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Pitirim Sorokin Revisited

For some time now, once-sacrosanct civil rules in America and throughout the West have been deteriorating. We have elected a showman as president who exudes the mad confidence of a late Roman emperor. Lady Gaga wows an audience of 117 million eager for Super Bowl thrills. Such personalities are creatures of our time and would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago—except perhaps to a few dystopian academics and novelists.

One such scholar was Pitirim Sorokin (1889-1968), who foresaw this deterioration and predicted that it would accelerate far beyond anything Western men and women had seen in their own time. Sorokin, who founded Harvard’s department of sociology in 1930, sketched circumstances in which a functioning society could fall apart and face “disintegration of its moral, legal, and other values which, from within, control and guide the behavior of individuals and groups.” Though far removed from today, Sorokin nevertheless helps explain why so many trendy ideas fall outside the range of reason, and why the bright line between fact and fantasy in private and public affairs seems to be fading.

While many living in the West of Sorokin’s day didn’t clearly apprehend what was happening, Sorokin said, they harbored “at least a vague feeling that the issue is not merely that of ‘prosperity,’ or ‘democracy,’ or ‘capitalism’”—in other words, matters handled through normal politics and political action. “The organism of the Western society and culture seems to be undergoing one of the deepest and most significant crises of its life. The crisis is far greater than the ordinary; its depth is unfathomable, its end not yet in sight, and the whole of the Western society is involved in it,” Sorokin wrote in Social and Cultural Dynamics, his 1937 masterwork, whose themes he elaborated upon in subsequent volumes, books and essays.

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World War II deepened Sorokin’s pessimism. In his view the carnage of the Holocaust and Hiroshima, together with the Soviet Union’s murderous aggression in the wake of war, had destroyed the illusion of progress and, after five centuries of Western world leadership, had triggered a fatal loss of societal confidence.

Long before Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons arrived on the cultural scene, Sorokin forecasted that the showy would triumph in arts and entertainment, and what was once revered would be commodified: “Michelangelo and Rembrandts will be decorating soap and razor blades, washing machines and whiskey bottles.” He thought anthropologist Margaret Mead, author of Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), was a sex-obsessed huckster.

Sorokin could be scolding and alarmist when he wrote for the general public. His later criticism and treatises were unduly antagonistic and often hard to follow. By today’s social science standards, his theories are methodologically crude. But a pioneer of social dynamics, and highly intuitive, Sorokin understood what makes societies and cultures tick. His nascent department at Harvard bred many eminent sociologists of the 20th century, including Talcott Parsons, Charles Tilly, and Robert Merton.

Born poor in Russia in 1889, imprisoned by the Czar’s henchmen, and exiled by the Bolsheviks, Sorokin was a very tough nut. In 1917, he was Alexander Kerensky’s secretary before the October Revolution. A traditionalist with little egalitarian sensibility, Sorokin made no friends among Marxist sympathizers in the academic social sciences during his life in U.S. academia, and he remained ardently anti-Soviet during the Cold War. He spent almost four decades at Harvard as a solitary, often embittered luminary in a field moving in directions out of alignment with his own.

Still, in 1965 he was elected president of the American Sociological Association on a write-in ballot, a testament to his stature among established academic sociologists fed up with dogmatic empiricism and positivism, and within a rising generation drawn to Sorokin’s ideas of altruism and love-energy. Two years later, amid rising social disorder, the futurist Herman Kahn and a high-profile commission at the Hudson Institute adapted Sorokin’s model of sensate society to introduce the acclaimed study, The Year 2000.

In Kahn’s view, the United States sat on a societal fault line as a determined civil rights movement and counterculture stood American values on their head. “Some will argue that if an appreciable proportion of society becomes Late Sensate in many aspects of life, the society is likely to become ungovernable,” Kahn warned at the time. Neither Kahn nor Sorokin could foresee technology’s later impact, but they grasped that technological forces could accelerate the arrival of just such an ungovernable society.

