Unresponsive Government=Patriarchy?

So we talked about bloated versus responsive government, and whether or not restrictive bureaucracy pushes people to rely on religious- based relief to fill the void as had occured prior to the modern welfare system. We toyed with the 'libertarian' and 'liberal' perspectives, and the hijacking of liberalism- now thought to be synonymous with inefficient overreaching government, as opposed to a clammoring for responsive and appropriate government. (that is also a provider of relief versus 'deserving' poor policy and religious-based charity).

Certainly having no social welfare at all presents challenges that few seem able to address in ways that do not AGAIN revert society to theocracy or patriarchy. The small government 'individualist' model seems to blatantly favor a 'traditional' family structure and also serves to suppress wages in the lowest paying sectors. (we know welfare must not compete with the minimum wage.)
The basic question in the last post came down to whether or not a preference for limited government intervention in social matters would serve to perpetuate a more theocentric society. A 'right' leaning society. And now I ask it again on patriarchy.
I want to share an interesting question from a feminist forum where I "ghostblog": Must a feminist be a liberal? (This was in response to the "Pro-Life Feminist" movement and our conversations about that) This question seemed like a good one to tackle here after the last post, because there is much research to indicate that yes- the conservative and libertarian view favor patriarchy. (continued)
That said, it also depends on the scope of your view on feminism. If one means autonomy, choice, equality, freedom from imposed morality, freedom from externally imposed and unwanted gender roles- than I think it would be very difficult to make the case that this view of feminism could survive in a moralizing, authoritative society where the 'traditional family view' is held up as the ideal OR where external forms of relief are restricted. Which is not to say that women cannot achieve those goals in a more 'individualist' society, we must be careful to say. But in general, where women are either defined or restricted on matters of choice and opportunity, oppression is pervasive. So it seems the 'liberal' view is more conducive to autonomy.
The proper answer to this question would indeed take volumes, but it seems helpful to t least distill this into some basic relationships that speak to the matter of welfare, the provision of social services, and what we might deduce from that- it would be helpful to know if there is disagreement on these from any of you:

1. A liberal view would favor higher welfare spending than a traditional conservative view.

2. A libertarian view would arguably include little welfare spending, but where the conservative view might supplement social welfare with religious-based charity, the libertarian model would not purport to speak to the provision void except to say that social problems might be better viewed in the context of individualism or forced social structures.
(note that some view marriage as one such structure, as a practical relationship for meeting familial and biological needs- often called the 'caveman approach' to gender roles, or 'biology based roles')

3. The conservative view would suggest that the mechanisms for relief would be primarily the family unit followed by non-governmental organizations poised to provide relief, often the religious institution by default.

4. The libertarian view might also emphasize the family as paramount for relief but might discount the unintended likely consequence of a society nudged toward religious institutions.

If we believe those general summaries to be representative, we can make the leap that the conservative view favors theocracy, the libertarian view traditional patriarchy. What does patriarchy mean? Typically, that the biological and social systems would be such that autonomy and equality for women would be at odds with systems that favor patriarchy.

Welfare has been linked numerous times to the conservative contention that it leads to the demise of the traditionally male headed household and 'preferred family model'. It offered options for women and children that many felt, particularly under Reagan, should rest in the hands of men and not the government. That the preservation of the family unit should be of highest priority- as the real unit of decision making, ethics and character education, of gender identity, and 'values'.
Some saw the "New Deal' as the shift- social welfare as the undoing of 'conservative' America- that modern welfare took power from both men and capitalism by providing an alternative to worker desperation, and the dependency of women with children struggling in a society where pay equity was far from achieved and where children were mercifully only beginning to be regarded as valuable. Social services provided relief that was not grounded in control and moral authority. And society began to understand that children needed a safety net, however modest.

