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‘All Cultures Are Not Equal’

Law professors Amy Wax and Larry Alexander wrote an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer that made a commonsense argument: that many of our social problems today stem from a collapse of middle-class cultural norms. [1] Excerpts:

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.

Did everyone abide by those precepts? Of course not. There are always rebels — and hypocrites, those who publicly endorse the norms but transgress them. But as the saying goes, hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue. Even the deviants rarely disavowed or openly disparaged the prevailing expectations.

Was everything perfect during the period of bourgeois cultural hegemony? Of course not. There was racial discrimination, limited sex roles, and pockets of anti-Semitism. However, steady improvements for women and minorities were underway even when bourgeois norms reigned. Banishing discrimination and expanding opportunity does not require the demise of bourgeois culture. Quite the opposite: The loss of bourgeois habits seriously impeded the progress of disadvantaged groups. That trend also accelerated the destructive consequences of the growing welfare state, which, by taking over financial support of families, reduced the need for two parents. A strong pro-marriage norm might have blunted this effect. Instead, the number of single parents grew astronomically, producing children more prone to academic failure, addiction, idleness, crime, and poverty.

More:

All cultures are not equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy. The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-“acting white” rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants. These cultural orientations are not only incompatible with what an advanced free-market economy and a viable democracy require, they are also destructive of a sense of solidarity and reciprocity among Americans. If the bourgeois cultural script — which the upper-middle class still largely observes but now hesitates to preach — cannot be widely reinstated, things are likely to get worse for us all.

Read the whole thing. [1] The professors say that embracing old-fashioned bourgeois norms would not solve every problem, but it would help a lot of suffering people have better lives, and improve our common life. How is this even disputable?

Welcome to academia, in which the politically correct mob has formed: [2]

“[White supremacist Richard] Spencer’s incitement of moral panic can find its intellectual home in the kind of falsely ‘objective’ rhetoric in Amy Wax’s statement, which positions (white) bourgeois culture as not only objectively superior, but also under incursion from lesser cultures and races,” a statement from a Penn multicultural group posted on Medium [3] read.

A column in the student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvaniansigned by 54 students and alumni [4], called the ideals extolled in Wax and Alexander’s piece “steeped in anti-blackness and white hetero-patriarchal respectability, i.e. two-hetero-parent homes, divorce is a vice and the denouncement of all groups perceived as not acting white enough, i.e., black Americans, Latino communities and immigrants in particular.”

Wax teaches at Penn Law School. More:

“People are outraged at me for sort of touting a life script that’s been out there forever,” Wax told Inside Higher Ed. “I’m waiting for them to get there and march against bourgeois values. I’m waiting for that.”

“If they were really being consistent, they would go out there and say, ‘We’re going commit crimes, and get high, and go on strike and go on food stamps, and have a bunch of out-of-wedlock babies, because we want to have nothing to do with these tainted, racist values,’” Wax said. “These clearly aren’t universal values, no one can argue that with a straight face, in the sense that they have come out of a particular time, a particular place and a particular culture.”

Go get ’em, Amy Wax! Hang tough.

It is a sign of the utter stupidity of our times that not only does a piece like Wax’s and Alexander’s need to be written, but that a herd of academics would denounce it as racist, sexist, and the lot.

Seems to me that if you want to have the best shot at building a decent life for yourself and for your children, you’ll do what Wax and Alexander say. If not, you’ll follow the advice of the herd of academicians. Anyway, Prof. Wax is right: her critics aren’t going to come out and endorse anti-bourgeois values, or live by them. But they lack the moral courage and the common sense to affirm what everyone knows — or used to know — to be true.

136 Comments (Open | Close)

136 Comments To "‘All Cultures Are Not Equal’"

#1 Comment By kgasmart On August 29, 2017 @ 7:45 am

If white bourgeoise culture was so superior, why were its direct descendants some of the first to spoil this picture?

It was, in significant part, due to the valorization of dysfunction emanating from both the academy and the sexual revolution. Divorce was freeing and deemed the moral equivalent of remaining in a two-parent household for the sake of the kids. But those who valorized and legitimized these new “choices,” as you point out, often/usually didn’t make those choices themselves. So, why not – or what was the point of valorizing dysfunction, to make people feel better about themselves?

