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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Failing Family Formation: The Crisis of the 21st Century

Recently the blogger half sigma has been saying a lot of wise things, and been getting a lot of positive feedback from equally intelligent commentators.  He has endorsed the citizen's dividend, explained the lack of jobs due to rising machine automation, and even explained the need for eugenics.  His most recent post takes on the lack of family formation in the modern world.  This is true not only of liberal western society, like the USA or France, but also of places like Russia, China, Japan, the middle east -- practically anywhere on Earth.  For such a universal trend, there would have to be a very universal cause.  Half sigma guesses it was the industrial revolution's creation of a stratified society of capitalists and lumpenproletariats, with the latter classes' relative poverty giving rise to a feeling of economic insecurity which naturally cuts off the desire to reproduce.

I don't think that's accurate.  The situation is vastly more complex and vastly harder to solve then he lets on.  Even in society's with more economic parity like Japan, birth rates are radically low and marriage is being put off to ever later dates.  Even in classes with high economic security like the top 1%, people still have few to no children and put off marriage to later dates.  There's something more insidious going on than mere economic incentives.

Nor is it access to birth control and abortions.  Birth control and abortion was harder to get in, say, the 1970's than it is today in 2012, but birth rates weren't noticeably different back then they are today.  Furthermore, many states like Saudi Arabia have strict controls on these tools, but still the birth rate is extremely low.  If, tomorrow, birth control and abortions were completely banned, there would no doubt be an explosion in babies belonging to the dumb and reckless strata of the population, which can't stop having sex for even a millisecond of their lives.  But this strata can't form families in the first place, and would just produce more single mothers on welfare than ever before.  For rational, forward thinking, intelligent people like Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Americans, it was never about birth control.  They could have relied on other measures, equally effective, the most basic of which is simply abstinence.  This is something intelligent and conscientious people have no trouble accomplishing, and nuns and monks have been doing for thousands of years without a problem.  You will not be able to trick these rational, self-controlled individuals into family formation by making sex more dangerous than before.  At most you'll lower their already low sex drives all the way to non-existent.

So if it isn't poverty keeping us back, and it isn't birth control, what's the deal?  I think it's human psychology.  Women have evolved to only desire winners, people who come from an equal or higher social strata than they themselves were born into or expect to grow up to be.  It isn't just humans, the same is true of nearly every species, as so clearly displayed by bucks ramming their antlers together in the hopes of impressing a doe.

Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a problem.  In the past, many systems were laid out to satisfy this female desire while still ensuring the creation of the next generation.  Hindus created a caste system, which meant that everyone knew what class they were going to be for their entire lives, everyone inherited the jobs, wealth, and social status of their parents, and thus everyone knew immediately who a suitable mate would be.  To make the issue even more basic, Indians had arranged marriages where people of suitable caste were put together by their parents and the nuptials were all arranged before the couple had even seen each other.  This might sound upsetting to modern ears, but if you look at the situation closely you'll see that no harm was actually done.

Men desire two simple things from women before they will marry them.  They wish for the woman to meet basic standards of beauty and intelligence, such that they'd be enjoyable company, which most women have evolved to be able to fulfill.  In the past women didn't have the resources necessary to become fat blimps, and they were all taught proper manners and decorum by their parents, so the vast majority of them were decently desirable.  And secondly, men wish for their significant other to treat them well, in a way that signifies respect, admiration, loyalty and devotion.  Women who didn't feel this in their hearts at least were able to feign it well enough to get by in the past, to the point that men were satisfied with nearly any girl their parents would provide.

Therefore, an arranged marriage is no big deal for a guy.  He'd be satisfied with nearly anyone, just so long as he has someone, and the sooner he gets a wife the better.

Now what about girls?  Girls want one thing, overwhelmingly, from their guys, at a biological level, and that is for their guy to be of equal or higher station than themselves.  If this one thing is secured, the guy can be or do anything else.  He could be a cripple.  He could be ugly as sin.  He could be rude, abusive, or sleep around.  None of it matters.  If he was from a higher station in life, he was a desirable match, and that was that.  Now, some girls had higher standards than others, and some girls had more rational self-control of their instincts than others, but they all had the same instincts and at a gut level they all equally felt the appeal of these men.  Therefore, in a hindu arranged marriage where the girl is assured to have a good match, because it would be unthinkable for a woman to marry below her caste, her most basic desire in life is 100% guaranteed.

Women fear arranged marriages because they fear being locked into a loveless marriage with a loser.  But real arranged marriages never worked that way.  Men were always vetted to be 'winners' ahead of time by the parents, who cared just as much about the honor and station of their family as the daughters themselves.  In some minor side cases, particularly vile men have managed to succeed in public and get high status, an ability that fools parents but not their daughters, which is a valid objection to arranged marriage.  But it couldn't have been the case for more than 1% of said marriages, and an error rate like that is hardly worse than modern day romantic pairings.

Even without arranged marriages, the stability of social classes in the past practically arranged marriages naturally.  If you lived in old England, it was pretty clear that a peasant was going to marry another peasant, unless she was extremely attractive, in which case perhaps she could attract the eye of the local baron.  Adam Bede is a perfect example of this style of pairing off and courtship.  Everyone just 'knew' who they were a fit match for.  The most pleasant woman in the small village would catch the eye of the hardest working, most amiable and popular man, and the two would marry without even noticing really when their romance began.