The liberal view on welfare however refers to a system where religious or patriarchal gender roles are reduced in favor of needs-based governmental relief where assistance is not dependent on adherence to theocratic 'morality' or male domination but rather a more equal view of social provision. Clearly in the 1990's there was a call for reform, but changes did not come in the form of prevention, but largely in the form of 'roll reduction' with NO subsequent adjustment toward a living wage. So we have less 'welfare', but low wages and low spending priorities and THAT is where the left-leaning energies ought to be expended. The right wing, Santorum-spouting view of women and family must be rejected as an imposed view that flies in the face of self determination.


Anonymous said...

Must a feminist be a liberal?

This is probably a cop out, but I don't think that the two labels are even compatible. "Liberalism" is a political philosophy that owes its roots to arguments regarding human nature and protection from arbitrary authority. "Feminism," is a belief in the equality of the sexes.

Though the US suffragist movement came at a time of political progressivism, that was not the case in all countries. New Zealand, the first nation to grant universal sufferage to women (30 years before the US, I might add) did so while still under the rule of the British Crown, during Victoria's reign, and in the British Empire suffrage was considered a "moral" issue.

Just thinking out loud.

lily said...

Kvatch-certainly I am not saying they are synonymous. Conducive, is the question.

"Arbitrary authority" is not really compatible with equality and autonomy though--where the perpetuation of that authority is dependent on moral or behavioral constraints.. In this case I am referring to the liberal view on the governmental role as providers of social welfare vs. models where such programs are not favored. (Liberal yes, is the 'political' term for the model of government responsiveness) Suffrage is not the only indicator of equity, it is but one indicator of having achieved progress.

If I can vote but need my husband's permission to make health care decisions, my autonomy as a woman is still compromised by a male authority and/or religious authority in some respects. And I am asking about the economic prospects as well. I am not saying the two terms are the same, I am asking if feminism (defined more broadly) can be compatible where arbitrary authorities can restrict the autonomy of women in ways that are self serving for an elite-be they kings, bishops, CEO's, or legislators.

No Blood for Hubris said...

Maybe it all comes down to the political philosophy of greedy, self-serving shits versus the generous, open-hearted, and openminded.

tp said...

Those that need to dominate and control will find outlets for their pathology.

When horrible people run things, all populations suffer. Except rich white men.

Anonymous said...


tp said...

People that know the inner workings of most efforts do not misspell that many words, friend.

Anonymous said...


I'm sure that my friends, who find me to be somewhat to the left of Fidel Castro, would find your statement pathe--I mean--amusing. :-)

Lily, congenital commie supposedly said...

Et tu, kvatch?????

The Practical Anarchist said...

“Anarchism is a vaguely defined doctrine which would abolish the state and other established social and economic institutions and establish a new order based on free and spontaneous cooperation among individuals, groups, regions, and nations. Actually, anarchism is not one doctrine but many, practically every theoretical anarchist has had his own distinctive ideas.”
-Dorothy Day
“How strange that the anarchists I have met have been the most disciplined of men, lawful and orderly, while those who insist that discipline and order must prevail… are the ones most unable to regulate themselves?”
-Dorothy Day

Aethlos said...

I hope I'm being documented, and classified in a catagory! I love science! & GIRL POWER!!!!!!!!!!!

Brandon said...

RE "I hope I'm being documented, and classified in a catagory! I love science! & GIRL POWER!!!!!!!!!!! "

I appreciate the remark, but on a darker note, allow me mention two names. J Edgar Hoover and Richard M. Nixon. The former ran smear investigations on his political enemies and fed information about King's infidelity to the press and to journalists. Nor was King the only victim of Hoover's political voyeurism. As for Nixon, this was a guy who wiretapped his aids, journalists, and his own brother for political purposes. Didn't he compile a personal/political shit list?

I suppose the ultimate humor in the situation is that we have a President who may well be compiling shit lists of his political enemies but who lacks the required reading skills to read them. It kind of makes you wonder about those seven minutes down in Florida. Was he shocked by 911 or was he just stuck on a big word?

Lily said...

Aw, Aethlos is just my token hottie.

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