#2 Comment By kgasmart On August 29, 2017 @ 7:55 am

This argument isn’t about truth, it’s about tribe. It cannot be settled and it cannot be helpful.

And yet:

That trend also accelerated the destructive consequences of the growing welfare state, which, by taking over financial support of families, reduced the need for two parents. A strong pro-marriage norm might have blunted this effect. Instead, the number of single parents grew astronomically, producing children more prone to academic failure, addiction, idleness, crime, and poverty.

This can and has been statistically proven; it is truth that, on average, kids from single parents grow up less well-off by numerous measures than kids from two-parent families.

If merely observing this is politically incorrect, if suggesting that individual agency bears blame as does structural racism is beyond the pale, what you ultimately are saying is: “My” tribe has the right to make the choices it likes, and “your” tribe has no moral right to dictate.

But in that the outcomes for “My” tribe are worse due to those choices – “your” tribe still has to cough up more tax dollars so the welfare state can try and narrow the gap.

#3 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On August 29, 2017 @ 8:44 am

We should be careful not to conflate bourgeois values with either virtue or practical rules.
The essence of bourgeois values is “creative destruction”, , conformism, utilitarianism, materialism, hypocrisy and radical nihilism. While those may be conductive to material prosperity in the present historical contingency, they are not generally conductive to a life well lived.
A middle class life lived virtuously may superficially resemble a life led according to bourgeois values, but the two aren’t the same thing.

#4 Comment By Tyro On August 29, 2017 @ 8:46 am

It was, in significant part, due to the valorization of dysfunction emanating from both the academy and the sexual revolution

I think it isn’t more likely that people used to be much worse about picking a spouse and used liberalized divorce laws to split up. After a generation of this, the following generation made better choices about whom to marry specifically because they wanted to avoid divorce.

It works the other way a small well– people who saw their parents’ unpleasant marriages decided that, in the absence of any compelling need to get married, they would not get married at all.

The lesson conservatives tend to learn from these things is always, “being single or divorce needs to be much, much worse than marriage.”

#5 Comment By dave On August 29, 2017 @ 8:52 am

Well, you can do things or you can be a critic of those doing things. Criticism is important but too much seems to lead to paralysis. So, if you want to do things you show up, you stay, you hold yourself accountable, you respect others. I think everyone gets that at some point.

Criticism doesn’t require all that. And one of the things about academics – and by infection, a majority of us – is that they have elevated criticism to a high art, a sacred function. It’s all the humanities are, seems sometimes. I blame the French. Sorry Dreher, excellent cooks, wonderful vinters, decadent theorists.

#6 Comment By ControlE On August 29, 2017 @ 8:53 am

Most commenters here are responding to this as if the entirety of the left has voiced opposition to the idea of getting an education and getting married. Look at the source of the responses to the editorial though. Most of them were written by student organizations on college campuses. Where you not contrarian when you were 21? When you were 19 and someone told you “you cannot do it like that” was your response not “Oh yeah? Watch me.” There is a reason liberal college kids scoff at the idea of marriage, kids, and jobs while 30 year old liberals are married with kids and jobs. You are in two totally different head spaces at 19 versus 30.

Though I do take some umbrage to the idea that you must get married before having kids and that is the only way it works. I have been engaged to my fiancé for almost four years now. We have two wonderful children, she is a stay at home mom, I own our house and we have a car and a minivan in the driveway. We aren’t exactly having orgies in the living room and leaving our children to starve in the basement. Yet this idea of marriage before kids would imply that we are doing it wrong, while our married drug addicted neighbors who beat their kids in the street and don’t feed them dinner for days at a time are doing it right.

#7 Comment By dave On August 29, 2017 @ 9:03 am

Speaking of which, watching people respond to the flooding in Texas, thinking of the way people responded to the flooding in Louisiana, that to me represents the people of the United States. These are the people I encounter traveling in rural areas, in the Appalachians, in the midwest and south. The divisiveness and cultural war stuff, that seems to me to be foisted upon us by our political elites – that the divisiveness is an electoral strategy.

