Eudaimonia and Identity

 

America’s culture is a constant source of discussion here on Ricochet. Whether it’s homosexual marriage or marijuana decriminalization/legalization, culture permeates our discussions. I just finished reading Mona Charen’s piece over at NRO, “The Price of Feminism,” this morning and it coincided with me finishing Yuval Levin’s Fractured Republic and Charles Murray’s Coming Apart last week.

The reason I mention all three pieces in regard to American culture is that they all point to decline or change in the culture. Levin’s book focuses predominantly on the decline of civil society in America and its replacement by the federal government through the process of what he calls “bifurcated-consolidation.” Murray’s book looks to the physical results of 60 years of cultural change that has seen the founding virtues (Murray’s words, not mine) of marriage, honesty, religion, and industriousness falter in the lower classes and stay strong in the upper classes.

Charen’s piece this morning focuses on the changes to women over the past 60 years as it relates to feminism, although not with the scope and detail of the books by Murray and Levin. Using social survey data, Mona observes that even though women have gained in the workforce their happiness has declined. More women work today than ever before and yet women’s suicide rate continues to climb (at a higher rate than men’s) along with higher rates of anti-depressant use. Even more telling is that social surveys indicate that super-majorities of women do not desire full-time work. If work was what gave women purpose and flourishing, Eudaimonia, then these trends would not be observed.

Charen’s answer to this problem is that for women, work, while important, is not the highest priority for women in gaining Eudaimonia. Marriage and motherhood are the identities that most satiate this need.

This relates very well to Levin’s and Murray’s books I mentioned earlier. Levin most succinctly captures this trend in the Fractured Republic by noting that current cultural inertia in the nation is towards the federal government (and that is is a result of successful progressive moves to “nationalize” Americans in the first half of the 20th century). Americans for the past 100 years have come to identify more and more with the federal government and less and less with their immediate surroundings. Local and regional identities, whether family, church, fraternal organizations, or the market, have dwindled.

No one talks about what their local Methodist Church or Rotary Club can do to stop declining marriage or rising poverty. People, whether news anchors or even some Ricochetti, focus on how local events, like a school shooting or an NFL protest, are endemic of the entire nation and need a national response.

It’s somewhat paradoxical that this is what happens given that, practically speaking, our local identities, like one’s job or being a spouse or parent, is what defines our day-to-day interactions. I doubt many Americans spend more time thinking about how to lower unemployment than they do focusing on their job or their spouse’s and children’s happiness. What we actually do (create), what is tangible and irreplaceable, has the greatest impact on our self-esteem. Complaining about national issues, whether on Twitter or with your crazy uncle at Thanksgiving does nothing towards that.

This strengthening of the national identity at the expense of more local and regional identities not only changes our lenses of issues but also our priorities. National priorities take precedence over local ones, which means that a President’s Press Secretary gets kicked out of a restaurant for not doing anything (putting the national cultural issues over the local issues of reputation and income). It also creates polarization because “everything is a national crisis” and thus a question of national identity (which almost always presents only two sides).

Levin’s solution to this trend, unfortunately, is that local and regional institutions (identities) need to see a self-started revival. Murray’s active solution is more nationalist and requires elites preaching the founding virtues to the lower classes. Social conservatives need to change their paradigm from that of a defensive majority, which does not exist, to an offensive minority. Only by building and sustaining successful subcultures (of social conservatives) will civil society see a real return and a reduction in the federal government’s role in society. Such will not only rebuild American culture, in a more diverse and rich way, but will also lower the tension of polarization as local and regional identities regain their lost strength.

These two routes both implicitly assume a change in the federal government’s direction, though. Since the success of the Progressives in the early 20th century, the federal government has grown in its size and mission in interfering with society, whether its perverse incentives towards cohabitation and not marriage or unemployment benefits eliminating the impetus to work. Reducing and eliminating said programs would go a long way to allowing for natural rehabilitation of our society, akin to the drug addict being weaned off of their drug of choice.

But what do the Ricochetti believe? Is Charen right that the identity of motherhood and being a wife is more important than being a worker? Is Levin right that social conservatives need to rebuild new subcultures until, over time, they can regain majority support? Or should the elites preach away the value of virtues to the lower classes as Murray claims they should? Is it even possible to see a reclamation of civil society in the lower classes of America?

There are 43 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. AltarGirl Member
    AltarGirl
    @CM

    Could Be Anyone: Is Charen right that the identity of motherhood and being a wife is more important than being a worker? yes

    Is Levin right that social conservatives need to rebuild new subcultures till over time they can regain majority support? yes

    Or should the elites preach away the value of virtues to the lower classes as Murray claims they should? yes (assuming this means elites make virtues trendy?)

    That’s all I got right now. I’ll ponder, re-read, and watch discussion.

     

    • #1
  2. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    This is a great discussion and you open many good questions. Feminism started out a good idea and became militant, belittling those who wanted to be moms and stay home with them. Also pitting the sexes against each other has worsened.  We have a broken culture and I don’t think upper classes preaching to the lower classes is an answer – both liberals and conservatives have upper classes that could use a lesson from those with little.  Those with little seem to focus on work, food, shelter, the basics, family. I think they also place more value in faith and service. It’s hard to see some of those values you describe that we need, when you have everything and sometimes little humility. 