Appealing both to cultural conservatives and New Age spiritualists (Sorokin saw yoga as a means of integrating spirit and intellect), he attracted the attention of Albert Einstein, Herbert Hoover, and John F. Kennedy. His predictive powers were formidable, and contemporary figures took heed. When he died in 1968, he remained an illustrious, well-known figure, and his opinions were widely written about and explored. Since then, however, he has receded from memory.

As early as the 1920s, Sorokin’s history-based analyses of revolution and social mobility established his reputation. He concluded, reinforced by his own experiences during the Russian Revolution, that the ideals of revolution are seldom realized. An upsurge of inequality, poverty, starvation, and war are more likely. Soon Sorokin began an exhaustive comparative study of art forms, laws, and ethics to develop a theory of cultural cycles based on two social super-systems, the ideational and sensate, a scheme that he would seek to elucidate throughout his long career.

Sorokin rejected both prevailing theories of history—the thesis of “linear” historical progress—and Oswald Spengler’s cyclical metaphysics in The Decline of the West. While the West as it had evolved over 500 years faced social disintegration and “catastrophic transition to a new culture,” the human quest for order and meaning would prevail, leading away from the sensate to a yet indeterminate ideational society. Catharsis, Sorokin said, would follow chaos.

Ideational societies prize faith, revelation, and mystery. They seek the invisible and absolute. They value religious experience, not science or invention. For Christendom in the Middle Ages, the Kingdom of God and the Trinity comprised the ultimate, purest reality. The Tao, stressing the Way of Heaven, embodies the ideational character of ancient China. This mindset is difficult for the contemporary, secularized West to grasp, unlike in Islamic societies, where spiritual power and worldly government are knotted.

In sensate societies, reality is terrestrial. Rules and laws are man-made, not God-given; they are socially constructed and changeable. Such societies view man as the measure of all things. What matters are wealth, comfort, power, fame, and fun. Two consenting adults can do what they want; marriage is a contract to be dissolved at will. Society can be an Ayn Rand-style dream come true, at least on the drawing board.

Sensate societies value the worldly, empirical, and novel. The achievements are impressive, visible in skyscrapers, aviation, nuclear power, and micro-technology. But government, education, industry, technology, and finance depend on elaborate systems, logistics, expertise, and rules to remain operational, if only to preserve accumulated wealth and hard-won fortunes. This scale and complexity make institutions both fragile and inflexible. Externalities such as the possibility of climate change loom as terrifying black swans.

Between the ideational and sensate, as a mezzanine in Sorokin’s design, lie idealistic or integrated societies, when the worldly and the transcendent nourish one another. As examples, Sorokin pointed to 5th-century Greece and 13th-century Europe, to Brahmanism in India, and to the creative genius of Mozart and Beethoven. Sorokin spent the last 20 years of his life promoting such aesthetics and such a society through an independent center at Harvard funded by Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical heir and a Sorokin friend.

As sensate societies disintegrate, Sorokin argued, aggressive individualism and free will undermine self-restraint and enterprise. (Daniel Bell explored this proposition brilliantly in his 1976 book, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism.) The needs for novelty, stimulation, and pleasure prove insatiable. Rules and traditions appear arbitrary, something to resist or ridicule, not to venerate or abide, as they interfere with self-expression. Boredom feeds discontent and extremism. Activities once considered shameful, criminal, or insane are permitted.  

In such eras—Sorokin pointed to 3rd century Rome and the 20th century West—societies experience increasing wars, crime, and depravity. Luxury and ease add fuel to the fire. When chaos is ascendant and apparent, governments seize the opportunity to expand control over society, claiming emergencies. Public officials resort to deception and coercion. Declarations of equal rights and social injustice become smokescreens for unadulterated force. The result often is curtailed individual autonomy, decreased freedom, increased regimentation, and weakened constitutional and democratic institutions.

