It has been announced many times, prematurely, but this time the announcement is not just of the unfortunate demise of feminism but of the genocide it is causing. Yes, indeed, feminism is causing us liberals and progressives to die out altogether, and guess who is going to inherit the earth? Correct, the Talibanists and the radical wingnut clerics, and their supreme advantage is....patriarchy's return!!!
Patriarchy is making a comeback, especially in the liberal regions of the world. This according to Philip Longman whose editorial in the USA Today explains why:
What's the difference between Seattle and Salt Lake City? There are many differences, of course, but here's one you might not know. In Seattle, there are nearly 45% more dogs than children. In Salt Lake City, there are nearly 19% more kids than dogs.
This curious fact might at first seem trivial, but it reflects a much broader and little-noticed demographic trend that has deep implications for the future of global culture and politics. It's not that people in a progressive city such as Seattle are so much fonder of dogs than are people in a conservative city such as Salt Lake City. It's that progressives are so much less likely to have children.
It's a pattern found throughout the world, and it augers a far more conservative future — one in which patriarchy and other traditional values make a comeback, if only by default. Childlessness and small families are increasingly the norm today among progressive secularists. As a consequence, an increasing share of all children born into the world are descended from a share of the population whose conservative values have led them to raise large families.
I'm a dying breed, I am. Or I would be if I wasn't an immortal divine. But the rest of you lot, you are a dying breed. You are losing the evolutionary race, my friends, and you are losing it to people who don't believe in evolution! That's the survival of the fittest for you.
Longman's editorial is a condensed form of a much longer piece he has written, entitled "The Return of Patriarchy". That one gives us a lot more about why patriarchy is inevitable (wasn't that a book by someone, too?):
Patriarchal societies come in many varieties and evolve through different stages. What they have in common are customs and attitudes that collectively serve to maximize fertility and parental investment in the next generation. Of these, among the most important is the stigmatization of "illegitimate" children. One measure of the degree to which patriarchy has diminished in advanced societies is the growing acceptance of out-of-wedlock births, which have now become the norm in Scandinavian countries, for example.
Under patriarchy, "bastards" and single mothers cannot be tolerated because they undermine male investment in the next generation. Illegitimate children do not take their fathers' name, and so their fathers, even if known, tend not to take any responsibility for them. By contrast, "legitimate" children become a source of either honor or shame to their fathers and the family line. The notion that legitimate children belong to their fathers' family, and not to their mothers', which has no basis in biology, gives many men powerful emotional reasons to want children, and to want their children to succeed in passing on their legacy. Patriarchy also leads men to keep having children until they produce at least one son.
Another key to patriarchy's evolutionary advantage is the way it penalizes women who do not marry and have children. Just decades ago in the English-speaking world, such women were referred to, even by their own mothers, as spinsters or old maids, to be pitied for their barrenness or condemned for their selfishness. Patriarchy made the incentive of taking a husband and becoming a full-time mother very high because it offered women few desirable alternatives.
Let's look at some of these arguments in greater detail, while we are waiting to die out:
"Patriarchal societies come in many varieties and evolve through different stages. What they have in common are customs and attitudes that collectively serve to maximize fertility and parental investment in the next generation."
Why would patriarchal societies maximize fertility over some other types of societies? What other types of societies? Longman provides us no real evidence to back this assertion, though I can speculate that he means that patriarchy forces women to keep on having children and forces them to focus on these children nonstop. But what about the father's investments? Why would patriarchy make them greater? Why would fathers care about their family lines more when they are patriarchs than when they are not? And would maximizing fertility, if true, mean that survival of the future generations is also maximized? I doubt it. There is a fairly clear conflict between having a very large number of children and then trying to bring them up to adulthood. The reason for high fertility rates in the past had less to do with patriarchy than the fact that infant and childhood mortality rates were correspondingly high, too.
"The notion that legitimate children belong to their fathers' family, and not to their mothers', which has no basis in biology, gives many men powerful emotional reasons to want children, and to want their children to succeed in passing on their legacy. Patriarchy also leads men to keep having children until they produce at least one son."
Here is a partial answer to some of my questions. Longman thinks that men don't want to have children, and that they must be forced to want to have them. Making them bosses will somehow be adequate compensation, especially if there are sons to reproduce the boss in future generations. But only if the sons can be given the father's name.
Let's see if I get this: Patriarchy will be making a comeback because it corrals reluctant men to be the bosses of large families so that they can pretend the children have nothing in common with the genes of their mothers, and because women are forced to be either supermothers, prostitutes or nuns. All this gives the patriarchal families a competitive advantage in our post-industrial information based and education-intensive societies, right?
But Longman also has a thesis which is about the modern era, not about some bizarre way of interpreting the past. This thesis sounds familiar: a lot like the fears of the white supremacists that the "muddy people" will take over the world, or like the fears of some Americans in the early twentieth century about the Catholic menace and so on:
We may witness a similar transformation during this century. In Europe today, for example, how many children different people have, and under what circumstances, correlates strongly with their beliefs on a wide range of political and cultural attitudes. For instance, do you distrust the army? Then, according to polling data assembled by demographers Ronny Lesthaeghe and Johan Surkyn, you are less likely to be married and have kids—or ever to get married and have kids—than those who say they have no objection to the military. Or again, do you find soft drugs, homosexuality, and euthanasia acceptable? Do you seldom, if ever, attend church? For whatever reason, people answering affirmatively to such questions are far more likely to live alone, or in childless, cohabitating unions, than those who answer negatively.
The great difference in fertility rates between secular individualists and religious or cultural conservatives augurs a vast, demographically driven change in modern societies. Consider the demographics of France, for example. Among French women born in the early 1960s, less than a third have three or more children. But this distinct minority of French women (most of them presumably practicing Catholics and Muslims) produced more than 50 percent of all children born to their generation, in large measure because so many of their contemporaries had one child or none at all.
This is a different argument because it doesn't rely on the supposed evolutionary superiority of patriarchy but on stuff like saying that the minority of French women who have three or more children are "presumably" practicing Catholics and Muslims. Not that we seem to know if this is true. The few sources of evidence Longman cites must be the only ones he can get hold of, by the way, as they appear in all the articles he has written on this topic.
But the thesis is a common one, and it has to do with the idea that people who don't outbreed others will have their values die out. Either these values are genetically passed on (?) or the early family inculcation is so strong that nothing afterwards will change the person's political views. This doesn't quite explain how new values come to be created and shared, and it doesn't explain where feminism, say, came from, given the universality of patriarchies in the past.
Longman ignores the impact of education and income on the number of children people will have. Immigrants to Europe and the United States will have lower fertility rates as their income and education levels rise. This is a direct consequence of the expense of having children in a society which relies on high levels of education in its workforce.
He also ignores the fact that patriarchy appears to be quite compatible with very low fertility rates. Take Japan, for example. The Japanese society is still fairly patriarchal but the Japanese fertility rates have been below replacement levels for fifty years. Maybe feminism somehow affects fertility rates with long-distance telepathic rays? That could be the next article in Longman's series on patriarchy.
I was first introduced to Longman's work by a new blog, Daddy Dialectic. Check it out.