In light of the systematic atrocities associated with contemporary public schooling, some dissidents have questioned whether the oppression of children is only limited to government schools. These folks usually conclude that parents are also responsible for stifling the healthy maturation of their own children. This has lead to a serious factional dispute regarding whether spanking is coercive upon children or not (if so, then it would be just as morally repugnant as when the government initiates violence by performing civil asset forfeiture against an American’s property).
Psychohistory is the academic discipline of psychoanalyzing historical figures and events. Retroactively psychoanalyzing dead individuals is admittedly unconventional, even for psychiatrists, so the validity of interpretations that a psychohistorian gives for patients he has never met is, perhaps, subjective at best. If approached in a context closer to anthropology, then maybe psychohistory could be understood, and taken, more easily.
The vast majority of the author’s book seems to me to be nothing less than a house of horrors. German children suffered by being tightly swaddled for hours or days on end, commonly stewing in their own dried urine and smeared feces. Greco-Roman children were subjected to routine beatings, anal rape, and helplessly watched their siblings being ruthlessly murdered by their parents. One of the more heinous acts of child torture was that practiced by the Australian Aborigines:
“The initial ritual of Aboriginal boys is accomplished by throwing them into a trench called ‘The Old Woman’ with a bull-roarer called ‘The Mother’ (her womb), repeating their birth by going through a birth tunnel with an umbilical rope attached, being covered by ‘the menstrual blood that can cause you to die,’ and then sub-incising them with ‘a slit made on the underside of the penis’ that is said to create a powerful vagina. The men then have intercourse in the split on the underside of the penis, ‘like a split-open frankfurter.’”
However, child rape was not limited to “godless savages,” for even the “civilized” did essentially the same thing:
“In antiquity, since ‘women were an alien and inferior species,’ sex with wives was a rare duty engaged in mainly to provide offspring, and men were addicted to raping young children, both boys and girls, in order to prove their virility and dominance. Their rapes were almost always agreed to by their parents, who often pimped their children and slaves for a price, rented them out to neighbors as servants to be raped, sold their virgin daughters for marriage for fifty pieces of silver, gave their children to pedagogues for sexual use, made their children serve at their banquets so they could be raped after dinner, went to war to rape the children of enemies, and handed over their children to the brothels, bath-houses and temples that could be found in any city of antiquity. Physicians advocated the rape of children as a way to overcome depression and as a cure for venereal disease. Most political leaders kept children to rape, like Nero, who roamed about daily, raping boys who he found in the streets and in brothels…[w]ealthy Romans kept large harems of both sexes to rape…[a]s with most societies today, the rape began when the children were about seven years old; although the ideal age was 12 – 14, many of the images show them younger. Petronius depicts men raping a seven-year-old girl, with women happily clapping in a long line around the bed. Being raped was simply part of growing up.”
Add to this nauseating mixture of mothers ritualistically cannibalizing their infants, and I think you get the picture. Obviously, there is a quite a bit more gore, but for the sake of whatever propriety I have left, I will omit the more grotesque descriptions from this literary review.
DeMause claims that these utterly barbaric childrearing practices across disparate cultures are what are truly responsible for war. To put it as simply as I can, he asserts that the children are suffering from a kind of schizophrenic Stockholm syndrome; in other words, the abused begin identifying with their abusers, and thus, they want to either win their genuine affection, or sado-masochistically experience their trauma again through the medium of war. This is explained by deMause through the use of “dissociative alters” and iconic imagery, such as that of the “Killer-Mother” archetype. While I am greatly skeptical about this being the chief reason for war (since he neglected to mention more important incentives, such as a central bank’s motive to use a purported war as the pseudo-justification for lending even more money to a national government), I can appreciate to a certain degree how deMause’s explanation goes so far as to explain how some individuals are tricked into “fake patriotism” this way, since they sincerely believe they should die for the Motherland.
There is one problem with deMause’s thesis I must point out, since neither he nor the anti-spanking advocates did so. On one hand, he admits that the evolution of childrearing psychogenic modalities has improved while overall human violence has dramatically declined over time, yet then on the other hand, he acts as if it’s still a grave threat to humanity:
“The crucial task of future generations will be to raise loved children who grow up to be peaceful, rather than walking time bombs. In addition, the ability to solve future global economic problems will depend upon improving childrearing around the world.”
While he may very well be correct about this, he is vague as to whether this should be the prerogative of parents or the government. Considering the rampant abuse by various Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies, I find his silence on this pivotal question greatly disheartening. What he does advocate for is “peace counseling,” which is a method for mediating disputes between violent parties. Although I appreciate his attempt at applied diplomacy, what in the world does peace counseling have to do with childrearing? It’s almost as if deMause is only interested in mitigating the effects of what he considers to be bad parenting by promoting a modified form of citizen diplomacy; although it’s also quite possible that he only cares about preventing angry Arabs from setting off suitcase nukes. Admittedly, this is only speculation on my end as to his personal interests.
Another major problem lies with the anti-spanking advocates recommending this book in the first place. Again, if deMause is correct that “peaceful parenting” is on the rise and overall human violence is already going the way of the dodo bird, then what exactly is the problem here? When compared with all the other very serious threats to our Liberties, why would some dissidents emphasize peaceful parenting so much? True, peaceful parenting is a non-reformist method of raising your children (and in that respect, much like homeschooling), and as an application of not spanking, it is certainly deserving of being judged whether or not it is effective in raising better children, but I am wary of its niche promotion within a few libertarian circles, especially with regard to what some constitutionalists see as a potentially tacit acceptance of the CPS’s heavy handed tactics (for the good of the children, of course). Most importantly, I should also mention that deMause only mentioned spanking twice in passing, and he certainly did not recommend any non-spanking forms of childrearing at all; this further increases my puzzlement about why the peaceful parenting advocates recommend this book to further their cause, since the author himself has virtually nothing to say about spanking in the first place!
Lloyd deMause’s The Origins of War in Child Abuse is a gross historical overview on ancient child abuse. I disagree with many of deMause’s subjective interpretations, and his neglect about the more important causes of war (especially those that are a cold-hearted profiting from mass death). While I can understand where the peaceful parenting advocates are coming from by recommending this book, I think they can do a better job of promoting a book that mentions what they consider to be the evils of spanking in actual detail. This book is absolutely useless if you want to learn about non-spanking childrearing practices, unless for some strange reason you actually enjoy reading about the intricately gory details of crimes committed against the most innocent of humans in times long past.