And what accompanies these developments? The public mood shifts from enterprising and community-minded to egotistical: what we call narcissistic today. Freed of moral and legal constraints, political society reveals “a human animal driven mainly by his biological urges, passions, lust,” in Sorokin’s words. Some individuals fight back, but others, paralyzed with fear or fatigued by circumstances, give up. Suicide, mental disease, and crime escalate. Judeo-Christian religion, seen as a historical relic, converts itself into a political agency, depriving the perplexed of divine solace.     

Sorokin’s critique of private life begins with the disintegration of the family. “Divorces and separations will increase until any profound difference between socially sanctioned marriages and illicit sex-relationship disappears,” he predicted in the final volume of Social and Cultural Dynamics. Children born out of wedlock and separated from parents would become unexceptional.

In the 1950s he foresaw the coming sexual anarchy of the West and its downside. Alfred Kinsey’s widely publicized research, the newly founded Playboy magazine’s explicit carnal appeal, the Elvis Presley delirium among adolescents, the runaway commercial success of Peyton Place, the critical success of Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita—all were parts of a piece at mid-century. In 1957 Sorokin wrote crabbily, “Americans are victims of a sex mania as malign as cancer and as socially menacing as communism.” This overreach got him ridiculed in the movie Gidget, cartooned in The San Francisco Chronicle, and called a publicity hound and prude.

What Sorokin saw dawning is now at full noon. The edgy and sordid are box office. Hot porn is just a click away. Casual sex is the norm. Ten or twenty sexualities clamor for a spotlight. Real or not, it doesn’t matter. Hopes and dreams crowd out what is possible and what can be done. The pursuit of pleasure—Neil Postman called it amusing ourselves to death—looks as if it might be a terminal social disease. In the Western world marriage loses its appeal. The idea of family formation changes shape, resulting in social conditions in which 40 percent of U.S. children today are born to unmarried women. These sexualities bear legal rights and popular favor perhaps unique in human history.  

Late Sensate license—if it feels good, do it—has become its own faith. Facts, reason, and logic are losing their universal public authority, even in academic life. Despite astonishing affluence and material ease, some one-sixth of Americans over the age of fifteen are taking prescribed anti-depressants. Others are reaching for whiskey, marijuana, opioids, and other palliatives. The Late Sensate does not appear to be working too well psychologically, and governability is at issue. Sorokin’s advice to perplexed or anxious individuals facing social turmoil was to focus on the transcendent through the humanities. Plant a garden. Go walking. Respect the natural environment. Practice yoga. Live simply. Turn off the television set and talk to others.

More than fifty years later, this is not unwise advice. “Only the power of unbounded love…can prevent the pending extermination of man by man on this planet,” Sorokin expounded. “Without love, no armament, no war, no diplomatic machinations, no coercive police force, no school education, no economic or political measures, not even hydrogen bombs can prevent the pending catastrophe.” Sorokin’s prescriptions of altruism and universalism might seem painfully naïve and anodyne today. But this difficult, intuitive man’s clear-eyed premonitions, his studies of social dynamics, and his tough-minded benevolence remain remarkable guides to considering current events.

Gilbert T. Sewall is co-author of After Hiroshima: The United States Since 1945 and editor of The Eighties: A Reader.

33 Comments (Open | Close)

33 Comments To "Pitirim Sorokin Revisited"

#1 Comment By Kent On January 8, 2018 @ 9:49 am

Interesting that this article is placed with one celebrating Trump’s Libertarianism.

I find it fascinating the the conservative movement in this country has this incredibly thoughtful, spiritually-centered mass of people that are socially controlled by libertarian leaders.

It is always a revelation to run across a fellow American who finds no cognitive dissonance in celebrating both the Holy Bible and Atlas Shrugged.

#2 Comment By Youknowho On January 8, 2018 @ 10:40 am

How strange the juxtaposition of this article on – among other things – today’s sexual libertinism and the reminder, via the name of Recy Taylor on the way “family values” worked then: By the use of “disposable” women to take care of men’s base needs and away from their pure families.

Recy Taylor was a woman who was abducted and gang raped on 1944. Her attackers were finally brought to trial and acquitted. Tried again, due to intense political pressure, and again the jury let them go. After all, they were white, and Recy Taylor was black, and thus a “disposable” woman, put there for men’s use.

