Properties of Blood I.10: The Demands of Blood, Conclusion

Friendships come in different forms, for different motives, and with different levels of intensity.  Comrades in arms or in work may drift apart as soon as the war is over or the job finished.  Ritualized friendships, remade on the model of kinship, are more stable and anticipate the brotherhood of all faithful believers preached by the apostles.

“Nothing gold can stay,” as Homer’s Glaucus understood all too well, and over the generations the bonds of kinship become fragile, evanescent.  The same process takes place in social evolution as law and contract replace the ties of blood and tradition, a point made famously by Sir Henry Sumner Maine.  The obligations of kinship begin to fade, as societies grow more complex and cosmopolitan, and alternate institutions, often dependent upon or at least related to the state, take over the functions of family and kindred.  However, in periods of social disintegration, such as the early Middle Ages, the bonds of kinship are strengthened.  In most of Italy at that time, even village institutions had not yet come into force, and yet, as one historian of Medieval Italy (Chris Wickham) has observed:

"The relative weakness of early medieval villages did not mean that peasants were socially isolated.  Rather, they acted in informal groups of friends and neighbors, sought the help of patrons, and, above all, operated in webs of kinship."

Kinship, biological and fictional, is the natural mechanism by which men and women, couples and families, are integrated into a larger social order, not just in a theoretical scheme of social evolution but in everyday life.  When the ties of kinship are eroded, the human person is degraded to the individual and kinship is replaced by the almighty State.

Even before national governments began in earnest to reduce familial households to dependency upon the state, they had come to regard clans and kindreds as a threat to their own growing power.  One family can hardly stand up against a king, but Scottish clans did just that, as did the kin-based factions that supported the Yorkist or Lancastrian claimants on the English throne during the Wars of the Roses.  Such resistance today would be not only futile but impossible, because no political conspiracy is held together with the tight bonds taken for granted within a clan.

The modern state’s erosion of kinship is one phase of the state’s war on human nature.  Like feminism, the legitimation of same-sex marriage, the sanctification of abortion, and government-imposed controls on child-rearing, the whittling down  of kindreds to households and the reduction of households to mere residences for individuals have reduced the dimensions of the human person to very small limits.  Men and women who were once children and parents, kinsmen and clansmen, neighbors and citizens, are now, at best, mere taxpayers, or, at worst, tax-consuming criminals.  John Locke, thou has triumphed!  The liberal-individualist victory that has extinguished the rights of kings and the privileges of priests, defeated revolutionary Marxism and institutionalized a blander ideology of human rights, undermined the ties of kinship and marriage and exposed frail humanity to the brutality of rapacious technocrats.

Anyone who either believes in Revelation or understands the realities of human nature will know that this is a Pyrrhic victory.  Communist states that declared war on private property and inequality were in the end destroyed by the incapacity of their own wealth-seeking hierarchs.  God is not mocked and nature can only be frustrated in the short run.  The very success of American liberalism in all its forms (the individualism known as conservatism and the Marxism now called liberalism) has succeeded only in producing an enfeebled androgynous ruling class that cannot propagate much less rear children. When the darkness descends, the lights will go off—and with them the televisions and computers; bad food products will no longer be delivered from distant continents; the forces of law and order will fade away; and people who wish to survive will be forced to fall back on the ancient loyalties still ticking over in the genetic code.  The demands of blood will be met.

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

1 Response

  1. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    Dr. Fleming, based on my own observations, it appears that the modern family is cursed with feuds between sister and sister, brother and sister, and brother and brother. The feuding parties resent it when other family members refuse to take sides. Of course, the feuds expand when some family members do take sides. Is this a “new” phenomena or is it deeply embedded in the human condition?

    It also appears that many, if not most, modern families are affected by the various sexual deviancies. I am aware of one case where a slightly boy-crazy girl, after a string of shallow relationships, married a jerk. They stayed together long enough to have a daughter. When they split, the woman decided she was a lesbian and entered into a same-sex relationship. The man also decided he was a homosexual and entered into a same-sex relationship. Needless to say, their daughter, who is in college, is totally confused by her parents’ behavior and the misguided support of the prevailing culture.