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Hillary's investments.

The prime do-gooder bluestocking of all time was probably Beatrice Webb, who evolved with her husband, Sidney, the political tendency known as Fabianism, very influential in the evolution of the British Labor Party The Fabian view was that under the expert guidance of enlightened intellectuals such as the Webbs, society would gradually evolve toward maximum efficiency - good drains, good trains, sound economic management with the state judiciously presiding.

The best currently available model of Fabianism is probably Singapore, as molded by Lee Kuan Yew, graduate of Cambridge University. When British do-goodism had its love match with Lee's Chinese sense of order and efficiency, the results were notorious: a fine for not flushing a public lavatory, the lash for vandalism.

Beatrice was a stringent supervisor. As a child I used to listen to Malcolm Muggeridge, a close friend of my father, describe his visits to the Webb household, where he was courting Beatrice's niece. Beatrice would order Sidney to go for a jog before lunch. The wretched man would trot off down the driveway, with Malcolm in hot pursuit. No longer under the scrutiny of Beatrice, Sidney would dodge in behind die barn, invite Malcolm to receive on a bale of hay and spend the next hour talking about die future of the world.

Then they would have to sprint back up the driveway to where Beatrice would lay her hand on Sidney's brow, ascertaining from the perspiration that improvement - in this case physical - had indeed taken place.

Time and again, reading Hillary Rodham Clinton's It Takes a Village, I was reminded of Beatrice Webb There's the same imperious gleam, the same lust to improve the human condition until it conforms to the wretchedly constricted vision of freedom that gave us social-worker liberalism, otherwise known as therapeutic policing.

There's scant evidence that H.R.C. likes children very much. Her subtitle is "And Other Lessons Children Teach Us," but not a single such lesson does Hillary ever invoke. Childhood is seen as a time when things might go awry, when the "investment" turns out to be a bum steer. The Clintonite passion for talking about children as "investments" tells us the whole story. Managed capitalism (liberalism's ideal) needs regulation. Just as the stock market requires the Securities and Exchange Commission, so too does the social investment (a child) require social workers, shrinks, guidance counselors, the whole vast army of the helping professions, to make sure that the investment is going to yield a respectable rate of return.

And if the yield looks to be poor? If the investment might fail? Enter the do-good militias, in whose ranks H.R.C. eagerly enlisted when she got what she describes as her first real job, supervising children in a park. The "village" - H.R.C.'s cozy synonym for the state - moves in: "The village itself must act in place of parents, it accepts those responsibilities in all our names through the authority we vest in government."

An allegation of abuse? "We could be willing to terminate parental rights more quickly whenever physical or sexual abuse is involved." a social worker suspects improper child upbringing? "States might also consider making public welfare or medical benefits contingent on agreement to allow home visits or to participate in other forms of parent education."

When Hillary looks at a child she sees a million chances for everything to go wrong, as though the little human were a computer without an adequate operating manual, into winch the wrong software win most likely be installed. Her dream is doubtless a National on Act for Parenting, with the proper rules, as tested and certified by all the pedagogues, guidance counselors, nutritionists and psychologists H.R.C. marshals to her side on every page.

In H.R.C. and her awful book we see the Fabian parable and the road to Singapore. The do-good Progressives at the start of the century saw the family - particularly the immigrant family - as a conservative institution, obstructive to the goals of society and the state. So they attacked it. Then their preferred economic system - consumer capitalism - began to rend the social fabric, and so today's do-gooders say that the family, the children, our "investment," must be saved, by any means necessary When the F.B.I. was getting ready to incinerate the Branch Davidians they told Janet Reno the Branch Davidian children were being abused. Save them, she cried. Alas, to save them it was necessary to bum them alive.
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Title Annotation:Beat the Devil; Hillary Rodham Clinton
Author:Cockburn, Alexander
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:Column
Date:Feb 12, 1996
Previous Article:Vegas Bob.
Next Article:A house divided.

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