It Takes A Potemkin Village

Potemkin_TaurydzkiDuring the period of the Crimean War, Russian minister Grigory Potemkin, architect of that military campaign allegedly had the local peasants erect artificial villages along the Dnieper River valley for Czarina Catherine II’s visit. The idea behind the farce was to deceive the empress into thinking that the area was a well-settled and secure sector of her realm, capable of resisting attack.

In World War II, the Allies constructed wooden tanks and other mock-up munitions in order to fool German spies as to the number and location of Allied strength in England. These were referred to as Potemkin villages. It is unknown whether the original story is true or not, but Potemkin’s name has become associated with these type of artifices, which are constructed “solely to deceive others into thinking that some situation is better than it really is” as Wikipedia puts it.

In 1996, then First Lady Hillary Clinton wrote a book entitled It Takes A Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. She pilfered an old African proverb about how it takes the involvement and contribution of an entire small community to contribute to the “proper” raising and socializing of children. The concept seems quaint and not without its homey appeal, although Mrs. Clinton seems to have overlooked the fact that the “villages” to which the proverb refers were usually small settlements consisting of extended family members.

The other thing Mrs. Clinton seems to have overlooked while channeling African philosophy is how easily these peaceful “villages” rise up in wrath and take machetes to each other, displacing tens of thousands at a time and leading to other, more ominous types of “villages” of refugees living in squalor and terror. Romantic ideals so often fall terribly short of actual reality.

But I digress. What author Clinton did was hijack the African idiom and co-opt it for use by Liberal socialists and societal engineers. To be factual, she even pirated the theme and most of the title from Jane Cowen-Fletcher’s book of the same title, published two years earlier. Among other things, Clinton’s book asserts that parents and family don’t have exclusive right to determine a child’s upbringing, but that the larger group is entitled to have an equal say and make contributions of their own to the child’s development. In a sense, the children are viewed as belonging to the whole community, and not especially to their parents. This is classic Socialist Collectivist doctrine.

Countless government programs, laws and policies have been enacted in the last several decades that undermine the authority of parents to raise their children as they see fit. Every case of “abuse” has been trumpeted by the Left as justification for government takeover of the nuclear family. Children can now divorce their parents. They can simply file an abuse claim and be removed from their homes by overzealous government busybodies and given all manner of choices that children are not emotionally or psychologically equipped to make. Parental authority has been dissolved by the power of the nanny state. But hey, it’s all “for the children”.

The logical trajectory of this thinking is twofold. The first is that the state has precedence over the parents in determining what is best for the children. This precedence includes what children are allowed to believe about themselves and their identity, about the family, about “alternative” lifestyles, about the role of government and their place in society. It is an all-encompassing influence the state reserves for itself.

The second is that the state can determine whether parents can have children, and how many (and possibly even what gender). China’s current policy makes abortion mandatory for parents careless enough to exceed their government allotment of descendants. Liberals in this country have proven their unflinching love for abortion over five decades, along with their view that government should control every aspect of our lives and crush individualism.

About the author: Nathan Clark

Nathan Clark is a conservative commentator who resides with his wife in New Hampshire. He is passionate about preserving the vision of our nation's Founders and advancing those tried and true principles deep into America's future. His interests range broadly from flyfishing, cooking and shooting to pro sports, gardening, live music and fine-scale modeling.

View all articles by Nathan Clark

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