Social Isolation and the Superfluous Men

 

I regularly read the journal American Affairs, which is a sophisticated populist journal that wisely strays away from sticking to any politician or political movement but is vaguely right-leaning. The journal is available in print or by online subscription. Marco Rubio has been interviewed for it. There was an article in the Winter 2020 issue called “The New Superfluous Men,” which looked at the increasingly sorry and questionable state of young men in western society. It was written by Alex Glender and there were several aspects of it that I wanted to analyze and then comment on:

As the story goes, by eroding traditional norms of monogamy and family life, social and technological developments such as feminism and the birth control pill intensified sexual competition by giving women more freedom to choose their partners without consequences.

According to Pew Research Center, “only 44% of Millennials were married in 2019, compared with 53% of Gen Xers, 61% of Boomers and 81% of Silents at a comparable age.” There’s been a steady decline in marriage, more and more with each coming generation. “Reproductive freedom” has certainly had a lot to do with this and along with that also has been the institutionalization of social isolation.

People live unnaturally in the United States. They don’t know their neighbor, very few of them are part of community groups, and they take in a steady stream of consumer media that gives them nothing but anxiety and animosity toward the people that exist around them. No one seems particularly happy with this scenario, though plenty of people will nonetheless rationalize it and refuse to change it. Glender goes on to cite French writer Michel Houellebecq, who says:

Just unrestrained economic liberalism, and for similar reasons, sexual liberalism produces phenomena of absolute pauperization. Some men make love every day; others five or six times in their life, or never.

While I was living in California, without saying any privacy-violating specifics, I met a man who was a virgin well into middle age. Yes, long past the 40-year mark from the infamous Steve Carrell movie. There were all sorts of reasons for why he ended up in that situation, but certainly, atomization had a lot to do with it. A total abundance of sex means that a man who accumulates it is like a billionaire and a man who never attains it is a pauper. Feminists talk about men, likewise, as if they are homeless people or illegal immigrants who desperately seek something that they have.

“Incels,” or the “involuntarily celibate,” men are not simply a phenomenon in the United States, which really makes one wonder what is going on. They are called “bare branches” in China and “hikikomori” in Japan. Glender theorizes that they are a product of a world that no longer employs slave labor, drafts men into conflicts or goes exploring unknown shores and adds that the ideology they’ve arrived at through the Alt Right movement might vent their rage but hardly helps their efforts:

Understood in this way, the incel’s predicament is a bitterly ironic one. For in addition to the targets of their rage, incels victimize themselves by supporting the very same ideologies that lie at the root of their immiseration. They decry the materialism and shallowness of “gold-digging” women who only care about men’s wealth and social status while in the same breath opposing feminist equality and upholding the gender norms that enshrine men as providers.

It is worth noting here that many feminists talk about gender equity but will easily scream and shout down a man if he is not adhering to old gender norms. They’ll shout at and berate men or anyone for anything that they can get away with, don’t listen to anything men say, and only ever back off if other women who aren’t as deranged tell them to. Glender adds:

They extol marriage while opposing the sorts of economic redistributionist policies that would make it easier for men like them to attain and sustain it. They adopt white supremacist ideologies that demonize black and immigrant men instead of recognizing their common plight. And with their view of history hopelessly distorted by consumer media, they pine for “traditional” eras in which, in all statistical likelihood, they would find themselves serving as cannon fodder in some lord’s army, wasting away from scurvy at sea, or hauling stones under an overseer’s whip. But one need not have any sympathy for incels to recognize that simply admonishing them to “be better” and less entitled is an inadequate response to a confluence of technological and demographic change, and that the conditions that breed them create a more dangerous world for us all.

If the past year has taught us anything, from COVID-19 lockdowns to the storming of congress by Alt-Right zealots, it’s that society and the civilization around us can stop. The normal routine we are used to is only routine because we keep doing it. The incel is only an extreme variant of social isolation. The overworked, overeducated, and over-miserable career woman is also an extreme variant. Neither is normal or happy and the statistics show that while happiness has stayed about the same for men over the years, it has actually gone down for women in the west even as they have made historic gains.

