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<html>
<body>
<title>
J.6 What methods of child rearing do anarchists advocate? 
</title>
<h1>
J.6 What methods of child rearing do anarchists advocate? </h1>
<p>
Anarchists have long been aware of the importance of child rearing and
education. As such, we are aware that child rearing should aim to develop
<i>"a well-rounded individuality"</i> and not <i>"a patient work slave, professional
automaton, tax-paying citizen, or righteous moralist."</i> [Emma Goldman,
<b>Red Emma Speaks</b>, p. 108] In this section of the FAQ we will discuss
anarchist approaches to child rearing bearing in mind <i>"that it is through
the channel of the child that the development of the mature man must go,
and that the present ideas of. . . educating or training. . . are such as
to stifle the natural growth of the child."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 107]
<p>
If one accepts the thesis that the authoritarian family is the breeding
ground for both individual psychological problems and political reaction, 
it follows that anarchists should try to develop ways of raising children 
that will not psychologically cripple them but instead enable them to 
accept freedom and responsibility while developing natural self-regulation. 
We will refer to children raised in such a way as <b><i>"free children."</i></b>
<p>
Work in this field is still in its infancy (no pun intended). Wilhelm
Reich is again the main pioneer in this field (an excellent, short 
introduction to his ideas can be found in Maurice Brinton's <b>The Irrational 
in Politics</b>). In <b>Children of the Future</b>, Reich made numerous suggestions, 
based on his research and clinical experience, for parents, psychologists, 
and educators striving to develop libertarian methods of child rearing. 
(He did not use the term "libertarian," but that is what his methods are.) 
<p>
Hence, in this and the following sections we will summarise Reich's main 
ideas as well as those of other libertarian psychologists and educators who 
have been influenced by him, such as A.S. Neill and Alexander Lowen. 
Section <a href="secJ6.html#secj61">J.6.1</a> will examine the theoretical principles involved in raising 
free children, while subsequent sections will illustrate their practical 
application with concrete examples. Finally, in section <a href="secJ6.html#secj68">J.6.8</a>, we will 
examine the anarchist approach to the problems of adolescence. 
<p>
Such an approach to child rearing is based upon the insight that children
<i>"do not constitute anyone's property: they are neither the property of
the parents nor even of society. They belong only to their own future
freedom."</i> [Michael Bakunin, <b>The Political Philosophy of Bakunin</b>, p. 327]
As such, what happens to a child when it is growing up <b>shapes</b> the
person they become and the society they live in. The key question for 
people interested in freedom is whether <i>"the child [is] to be considered 
as an individuality, or as an object to be moulded according 
to the whims and fancies of those about it?"</i> [Emma Goldman, 
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 107] Libertarian child rearing is the means by which the individuality 
of the child is respected and developed. 
<p>
This is in stark contrast to standard capitalist (and individualist anarchist
we should note) claim that children are the <b>property</b> of their parents. 
If we accept that children <b>are</b> the property of their parents then we are 
implicitly stating that a child's formative years are spent in slavery, 
hardly a relationship which will promote the individuality and freedom of 
the child or the wider society. Little wonder that most anarchists reject 
such assertions. Instead they argue that the <i>"rights of the parents shall 
be confined to loving their children and exercising over them . . . authority 
[that] does not run counter to their morality, their mental development, 
or their future freedom."</i> [Bakunin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 327] Being someone's 
property (i.e. slave) runs counter to all these and <i>"it follows that 
society, the whole future of which depends upon adequate education and 
upbringing of children. . . , has not only the right but also the duty 
to watch over them..."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 327] 
<p>
Hence child rearing is <b>part</b> of society, a communal process by which 
children learn what it means to be an individual by being respected as 
one by others. In Bakunin's words, <i>"real freedom - that is, the full 
awareness and the realisation thereof in every individual, pre-eminently 
based upon a feeling of one's dignity and upon the genuine respect for 
someone else's freedom and dignity, i.e. upon justice - such freedom can 
develop in children only through the rational development of their minds, 
character and will."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 327]
<p>
We wish to point out at the beginning that a great deal of work remains to
be done in this field. Therefore our comments should be regarded merely
as tentative bases for further reflection and research by those involved
with raising and educating children. There is, and cannot be, any "rule
book" for raising free children, because to follow an inflexible 
rule book is to ignore the fact that each child and its environment is 
unique and therefore demands unique responses from its parents. Hence the
"principles" of libertarian child rearing to which we will refer should
not be thought of as rules, but rather, as experimental hypotheses to be
tested by parents within their own situation by applying their intelligence 
and deriving their own individual conclusions. 
<p>
Bringing up children must be like education, and based on similar principles,
namely <i>"upon the free growth and development of the innate forces and
tendencies of the child. In this way alone can we hope for the free
individual and eventually also for a free community, which shall make
interference and coercion of human growth impossible."</i> [Goldman, <b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. 115] Indeed, child rearing and education <b>cannot</b> be separated as
life itself is an education and so must share the same principles and
viewed as a process of <i>"development and exploration, rather than as one
of repressing a child's instincts and inculcating obedience and discipline."</i>
[Martha A. Ackelsberg, <b>Free Women of Spain</b>, p. 132]
<p>
Moreover, the role of parental example is very important to raising 
free children. Children often learn by mimicking their parents - children 
do what their parents do, not as they say. If their mother and father lie 
to each other, scream, fight and so on, then the child will probably do 
so as well. Children's behaviour does not come out thin air, they are a 
product of the environment they are brought up in (partly by, initially at 
least, copying the parent). Children can only be encouraged by example, not 
by threats and commands. How parents act can be an obstacle to the development 
of a free child. Parents must, therefore, be aware that they must do more 
than just <b>say</b> the right things, but also act as anarchists in order to 
produce free children.
<p>
The sad fact is that most modern people have lost the ability to raise 
free children, and regaining this ability will be a long process of trial 
and error and parent education in which it is to be hoped that each 
succeeding generation will learn from the failures and successes of their 
predecessors, and so improve. In the best-case scenario, over the course 
of a few generations the number of progressive parents will continue to 
grow and raise ever freer children, who in turn will become even more 
progressive parents themselves, thus gradually changing mass psychology 
in a libertarian direction. Such changes <b>can</b> come about very fast, 
as can be seen from various communes all over the world and especially 
in the Israel-Palestine kibbutz where society is organised according to
libertarian principles, and children are mainly growing in their 
collective homes. As Reich puts it: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"We have learned that instead of a jump into the realm of the Children of
the Future, we can hope for no more than a steady advance, in which the
healthy new overlaps the sick old structure, with the new slowly
outgrowing the old."</i> [<b>Children of the Future</b>, pp. 38-39]
</blockquote><p>
By means of freedom-based child rearing and education, along with other
methods of consciousness raising, as well as encouraging resistance to
the existing social order anarchists hope to prepare the psychological 
foundation for a social paradigm shift, from authoritarian to 
libertarian institutions and values. And indeed, a gradual cultural
evolution toward increasing freedom does seem to exist. For example, as
A.S. Neill writes in <b>Summerhill</b>, <i>"There is a slow trend to freedom, sexual
and otherwise. In my boyhood, a woman went bathing wearing stockings and
a long dress. Today, women show legs and bodies. Children are getting
more freedom with every generation. Today, only a few lunatics put
cayenne pepper on a baby's thumb to stop sucking. Today, only a few
countries beat their children in school."</i> [p. 115]
<p>
Most anarchists believe that, just as charity begins at home, so does
the anarchist revolution. As some anarchists raise their own children in 
capitalist society and/or are involved in the raising and education of the
children of other parents, they can practice in part libertarian 
principles even before the revolution. Hence we think it is important 
to discuss libertarian child rearing in some detail. 
<p>
<a name="secj61"><h2>J.6.1 What are the main principles of raising free children and the main obstacles to implementing those principles? </h2>
<p>
Let's consider the obstacles first. As Reich points out, the biggest one
is the training and character of most parents, physicians, and educators. 
Based on his clinical experience, Reich maintained that virtually all
adults in our society have some degree of psychological problems, which 
is manifested somatically as a rigid muscular <i>"armour"</i>: chronic muscular 
tensions and spasms in various regions of the body. One of the main 
functions of this armour is to inhibit the pleasurable sensations of 
life-energy that naturally <i>"stream"</i> or flow through an unarmoured body. 