And those upstanding citizens, Christians, and supporters of family values in teh jury logically absolved the men who did what came naturally.

That WAS what kept family values in the old time. Plenty of brothels to take care of men’s base needs. BAck in teh middle ages, bishops got in the business (“Bishop of Winchester’s geese” the prostitutes were called, and the Bishop thundered against sexual sin while collecting the rent of his property).

You complain about sexual libertinism? Are you willing to bring back the concept of “disposable” women so as to keep your women pure, and virgins on their wedding night? Are you willing to rape your neighbor’s daughter, provided that your neighbor is not in a position to complain?

Mr. Sorokin celebrated only the shiny, nice looking outside. He should have looked further as to what was behind it.

#3 Comment By Colin Broughton On January 8, 2018 @ 11:01 am

Sorokin was an amazing figure. To be sentenced to death by both the Czarists and the Communists takes some doing,

He was released on the orders of Lenin in a period of uncharacteristic benevolence.

One cannot read Sorokin without the recognition, coming like a blow, of just how correct his predictions have been. Let’s hope his view that there would be a swing back to a more spiritual mode of existence is just as accurate.

Let’s also hope this does not involve Islam.

His belief in an eventual swing back to a more spiritual mode does offer hope to those who despair at the disintegration of Western Ci

#4 Comment By Rob G On January 8, 2018 @ 11:39 am

“Mr. Sorokin celebrated only the shiny, nice looking outside. He should have looked further as to what was behind it.”

How do you know this? How much of him have you read?

#5 Comment By connecticut farmer On January 8, 2018 @ 12:02 pm

I had never heard of this man ’till now. Lord, but was his analysis ever spot-on! If he were alive today, one can only imagine what he would have thought of the two characters who ran for POTUS in 2016. The phrase “sick to his stomach” comes immediately to mind.

#6 Comment By JessicaR On January 8, 2018 @ 12:06 pm

Youknowwho

Any woman who travels alone in Muslim countries as I have encounters an unbelievable amount of sexual aggression. It even occurs in European countries with large Muslim populations. As a non- Muslim I was a disposable woman. Something similar happened to me in Jerusalem because I am not Jewish. Both cultures had traditional values about sex and I was dressed modestly at the time- high neckline, long sleeves and below- the- knee skirt. However, when traveling among secular Europeans, I never experienced sexual aggression. It is much easier to be a woman alone in a sexually liberal society.

#7 Comment By Rick Johnson On January 8, 2018 @ 12:09 pm

Although his terminology changed slightly over his career, Sorokin actually posited that there were four phases in the cultural cycle: 1) IDEATIONAL, 2) INTEGRAL, 3) SENSATE, and MIXED. Integral and Mixed were at transition points between the two opposite poles of Ideational and Sensate. but crucially, while the Integral blended elements of them, the Mixed age experienced them as “competing” and non-blended elements.Seemingly as separate cultures within one body. Welcome to post modernity.

#8 Comment By charles cosimano On January 8, 2018 @ 2:03 pm

I am always amused when someone says the culture has reached a noon of something. The truth is that they ain’t seen nothing yet.

The fun is just beginning.

#9 Comment By Jeeves On January 8, 2018 @ 2:23 pm

” not even hydrogen bombs can prevent the pending catastrophe.”

Oh? I think a nuclear war would slow down the catastrophe that worries Sorokin. Just a tad.

#10 Comment By grumpy realist On January 8, 2018 @ 2:44 pm

So if even the sanctified 1950s had divorces and spouse-swapping and all the naughty stuff that people get up to when no one is looking, what period of time DOES the author want to return to?

And if Mr. Sorokin had been a black female, the predictions about social history and whether such changes would be good or bad would probably have been very very different. It’s very easy to immerse yourself in nostalgia when it means returning to a point when you’re at the top of the heap. Those under you might have different opinions.

