April 18th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Ex-Treasury chief slams Government and Opposition

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: China's Rio bid: Australia's independence at stake

EDITORIAL: G20 summit: end of the "Washington Consensus"?

GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS: Can US dollar remain world's reserve currency?

OPINION: Time to put outlaw bikie-gangs out of business

UNITED STATES: Republican Party in dire need of a leader

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Finding the resolve to wage a titanic struggle

FAMILY POLICY: Promoting family-centred child-care

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY: Swedish social laboratory's disastrous legacy

HUMAN CLONING: SA parliamentarians misled by false science

PORNOGRAPHY: American feminist warns of long-term damage from porn

SCHOOLS: Teachers powerless to deal with unruly students

OBITUARY: Laurie Short: an Australian hero (1915-2009)

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Regulation no longer a dirty word / Great orator Obama? / Jimmy Carter II?

Tribute to Laurie Short (letter)

Liberal predicament (letter)

CINEMA: The emptiness of a loveless life - Elegy

BOOKS: SAMUEL JOHNSON: A Biography, by Peter Martin

BOOKS: SOLAR CYCLE 24, by David Archibald

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Swedish social laboratory's disastrous legacy

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, April 18, 2009
The institutions of marriage and family are barely recognisable in Sweden today, writes Bill Muehlenberg.

There are plenty of countries in the West which have promoted secular, leftist ideologies and have embraced radical social engineering. And these utopian schemers are quite happy to use the coercive powers of the state to enforce their radical objectives.

Sweden is a leading case in point, and its latest act of radicalism is to legalise same-sex marriage. In a 261-to-22 vote on April 2, the Swedish Parliament allowed Sweden to become the 10th Western jurisdiction to legalise same-sex marriage. Six other nations and four US states have gone down this path.

They are: the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009) and now Sweden (2009). The three US states are: Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), California (June 2008, but knocked back by Proposition 8 in November 2008), and, most recently, Iowa (April 2009).

Of course, this move to embrace the homosexual agenda and drive further nails in the coffins of marriage and family did not spring up overnight. It has been brewing in Sweden for some decades now. The war against the family has been a long-standing and regular feature of recent Swedish social history.

Way back in 1992 I wrote a piece in News Weekly on the Swedish assault on the institutions of marriage and family. As it offers a bit of background information to the current Swedish situation, it may be worth revisiting the article here. Thus what follows is most of the article written some 17 years ago:

"From about 1965, Swedish socialists, pressured by feminists led by Alva Myrdal, initiated a series of policies designed to establish the careerist woman as the national standard and incapacitate the woman who tries to care for her own children. Declaring the homemaker to be 'a dying race', economic and legal measures were enacted which steadily undermined the nuclear family.

"Special protections afforded women in marriage were removed. The joint tax return for a married couple was eliminated, for example. Marginal income tax rates were increased to nearly 100 per cent, making it all but impossible to support a family on one income.

"Maternal care of pre-school children was also altered to favour the working woman at the expense of the traditional homemaker. Housing and tax benefits were curtailed if families chose to care for their children instead of placing them in day-care centres.

"These and other government policies have produced disastrous results for the nuclear family. By 1984, the official 'poverty line' for a family of four was approximately 40 per cent above the average annual wage. As a result only the rich could maintain a family on one income. Sweden today has the smallest percentage of full-time housewives - around 10 per cent - of any Western nation. For most of the population the male role as principal provider was effectively abolished. This policy, as one commentator has noted, 'resulted not in more egalitarian marriages, but in the obsolescence of marriage itself'.

"Indeed, the marriage rate in Sweden fell to the lowest level ever recorded in world demographic data. The rate of non-marital cohabitation, or consensual unions, outranks that of all other advanced nations. Not only did the rate of illegitimacy rise to over 50 per cent of all live births, but the birth-rate fell to a point 40 per cent below the replacement rate required to maintain zero population growth.

"Moreover, despite the world's most ambitious sex education and family planning program, and despite the widespread issuance of free contraceptives, the abortion rate has soared during this period.

"Sweden's child-care system became increasingly totalitarian, with children wrestled from parents for the slightest reason. Directed to 'promote a favourable development of the young', some social workers have slapped custody orders on children who simply seemed withdrawn at school, or whose parents had untidy kitchens! The result has been some 16,000 children removed from their families to government care - most of them by force.

"In addition to the devastating effects these policies have had on the family, the economy - as is well known - has also suffered severely. So much so in fact that the long standing Social Democrats were thrown out of office at the September 15 elections [of 1991]. The new conservative Prime Minister Carl Bildt has boasted that the Swedish model of socialism has been consigned to 'the scrapheap of history'.

"Clearly, the Swedish model is the last example Australia should consider if it is concerned about children in particular and the family in general. The welfare state, with its cradle-to-grave provisions, tends not so much to assist families as to replace them. The Australian government should be more involved in the family - but by empowering the family to help itself, not by supplanting the family and taking over its functions." (Bill Muehlenberg, "Sweden is no model for the family", News Weekly, April 25, 1992).

Let me now add a 2009 postscript. Some groups have argued that we should grant major concessions to the homosexual lobby in order to somehow protect marriage. Well, they need to think again. Sweden gave special "registered partnerships" rights to same-sex couples back in 1996. In 2002, same-sex adoption rights were also granted.

It should be obvious that when a state gives same-sex couples almost all the benefits and privileges of heterosexual married couples except the word marriage, most people will realise that it is foolish and unethical not to go all the way. Thus what occurred yesterday in Sweden is not just part of the long-standing assault on the family, but a result of foolish and unnecessary concessions made to homosexual activists over the years.

The old saying, "give them an inch and they will take a mile", applies here. The only thing is, unwise groups, including some Christian groups, believe that they can give the homosexual activists nine-tenths of a mile, and think they will not rightly demand the final tenth.

Granting special rights to homosexual activists in the name of meeting them half way is a failed strategy. It is really a type of appeasement and whenever it is implemented it seems to invariably lead to the entire acceptance of the homosexual agenda.

The institutions of marriage and family are barely recognisable in Sweden today. We do not need to see the same sad state of affairs replicated here.

- Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com

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