Romney and Clinton got it backwards, is how I see it. The takers and the deplorables are them.

#8 Comment By Tyro On August 29, 2017 @ 9:07 am

Opioid abuse is widespread.” Well, yes, but overall drug and alcohol use has declined and so have smoking rates.

Drug abuse is only a major social problem when it happens to white people… no one, notably, is talking about stiff mandatory minimum sentences for opioid drug crimes, nor am I hearing about a death penalty law for “OxyContin kingpins.”

If you want to know why things are going south, even though we statistically seem to be doing well, it’s because the recovery has been uneven. It’s not just that the “1%” are the only ones seeing wage gains. It’s that a narrow slice of America is seeing economic growth while the rest of the country stagnates. 50% of all economic growth is concentrated in a few metropolitan areas, mostly on the coasts.

In the past we mitigated these natural effects by locating major government agencies like NASA and major research labs in the Deep South and other underserved areas. We moved factories outside of metro areas to protect them from nuclear attacks on major cities.

What we have done now is exchanged those policies for laissez-faire economics where (naturally) economic growth is going to be drawn to already economically successful areas and in exchange allowed those hollowed out regions to call themselves “real America.”

Now that the inevitable problems have arisen, we say, “America didn’t fail the people, the people failed America.”

#9 Comment By Jeremy Denk On August 29, 2017 @ 9:14 am

As you suggested, I read the original editorial. You summarize it one sentence, and then ask “How is this even disputable?” But your summary is extremely disingenuous. There are tons of politically loaded and divisive bits in the editorial, and it includes a ridiculously selective reading of recent history, for instance:

“A combination of factors — prosperity, the Pill, the expansion of higher education, and the doubts surrounding the Vietnam War — encouraged an antiauthoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal — sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll — that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society. This era saw the beginnings of an identity politics that inverted the color-blind aspirations of civil rights leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into an obsession with race, ethnicity, gender, and now sexual preference.”

You might agree with this assessment, but obviously this is not an “objective” or academically rigorous account of the 1960s (just because they’re law professors doesn’t mean everything they write is academically sound, right?), and it completely omits the economic side of the equation: the subtle exclusion of minorities from the hallmarks of prosperity (such as home ownership), the gradual decline of unions and concomitant loss of power by employees, the establishment of a safety net in the 1930s that helped a whole generation to get a head start, etcetera etcetera. Whatever the merits of this argument, it is certainly not “indisputable”—in fact, by its very nature it wants to be disputed. Why else would the authors keep referring to the detestable “chattering classes” and “Hollywood elites”? Are these rigorous academic terms, or political footballs?

Here’s the thing. I might be willing to engage with your argument, and the truths within it (they are there!), if you were willing to admit that your argument is not exactly “self-evident.” How dare you write that it’s a sign of the stupidity of the times that such an editorial needs to be written… This editorial is hardly watertight and undermines its own credibility with its blatant bias.

Finally, I don’t think it’s fair to refer to a letter in the Daily Pennsylvanian as “the politically correct mob.” It’s a response to a provocative (sometimes borderline trolling) editorial, and though it also has its problems and biases, a letter from a bunch of professors is not a mob situation.

#10 Comment By Mario Diana On August 29, 2017 @ 9:53 am

Bring back shame!

I have often thought of having a bumper sticker made, propounding the above. I actually hate the idea of putting a bumper sticker on any car I own, but I could get behind one like this.

#11 Comment By Jack B. Nimble On August 29, 2017 @ 9:58 am

Wax and Alexander’s Op-Ed is a textbook example of how NOT to use history to inform present-day debates.

I’ll restrict this comment to their misuse of Dr. ML King, Jr.’s aspirational goal of a colorblind society. Long-term aspirational goals, like curing cancer or eliminating poverty, may never be achieved, but they can help guide current efforts.

In his later life, Dr. King became more militant and advocated for affirmative action for minorities and reparations for the descendants of slaves. He even suggested that Blacks should pool their economic power and divest from white-owned businesses. Whether these policies are right or wrong, they are color-aware, not colorblind. Dr. King saw these color-aware policies as necessary first steps on the long road to a colorblind society.