#11 Comment By LFM On January 8, 2018 @ 5:31 pm

I’m tired of the frequent and utterly unproven implication by some of you that women travellers in North America or Western Europe were in worse danger in, let’s say, 1935, than they are today. *Nothing* I’ve read anecdotally, and no statistical evidence, supports that contention. During most of the period since World War II, crime statistics, including rape, rose rather than fell, even as sexual mores became more licentious. Crime rates only started to drop again in the last years of the 20th century. That rise may have been the result of increasing libertinism, or it may have been the inevitable result of the huge post-war baby boom, because young men rape more than older ones. Whatever was ultimately responsible, it is unfair to our ancestors, silly and ignorant to pretend it never happened.

#12 Comment By wilddrahthaar On January 8, 2018 @ 5:35 pm

” not even hydrogen bombs can prevent the pending catastrophe.” Oh? I think a nuclear war would slow down the catastrophe that worries Sorokin. Just a tad.

Wouldn’t Sorokin more likely say that hydrogen bombs would speed up the catastrophe quickly, horribly, and in a flash?

#13 Comment By Youknowho On January 8, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

@grumpy realist

Yes, a black female, like Recy Taylor, a wife and mother kidnapped and gang raped by six men, who when brought to trial, were acquitted because the jury deemed that it was no crime for white men to rape a black woman if they felt like it.

I hope that Mr. Sorokin did not know of these things, or his outlook would have been more jaundiced about the “good old days”. Because if he did, and did not think it mattered, well… that kills all my desire to know what he writes about.

Yes, the more conservative a society is about sex, the more straitlaced, the more predatory men are with women who are not “respectable”. Like high caste men in India who go to where the low caste live, go into a house to use the woman there, leaving his shoes outside, to tell the husband not to come in, because his wife is busy…

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 8, 2018 @ 6:28 pm

It never fails to astound that acknowledging the value of discretion regarding intimate behavior should be noted as some kind of antiquated useless code of a by gone era.

Of course the ills we see today existed in the 1950’s and prior. What is different is their promulgation as acceptable and in some cases the norm.

This weekend four films were delivered to my door of the four only one came close to something I might consider acceptable for viewing even by me, a single male.

One was a film that I thought was going to be a coming of age story about young man’s place in family and community. Hardly, it was tale of teen boy having a tryst with and older man. Needless to say, it got canned before the first kiss — This film was sent to be considered for an award —

As was the tale which almost made muster until the heroine decided to have a relationship with the man fish. It could have been an intriguing tale but for that peculiar twist though I suspect that both films would be embraced by NAMBLA and trans-humanists as ground breaking. At least, the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” tale avoided the graphic details. of course the villain was a heavy handed mean guy who believed in God and bullied all others in maniacal loyalty to country or the military —-

The coming of age to whatever of course was elaborated amongst the enlightened intelligentsia diaspora of picturesque Italy.

Mr. Sorokin’s views in no manner support the rape of black women or the abuse of anyone. In fact, it doesn’t require to to top down social order. It might do well to remember that blacks have been the last one’s to the table of modern social polity for display and then largely, because the only way to get white people to address these issues seems to be to accept the whole package of sodomy, pornography, illegal immigrants, etc. It might be do well to remember that during the crucial moment of civil rights turn, whites were protesting Vietnam, advocating for bra burning, free relations (“love”), demanding the right to kill children in the womb, and same sex relational openess (broadcast), no fault divorce . . .

Masses of women were not experiencing the “beat down”, random government exercise of force, segregation denied access to education, segregated housing, rape was as unpopular then as it is today, as was physical assault on women . . . certainly it happened but there wasn’t any popular cheering for those rare occurrences. Men still ran to the aide of women in need as they do today.

It is certainly possible to acknowledge a societal flaw and still desire and work for equal treatment.

It is not that culture reaches a high noon, but there are several pivotal noons from which it may be hard and harder to push back the consequence. Once it becomes set, that path of least resistance becomes increasingly desirable.

Good greif.

