The Family and Civil Society

How many times do we hear someone say, “I just don’t know what’s the matter with people today”, or something similar? Everyone, it seems, has a theory: too much television, not enough discipline, they are too liberal, everybody expects things to be handed to them, or some variant of those. I have no answers either, but blogger-friend Hugh Curtler, who is a much deeper-thinker than I, wrote a thoughtful and thought-provoking post today that may point us in the direction of an answer as to why civil society has changed so much in the past century. Please take a few minutes to read his post … I promise you will come away thinking … and if enough of us think, perhaps there is hope for solutions to be forthcoming. Thank you Hugh for this post and for always allowing me to share!


At the very core of what used to be called “civil society” sits the family. This is where the young are taught such things as civil discourse, self-discipline, responsibility, and the restraint that eventually becomes what we call “character.” There are those who insist that the family so described is no more. In 1942 Joseph Schumpeter, a Harvard economist who spent forty years writing Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (once regarded as a “must” read and now simply becoming musty on the forgotten shelves of university libraries) predicted the dissolution of the family and eventually of civil society. This would result, Schumpeter insisted, from the success of capitalism — not the failure, as Marx would have it. This is because capitalism breeds a culture of calculation focused upon self-interest and short-term thinking. But above all else, it breeds a temper opposite to the temper that insists upon self-sacrifice for the needs and goods of…

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2 thoughts on “The Family and Civil Society

  1. Thanks for the share. Most interesting. I just had write something.
    History’s forces are at play here, we would do well to read our histories of Humanity, particularly its follies.
    Since the US has quite a different history from Europe you may avoid our cycles of rise, collapse, blinkered nationalism and so forth. I hope so.

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    • Yes, Hugh is very philosophical and always provides food for thought! I fully agree with you … we must study and learn from history … else we keep making the same mistakes over and over ad infinitum.

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