Why are modern men such layabouts? It’s simple. When the family declines, men decline.
A couple of years ago Rod Dreher wrote a column about this phenomenon. You can read it here. Quoting various articles, Rod concludes that men who are disassociated from family life soon become de-motivated, shiftless and underachieving.
I’ve known men with severe self-esteem problems. They are stuck and can’t achieve their potential. Invariably their fathers told them they were stupid or no good. What the father says about the child — especially the son — remains a potent force in the child’s life. If the father is no good it’s bad, but if there is no father or a totally disengaged father the child is rootless and drifting. He or she does not have the tools in their toolbox to know how to deal with the world. They’ve got pieces missing.
Of course, there are father figures who can help to put things back together and fill in the blanks, but the decline of the family and especially the crisis in masculinity and fatherhood are desperate gaps in our social and familial infrastructure.
As the traditional family disintegrates, what we are seeing is the development of supposedly new forms of family life. These new forms of family are supposed to be of equal value or even better than the traditional family, but we should not be deceived. The newly developing forms of family life in our society are not morally neutral, nor are they a progression to something better and more sophisticated. They are a regression to a more primitive and barbaric form of family structure. There are two trends that do not bode well for the future: matriarchy and polygamy.
With the rise of the single mother family, we are seeing a form of matriarchy develop. In many homes women control the wealth, guard the home, rear the children and provide for the family. As new generations of single mothers bear children, the matriarchal structure extends to the grandmother and great-grandmother.
I lived in England for 25 years and during that time saw how the state (by providing everything to single teen mothers) created the new matriarchy. A girl who became pregnant at 15 was given an apartment and everything necessary for the child. If she married she lost many of the benefits so it was to her advantage to remain a single mother. By the time she was 30 she was a grandmother, for her daughters had continued the pattern. At 45 she was a great-grandmother and the three generations lived in close proximity amongst the underclass in Britain like a modern matriarchal tribe.
The men roamed about like hunter-gatherers, living off unemployment checks or casual labor, spending their time in sports and pastimes while the women (looked after by the state) controlled the home. The men either lived with their mothers or their girlfriends — often serially. They had no reason to marry, no reason to get a permanent job, no reason to “get ahead.”
While this was characteristic of the underclass it would be wrong to limit it to the underclass. Through easy no-fault divorce, cohabitation and the decline of marriage the new matriarchy also existed within the middle and upper classes. There too, the men were kicked out through divorce. The women claimed the wealth, controlled the family and the men were relegated to roaming about living alone or living with a series of girlfriends or new wives. Families with stepchildren and half children abounded — almost always with the women in charge.
This sort of matriarchy is not an advance. It does not lead to human flourishing, human achievement or any sense of human self-worth. The men resent being excluded by the women, the women eventually resent having to do everything. The children are left to fend for themselves.
The other alternative that we will see develop before long is polygamy. There will be plenty of utilitarian arguments for polygamy and the law (once it has approved same-sex marriages) will not be able to hold back the so called “advance” that polygamy offers. Many women will turn away from the de facto and accept its opposite: polygamy. Rather than do everything they will join a harem of women reliant on the one man who does and decides everything.
Again, we should not be deceived. Polygamy is not an advance. It is not progress but regress. Polygamy will set back women’s rights and self-esteem, locking them into a relationship with a man which must be abusive because (when faced with a tribe of pregnant women who can’t support themselves) he will be the one in charge. The woman will become a second-class citizen, valued only for her childbearing capability, like the roaming stud is valued in statist matriarchy only for the fact that he can give the girl another baby.
Every society that has advanced and moved forward historically has moved beyond matriarchy and polygamy. This must be so because matriarchy demeans men and polygamy demeans women. Only in monogamy are man and woman ideally treated as equals.
The true advancement for humanity was the gradual predominance of not only monogamy, but the Christian ideal of monogamy. It was only Christianity that exalted the union of man and woman to such a high status. The Romans were aghast that Christian husbands and wives actually loved one another. That a woman was to be treated with respect and honor within a marriage was revolutionary. That marriage should be for life (thus offering security and protection to the woman) was revolutionary. That the Christians loaded marriage with theological significance, making it a sacrament and the crucible whereby the soul’s salvation was forged, was a radical advance and innovation. That marriage signified the union between God and humanity was an astounding advance in human social and self-understanding.
To go back to matriarchy and polygamy is a regression similar to a society drifting back into racial segregation and slavery. Such a prospect should not be laughed at. A society like ours, which has made great strides in the area of racial integration and equality, may very well slide back into segregation and even a kind of de facto slavery. How that might happen is the stuff of another speculative blog post, but in the meantime, realize that the regression of marriage into matriarchy and polygamy is not something enforced from above, but evolved from below.
We have chosen this regression to a more primitive and unenlightened form of family life. The fruit of it will be a society that drifts corporately into the same attitude of the male within matriarchy and the female within polygamy: a society with low self-esteem, lack of aspiration and low accomplishment. It will be a society of the chronically dependent, and when there is a population that is chronically dependent there must always be a tyrant who they are happy to have rule over them.