#15 Comment By Youknowho On January 8, 2018 @ 9:20 pm

@EliteCommnc

Men did not rush to help Recy Taylor. They sat on the jury, heard the evidence, and then exonerated the culprits. Unless they managed to get a jury of twelve pervs, we must assume that they were a represenative sample of the population.

And it goes beyond black an white. It is the whole system of prostitution to keep “respectable ladies” pure and untainted with tne base needs of men – while catering to those base needs. It is the system of decreeing that there were women who were fair game for any horny male, and that they had no right to say no when the male wanted it. And which then were blamed for the male’s lusts.

Yeah, it was a cleaner place then. Paid for by the suffering of the “disposable” women that any man could use with no one interfering.

#16 Comment By Youknowho On January 8, 2018 @ 9:24 pm

@LFM

Are you aware of how underreptorted rape was in those days? The victim was shamed, and made to feel it was her fault, and she was disgrace. So they sai nothing.

For example, only now, in Germany, women are talking about being raped by U.S. G.I.s (yes, our men WERE rapists, just like the Russians). Ninety year old women finally told how they were gang raped when they were 16 years old.

So, to say that statistics show that rape goes up fails to take into account the serious underreporting that went on – which make those statistics meaningless.

#17 Comment By M. Orban On January 8, 2018 @ 11:43 pm

@LFM
I am sorry that some of the remarks here come across as disrespectful to your ancestors. I know how you feel. I think we are conflating many things here.
More recently we had a wave of every kind of crime, beginning the sixties, (baby boom + breakdown of authority)… it’s been tapering down, beginning the mid-nineties, as the new forms of control and structures take shape.
If we want to focus on rape, some of the changes have to do with mobility. If you travel, if others travel, people come in contact who would not in a traditional, settled society.
And let’s don’t forget that reporting is much more efficient. There is less stigma attached to be a victim and report it to the police. That bumps the numbers up.
Mores and standards change. For example When Thomas Jefferson got Sally Hemmings pregnant the first time, back in Paris, she wasn’t much older than 14. Back then it was kinda’ overlooked, but today it would be reported as statutory rape.
Times change.

#18 Comment By M. Orban On January 9, 2018 @ 12:18 am

@EliteCommInc
Please correct me if I am wrong, but there is no significant pushback. What we have is a small, but loud minority is whining about how things change and how everything is going to go to hell because we value different things, live by different standards than those 2-4 generations ago.
Well, we do. Todays mores and sexual habits were brought about by technological changes.
If you look at today’s workplace, how the nature of work changed the last (less than a) century… organizational skill, teamwork, attention to detail is more important than ever. Incidentally, that is what women excel at. The same time manly qualities, such as upper body strength, aggressivity, willingness to go it alone, got devalued, bigly. Hence there are more women working out of the home everywhere.
Modern medicine and antibiotics are here and half of our children no longer die before age five.
Most STD-s are no longer are a lifelong affliction… ( I know, not all. I know)
And don’t forget the big one, contraception.
What I am trying to say is that the last three centuries or so we underwent a massive technological transformation that undermined the rationale behind the old habits and mores, sexual or otherwise. We all are reacting to the changes and figuring things out as we go.
Now as for the Sorokin fellow… I am not a sociologist, but he strikes me as a social conservative. Social conservatives prize minimal change or no change at all. They fear change. They fear many things, as conservativism is a fear based worldview, but fear of change is pretty high up on the list. Now that I think about it, I wonder what he thought of the civil rights movement.
I apologize for the long and rambling post, but the essence is that (in my view) technological change drives social change in many instances. The old reasons gradually erode away, people shrug and walk in an other direction.

#19 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 9, 2018 @ 1:20 am

Good essay Mr. Sewell.

“technological forces could accelerate the arrival of just such an ungovernable society.”

Mass universal surveillance and Homeland Security technologies will make it almost governable.

#20 Comment By Rob G On January 9, 2018 @ 11:10 am

“Paid for by the suffering of the ‘disposable’ women that any man could use with no one interfering.”

It’s true that there’s certainly nothing to commend about that. But I’m not sure the current situation is any better. The old sexist saying was “Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?” I don’t see how it has helped the situation by vastly increasing the availability of free milk.

