I believe that there are certain fundamental and intrinsic defects in the institution of the nuclear family that give rise to child abuse and mistreatment; but I also believe that the institution of the “non-esoteric religious community” or “practical philosophical community” would be able to help address and overcome those intrinsic defects. And, importantly, it would do so by complementing the nuclear family, rather than destroying or replacing it, or swallowing it up.
Let me say at the outset that, as a general matter, I do not want the state to be involved in trying to solve the sorts of family problems that I will be discussing (although I do think there may be a role for the state, at least for the time being, when child abuse takes less subtle forms of physical and sexual abuse, making it necessary for the child to be removed from the home). I also do not want to see any “Brave New World” scenario come about in which parents no longer play a central role in the upbringing of their children, and in which this job is given over to some irresponsible bureaucratic “collective.”
However, I believe that hysterical fear about the emergence of any such “Brave New World” scenario has actually been whipped up for the purpose of distracting people’s attention away from the fact that the nuclear family—when left on its own—is far from ideal. I do not believe that people should be content to assume that so long as parents are just “left alone to raise their children” without any outside interference from anyone, then everything will be all right—as many now believe, since “everyone knows” (because it’s said so very often) that parents love their children ever so much and would do anything for them.
So I realize that I’m going to meet with a lot of resistance when I offer the suggestion that the nuclear family—considered by itself, in a socially isolated state—is really not such a great thing after all. In fact, I restate my belief that considered by itself it is a fundamentally dysfunctional and intrinsically defective institution that cannot be relied upon to attend to the needs of children. And that is the reason why I believe it is absolutely essential that voluntary, non-esoteric religious communities be brought into existence in order to complement and give support to nuclear families, and help to compensate for their inherent weaknesses and limitations.