The Breakdown of Family and Religion Explains France’s Social Unrest

As religion weakens, family structure weakens, and as family structure weakens, government strengthens and grows.

Source: The Breakdown of Family and Religion Explains France’s Social Unrest

“As France is gripped by civil disorder,” this essay notes, “many commentators identify, quite correctly, as the culprit the outsized burden that France’s bloated welfare state places on its citizens.” In other words, the issues are economic. As former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s campaign manager, James Carville, once put it, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Well… to a point. But, as the essay goes on to point out, economics alone cannot adequately explain the situation. Or to put it another way, economic issues are a symptom, not the cause, of the French malaise – a malaise which is spreading throughout the West. Although Europe is the hardest-hit, even the U.S. is not immune. What, then, is the root disease, of which the current unrest is symptomatic?

“The vast expansion of the welfare state, both in Europe and in the United States, occurred in tandem with a weakening of the family. And weakening of the family generally occurs in an environment of weakening of religion…

“As religion weakens, family structure weakens, and as family structure weakens, government strengthens and grows. Where people once looked to their parents to transmit values, love, and care, increasingly they are looking to government.

“The problem is that it doesn’t work.

“Traditional family and marriage reflect eternal values that cannot be replaced by government.”


Economic issues are always, at root, social issues; and social issues, like it or not, ultimately come back to issues of faith and family – or the lack thereof. Biologically, as well as socially, family is the absolute bottom-line building-block of society, of community, of culture, of the res publica; if the family crumbles, so does the rest of the structure.

But strong families also require rootedness: not only in the culture and society of which they are part – see the reciprocal relationship? – but in a system of strong moral values that protects and preserves them. Values like commitment, loyalty, and (while these are not popular in today’s world) the encouragement of men to be protectors and providers, and women to be nurturers and care-givers, as not only custom and tradition but biology indicates.

[It never fails to boggle my mind how many Leftist “progressives,” who trumpet science and “reason,” totally ignore biological reality when it impinges on their ideological worldview!]

And these are, of course, precisely the sorts of values that are inculcated and reinforced by religion – and particularly, by the Judeo-Christian religion and its accompanying worldview, which has been so formative in the West for the last two thousand years.

[To be fair, I have to say that similar (if often harsher) values were inculcated by the pre-Christian religious traditions of the West; I am not knowledgeable enough to speak conclusively of other traditions, although I strongly suspect that Taoism, Shinto, Confucianism, etc., had similar value systems, at least where the importance of home and family were concerned.]

“These values—where husband and wife join in holy matrimony, embodying and transmitting truth that is greater than their own personal, egotistical proclivities—translate to children, learning, work, creativity, and productivity.”

And these are precisely the values – and the outcomes – that are not being promulgated, or produced, in today’s Western society. I do not use the word “culture,” here, because culture, in the traditional sense, is notably lacking in much of Western “pop culture” today.

With all due respect to those who truly love and care for their pets, “furbabies,” “granddogs,” and “grandcats” will not preserve and further our culture and society (nor will they take care of you when you’re old). Neither will sterile unions between people of the same biological sex, regardless of what “gender” they profess to “identify” as. A society which has lost touch with its roots, its traditions – both religious and secular – obviously has no hope of passing them on to future generations, if those even exist.

Indeed, there is a close link between respect and reverence for one’s ancestors, and concern for one’s descendants: lack one, and you will usually lack the other. Like a tree, a culture cannot hope to flower and bear fruit if it has cut itself off from its roots. It can expect only to wither and die. And that, unfortunately, is precisely what we are seeing in much of the West.

But thankfully, the roots can sometimes survive, even if the tree has fallen; and can send up side-shoots which may – and in this case, hopefully will – grow to the point of being able to flower and bear fruit themselves.

I hope that is what we are seeing in some of the social movements – the Yellow Vests, among others – and also in the revival of interest in traditional forms of the Christian faith, that are stirring in Europe, pushing back against the soulless, rootless nihilism of modernist and post-modernist progressivism and its bleakly collectivist, globalist, authoritarian impulse.

The war continues! But at least more people are realizing there is a war on, and taking up the fight on the side of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

Author: The Anglophilic Anglican

I am an ordained Anglican clergyman, published writer, former op-ed columnist, and experienced outdoor and informal educator. I am also a traditionalist: religiously, philosophically, politically, and socially. I seek to do my bit to promote and restore the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, in a world which has too-often lost touch with all three, and to help re-weave the connections between God, Nature, and humankind which our techno-industrial civilization has strained and broken.

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