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Musings on my parents and politics

So, my parents were liberal, or leftist, and I grew up for a bit as liberal/Democratic by default. Then I veered Libertarian, corrupted by science fiction. Eventually I've worked my way back to liberal, or social democrat, with views on parts to the port. This has me wondering tonight if I've in fact overshot my parents', and I really don't know: while I know my parents' views on civil rights, and Israel, and Keynes, and a welfare state, I don't about anything more radical. An econ department once considered hiring my father as their "token Commie", but that could just mean being Keynesian. Though I think he did like Galbraith.

Then I realized that for their youth, civil rights for women and blacks and gays were live issues. Problems of who should own what were perhaps secondary to wives being able to own anything, or get divorce or abortions, and of blacks being able to vote and live. Universities had strongly anti-Semitic quotas. Gay behavior was typically a crime. On a lot of issues, 60s radicalism is the status quo of today even for Republicans.

But... the radicalism of then *is* the status quo of today. We live in a world where gays are marching toward full marriage rights. The civil rights war isn't *over*: there's securing those rights, and for transsexuals, and the decent treatment of prisoners, and the war on some drugs, and gays and women in the military, and perennial attacks on free speech or privacy, and convincing people that Muslims aren't terrorists and atheists can be good people and trans shouldn't be beaten up or killed. But in a real sense, the war seems to be mostly over, at least on the scale my parents lived with. All major groups of society have at least the legal rights to vote and run for office and be openly identified as themselves; there's work to be done, but on finer and finer rights, and for smaller and smaller groups.

Which makes me think that economic justice should be the next Great Work. Okay, environmental sustainability as well, but there's room for unifying them. Alas, ObamaCare notwithstanding, we see much chipping away worldwide at welfare states and practical rights to education, and increasing enclosures of "intellectual property", and the various social democratic parties seem little more on the ball than the Democratic party.

Oh hey, I'm by my phone, I can mention the books I saw in the store. The Spirit Level, and Injustice.

"The Next Great Work" is rather optimistic and presumptuous, really; the battle over who owns what and why, and who has to work for whom and why, has been going on for millennia. But still, time to get back to work. *And*, a lot of the remaining non-legal or partly-legal but practical civil rights issues, like having fair access to lawyers, and the right to be a prostitute without harassment or not a prostitute at all, or the opportunities offered blacks, are I think unifiable at a broad social level, rather than a bunch of independent problems. In the words of Will Shetterly, if I understand him right, at this point classism *is* more important than racism.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 3rd, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
Question: when were your parents born? ISTR that they were about my age, and I don't recall any problems with women having title to property, nor any greater difficulty than a man in bringing a divorce suit. But otherwise, I agree.
Oct. 3rd, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
Early and late 1930s. I've read that in some US states husbands automatically had power of attorney over their wives, and over money earned by the wife from work. And of course no-fault divorce is a relatively recent invention, along with alimony and child support (I think?); don't know how the earlier divorce rules worked between the sexes.
Oct. 4th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC)
I was wrong, at least 20 years older.

In re money wife earned & PoA, I don't know when that changed.

I don't think a wife was -legally- constrained from seeking a divorce, just socially. But IANAL.

Alimony & child support are not new; it's the allocation that is different.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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