Broken Family, Broken Civilization
Before I get to the meat of the post, a note about comments. I had not been informed by the Mothership accurately about the new comments policy on the updated website. Apparently it really is true that you have to become a member to comment -- and that means paying to subscribe. I had been under the impression that you would have to register, but not subscribe. I talked yesterday to my Big Cheese Boss, who apologized for the miscommunication. The reason for the change in policy is that we need to have a more sensible business model. The good thing about the new comments system is that I'm no longer having to moderate them -- that was a huge daily time-suck, and I know it was frustrating to you readers. My hope now is that readers who care enough to pay to comments will be a self-selected group, and can all be trusted not to troll or otherwise abuse the system. I will still follow a policy of monitoring the comments for hateful remarks (I have a fairly permissive policy on what constitutes "hate," but if you post open racism or anti-semitism, for example, you've crossed a line), personal attacks on me or others posting, or other things that ruin the commenting experience. I will give people who screw up a warning, but after that, I'll kick you off. I don't expect to have to do that, but I do need to state the policy clearly. If you have any views about the new comments policy that you would like me to share with TAC bosses, email me at rod - at - amconmag - dot - com.
One more thing, about my slow-to-post week. Trying to figure out how the new posting platform works is not easy, but you'll start seeing more posts by me as I get it clear. Hard to teach an old blogger new tricks!
Now, to business: I was communicating last week with a friend from Baton Rouge who recently moved with his wife and kids when he took a job elsewhere, and who is bearish on the city's future. He said that the truth is, violent crime is really bad there, and it's never going to get much better. The truth is, he said, that the crime is overwhelmingly committed by young black males, usually victimizing other black people. He doesn't see things getting any better because the multigenerational poverty of north Baton Rouge, which is predominantly black, is tied to the collapse of the black family.
My contribution to the conversation was to relate an anecdote I've shared with you readers before: something I heard from an older white friend who lived in north Baton Rouge until fairly recently, the only white person in his neighborhood. He told me that the collapse of the family was at the root of all the problems he saw in his neighborhood. He was close to the grandmothers and grandfathers of his own generation who lived in the block, and said that those elderly men and women are the last things standing between the community and anarchy. And they are dying out. I asked this older white man what white Baton Rougeans can do to help. He said that he was at a loss to know, saying that whatever solution is going to have to come from within the black community, because whites have zero authority or trust among black folks.
The other day, sociologist Brad Wilcox noted:
Wilcox and his colleague Chris Bullivant recently wrote a USA Today op-ed saying that family collapse is at the heart of so many problems plaguing black America, but elites don't want to hear it. Excerpt:
When it comes to confronting some of our country’s most serious problems – from child poverty to school failure to mass incarceration to the fading of the American dream – one of the biggest factors driving these problems cannot be uttered in our national conversation.
This is a factor that predicts school suspensions, neighborhood trends in incarceration, state patterns in child poverty and the health of the American dream in communities across the country better than many of the factors that dominate that conversation.
In mainstream media outlets, on college campuses, in public schools and the halls of Congress, we hear that race is the critical issue, or poverty, or income inequality or inadequate public spending on issue after issue.
All the while, the social factor that often supercedes these other factors is left unmentioned.
We’re talking about the F-word. Family. For all of the problems mentioned above, for instance, family stability is a better predictor than factors like race, government spending and education. In other words, whether or not children grow up with two stably married parents or live in neighborhoods dominated by lone-parent families often ends up being more important than many of the factors that occupy the attention of our ruling class.