If people marry less, if they know their neighbors less, if they talk less to each other and are involved in the community less, they will have nothing to sustain civilization. Civilization was built by people who did these things. They will have no idea of what is going on with people around them and will thus be unable to see disaster or conflict coming. We will jump right back to the world where men were “cannon fodder in some lord’s army, wasting away from scurvy at sea, or hauling stones under an overseer’s whip.”

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  1. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    • #1
  2. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    • #2
  3. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Isn’t the developing society as described in the post title the main purveyor of the idea that man-made climate change is what threatens society? Probably some other big ideas as well.

    Is there any known correlation between population density and the condition of people not knowing their neighbors?

    • #3
  4. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    Don’t you have to believe in G-d to go to church?

    • #4
  5. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Its men so nobody cares. Been that way all my life.
    It is a woman’s world. Even most religions are for women.

    • #5
  6. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    An interesting statement. Most of the activities at my parish are for moms and kids and dads. I assume young men only care about video games and anime. Perhaps a service army would be appealing.

    • #6
  7. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    A double thanks to you. I didn’t know of this journal to which I am now subscribed. And I didn’t know who Richard Bona was. When I saw his picture, I recognized him from being in Manu Dibango’s band way back when. I used to know Manu Dibango when I lived in Cameroun. 

    • #7
  8. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    LDS have singles wards and in locations where there are high numbers of members they have 30 and under and over 30 breaks. A church that favors marriage and family.

    • #8
  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    The rise of the “karen” is part and parcel of this. Women have been told they have no limits to their behaviors. No matter how they behave, the system will swoop in and protect them. Amber Heard on tape saying “No one will believe you because you are a man”. 

    Men make the world work. Every dirty job that is needed to run the world is performed 90%+ by men. Oil drilling, all mining, construction, trash pick up, transportation, police. The dirty jobs, without glamor, are done by men. There is no outcry, no push to get women into those jobs. No, they only push is for glamorous ones. Women clearly don’t want to do the grunt work. 

    I have long said the birth control pill is the most disruptive technology of the 20th century. I stand by that. It has allowed a hook up culture, where young women try to have sex like men, and where we have sexual polygamy, where a few men get all the women and the rest get none. Men would would have made find husbands 50 years ago are unmarried until they die. Women are unhappy and men are unhappy. 

    Marriage works. It has always worked, and it has thousands of years of history behind it. Out society no longer supports marriage in any serious way, other than to hold men to outdated standards in divorce and still treat women in them as if they were dependent on their husbands. 

    And, someday, the whole system will fail. 

    • #9
  10. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Talk of woman-hating incels seems a distraction. They seem about as common and as significant as QAnon, which is not much. 

    Our focus should be on the general trends of atomization, refusal to acknowledge sexual differences, rejection of innate roles, and distorted ideas about individual liberty. I suppose they could be divided into atomization and illusions of self-creation.

    Both can be discouraged by parents by forcing activities on children that get them into unselfish habits. Adulthood is doing things regardless of whether or not you feel like it. 

    • #10
  11. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    They offer Christ.

    • #11
  12. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    Don’t you have to believe in G-d to go to church?

    To attend? To listen? To hear the Word spoken? 

    No, of course not.

    • #12
  13. MiMac Thatcher
    MiMac
    @MiMac

    A very good article:

    https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2018/05/28/incel-advice-start-going-to-church/

    • #13
  14. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    Don’t you have to believe in G-d to go to church?

    No.

    Many churches want to have non-believers come, particularly to activities other than worship services.

    Men’s ministry is the natural place, as that’s often a group that has outward facing physical activities like disaster relief projects (men with chain saws, shovels, and hammers), or programs of other practical help, like repairing cars for people, fixing houses, etc. Most welcome any willing and able, and do not require theological conformity.

