Children Going West (Review Essay of Hillary Clinton, it Takes a Village)
This Times Literary Supplement (London) review essay from 1996 takes up Hillary Rodham Clinton's It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us, and Emmy E. Werner's, Pioneer Children on the Journey West. The review takes a tough line against the therapeutic yet simultaneously authoritarian ethic of Clinton's book; it argues that Clinton has essentially conflated a set of local community institutions - places of identity - with state institutions of therapeutic and social control - bureaucratic loci of state management of deracinated, passive individuals. It sets this against the ethic of responsibility evoked in the diaries of girls making the journey westwards in 19th century America; Emmy Werner, for her part, curiously tries to read into those accounts of responsibility, independence, and self-reliance a history of trauma and weakness that would benefit from contemporary therapeutic management. The review essay attacks both books as promoting the hegemony of the helping professions and its authoritarian management of an increasingly more helpless populace.