#21 Comment By Youknowho On January 9, 2018 @ 11:54 am

@RobG

The current situation is not any better?

We are moving away from blaming the rape victim, and putting the onus where it belongs, on the rapist.

We call honor killings abominable (It was not so long ago that in Italy’s criminal code, “honor” was an excuse for killing your wife)

We are not hiding the ugliness as we did, we do not call domestic violence a private matter to be solved by the parties involved.

Just get it into your head that if things looked better then is because they hid the ugliness better. But ugliness cannot be dealt with unless it is acknowledged and confronted.

As for the free milk, now it involves the currency known as consent. You do not take on a woman because you feel like it. She has to agree.

(Do you remember the scene in “Rob Roy”. The learned gentleman corners a housemaid, get his hands in her privates with her being too scared to complain, then rubs the scent on a sleeping man to help him wake up. That was the reality, not the pretty words they used to cover it up)

#22 Comment By grumpy realist On January 9, 2018 @ 12:15 pm

EliteCommInc: “Rape was as unpopular then as it is today.” Really? Back then a man could rape his wife and it wasn’t considered rape. Ditto for a crowd of white males gang-raping a black female, it seems.

So yeah, if it’s only “males raping our upper-class white privileged females”. Everyone else raped seems to have been considered “not raped enough to worry about”.

#23 Comment By Rob G On January 9, 2018 @ 12:59 pm

“As for the free milk, now it involves the currency known as consent. You do not take on a woman because you feel like it. She has to agree.”

So from the standpoint of the predatory male it’s a big win. The “currency of consent” is chump change when there are so many more women out there who are willing to say yes.

#24 Comment By Mitch Bogen On January 9, 2018 @ 1:22 pm

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking.
But now, Heaven knows,
Anything goes.

Cole Porter, 1934

#25 Comment By Youknowho On January 9, 2018 @ 4:19 pm

@Rob G

Obtaining consent means acknoledging that the other person might have opinions as to what she likes, and be willing to accept those opinions.

While it was just. “I am your master, wench. Open your legs when I tell you to, and do not bother whining that you do not like it.”

For some of them, just acknowledging that a woman is a person, a fellow human being is a big step.

But who care more about how much sex a man gets rather than how he goes about it. You might say that it is better to be a robber and make less money, than to have a legitimate business and get rich that way.

#26 Comment By Rob G On January 9, 2018 @ 6:21 pm

“For some of them, just acknowledging that a woman is a person, a fellow human being is a big step.”

No argument from me there — that’s all to the good. But I still question the notion that lowering the standard for women somehow raises the bar for men.

“You might say that it is better to be a robber and make less money, than to have a legitimate business and get rich that way.”

No, it’s more like why take the risks of being a bank robber, when something safer, like embezzlement or tax evasion will get you to the same place? I see no particular moral advantage in men who “play” women into sex by offering lip service to consent. And feminism’s dopey understanding of sex has enabled this.

#27 Comment By Youknowho On January 9, 2018 @ 11:51 pm

@Rob G

“Lowering the standard for women”

No, lowering the standard for the women who were deemed to be protectedd. The other ones, the disposable ones, their one standard they could have was how to pleasure the men who demanded it.

Can’t you understand the math? If women are supposed to keep “pure” with dire penalties, and men are allowed to “sow their wild oats”, and if the population is divided 50/50, well, you have men sowing their wild oats where? not with the “pure women”. So prostitutes are needed, and other despised women that can be used with no regrets and no consideration for their feelings.

And so “pure women” enjoy consideration and respect paid for by the suffering of other women.

Maybe you do not see anything wrong with enjoying perks that somebody had to suffer to provide them for you. There are others who consider that trade-off to be unethical.

So now, we are trying to break the disjunctive. ALL women deserve respect. ALL women will be respected whether they are virgins or not, not because they are “pure” but because they are fellow human beings.

And consent is the first step in learning that women are fellow human beings, and that consent is required, as it is for any other endeavor that involves two or more people.