Reich postulated that there is one basic bioenergy (<i>"orgone"</i>) in the body, 
identical with what Freud called <i>"libido,"</i> which, besides animating the 
tissues and organs is also the energy of sex and the emotions (we should 
note that most anarchists do not subscribe to Reich's idea of "orgone" - 
the existence of which, we may note, has not been proved. However, the 
idea of character armour, by which individuals within a hierarchical 
society create psychological walls/defences around themselves is one 
most anarchists accept. Such walls will obviously have an effect both on
the mental and physical state of the individual, and their capacity 
for living a free life and experiencing pleasure). This means that the 
pleasurable "streamings" of this bioenergy, which can be felt when the 
muscular armour is relaxed, have an erotic or "libidinous" quality. Thus 
an unarmoured organism (such as a new-born infant) automatically experiences 
pleasure with every breath, a pleasure derived from perception of the 
natural bioenergetic processes within its body. Such a mode of being 
in the world makes life intrinsically worth living and renders 
superfluous all questions about its "meaning" or "purpose" -- questions 
that occur only to armoured people, who have lost contact with their 
bioenergetic core of bodily sensations (or it is distorted, and so is
changed from a source of pleasures to a source of suffering) and thus 
restricts their capacity to fully enjoy life. 
<p>
It is important for those involved in child rearing and education to
understand how armouring develops in the new-born child. Reich points out
that under the influence of a compulsive, pleasure-denying morality,
children are taught to inhibit the spontaneous flow of life-energy in 
the body. Similarly, they are taught to disregard most bodily sensations. 
Due to Oedipal conflicts in the patriarchal family (see below), parents 
usually take the most severely repressive disciplinary measures
against sexual expressions of life-energy in children. Thus, all erotic
feelings, including the erotically-tinged "streaming" sensations, come to
be regarded as "bad," "animalistic," etc., and so their perception begins
to arouse anxiety, which leads, among other bad results, to chronic 
muscular tensions as a way of cutting off or defending against such 
perceptions and their attendant anxiety. Shallow breathing, for example, 
reduces the amount of life-energy available to flow into excitation 
and emotion; tightening the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdomen 
reduces sexual feelings, and so on. As these tensions become chronic 
and unconscious, piling up in layer after layer of muscular armour, 
the person is eventually left with a feeling of inner emptiness or 
"deadness" and -- not surprisingly -- a lack of joy in life. 
<p>
For those who fail to build a stable physical and psychological armour 
around themselves to suppress these feelings and sensation, they just 
twist them and are flooded again and again with intense unpleasant 
feelings and sensations.
<p>
Muscular armouring has its most profound effect on back pains and various 
respiration problems. Reich found that the "normal" man or woman in our 
society <b>cannot</b> spontaneously take full, deep, natural breaths, which 
involves both the chest and abdomen. Instead, most people (except when 
making a conscious effort) restrict their breathing through unconscious 
tensing of various muscles. Since the natural response to any restriction 
in the ability to breathe is anxiety, people growing up in repressive 
cultures such as ours are plagued by a tendency toward chronic anxiety. 
As a defence against this anxiety, they develop further layers of 
muscular armouring, which further restricts their ability to breathe, 
and so on, in a vicious circle. In other words, it is <b>literally</b> 
true that, as Max Stirner said, one cannot <i>"take breath"</i> in our 
authoritarian society with its life-denying atmosphere based on 
punishments, threats, and fear. 
<p>
Of course sex is not the only expression of life-energy that parents try
to stifle in children. There are also, for example, the child's natural
vocal expressions (shouting, screaming, bellowing, crying, etc.) and
natural body motility. As Reich notes, 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Small children go through a phase of development characterised by
vigorous activity of the voice musculature. The joy the infant derives
from loud noises (crying, shrieking, and forming a variety of sounds) is
regarded by many parents as pathological aggressiveness. The children are
accordingly admonished not to scream, to be 'still,' etc. The impulses of
the voice apparatus are inhibited, its musculature becomes chronically
contracted, and the child becomes quiet, 'well-brought-up,' and
withdrawn. The effect of such mistreatment is soon manifested in eating
disturbances, general apathy, pallor of the face, etc. Speech
disturbances and retardation of speech development are presumably caused
in this manner. In the adult we see the effects of such mistreatment in
the form of spasms of the throat. The automatic constrictions of the
glottis and the deep throat musculature, with subsequent inhibition of the
aggressive impulses of the head and neck, seems to be particularly
characteristic."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 128]
</blockquote><p>
(And we must add, that the suppression of the urge to move all children 
have is most destructive to the 15% or so of "Hyper-active" children,
whose urge to move is hard to suppress.)
<p>
<i>"Clinical experience has taught us,"</i> Reich concludes, <i>"that small children
must be allowed to 'shout themselves out' when the shouting is inspired by
pleasure. This might be disagreeable to some parents, but questions of
education must be decided <b>exclusively in the interests of the child,</b> not
in those of the adults."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>] 
<p>
Besides deadening the pleasurable streamings of life energy in the body,
muscular armouring also functions to inhibit the anxiety generated by the
presence of anti-social, cruel, and perverse impulses within the psyche
(impulses referred to by Reich as <i>"secondary"</i> drives) -- for example,
destructiveness, sadism, greed, power hunger, brutality, rape fantasies,
etc. Ironically, these secondary drives result from the <b>suppression of
the primary drives</b> (e.g. for sex, physical activity, vocal expression,
etc.) and the sensations of pleasure associated with them. The secondary
drives develop because, when muscular armouring sets in and a person loses
touch with his or her bioenergetic core and other emotional urges, 
the only emotional expressions that can get through the thick, hard 
wall of armour are distorted, harsh, and/or mechanical. Thus, for example, 
a heavily armoured person who tries to express love may find that the 
emotion is shredded by the wall of armour and comes out in distorted 
form as an impulse to hurt the person loved (sadism) -- an impulse 
that causes anxiety and then has to be repressed. In other words, 
compulsive morality (i.e. acting according to externally imposed 
rules) becomes necessary to control the secondary drives <b>which
compulsion itself creates.</b> By such processes, authoritarian
child-rearing becomes self-justifying. Thus: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Psychoanalysts have failed to distinguish between primary natural and
secondary perverse, cruel drives, and they are continuously killing nature
in the new-born while they try to extinguish the 'brutish little animal.' 
They are completely ignorant of the fact that it is <b>exactly this killing
of the natural principle which creates the secondary perverse and cruel
nature,</b> human nature so called, and that these artificial cultural
creations in turn make compulsive moralism and brutal laws necessary"</i>
[<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 17-18]. 
</blockquote><p>
Moralism, however, can never get at the root of the problem of secondary
drives, but in fact only increases the pressure of crime and guilt. The
real solution is to let children develop what Reich calls <b>natural
self-regulation.</b> This can be done only by not subjecting them to
punishment, coercion, threats, moralistic lectures and admonitions,
withdrawal of love, etc. in an attempt to inhibit their spontaneous
expression of natural life-impulses. The systematic development of the
emphatic tendencies of the young infant is the best way to "socialise"
and restrict activities that are harmful to the others. As A.S. Neill 
points out, <i>"self-regulation implies a belief in the goodness of human 
nature; a belief that there is not, and never was, original sin."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 103]
<p>
According to Neill, children who are given freedom from birth and not
forced to conform to parental expectations spontaneously learn how to keep
themselves clean and develop social qualities like courtesy, common
sense, an interest in learning, respect for the rights of others, and so
forth (see <a href="secJ6.html#secj62">next section</a>). However, once the child has been armoured
through authoritarian methods intended to <b>force</b> it to develop such
qualities, it becomes what Reich calls <i>"biopathic"</i> -- out of touch with
its living core and therefore no longer able to develop self-regulation. 
In this stage it becomes harder and harder for the pro-social emotions
to shape the developing mode of life of the new member of society. At 
that point, when the secondary drives develop, parental authoritarianism 
becomes a <b>necessity.</b> As Reich puts it: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"This close interrelation between biopathic behaviour and authoritarian
countermeasures seems to be automatic. Self-regulation appears to have no
place in and no influence upon emotions which do not come from the living
core directly but only as if through a thick hard wall. Moreover, one has
the impression that secondary drives cannot stand self-regulatory
conditions of existence. They force sharp discipline on the part of the
educator or parent. It is as if a child with an essentially
secondary-drive structure feels that it cannot function or exist without
disciplinary guidance. This is paralleled by the interlacing of
self-regulation in the healthy child with self-regulation in the
environment. Here the child cannot function unless it has freedom of
decision and movement. It cannot tolerate discipline any more than the
armoured child can tolerate freedom."</i> 
</blockquote>
<p>
This inability to tolerate freedom, which the vast majority of people
develop <b>automatically</b> from the way they are raised, is what makes the
whole subject of armouring and its prevention of crucial importance to
anarchists. Reich concludes that if parents do not suppress nature in 
the first place, then no anti-social drives will be created and no
authoritarianism will be required to suppress them: <i>"<b>What you so
desperately and vainly try to achieve by way of compulsion and admonition
is there in the new-born infant ready to live and function. Let it grow as
nature requires, and change our institutions accordingly</b>"</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 47,
emphasis in original].