    The pandemic and associated restrictions designed to isolate people has made these avenues more challenging. 

    • #14
  15. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    If this diagnosis is correct, we (society in general and government in particular) have in our response to the pandemic are inflicting enormous damage as we intentionally seek to isolate people as much as possible and tell tens of millions that they are unnecessary (superfluous, useless).

    • #15
  16. Cal Lawton Member
    Cal Lawton
    @CalLawton

    Um, what’s “Silents” ?

    • #16
  17. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Cal Lawton (View Comment):

    Um, what’s “Silents” ?

    The Silent Generation, born in the late 20s through WWII.

    • #17
  18. Bluenoser Member
    Bluenoser
    @Bluenoser

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    Don’t you have to believe in G-d to go to church?

    I was months away from finding out in 2004. But, life intervened. 

    • #18
  19. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Bluenoser (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    Don’t you have to believe in G-d to go to church?

    I was months away from finding out in 2004. But, life intervened.

    Details please. 

    • #19
  20. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    MiMac (View Comment):

    A very good article:

    https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2018/05/28/incel-advice-start-going-to-church/

    Good grief! I have too many examples of evangelical dating going bad: Too many examples of being so desperate for a spouse one quite excuses “Be not unequally yoked” (2 Cor. 6:14) and the consequences are consistently unpleasant.

    Kevin needs to stick to something (or someone) he knows about. Clearly it isn’t Christ or the Church!

    • #20
  21. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Bluenoser (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    Don’t you have to believe in G-d to go to church?

    I was months away from finding out in 2004. But, life intervened.

    “… seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” —Matthew 7 

    The Lord answers every invitation to make Himself known. But the timing and the way of it is not as a fellow human being would answer; rather, it is how a timeless and all-knowing Creator would answer. Heck if I know what that is. The Lord knows each person and offers an individual response.

    Note that the verse is immediately preceded by “Do not give what is holy to dogs… [don’t put] pearls before swine.” It is those who desire God — not those who demand His presence and explanation — who are answered. A humble and loving heart is welcoming of truth and experience. A bitter and accusatory heart, though served by a brilliant mind, is trapped therein and learns nothing.

    • #21
  22. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    Don’t you have to believe in G-d to go to church?

    Not if you are a member of the clergy. 

    • #22
  23. Michael Powell Coolidge
    Michael Powell
    @Michael Powell

    Hang On (View Comment):

    A double thanks to you. I didn’t know of this journal to which I am now subscribed. And I didn’t know who Richard Bona was. When I saw his picture, I recognized him from being in Manu Dibango’s band way back when. I used to know Manu Dibango when I lived in Cameroun.

    If there’s an audience for it here, I could definitely go full in on music from that part of the world.

    Also, I have several issues of American Affairs filled with highlighted passages – now that I finally found a group of people that would appreciate feedback about it, I’d love to post about it here.

    • #23
  24. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Just another byproduct of that poisonous period of history known as the 60s. Many bogies contributed to today’s problems. A sexual revolution fueled by the media that left both men and woman with unrealistic expectations (“having it all”, etc.) 

    Throw in the “gender studies” at our universities and the malignant narcissism along with the decline of our small communities; well, it’s a wonder that marriage rates are as high as they are.

    • #24
  25. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    LDS have singles wards and in locations where there are high numbers of members they have 30 and under and over 30 breaks. A church that favors marriage and family.

    That’s good. Most churches don’t bother with singles.

    • #25
  26. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Chuck (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    They offer Christ.

    Of course, what I meant was that most churches don’t offer any social or other connections to singles. Before I was married I attended a number of churches. Yes, I got the body and blood of Christ, but there was no way to meet and socialize with others like me.

