When The Future Is Forgotten

Most of Europe’s political leaders – almost without exception, among the big ones – have no children.  The list is almost airtight:  Frances’ Emmanuel Macron; Germany’s Angela Merkel, the UK’s  Theresa May,Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon, Italiy’s Paolo Gentiloni, the Netherlands’Mark Rutte, Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel – none have kids.  Sweden’s Stefan Löfven has no bio-kids; the EU’s uber-bureaucrat Jean-Claude Juncker is also “child-free”.

 

And this is significant:

One of the benefits of parenthood is the daily confrontation with free will—a human nature. Parents may have their child’s life, career, and happiness planned out, but a child has other ideas -constantly. Love, patience, teaching, negotiating, scolding—nurture—can help direct the child, but the overwhelming otherness of the child is undeniable. They are not blank slates upon whom the parent exercises his will.

Political leaders without this experience of parenthood may be susceptible to the idea that people are blank-slates, interchangeable units of human capital. As a parent and a teacher, I have seen many brilliant and well-meaning parents and colleagues crash their will and intellect against the rock of a child’s independent nature. Now, scale such a hubristic paternalism to a nation. Or a continent.

Contemporary childless leaders, however ascendant they feel today, may be the last gasp of secularism. The future is won by those who show up, and only the religiously orthodox are having children.

The number of utopians – good and evil (and as opposed to totalitarian gansters, who may talk of utopia but never practice it), from the far left, far right, and the far libertarian fringe – who have eschewed parenthood is also a little daunting.

I know my own approach to politics was a lot more…entitled?  Absolutist?  Based on assumptions that raising kids showed me were unsupportable?   All of those and more, before I had kids.

So now we have the leadership of one of the world’s most powerful blocs of natoins, all governing from the perspective of people who’ve never had to deal with kids?

I think it’s also significant that the leaders of the former Communist countries in Europe – Poland, Hungary (fiive kids!), the Czechs, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria – people who’ve had to deal with genuine cognitive dissonance and the imperfection of institutions in their lifetimes – tend to have kids.

15 thoughts on “When The Future Is Forgotten

  1. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s qualifications for church leadership, and that has something to do with how that person’s children respect him and the church. Might not be that bad of an idea in government, too.

    And yeah, that points fingers at a lot of people in both parties, to put it mildly. One thing to say in favor of the former President is that his daughter appears to have followed his lead in loving the weed we used to make rope.

  2. I believe that children exist to make you humble and teach you that self-control is best learned young (and the ones that don’t learn it young teach you another lesson in how much heartbreak you can really take).

  3. This is like Austrian economics. They put individuals and individuals subjective valuation of what is valuable to them individually over treating everything like big aggregates and having “experts” analyze it and push everything around.

  4. Mitch,

    First, I don’t subscribe to the idea that someone from another “experience” set cannot understand the experiences of others. Are you, as a male, incapable of grasping the challenges facing women, are women incapable of grasping challenges facing you?

    Further, I think the ignorance of youth is just that, of youth. We learn through observation, and even more important, you seem to assume that those leaders, the ones which you seem to want to cast as the “utopian elitist” in an effort to develop an us/them approach, will not surround themselves with MANY people who DO have kids, yet, they will. Good leaders take advice from many sources, they don’t go off half-cocked on their own. More than that still, leaders who engage in anti-family tactics face the wrath of an electorate which is decidedly otherwise in nearly every nation you name (UK, France, etc, the fact is, most adults have kids). Even if it weren’t that, I think you are assuming either ignorance or maybe villainy, where none has been shown. In contrast to our own illustrious leader, those other leaders seem measured, thoughtful and concerned about the larger population. So, given that they a. are not immature b. have generally good advisors c. aren’t looking to commit poltical suicide and d. aren’t crackpots, maybe instead you will want to focus your attention on our own “utopian elitist”, the one who a. is immature b. is not thoughtful c. doesn’t listen to advisors and d. doesn’t seem to know (or have to care) about doing things which ought to be political suicide but has the great fortune of being from a party which will not hold him accountable?