<p>
As Alexander Lowen points out in <b>Fear of Life</b>, parents are particularly
anxious to suppress the sexual expressions of life energy in their
children because of unresolved Oedipal conflicts within themselves. 
<p>
Hence, in order to raise psychologically healthy children, parents need 
to acquire self-knowledge, particularly of how Oedipal conflicts, sibling
rivalry, and other internal conflicts develop in family relationships, 
and to free themselves as much as possible from neurotic forms of 
armouring. The difficulty of parents acquiring such self-knowledge 
and sufficiently de-conditioning themselves is obviously another 
obstacle to raising self-regulated children.
<p>
However, the greatest obstacle is the fact that armouring and other
twisting mechanisms set in so very early in life, i.e. soon after 
birth. Reich emphasises that <b>with the first armour blockings, the 
infant's self-regulatory powers begin to wane.</b> <i>"They become steadily 
weaker as the armouring spreads over the whole organism, and they <b>must</b> 
be replaced by compulsive, moral principles if the child is to exist 
and survive in its given environment."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, pp. 44-45] Hence it 
is important for parents to obtain a thorough knowledge of what 
armouring and other rigid suppressions are and how they function, 
so that from the beginning they can prevent (or at least decrease) 
them from forming in their children. Some practical examples of how 
this can be done will be discussed in the <a href="secJ6.html#secj62">next section</a>. 
<p>
Finally, Reich cautions that it is crucial to avoid any mixing of
concepts. <i>"One cannot mix a bit of self-regulation with a bit of moral
demand. Either we trust nature as basically decent and self-regulatory or
we do not, and then there is only one way, that of training by
compulsion. It is essential to grasp the fact that the two ways of
upbringing do not go together."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 46]
<p>
<a name="secj62"><h2>J.6.2. What are some examples of libertarian child-rearing methods
       applied to the care of new-born infants?</h2>
<p>
According to Reich, the problems of parenting a free child actually begin 
before conception, with the need for a prospective mother to free herself 
as much as possible from chronic muscular tensions, especially in the 
pelvic area, which may inhibit the optimal development of a foetus. As 
Reich points out, the mother's body provides the environment for the 
child from the moment the embryo is formed until the moment of birth, 
and strong muscular armouring in her pelvis as a result of sexual 
repression or other emotional problems is very detrimental. Such a
mother will have a bioenergetically "dead" and possibly spastic uterus,
which can traumatise an infant even before it is born by reducing the
circulation of blood and body fluids and making the energy metabolism
inefficient, thus damaging the child's vitality. 
<p>
Moreover, it has been found in many studies that not only the physical 
health of the mother can influence the foetus. Various psychological 
stresses influence the chemical and hormonal environment, affecting 
the foetus. Even short ones, when acute, can have significant effects 
on it.
<p>
Immediately after birth, it is important for the mother to establish
contact with her child. This means, basically, constant loving 
attention to the baby, expressed by plenty of holding, cuddling,
playing, etc., and especially by breast feeding. By such <i>"orgonotic"</i>
contact (to use Reich's term), the mother is able to establish the
initial emotional bonding with the new born, and a non-verbal 
understanding of the child's needs. This is only possible, however, 
if she is in touch with her own internal processes - emotional
and cognitive - and bioenergetic core, i.e. is not too neurotically 
armoured (in Reich's terminology). Thus: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The orgonotic sense of contact, a function of the . . . energy field of
both the mother and the child, is unknown to most specialists; however,
the old country doctor knew it well. . . . <b>Orgonotic contact is the most
essential experiential and emotional element in the interrelationship
between mother and child,</b> particularly prenatally and during the first
days and weeks of life. The future fate of the child depends on it. It
seems to be the core of the new-born infant's emotional development."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>
p. 99] 
</blockquote><p>
It is less crucial but still important for the father to
establish orgonotic contact as well, although since fathers lack the
primary means of establishing it -- namely the ability to breast feed --
their contact can never be as close as the mother's (see below). 
<p>
A new-born child has only one way of expressing its needs: through
crying. Crying has many nuances and can convey much more than the 
level of distress of the child. If a mother is unable to establish 
contact at the most basic emotional (<i>"bioenergetic,"</i> according to
Reich) level, she will be unable to understand intuitively what needs 
the child is expressing through its crying. Any unmet needs will 
in turn be felt by the child as a deprivation, to which it will 
respond with a wide array of negative emotions and deleterious 
physiological processes and emotional tension. If continued for 
long, such tensions can become chronic and thus the beginning of 
<i>"armouring"</i> and adaptation to a "cruel" reality. 
<p>
The most important factor in the establishment of bonding is the 
tender physical contact between mother and infant is undoubtedly 
breast feeding. Thus: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The most salient place of contact in the infant's body is the
bioenergetically highly charged mouth and throat. This body organ reaches
out immediately for gratification. <b>If the nipple of the mother reacts to
the infant's sucking movements in a biophysically normal manner with
sensations of pleasure, it will become strongly erect and the orgonotic
excitation of the nipple will become one with that of the infant's mouth,
just as in the orastically gratifying sexual act, in which the male and
female genitals luminate and fuse orgonotically</b>. There is nothing
'abnormal' or 'disgusting' in this. Every healthy mother experiences the
sucking as pleasure and yields to it. . . . However, about 80 percent of
all women suffer from vaginal anaesthesia and frigidity. Their nipples
are correspondingly anorgonotic, i.e. 'dead.' The mother may develop
anxiety or loathing in response to what would naturally be a sensation of
pleasure aroused in the breast by the infant's sucking. This is why so
many mothers do not want to nurse their babies."</i> [pp. 115-116] 
</blockquote><p>
Reich and other libertarian psychologists therefore maintain that the
practice of bottle feeding is harmful, particularly if it completely
replaces breast feeding from the day of birth, because it eliminates one
of the most important forms of establishing bioenergetic contact between
mother and child. This lack of contact can then contribute in later life
to <i>"oral"</i> forms of neurotic character structure or traits. (For more on
these, see Alexander Lowen, <b>Physical Dynamics of Character Structure</b>,
Chapter 9, <i>"The Oral Character"</i>]. Lowen believes that the practice of
breast feeding should be continued for about three years, as it usually is
among "primitive" peoples, and that weaning before this time is 
experienced as a major trauma. <i>"[I]f the breast is available to a child
for about three years, which I believe to be the time required to fulfil
a child's oral needs, weaning causes very little trauma, since the loss of
this pleasure is offset by the many other pleasures the child can then
have."</i> [<b>Depression and the Body</b>, p. 133]
<p>
Another harmful practice in infant care is the compulsive-neurotic method
of feeding children on schedule, invented by Pirquet in Vienna, which <i>"was
devastatingly wrong and harmful to countless children."</i> Frustration of
oral needs through this practice (which is fortunately less in vogue now
than it was fifty years ago), is guaranteed to produce neurotic armouring
in infants. 
<p>
As Reich puts it, <i>"As long as parents, doctors, and educators approach
infants with false, unbending behaviour, inflexible opinions,
condescension, and officiousness, instead of with orgonotic contact,
infants will continue to be quiet, withdrawn, apathetic, 'autistic,'
'peculiar,' and, later, 'little wild animals,' whom the cultivated feel
they have to 'tame.'"</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b> p. 124]
<p>
Another harmful practice is allowing the baby to "cry itself out." Thus: 
<i>"Parking a baby in a baby carriage in the garden, perhaps for hours at a
time, is a dangerous practice. No one can know what agonising feelings of
fear and loneliness a baby can experience on waking up suddenly to find
himself alone in a strange place. Those who have heard a baby's screams
on such occasions have some idea of the cruelty of this stupid custom."</i> 
[Neill, <b>Summerhill</b>, p. 336] Indeed, in <b>The Physical Dynamics of
Character Structure</b>, Lowen has traced specific neuroses, particularly
depression, to this practice. Hospitals also have been guilty of
psychologically damaging sick infants by isolating them from their 
mothers, a practice that has undoubtedly produced untold numbers of 
neurotics and psychopaths. 
<p>
Also, as Reich notes, <i>"the sadistic habit of circumcision will soon be
recognised as the senseless, fanatical cruelty it truly is."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p.
