Late last week a chap called Giles Fraser wrote an article, the gist of which was:
Children have a responsibility to look after their parents. Even better, care should be embedded within the context of the wider family and community. It is the daughter of the elderly gentleman that should be wiping his bottom. This sort of thing is not something to subcontract.
Ideally, then, people should live close to their parents and also have some time availability to care for them. But instead, many have cast off their care to the state or to carers who may have themselves left their own families in another country to come and care for those that we won’t.
This sent people into apoplexy, of which the following is typical:
While basically everything is wrong with Giles Fraser’s idiotic piece, one bit that got lost in the middle of all the sexism and nostalgia-wanking was his misunderstanding of the modern workplace.
— Chris Brosnahan (@ChrisBrosnahan) February 23, 2019
Of course, these days it is everyone’s right to do whatever the hell they want, and there is no going back to the days where men worked, women raised kids, and families looked after one another. Well, unless you’re from outside the developed, western world in which case this is still perfectly normal. So in some ways Fraser’s piece does hark back to a bygone age which apparently nobody wants to return to.
However, his detractors are also missing a point. While we may all agree that society is much better now women can swap running families for high-flying careers in multinational corporations and men cede ground to feminists in the name of equality, it does not follow that such a society is sustainable. As I’ve written before, pleasant societies might not make durable societies, whereas societies built around families, though often harsh on individuals, have proved remarkably robust.
So Fraser has spotted that subcontracting family care to third-world immigrants via the state system is a severe departure from some two thousand years of human development, and it’s not looking very clever. In response, everyone’s jumped down his throat saying this society-wide experiment we’ve been running for forty-odd years is so successful that questioning it is heresy. Now I’m not sure what time period we should take as a reasonable benchmark for judging societal success, but the Ottomans lasted six hundred years. The modern free-for-all isn’t even into its third generation. Perhaps some humility is in order?