The End of Men Part II

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 Sexual Economics and the Technological/Social Nexus

By Wayne Allensworth

My paternal grandfather was a boilermaker. When I was a boy, he made his living working with an oxy-acetylene gas torch, used to cut through steel plates, and an arc welder, used in fabricating the boilers, pipes, and other objects manufactured at the plant where he worked in Houston, Texas. He had learned his trade during the depression. After joining the exodus of Okies, Arkies, and Texans who headed for the West coast during the hardest times of the Dust bowl era, granddad made his way to Houston, landing a job at the shipyards just as the work was beginning to pick up with World War II looming on the horizon. He bought war bonds, lost a son on D-day, and moved into a modest home.  

Granddad went to work for White’s Metal and Boiler works sometime after the war. I remember riding with my grandmother to pick him up from work and waiting for the whistle to blow, watching for the parade of working men carrying their lunch pails, granddad emerging from the plant wearing a cap like that of a railroad engineer. For a man with little in the way of formal education, he made a decent living. He finally bought the house my grandmother had always wanted, one with a nice yard and a dining room.

My father made his living as a cabinet maker and trim carpenter during “Space City’s” boom years when the Astrodome was billed as “the Eighth Wonder of the World.” He built our house in Spring Branch in the mid-1950’s. My mother was a housewife or, better still, a homemaker, because that is what she did: she made us a home. She and her friends in the neighborhood volunteered at our schools, took care of the old folks, handled household chores, and raised their children. In terms of income and home ownership, my parents had succeeded. Neither had finished high school. 

This little memoir is more than a bit of nostalgia. Millions of Americans have similar stories, belying the propaganda of the perverse Zeitgeist of our time, which distorts and condemns pre-mid 1960’s America as a repressive, misogynistic domain of male brutality. Radical feminists have taken aim at the family itself as a repressive institution from a dark age. The family, we are told, is an institution defined by the economic and physical subjugation of women, with conjugal relations between man and wife cast as a form of rape. The postmodern view is that bearing and raising children is simply a matter of choice, with no higher meaning. The underlying assumptions of this subversive ethos include the primacy of the self-defining and self-creating individual; the repressive nature of social institutions, which inhibit the individual’s complete autonomy; total equality of the sexes in all things (with “gender” itself a “social construct” that can be altered or redefined); and moral and spiritual nihilism (individuals cast into the void of a purposeless universe are responsible for creating their own meaning). The autonomous individual lives perpetually in the present, with little sense of connections to past or future. With these kinds of assumptions, it’s no surprise that the dominant ideologies of our time are blind to the sense of duty, obligation, and purpose of traditional societies: meaning is self-generated, not sought through the mantle of religion, patriotism, and filial piety.

And it’s no surprise that our society seems to be hell bent on deconstructing itself.

Unconsciously, but quite naturally, men and women bound by traditional marriage were playing roles that fulfilled their natures in ways beneficial to the individuals bound in matrimony and to society at large. In traditional societies, the institution of marriage channeled the male’s natural aggression toward leadership in the family, with the father playing the role of provider and protector. The female’s nurturing instincts augmented the biological function of childbearing and rearing. Each had their own position of respect and status in the community.

The family, especially as bound by monogamous marriage, contained the sexual impulse—the husband/father would have access to sex sanctioned by the marriage vow, with that access guarded by chaste women. Monogamy also gave most men a chance to marry, decreasing the potential for violent competition among young males, while the wife would ideally have a lifetime mate and father for her children. Female chastity not only channeled the sexual impulse into the civilizing confines of marriage, it also ensured that the husband and father knew that he was providing for his own heirs. A stable marriage served as a vessel for the socialization of children and the perpetuation of the family/clan/tribe/nation, with each person sharing in a larger sense of belonging, identity, purpose, and meaning bolstered by a responsibility to ancestors and posterity, as well as by accountability before God. Traditional morality discouraged divorce, promiscuity, and social anomie. And children were not so much viewed as a burden, but as a blessing.

That was the ideal, of course, and our ancestors frequently fell short of it, but it gave us something, however flawed in the execution, that post-modern societies can’t—it meant that the family, the nation, the human race, would go on. Each individual, potentially, at least, had a shot at fulfillment that served their own, and everyone else’s, interests. And we took part in the great mystery of creation. Being is better than not being. Living is better than not living. And stability and socialization should not be discounted. Individuals realize themselves best within a web of social ties, personal relationships, duties, and obligations. We become ourselves through the interactions with others such ties require. Responsibility lends something to us that “rights” can’t—meaning and purpose. An isolated, atomized, autonomous, self-satisfying individual is a sociopath.