68] He remarks that he has observed infants who took over two weeks to
"recover" from the trauma of circumcision, a "recovery" that left
permanent psychological scars in the form of chronic muscular tensions in
the pelvic floor. These tensions form the first layer of pelvic armouring,
to which sexual repression and other inhibitions (especially those
acquired during toilet training) later add. 
<p>
The diaphragm, however, is perhaps the most important area to protect from
early armouring. After observing infants for several years in a research
setting, Reich concluded that armouring in babies usually appears first as
a blocking of free respiration, expressed as harsh, rough, uneven, or
laboured breathing, which may lead to colds, coughs, bronchitis, etc. 
<p>
<i>"The early blocking of respiration seemed to gain importance rapidly as
more children were observed. Somehow the diaphragmatic region appeared to
respond first and most severely to emotional, bioenergetic discomfort."</i>
[<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 110] Hence the infant's breathing is a key indicator of its
emotional health, and any disturbance is a signal that something is
wrong. Or, as Neill puts it, <i>"The sign of a well-reared child is his
free, uninhibited breathing. It shows that he is not afraid of life."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 131]
<p>
Neill sums up the libertarian attitude toward the care of infants as
follows: <i>"<b>Self-regulation means the right of a baby to live freely
without outside authority in things psychic and somatic</b>. It means that
the baby feeds when it is hungry; that it becomes clean in habits only
when it wants to; that it is never stormed at nor spanked; that it is
always loved and protected."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b> p. 105]
<p>
Obviously self-regulation doesn't mean leaving the baby alone
when it heads toward a cliff or starts playing with an electrical
socket. Anarchists do not advocate a lack of common sense. We
recognise that adults must override an infant's will when it is a question
of protecting its physical safety. As Neill writes, <i>"Only a fool in charge
of young children would allow unbarred bedroom windows or an unprotected
fire in the nursery. Yet, too often, young enthusiasts for
self-regulation come to my school as visitors, and exclaim at our lack of
freedom in locking poison in a lab closet, or our prohibition about
playing on the fire escape. The whole freedom movement is marred and
despised because so many advocates of freedom have not got their feet on
the ground."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 106]
<p>
Nevertheless, the libertarian position does not imply that a child should
be <b>punished</b> for getting into a dangerous situation. Nor is the best 
thing to do in such a case to shout in alarm (unless that is the
only way to warn the child before it is too late), but simply to remove the
danger without any fuss. As Neill says, <i>"Unless a child is mentally
defective, he will soon discover what interests him. Left free from
excited cries and angry voices, he will be unbelievably sensible in his
dealing with material of all kinds."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 108] Provided, of course,
that he or she has been allowed self-regulation from the beginning, and 
thus has not developed any irrational, secondary drives. 
<p>
<a name="secj63"><h2>J.6.3 What are some examples of libertarian child-rearing methods applied to the care of young children? </h2>
<p>
The way to raise a free child becomes clear when one considers how
an <b>un</b>free child is raised. Thus imagine the typical infant, John Smith,
whose upbringing A.S. Neill describes: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"His natural functions were left alone during the diaper period. But when
he began to crawl and perform on the floor, words like <b>naughty</b> and
<b>dirty</b> began to float about the house, and a grim beginning was made in
teaching him to be clean.
<p>
"Before this, his hand had been taken away every time it touched his
genitals; and he soon came to associate the genital prohibition with the
acquired disgust about faeces. Thus, years later, when he became a
travelling salesman, his story repertoire consisted of a balanced number of
sex and toilet jokes.
<p> 
"Much of his training was conditioned by relatives and neighbours. 
Mother and father were most anxious to be correct -- to do the proper
thing -- so that when relatives or next-door neighbours came, John had to
show himself as a well-trained child. He had to say <b>Thank you</b> when
Auntie gave him a piece of chocolate; and he had to be most careful about
his table manners; and especially, he had to refrain from speaking when
adults were speaking."</i> [<b>Summerhill</b>, p. 97]
</blockquote><p>
When he was little older, things got worse for John. <i>"All his
curiosity about the origins of life were met with clumsy lies, lies so
effective that his curiosity about life and birth disappeared. The lies
about life became combined with fears when at the age of five his mother
found him having genital play with his sister of four and the girl next
door. The severe spanking that followed (Father added to it when he came
home from work) forever conveyed to John the lesson that sex is filthy and
sinful, something one must not even think of."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>]
<p>
Of course, parents' ways of imparting negative messages about sex are not
necessarily this severe, especially in our allegedly enlightened age. 
However, it is not necessary for a child to be spanked or even scolded or
lectured in order to acquire a sex-negative attitude. Children are very
intuitive and will receive the message "sex is bad" from subtle parental
cues like facial expressions, tone of voice, embarrassed silence,
avoidance of certain topics, etc. Mere "toleration" of sexual curiosity
and play is far different in its psychological effects from positive
affirmation. 
<p>
Based on the findings of clinical psychiatry, Reich postulated a <i>"first
puberty"</i> in children, from the ages of about 3 to 6, when the child's
attention shifts from the satisfaction of oral needs to an interest in its
sexuality -- a stage characterised by genital play of all kinds. The
parents' task at this stage is not only to allow children to engage in such
play, but to encourage it. <i>"In the child, before the age of four or five,
genitality has not yet fully developed. The task here plainly consists of
removing the obstacles in the way of natural development toward full
genitality. To fulfil this task, we must agree that a first puberty in
children exists; that genital games are the peak of its development; that
lack of genital activity is a sign of sickness and not of health, as
previously assumed; and that healthy children play genital games of all
kinds, which should be encouraged and not hindered."</i> [<b>Children of the
Future</b>, p. 66]
<p>
Along the same lines, to prevent the formation of sex-negative attitudes
means that nakedness should never be discouraged. <i>"The baby should see
its parents naked from the beginning. However, the child should be told
when he is ready to understand that some people don't like to see children
naked and that, in the presence of such people, he should wear clothes."</i> 
[Neill, <b>Summerhill</b>, p. 229]
<p>
Neill maintains that not only should parents never spank or punish a child
for genital play, but that spanking and other forms of punishment should
never be used in <b>any</b> circumstances, because they instil fear, turning
children into cowards and often leading to phobias. <i>"Fear must be
entirely eliminated -- fear of adults, fear of punishment, fear of
disapproval, fear of God. Only hate can flourish in an atmosphere of
fear."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 124]
<p>
Punishment also turns children into sadists. <i>"The cruelty of many
children springs from the cruelty that has been practised on them by
adults. You cannot be beaten without wishing to beat someone else. . .
Every beating makes a child sadistic in desire or practice."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 269,
271] This is obviously an important consideration to anarchists, as
sadistic drives provide the psychological ground for militarism, war,
police brutality, and so on. Such drives are undoubtedly also part of the
desire to exercise hierarchical authority, with its possibilities for
using negative sanctions against subordinates as an outlet for
sadistic impulses. 
<p>
Child beating is particularly cowardly because it is a way for adults to
vent their hatred, frustration, and sadism on those who are unable to
defend themselves. Such cruelty is, of course, always rationalised with
excuse like "it hurts me more than it does you," etc., or explained in
moral terms, like "I don't want my boy to be soft" or "I want him to
prepare him for a harsh world" or "I spank my children because my parents
spanked me, and it did me a hell of a lot of good." But despite such
rationalisations, the fact remains that punishment is always an act of
hate. To this hate, the child responds in kind by hating the parents,
followed by fantasy, guilt, and repression. For example, the child may 
fantasise the father's death, which immediately causes guilt, and so is
repressed. Often the hatred induced by punishment emerges in fantasies
that are seemingly remote from the parents, such as stories of giant
killing -- always popular with children because the giant represents
the father. Obviously, the sense of guilt produced by such fantasies is 
very advantageous to organised religions that promise redemption from "sin." 
It is surely no coincidence that such religions are enthusiastic promoters
of the sex-negative morality and disciplinarian child rearing practices
that keep supplying them with recruits.
<p>
What is worse, however, is that punishment actually <b>creates</b> "problem
children." This is so because the parent arouses more and more hatred 
(and diminishing trust in other human beings) in the child with each 
spanking, which is expressed in still worse behaviour, calling for more 
spankings, and so on, in a vicious circle. In contrast, <i>"The 
self-regulated child does not need any punishment,"</i> Neill argues, <i>"and 
he does not go through this hate cycle. He is never punished and he does 
not need to behave badly. He has no use for lying and for breaking things. 
His body has never been called filthy or wicked. He has not needed to
rebel against authority or to fear his parents. Tantrums he will usually
have, but they will be short-lived and not tend toward neurosis."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 166]
<p>
We could cite many further examples of how libertarian principles of
child-rearing can be applied in practice, but we must limit ourselves to
these few. The basic principles can be summed up as follows: Get rid of
authority, moralism, and the desire to "improve" and "civilise" children. 