    I hope we can generate some intriguing posts from this one –  

    • #2
  3. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Just asking questions about the education of women, when is the best time to have and raise small children, how many children per family is a “healthy” number’ begins to show how difficult and complex the understanding of culture is.  How much education do we what women to have, not in the sense that we would limit their choices, we all benefit from the extra brain power, but the longer women are in school the fewer children they have and the later in life that they have them.  Just the aspect of older women having fewer children changes the culture, also many women who work use child care to raise their children, that also changes the culture.  Are children born to older mothers different than those from younger mothers, to ask the question is uncomfortable.  What if children born to women between 20 and 30 are different that those born to older mothers, in their health over a life time?  Do children from smaller families differ from those from larger families, we know the single child families in China came to view those children as little Emperors.  As Murray notes as education increases men a women tend to find mates within their educational group; is this good for society?  It would be good to research these topics to understand the effects of the trends in our society, however I can’t imagine that we would change any political policies based on research.

    As confounding as the puzzle women’s education and increased work participation is, I think the key to cultural stability is the role of men in the work place and how men often are connected to society through work, also men are identified by what they do for a living.  I think the health of a society can be roughly measured by male work participation.

    • #3
  4. AltarGirl Member
    AltarGirl
    @CM

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    We have a broken culture and I don’t think upper classes preaching to the lower classes is an answer – both liberals and conservatives have upper classes that could use a lesson from those with little.

    There is definitely a contingent of low class population that emulates the elite. They try to dress like them, talk like them, behave like them, often in cheap and gaudy caricature. But some manage to pull it off a bit more gracefully.

    I do think that the elite emulating virtues we want to see in lower classes would give better results, if only by mimicry for trendiness and fad than anything else. You’ll still have the fails, just, I think, fewer of them.

    • #4
  5. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    Could Be Anyone: But what do the Ricochetti believe? Is Charen right that the identity of motherhood and being a wife is more important than being a worker? Is Levin right that social conservatives need to rebuild new subcultures till over time they can regain majority support? Or should the elites preach away the value of virtues to the lower classes as Murray claims they should? Is it even possible to see a reclamation of civil society in the lower classes of America?

    The problem is tied up in our world views.  A Conservative in America is in a kind of unique position.  In most parts of the world a Conservative is someone that wants to preserve an ethnic group and a certain kind of culture that ethnic group created for itself over hundreds or even thousands of years.  In most of the world ethnic and cultural identity are tied up together.    To be a conservative means you are speaking up for this kind of tradition, in some way and to some degree.

    In America we stand up for a group of ideas and principles articulated in our founding documents and interpreted through our civil society.   If you are not doing that you aren’t really a Conservative in the philosophical and political sense of the word.  This means that American Conservatives are a lot more flexible than most other Conservatives. Since we have founding principles that are tied to a specific race or ethnic identity we are free to apply these principles in new and sometimes even better ways to adapt to changing circumstances.  This is a good thing but our principles means that there are restrictions and limits on how we can apply our power and that process matters to us as much as the results we are aiming for.  This had an added bonus of giving us a purpose we were taking part in a noble experiment that mattered being a good husband, raising children working hard had some meaning, a higher status that made the hard times easier to endure.

    Progressives, misunderstanding human nature, did not think our founding principles were worth much and the restrictions they imposed on our activities were actually harmful.  They got idea that we could be goal centered and the process of achieving our, obviously, good goals was not as important.   Their plans never really panned out though and their goals always remained out of reach.  This led them to believe that any constraint on their actions was the cause for their failure.  All power, all hands had to be aimed at achieving their goals, principles be damned.    This led to some good things and some terrible things but the worst thing long term was to degrade our faith as people in how we make changes and protect people’s rights. 

    The affect it had on normal people the average Jack and Jill if you will is really terrible.  To be continued…

     

    • #5
  6. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    Continued from 5.

       So the average person wants to succeed at life and gain respect and status along the way.  We want to be seen as good and productive person by at least our peers.  Not everyone can be a moral philosopher, theologian, or political theorist, we need guide posts and signs of how to succeed and be able to trust those guide posts and signs to be reliable. 

    The Conservative answer to the average person is to say, “Here are a good set of principles to follow and duties you need to perform.  Do these things and you are doing something good and worthy of respect, even if things don’t turn out for you materially or in personal success you have done something worthy of honor and praise by living principally.  This allows all people of various merit, talent and opportunity to feel successful even if their life was difficult.

    The Progressives also set their minds on people living good and respectful lives.  The Progressives says, “Here are the goals we need to accomplish by achieving these things we live a good life and then we will give you new goals.”  The Progressive only values progressing their is no final goal, no real end and no real principles to live by we can only be judged by what we accomplish.

    When this comes into contact with the real world we see that a life of duty or sacrifice is only worthwhile if you achieve special recognition for it.  On the other hand if you stick with a rough marriage or do your duty to your kids you are not noble but trapped in a kind of Hell of self-inflicted torture for no good end.  If you are part of the movement, the cause or goal and you don’t win then you are worth nothing.

    You have to break barriers not maintain them, your have to tear down not build something up, you have to live what you might guess to be your most fulfilling life where you live with constant joy, or you are holding yourself back.  Don’t give a marriage your all, take from it all you need if the relationship doesn’t give you enough try another.

    This is why progress for the sake of progress is always self-destructive and destruction prone you can’t build something without maintaining it and if you maintain something you are not progressing anywhere.

    Socially Conservative sub-cultures that can maintain their message and vitality in the face of Progressive cultural dominance will win, the race will be long but the Progressives will burn themselves out in the end.  I have faith in that.

