By Nathan Barton
Repeating the evils of history?
Back in the 8th Century AUC (better known today as the 1st Century Anno Domini), life was simple. Not just simple but short and anything but sweet.
The life of children in the Greek and Roman worlds (and indeed, much of the known world) was particularly bad. Death rates from childhood diseases decimated infants and toddlers. Greco-Roman society in particular was very hazardous for the newborn, because of the custom (apparently in all social levels) of exposing infants – taking unwanted newborns and leaving them in a field to be either collected by slavers (or perhaps a few good people) or eaten by wolves or other predators. Generally, Greek custom was similar, as was that of many other cultures. The Hebrews are often pointed out as exceptions to this, whether in Canaan (Palestine) or in the Dispora across the Empire and in Mesopotamia and Persia.
The emperor Constantine (yeah, that one – the “religious convert to christianity) made it legal to sell infants in 313, regardless of the status of their parents: this was supposedly a compassionate measure to reduce the exposure and death of infants.
Even if the child were kept, Roman law allowed the child to be killed by the head of the family (pater familias) at any time – even as an adult, but most commonly as a small child. This apparently was more likely if the child were deformed, sickly, or after infidelity (at least, infidelity by the mother). And in wartime, little effort was made to protect civilians from the risks and ravages of war – indeed, it seems that children were viewed as “pleasurable” targets of opportunity for soldiers. (The mission of Herodian troops to find and kill infants in Bethlehem to ensure that the baby Jesus was slain may not have been much a hardship duty for those monsters in human form. And rape of women (all civilians: no woman openly served as a soldier) was considered a benefit of service in most nations.
When you add the lack of knowledge and good practice of hygiene and health care, it is no wonder that people have estimated the infant mortality rate in the Empire as being as high as 300 per 1,000 live births – and that is based in part on archaeologists digging up cemeteries. (You don’t go collect and bury the bones of children mostly eaten by wolves and dogs and crows on the roadside, of course.)
Most scholars, even those who are anti-christian, attribute the end of child exposure and sanctioning of killing children to the influence of Judaism and the rise of Christianity in the Empire (and outside it). Even though christians were accused of being cannibals (due to the communion), their efforts to rescue children and show love apparently had an impact. (As they did, but over a much longer period, ultimately against slavery.)
Skip forward nearly 2,000 years. Remembering that even in the last couple of centuries, and even the last couple of decades, non-Western societies and even some Western ones, have continued to single out children for their bloodlettings. As biblical concepts of morality have been abandoned more and more, and medical technology improved, abortion has taken its toll on children more and more. The killing, maiming, and torture – and the desecration of their bodies, has been noted (even prominently) especially in wartime and in dysfunctional, usually highly tyrannical “nations.” Japan in China, the Chinese against each other, both sides in the Eastern Front of WW2, the massive bombings of Western Europe and Japan and then of Vietnam and elsewhere, the various African and Balkans’ wars, the various insurgencies in Latin America, the cartel wars in Mexico, and more, all bear horrible witness to their value of children. The real value – not that proclaimed piously by world leaders and Tranzis (and Conservatives)
As this horrible story from Tempe, Arizona shows, here in the Fifty States, the throwaway idea of children – OUTside the womb – is far from extinct. Indeed, the killing of children by their own mothers, and in their own bodies – is both a reversion to the Roman-pagan idea and a tacit encouragement of disposable people; especially the very young.
The Tempe incident involved a newborn girl (less than 24 hours old) abandoned in a blanket and backpack placed in a shopping cart in a supermarket parking lot. This was just a few feet from a fire station with a sign advertising it as a place to leave unwanted children with no questions asked. The little girl, a pretty little thing of indeterminate ancestry, was found by a store employee and saved: she will live (at least for now).
Given the fire station nearby, the motive of the dam (you can’t call her a mother, now can you?) and/or the sire is certainly to be questioned. Their complete lack of morals and responsibility is clear – they couldn’t even be bothered to take the child to someplace safe. Of course, the sire may not have even known of the child or her birth – likely indicating another complete lack of morals and responsibility. They will no doubt get away with this abandonment. Given the conditions in Tempe, county, state, and nation, it is unlikely much effort will be made to identify them. Given the abandonment of responsibility and the growing faith in the state, it is also unlikely that any individual or private, voluntary organization will do anything for the girl: she will likely grow up as a ward of the state.
Indeed, it is highly likely that one or both of her immediate ancestors (“parents”) were themselves welfare patrons and wards (actual or legal) of the state. There is a very old word in English that actually describes them accurately: serfs. They may not be tied to the land in the same way as medieval serfs, and theoretically have all these rights, but their role is similar. They are beholden to, controlled by, and thereby doomed by the bureaucracy that provides them virtually all material things and in essence harvests them for the bureaucrats’ support (and that of their political masters). In our modern economy, they provide no true economic function except that of consumer, because their positive contribution is no longer needed as farmers, servants, and cannon fodder.
But these modern serfs as as brutalized (at least psychologically) and dehumanized as much as any French peasant in the 1400’s. And their children are viewed (despite claims to the contrary) by the autocracy (the bureaucrats and politicians and drug lords and multinationals) as trash to be ridden down and exploited. Should we be surprised that their progenitors would treat them any differently, than the way their “betters” do?
Is there a solution? I mean, other than bloodbaths and collapse: the equivalent of the constant peasant and slave rebellions which bedeviled Greece and Rome and Europe (east and west) and the Ottomans – and modern-day Latin America and Arab world?
Whatever the solution, it is clear that government is NOT part of it – it is indeed one of the causes of the current deplorable situation.
Mama’s Note: Just to be clear, I think that the NON-voluntary government is certainly not the answer. But a society built around individual liberty and voluntary association would offer the structure most people seem to need. That was the case of the ancient Jews, at least for a while. Then the foolish people demanded to have a “king.” And the rest, as they say, is history.