Allow them to be themselves, without pushing them around, bribing,
threatening, admonishing, lecturing, or otherwise forcing them to do
anything. Refrain from action unless the child, by expressing their
"freedom" restricts the freedom of others and <b>explain</b> what is wrong
about such actions and never mechanically punish.
<p>
This is, of course, a radical philosophy, which few parents are willing to
follow. It is quite amazing how people who call themselves libertarians
in political and economic matters draw the line when it comes to their
behaviour within the family -- as if such behaviour had no wider social
consequences! Hence, the opponents of children's freedom are legion, as
are their objections to libertarian child rearing. In the next few sections
we will examine some of the most common of these objections.
<p>
<a name="secj64"><h2>J.6.4 If children have nothing to fear, how can they be good? </h2>
<p>
Obedience that is based on fear of punishment, this-worldly or
otherworldly, is not really goodness, it is merely cowardice. True
morality (i.e. respect for others and one-self) comes from inner 
conviction based on experience, it cannot be imposed from without 
by fear. Nor can it be inspired by hope of reward, such as praise or 
the promise of heaven, which is simply bribery. As noted in the 
<a href="secJ6.html#secj63">previous section</a>, if children are given as much freedom as possible
from the day of birth and not forced to conform to parental expectations, 
they will spontaneously learn the basic principles of social behaviour, 
such as cleanliness, courtesy, and so forth. But they must be allowed to 
develop them <b>at their own speed,</b> at the natural stage of their growth, 
not when parents think they should develop them. And what is "natural" 
timing must be discovered by observation, not by defining it a priori 
based on one's own expectations.
<p>
Can a child really be taught to keep itself clean without being punished
for getting dirty? According to many psychologists, it is not only
possible but <b>vitally important</b> for the child's mental health to do so,
since punishment will give the child a fixed and repressed interest in his
bodily functions. As Reich and Lowen have shown, for example, various
forms of compulsive and obsessive neuroses can be traced back to the
punishments used in toilet training. Dogs, cats, horses, and cows have no
complexes about excrement. Complexes in human children come from the
manner of their instruction. 
<p>
As Neill observes, <i>"When the mother says <b>naughty</b> or <b>dirty</b> or even
<b>tut tut</b>, the element of right and wrong arises. The question becomes a
<b>moral</b> one -- when it should remain a <b>physical</b> one."</i> He suggests that
the <b>wrong</b> way to deal with a child who likes to play with faeces is to
tell him he is being dirty. <i>"The right way is to allow him to live out
his interest in excrement by providing him with mud or clay. In this way,
he will sublimate his interest without repression. He will live through
his interest; and in doing so, kill it."</i> [<b>Summerhill</b>, p. 174]
<p>
Similarly, sceptics will probably question how children can be induced to
eat a healthy diet without threats of punishment. The answer can be
discovered by a simple experiment: set out on the table all kinds of
foods, from candy and ice cream to whole wheat bread, lettuce, sprouts,
and so on, and allow the child complete freedom to choose what is desired
or to eat nothing at all if he or she is not hungry. Parents will find
that the average child will begin choosing a balanced diet after about 
a week, after the desire for prohibited or restricted foods has been
satisfied. This is an example of what can be called "trusting nature." 
That the question of how to "train" a child to eat properly should even be
an issue says volumes about how little the concept of freedom for children
is accepted or even understood, in our society. Unfortunately, the
concept of "training" still holds the field in this and most other areas. 
<p>
The disciplinarian argument that that children must be <b>forced</b> to respect
property is also defective, because it always requires some sacrifice of
a child's play life (and childhood should be devoted to play, not to
"preparing for adulthood," because playing is what children spontaneously 
do). The libertarian view is that a child should arrive at a sense of 
value out of his or her own free choice. This means not scolding or 
punishing them for breaking or damaging things. As they grow out of
the stage of preadolescent indifference to property, they learn to 
respect it naturally. 
<p>
"But shouldn't a child at least be punished for stealing?" it will be
asked. Once again, the answer lies in the idea of trusting nature. The
concept of "mine" and "yours" is adult, and children naturally develop it
as they become mature, but not before. This means that normal children
will "steal" -- though that is not how they regard it. They are simply
trying to satisfy their acquisitive impulses; or, if they are with friends,
their desire for adventure. In a society so thoroughly steeping in the
idea of respect for property as ours, it is no doubt difficult for parents
to resist societal pressure to punish children for "stealing." The reward
for such trust, however, will be a child who grows into a healthy
adolescent who respects the possessions of others, not out of a cowardly
fear of punishment but from his or her own self-nature. 
<p>
<a name="secj65"><h2>J.6.5 But how can children learn <i>ethics</i> if they are not given punishments, prohibitions, and religious instruction? </h2>
<p>
Most parents believe that, besides taking care of their child's physical
needs, the teaching of ethical/moral values is their main responsibility 
and that without such teaching the child will grow up to be a "little wild 
animal" who acts on every whim, with no consideration for others. This idea
arises mainly from the fact that most people in our society believe, at
least passively, that human beings are naturally bad and that unless they
are "trained" to be good they will be lazy, mean, violent, or even
murderous. This, of course, is essentially the idea of "original sin." 
Because of its widespread acceptance, nearly all adults believe that it is
their job to "improve" children. 
<p>
According to libertarian psychologists, however, there is no original
sin. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that there is "original
virtue." As we have seen, Reich found that externally imposed,
compulsive morality actually <b>causes</b> immoral behaviour by creating cruel
and perverse <i>"secondary drives."</i> Neill puts it this way: <i>"I find that
when I smash the moral instruction a bad boy has received, he becomes a
good boy."</i> [<b>Summerhill</b>, p. 250] 
<p>
Unconscious acceptance of some form of the idea of original sin is, as
mentioned previously, the main recruiting tool of organised religions, as
people who believe they are born "sinners" feel a strong sense of guilt
and need for redemption. Therefore Neill advises parents to "eliminate
any need for redemption, by telling the child that he is born good -- not
born bad." This will help keep them from falling under the influence of
life-denying religions, which are inimical to the growth of a healthy 
character structure. 
<p>
As Reich points out, <i>"The Church, because of its influence on the
sexuality of youth, is an institution that exerts an extremely damaging
effect on health."</i> [<b>Children of the Future</b>, p. 217] Citing ethnological studies, he notes the following: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Among those primitive peoples who lead satisfactory, unimpaired sexual
lives, there is no sexual crime, no sexual perversion, no sexual brutality
between man and woman; rape is unthinkable because it is unnecessary in
their society. Their sexual activity flows in normal, well-ordered
channels which would fill any cleric with indignation and fear, because
the pale, ascetic youth and the gossiping, child-beating woman do not
exist in these primitive societies. They love the human body and take
pleasure in their sexuality. They do not understand why young men and
women should not enjoy their sexuality. But when their lives are invaded
by the ascetic, hypocritical morass and by the Church, which bring them
'culture' along with exploitation, alcohol, and syphilis, they begin to
suffer the same wretchedness as ourselves. They begin to lead 'moral'
lives, i.e. to suppress their sexuality, and from then on they decline
more and more into a state of sexual distress, which is the result of
sexual suppression. At the same time, they become sexually dangerous;
murders of spouses, sexual diseases, and crimes of all sorts start to 
appear."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 193] 
</blockquote><p>
Such crimes in our society would be greatly reduced if libertarian child
rearing practices were widely followed. These are obviously important
considerations for anarchists, who are frequently asked to explain how
crime can be prevented in an anarchist society. The answer is that if
people are not suppressed during childhood there will be far less crime,
because the secondary-drive structure that leads to anti-social behaviour
of all kinds will not be created in the first place. In other words, the
solution to the so-called crime problem is not more police, more laws, or a
return to the disciplinarianism of "traditional family values," as
conservatives claim, but depends mainly on <b>getting rid</b> of such 
values. 
<p>
There are other problems as well with the moralism taught by organised
religions. One danger is making the child a hater. <i>"If a child is taught
that certain things are sinful, his love of life must be changed to hate. 
When children are free, they never think of another child as being a
sinner."</i> [Neill, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 245] From the idea that certain people are
sinners, it is a short step to the idea that certain classes or races 
of people are more "sinful" than others, leading to prejudice,
discrimination, and persecution of minorities as an outlet for repressed
anger and sadistic drives -- drives that are created in the first place by
moralistic training during early childhood. Once again, the relevance 
for anarchism is obvious. 
