Politics of the family, pt 2

While sitting on a bench at Liverpool Street station today, I noticed the man next to me was looking at websites on how to impress that girl.

We used to believe that the family – like the railways but unlike sex – was too important to be left to the market. It was safer for these unions to be socially and not individually arranged. There was an acquiesence, and no changing afterwards. This guaranteed social cohesion.

In matters of family, we believe in something like the free market now. Chose and be chosen! There’s the whole drama, competition and rivalry of asking someone out and the pain of rejection. Then the relationship: Yes it’s love! Is this love? And the break-up… or the marriage…  and kids… and the break up: was it a terrible misjudgement? Can you, wiser, change to someone else? In the days of BR and Brief Encounters, you couldn’t.

I thought that the man I was observing belonged to another society, one where the whole business of finding someone to share your life with was a lot more (or less) business-like, and felt pity for him, how a negotiated social settlement might be better, that renationalising the railways might be the answer…. But I believe the whole adventure will turn out well, that someone equally bemused by the whole merry-go-round will be found, and joyful for love, and that this market works for love too in the end.

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