     

    • #6
  7. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    Could Be Anyone: But what do the Ricochetti believe? Is Charen right that the identity of motherhood and being a wife is more important than being a worker? Is Levin right that social conservatives need to rebuild new subcultures till over time they can regain majority support? Or should the elites preach away the value of virtues to the lower classes as Murray claims they should? Is it even possible to see a reclamation of civil society in the lower classes of America?

    Of course Charen is right that the identity of motherhood and being a wife is more important than being a worker, and Levin is right that social conservatives need to rebuild new subcultures over time. As for whether elites should preach about the value of virtues, depends on which elites are talking about which virtues, and how. Conservatives have been preaching about the value of hard work since forever, with very little effect: maybe one of the reasons it hasn’t worked is because neither women nor men want to identify primarily as workers?

     

     

    • #7
  8. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    AltarGirl (View Comment):

    Or should the elites preach away the value of virtues to the lower classes as Murray claims they should? yes (assuming this means elites make virtues trendy?)

    That’s all I got right now. I’ll ponder, re-read, and watch discussion.

    How does one make virtue trendy? Who says that elites preaching to the lower classes would go over well. After all those in the lower classes are in inter-generational poverty, its cultural. Let’s imagine for a second being one of those individuals and seeing some elites in a TV advertisement about why virtue is “cool” or “trendy”. I doubt anyone would be won over by it. 

    Another thing to consider is what mediums, other than TV, would be used to preach to those in the lower classes. Murray notes in Coming Apart that those in the lower classes are the most likely to watch TV and by a far larger margin than those in higher classes (and for longer periods of time).

    Preaching strikes me as tone deaf and impractical.

    • #8
  9. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    We have a broken culture and I don’t think upper classes preaching to the lower classes is an answer – both liberals and conservatives have upper classes that could use a lesson from those with little. Those with little seem to focus on work, food, shelter, the basics, family. I think they also place more value in faith and service. It’s hard to see some of those values you describe that we need, when you have everything and sometimes little humility. 

    Yet the data, which Murray meticulously points to in Coming Apart, on this is directly in opposition to what you assert. The elites are more likely to attend church weekly and more likely to take part in the positions within the church (like being a lector or an usher). They also work longer hours on average and by miles beat the lower classes in marriage (divorce and single motherhood are rare, they are nearly the majority in lower classes). If anything the elites seem to be the one’s emulating the virtues in the USA.

    • #9
  10. AltarGirl Member
    AltarGirl
    @CM

    Could Be Anyone (View Comment):
    How does one make virtue trendy? Who says that elites preaching to the lower classes would go over well. After all those in the lower classes are in inter-generational poverty, its cultural. Let’s imagine for a second being one of those individuals and seeing some elites in a TV advertisement about why virtue is “cool” or “trendy”. I doubt anyone would be won over by it. 

    How does Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne, and Fredi Washington provide beneficial influence as opposed to the Kardashians or Tupac?

    It has nothing to do with preaching, but being successful and influential while carrying yourself in an exemplary way. Tobacco Free America commercials are not needed for a Chris Pratt acceptance speech, and neither is his speech! Just be influential and successful while leading a virtuous life and the elite obsessed will do what they do… because of who they are as famous people.

    • #10
  11. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    Jim Beck (View Comment):

    Just asking questions about the education of women, when is the best time to have and raise small children, how many children per family is a “healthy” number’ begins to show how difficult and complex the understanding of culture is. How much education do we w[an]t women to have, not in the sense that we would limit their choices, we all benefit from the extra brain power, but the longer women are in school the fewer children they have and the later in life that they have them.

    Charen notes her article that the trend of women joining the workforce was happening prior to the rise of Second Wave Feminism. It strikes me as not an issue that women attain education in order to work in various fields.

    Just the aspect of older women having fewer children changes the culture, also many women who work use child care to raise their children, that also changes the culture.

    Murray notes in Coming Apart that mothers in the elite spend considerably more time raising their children compared to mothers in the working classes. So as it relates to culture the elites just seem to have changed the date for having children, Murray does not note a difference in family size although biologically speaking I agree that it becomes less likely for pregnancy as women age (fertility rapidly declining after the age of 40).

    Are children born to older mothers different than those from younger mothers, to ask the question is uncomfortable. What if children born to women between 20 and 30 are different that those born to older mothers, in their health over a life time?

    According to the data Murray uses the children born to the elites are doing far better than children born to poorer families. Not only are they, obviously, materially wealthier but have higher IQs on average and thus are cognitively superior (which is what the current information economy is based upon).

    As confounding as the puzzle women’s education and increased work participation is, I think the key to cultural stability is the role of men in the work place and how men often are connected to society through work, also men are identified by what they do for a living. I think the health of a society can be roughly measured by male work participation.

    Here again Murray notes that men, whether its raining or shining metaphorically in the job market, in the lower classes seem to value work less and less. Its not that men don’t have jobs they can find to work but they are not choosing them. The trends indicate men in the lower classes are choosing unemployment benefits over work. Why, if work was so integral to the identity of manhood, are men of the lower classes trending to unemployment benefits instead of work?

    • #11
  12. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    AltarGirl (View Comment):

    How does Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne, and Fredi Washington provide beneficial influence as opposed to the Kardashians or Tupac?

