The real question is, why are these once fringe beliefs now the orthodoxy of the ruling class? You have to go to the heart of feminism, in the ways in which feminism is now part of the unassailable Way We Live Now. I think few conservatives even really think of challenging feminism on these fronts, but I believe the entire spectrum of these practices are intimately linked.
The underlying fact, which you tease out so nicely, is the profound contempt of the ruling class for actual motherhood itself. Actually bearing children is seen as strange, disgusting. I’ve heard this theme over and over and over again in stand-up comedy (where women comics are now a big trend).
But my first encounter with it goes far back, to a time when I actually considered myself a feminist. I was having a conversation with a few friends, a couple of them women, and the subject of family came up. Me and the other guy were like, oh yeah, it will be great to have children. I look forward to raising a family. The women were like, no I don’t plan to have children–no intention, no plans at all. I found this surprising, since I had never gotten the impression that they were “radical” or unorthodox in any way–these were the squarest women you could find. And they simply did not plan to have children, ever.
Later that night I talked to one of them at greater length, and she gave some honest insight into her feelings about it. She said she was afraid of the idea of being a mother. It made her frightened and kind of sick. She wanted to be rational, she said, and she was afraid that being a mother would make her irrational. There would all of a sudden be this “thing”–that’s how she referred to it–and it would derail her well-laid, fully rational plans for life. It would demand her attention and take her away from herself. And this would be irrational and against self-interest.
I thought it was an admirably complete and honest insight into what’s going on in educated young women’s minds. The Randian ideal of the rational autonomous chooser is incompatible with motherhood. It’s a crock of sh*t, besides, but that’s another story.
In any case, we are raising women to engage in 10 years or more of pointless fornication, during the prime of their fertility, during the formation of their identities and personalities and the most advanced years of their education. This means that fertility itself is now considered déclassé, contemptible, by the entire ruling class. And all of this follows naturally from that.
I spent some time over the weekend reacquainting myself with Harvard sociologist Carle C. Zimmerman’s 1947 book Family And Civilization. It’s a sociological history of the family, and what family formation has to do with the rise and fall of civilizations. He says there are three kinds of families:
1) the trustee family, which is tribal and clannish; it maintains very strong ties among its members, and it’s hard for the individual to emerge from it;
2) the domestic family, which is pretty much our traditional conception of family: father, mother, and children; it maintains significant ties among its members, but also allows for a lot of individuality;
3) the atomistic family, which is where many, perhaps most, American families are today: a collection of people who happen to be blood relatives, but who are for the most part free agents.
Obviously the domestic family is a midway point between the trustee and the atomistic.
Citing historians and documents from the period. Zimmerman points out the that decadence of the Greco-Roman family systems, which had become highly atomistic, played a significant part in leaving both societies vulnerable to barbarian attack, given that the barbarians had a strong trustee family system. Why vulnerable? Because they weren’t producing enough children to run and to defend their societies.
Zimmerman said these characteristics accompany the rise of atomistic families, which even in 1947, Zimmerman said had achieved “complete domination” of the West:
The decay of the mores of the upper-class families; the rise of sexual abnormalities; the increasing refusal of women to be sedate in an unsedate world; the emergence of purely romantic conceptions of love, which finally became dominant; the decline in the seriousness with which adultery is considered; the purely formal adhesion to the moral code; the increased popularity and frequency of absolute divorce and separation; the rise of celibacy and aggravated birth control; the displacement of the older populations, at first near the cities, later in the further hinterlands; the replacement of the native populations by immigrants, slaves, and non-natives; the development of an antagonism to which the whole system of values upon which the society formerly operated; the enlargement of the class struggle; and finally, positive social antagonism to the old domestic family system and the family among the whole masses of people.
Interestingly, after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, it fell to the Church to tame the barbarians by weaning them away from trustee familism, and to raise up the depleted Romans by calling them towards stronger conceptions of family. It took hundreds of years, but the Church forged the domestic family system, which lasted a long time, but went into decline after the Reformation.
Zimmerman said we are heading for a catastrophe. He was not a religious man; his expressed hope at the end of the book — that science can somehow pull us out of this downward spiral — is shockingly naive. But here we are.
A reader writes:
I’m sure that you are in contact with lots of people who want to protect their family and their future generations from our degrading culture. I want to ask that question from a different tack– and even if you don’t know the answer, I suspect you know someone who might:
I’m almost finished with Carle Zimmerman’s Family and Civilization which I picked up from clicking to a column of yours. From the book, it appears that after an atomistic culture/state destroys the domestic family, it is the trustee (clan) families which birth the new civilization. Even if it’s not 100% destruction/rebirth, many families get lost and the strongest ones survive.
I am a Jew and you can see what’s happening in Judaism: the ultra-orthodox whom–are a law unto themselves–are having 8 kids, the modern orthodox are having 3-4, the conservatives < 2, the reform/secular around 1. Carle Zimmerman would have learned a lot from the Satmer or Chabad.
I doubt I will be able to convince my wife and teenage daughters to embrace Orthodoxy at this point. But I am wondering what are the common *secular* characteristics of large, close families that are strong enough to protect themselves. Is there, for example, a large fund of money that is ‘family money’? Regular family reunions? Family councils? Close geographical proximity? Are there family members whom everyone knows to reach out to in case they are in trouble?
I’m wondering if there is or can be a practical guide to strengthening families from the trustee/domestic/atomistic point of view.
What do you think, readers? Me, I doubt there is a binding force strong enough to accomplish this outside of shared religious belief. I could be wrong.
In any case, this is yet another reason why bathroom battles are only incidentally about bathrooms, but about redefining what it means to be male and female. If it takes wide hold in this culture, as I imagine it will, it will not bode well for family formation.
Besides, I once again recall for you the story some professors at a fairly conservative Christian university told me about how they worried that most of their students would never be able to form stable families, because they had never seen one. This is a problem affecting the Church as well as nearly everybody else.