    • #26
  27. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    I think tis is an important topic as currently the idea that white people or men in general are overly priovileed is ridiculous. All aperson has to do is look at the escalating suicide rates since March 13th, the day COVID became a pandemic dictating whether or not we couldr emain a free people. (We camn, we are told but not until every single COVID micro germ has been annihilated.)

    I got confused in reading the following:

    “It is worth noting here that many feminists talk about gender equity but will easily scream and shout down a man if he is not adhering to old gender norms. They’ll shout at and berate men or anyone for anything that they can get away with, don’t listen to anything men say, and only ever back off if other women who aren’t as deranged tell them to. Glender adds:

    “They extol marriage while opposing the sorts of economic redistributionist policies that would make it easier for men like them to attain and sustain it. They adopt white supremacist ideologies that demonize black and immigrant men instead of recognizing their common plight. And with their view of history hopelessly distorted by consumer media, they pine for “traditional” eras in which, in all statistical likelihood, they would find themselves serving as cannon fodder in some lord’s army, wasting away from scurvy at sea, or hauling stones under an overseer’s whip. But one need not have any sympathy for incels to recognize that simply admonishing them to “be better” and less entitled is an inadequate response to a confluence of technological and demographic change, and that the conditions that breed them create a more dangerous world for us all.”

    Who is the “They” in the paragraph about extolling marriage? The feminists? Which is the group being discussed right before that paragraph. Except feminists actually do extol economic redistribution polices (As long as the policies are done under traditional tax laws, and not any that might make them contribute to the re-distribution.)

    By the way, one reason so many men are incels is due to their being screen addicts. The reality of being without a female partner has also arrived to formerly married men, who are of the group who had told wives they were looking for work when actually they were on their computers 24/7 playing games or viewing pornography. 

    • #27
  28. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The rise of the “karen” is part and parcel of this. Women have been told they have no limits to their behaviors. No matter how they behave, the system will swoop in and protect them. Amber Heard on tape saying “No one will believe you because you are a man”.

    Men make the world work. Every dirty job that is needed to run the world is performed 90%+ by men. Oil drilling, all mining, construction, trash pick up, transportation, police. The dirty jobs, without glamor, are done by men. There is no outcry, no push to get women into those jobs. No, they only push is for glamorous ones. Women clearly don’t want to do the grunt work.

    I have long said the birth control pill is the most disruptive technology of the 20th century. I stand by that. It has allowed a hook up culture, where young women try to have sex like men, and where we have sexual polygamy, where a few men get all the women and the rest get none. Men would would have made find husbands 50 years ago are unmarried until they die. Women are unhappy and men are unhappy.

    Marriage works. It has always worked, and it has thousands of years of history behind it. Out society no longer supports marriage in any serious way, other than to hold men to outdated standards in divorce and still treat women in them as if they were dependent on their husbands.

    And, someday, the whole system will fail.

    Throw in a general downgrading of “manly” virtues; declining intelligence and fitness scores for boys looking to enter the military, the ready availability of drugs to help them forget their problems; it’s a pretty bleak picture.

    • #28
  29. Michael Powell Coolidge
    Michael Powell
    @Michael Powell

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    An interesting statement. Most of the activities at my parish are for moms and kids and dads. I assume young men only care about video games and anime. Perhaps a service army would be appealing.

    The history of men is them becoming adults through something that was compulsory. That doesn’t have to be military service – could be a lot of things.

    • #29
  30. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Michael Powell (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    It seems to me a good church could go a long way in fixing this problem for the individual male.

    Not many churches have much to offer adult singles.

    An interesting statement. Most of the activities at my parish are for moms and kids and dads. I assume young men only care about video games and anime. Perhaps a service army would be appealing.

    The history of men is them becoming adults through something that was compulsory. That doesn’t have to be military service – could be a lot of things.

    It’s true the military isn’t for everyone. However, one problem is that our high schools are so lousy that many boys are ill-prepared for anything. Combine that with almost non-existent work ethics, that “lot of things” shrinks pretty quickly.

    • #30