    It has nothing to do with preaching, but being successful and influential while carrying yourself in an exemplary way. Tobacco Free America commercials are not needed for a Chris Pratt acceptance speech, and neither is his speech! Just be influential and successful while leading a virtuous life and the elite obsessed will do what they do… because of who they are as famous people.

    But there are virtuous people who are members of the elite right now and there were scoundrels back in the day of Wayne and Hepburn too. As Murray mentions the elite is split 40:20:40 from right to left and yet we have these trends of the lower classes falling further and further in those founding virtues. So by your own angle, “elites preaching” is not working. Its not the solution.

    To hone in on this point, and why I defined it as a nationalist route, is that it assumes Americans share the same mediums of experiencing culture and tastes. But that is not the truth of the matter. American culture, as Levin points to in his book, has diffused. There are numerous subcultures with different values and tastes. How many Americans watched Christ Pratt’s speech? I think it would be fair to say several million did (perhaps over time it might expand to somewhere between 10-20 million).

    But that is paltry in a nation of 320 million and indicates that even a good substance speech does not reach all corners like one might have in 1950 (when there were far fewer mediums and the culture had been forcefully united through two world wars and the great depression).

    • #12
  13. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):
    Conservatives have been preaching about the value of hard work since forever, with very little effect: maybe one of the reasons it hasn’t worked is because neither women nor men want to identify primarily as workers?

    Americans identify less and less because of the division of labor. The trend is that humans have become more and more efficient as workers, thus work takes up less and less of their time. Its seems pretty natural then that Americans identify less with working. 

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):
    As for whether elites should preach about the value of virtues, depends on which elites are talking about which virtues, and how.

    How would these elites “preach” the founding virtues and how would one measure the impact?

    • #13
  14. AltarGirl Member
    AltarGirl
    @CM

    Could Be Anyone (View Comment):
    So by your own angle, “elites preaching” is not working. Its not the solution.

    Since my position is mostly reclaiming entertainment as a proxy for elites (because lower classes emulate famous people), this is relevant:

    There is a culture war, and the abstinence-only side is winning.They’re successfully using entertainment media to reinforce and normalize the dangerous messages they’ve been teaching for decades.

    http://feministing.com/2010/07/12/twilight-tweens-and-abstinence/

    The average age of first sexual intercourse in the United States is around 18 for males and around 17 for females,[14][15] and this has been rising in recent years.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolescent_sexuality_in_the_United_States

    Celebrities (including a Jonas brother) who have chosen to wait til marriage:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theknot.com/content/amphtml/celebrities-who-waited-until-marriage-to-have-sex

    And not to mention that as late as 2010, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and Lady GaGa were all advocating abstinence (we need not go over what hot messes some of these are today).

    My point being, there is actually a cultural effect going on with celebrities and the easily influenced by “cool”. It is slow moving, but we didn’t really get here overnight, either. In fact, it was 30-40 years from the sex revolution to the saturation of teen sex in the late 90s/early 00s.

    • #14
  15. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Afternoon Could Be and Altar,

    There is a question about models in entertainment influencing culture, the nature and direction of this influence is uncertain; did Murphy Brown, or Will and Grace spark changes or were the changes staged and happening and the show’s timing was a coincidence?   When Ingrid Bergman ran off with Rossellini, there was scandal and outrage, what about culture was different then, that was later lost?  The stars of entertainment appeal to so many conflicting emotions that to hope that one could use the stars to model virtue intentionally is a problem.  Orson Scott Card is an author that does structure his work to inspire virtue.  If we look at the age of the audiences for popular culture, we can see that the youth of the audience shapes music and movies and that these young audiences have a limited taste, not opera, not classical music, not Shakespeare, not even Orwell, or Solzhenitsyn. 

    Concerning a couple of ideas, that the rich would have their children test better on IQ, does not answer the question about lifetime health comparing the children born to older versus younger mothers.  Concerning the paradox about men who use work as part of their identity stepping away from work in the lower classes, when men see that there are other men who get money on welfare or disability, they feel they would be suckers if they worked and others skated.

    I think we are still learning about the fundamental pieces comprising human nature and we know even less about the fundamental forces which cause culture to change.  So if I hope to conserve what I believe are the essential parts of our culture I am at a loss about how to do that, and most every article our political writers have written on culture are hopelessly shallow.

    • #15
  16. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    All people crave status.  We give status to people that break barriers are true to themselves and reject duty for fulfillment.  We also give status to mavericks that beat the system.

    What we don’t give high status too is a man that works hard, doesn’t make a lot of money but fulfill his obligations to his family.  We don’t give status to woman that devotes time and energy to her kids making a home for them and her husband even if that means the career is on hold.  Children bring status if you manage to have them do a good job and at the same time do not derail your career rise and journey towards self fulfillment.  Raising kids that way is expensive.

    Spiritual revival, that can’t be engineered or successfully legislated, can solve a lot of these problems in one fell swoop.  When the church was able to give status to people in their communities there a lot of status giving jobs available to normal working class people.  Now being a deacon in the local church doesn’t mean anything to most people except that you are likely to be a hypocrite. 

    Without these various ways to attain status there is only money and pleasure.  If you can get a enough money to get buy and by drink and or drugs through welfare and part time work and with all the pleasures a relatively cheap TV ant internet bring you why work hard?  Why be responsible?  If the man got off his butt and worked hard and took care of his kids and fulfilled his duty what status does get?  Who looks up to him besides his kids?

