tell you stories of their childhood. I've never heard any good perhaps hundreds of such conversations. And a few I've heard have been utterly horrifying.

So I trust you will understand why I regard your hypothetical "loving parent" with considerable skepticism. It mostly appears to me to be a self-justifying mythology, rather like a "benevolent" despotism or a "loving" "God".


Fascists choose to be fascists every day of their lives as much as you or I choose our ideologies - I'm not defined solely by my personal history...

I think you misunderstand my point. I'm not attempting to excuse fascists from responsibility for their choices. What I'm suggesting is that violence against children "predisposes" them in later years to being receptive to fascist ideology or portions thereof.

If that hypothesis is wrong, then some other explanation must be found. Are some people "born fascists"? Is there a gene-complex that dictates political opinions? That seems much more far-fetched than what I propose.


...but of course there are degrees of wrongness which is why there must be degrees of punishment, including an ultimate punishment reserved for the ultimate wrongdoing - a cut off point.

A defined line not to be crossed, a preventative measure...

Certainly there are degrees of wrongness...but what is "the ultimate wrongdoing"? Where is the line to be rationally drawn?


Forgive my ignorance but why's that? Are all our natural instincts wrong - is that what you're saying?

Perhaps "wrong" is not quite the right word here...inadequate would be a better choice. We are not "animals in the jungle" any more and haven't been for some time; animal instincts, for the most part, are just not very useful any longer. Rational thought works better.


A universal sense of right and wrong is imprinted on all of us with a conscience...

Now this is just fantasy. Morality is indeed "imprinted" but it differs in every culture and in every form of class society.


...only the right of the parent to use as a last resort one firm hand across the backside after repeated warnings and explanation delivered not with anger but love...

It doesn't "sound so bad" with all the lighting and makeup...but it still sucks if you're the one getting hit.

The only people I've ever hit were people who attacked me and who I very much wanted to hurt...badly.

I seem to be unable to grasp the subtlety of hitting people that you claim you "love".

It doesn't make sense.
First posted at Che-Lives on November 15, 2003


Redstar, I don't think that the needs of children and the responsibility of parents to ensure those needs should be put an end to just because of some parents who are abusive of their children and/or their power.


Would you suggest, then, that the family unit as a system works on the whole?

That's really what is at the core of this discussion, isn't it? I was wondering if it would emerge...and it did.

The family is the most ancient of human institutions...indeed, it may have arisen among proto-humans long before the power of speech or the use of fire.

So, it has "worked" for perhaps more than a million years. It has kept enough children alive long enough to mother and father the next generation.

Is that "good enough", now?

And for the centuries and millennia to come?

My crystal ball is no better than yours, of course. But we have seen, even in our own lifetimes, that people have begun to develop expectations that are very different from anything seen in recorded history before...a kind of prelude, if you will, to communist society (if Marx was right).

The rise of capitalism generated, as a by-product, a kind of philosophical/ideological acid that has eaten away at and continues to eat away at all forms of pre-capitalist thought and pre-capitalist institutions...including the family.

When profit is the only goal of human activity, there is no "room" left for anything else.

Of course, there is still money to be made from the from racism and nationalism and religion, etc. Capitalism still supports these institutions...but the ideological justification for them has withered away.

You cannot rationally "justify" the family unit any more than you can "justify" the divine right of kings or the validity of revelation. The traditional arguments in favor of those ideas have "melted into air" and vanished.

What's left, as far as ordinary people are concerned?

Well, a "good family" provides a lot of emotional rewards, mutual support, reinforcement of self-esteem, etc. Children raised in such an atmosphere are almost certain to thrive and to try to recreate such families when they grow up.

And then there's the downside...the "dysfunctional family" where everyone torments each other. Provided that conditions are not too harsh, kids can survive such an environment, but I think the cost is a heavy one...physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I repeat: cops, mercenaries, fascists, etc. have to come from somewhere. To suggest that it is a matter of chance is not a very satisfying explanation, nor do I find the idea that some people are "born evil" to be very attractive.

It could turn out that one or both of those hypotheses is the real explanation(s). But I don't think so.

As to the future, I expect that the "arguments" for violence against children will be repeatedly attacked in ever harsher terms...and that children themselves will internalize the conviction that violence against them is unacceptable under any circumstances.

I expect conservatives and reactionaries to howl with outrage at this attack on the "sacred authority" of parenthood. I expect them to lose!

I expect children who are still being raised in traditional ways to become more and more rebellious. When they grow up, more and more of them will be found among the most vigorous and vehement opponents of the family as an institution.

Eventually, most likely after the revolution, I would like to see an altogether new institution created for raising children from dysfunctional families. My idea is that kids--starting around age 7 or so--would have the option of moving out of a dysfunctional family instead in some kind of collective with other kids and adults that genuinely like children.

I don't think it's necessary to "abolish the family" in some formal sense or by decree...and it would probably just make us look foolish. The "good" families would continue to exist...perhaps forever.

But the bad ones would have a very short life-span...not because we would have to "take away" the kids, but because the kids would know they have the right to leave and would exercise that right.

Why should kids have to live in shit simply because they were born to assholes?
First posted at Che-Lives on November 15, 2003

May 15, 2004: Postscript

See No Evil: A political psychologist explains the roles denial, emotion and childhood punishment play in politics


What we have found, really broadly, is the higher level of punitiveness among political conservatives is really strongly associated with experiences, generally, of harsh punishment from childhood. It’s not just going to be that they were spanked; there’s a whole family climate, and punishment is just going to be one of those indicators of that.

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