Systems under stress create reforms both to relieve social tension among groups that would be democratic majorities if not reduced to behaving as minorities, and maintain social control for real minorities behaving as democratic majorities through domination of markets and control of consciousness.
These reforms create relief and in many cases happiness for those receiving their benefits but they also leave gaps among the majorities so reduced that can create later, greater tensions. These can lead to multiple across the board positive reforms - social revolution - or in the worst case, total breakdowns in political economic life and not just among one or another alienated social group.
It’s hard to predict ultimate outcomes of any reforms except to say that many will benefit from them but many others, and usually most, will not. This is especially true in a market society controlled by profiting minorities, which theoretically work to the benefit of the great majority in the capitalist process of accruing private profits, investing them, and thereby creating jobs. They do this the way disease ultimately benefits the medical business and war ultimately benefits the military business, all in the process of accruing private profits, investing them and creating jobs. See? Same system.
This one step forward and more than one step back march of progressive reform (?) has brought better lives to hundreds of millions in the developed capitalist world but it has done so only by bringing misery, deprivation, suffering and death to greater numbers in the lesser developed as well as its own world. Much of western oriented and controlled humanity is unaware and at worst unconcerned at this reality but more are learning it every day as social structures seemingly out of control threaten all human life support systems, even those among the most mechanically and technologically developed populations.
In fact, mechanistic and technological “progress” under market controls of private forces, is at the root of humanity’s present problems of colonial wars and environmental breakdowns. But moves are being made towards change of a radical nature to bring about majority human control over the production of life and its sustenance, while reactionary forces work harder than ever to impede that process. Both forces working simultaneously can make it even more difficult to understand what reform might ultimately be good for the human race and what might not be so positive in the long run though it will certainly make some people very happy and improve their lives in the short term.
When slavers in the confederacy moved some of their free labor force into the house with them, this reform, brought about by their biologically creating children with their slaves and denying paternity but having to give them slightly better lives simply because they were their secret parents, created a relatively upscale life for those slaves. They became “house negroes” sometimes disdainful of those in the field and even forgetting – until rudely reminded by a field Negro – that they were still slaves even if living in the master’s house. That later to become class of a “Black Bourgeoisie” (Frazier) of educated and professional leaders of Black America also contained some who never forgot their origins and used their knowledge and degree of access to organize slave rebellions which played a role still not generally acknowledged in bringing about the ultimate end of slavery.
This reform made by slavers under duress, as are more modern reforms even if often under less obvious pressure, brought about real progress in the material lives of African Americans of the time. At least, that minority who benefitted from this early “affirmative action” program. But in the longer historic view, we in the 21st century are still imbedded in the economics and culture of racism which is hardly early American slavery or its offspring in 20th century apartheid but still finds human beings, whether dubbed African-American, people of color, or other terms to verbally deny the reality of simply being human, living in communities of poverty, in prison in greater numbers than ever before and regularly suffering brutality and murder at the hands of police departments performing as colonial armies in their communities.
There is a genuine African-American in the White House – his father was actually African while most wearing that label have been americans for generations before others who are no longer forced to adopt hyphenated labels - and a host of descendants and new members of the “Black Bourgeoisie” in positions of political and economic power. But that has made no difference at all in the lives of unarmed black men shot down in the streets or the tens of thousands locked up in prisons or the thousands more consigned to communities of low income and disintegrating social services, when those services exist at all. This is the most obvious and blatant example of reforms which indeed helped and help many – and rest assured Beyonce or Denzel Washington or Lebron James or Michele Obama will not be shot dead by police while running away after being stopped for not having a headlight or some other poor people’s infraction – while doing absolutely nothing to improve life for many more and making it much worse for many, many more.
The radical – going to the root of the problem - social changes needed in historically divisive race relations are of a revolutionary nature affecting all of society rather than simple reforms, which only affect some. And that is true of any reforms which benefit some but always at the expense of others, and usually those least capable of bearing the expense.
Our most recent reform legalizing same sex marriage was indeed a happy moment for americans dedicated to equal rights and especially so for the minority previously denied state sanctioned and acknowledged love bondings. This, like many reforms, was brought about by a Supreme Court which, it must be understood, represents the law of this system of cost-benefit-profit-loss analysis over and above any ideals of morality and values of humanity, though we are buried in textual scriptural service to the ideals while having to read between the lines to find the often hidden or disguised in rhetoric profit and loss statement in any decision of a court majority.