Republicans, including Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich, have been misusing Dr. King’s legacy for decades, so this is not a trivial point.

Source: [5]

#12 Comment By Chris Cosmos On August 29, 2017 @ 10:29 am

Traditional middle class norms you describe here “failed” for a reason. First the post-WWII culture you describe was a historical anomalie that depended on a dramatic change in family structure called “the nuclear family” living in a burb or at least that was an ideal. The nuclear family, divorced from a larger family, clan and broader community through the new technology of television and the cultural dominance of hedonism and consumerism that had been building for decades. Those middle-class virtues made sense in theory but did not work that well in practice. The philosophy of hedonism and consumerism simply destroys moral precepts and the counter-culture which was really just the old culture but with more honesty and an openess to truth.

You know there is no turning back now–the system is too entrenched and we have no choice but to either move towards a more sensible social order that addresses the challenges of post-modernism without the nostalgia of traditional religion whose failure caused the problem of modernism/post-modernism in the first place.

#13 Comment By KD On August 29, 2017 @ 12:21 pm

I think the real lesson here is the problem with the constant calls to denounce “white supremacy”, “hate speech” and “Nazi’s”. You can read this essay and laugh about the characterization of the essay, but the people against it are serious and they are out for blood.

There was a time when these terms were meaningful, say the early 1960’s, there was a significant group of people who were textbook “white supremacists”, there was a Nazi party with membership, and the speeches they made were very hateful.

Now, white nationalism in any form is treated as equivalent to white supremacy (politically, it is not) and Naziism (again, politically different demands), if there is some overlap. Further, non-white nationalists saying something commonsense and innocuous are tarred with nonsensical smears.

Stop playing the Progressive language-game if you are not Progressive!

#14 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 29, 2017 @ 12:48 pm

From the op-ed:

Was everything perfect during the period of bourgeois cultural hegemony? Of course not. There was racial discrimination, limited sex roles, and pockets of anti-Semitism.

Anne:

The problem is Wes [Wax] and Alexander’s socially tone-deaf assumption that middle-class white culture in America during the 50s (or mid-40s through mid-60s) attained the ideal and did so because of its inherent superiority, implying (or announcing outright) that black American “culture” is in itself inferior.

Anne, I always enjoy your writing. However, can you please explain to me how the op-ed quote is the “tone-deaf assumption” you claim about the authors?

It seems to me that you are assuming — or perhaps implying — that the authors’ observations are based on their personal experiences, and I believe neither of them are old enough for that to be true, or your point is that their very act of observing is an endorsement of what they are reporting.

I was born in 1956. I have elder siblings born in 1946 and 1949. My younger siblings were born in 1959 and 1963. I am a Boomer, I am a “product” of the post-WWII “bourgeois” culture. I’m here to tell you, my good fellow readers, that Wax and Alexander are offering accurate observations, balanced by a clear vision of what was wrong during the era (and is still wrong in the present era), and I can provide a personal, anecdotal example.

After my parents divorced, I and my younger siblings would not have had a home, food or clothing without “public assistance”, that being the term before AFDC and other acronyms came along. My mother had neither education credentials nor marketable skills to speak of, was a female in her 40s, and spoke with a distinct foreign accent. In the tired baseball metaphor, she struck out before filling out an employment application form. When my youngest sibling was in high school, she did the responsible thing, and completed an office-skills course. She also lied about her age by 10 years, that being (in her mind, and a very good assumption for the time) the only way she could get hired.

For every welfare-cheat story, I don’t hesitate to go out on a limb and claim that there are tens if not hundreds of stories like my mother’s.

Oh, and my mother was “white”, though not seen as “one of us” by most anyone hearing her speak. The American Hegemony was hardly a bed of roses for a large majority of those supposedly benefiting from it. That’s not a contradiction to the experiences of minorities, it’s corroboration. See also the disappearance of the American middle class.

#15 Comment By B. Bagheri On August 29, 2017 @ 12:57 pm

It is good to see people directly address the question of “culture”. There is, especially in academia, the notion that a “culture” is some sort of mystical organic thing. With the corollary that you accept a “culture” as whole or you reject it. This is clearly not so. The characteristics mentioned here has hallmarks of “white bourgeois culture” are specific practices that should be judged separately on their own merits and don’t come bundled with the rest of a “culture”.

