Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The State as Mother

Robin Phillips: The maternal state is a government that assumes the function of Mother. The maternal state is there to nurture us, to train us, to instruct us, to keep our toys safe, to be guardian of our possessions, to be our tutor in the way of virtue and, like a good mother, to make sure we share our belongings with our brothers and sisters.

The confusion between statecraft and motherhood is an ancient one. When Diocletian (pictured left) published his Edict of 301, mandating the persecution of Christians and destroying the few remaining liberties of the old Roman republic, he justified it by referring to himself and his associates as “the watchful parents of the whole human race.” Contemporary governments are increasingly following the pattern of Diocletian by acting, not simply as the guardians of law and order, but as mother to their citizens. I would like consider five overlapping areas where this is the case.



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