In the days when the United States would admit that hierarchy was a part of its national life, two groups occupied the pinnacle – the First Families of Virginia (FFV’s) and the Boston Brahmins. Both had lineages that went back to the earliest English settlements in North America – Jamestown and Plymouth.
In today’s egalitarian world, few vestiges of the cultural and social power they once wielded remain. The FFV’s left behind beautiful white-columned mansions and tidewater Virginia’s devotion to the culture of the horse. The Brahmins bequeathed to future generations Harvard University and The Atlantic.
A Journal of, by, and for the Liberal Establishment
Few current publications are older than The Atlantic, which began in 1857. Among its founders were several names still familiar to literate Americans – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and James Russell Lowell, its first editor. As the Civil War grew near, its editorials favored abolitionists. It endorsed Abraham Lincoln for President in 1860. Julia Ward Howe’s The Battle Hymn of the Republic first appeared on the front cover in February 1862.
As time went by, The Atlantic sealed a position as a must-read for America’s liberal establishment and for foreigners who needed to know what America’s decision-makers thought. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Felix Frankfurter, George Kennan, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were contributors. Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek subscribed.
The magazine still has a loyal liberal following. It defines itself as one of “few places remain where scientists, politicians, business people, and writers, where members of the military, the clergy, and academe, where Republicans and Democrats, blacks and whites, the believer and the unbeliever, can regularly hear one another speak. The Atlantic Monthly is one of those places.”
As inclusive as that description sounds, the magazine spans the ever-narrower opinion spectrum of left to radically left. Media Bias/Fact Check labels them as having a “left-center bias.” The magazine has long endorsed Democratic candidates.
The Plight of the “Center-Left”
The “center-left” was once the place for the comfortably complacent. It now grows less and less habitable. The impatient and radical leftists reject its leadership and gradualism. The shrinking center and center-right, resentful of the air of superiority that emanates from such organs as The Atlantic, no longer listen to center-left opinions. Fearing being left behind, The Atlantic joins the radical march.
All these trends appear in the article “A New Theory of Western Civilization” in The Atlantic’s October 2020 issue.That article is a positive review of The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous by Joseph Henrich.
Branding Western Culture as WEIRD
The acronym WEIRD stands for Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic. It presumably describes any place touched by the mix of Christian civilization and modernity.
The choice of the acronym is not accidental. The reviewer sums up the author’s thesis saying that “Westerners obsess more about personal accomplishments and success than about meeting family obligations. Westerners identify more as members of voluntary social groups—dentists, artists, Republicans, Democrats, supporters of a Green Party—than of extended clans. In short, Henrich says, they’re weird.”
The book says Westerners are weird because of the Catholic Church’s influence. The twisted logic of this absurd premise is tortuous. The Church broke up cohesive clans and tribes by forbidding marriage between cousins under pain of ex-communication. The piece’s villain is Pope Gregory I, the man who sent Saint Augustine to convert the British Isles to Christianity.
The underlying cause is economics, which is typical of Marxist analysis. Presumably, Pope Gregory’s edict forced men to find Christian wives from other villages, loosening family ties and attachment to place. The result was the rise of cities and a worldwide system of commerce. This movement made Europeans more loyal to the Church than to family loyalties. The Church became richer and spread all over the world.
Thus, this bizarre chain of reasoning uses the family as a club to attack the most pro-family institution in the modern world.
Indirectly Destroying the Family
What do the folks at The Atlantic suggest to restore the family’s cohesion? They spelled out one solution in another article, “The Rise of the Three Parent Family.” Nothing could be more bizarre and weird.
The article casts its approving gaze upon David Jay, a man who wants a family without getting married. Among Mr. Jay’s friends were a recently married couple that was expecting a baby. When the little girl was born, her parents allowed Mr. Jay to join their family as part of a “three-parent adoption” process that had recently become legal in California, where all three live. Mr. Jay is not part of the child’s natural parents’ marriage but is legally one of the child’s parents.
An advocate of such arrangements is Diana Adams, the founder of the “Chosen Family Law Center.” The article explains that “For Adams… the big fight of past decades has been to legalize gay marriage, which has been significant, but has also played into the narrative that the two-parent family is and should be the default structure. That has taken away some of the power of being able to live radically queer lives without needing to fit into a capitalist, patriarchal structure of a nuclear family.”
The True Nature of the Family
Perhaps the family’s best and most concise definition comes from The Christian Institution of the Family, edited and published by the British Tradition, Family, Property Association. The book contains a selection of considerations from Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. He defines the family as “an institution of the natural order, founded on a sacrament, and given the task of perpetuating the human species and educating the offspring.”
Understanding the natural order implies the union of one man and one woman united by Holy Matrimony. The sacrament welds the couple together for life and provides stable conditions for raising and educating children. Ideally, an extended family consisting of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins provides a safety net of affection and aid, especially in times of crisis.
Under the guise of remolding the family to fit the demands of twenty-first-century culture, The Atlantic and its leftist fellow travelers attempt to destroy it. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, before them, know that the family is an institution that must be eliminated for their revolution to become permanent. They sought to do this using the powers of government.
The modern radicals adopt a different tactic. They hope to encumber the idea of family with so many additions, deletions, and exceptions that the term becomes meaningless. Having been successful with homosexual “marriage,” they are trotting out pedophilia, polygamy, polyamory, three-parent “families” and any other device that they can imagine to further their ends.