So, what happened to marriage and the family? The 2020 census told the tale: the median age for marriage of both men and women has increased steadily since the 1950’s; the percentage of married adults has declined steadily as has the number of households with intact two parent families; and the number of Americans who have never married is climbing. I examined the ideological antecedents of “the end of men,” and the increasing indolence and lack of interest in marriage shown by our young men, in Part I. That’s not the whole story: there are economic, political, and technological aspects to the “the end of men” to consider.

50% of women childless by 30. Watch at the 17:20 point:

Economically, the powers-that-be in the increasingly dis-United States stopped caring about providing a basis for single breadwinner households a long time ago, since the dominant ideology among elites is globalism. A “Mancession,” as some observers labeled the disproportionate decline in jobs for men in last economic downturn, is not really a new phenomenon. Men have usually suffered the most in recessions. But there’s this to consider: for decades, we have witnessed the “outsourcing” of American manufacturing jobs, a bastion of both blue and white collar jobs substantially held by men. Manufacturing jobs have been declining for over forty years. Practically uncontrolled immigration has had the entirely predictable impact of pushing down wages by increasing competition for jobs. At the same time, the massive increase of women in the workforce since the 1960s, whether caused by feminist ideology, anti-discrimination laws, women becoming predominant in institutions of higher education, or economic necessity as real incomes have stagnated, has contributed to further wage suppression and the erosion of family household formation. 

We should not underestimate the impact of the sexual revolution on the decline of marriage and the family. Traditionalists have long lamented the revolution in sexual morals supported ideologically and culturally by the current Zeitgeist, but the technological side of the revolution is as least as important. Effective contraceptives, coupled with legalized abortion, provided the ideology of sexual revolution a practical basis by sharply decreasing the most apparent cost of promiscuity. Promiscuity was also packaged and sold to our young women via deceptive portrayals of a glamorous “Sex in the City” lifestyle of “serial monogamy.” And antibiotics have alleviated the old fear of a slow death by venereal disease. Libertines have always been with us, but it was never possible before to be a sexual libertine without taking great risks. Ideology and technology reinforce one another.

As far as childbearing, a poor woman doesn’t need a man to support a child when the state will do the job. Even a middle-class woman doesn’t need a husband to be accepted as a mother. Illegitimacy isn’t shameful any longer, not even, it’s glaringly obvious, in Middle America, in spite of the well-known pathologies associated with it. A financially well-off woman doesn’t even need a man to have a baby—she can go to a sperm bank. And she doesn’t need any man’s agreement to get an abortion: the father has no say, no status, and is disregarded in the ideology of “choice.”

Children are just another option on the self-creating individual’s menu, and that’s not only among leftists. That viewpoint is apparently widespread at all levels of society, even among people who sometimes flinch at the extremes of “woke” ideology, including Trump voting “conservatives.” Even more startling is the apparent cultural acceptance of “trans people” as just another manifestation of choice, at least when it comes to jobs, housing, and “public spaces.” Just watch TV sometime—TV shows that even MAGA audiences still watch. The same polling indicates that less than half of respondents favor banning doctors from helping minors “transition.” That’s not to mention the rapid acceptance of “gay marriage.”   

Finally, sensible people have largely ignored the problem of pornography, especially of easily accessed internet pornography, for too long: internet pornography is apparently highly addictive, and is desensitizing our young men, damaging their ability or desire to form lasting relationships with real women. The sexual poison extends from the internet and social media to pop culture, music, movies, and books, and has seeped into cultural propaganda aimed at children.

Each separate point I’ve made here isn’t anything new. But what’s been missing from popular discourse has been any attempt by the Right to grapple with a very difficult point: our post-modern, short-sighted, egocentric society is not one capable of perpetuating a civilization. In fact, it seems hell bent on destroying what remains of that civilization. These are not mere policy differences that can be fixed by the next national election. A society with radical individualism embedded at its core can’t be anything else but destructive.

The economic, technological, social, and mass culture aspects of a society that is essentially anti-natalist, anti-family, and anti-traditional in every way, encourages and perpetuates a worldview that is essentially materialist, rationalist, and nihilistic. This structural tunnel vision is essentially that of the Left Hemisphere in Iain McGilchrist’s hemispheric theory of human cognition. It’s baked into the modern or post-modern world. And such structures reward and promote those most inclined to such a view. The technologies and economic/social structures of our lives are inextricably bound together with the ideologies that accompany them. One can’t, for instance, easily separate the cornerstone of today’s radicalism—sexual chaos—from the technologies and economic/social structures that support it. Getting back to the good old days, whenever one might locate them, would mean unravelling post-modernity and reorganizing society.

We face a deck that is stacked against us. We can’t change all of this at once and we may not be able to change it at all, at least in the larger society. We have to start with ourselves. Some final thoughts on that will follow in Part III.

Chronicles contributor Wayne Allensworth is the author of  The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood

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Wayne Allensworth

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