Stella Morabito wrote the other day here at The Federalist about how personal relationships threaten the power of the state – and they do, because in their absence, the state inevitably seizes more power. We have a good example of this from the experience of Mexican society, as described in Jorge Castañeda’s book “Mañana Forever”:
“In the United States, there are approximately 2 million civil society organizations, or one for every 150 inhabitants; in Chile there are 35,000, or one for every 428 Chileans; in Mexico there are only 8,500, or one for every 12,000, according to Mexican public intellectual Federico Reyes Heroles. Eighty-five percent of all Americans belong to five or more organizations; in Mexico 85% belong to no organization and, according to Reyes Heroles, the largest type, by far, is religious. In the United States, one out of every ten jobs is located in the so-called third sector (or civil society); in Mexico the equivalent figure is one out of every 210 jobs. [internal citation omitted] In polls taken in 2001, 2003, and 2005 on political culture in Mexico, a constant 82% of those surveyed stated they had never worked formally or informally with others to address their community’s problems.”
Castañeda is describing a nation with nothing resembling the “little platoons” of Burke or the network of free associations that de Tocqueville credited with American democracy’s vitality. It is a nation which lacks lateral social bonds. Instead, it encourages a patronage society where the force of government surges in response to the clamor of the masses. [Rick] Santorum seems to think that is the American destiny in the wake of the current societal shifts, or barring some series of the enactment of pro-family policies. But that’s not necessarily the case, in part because American individualism in the modern sense is not what Santorum thinks it is.
The number of true individualists is still relatively small – they are the people who spend holidays staring vacantly into space. If you buy or sell things, consume popular culture, or have anyone in your life you say “I love you” to, you’re not a true individualist. [Abortion selfie-ist] Emily Letts is the furthest thing from an individualist – her confused expression of the destruction of the life growing inside her comes across as something between a struggling actress craving an audience and a human being craving someone to hold her hand through a difficult time.The Morabito piece linked within the link is a fascinating look at how progressives fear families as the primary source of inequality in our society, and the primary competition for government influence.