<p>
A further danger of religious instruction is the development of a fear of
life. <i>"Religion to a child most always means only fear. God is a mighty
man with holes in his eyelids: He can see you wherever you are. To a
child, this often means that God can see what is being done under the
bedclothes. And to introduce fear into a child's life is the worst of all
crimes. Forever the child says nay to life; forever he is an inferior;
forever a coward."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 246] People who have been threatened with
fear of an afterlife in hell can never be entirely free of neurotic
anxiety about security in <b>this</b> life. In turn, such people become easy
targets of ruling-class propaganda that plays upon their material
insecurity, e.g. the rationalisation of imperialistic wars as necessary to
"preserve jobs" (cited, for example, by US Secretary of State James Baker
as one rationale for the Gulf War). 
<p>
<a name="secj66"><h2>J.6.6 But how will a free child ever learn unselfishness?
</h2>
<p>
Another common objection to self-regulation is that children can only be
taught to be <b>unselfish</b> through punishment and admonition. Again,
however, such a view comes from a distrust of nature and is part of the
common attitude that nature is mere "raw material" to be shaped by human 
beings according to their own wishes. The libertarian attitude is that
unselfishness develops at the proper time -- which is <b>not</b> during
childhood. Children are primarily egoists, generally until the beginning
of puberty, and until then they usually don't have the ability to identify
with others. Thus: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"To ask a child to be unselfish is wrong. Every child is an egoist and
the world belongs to him. When he has an apple, his one wish is to eat
that apple. The chief result of mother's encouraging him to share it with
his little brother is to make him hate the little brother. Altruism comes
later -- comes naturally -- <b>if the child is not taught to be unselfish.</b> 
It probably never comes at all if the child has been forced to be
unselfish. By suppressing the child's selfishness, the mother is fixing
that selfishness forever."</i> [Neill, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, pp. 250-251]
</blockquote><p>
Unfulfilled wishes (like all "unfinished business") live on in the 
unconscious. Hence children who are pressured too hard - "taught" - 
to be unselfish will, while conforming outwardly with parental
demands, unconsciously repress part of their real, selfish wishes, and 
these repressed infantile desires will make the person selfish (and 
possibly neurotic) throughout life. Moreover, telling children that what 
they want to do is "wrong" or "bad" is equivalent to teaching them to 
hate themselves, and it is a well-known principle of psychology that 
people who do not love themselves cannot love others. Thus moral 
instruction, although it aims to develop altruism and love for others, 
is actually self-defeating, having just the opposite result. 
<p>
Moreover, such attempts to produce "unselfish" children (and so adults) 
actually works <b>against</b> developing the individuality of the child and
their abilities to develop their own abilities (in particular their
ability of critical thought). As Erich Fromm puts it, <i>"[n]ot to be selfish
implies not to do what one wishes, to give up one's own wishes for the
sake of those in authority. . . Aside from its obvious implication, it
means 'don't love yourself,' 'don't be yourself', but submit yourself to
something more important than yourself, to an outside power or its
internalisation, 'duty.' 'Don't be selfish' becomes one of the most
powerful ideological tools in suppressing spontaneity and the free
development of personality. Under the pressure of this slogan one is
asked for every sacrifice and for complete submission: only those acts
are 'unselfish' which do not serve the individual but somebody or something
outside himself."</i> [<b>Man for Himself</b>, p. 127]
<p>
While such "unselfishness" is ideal for creating "model citizens" and
willing wage slaves, it is not conducive for creating anarchists or
even developing individuality. Little wonder Bakunin celebrated the
urge to rebel and saw it as the key to human progress! Fromm goes on to
note that selfishness and self-love, <i>"far from being identical, are actually 
opposites"</i> and that <i>"selfish persons are incapable of loving others. . .
[or] loving themselves..."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 131] Individuals who do not love
themselves, and so others, will be more willing to submit themselves to 
hierarchy than those who do love themselves and are concerned for their
own, and others, welfare. Thus the contradictory nature of capitalism,
with its contradictory appeals to selfish and unselfish behaviour, can be
understood as being based upon lack of self-love, a lack which is promoted
in childhood and one which libertarians should be aware of and combat.
<p>
Indeed, much of the urge to "teach children unselfishness" is actually an
expression of adults' will to power. Whenever parents feel the urge to
impose directives on their children, they would be wise to ask themselves
whether the impulse comes from their own power drive or their own 
selfishness. For, since our culture strongly conditions us to seek power 
over others, what could be more convenient than having a small, weak 
person at hand who cannot resist one's will to power? Instead of issuing 
directives, libertarians believe in letting social behaviour develop 
naturally, which it will do after other people's opinions becomes 
important <b>to the child.</b> As Neill points out, <i>"Everyone seeks the good 
opinion of his neighbours. Unless other forces push him into unsocial 
behaviour, a child will naturally want to do that which will cause him 
to be well-regarded, but this desire to please others develops at a 
certain stage in his growth. The attempt by parents and teachers to 
artificially accelerate this stage does the child irreparable damage."</i> 
[Neill, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 256]
<p>
Therefore, parents should allow children to be "selfish" and "ungiving", 
free to follow their own childish interests throughout their childhood. And
when their individual interests clash with social interests (e.g. the
opinion of the neighbours), the individual interests should take precedence.
Every interpersonal conflict of interest should be grounds for a lesson 
in dignity on one side and consideration on the other. Only by this process
can a child develop their individuality. By so doing they will come to 
recognise the individuality of others and this is the first step in 
developing ethical concepts (which rest upon mutual respect for others 
and their individuality).
<p>
<a name="secj67"><h2>J.6.7 Isn't what you call "libertarian child-rearing" just another name for spoiling the child? </h2>
<p>
No. This objection confuses the distinction between freedom and license. 
To raise a child in freedom does not mean letting him or her walk all over
you; it does not mean never saying "no." It is true that free children
are not subjected to punishment, irrational authority, or moralistic
admonitions, but they are not "free" to violate the rights of others. As
Neill puts it, <i>"in the disciplined home, the children have <b>no</b> rights. 
In the spoiled home, they have <b>all</b> the rights. The proper home is one
in which children and adults have equal rights."</i> Or again, <i>"To let a
child have his own way, or do what he wants to <b>at another's expense,</b> is
bad for the child. It creates a spoiled child, and the spoiled child is a
bad citizen."</i> [<b>Summerhill</b>, p. 107, 167]
<p>
There will inevitably be conflicts of will between parents and children,
and the healthy way to resolve them is to come to some sort of a
compromise agreement. The unhealthy ways are either to resort to
authoritarian discipline or to spoil the child by allowing it to have all
the social rights. Libertarian psychologists argue that no harm is done
to children by insisting on one's individual rights, but that the harm
comes from moralism, i.e. when one introduces the concepts of right and
wrong or words like "naughty," "bad," or "dirty," which produce guilt.
<p> 
Therefore it should not be thought that free children are free to "do as
they please." Freedom means doing what one likes so long as it doesn't
infringe on the freedom of others. Thus there is a big difference between
compelling a child to stop throwing stones at others and compelling him or
her to learn geometry. Throwing stones infringes on others' rights, but
learning geometry involves only the child. The same goes for forcing
children to eat with a fork instead of their fingers; to say "please" and
"thank you;" to tidy up their rooms, and so on. Bad manners and
untidiness may be annoying to adults, but they are not a violation of 
adults' rights. One could, of course, define an adult "right" to be free
of annoyance from <b>anything</b> one's child does, but this would simply
be a license for authoritarianism, emptying the concept of children's
rights of all content. 
<p>
As mentioned, giving children freedom does not mean allowing them to
endanger themselves physically. For example, a sick child should not 
be asked to decide whether he wants to go outdoors or take his 
prescribed medicine, nor a run-down and overtired child whether she 
wants to go to bed. But the imposition of such forms of necessary 
authority is compatible with the idea that children should be given as 
much responsibility as they can handle at their particular age. For only 
in this way can they develop self-assurance. And again, it is important for
parents to examine their own motives when deciding how much responsibility
to give their child. Parents who insist on choosing their children's'
clothes for them, for example, are generally worried that little Tommy
might select clothes that would reflect badly on his parents' social
standing. 
<p>
As for those who equate "discipline" in the home with "obedience," the
latter is usually required of a child to satisfy the adults' desire for
power. Self-regulation means that there are no power games being played
with children, no loud voice saying "You'll do it because I say so, or
else!" But, although this irrational, power-seeking kind of authority is
absent in the libertarian home, there still remains what can be called a
kind of "authority," namely adult protection, care, and responsibility, as
well as the insistence on one's own rights. As Neill observes, <i>"Such
authority sometimes demands obedience but at other times gives obedience. 