  5. A society which cannot breed children has an expiration date. If this is going to be the way things are done in the West, the Muslims win!!!

  6. Pen,

    “First, I don’t subscribe to the idea that someone from another “experience” set cannot understand the experiences of others. Are you, as a male, incapable of grasping the challenges facing women, are women incapable of grasping challenges facing you?”

    Of course not.

    I bet you understand the concept, the physics, the acoustics of how guitars work (the vibrating string is an oscillator; the body is a resonator; the sound waves coming from the resonator through the air impact our ear drums as sound). You can explain how and why picking a string makes a sound, right? But you can’t play Stairway to Heaven. Because actually learning something first hand is different than theoretical understanding.

    Same with, to pick a random example, people who understand the broad outlines of how a rifle squad moves toward an objective, and those who’ve actually trained to do it. Whole different level of understanding, right?

  7. Indulge a quick anecdote.

    I’ve been single for a while, now. In that time I’ve gone on a few dates; sometimes, second, third or further dates.

    And in that time, I’ve found something; I have a VERY hard time relating to women who’ve never been married, or especially who haven’t had kids. They understand the broad outlines, and sometimes the details; everyone’s got friends and relatives with spouses and kids, right?

    And yet there was always some circumstance – a trip, a spending decision, a schedule conflict – that showed a yawning gap in how she and I saw our place in the world, and in our own lives. It’s hard to explain (clearly!).

    And if it has a tangible effect on some schnook’s dating life, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think it affects a politician’s view of the world.

  8. Are you, as a male, incapable of grasping the challenges facing women, are women incapable of grasping challenges facing you?

    When I look at modern feminism, universities, and things such as Wymyn’s Studies departments, I have to say that there’s a significant fraction of women who are incapable of grasping the challenges facing men.

  9. ” …leaders who engage in anti-family tactics face the wrath of an electorate…”

    I don’t buy this at all. They make up for it with government. It nets out for those politicians. “Life of Julia” and all that.

  10. I’m not going to get into a big argument about it, but ***I think*** all of the problems they are having with child care in MN is a ONE example. The government forced a bunch of those out of business or cut thier ability to do business and now it’a a panic situation in many areas. Massive inflation in rates.

    Not an expert.

  11. d. doesn’t seem to know (or have to care) about doing things which ought to be political suicide but has the great fortune of being from a party which will not hold him accountable?

    Do you mean Clinton and perjury? Or is it Obama and the IRS? Or Obama and unmasking of NSA info for political purposes? Or Obama completely rewriting Obamacare implementations and ignoring the text of the law?

    I seem to recall a fair bit of excuses from the Democrats of behavior that would have incited an insane frenzy had the accusations been made against Trump. We’d had suggestions that Trump may have created questionable activities create frenzies in DC that can’t compare with proven activities of Democratic presidents.

  12. Penigma, I think the child test isn’t about being able to emphasize, but is rather a character test of whether a man acknowledges something else as being more important than himself, and how a person deals with adversity. I was a single adult for a while, and my wife and I were DINKs for about two years, but there is simply something that happens when one assumes the responsibilities of a parent that we ought not ignore in politics.

  13. First, I don’t subscribe to the idea that someone from another “experience” set cannot understand the experiences of others.

    And you are wrong. Can you experience childbirth? (I am presuming you are non-op biological male).

  14. Just had the thought; OK, so a lot of leaders don’t have kids, and I have to wonder what they’re thinking is going to happen when they get too old to take care of themselves. Or is it all going to be some kind of “Logan’s Run” scenario where they “recycle” each other?

  15. I see 2 inevitable choices depending on the European country in question:

    1) 100% Socialized eldercare (probably at a much lower quality of life than in this country)
    2) Euthanasia.

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