Alan Keyes
What MSNBC's collectivist drivel means
By Alan Keyes
April 15, 2013

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry says that Americans haven't invested enough in public education because "...we've always had kind of a private notion of children....We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities."

For the past several years, I've been writing about the fact that the push for gay marriage isn't just about rights for homosexuals. It's about discarding the understanding of God-endowed unalienable rights that is the basis for constitutional self-government in the United States. I've also traced the logic that makes it clear that the campaign to deny and disparage the God-endowed rights of the natural family strikes at the root of private property rights as a whole.

The idea of private property is an extension of what at first appears to be self-evident fact – that our bodies belong, respectively, to each one of us. All other things being equal, if we pick fruit off a tree, it is for us to eat it, or otherwise dispose of it as we see fit. If we gather the makings of a lean-to or hut and construct it with our own hands, it is for us to take shelter in, or share with others as we see fit. And so forth.

The problem is that, starting with the body itself, all things are not equal. That fact is clear from the moment we're born. Human infants cannot survive on their own. Someone else has to use her body to provide food, procure warmth, and otherwise assure the comfort and survival of the infant's body. In fact, except for the physical exertions of others (the exertions involved in the act of procreation, the labor involved in child-bearing and birth), the child would have no body at all.

In the natural course of things, the primordial human belonging appears in the relationship between parents and children, and in particular the physical relationship between mother and child. On appearing in the world, the helpless, utterly dependent child appears to belong especially to the mother, by token of her all-encompassing physical possession of the child's body, which exists and develops as an integral part of her own.

But doesn't the material from which the body is made have something to do with the nature of its belonging? If I gather wood for a hut and build it myself, it belongs to me. But if I build the hut with wood another has gathered or helped to gather, doesn't the result also belong to my helpmate? Or if all the material is provided by another, along with the plan for the hut's construction, and the guidance needed to carry it out, doesn't the hut also belong to the one who acts as architect, producer, and engineer?

In similar fashion, all those who take part in the activity that produces the child are in their different ways responsible for the result. The parents are jointly the agents of that responsibility, the ones who must, according to the nature of things, assume particular responsibility for the child's existence. But their action derives from and depends upon materials and information provided by another, whose knowledge and prior disposition of things determine the actions entailed by the responsibility they assume.

Translated into the language of unalienable rights that articulates the principles of America's public and political life, the materials and information required for the child's existence are the organic matter the human body is composed of. The knowledge and prior disposition of things are the "laws of nature and of nature's God," which constitute the programming that governs the activities of that organic matter. When parents assume the responsibility to take the actions necessary for the child's survival, in accordance with the human body's programming (which is also that of their own bodies), they do what is right for the child and for the perpetuation of the human species.

By this exercise of right, they accept the natural belonging their child represents, which appears and forever remains a belonging that owns up to their responsibility for the child's well-being. It is the answer they give to the one who is ultimately the Creator and sovereign of all that is, including the child and themselves. It is the righteous consent which justifies their share in the Creator's sovereign authority with respect to the child's welfare.

The idea that our children belong to us is, therefore, not "a kind of private idea." It is the logical consequence of the idea of God-endowed right on which the civil society, Constitution, and politics of the United States were founded. It is the recognition of the natural right derived from a parent's fulfillment of his or her responsibility to God for the child's life and well-being. It is the root of the claim of natural belonging, antecedent to the existence of any and all humanly instituted government authorities, that is the primordial paradigm of the belongings every human being may properly claim for his own.

Melissa Harris-Perry obviously rejects the logic of unalienable right as it applies to the natural family. But if the relationship of mutual belonging that God's natural law establishes between parents and children is not an unalienable property of our human nature, what is? Is property right simply a function of power, such that the world and all those in it belong to whoever has the power to seize and hold on to them? If whole communities can run roughshod over the self-evident natural rights of a child's parents, what belongings does justice secure from the depredations of those in power? Once every mother's son is raised to believe that he belongs to no one in particular, what will be the existential basis for individual identity, individual aspiration, individual achievement and responsibility?

For those of us who understand the true implications of the push for homosexual marriage rights, Harris-Perry's collectivist drivel is, as the saying goes, the sound of the other shoe dropping. Once government fiat has been substituted for God-endowed right as the basis for the institution of family, the next step is the implementation of the view Harris-Perry articulates, that from birth, individuals belong to the state. People who don't own themselves obviously can't own anything else – which erases the basis for private property rights.

Have you thought this through? If not, a good place to start is the most recent article on my blog. It links to another article that goes more deeply into these matters, and so forth. It's time for people determined to preserve our economic liberty and prosperity to realize that the campaign to deny and disparage the natural rights of family simply sets the stage for communism, and the end of all economic freedom.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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