The Divorce Revolution and the Welfare State

The Divorce Revolution and the Welfare State. By Stephen Baskerville.

Every major social pathology is tied directly to family situations and the absence of fathers, not to race or class as others assert.

Thus, it is hardly surprising that the result of safety-net socialism was a self-destructive horde of criminals, delinquents, truants, addicts, and derelicts who proceeded to tear down their own communities and quickly populate the world’s most massive prison system. Administering their lives was a cadre of functionaries — again, increasingly female — with a self-interest in perpetuating and expanding this devastation. …

During the 1960s and 1970s, some conservative intellectuals did investigate all this and issued urgent warnings. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously predicted, “A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority…that community asks for and gets chaos.” But serious scholarship was abandoned when it ran up against entrenched interests on both left and right. Stuck in the 1970s, conservative thinking about welfare eventually atrophied altogether.

The divorce explosion fueled the growth of the welfare state:

Meanwhile, the state continued expanding exponentially — not only in gargantuan welfare expenditures themselves, but even more by way of expensive bureaucratic industries designed to control the social fallout: law enforcement, incarceration, education, housing, health, and social services. An exploding domestic budget became devoted almost entirely to the social ills bred by welfare.

The result is more than waste, for welfare is money spent to turn children into criminals, addicts, dropouts, rioters, and even terrorists. For statists, welfare is government’s marvelous engine for creating problems for itself to solve. …

Jobs and more sexual choices for upper middle class women:

Behind the media smokescreen portraying them as homely women burning their underwear and mimicking black grievances, feminists were wreaking an altogether different kind of havoc: intentionally glorifying and proliferating the single-mother homes that created the underclass and stoked its self-destructiveness and rage.

“Independence, even in straitened and penurious forms,” proclaimed affluent scholars led by influential socialist-feminist Barbara Ehrenreich in Re-Making Love: The Feminization of Sex (1986), “still offers more sexual freedom than affluence gained through marriage and dependence on one man.”

While the original impetus behind welfare was quasi-socialist, the operatives were radicalized women from the very beginning. Private charity had been conducted by women volunteers motivated by a sense of Christian calling and supported financially by their husbands. Welfare replaced them with a new class of paid professional social workers who quickly developed a vested interest in perpetuating the problems they were ostensibly solving, and who preyed upon the youth and ignorance of the underclass.

Anti-male ideology, running from Jane Addams to that promoted in today’s women’s studies programs, dovetailed with bureaucratic self-interest to make sure bread-winning men, who alone could free women and children from dependence on the state, stayed away. …

“Deadbeat” dads? Really?

Having used welfare payments to leverage the removal of fathers and the turning of adolescents into criminals, the social workers then used child support laws to criminalize the fathers as well. …

Requiring fathers to pay to support children they had allegedly “abandoned” had superficial appeal. The inconvenient fact that most had not abandoned them at all, and were far more likely to be forced away by feminist social workers armed with welfare regulations, was both difficult to prove (given the likely absence of a marriage contract) and practically irrelevant.

Social workers, lawyers, judges, and others had a strong pecuniary interest in demonizing fathers and using children to rationalize their power and earnings. They were simply too strong to bother quibbling about justice. …

This the feminists achieved by engineering the most staggering coup of all: the most radical and subversive legal innovation ever instituted in Western democracies — a measure so diabolical that, at a stroke, it decimated the integrity of both the family and the judiciary, and overthrew the common law system that had safeguarded freedom for centuries. This was the concept, borrowed from the insurance industry, of “no-fault” justice. It was used to legally abolish civilization’s most fundamental institution: marriage.

Few even noticed what happened. The country was preoccupied during the 1960s and early ’70s with the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, and the incipient sexual revolution was acculturating people to radical sexual permissiveness and experimentation. Dishonest propaganda promising divorce “by mutual consent” fooled almost everyone about what really created involuntary divorce — what Maggie Gallagher called “the abolition of marriage” as a legally enforceable contract.

“Mutual” consent? Always?

This allowed one spouse to unilaterally end the marriage without any recognized grounds and without accepting any responsibility for the consequences to the other spouse or the children. California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce bill in 1969, and later said he regretted doing so. …

No-fault divorce was a measure so extreme in revolutionizing both family relationships and legal precepts that its only precedents were during the French and Russian Revolutions (nations whose governments both later repealed it because of the social chaos it caused). Yet it swept through the U.S. and the entire Western world with almost no opposition or discussion.

Reaping the bitter harvest:

The full impact took decades to reach its logical conclusion. In the end, the middle class was reduced to conditions similar to those of the underclass, pervaded by bitter and entitled single mothers, dysfunctional children, and criminalized fathers — their lives and relationships likewise administered by the feminized functionaries of the welfare state.

