The Runestone: Fall 1984 #49
by Stephen A. McNallen

It is quite acceptable these days to point out that we live in an alienated society. It is also standard to offer the idea of kinship in one form or another as antidote to the loneliness and separation so many of us experience in our lives. Since kinship is often praised among us who follow Asatru, let’s remind ourselves of the reasons we consider it important, and, while we are at it, let us ask ourselves why alienation has triumphed in the first place.

First, what’s so great about identifying with our kin, and working harmoniously with them?

Kinship is efficient. Imagine the effects on the average taxpayer if people turned to family and tribe in hardship, rather than to the government! Welfare, make-work jobs designed solely to redistribute the wealth, food stamps – all could be slashed almost out of existence if there was a supporting network of kin ready to help their own. The clumsy bureaucracy which eats up our resources and hems us in with ever more regulation could be largely dismissed, and we would all benefit by better use of funds and by freedom from the petty bureaucrats who currently oppress us.

Kinship is natural. A need for it is programmed into our genes. Humans evolved under conditions that required an “in group” receiving the loyalty of the individuals comprising it. Nature wired us in such a way that we are happiest and most effective when we have such a kin bond with the people around us. Anything less, and we are not likely to find real satisfaction.

Finally, kinship is an integral part of Asatru. We believe that we are linked to our ancestors and our descendants in a special way that takes priority over lesser relationships, and our traditions tell us that mighty spiritual properties are transmitted down the family line from one generation to the next. These intangible properties are a priceless treasure carrying with them weighty duties, and much of the ethics of Asatru revolve around these obligations.

If kinship is such a fine thing, why do we live in an alienated society? We have been seduced by a universalist ethic that insists we call everyone kin, that we love anything that walks, crawls, or slithers. Nevertheless, we have less genuine experience of natural kinship than at any time in our history as a people. If all are special, none are special. “Universal brotherhood” paradoxically destroys the meaning of kinship by indiscriminately bestowing it on every passer-by. Again, we must ask why we ended up with such an unnatural ideology prevailing over our instinctive needs. The answer lies in one word – CONTROL.

Strong special bonds create social units which are harder to control, harder to coerce into conformity with the produce-and-consume system. Alienation, on the other hand, makes us dependent on the present order as it makes us powerless to change it, and encourages us to consume material goods. Any hint of tribal feeling, any stirring of a real social alternative, must be quietly sidetracked into avenues of expression that will not threaten the official ideology or its servants. Much of the counterculture (a very mixed bag indeed) functions as a sort of safety valve or even as a “deep freeze” where changing ideas, good and bad alike, can be rendered harmless. Things have to be kept under control. People mustn’t turn off their televisions or start talking to each other, for goodness sake. The whole artificial mess might come crashing down! While a restoration of kinship sounds fine to us who follow the gods, It’s a pretty threatening thing to some who like the current state of alienation. We, however, must resolutely press forward to make a better world for our people one in which we can be free to experience both the duties and the great benefits of kinship in Asatru.

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