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How we settle political disagreements in our family

‘Only later, when the children are in bed, do we squabble in hushed tones about Joseph de Maistre or the Russian Civil War’

August 24, 2020

3:40 PM

24 August 2020

3:40 PM

When it comes to recent controversies surrounding the very public life of the Conway family, we can only wish them the best. Kellyanne was a White House counselor, George was part of the anti-Trump ‘Lincoln Project’, and their teenage daughter is a young progressive who denounced both of her parents on social media. Kellyanne and George are stepping back from public life to focus on their family. We hope they can rebuild bridges and put all of this behind them.

Having different political opinions within a family can be tough. We think, for example, of the Hitchens brothers. Christopher was an impassioned atheist and liberal internationalist. Peter is an equally impassioned Christian and social conservative. If they had one thing in common, it was the pleasure they found in a good argument — making us wish we could have been a fly on the wall of their dining room when they were teenagers. Jessica Mitford, meanwhile, was a communist but her sister Unity was a national socialite who idolized Hitler and the Nazi party.

In the Trump era, political differences within families appear to have become more pervasive. Around 50 percent of young Americans reject the politics of their parents — and, presumably, around 50 percent of American adults think their children should grow up. Newspapers are filled, every year, with stories of Thanksgiving dinners ruined by untimely political disputes.

Well, I think that this is sad. It should be possible to have a family in which people disagree about politics. I, for example, am a staunch traditionalist who believes in faith, the family, and the flag. My wife, however, is a Marxist-Leninist who believes in the proletariat overthrowing the bourgeois in a bloody revolution. We met while I protested against a ban on fox hunting and she protested against the invasion of Iraq. We had a whirlwind romance and were married before we realized that we had been attending different demonstrations.

These differences can make things complicated. Sometimes, when we are arguing about money or the housework, she calls me ‘the vile oppressor of the working classes’ and I call her ‘commie scum’ — but we always laugh about it over coffee afterwards. I say ‘I’ll visit you in Hell’ and she says ‘I’ll put in a word for you with the Red Guards.’ It might sound perverse but we are being affectionate — or, at least, I am.


There are some key rules to inter-political marriages. The first is that we never argue in front of the kids. If we have guests over and someone happens to mention politics we smile and nod and change the subject. Only later, when the children are in bed, do we squabble in hushed tones about Joseph de Maistre or the Russian Civil War.

Another important principle is compromise. For example, if we wanted to read different books to the kids, when they were young, we would take turns. One week I would read them Leviticus. The next week she would read them Mao’s Little Red Book. One year we would go the Vatican. One year we would go to Venezuela. You get the idea.

It is also very important that a couple has some things in common. For example, I may think that kings and queens have a God-given right to rule their subjects and she might think that they should be beheaded but we both love House and salted caramel ice cream.

And we both love our kids. But this is where things get complicated. You see, my son is a ‘right-accelerationist’ who believes in something called the ‘Dark Enlightenment’. I don’t quite know how it happened. I guess was so preoccupied with scanning our internet history for porn websites and lessons on manufacturing fireworks that I missed all the references to ‘Mencius Moldbug’ and ‘Nick Land’.

When he was about 11 I told him it might be a good time to have a heart-to-heart about ‘some adult stuff’. He just snorted and said, ‘Dad, I took the red pill years ago.’ When I asked him if there were any nice girls in his class he started talking about ‘hypergamy’ and when I asked him what he was going to study at college in the future he started talking about ‘the Cathedral’. Kids these days.

My daughter, on the other hand, is an anarcho-primitivist. In essence, this means that she hates technology. She spends a lot of time hiking in the forest and reading her favorite children’s author, Ted Kaczynski. On her last birthday, last year, she asked for a hunting knife and I bought her a smartwatch. ‘This can count your steps and read your pulse!’ I said. But I suppose it couldn’t skin a rabbit.

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When she became an ‘AnPrim’ it was hard to find things to do together. We couldn’t watch movies because she doesn’t like the television. We couldn’t play games because she doesn’t like the computer. We couldn’t cook because she doesn’t like the microwave. But parenting is all about being creative. It’s all about being innovative. So, I had a brainwave. I took her out for a walk.

Of course, the kids fall out a lot. I catch them arguing about silly things like whose turn it is to use the bathroom and the Deleuzo-Guattarian theory of deterritorialization. But they also have things to agree on, like the fact that their mom and dad are terrible normies.

From the outside, it might sound like a strange family. But we muddle through it all as long as we have patience, humor and unconditional love. Oh, and as long as we follow the golden rule: we will never, ever, EVER have public social media accounts. A family can survive the occasional disagreement about Joseph Stalin or the Industrial Revolution, but that is nothing compared to a whiff of e-fame.


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