For example, the willingness to work hard is a specific habit and it is a good habit that should be cultivated. The hard-work habit has little to do many with other habits and practices usually bundled under the name “white bourgeois culture”: wearing suits and ties, listening to classical music, etc.

By the way this belief in “culture” as a mystical holistic thing can be found on both the left and right side of the political spectrum.

#16 Comment By Alissa On August 29, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

Somebody didn’t learn (or forgot) about ethnocentrism.
This may not be bluntly racist. But it is ethnocentric, which is very ignorant.

Could our culture use a tighter set of values, allowing us a stronger bond as Americans and a more secure society? Yes. But does that disregard the values and ways of life brought in from migrant cultures? No!

Culture is fluid. Ever changing and adapting to its environment, time and its people. And “anti-assimilation” isn’t a cultural value but a normal response to cultural oppression.
What actual cultural values of Hispanics, Native Americans (Yes, they damn right still exist and their cultures have adapted to a new historical period–while struggling to maintain their identities–as is natural) and African Americans are detrimental to American society?

America has always been a cultural melting pot. The diversity and opportunity that gives has always been its appeal.

Our values need to be each other. Our world is changing as it becomes more open, accessible, and globalized. And as individuals fight for equal rights. Understanding needs to be core. Love needs to be valued.

#17 Comment By James On August 29, 2017 @ 1:20 pm

“All black people do is collect welfare, have babies out of wedlock, and commit crimes.”, said the bigot.

“Working, marrying before having children, and following the law are anti-black”, said the woke intersectionalist.

#18 Comment By bt On August 29, 2017 @ 3:06 pm

Here’s the conservative ‘values’ argument in a nutshell:

“If only you had better values we wouldn’t have closed your factory, sent the jobs off-shore and then offered you 3 part-time jobs with no benefits.” Then throw in something about how the hippies are responsible because they stopped us from polluting your ground water.

It’s mostly a case of blaming the victim. If the economic conditions are available for people to have good jobs, with good pay and secutiry while leaving some time aside at home for building your family, having fine upstanding values is a whole lot easier. It’s even better when the sort who is NOT going to make it to college has access to these kinds of opportunities.

It’s a bit of a chicken – egg situation. But the grim reality is that the industrial / manufacturing economy has been dismantled over the last 30 years. We are too cheap, or too mean, as a nation to be figure out how to put something in it’s place that doesn’t leave a majority of working people in insecure poverty. And that’s one of the reasons why we have Trump. Who is sadly and clearly an idiot – but Trump’s key thing was that he was willing to point out that things in America suck right now if you’re Joe Six Pack. Joe Six Pack is probably even sicker than hearing about that Shining City on a Hill sending a beacon of Freedom around the word than I am.

And I don’t think Joe Six Pack is going to buy that the reason his prospects suck is because he has bad values. That’s something that conservatives needs to learn from, or you’re going to be facing more leaders like Trump stealing your voters, who are going to turn this whole thing around and will blame their poor prospects on the rotten values of their political leaders.

#19 Comment By Donald ( the left leaning one) On August 29, 2017 @ 3:28 pm

I agreed with much of the editorial, but Jeremy Denk has a point in that it was obviously meant to troll lefties and not intended to convince people. For instance, there was this part–

“As a consequence, the counterculture made great headway, particularly among the chattering classes — academics, writers, artists, actors, and journalists — who relished liberation from conventional constraints and turned condemning America and reviewing its crimes into a class marker of virtue and sophistication.”

So I guess Daniel Larison and Andrew Bacevich, who are both very critical of US foreign policy, are helping to destroy the family.

Mixing up different issues and acting like they are all connected is what passes for political discussion in the US, but you could oppose the Vietnam War and American racism and still think drug use is a bad idea and monagamy a good one.

