Leviathan’s ChildrennThe Family Policy of Sweden . . . and the U.S. ArmynWashington apparatchiks have spent the last twondecades in a frustrating search for a theme that couldncarry the sagging American welfare state. There are signsnnow that they have finally identified a, two-headed creaturenslouching toward Bethlehem-on-the-Potomac to be born:n”families” and “children.” Jimmy Carter had a vague sensenof the political power behind these words, but his WhitenHouse Conference on Families degenerated into a nastynfray over definition of the key word. In the mid-1980’s, NewnYork Governor Mario Cuomo made headlines and rhetoricalnheadway with speeches about “the family in America,”nusing the label as a metaphor for collective social responsibility.nMore recently, the sorry status of many Americannchildren (e.g., relatively high levels of illiteracy, illegal drugnuse, and poverty) and the strains on family living created bynthe two-career couple have brought the solicitous attentionnof the pols and pledges to use the “Peace Dividend” to helpn”all our children.”nFortunately, history offers a few lessons about governmentalnefforts to help families and children. For over onenhundred years, a common explanatory theory has beennadvanced to buttress the case for state intervention. Modernnconditions of industrialization and urban living, it says, havenshattered inherited community supports, put intense pressurenon families, and created an array of new socialnproblems: hunger, city poverty, and the control of urbannchildren. Traditional structures of relief such as churches andnAllan Carlson is president of The Rockford Institute andnauthor of The Swedish Experiment in Family Politics:nThe Myrdals and the Interwar Populadon Crisisn(Transaction Books).nby Allan Carlsonnextended families, the theory goes on, are unable to copenwith these problems, leaving government as the only vehiclencapable of social reconstruction.nAmerican sociologist William Ogburn, writing in then1920’s, emphasized the family’s progressive “loss of function,”nas economic, educational, and even religious activitiesnleft the home, passing over to professional guidance andncontrol, while families refocused on the remaining “personalitynfunction.” By the 1930’s, observers pointed to lownbirthrates throughout Western Europe as signs of distressnand of the family’s inability to cope. Conservatives, fascists,nand socialists alike came to agree on the need for expandednfamily benefits. As Swedish theorist Alva Myrdal explained,n”a portion of the traditional family tasks must be socialized.nModern society must free families from the anxieties whichnmodern society itself has placed on families.”nWhat have been the results? Answers are found in twonvery different socialist experiments: in the Swedish welfarenstate, 1935-75; and among those families in the Cold Warnmilitary services of the United States, 1947-90.nThe family crisis in Sweden welled up twice in midcentury,nfirst in the mid-1930’s, and again a decadenlater. Socialists and conservatives agreed on the need tonremove the “living standard penalty” imposed by childrennon traditional family life. The new programs included childnallowances, free education, family housing subsidies, maternitynassistance, family health care, state run daycare, andnvarious youth services.nFor a time, the results seemed to confirm the soundnessnof both theory and response. Swedish marriage and birthratesnclimbed in the late 1940’s, and the nation apparentlynnnMAY 1990/25n