Friday, August 26, 2016

Neoliberalism in Divorce

As I began my studies of corporate libertarianism and neoliberalism, I was inwardly comparing these concepts to narcissistic divorce. You could call the guiding ideologies by many names: colonialism, capitalism, narcissism. I have always believed that the prevailing ideologies of the cultural institutions we are born into, such as corporate libertarianism, informs and is reflected in weak personal relationships. For instance, families which have not strengthened their morality, values, and humanism are susceptible to simply replaying corporate scenarios in their personal relationships, and setting up corporate-like structures in their families.
I speak from the perspective of a woman. I'm not interested in debating the advantaged position of the white  male today. That is well established and anyone who argues against it is arguing for White Male Fragility. Research clearly shows that men fare much better financially than women post-divorce. I am interested in exploring the similarities between the prevailing corporate paradigm and family structure, with a focus on the situation of a man with ample resources and ability to work who refuses to support his children while choosing to support the legal system instead.
This is just a cursory overview of concepts I've learned so far, with the intention of someday exploring and broadening these concepts through personal writing. First, I want to review characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder as listed by the DSM 5:

-Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
 -Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it 
-Exaggerating your achievements and talents
 -Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate 
-Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people 
-Requiring constant admiration 
-Having a sense of entitlement 
-Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations 
-Taking advantage of others to get what you want 
-Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others 
-Being envious of others and believing others envy you 
-Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Corporate libertarianism followed a long rise that ensured the recognition of corporations as "people" with rights. The enmeshment with government was inevitable. It used to be that corporations had to be approved of through a lengthy charter process to ensure they didn't get too big. Through a fascinating history, they did get too big, and globalization and concentration of resources among a few by exploiting the many happened, and is still happening today. This is not new news, but I had never delved deeper into the causes of this structure, nor had I thought about it with a critical mind until education became such a big part of my life . Several things are key to linking this ideology to high-conflict divorce.
First of all, corporate libertarianism rested on a certain notion of property. The shift from communal property to individual ownership was key in setting up corporate libertarianism. Holding to a paradigm that declares "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine" is worlds apart from "we share resources to take care of each other." It's democracy versus capitalism. Capitalism is about money and the acquisition of money. In my readings, I quote, "The drive to acquire is the highest expression of what it means to be human." This pretty much sums up the unquestioned belief system of capitalism. Not everyone agrees with that statement, and I have many high ideals regarding what it means to be human. None of them have to do with the drive to acquire. All too often in family court, notions of property involve children, and children are treated like property instead of human beings.
In a high conflict divorce, one party holds the capitalist paradigm, while the other party is more oriented towards democratic equality. The drive to acquire and hoard resources is a factor, for corporate libertarianism seeks to concentrate resources, benefits, and advantages with one small group to the disadvantage of the many. In high-conflict divorce, it is an individual seeking to take resources from another to destabilize the family and create a power imbalance so that individual can concentrate all the benefits, resources, and advantages in himself. Power, as I learned in class, has many definitions but one definition is that power is the ability to help or hurt. In high-conflict ongoing divorce, one party seeks to hurt the other.
Corporate libertarianism's guiding principle is: maximize profit while minimizing responsibility. It is not much different than individual narcissism. Corporations can raze the earth and pollute the water and just pay politicians so that they don't have to clean it up or worry about how it affects people's lives. It creates private profit, but the ramifications, or costs, are placed on society. Think about how ludicrous it is. The money corporations spend on lobbying and the legal system could be spent on cleaning up their environmental messes or building "clean" factories. Instead, they play a game, a mindless game that gives them the ability to make money without restrictions. It is the same with high-conflict divorce. One party can completely raze another person and their own children and family financially, emotionally, and physically, but either blame the people they abuse, or take no responsibility for their actions. They are their own corporate microcosm, their own mini-dictators. Again, this is an imbalance that is blatantly exploitative in nature.
Corporations who want tax relief are basically asking for a reverse socialism. Capitalism is socialism for the rich. This is also called "corporate welfare". A man of means and ability to earn an ample living for himself and his children, in refusing to work to his potential, in using his resources to bully his co-parent in court, and in asking the court to relieve him of his legal child support obligations is asking the court to put him on welfare. He is also asking his ex-wife and children to relieve him of his family obligations so he does not have to make any sacrifices to support his family, and they have to make sacrifices for HIM. This allows him to improve his home, take multiple vacations, take no measures to promote himself and his work in the world, and basically play a lot, and who cares how this affects his children?
Corporations do a sales job by constantly convincing us that their interests are our interests. Narcissists do this too, through gaslighting. They present a facade and are fake in their morals and standards. People fall for their facade. I know I have fallen for these seemingly perfect scenarios. Corporations, too, have no morals. They really don't care about the people they exploit, they just have business to do. High-conflict blamers, during and after a divorce, will also launch "smear campaigns" to justify their heinous exploits and judgmental, punitive behavior. This lack of humanity characterizes high-conflict divorce. The narcissist and his group lack empathy and truly do not care who they hurt or how. The high-conflict, narcissistic group who scapegoats is not very different in ideology from corporate America.
I also want to say how very odd and infuriating it is that a man can spend more on the legal system in trying to get out of paying child support than he does on his children. This is a simple matter of looking at the numbers. If a man adds it up, it goes like this: "50K to my attorney and court. My own children: meh, whatever I can "afford", which is probably closer to 5K, Investments I've made personally and financially to benefit my relationship with my ex-wife and children and to foster cooperative co-parenting: -40K. That's right, negative. Damages have been done, on purpose. I've deliberately burned my bridges with her in pursuit of my personal power and control."
It is common sense that a man who is financially able to litigate with intent to financially cripple his co-parent is financially able to support his children. These men consistently prove their ability to support the legal system and create a diversion in personal relationships by playing on people's sympathies. In the meantime, the money flowing towards the court is effectively diverted away from his children, who could be enjoying a higher quality of life were their father not wasting time and money on a retaliatory, capitalist mission.This is one aspect of family court that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and in the family court's allowing an imbalance of advantages and disadvantages, they hold to the ideology of corporate libertarianism.
Not one state adequately addresses the problem of a person spending more of their money on family court than on their children. Years of child support can be squandered and funneled away from children into family court in the service of letting a high-income, highly funded person get out of supporting their children. If a person can find the money to continually litigate, a person can find the money to pay for things for their children and not harm their co-parent. It is worse than unfair to exploitatively financially burden a co-parent; it is abusive.
Corporations may legally be "people" now, but people are not "corporations" in family court. There needs to be a paradigm shift, one where families are not tainted by the narcissism of corporate libertarianism's ideology, but have developed a true democracy.

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