    The elites start with enough money to make the climb of status possible and they can acquire more status through doing the right thing thing and taking care of their responsibilities.   The poor do not get the luxury with no worthwhile status in the offering for hard work, minimum achievement and cheap pleasures are all we have left…

    • #16
  17. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    AltarGirl (View Comment):

    Could Be Anyone (View Comment):
    So by your own angle, “elites preaching” is not working. Its not the solution.

    Since my position is mostly reclaiming entertainment as a proxy for elites (because lower classes emulate famous people), this is relevant:

    There is a culture war, and the abstinence-only side is winning.They’re successfully using entertainment media to reinforce and normalize the dangerous messages they’ve been teaching for decades.

    http://feministing.com/2010/07/12/twilight-tweens-and-abstinence/

    As if feminists have any sense of perception. All she does is complain about how abstinence is somehow advanced by High-school Musical and Twilight. But the feminist admits that she is describing abstinence as a catch all word for things she does not like

    And I say abstinence-only to mean all that term has come to encompass in the the educational realm – not just the invisibility of information about safe sex, but also messages about normative gender roles – how boys and girls should interact in distinctly heterosexual ways that perpetuate male supremacy.

    I think we can all agree that is a bit of butchery considering that abstinence means to abstain from sex and not a world view. The feminist idea that “toxic-masculinity” is linked with sexual abstinence makes no sense. But lets get back to her assertion that those movies were emblematic of the culture for tweens somehow (I just went and read the summaries of that awful series).

    Anecdotally speaking I was in junior high when the books became popular and in high school when the movies came out and I was raised in a rural town in a rural and conservative state. Those young ladies that watched the movies and read the books never spoke about the abstinence being what was important in it and in fact those that were the most vocally in favor of it were rumored to have lost their virginity (and not during their honeymoon) by graduation.

    That is because the Twilight Series is riddled with sexual cues for females (like the male stars being strong and aloof and the emotional attachment preceding sex, in fact it kind of advances female empowerment to engage in sex prior to marriage because that is what Bella wants). I could get into the evolutionary psychology on the matter, but it would not be flattering.

    High-school musical is indifferent. Its messages push neither way, although the first movie starts at a party. Needless to say, when weighed the Twilight Series uses primal instincts to get viewers and readers. Abstinence is just there for some tension.

    The average age of first sexual intercourse in the United States is around 18 for males and around 17 for females,[14][15] and this has been rising in recent years.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolescent_sexuality_in_the_United_States

    The Guttmacher Institute PDF the wiki page sources cites that median sexual age has increased only because the already small portion of those having sex before 15 years old has decreased. It means, practically speaking, that nothing has really changed.

    Teens are waiting longer to have sex
    than they did in the recent past. In
    2006–2008, some 11% of never-married
    females aged 15–19 and 14% of nevermarried
    males in that age-group had had
    sex before age 15, compared with 19%
    and 21%, respectively, in 1995.

    Celebrities (including a Jonas brother) who have chosen to wait til marriage:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theknot.com/content/amphtml/celebrities-who-waited-until-marriage-to-have-sex

    7 couples. Only 7 alleging this. That is… not many. Even then let’s consider the popular music from 2009. Here are the top 10 of the Billboard Top 100, top being number 1 and going down (I will hyperlink the songs because their language and viewer content in some cases is graphic or could be construed as such).

    Low by Flo Rida

    Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis

    No One by Alicia Keys 

    Lollip by Lil’ Wayne

    Apologize by Timbaland

    No Air by Jordan Sparks

    Love Song by Sara Bareilles

    Love In This Club by Usher

    With You by Chris Brown

    Forever by Chris Brown

    Every song relates to romantic relationships, some more graphic than others. The list of graphic songs doesn’t stop there either. The allegedly virtuous Mariah Carey has several sexually driven songs on the Top 100 list for that year (like Touch My Body at 23).

    The popularity of sex in music and broader culture is not blunted by 7 allegedly chaste celebrity couples and I doubt you have a regression table to prove otherwise.

    And not to mention that as late as 2010, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and Lady GaGa were all advocating abstinence (we need not go over what hot messes some of these are today).

    Could you link examples of this? Could you also link the popularity (how many views or some other metric) of their efforts in the broader culture?

    My point being, there is actually a cultural effect going on with celebrities and the easily influenced by “cool”. It is slow moving, but we didn’t really get here overnight, either. In fact, it was 30-40 years from the sex revolution to the saturation of teen sex in the late 90s/early 00s.

    Not according to the data on sexual partners. By generation the number of sexual partners has decreased with each generation since the Baby-Boomers (with the trend of sexual partners decreasing for males and increasing for females) although attitudes to the acceptance for extra-marital sex has increased. The cultural effect is that promiscuity in a strict sense has not waned really. Its just people are more publicly open about it.

    This alleged trend of elites preaching virtues affecting positive cultural change is not being observed.

    • #17
  18. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    This is a great discussion and you open many good questions.

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    I hope we can generate some intriguing posts from this one –

    I hope for that too, but it just doesn’t seem like its gonna happen.

    • #18
  19. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Regarding local vs national institutions, there’s a very interesting remark by the Confederate general Edward Porter Alexander, who was Lee’s artillery commander at Gettysburg.  After the war, he became a railroad president.