The same court which voted to sanction same sex relations in marriage also voted, during the same session, to make capital punishment easier and not to penalize the fossil fuel industries considered by a majority of the scientific community to be endangering the future of the entire human race. That singular and only race is composed of all skin tones, heteros, homos, trannies, and undecideds. All humanity. Splitting hairs over which individual court member voted correctly or incorrectly on which issues misses the point. The court voted for a cost-benefit analysis that favors capital, the profit motive and the future of the system it represents. And among other things, that system has created a market in surrogate parenting previously limited to heterosexual parents and now expanded further to homosexual parents. Face it citizens: buying and selling fossil fuels, life, and drugs to end life are good for business. Legally, of course. The Supremes said so.
There is no question that countless numbers will benefit from this court ruling, though a substantial minority of americans have still been left behind by changes in what seems acceptable marketplace morality, given that changing morality that does not harm the profit margin but indeed helps it is deemed beneficial by the high court of capital. Just as beneficiaries of what was called the New Deal that supposedly ended the Great Depression did very well with a host of reforms initiated by the revered FDR administration while tens of millions died in a bloody war and lesser millions in the USA were completely left out of any of those programs, so this one will benefit some at cost to others. Anything new here?
One thing is very new: the expanded market in surrogate life, with purchase of sperm or ovum all but becoming boutiques at the mall as a once science fiction fantasy becomes increasing reality to make some happy with new life, others happy with new profit lines, and still others puzzled by who one of their anonymous parents might be.
All too often left out of a debate about whether homosexual love should be sanctioned by the state is the important aspect of life creation which is only possible in relations between woman and man, whether they are married, in love, simply having an affair, or worse. While some hateful bigots may never be brought around, sincere religious folk claim godly guidance about what love is supposed to be according to one or another holy book, forgetting that same sex love has probably been a fact of life as long as life has been a fact. But the result of same sex lovemaking, however passionate, sincere or not, cannot be new life. Not to worry.
The market has already seen to the happiness of many hetero couples who, rather than adopt children needing homes and loving families, opt to go the turkey baster – petri dish route and purchase opposite sex anonymous participation in creating the much blessed miracle of life. Never mind if the results of those miracles never know who mom or dad was. Oh? Of course many such people, the result of surrogate parenting, are happy, their parents are happy, and perhaps even the surrogates they do not know are happy. But just as likely is the fact of curiosity, at best, and terrible sadness, at worst, for those among us who wonder at who our parents really are. Or were.
Stories of adopted people who sometimes obsess in trying to find their biological parent or parents, even when blessed with adoptive parents they love, are far too numerous to be disregarded. What about those of us who know and love our two dads or moms but have no idea who our biological real mom or dad was? Do such humans count as anything more than proud possessions purchased and loved but not needing any idea of their parenting beyond one half of the “miracle of life” team? And what of the surrogate women, if not men, who sell or give up their egg or seed? Whether for money or not, how do they feel knowing that a daughter or son is out there somewhere? How many women were previously forced, by religion, parents, sincere morality or painful backwardness, to give up babies for adoption and wonder for the rest of their lives at what, where, who that child might be?
Of course the market place has a legal division for surrogate parenting – we are a nation of laws – and some of these problems, if they come up, can be resolved the American way. Hire a lawyer, go to court. And in the usual fashion, be sure you have enough money and social stature to purchase enough justice to come out with a happy decision.
There was a case back in the eighties which attracted some media attention in which a woman who sold her offspring thought about it and tried to regain her child, but she was no match for the purchaser parents. They were professional class, she was not, and her case was lost. What kind of low life would sell her own capacity to birth a child? Duh? The kind that would buy one? There probably have been many others since as the number of surrogate children has greatly increased and will now see another jump in population.
In fact, a more recent case had dissatisfied parents, both fair haired and fair skinned women, who wound up with a darling little girl sperm bank purchase neither fair haired or fair skinned. Lawsuit, of course, but possibly not a million laughs for them and certainly not for that child. How many more have there been? Will there be? At some point we need to think beyond the simple part of acknowledging love between consenting adults and ponder the results for the race of creating new life this way.
Long ago, Huxley wrote in Brave New World about babies being born in veritable factories where low level drones and high level bosses could be created via test tubes. He was being critical and hardly thinking of love but he may not have imagined that loving humans could get closer to such a reality.
Want a child? Send us your essence along with a tidy fee – plastic accepted – and yours will be delivered to your home.
Has it come to that? Rest assured, this reform will bring happiness and joy to many loving humans and their offspring. But it will also create misery for some people, and greater questions for what we are as a race. The misery will not just be experienced by bigots or well-meaning religious people with honest morality problems about birth. The suffering community will be among those brought into the world this way who are left to wonder, as we all should at this reform in the marriage market.