Adoption Vindicates Socialism

I'll start with the basic argument for equality. Each of us is born into this world pretty much at random. We can't control who our parents are or any other circumstances of how we're placed when we come into this world. There's no justification then for us having unequal opportunities in life depending on who we were born to, what country we were born in, or any other of those random circumstances. Yes, our genetic make-up is part of our identity, and does have to do with our biological parents but it is already fully reflected in the body and mind that we actually have, the talents that we actually have, without needing any reference to them. So that is no defence for us having different opportunities because of who our parents were. As far as we must assume, we all get only one life and not being able to make the most of it because of circumstances that have nothing to do with our own persons is a great tragedy; yes, there are times when nature sets the limits, but extrapolating from that to saying that it's OK for society to do so, is like saying that because death is natural it's OK to randomly murder people.

But it's always been that way, you may object. It's just our nature; yes, it is, and because of it we'll never have perfect equality in that sense. But that's no excuse for not doing what we can to get close to it. Well then, it doesn't work, you might say, communism failed. Well, communist states weren't perfect either. None of them actually achieved what communism said it would achieve, so in that sense communism did fail. But in that of creating social equality, I don't think it did; communist states did generally achieve better equality of opportunity than capitalist states do. And even ignoring them, there are differences within the 'capitalist' first world, which we normally attribute to certain countries being more 'socialist'. The United States is the least socialist of them; we don't do much to even try to achieve such equality. The only rhetoric that we hear regarding equality has to do with race or gender and nothing about equal opportunities _within_ a race or gender group, showing that women and non-whites - especially the now-wealthy and elite minority of those - have taken over the idea, which has killed socialism here. In a real socialist society, there'd be no need for any race or gender movements (I believe there wasn't in communist countries; the leaders wouldn't put up with it), as it could be taken for granted that any disparity was accounted for by difference in ability or interest.

And now I'll turn to the argument from adoption that was the clincher; it also applies, perhaps even more strongly, to similar transfers of child custody that aren't legal adoption, but they may be less common and not illustrate the principle as well. Legal adoptions almost always involve the transfer of a child from circumstances where it would have fewer opportunities to those where it will have more. Are you thinking that's a good thing? If it is, though, _all_ parents having poorer circumstances ought to give up their children if they can. Yet that doesn't happen and no one expects it to. That's a consequence primarily of parents' natural feeling toward their children, which can probably be considered illogical - but few things are more a necessary part of human nature than the feelings of parenthood; it's one type of illogical behavior we must accept. Indeed, saying such adoptions are a good thing in general is essentially saying that parental rights mean nothing; that no parent has a right to raise his or her children if someone else could do it 'better'.

The truth is that whether a child is given up basically depends on external circumstances; one basically never sees a child given up from an intact marriage, no matter how poor or unfit the couple, unless removed by some kind of legal process. In fact, the only time it's at all common to see a child given up without such process is when there are serious social sanctions directed at the child or its parents, as there used to be with illegitimate children, some of which still remains, or those born to underage parents, or some other special cases. In fact one can see in many cases it's essentially arbitrary, not related to the opportunities the child will have, as when one sibling is given up and the next is not. Adoption does not do a perfect or even very good job of distributing children to where they will have the best opportunity. So can we, should we, entrust the well-being of children to something so arbitrary? I haven't even gotten into the 'legal process' mentioned, which we should know is not just or consistent either.

And yet, once the transfer of custody has been effected, and especially once it is completely final (for the normal case of legal adoption these are the same, but not necessarily for other types of transfer), everyone usually gives a different view, and is expected to, including the parent or parents that gave up the child, and the child himself or herself upon reaching sufficient age. Of course we are all to believe it's now a good thing because the child will have better opportunities in life. So, we have the striking inconsistency that a child given up is expected to be thankful for it, while a child born with the same opportunities and not given up is _not_ expected to be angry because of it; read that again to let it sink in! This is what is generally observed, and often true for the parent that made the decision as well. That, I say, is madness; such a logical absurdity can't be right. If I were adopted thinking about that would probably cause my brain to melt down, and even though I'm not it's extremely distasteful.

The problem is the lack of equality that causes this difference in opportunities; I can see nothing else that resolves the difficulty. And so I am and must be a socialist. And so, also, I end at the beginning, for it is with the ideas in the last paragraph that I started my thinking, after reading a news story on the subject; I reversed it, as stated, to put it in a logical order.

Let us then say that one indicator of whether we have achieved sufficient equality will be that adoptions, formal or informal, coerced by legal process or otherwise, even partly justified by economic reasons, have become unheard of. This is what I undeniably believe even more so than when I first wrote the original essay some years ago. And here's the specific reason why this is a men's issue: men's advocates generally hold that fathers have a natural right to raise their children, and that this right is based in the child's well-being and not just in his selfish emotions. If you believe this, and yet do not accept that it would be right to have your child forcibly taken because you are not too well-off and placed with a household that's better off, you must believe the above. You must be a socialist, too.

(I have not mentioned any specific policies, because the principle is more important than any policies that follow from it. In addition, the country in which I happened to be born has two big inequality issues that have been largely solved in every other civilised nation - access to health care and access to
educational opportunities.)

This is an essay created by Andrew Usher. Please do not edit it; but only comment in discussion.

This is a rewrite of an article posted to Usenet here:!topic/alt.philosophy/sP1JxnM11W8

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License