Thus I can say to my daughter, 'You can't bring that mud and water into
our parlour.' That's no more than her saying to me, 'Get out of my room,
Daddy. I don't want you here now,' a wish that I, of course, obey without
a word"</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 156]. Therefore there will still be "discipline" in
the libertarian home, but it will be of the kind that protects the
individual rights of each family member. 
<p>
Raising children in freedom also does not imply giving them a lot of toys,
money, and so on. Reichians have argued that children should not be given
everything they ask for and that it is better to give them too little than
too much. Under constant bombardment by commercial advertising campaigns,
parents today generally tend to give their children far too much, with the
result that the children stop appreciating gifts and rarely value any of
their possessions. This same applies to money, which, if given in excess,
can be detrimental to children's' creativity and play life. If children
are not given too many toys, they will derive creative joy out of making
their own toys out of whatever free materials are at hand -- a joy of
which they are robbed by overindulgence. Psychologists point out that
parents who give too many presents are often trying to compensate for
giving too little love. 
<p>
There is less danger in rewarding children than there is in punishing
them, but rewards can still undermine a child's morale. This is because,
firstly, rewards are superfluous and in fact often <b>decrease</b> motivation
and creativity, as several psychological studies have shown (see section
<a href="secI4.html#seci410">I.4.10</a>). Creative people work for the pleasure of creating; monetary
interests are not central (or necessary) to the creative process. Secondly, 
rewards send the wrong message, namely, that doing the deed for which the 
reward is offered is not worth doing for its own sake and the pleasure 
associated with productive, creative activity. And thirdly, rewards 
tend to reinforce the worst aspects of the competitive system, leading to 
the attitude that money is the only thing which can motivate people to do 
the work that needs doing in society. 
<p>
These are just a few of the considerations that enter into the distinction
between spoiling children and raising them in freedom. In reality, it 
is the punishment and fear of a disciplinarian home that <b>spoils</b> 
children in the most literal sense, by destroying their childhood 
happiness and creating warped personalities. As adults, the victims of
disciplinarianism will generally be burdened with one or more anti-social
secondary drives such as sadism, destructive urges, greed, sexual
perversions, etc., as well as repressed rage and fear. The presence of
such impulses just below the surface of consciousness causes anxiety,
which is automatically defended against by layers of rigid muscular
armouring, which leaves the person stiff, frustrated, bitter, and burdened
with feelings of inner emptiness. In such a condition, people easily fall
victim to the capitalist gospel of super-consumption, which promises that
money will enable them to fill the inner void by purchasing commodities --
a promise that, of course, is hollow. 
<p>
The neurotically armoured person also tends to look for scapegoats on whom
to blame his or her frustration and anxiety and against whom repressed 
rage can be vented. Reactionary politicians know very well how to direct
such impulses against minorities or "hostile nations" with propaganda
designed to serve the interests of the ruling elite. Most importantly,
however, the respect for authority combined with sadistic impulses which
is acquired from a disciplinarian upbringing typically produces a
submissive/authoritarian personality -- a man or woman who blindly follows
the orders of "superiors" while at the same time desiring to exercise
authority on "subordinates," whether in the family, the state bureaucracy,
or the corporation. In this way, the "traditional" (e.g., authoritarian,
disciplinarian, patriarchal) family is the necessary foundation for 
authoritarian civilisation, reproducing it and its attendant social evils 
from generation to generation. Irving Staub's <b>Roots of Evil</b> includes 
interviews of imprisoned SS men, who, in the course of extensive interviews 
(meant to determine how ostensibly "normal" people could perform acts of 
untold ruthlessness and violence) revealed that they overwhelmingly came 
from authoritarian, disciplinarian homes.
<p>
<a name="secj68"><h2>J.6.8 What is the anarchist position on teenage sexual liberation? </h2>
<p>
One of the biggest problems of adolescence is sexual suppression by
parents and society in general. The teenage years are the time when
sexual energy is at its height. Why, then, the absurd demand that
teenagers "wait until marriage," or at least until leaving home, before
becoming sexually active? Why are there laws on the books in "advanced"
countries like the United States that allow a 19-year-old "boy" who makes
love with his 17-year-old girlfriend, with her full consent, to be
<b>arrested</b> by the girl's parents (!) for "statutory rape?" 
<p>
To answer such questions, let us recall that the ruling class is 
not interested in encouraging mass tendencies toward democracy and
independence and pleasure not derived from commodities but instead 
supports whatever contributes to mass submissiveness, docility, 
dependence, helplessness, and respect for authority -- traits that 
perpetuate the hierarchies on which ruling-class power and privileges 
depend. 
<p>
We have noted earlier that, because sex is the most intense form of
pleasure (one of the most prominent contributors for intimacy and
bonding people) and involves the bioenergy of the body and emotions,
repression of sexuality is the most powerful means of psychologically
crippling people and giving them a submissive/authoritarian character
structure (as well as alienating people from each other). As Reich 
observes, such a character is composed of a mixture of <i>"sexual 
impotence, helplessness, a need for attachments, a nostalgia for 
a leader, fear of authority, timidity, and mysticism."</i> As he also 
points out, <i>"people structured in this manner are <b>incapable of 
democracy.</b> All attempts to build up or maintain genuine democratically 
directed organisations come to grief when they encounter these character
structures. They form the psychological soil of the masses in which
dictatorial strivings and bureaucratic tendencies of democratically
elected leaders can develop. . . . [Sexual suppression] produces the 
authority-fearing, life-fearing vassal, and thus constantly creates new
possibilities whereby a handful of men in power can rule the masses."</i> 
[<b>The Sexual Revolution: Toward a Self-Regulating Character Structure</b>, 
p. 82, emphasis added]
<p>
No doubt most members of the ruling elite are not fully conscious that
their own power and privileges depend on the mass perpetuation of
sex-negative attitudes. Nevertheless, they unconsciously sense it. 
Sexual freedom is the most basic and powerful kind, and every
conservative or reactionary instinctively shudders at the thought of 
the "social chaos" it would unleash -- that is, the rebellious,
authority-defying type of character it would nourish. This is why
"family values," and "religion" (i.e. discipline and compulsive sexual
morality) are the mainstays of the conservative/reactionary agenda. Thus
it is crucially important for anarchists to address every aspect of sexual
suppression in society. And this means affirming the right of adolescents
to an unrestricted sex life. 
<p> 
There are numerous arguments for teenage sexual liberation. For example,
many teen suicides could be prevented by removing the restrictions on 
adolescent sexuality. This becomes clear from ethnological studies of
sexually unrepressive "primitive" peoples. Thus: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"All reports, whether by missionaries or scholars, with or without the
proper indignation about the 'moral depravity' of 'savages,' state that
the puberty rites of adolescents lead them immediately into a sexual life;
that some of these primitive societies lay great emphasis on sexual
pleasure; that the puberty rite is an important social event; that some
primitive peoples not only do not hinder the sexual life of adolescents
but encourage it is every way, as, for instance, by arranging for
community houses in which the adolescents settle at the start of puberty
in order to be able to enjoy sexual intercourse. Even in those primitive
societies in which the institution of strict monogamous marriage exists,
adolescents are given complete freedom to enjoy sexual intercourse from
the beginning of puberty to marriage. None of these reports contains any
indication of sexual misery or suicide by adolescents suffering from
unrequited love (although the latter does of course occur). The
contradiction between sexual maturity and the absence of genital sexual
gratification is non-existent."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 85]
</blockquote><p>
Teenage sexual repression is also closely connected with crime. If there
are hundreds of teenagers in a neighbourhood who have no place to pursue
intimate sexual relationships, they will do it in dark corners, in cars 
or vans, etc., always on the alert and anxious lest someone discover them. 
Under such conditions, full gratification is impossible, leading to a 
build-up of tension, frustration and stagnation of bioenergy (sexual 
stasis). Thus they feel unsatisfied, disturb each other, become jealous 
and angry, get into fights, turn to drugs as a substitute for a 
satisfying sex life, vandalise property to let off "steam" (repressed 
rage), or even murder someone. As Reich notes, <i>"juvenile delinquency 
is the visible expression of the subterranean sexual crisis in the 
lives of children and adolescents. And it may be predicted that no 
society will ever succeed in solving this problem, the problem of 
juvenile psychopathology, unless that society can muster the courage 
and acquire the knowledge to regulate the sexual life of its children 
and adolescents in a sex-affirmative manner."</i> [<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 271]
<p>
For these reasons, it is clear that a solution to the "gang problem" 
also depends on adolescent sexual liberation. We are not suggesting, of
course, that gangs themselves suppress sexual activity. Indeed, one of
their main attractions to teens is undoubtedly the hope of more
opportunities for sex as a gang member. However, gangs' typical
obsessiveness with the promiscuous, pornographic, sadistic, and other
"dark" aspects of sex shows that by the time children reach the gang age
they have already developed unhealthy secondary drives due to the
generally sex-negative and repressive environment in which they have grown
up. The expression of such drives is <b>not</b> what anarchists mean by "sexual
freedom." Rather, anarchist proposals for teenage liberation are based on
the premise that unrestricted sexuality in early childhood is the
necessary condition for a <b>healthy</b> sexual freedom in adolescence. 
