In a cold moralistic attempt to equate personal relationships and relative emotions as being under the purview of the state, Iain Duncan Smith spoke about the economic cost of the government’s ‘failings’ to ‘support’ marriage. Whilst this could be true, who knows, this money is rather trivial and divorced (excuse the pun) from reality. Who cares how much money is lost on ‘abandoning’ a pointless and out-dated promotion of an ‘ideal’ family structure?
In classic “blame the family” mode, we are supposed to believe that this reduction of economic support for marriage is the cause of many social problems such as poverty. In a conflation of cause and effect, he ignores how structural conditions such as poverty and crime can influence personal relationships within a dialectical, not simplistic, interdependent process.
Regardless, the last government was hardly anti-family/anti-‘idealised’ relationships. Consider their policies regarding the sex industry; they focused on a very specific form – street sex work (which accounts for around something like 10-12% of all sex work) because it was seen as a public abbreviation of ‘morality’. Included within this, was a campaign to stop ‘respectable’ men from kerb-crawling and a line being constructed between commercial and noncommercial sex. To not have the division would be to undermine the very ‘rational’ of their sectional policies. It was intended to promote an ‘idealised’ relationship, class other forms of sexuality as deviant and undermine sexual expression.
This type of ideological agenda, which sees a certain type of family as the only ‘succesful’ form of relationship, undermines other family relationships and personal relations that have positively strengthened people through their varying experiences. For the Tories to talk about personal liberty and control and then promote an ‘ideal’ relationship/family is simply hypocritical.
Let’s be clear. Life is complicated, hard, often tiresome, stressful and often things don’t work out how you want them to do. It’s life. To act as though the state can be a moral superhero to save us from some realities of life and the varying expressions of personal relationships and care, love and emotion is naive. Instead, there needs to be a fostering of respect for difference, the respect that civil rights campaigns particurarly from the 1960s have been rightfully campaigning for. The ‘ideal’ that stalked our society, especially in the Victorian era has yet to go; these laws and regulations only attempt to disguise a fact of life. However, this is not to undermine the need for economic, social and political change to help tackle the root causes of many problems such as poverty and crime – protesting against the government’s £81bn cuts should be a start.
For a much better time-warp…