A police officer stops two black teenagers sashaying down the middle of a public street.  According to law enforcement and at least one noninvolved witness, one of the two—a six-foot four-inch, 300-pound behemoth—charges the cop and goes for his gun.  Fighting for his life, the policeman shoots and kills the “gentle giant,” who, as it turns out, has been caught on tape, with his partner-in-crime, robbing a store and assaulting the diminutive clerk.  The partner’s predictable tale of unprovoked police brutality, though contradicted by witnesses and by forensic evidence, incites the masses to take to the streets, where they are joined by thugs who exploit the opportunity for looting.  When the police respond with force, defending the shops and houses under attack, the President of the United States and his attorney general (certainly not ours) condemn the Ferguson police for excessive use of force.

In this divided land, blacks and leftists assume the alleged thief is an innocent victim of police brutality, while conservatives complain that there is no similar outcry when blacks (cops included) shoot whites—a real dog-bites-man story.  In a world where only clichés and stereotypes matter, it is Trayvon versus George all over again.

The affair is none of my business—I don’t live in Ferguson, Missouri—and this President and his race-baiting confederates do not in any way represent me, my family and friends, or my people.  Naturally, some conservatives have protested the violence, but hardly anyone has challenged the presumption that outraged citizens have the right to take part in public protests.  Despite the absence of evidence, investigations, trial, etc., the masses have “the right” to disrupt the life of a community because they claim to experience the irrational passion of outrage.  Even the Ferguson police seem to acknowledge the masses’ right to “demonstrate”—so long as they do not burn, smite, or loot.  If such a right existed, either in the Constitution or in human nature, it would be the right of revolution.  There is absolutely no “civil right” that justifies the blocking of traffic or the disruption of everyday life—to say nothing of the expense to the taxpayers of so much police time, so much tear gas, so much ammunition wasted to curb a group of people who in large measure are dependents on the taxpaying public.  If they wish to express their outrage at being second-class citizens, urban blacks might first want to liberate themselves from the white middle class by getting a job.

Life and property in Ferguson can be destroyed at the whim of a mob, but the Department of Justice and the White House can think only of protecting the gangs and disarming the citizens and the police.  This is a textbook case of what the late Samuel Francis called anarcho-tyranny: our bizarre criminal justice system that combines “anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws)” and “tyranny—the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes . . . ”

Sam was most interested in anarcho-tyranny as one of the principal methods by which the ruling elite has gained and increased its power, but he did not fail to observe that it is selectively imposed on the one class that still poses a threat to the dominant elite: straight white European Christian males.  This group is admittedly dwindling in number and authority, but it is not dwindling rapidly enough for a managerial elite that employed the rhetoric of minority rights as its most effective propaganda tool.

Astute political observers—from the times of Herodotus and Aristotle—had observed that it is in the nature of tyranny to champion the poor, the weak, and the powerless and to oppress those who are distinguished by wealth or power, birth or ability, because it is from just such people that opposition to tyranny always arises.  From the point of view of the regime—since at least the time of the New Deal—minority privileges have been an effective tool for eliminating opposition.  Whatever gains or losses (mostly the latter) were made by the designated minorities was irrelevant.  Feminists, blacks, “Hispanics,” and homosexuals were not even foot soldiers in the revolution to consolidate power at the expense of the citizens: They were merely poster children.

This lesson is lost on the conservative public and its preceptors in the media who every day complain that what is sauce for the white majority goose should also be sauce for the minority gander.  (What about the black cop who shot the white guy?)  Not only does this sort of whining miss the obvious point, which is that the whole hatecrime initiative is aimed exclusively at repressing the group of people who first settled the land, struggled to expand the frontier westward, and risked their lives in defense of the country their people had founded, but it also blinds conservatives to their actual position in this strategy.  In every conflict between designated minorities and us, we are the declared enemy, virtual outlaws in our own country.

Anarcho-tyranny is one very important aspect of a broader revolution against the heirs of the old America.  Like all revolutionary regimes, the new American regime can be defined partly by the legal and moral traditions it chooses to enforce, and those it prefers to ignore.  New illusory rights have to be invented—the right to change “genders,” the right to privacy—while the hard-won privileges of our traditions, such as the sanctity of the home and parents’ duty to rear their children, are discarded.

Formerly, “the right to privacy” was understood as a barrier against not only Pecksniffian snoopers and village gossips but particularly an agent of the government who might wish to stick his nose into the household.  A householder should be able, we felt, to make his own wine and spank his own children without some childsaving prohibitionist getting in the way.  On the other hand, provisions of the moral law that had been incorporated into every legal tradition and statute book in Christendom—the prohibitions on abortion and adultery, for example—justified the attention of the state, because they were not merely immoral but unjust and socially destructive.

Today, all is changed.  We are free to kill our babies, but the NSA is openly spying on tens of millions of citizens, and any number of federal agencies have the weaponry and the will to use it to destroy the homes and scorch the children of people who own too many guns or think the wrong thoughts.  It is enough to allege child abuse to justify murder and mayhem against not only parents but the children themselves.  Put simply: We may not spank our children “in the privacy of our own home,” but, so long as they are unborn or recently born with deformities, we are free to kill them and even to receive a bounty for each act of infanticide.

Once upon a time in another moral galaxy, Americans cited the old expression, “An Englishman’s home is his castle.”  In those days, we knew that we were English before we were American, and we are still, insofar as our fundamental political liberties are concerned, English.  Unfortunately, leftists have taught conservatives their revolutionary theory of American “exceptionalism,” according to which America is a new nation where none of the limitations imposed on mortal human life any longer apply.  This revolutionary theory—that we have liberated ourselves from history and human nature—is the twin of the Marxist fallacy that, because man is the creature who makes his own nature, the communist state can eliminate all distinctions of class, wealth, and power.