<p>
Applying these insights to our own society, it is clear that teenagers 
should not only have ample access to a private room where they can be
undisturbed with their sexual partners, but that parents should actively
<b>encourage</b> such behaviour for the sake of their child's health and
happiness (while, of course, encouraging the knowledge and use of 
contraceptives and safe sex in general as well as respect for the other
person involved in the relationship). This last point (of respecting 
others) is essential. As Maurice Brinton points out, attempts at sexual
liberation will encounter two kinds of responses from established society -
direct opposition and attempts at recuperation. The second response 
takes the form of <i>"first alienating and reifying sexuality, and then of 
frenetically exploiting this empty shell for commercial ends. As modern
youth breaks out of the dual stranglehold of the authoritarian patriarchal
family it encounters a projected image of free sexuality which is in fact
a manipulatory distortion of it."</i> This can be seen from the use of sex in
advertising to the successful development of sex into a major consumer
industry.
<p>
However, such a development is the opposite of the healthy sexuality
desired by anarchists. This is because <i>"sex is presented as something to
be consumed. But the sexual instinct differs from certain other instincts...
[as it can be satisfied only by] another human being, capable of thinking,
acting, suffering. The alienation of sexuality under the conditions of
modern capitalism is very much part of the general alienating process, in
which people are converted into objects (in this case, objects of sexual
consumption) and relationships are drained of human content. Undiscriminating,
compulsive sexual activity, is not sexual freedom - although it may sometimes
be a preparation for it (which repressive morality can never be). The illusion
that alienated sex is sexual freedom constitutes yet another obstacle on
the road to total emancipation. Sexual freedom implies a realisation and
understanding of the autonomy of others."</i> [<b>The Irrational in Politics</b>, 
p. 60, p. 61]
<p>
Therefore, anarchists see teenage sexual liberation as a means of developing
free individuals <b>as well as</b> reducing the evil effects of sexual repression 
(which, we must note, also helps dehumanise individuals by encouraging 
the objectification of others, and in a patriarchal society, particularly
of women). 
<p>
<a name="secj69"><h2>J.6.9 But isn't this concern with teenage sexual liberation just a distraction 
      from issues that should be of more concern to anarchists, like 
      restructuring the economy? </h2>
<p>
It would be insulting to teenagers to suggest that sexual freedom is, or
should be, their <b>only</b> concern. Many teens have a well-developed social
conscience and are keenly interested in problems of economic exploitation,
poverty, social breakdown, environmental degradation, and the like. 
<p>
However, it is essential for anarchists to guard against the attitude
typically found in Marxist-Leninist parties that spontaneous discussions
about the sexual problems of youth are a "diversion from the class
struggle." Such an attitude is economistic (not to mention covertly
ascetic), because it is based on the premise that the economy must be
the focus of all revolutionary efforts toward social change. No doubt
restructuring the economy is important, but without mass sexual
liberation no working class revolution be complete. In a so called
free society, there will not be enough people around with the character
structures necessary to create a <b>lasting</b> worker-controlled economy --
i.e. people who are capable of accepting freedom with responsibility. 
Instead, the attempt to force the creation of such an economy without
preparing the necessary psychological soil for its growth will lead to a 
quick reversion to some new form of hierarchy and exploitation. 
<p>
Moreover, for most teenagers, breaking free from the sexual suppression
that threatens to cripple them psychologically is a major issue in their
lives. For this reason, not many of them are likely to be attracted to
the anarchist "freedom" movement if its exponents limit themselves to dry
discussions of surplus value, alienated labour, and so forth. Instead,
addressing sexual questions and problems must be integrated into a 
multi-faceted attack on the total system of domination. Teens should feel
confident that anarchists are on the side of sexual pleasure and are not
revolutionary ascetics demanding self-denial for the "sake of the
revolution." Rather, it should be stressed that the capacity for full
sexual enjoyment is the an essential part of the revolution. Indeed,
<i>"incessant questioning and challenge to authority on the subject of sex
and of the compulsive family can only complement the questioning and
challenge to authority in other areas (for instance on the subject of who
is to dominate the work process - or the purpose of work itself). Both
challenges stress the autonomy of individuals and their domination of
over important aspects of their lives. Both expose the alienated concepts
which pass for rationality and which govern so much of our thinking and
behaviour. The task of the conscious revolutionary is to make both 
challenges explicit, to point out their deeply subversive content, and
to explain their inter-relation."</i> [Maurice Brinton, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 62]
<p>
We noted previously that in pre-patriarchal society, which rests on the
social order of primitive communism, children have complete sexual freedom
and that the idea of childhood asceticism develops as matricentric clan
societies turn toward patriarchy in the economy and social structure (see
section <a href="secB1.html#secb15">B.1.5</a>). This sea-change in social attitudes toward childhood
sexuality allows the authority-oriented character structure to develop
instead of the formerly non-authoritarian ones. Ethnological research has
shown that in pre-patriarchal societies, the general nature of work life
in the collective corresponds with the free sexuality of children and
adolescents -- that is, there are no rules coercing children and
adolescents into specific forms of sexual life, and this creates the
psychological basis for voluntary integration into the collective and
voluntary discipline in work. This historical fact supports the premise
that widespread sex-positive attitudes are a necessary condition of a
viable libertarian socialism. 
<p>
Psychology also clearly shows that every impediment to infantile and
adolescent sexuality by parents, teachers, or administrative authorities
must be stopped. As anarchists, our preferred way of doing so is by
direct action. Thus we should encourage teens to feel that they have
every chance of building their own lives. This will certainly not be an
obstacle to or a distraction from their involvement in the anarchist
movement. On the contrary, if they can gradually solve the problem of
(e.g.) private rooms themselves, they will work on other social projects
with greatly increased pleasure and concentration. For, contrary to
Freud, Reichian psychologists argue that beyond a certain point, excess
sexual energy cannot be sublimated in work or any other purposeful 
activity but actually disturbs work by making the person restless 
and prone to fantasies, thus hindering concentration. 
<p>
Besides engaging in direct action, anarchists can also support legal
protection of infantile and adolescent sexuality (repeal of the insane
statutory rape laws would be one example), just as they support
legislation that protects workers' right to strike, family leave, and so
forth. However, as Reich observes, <i>"under no circumstances will the new
order of sexual life be established by the decree of a central authority."</i> 
[<b>Ibid.</b>, p. 279] That was a Leninist illusion. Rather, it will be
established from the bottom up, by the gradual process of ever more
widespread dissemination of knowledge about the adverse personal and
social effects of sexual suppression, which will lead to mass acceptance 
of libertarian child-rearing and educational methods. 
<p>
A society in which people are capable of sexual happiness will be one
where they prefer to <i>"make love, not war,"</i> and so will provide the best
guarantee for the general security. Then the anarchist project of 
restructuring the economic and political systems will proceed
spontaneously, based on a spirit of joy rather than hatred and revenge. 
Only then can it be defended against reactionary threats, because the
majority will be on the side of freedom and capable of using it
responsibly, rather than unconsciously longing for an authoritarian
father-figure to tell them what to do. 
<p>
Therefore, concern and action upon teenage sexual liberation (or child
rearing in general or libertarian education) is a <b>key</b> part of social
struggle and change. In no way can it be considered a "distraction"
from "important" political and economic issues as some "serious"
revolutionaries like to claim. As Martha A. Ackelsberg notes (in relation 
to the practical work done by the <b><i>Mujeres Libres</i></b> group during the Spanish 
Revolution):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Respecting children and educating them well was vitally important to the 
process of revolutionary change. Ignorance made people particularly vulnerable
to oppression and suffering. More importantly, education prepared people
for social life. Authoritarian schools (or families), based upon fear,
prepared people to be submissive to an authoritarian government [or
within a capitalist workplace]. Different schools and families would
be necessary to prepare people to live in a society without domination."</i>
[<b>Free Women of Spain</b>, p. 133]
</blockquote><p>

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