I recently read a discussion in which someone advocated abolishing last names and referring to people by their given names only:
“This ‘family name’ thing is such an old, conservative thing… it sounds like we’re in the XIX century. People are single individuals and for that exact reason they receive an unique name.”
What admirable logical consistency!
In the old system, we are all born into relationship. We all derive our identities in large part from our parents. Until recently, every human being on this earth was conceived by a relationship between a father and a mother. To be sure, there are horrible exceptions – a child conceived by rape, or the death of one or both parents in the child’s youth, or an abusive parent who does not love the child – but these are just that: exceptions. And they prove the rule: the reason why parental abuse of a child, or abandonment of a child, is so horrible is precisely that it violates the natural relationship that requires love on the basis of biological connection. Likewise, adoption and foster parenthood may be beautiful, but they are beautiful precisely because they are an attempt to supply the love and care and relatedness that a child has lost through some tragedy. Ordinarily, a child has a natural right to expect love and care from a mother and father, and this expectation is founded on the fact that the child was conceived in an act of love, and derives his or her material being from the mother and father. The child is a gift of God, not a product or attainment of the parents’ will. Parent-child relationship is based on this givenness rather than on choice.
In contrast to this, the sexual revolution has now triumphantly severed sex from procreation and made coitus a sterile act. It has also promoted surrogate pregnancy and the artificial (i.e. planned) orphanhood inflicted by homosexual marriage, in which a child is deliberately made to have no relationship or even knowledge of one or both of its biological parents.
Part of the consequence of this revolution is that personal identity is no longer a natural fact, but a construct of society and especially of the State, which enforces and validates the contractually-constituted “parenthood” of homosexuals, and nullifies the biological parenthood of sperm donors and surrogate mothers (wombs for hire). The result is not merely that families can look radically different, but that all of us have “lost consideration as natural persons in contemplation of law”, as my friend Mark Butler put it. There are no “natural rights” now, but only a Platonic system where rights – including the right to love and care from parents – are bestowed upon us by the State. Even if you happen to be raised by your biological parents, your relationship to them is only dignified with respect under the law when the State allows it, and social stigma does not permit us to speak of a natural family as in any way superior or more normal than a contractually-established family. Thus, biological parents are only parents because the State allows it — and the State may allow something else instead.
Accordingly, under Ontario’s eerily Orwellian-named “All Families are Equal Act”, even the words “mother” and “father” have been abolished from government documents, as being antithetical to the State’s usurpation of nature. The words “mother” and “father” bespeak the biological realities that underlie natural parent-child relationships. Since the sexual revolutionaries’ aim is to replace that natural basis with an artificial and legal one established by the State, these words must be abolished in favor of “parent”. And since the sexual revolutionaries pretend that the biological fruitfulness of sex is irrelevant, there can be no reason for a duality of parents (one father and one mother, as in nature). Accordingly, Ontario allows any four persons to be listed as “parents” on the birth certificate of a child. (It is a marvel that they still allow it to be called a “birth” certificate! Is that term not demeaning to the parental relationship of parents who had nothing to do with the child’s conception and birth?)
Since this is the current system, we should indeed abandon family names. Better, we should be assigned names by the government, since it is the source of our personhood and rights.
As my interlocutor at the beginning of this article said, it’s only conservatives who believe in God-given rights. Consider how the 19th century Dutch historian Groen Van Prinsterer put it in his lectures on the French Revolution:
“Just as all truth is ultimately supported by the truth that is from God, so the common foundation of all rights and duties lies in the sovereignty of God. When that Sovereignty is denied, what becomes of the fountain of authority, of law, of every sacred and dutiful relation in state, society, and family? What sanction remains for the distinctions of rank and station in life? What reason can there be that I obey and another commands, that the one is needy, the other rich? All this is based only on custom, routine, abuse, injustice, oppression. There can be, despite all social diversities, no real differences among men. Eliminate God, and it can no longer be denied that all men are, in the revolutionary sense of the words, free and equal. State and society must disintegrate, dissolving into a collection of isolated human beings, of individuals — a term of the Revolution’s naively expressive of its all-destructive character. Henceforward the state is conceived as a multitude of indivisible particles, of atoms.” (Revolution and Unbelief, lecture IX)
We are now living in the political consequences of the French Revolutionary conception of equality and liberty: we are all individuals. Which is to say, we are all orphans now.