We can't talk about this -- not how it affects black people, or how it affects white people, or anybody else -- because to do so would mean negating a core belief of the Sexual Revolution: that realizing individual sexual happiness is the summum bonum. So we have to redefine family, and pretend that the collapse of the traditional family as a binding social ideal is no big deal. Reminds me of the historians who downplay the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, saying it was rather a period of "transition" to a different social system. The Oxford historian Bryan Ward-Perkins says this is crazy talk: that the fall of Rome was an overwhelming catastrophe in terms of living standards and stability. Similarly, you can't lose the family and expect to have a civilization. The black community in the US was the first to experience this, but unless something radical intervenes, it's coming for the rest of us eventually. (And yes, I know I'm writing this as a man in the middle of a divorce initiated by my wife, and to which I consented. I would only say that we stayed together for years longer than we otherwise would have, because we wanted to give the kids a strong family structure to grow up in. I acknowledge, though, that I'm shamefully doing my part to cause the fabric of civilization to tatter. Never wanted this, never expected it, and it doesn't negate the broader points, only makes me complicit with the phenomenon I decry.)
I was just on the phone talking with a criminologist friend, who has a paper soon to be published, predicting a future of more violent crime and turmoil based on two social trends: the inability of larger numbers of young males to find a permanent marriage partner, and the steady proliferation of fatherlessness, as the family crumbles. The paper will soon be published, so I can share it with you then. His essay is based on data and historical analysis. He says that the historical record of civilizations shows that polygyny is the normal form of social order. That is, strong and wealthy men attract a large number of wives, who prefer to share a rich husband with other women than to struggle in life alongside a poor husband devoted exclusively to them. Current social science shows that for women, social status and financial resources are what women find most attractive in a man; for me, it's the physical attractiveness of the woman. The real-world result of contemporary social and economic dynamics are that a small percentage of men are competing for a majority of women, and a majority of men are competing for a relatively small number of women. It seems that as Christianity, with its social norms, fades away, the old ways are reasserting themselves.
The scientist points out that fatherlessness is the single most accurate predictor of whether or not a child will grow up to be poor, sick, and/or involved in crime. A staggering 85 percent of men in prison were raised without fathers. I won't say much else about the paper, pending its publication, but his conclusion is this: that we have collectively forgotten the habits and customs it takes to maintain a civilization. The most important one is building and maintaining stable families, and family systems. Post-Christian liberal individualism has done a woodchipper act on the family. You think all these young people being educated by elite Western institutions to explore their genderfluidity, and chop their own breasts or nuts off, are going to have the psychological maturity to be stable husbands and wives, and raise sane kids?
(Had drinks with a Hungarian man last night living and working in New York City, in a good job. He said he can't wait to get back to Hungary. He and his wife are trying to raise kids in Manhattan, and said it's just an insane culture. I keep finding this in talking to Hungarians who have lived and worked in the US: they value the economic opportunity they have had there, and they generally love American culture, but they see that America is committing cultural suicide, and want to get back home, where they will be poorer, but will live in a normal country. This man told me that whenever he comes back to Hungary to visit family, his NYC friends are afraid he is having to dodge Nazi brownshirts in the streets. We had a laugh at that, because Hungary is for the most part like living in the American Midwest circa 1988.)
Anyway, the Baton Rouge friend with whom I was writing says his family members living there are going to have to make some hard decisions soon about whether or not to stay in the city, or move to some suburb. It's all about spreading crime, and the conviction that the black community there is going to remain mired in family breakdown, and the criminality and chaos it causes. I realized, thinking about that conversation, that we might well be reaching a point in the life of our country in which we give up on the idea of full racial integration, as people retribalize for the sake of protection. I raised this issue with a Hungarian interlocutor the other day (not the NYC guy), and told him that it's not a racial thing for me, that I would rather be the only white guy in a neighborhood filled with middle-class Asians or Indians -- people who had strong families and who lived orderly lives.
The Hungarian visibly struggled to understand, and politely suggested that I was naive. The way of the world is solidarity with blood, he said. The only way Hungarians have been able to hold their nation together over the many violent centuries living here on the Carpathian plain is by being absolutely rock-solid in blood loyalty. He suggested to me that America is a far outlier in world history in promising solidarity based not on tribe, on ethnos, but on ideas. I could tell he was too polite to say it, but that he didn't think we were going to be able to hold it together, not with our elite institutions destroying those bedrock American ideals, and pushing retribalization from the Left. I wish I thought he was wrong.