Now that we imagine ourselves to be no longer English—or even human—rather few of us have much idea of what it means to have a home, much less a castle.  This is a very great loss to our personal liberties.  As Chesterton observed, “the home is the one anarchist institution.  That is to say, it is older than law, and stands outside the State.”

The significance of the home as castle is not purely moral or personal: It is a legal and constitutional guarantee of a very specific set of property rights that are being eroded by governments all over the United States.

“A man’s home is his castle” is a proverb that meant something in the Middle Ages, when castles enabled a baron or knight to bar his doors, lift up the drawbridge, and bid defiance to his enemies, up to and including the king.  A home-castle was an autonomous community, existing before the state and possessed of privileges state officers could not infringe.  In general it may be said that the home property could not be confiscated at the whim of the ruler, as homes are today.  Only compelling necessity justified the exercise of eminent domain.

The male householder was responsible for his wife, children, and servants: He was supposed to support them appropriately, of course, but he also had to pay their debts and was held liable for torts and misdemeanors.  On the other hand, if he wished to chastise his wife or child, no sheriff’s deputy or social worker could intervene.  Punishment of wife-beaters was left up to other members of the family and to the parish.  There were no state schools, and no school-attendance requirements.  It was assumed that a man who got married and sired children would do the best he could to bring them up.  The family in the household was a semisovereign institution, and no government agency had the right to impose its opinions on the conduct of the parents.

This understanding of family and household as equal and prior to the state did not disappear in the 18th century, nor was it limited to the English Protestant world.  In Rerum novarum Pope Leo XIII issued a straightforward declaration that

the family has at least equal rights with the State in the choice and pursuit of the things needful to its preservation and its just liberty. . . . [I]nasmuch as the domestic household is antecedent, as well in idea as in fact, to the gathering of men into a community, the family must necessarily have rights and duties which are prior to those of the community, and founded more immediately in nature.

Leo XIII was saying nothing new.  He was in fact confirming a long-standing tradition going back to Thomas Aquinas, Cicero, and Aristotle.  While the concept of the family castle may be a development of feudal Europe, it is paralleled in most details by ancient Greek city-states and by republican and imperial Rome.  Indeed, the autonomous and self-defending family household is a norm of Western civilization, particularly of Christendom.  Unfortunately, our sense of household autonomy has been as much degraded as our understanding of marriage.

Before considering any solutions, whether personal or political, let us recall the ideal of traditional Christian households: a stable marriage between one man and one woman; an autonomous self-governing family that provides for its own needs.  How is it possible to realize that ideal when even the consumption functions of the household—cooking, housecleaning, laundry—are routinely handled by outside providers, and when all the functions of intellectual instruction, moral guidance, and even such things as entertainment can be discharged by public officials and paid professionals?

It is still possible to educate one’s children at home or in private and religious schools.  Such things are difficult and expensive, because families are required to pay taxes to support government schools; the choice is, however, open to most people, and in a period of marked decline in the quality of all schools, private as well as public, homeschooling becomes ever more attractive to more people.

The same can be said of home production, which can include everything from part-time typing and maid services to large mail-order businesses.  At the simplest level, it is the home vegetable garden.  Where families work together, where the group’s economic success depends upon the contribution of all the members, a cohesion is achieved that is otherwise very difficult.

The family is an organic unity, not a random collection of individuals, but too many parents today encourage each child to discover—or rather, invent—his own identity.  The problem is coming up in public schools, where elementary-school pupils have been encouraged by parents to change their “gender” identity and now want to use bathrooms reserved for the opposite sex.

It is through the rituals of common meals, common worship, and common work that a family discovers its identity as a family.  The pleasures and opportunities, no less than the pressures, of modern existence threaten this identity.  Children have their endless rounds of music and dance and tennis lessons, clubs and parties to attend, and school functions that sometimes seem to require whole weeks of afternoons for meetings and practice sessions.  Parents also join clubs and attend classes and may only have the chance to greet their children as a group on the way out the door to school.  In popular entertainment, these activities are conventionally portrayed as the fruits of success and popularity, the sometimes hectic rewards that await exuberant and talented individuals.  What many of us sense, however, is the familiar story of the hare with many friends.  The more activities we undertake, the less seriously we devote ourselves to any of them; the more friends we make, the less we value them (and they us); the more we spend time outside the home, the less capable we are of being at home at any time in our lives.

There is no single formula to fit all circumstances.  Some people are more active, more demanding than others, and it would be wrong to stigmatize them as disloyal to their families.  Of course, many enthusiasms can be shared by an entire household, even if all the members are not equally enthusiastic.  Many families have passions for outdoor life—camping, hunting, fishing—on which they spend a great deal of time together.  For others it may be music or tennis.  Many might like the idea of teaching at home or running a family business, but either their circumstances or their lack of aptitude is an obstacle.  What is important is not the details but the main objective: a family that sees itself as an indissoluble mystical entity like the Trinity—multiple persons but fundamentally one.

Finally, if we wish to recover a sense of the family castle, we have to give up the American obsession with making money.  How many times have you heard that the family home is an investment or listened to friends talk about trading up?  House-flipping used to be a lucrative business, and it will be once again before too very long.  Of course, the necessity of work or increase in family size makes it inevitable that we shall have to change houses from time to time, but we should view these changes not as economic opportunities but as tragic events, more like divorce than like trading in a car.