    Well that (state’s rights) was the issue of the war; & as we were defeated that right was surrendered & a limit put on state sovereignty. And the South is now entirely satisfied with that result. And the reason of it is very simple. State sovereignty was doubtless a wise political instution for the condition of this vast country in the last century. But the railroad, and the steamboat & the telegraph began to transform things early in this century & have gradually made what may almost be called a new planet of it… Our political institutions have had to change… Briefly we had the right to fight, but our fight was against what might be called a Darwinian development – or an adaptation to changed & changing conditions – so we need not greatly regret defeat.

    There is some truth in this…but the logic, which is a kind of technological determinism, seems to lead beyond national institutions all the way to global institutions.  See my post What are the limits of the Alexander Analysis?

    • #19
  20. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    Are children born to older mothers different than those from younger mothers, to ask the question is uncomfortable. What if children born to women between 20 and 30 are different that those born to older mothers, in their health over a life time?

    I’m here for you. I am a 1950s baby and my mother was 42 when I was born (my older sister was born when Mama was 3 months shy of 40). This made our family very different back then. Now it would not be nearly so unusual.

    My parents were probably more indulgent than the much younger parents of my playmates. They were also grounded and secure in their relationship. Our home was calm and comforting.

    As to health, until I developed Type 2 diabetes about 10 years ago, I was the picture of health. I’m still generally hale and hearty.

    • #20
  21. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Afternoon Could Be and Suspira,

    I was born in 47, my mother had been a head nurse on an Ob-Gyn ward at the Med Center in Indy, met pop, a doc, got married, and she became a stay at home mother until the youngest child was in high school.  All of her four children feel so lucky that their mom, like most moms at the time, was a stay at home mom.  As kids we had the perfect balance of freedom to roam and supervision.  I think kids from stay at home moms are given the best chance to learn our culture, become moral and compassionate.  Here is the problem my nieces are in USC and the Univ of Chicago, both hoping to take post graduate studies,  although I think their children and families would benefit if they followed their grandmothers model, I doubt if they will and I would only comment on their choices if asked.  It is likely that they will meet their husbands at school or graduate school and may even move away from family.  So just in following a common path of education for women and the change in traditions of raising families we can see how fragmented our culture has become.  In modern times the influence of grandparents and uncles and aunts has been reduced in that many children will seen their relatives only during holidays.  As families disperse the ability of  relatives to model civic responsibility, personal responsibility, family roles, and  gender roles,  and has been replaced by daycare, school, popular culture.  Leaving family and city also makes maintaining church habits more difficult.

    So how to hold on the traditions which are essential to the health of our society?  Here is the challenge, would we like to encourage more families to choose to have the mother stay at home with younger children?  If we would, we can write tax law and maybe other things, but how will we rewrite the narrative for family life where the choice to stay at home and raise children becomes a well thought of choice.  Child rearing is a piece of cultural preservation, it seems to that each piece is almost as complex as this.

     

    • #21
  22. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    David Foster (View Comment):

    There is some truth in this…but the logic, which is a kind of technological determinism, seems to lead beyond national institutions all the way to global institutions. See my post What are the limits of the Alexander Analysis?

    Taking Alexander at face value, rather than as Confederate apologia, he had a point that the technologies of the time was moving from localized and low capitalization, to those requiring geographic scale and high capitalization.

    That doesn’t necessarily read on the 21st century.  It’s easy to point to global airlines and trade if you continue the transportation thread, but those have been around for 50 years now.

    If there’s a dominant movement of the last 20 years, it’s got to be the erosion and partial destruction of the mass media by the Internet and all of its ramifications, and a resulting trend towards cultural fragmentation, as noted above.  That has political consequences, both overt – e.g., Twitter used to mobilize protests, and hidden:  The ‘low class layabout’ might be getting his satisfaction from the hero he plays in WoW, his Reddit likes, or retweets.  Which does little for civil society as framed in the OP.

    • #22
  23. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Regarding local vs national institutions, there’s a very interesting remark by the Confederate general Edward Porter Alexander, who was Lee’s artillery commander at Gettysburg. After the war, he became a railroad president.

    -snip-

    There is some truth in this…but the logic, which is a kind of technological determinism, seems to lead beyond national institutions all the way to global institutions. See my post What are the limits of the Alexander Analysis?

    1. Technology alters culture and vice versa. One example would be how a slave labor society retards technological innovation (not entirely but by a wide margin) or the internet allowing for people to engage in a diaspora of ideas in an insulated nation (like Iran or North Korea).
    2. Unfortunately we are not in a perfect vacuum for societal changes in regards to technology. State intervention through marriage licenses/benefits along with the welfare state and other mechanisms have an impact on social values and actions. So its strikes me as unlikely that we can discern the causal effects between state intervention and technological progression.
    3. I do agree though that technological progression makes the possibility of international governance more likely. It helps to offset the logistical costs of far flung governance. However, the existence of a national or international government does not require a lack of identity with local institutions. Only if the national government begins to supplant the local institutions in their roles would I suspect the local institutions to necessarily weaken.
    • #23
  24. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    Jim Beck (View Comment):

    Afternoon Could Be and Suspira,

    I was born in 47, my mother had been a head nurse on an Ob-Gyn ward at the Med Center in Indy, met pop, a doc, got married, and she became a stay at home mother until the youngest child was in high school. All of her four children feel so lucky that their mom, like most moms at the time, was a stay at home mom. As kids we had the perfect balance of freedom to roam and supervision.