“No-fault” justice was breathtaking in its nihilism. Even its harshest critics — who understandably focused on the torn-apart families and ruined lives that resulted — have failed to grasp another nightmarish dimension: the virtually unlimited control over the individual it conferred upon the state.

For the first time under common law, courts could summon legally innocent people, assume control over their private lives, and punish them for perfectly legal things they do in the course of private life. Courts acquired the power to dissolve their marriages without consent or grounds; evict them from their homes; seize control of their children; restrict their movements; raid their bank accounts; confiscate their houses; extract payments for “services” they never requested; garnish their wages; deny them passports and driving permits; seize their professional licenses; and incarcerate them without trial or record.

Involuntary, unilateral divorce allows for the existence of the child-support gestapo, first devised to persecute impecunious young men, go after millions of productive middle-class wage-earners and entrepreneurs with deeper pockets to loot, and thus provide not only an irresistible bribe for single-mothers-to-be but also lucrative revenue for state government coffers.

Federally funded propagandists in the universities and think tanks smugly declared that these fathers had abandoned their children, when it was easily provable that the children were being judicially kidnapped through literally “no fault” of their fathers. The bankrolled scholars who spread this defamation against citizens who had no platform to defend themselves became darlings of right-wing moralizers, lavishly patronized and promoted by numerous conservative foundations, like the Family Research Council.

The unchecked hysteria swelled throughout the 1990s. Journalist Bernard Goldberg remarked that there were “a million stories at the networks on deadbeat dads.” Scholars who questioned this narrative were ignored, demonized, or sacked, even from conservative institutions. …

Meanwhile the apparatchiks, lawyers, judges, feminists, and politicians teamed up to erect an American machinery of unprecedented repression. Federal subsidies on child-support collections make divorced and single-mother homes enormously profitable for state governments, incentivizing them to encourage as much divorce and create as many fatherless children as possible. They achieved this by ratcheting up child-support payments to extortionate levels, making divorce lucrative for mothers and lethal for fathers, often resulting in unavoidable summary incarceration followed by homelessness.

This machinery of de facto socialism was created while conservatives were asleep at the wheel, fatuously philosophizing about families being “building blocks” of society.

The result is that multiple generations of children of divorce have now grown up hating their fathers, and all traditional authority, and instead see civil servants as their providers and protectors. Many feel betrayed, fear love, and have no conception of how to form enduring, sacrificial relationships with the opposite sex or their own children. Like the mothers and civil servants, these offspring of divorce feel entitled to the fruits of the state’s ever expanding power. Having been raised on the proceeds of their fathers’ enslavement by the child-support machinery, they have no compunction about enslaving productive taxpayers in two-parent families to provide for their own needs and wants. …


Perhaps most insidious is the perversion of the justice system, which abrogates the very constitutional protections it is charged with applying. Throughout its growth, the welfare/divorce behemoth has improvised kangaroo courts to legitimize unprecedented criminalization and incarceration. Judicial operators do not merely fail to protect constitutional freedoms; they take the lead in eliminating them.

No-fault divorce is administered in family courts that are grotesque mockeries of law. Justice never enters divorce cases; only one outcome is possible, and every verdict is predetermined. Constitutional protections such as the Bill of Rights may as well not exist. The divorce kleptocracy plunders legally unimpeachable citizens using their children as leverage. Patently false accusations of “domestic violence” are adjudicated in assembly line-like procedures lasting a few minutes where outcomes are likewise predetermined. Similar miscarriages of justice characterize “child abuse” accusations. Psychotherapy is invoked to rationalize punishing people convicted of no crime.

These feminist tactics are spreading:

So “empowering” are these crooked courts that the feminists replicate them elsewhere. Trumped-up rape accusations were likewise pioneered against black men (reminiscent of lynching), before going mainstream in the white middle class. Universities were especially welcoming to this tactic, and quickly erected pseudo-tribunals composed of students, professors, and administrators to conduct show trials to the detriment of male students accused without evidence….

This in turn led directly to the #MeToo movement, with more evidence-free accusations and trials targeting larger political figures, like Judge Brett Kavanaugh. …

The techniques being used by the left against their enemies were pioneered in America’s divorce system. Today’s left does not discuss or debate. Whether in divorce courts, rape trials, domestic violence and child abuse accusations, #MeToo targets, police who must use lethal force, or the election aftermath — the left merely accuses.

As a child of parents with a no-fault divorce in my teenage years, and as a friend of others going through the system, I’ve seen huge injustice and major damage. Power hungry feminists who want it all have a lot to answer for.

hat-tip Stephen Neil