From Sidewalk Bubblegum.
Having talked about childism in more general terms, I want to talk about a more specific topic in this entry: the alignment paradigm.
We take as our starting point the fact that children develop physically, mentally and psychologically as they grow older. From this, we can develop one of two kinds of views. One view is that this development must be free and unguided, that the child must apply its faculties to guide its own life to the extent that it can. This is the anti-pedagogical view, which I hold.
The other view is that the child’s development must be aligned (forcibly if necessary) so the child can “fit in” with the rest of society. This alignment means that the child must hold the correct beliefs, act in a proper manner, feel what a normal person would feel, all in accordance with the social constructs of nationality, culture, gender, religion, intelligence, race, and so on. This is what I call the adaptation paradigm.
The question naturally arises, how do parents determine what the correct beliefs are, what the proper manner of acting is, what feelings are normal in what situation. The answer is that the end point of the alignment is for the child to be successful, usually materially successful or relationally successful.
The connection is obvious in a very general sort of way: a person who follows the mores and expectations of their society will be more likely to be judged as worthy of success by that society. There are very few counter-culture presidents or CEOs. People who argue against the status quo are not likely to be seen as credible by the general population, unless they gained that credibility in some other way.
While we can acknowledge this, the more important question is this: why would becoming “successful” be the objective of a child’s development? The fact that children develop is a biological fact, not a human creation, and therefore is inherently value-neutral. Where does the value of “success” come in?
One may argue that this is all meant to benefit the child, therefore we should turn a blind eye to it. But this is a ridiculous argument. The indoctrination of a child, the refusal to allow it freedom of thought, is an issue of human rights, not of possible future benefits. The right to freedom of thought is one of the most fundamental rights and that anyone would argue against such freedom is frightening to say the least. To argue that some future benefit justifies such totalitarian actions is unacceptable.
I think there are parallels to be made here with physical assaults performed on babies such as genital mutilation or the so-called “genital remodeling” (that makes it sound so innocuous and twee, doesn’t it?) done to intersex babies. Here we can see clearly that the supposed benefits of such assaults are rationalizations constructed to defend the crime. But even if they were not, how could some minor health or psychological benefits justify butchering a baby’s genitals, an operation which is excruciatingly painful even in the best of circumstances?
Both the indoctrination of children and their genital mutilation proceed from the same general sort of reasoning: this is what has always been done in our culture, this is what needs to be done in order to be a real person, and in the case of girls, this is what you need to do to be fuckable. I have been aligned to the needs of my culture (instead of the culture adjusting to the needs of children) and you will be too. I have been violated, and you will be too, otherwise my violation makes no sense.
The alignment paradigm means, in short, that the values of the child must be trampled in favor of those values that its parents consider conducive to “success.” The needs, desires or feelings of the child must be suppressed at all costs, covertly if at all possible, coercively otherwise. This use of coercion is “normal” and “necessary,” and therefore does not arouse suspicion.
The alignment paradigm is the culmination of childism’s expression in the family structure. It can only exist when people believe that children are their property, that children exist to fulfill the parents’ needs, that children must be trained to compete at an early age in order to succeed in a market economy/get a good marriage/becoming a person of high status or whatever else is most prized in that society, and that they somehow know how to best achieve this result despite a complete lack of measurable competence.
The consequences of the paradigm are enormous. From a social standpoint, it ensures widespread support for the perpetuation of systemic prejudice and oppression. It also ensures that a lot of people will be too collapsed into themselves to effect any change. From a personal standpoint, it means that the child will see itself as a means to an end, and that the adult will not be free unless ey can first unlearn the deeply integrated “lesson” that love encompasses control and abuse.
The alignment paradigm is invalid, for reasons I’ve already detailed. But it is hard for people to imagine alternatives, mainly because they cannot think outside of the family structure; the family structure is inherently inimical to children’s rights, that has always been its primary function.
Alternatives have always been formulated within the family structure, and therefore have not contributed anything to the theory of children’s rights. They all have proposed, in various ways, that parents should treat their children better and let them be freer. While treating other people in a good way is nice, it doesn’t confer rights to those other people any more than treating a dog or a cat nicely grants it human rights. Rights are structural features, not psychological, and children cannot have more rights unless the structure of our institutions changes accordingly, no matter how nice everyone may or may not be.
Certainly there are some rare parents who consciously do not indoctrinate their children, and those parents should be highly lauded. It is possible for some parents to refrain from actively indoctrinating, but it is impossible for good parents to refrain from passively exposing their children to other sources of indoctrination in the wider society. Any parent who did that would have to keep their child away from any human contact or any media, which would itself be a form of child abuse. Again this speaks to the point that there is no such thing as good pedagogy, there’s no such thing as good parents.