    That seems a little subjective don’t ya think? The “perfect” balance? To be more serious though the 1950s and 1960s were an anomaly. The rest of the world had been devastated by WW2 and the USA was the only industrial nation left standing. I bet that your father being a doctor, which was already a high income position, was only further strengthened in his earnings because of this. That meant that he could afford to provide for 4 children and a stay at home wife.

    I think kids from stay at home moms are given the best chance to learn our culture, become moral and compassionate.

    What do you mean “our culture”? I don’t ask that pedantically either. Could you describe what you believed to be the moral and cultural expectations were for you growing up. Would you say that you followed them, from a scale of 1 to 10 (1 meaning little and 10 meaning to the letter)? Would you be willing to mention the ones you did not follow?

    How do you know that I was raised with the same moral and cultural expectations? Another thing to consider is your own generation. Many of them would have been raised in similar circumstances. Would you consider them to be a moral or faithful to “our culture”?

    Here is the problem my nieces are in USC and the Univ of Chicago, both hoping to take post graduate studies, although I think their children and families would benefit if they followed their grandmothers model, I doubt if they will and I would only comment on their choices if asked.

    As I mentioned before your family’s example is an anomaly, because of both time and your father’s position. Do your nieces intend to have families? Have they stated such? Could be that they do not intend to, they could be on one of the ends of the distribution curve.

    But if they are not on the one end of the distribution curve what is wrong with them gaining such a degree that could enable them to provide for themselves while searching for a husband or to work part-time in a well paid position? As Mona pointed out in her article

    A 2013 CBS/New York Times survey asked, “If money were no object, and you were free to do whatever you wanted, would you stay at home, work part time, or work full time?” Among women with children under eighteen years old, only 27 percent said “work full time.” Forty-nine percent preferred part time work, as I did when my children were young, and 22 percent preferred no work outside the home. A Pew survey found that among married mothers, 76 percent preferred part-time jobs or no paid work.

    Women do not necessarily oppose working (even when all their material needs have been met). There is value and dignity in working, however, for women with children the children obviously take priority (which probably explains the overwhelming desire to work part time).

    It is likely that they will meet their husbands at school or graduate school and may even move away from family. So just in following a common path of education for women and the change in traditions of raising families we can see how fragmented our culture has become.

    Moving away does not mean that a family necessarily fragments, there is a reason for family reunions and holidays. I should ask though what you define family fragmentation as. Is it children leaving their hometown or divorce or something else?

    In modern times the influence of grandparents and uncles and aunts has been reduced in that many children will seen their relatives only during holidays. As families disperse the ability of relatives to model civic responsibility, personal responsibility, family roles, and gender roles, and has been replaced by daycare, school, popular culture. Leaving family and city also makes maintaining church habits more difficult.

    Considering the constant flux of American society prior to the World Wars and Great Depression I don’t think families were stuck together in the manner you allege them to have been. But shouldn’t the children’s parents have the greatest impact for modeling behavior? And that gets back to the point of your nieces and their desires for graduate and post graduate education.

    What was their mother’s profession? What was their father’s profession? What kind of values did their parent’s instill in them? Were they raised in an intact family? Did their parents take them to church every weekend?

    Because the fundamental issue is that many parents in the USA have ceded much of their role as parents. Dysfunctional children tend to come from dysfunction homes, after all that is where they are most of the time.

    So how to hold on the traditions which are essential to the health of our society? Here is the challenge, would we like to encourage more families to choose to have the mother stay at home with younger children? If we would, we can write tax law and maybe other things, but how will we rewrite the narrative for family life where the choice to stay at home and raise children becomes a well thought of choice. Child rearing is a piece of cultural preservation, it seems to that each piece is almost as complex as this.

    Isn’t one of the negative influences on the family in America the fact that federal and state governments have attempted to manipulate families through various schemes like marriage licenses and the welfare state? Virtue cannot be coerced or fraudulently put upon someone, it has to be internally motivated. No amount of government social engineering is going to make Americans choose to live in functioning families.

    If you want, what you believe to be, your culture to survive and thrive then make sure you impart those values onto your children. Spend time with them, no one is going to do the job of parenting except you.

    • #24
  25. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    Could Be Anyone (View Comment):
    The “perfect” balance? To be more serious though the 1950s and 1960s were an anomaly. The rest of the world had been devastated by WW2 and the USA was the only industrial nation left standing. I bet that your father being a doctor, which was already a high income position, was only further strengthened in his earnings because of this. That meant that he could afford to provide for 4 children and a stay at home wife.

    One of my grandfathers was a factory worker who probably never went to school beyond 3rd grade; he supported a wife and 5 children during the depression; my other grandfather was a police officer. He supported a wife and six children during the depression. The 1950’s and 60’s really were not an anomaly in that respect; most women in the past lived on farms, and there is a great deal of work to be done on farms; even when they didn’t live on farms, up until the 50’s and 60’s, washing had to be done to by hand and housework was a lot more work than it is now: at no point in American history did most married women work outside the home until fairly recently. What @jimbeck describes is not an anomaly.

    • #25
  26. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Evening Could Be,

    London around 1900 represents to me the most successful modern society.  London was the largest city in the world, and in many ways the most diverse, yet crime was almost nonexistent.  The members of society had internalized their roles and traditions and customs to such an extent that the frictions of life in a large society were at a very low level, and the strength of the family, public/civic responsibility and private responsibility were at high levels.