NBC News reported the other day that in New Orleans, a surge in violent crime has caused former opponents of mass incarceration to change their minds. Excerpt:
Fatima Muse still reaches for the phone to call her godmother, before remembering she’s not there to pick up.
Portia Pollock was stabbed to death in front of her home in June 2021. The killer, who had a long criminal record and was out on bail awaiting trial in an armed robbery, drove off in her car.
The loss threw Muse’s life into chaos, and it has put her personal politics into tension: On the one hand, she holds deep convictions about the brutality and unfairness she sees in the criminal legal system — she was once tear-gassed protesting police abuses in Ferguson, Missouri. But she now also blames the system for letting a man accused of repeated violence out of jail, at a soul-shaking toll.
“This conversation we’re having right now would probably be a lot different if it wasn’t the person that I love who got killed,” Muse said. “I would probably be a lot more lenient and liberal, talking to you about reform, people deserving another shot, and how screwed up the system is, especially for Black and brown people.”
Like Muse, Graves is no one’s idea of a “tough-on-crime” ideologue. She calls prisons an “expansion of enslavement” and says the criminal legal system is “criminal” itself. But she also has strong feelings about the value of consequences.
“If we keep telling people you can carjack, and you’ll get off, you can carjack, you’ll get off — murder is going to happen,” Graves said.
Cognitive dissonance, anybody? Prisons are an "expansion of enslavement," but if we don't lock these violent black men up in prisons, they will rape, rob, and murder innocent people like Portia Pollock. You can't have it both ways. Prisons exist for a reason. There is such a high percentage of black males in prison because such a high percentage of black males commit most violent crimes. What kind of failed society creates generations of violent men? The kind that teaches little children to behave like this in the face of authority:
Our elites -- media, universities, and others -- won't talk about this stuff, not straightforwardly. We go on talking about only the factors we want to talk about, the ones that don't offend us. Meanwhile, this escape from reality in our discourse does not escape people who are trying to look out for the safety of their families, and who make social and economic decisions based on this. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might recall years ago, my asking a grocery store chain executive in Louisiana why his company participated in the process that left poor black urban communities into "food deserts." In response he asked me if I really thought that they would miss the opportunity to make money. He explained that they had pulled out of those communities because the shoplifting in the stores was so bad that the stores became money pits. It's not racism, systemic or otherwise, to not want to do business in a certain neighborhood because the likelihood of being robbed is high.
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Back when I asked him that, I had read a good bit about the problem of food deserts, but never had I read anyone pointing to the most obvious cause: rampant shoplifting making it cost-prohibitive to open grocery stores in those neighborhoods. As with so many issues in our society, we talk around the problem, leaving the core issues unaddressed. We live by lies, and it's getting worse as ideology conquers more and more fields. To take an example away from race, here is a report about an Oregon school board committee voting to leave a pornographic queer graphic novel in the local schools, for diversity's sake. To be clear, this graphic novel contains, among other things, drawings of a young man sucking another man's penis. Here are some of the comments from board members:
- “The book will be necessary to keep in schools, to help be more inclusive and allow all students from the LGBTQ+ community to have a resource to refer to. In addition, the pages taken out of context do not represent the intention of the book and only served as an illustration to help provide understanding of what the author was trying to portray in their book.”
- “The book expands on sexual orientation and gender identity which are both topics touched on in wellness.”
- “It being a graphic novel makes the book more accessible to a variety of readers.”
- The book “has won a large number of teen-specific literary awards and is an ‘Own Voices’ text for a marginalized community. Inclusion in the library of the three high schools meets the district's goal for more inclusive and diverse materials.”
- “This graphic novel is very well done from a literary standpoint. It is an excellent example of a memoir, it includes many visual metaphors, it promotes literacy and accessibility through the graphic format, and it has modern language suitable to our students today.”
- A “well written/illustrated text; important insight regarding gender identity.”
We do not know what it takes to keep a civilization anymore. We are falling from our own inability to deal with truth, moral and otherwise.