#28 Comment By Youknowho On January 10, 2018 @ 2:30 pm

@RG

Have you consdiering how demeaning the quote about free milk is?

What it says is that women have only ONE (1) value, only ONE (1) thing that men value, only ONE(1) thing to contribute. That the only thing worthwhile in a woman is between her legs.

#29 Comment By O’Brien On January 14, 2018 @ 3:03 am

I just want to thank the author for this article. I had noticed a copy of Social and Cultural Dynamics at The Last Bookstore six months ago. I bought it today. TAC. Bringing thoughtful citizens of many persuasions to conversations about the common good, how to discern it and sustain it. I’ll report back.

#30 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On November 29, 2018 @ 6:38 pm

Ignorance of history, presentism, provincialism and a strange admixture of puritanism and perversion are all ingredients of contemporary liberals’ glorification of the current social “order”.

#31 Comment By Paul Emmons On February 26, 2019 @ 3:58 pm

As someone observed, when we point a finger at someone else, three other fingers point back at ourselves.

For evidence of decline, we need look no further than the comments here, many of which have been reduced to near-incoherence by errors in spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. At least a couple of posters have been regulars here for years and once wouldn’t have allowed such writing to see the light of day under their names. If this were Youtube, it would be understandable, but from intelligent, well-educated, proud conservatives? Standards in written communication seem to have fallen off a cliff in the past year.

#32 Comment By Rafael On March 1, 2019 @ 10:13 am

The Roman Empire, at the time of its birth, was a much more “licentious” civilization, so to speak, than Rome at the time the empire was dying and suffering from the barbarian invasions. In fact, the Rome that was torn apart in the sixth century was a Christian power, where the practice of paganism was banned and homosexuals were persecuted.

I can’t say very well how promiscuous Roman society was in the third century, pointed out by this Sorokin person as a decadent society. But at least in the field of literature, philosophy, and religion, this century was more conservative than its predecessors, as is shown by the influence of both Christianity and Roman Stoicism, both of which were hostile to any sexuality practiced outside the boundaries of marriage and intended to any goal other than reproduction. And, according to Amy Richlin in “Sexuality in the Roman Empire,” it was by the end of this century that secular erotic literature, especially homosexual literature, began to disappear.

But, in any case, this was not the Rome that finally disintegrated: it was, again, the Christian Rome of the sixth century. And it is difficult to imagine a more licentious, more homosexual society than the Neronian Rome described in Petronius’ “Satyricon,” which portrays the metropolis in its first century, when the empire was still ascending.

Therefore, contrary to the thesis described in this article, it is far more likely that Christianity, not “licentiousness”, caused the deterioration of Rome from within – a thesis defended by Nietzsche in “The Antichrist” and not infrequently, also, by European historians of the 19th century.

#33 Comment By Pavel Rott On March 3, 2019 @ 1:55 am

It is interesting how thoroughly clueless is American public in understanding outside world – in this case – Russia in early XX century. “imprisoned by the Czar’s henchmen, and exiled by the Bolsheviks, Sorokin was a very tough nut. In 1917, he was Alexander Kerensky’s secretary before the October Revolution.” Sorokin became a member of “Socialist Revolutionary (SR)” party in 1906 – that is the middle of the revolution on 1905-1907 and that is the most radical leftist party at the time responsible for more than 5000 assassinations of government officials – from cops on the beat to Mayor of Moscow. SR funded their movement through “expropriations” – basically bank robbing.
Sorokin was NOT sentenced to death but imprisoned for 3 months and then released on parole.
Despite of that he was admitted to law department of St Petersburg University (do you see the resemblance of how SJWs are treated by American academia?) which he successfully graduated. At the same time he continued to edit one of the Socialist Revolutionary newspapers “The People’s Business”. The reason why he did not accept Bolsheviks – well, the vision of SRs was just as radical but competing with Lenin’s Bolsheviks for power. In other words, he worked tirelessly for destruction of Russian state and to usher Civil War that killed untold millions.