#20 Comment By VikingLS On August 29, 2017 @ 5:03 pm

“Though I do take some umbrage to the idea that you must get married before having kids and that is the only way it works. I have been engaged to my fiancé for almost four years now. We have two wonderful children, she is a stay at home mom, I own our house and we have a car and a minivan in the driveway. We aren’t exactly having orgies in the living room and leaving our children to starve in the basement. Yet this idea of marriage before kids would imply that we are doing it wrong, while our married drug addicted neighbors who beat their kids in the street and don’t feed them dinner for days at a time are doing it right.”

No, it implies that essentially you are living bourgeois values without having legally married the person who for all practical purposes is your spouse.

#21 Comment By Dan Green On August 29, 2017 @ 5:37 pm

Couple realities. Females en mass no longer pursue marriage for support, most wan’t no part of a so called stay at home Mom. Second, marriage is a very very difficult so called institution.Living with the same person for an extended period of time is often just a chore. All those who enter the bonds of marriage, face a 50% divorce rate, plus the unknown % who still hang for the kids. Another unknown percent hang to avoid busting up an estate.

#22 Comment By ShawnF On August 29, 2017 @ 7:15 pm

Wax and Alexander may be correct that adherence to middle class cultural norms was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of the period. But what this article overlooks is WHY that culture changed: economics.

Why do both mothers and fathers work today, when women used to stay at home? Because one income cannot sustain a family.

Why is ” work hard, and avoid idleness” no longer the cultural norm? Because corporations have no loyalty to their employees. Hard work doesn’t keep you in a job, doesn’t net you a livable wage, doesn’t earn you a retirement. A few decades of continuous layoffs and pension fund bankruptcies, the rise of “temporary” workers in all industries, and the decline of real income has destroyed any notion that employment is a cooperative venture. After decades of corporations offering the bare minimum to their employees, they can no longer hope for loyalty from their workers.

Is it any surprise at all that the only group that still largely observes those norms is the upper middle class (read: “old, rich and white”)?

Financial malfeasance and predatory economics destroyed “the sense of solidarity and reciprocity among Americans.” Those bourgeois norms no longer exist because our culture sold them. Cultural decline didn’t cause our social ills, greed did–and it caused the decline of our culture, too.

Why has respect for authority declined? Because authorities have failed in their responsibilities. In many cases, authorities who are irrational bureaucrats. In many others, they abuse their authority to create injustice. Meanwhile, traditionally “respectable” institutions have been tarnished by criminal activity or flat-out incompetence.

#23 Comment By Tyro On August 29, 2017 @ 7:43 pm

We are too cheap, or too mean, as a nation to be figure out how to put something in it’s place that doesn’t leave a majority of working people in insecure poverty.

To a certain degree, having communities fall into dysfunction and being able lay it entirely at the feet of false choices allows the rest of us to feel good about our relatively happy, stable lives

Nothing, I mean nothing, gets people I know riled up more than stories of people with stable jobs and good salaries who do not in some way conform to their vision of who “deserve” such things.

These stories of how poverty and destitution would would not exist if only people made “correct” decisions is a very comforting and important narrative that our society requires. It makes us feel better about ourselves and relieves us of the need to think more deeply about our nation’s problems.

#24 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On August 29, 2017 @ 9:14 pm

Chris Cosmos

You know there is no turning back now–the system is too entrenched and we have no choice but to either move towards a more sensible social order that addresses the challenges of post-modernism without the nostalgia of traditional religion whose failure caused the problem of modernism/post-modernism in the first place.

I don’t understand why do you bother “addressing the challenges of post-modernism”. If one accepts your nihilist postulates, the logical consequence should be that there are no problems to be addressed, since death will solve all problems for all of us.
In other words, if a challenge is not ultimately metaphysical, it’s not even a challenge.

#25 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On August 29, 2017 @ 9:18 pm

Alissa,

A virtuous – and not merely functioning – society needs assimilation. Other cultures are not worthless as they may enrich the main culture as they assimilate into it.
But multiculturalism, for a polity, means either empire or death.