    As a post WWII kid, the changes which came along with the 60’s highlighted what was lost.  From elementary school to high school, I knew no kid who was in day care, all but one of the moms was stay at home, and only one of the moms was divorced.  My high school class had 800 kids so I am sure that there were other divorced families, however I only had one friend whose parents were (I was involved in a lot of sports so I knew lots of guys).  Compare this to my son who went to the same high school and had many friends who were divorced, and only a few friends whose moms were stay at home.  Now it may be that stay at home child rearing is not as beneficial as I think, however we do know and have known for decades that children from divorced parents are at a disadvantage.  Many aspects of my parents generation and my generation simplified the paths for ones life choices.  For men, one went to school, got a job, got married, had children, this was so common that it went unstated. For a couple to be unmarried and become pregnant, there was great shame for the couple and their parents.  For women, the choices had variations concerning college and marriage.  What is lost is an understanding of what it means to be an adult, what are the obligations one has to one’s family and to the society at large.  This involves work, parenting, citizenship.  We now focus on self-actualization where most of our sacrifices are for our personal benefit, and in contrast to the sacrifices one might make for one’s children.  There are no modern Western countries that have birth rates which are above replacement levels, the USA is only above replacement levels because of immigration.  So what is it about modern life, where we don’t find the future worth while enough to have children?  The post WWII neighborhoods were also more homogenized, with  salesmen, FBI guys, insurance, retired factory worker, a guy who started a restaurant and my dad the doc, living in 1,100 sq ft bungalows, or 1,800 two story houses. Many had one car, like our family until my mom was 30.  What was different concerning parenting concerned work,  I worked regular hours so I was much more involved with scouts and sports, also I was less concerned about school achievement for myself and my son.  My father was the first in his family to finish college and his parents worked to push him to focus on academics.  My mom from a farm in Spencer Indiana was the second girl from her family to go to college, her older sister was also a nurse, there were 11 children in her family.  The children made choices about school entirely on their own, even the boys enlisted without telling the parents.  From my view that generation lived out their parents hopes achieving greater success in almost all arenas than their parents could have imagined.  My generation under achieved, being blind to all the advantages and blessings they had, and along the way denying the moral standing of their parents using the war and race and their parents silence to undercut their moral standing.  This also was played out in the closing of universities and chanting ‘ho, ho Western civ has got to go” as my generation began the process of  trashing higher ed.  And of course love is more than a piece of paper,  marriage who needs it.  The simple answer, all human societies.  So using marriage as an example of a cultural essential, when one generation does not accept the models their parent provide, the culture and its health is put at risk.

    I will come back to your other questions later.

    • #26
  27. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):
    One of my grandfathers was a factory worker who probably never went to school beyond 3rd grade; he supported a wife and 5 children during the depression; my other grandfather was a police officer. He supported a wife and six children during the depression.

    To be fair to your grandfather who was a police officer that was a coveted position in the Great Depression. That would be a relatively high income position for that time. Also standard of living was drastically lower than in 1950 and 1960. But what about your grandmothers? Were they stay at home moms or did they have jobs?

    The 1950’s and 60’s really were not an anomaly in that respect; most women in the past lived on farms, and there is a great deal of work to be done on farms; even when they didn’t live on farms, up until the 50’s and 60’s, washing had to be done to by hand and housework was a lot more work than it is now: at no point in American history did most married women work outside the home until fairly recently. What @jimbeck describes is not an anomaly.

    The 1950s and 1960s were very much an anomaly. Progressive regimentation with the two world wars and the Great Depression very much regimented and thus homogenized American Society. Couple that with the artificially inflated market share of the United States from the end of World War 2 and you have a nation with high social homogeneity and the capacity to command above average wages and benefits for low skill labor, thus allowing for the possibility of single bread winner families.

    As to the trend of women working outside the home that has come with specialization (division of labor) and urbanization. By 1910 nearly half the US population lived in cities. By 1950 60% of the population lived in cities. By 1950 a third of the labor force were women. Sorry but the assertion that women were all staying at home and keeping themselves at work does not match with the data.

    Working on a farm for a woman is considerably more difficult than living in an urban home. The woman helps with farm work and house work (and urban areas adopted electricity before rural areas so their housework becomes easier) and has to take care of the children across a far larger area of ground than for a wife living in an apartment or in suburbia.

    Thus the urban wife has a greater degree of freedom and capacity to work outside of the home.

    • #27
  28. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    Could Be Anyone (View Comment):
    But what about your grandmothers? Were they stay at home moms or did they have jobs?

    Both of them were stay at home mothers, as were most women at that time.

    • #28
  29. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    Could Be Anyone (View Comment):
    By 1950 a third of the labor force were women. Sorry but the assertion that women were all staying at home and keeping themselves at work does not match with the data.

    Ok, show the data: am pretty sure your data will show that most of the women who were working at that time were unmarried.

    • #29
  30. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    Could Be Anyone: Using social survey data, Mona observes that even though women have gained in the workforce their happiness has declined. More women work today than ever before and yet women’s suicide rate continues to climb (at a higher rate than men’s) along with higher rates of anti-depressant use. Even more telling is that social surveys indicate that super-majorities of women do not desire full-time work. If work was what gave women purpose and flourishing, Eudaimonia, then these trends would not be observed.

    Considering this, I don’t understand why you are so supportive of women working, when all the data shows that most women would prefer to work either part time or not at all. Why are you in favor of something that is not traditional, and that most women don’t want?

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.