#26 Comment By Jon S On August 30, 2017 @ 1:23 am

I’m still digesting this but there are couple of questions I’m turning over. Why does a functional Western culture require two parent families? Is it the assumption that single-parent families are deleterious to economy? There are some exceptionally functional national economies where single-mothers are the norm– Scandinavia– so I’m not sure that’s the case. Second, it seems illogical for the authors to champion two parent families, but at the same time be dismissive of the pill, the very tool that helps prevent single-mother syndrome. There are merits to some of the other things they write, but I also agree with Denk above as well.

#27 Comment By JonF On August 30, 2017 @ 6:08 am

RE: Nothing, I mean nothing, gets people I know riled up more than stories of people with stable jobs and good salaries who do not in some way conform to their vision of who “deserve” such things.

Huh? I have never found that to be true. There’s resentment toward people living off government benefits, sure, but toward people working full time and not needing those benefits? I have never found that except among a small number of Randite types who resent anyone who isn’t a millionaire.

#28 Comment By Rob G On August 30, 2017 @ 7:08 am

~~Here’s the conservative ‘values’ argument in a nutshell:

“If only you had better values we wouldn’t have closed your factory, sent the jobs off-shore and then offered you 3 part-time jobs with no benefits.” Then throw in something about how the hippies are responsible because they stopped us from polluting your ground water.~~~

Funny, but I’m a conservative and don’t believe any of those things in your nutshell.

Care to try again?

#29 Comment By VikingLS On August 30, 2017 @ 8:41 am

“Here’s the conservative ‘values’ argument in a nutshell:

“If only you had better values we wouldn’t have closed your factory, sent the jobs off-shore and then offered you 3 part-time jobs with no benefits.” Then throw in something about how the hippies are responsible because they stopped us from polluting your ground water.”

Change that last line into some implication that all these people are homophobic rednecks freeloading of of liberal “blue states” and you get the same response we get from some of the liberals here every time WWC poverty, particularly in Appalachia, comes up.

It’s not a “conservative” message. It’s a jerk message, and jerk is a universal phenomenon.

#30 Comment By Thrice A Viking On August 30, 2017 @ 11:11 am

Jon S, I remember the issue of single parenthood in Scandinavia coming up before here on Rod’s blog. IIRC, Hector made the same point you are making, and someone else (Jon F?) pointed out that while they were indeed single, the fathers so often stayed with the mother and their children that their marital status was largely irrelevant. (Henrik Ibsen, the 19th century playwright, made the same observation about young French couples who were faithful to each other despite not being able to afford a ceremony, in his play Ghosts, again IIRC.) That’s the key factor, whether children grow up in a stable, two parent family, not whether the parents have gone to a member of the clergy or a justice of the peace, or whatever the nuptial options are in a particular country.

#31 Comment By Ltery45 On August 30, 2017 @ 2:37 pm

JonS;

Scandinavians practice what we would call common law marriage. While not legally wed, the partners stay together for decades and raise their children together.

That’s quite distinct from the American preference for serial short term shackups which are so emotionally damaging to children.

#32 Comment By Thrice A Viking On August 30, 2017 @ 5:47 pm

Alissa, in addition to what Giuseppe said, you contradict yourself by saying that we are a “cultural melting post”. That’s precisely what multiculturalists don’t want! They say their ideal is like a salad, with each culture remaining much the same as it was originally. If you mean that all groups would add something to our American culture, so that we’d all be assimilating to new conditions and realities, I’d be for that, with some reservations for human rights. But I doubt that would pass muster with our “leftist” PC mandarins.

#33 Comment By Job On August 30, 2017 @ 6:01 pm

The delusion that someone could believe that all expressions of anything including culture is bizarre and unusual

#34 Comment By JonF On August 31, 2017 @ 6:28 am

Thrice a Viking,
It really doesn’t matter what the multicultural Left may want. Unless we enact artificial barriers like the old medieval ghetto laws (which would not pass constitutional muster) assimilation is inevitable. It’s what happens when different cultures are put in close and daily contact, just as long as no great effort is made to prevent it.

#35 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 31, 2017 @ 1:58 pm

We should be careful not to conflate bourgeois values with either virtue or practical rules.

The resident bolshevik applauds my Roman Catholic friend’s excellent observation.

#36 Comment By RogueOne On September 2, 2017 @ 10:23 pm

ShawnF’s comment is spot-on.