Likewise, the nobility of England found no problem finding a mate.  All the nobility of a region would gather at popular balls and operas and plays, everyone would be introduced to everyone else, everyone would know the respective fortune, rank, status, etc of everyone else at the party, and, lo and behold, it was extremely easy to find a suitable mate among the many prospects available.  Of the ten or twenty men or women all of whom were desirable due to their rank and status, at least one of them would be found personally charming to top it off, and the match was made in a jiffy.  It is important to stress here that these fortunes, stations, and ranks would not change from year to year or even lifetime to lifetime.  If you married the duke of edinsburgh, you would always be married to a duke, and your children would definitely be of ducal station themselves.  There was no risk of the duke losing his job, just as there was no risk of a peasant yeoman farmer losing his plot of land.  The land would always be there, ready to farm another year, and it would always belong to the same family, generation after generation.  Life was stable, predictable, and sure.  As a result, your marital prospects were easily predictable as well.  If I marry boy A, I'll definitely be at station X, as will my children, forever and ever.

For a woman, this is a dream come true.  Their instincts are tickled in exactly the right manner.  They have one prime directive which trumps everything else, 'do not marry down, do not reproduce down.'  They would rather die than make a bad match.  At the very least, they'd rather take vows and join a nunnery.  But it was virtually assured that such a fate would never occur to them, because from day one they knew their own place, and everyone else's place around them, and their parents, and they themselves, could always pick a suitable match with this 100% stable and clear information.

Zoom forward to today, and what do we find?  A chaotic society with no social classes, no inheritances, no stable jobs, nothing.  How is a woman to find a suitable mate?  How does she know whether she's marrying up or down?  To a woman, this is a matter of life or death, and yet she's being asked to take a blind leap of faith for something as fleeting as romantic fancy.  For a woman, it isn't true that "all you need is love."  First, you need to know that the boy is of an equal or higher station than yourself.  Without this vital datapoint, any relationship with a boy cannot move any further forward.

You're an eighteen year old girl in the senior year of high school.  In all previous ages you would be of prime marrying age and would quickly be settled into your new married life.  But today, how could you possibly make such a decision?  The boys around you are all unknown factors.  There is no telling which class/rank/income they will make in the future.  They won't have a career for another ten years, and even then the career could always be outsourced, automated, or otherwise vanish for no discernible reason.  Even 'sure things' like jobs as a lawyer or real estate agent have been discovered to be the next big bubble and disappear into a puff of smoke.  No one is safe.  No one is immune.  The vortex which is the free market means there is no such thing as class, station, wealth, or status, but only fleeting moments of success and failure in an ever twisting roller coaster.

You marry a successful lawyer, you divorce an unemployed alcoholic.  What happened in between?  The free market.  The glorious free market which cares nothing for stability and desires only ever more creative destruction.

But that's what college is for, right?  To make sure boys will be of high station and suitable marrying material?  Not so fast.  50% of college graduates are currently unemployed.  Even if you get a phd, articles are now showing that you're no better off than a clerk with a high school degree, unless the degree is in a hot field.  A phd in medicine or petroleum engineering might be worth something, but the target keeps shifting and most educational degrees at this point are just so much wasted ink.  Everyone has a degree, and yet there are still the same limited number of jobs.  College is no guarantee that you will be the one who gets it, out-competing everyone else with the exact same qualifications as you have.

Certainly, women can feel slightly more comfortable marrying a guy with a graduate degree than a guy without one.  All things being equal, it is a safer bet that such a guy will be high status in the future.  But here's where the real crunch comes.  Where are they?

Something like 60% of college graduates are women.  The same disproportion is creeping up the ladder into graduate school and phds.  Women are utterly dominating the education industry, and the trend is only getting worse from year to year.  Men can't stand school.  They can't stand endless school, ie, college/graduate/phd school, even more.  The moment they escape from the school system, they never go back.  They hate it with a passion and have nightmares about being stuck back into it in their sleep.  Men were never structured, biologically, to sit around in classrooms learning meaningless trivia about nothing.  They are dynamic, active souls that wish to get their hands on something and start building something meaningful and physically apparent.  A farmer gets to see his crops grow, a blacksmith gets to see his finished horseshoes and nails, an artist can stare at his finished portrait, and every single one of them takes a great satisfaction in transferring their vision to reality.  But education produces nothing.  It is a pure abstraction.  There are no results, nothing visible, that comes from sitting in a classroom day after day.  They feel no more 'complete' than when they entered the classroom that morning.  They can't see any way in which they are better people at the end of the compared to the beginning.  It's all just a bunch of nattering fools going on about nothing.

Men hate sitting still.  Even worse, they hate busying themselves about unimportant things.  They have a narrow, tunnel vision that focuses on something they love and then just pursues it.  They do not wish to gossip about strangers.  They do not want to get in touch with their fluffy feelings.  They do not want to learn about any fact that is irrelevant to their field of interest.  A chemist could love learning about all the properties of sodium, but he would prefer taking an acid bath before learning the first thing about stellar life cycles in the science class next door.  It doesn't matter!  It won't produce anything!  It's a complete waste of time!  The more education is administered by women and attended by women and caters to women, the less likely men will put up with it.  Universities used to take a few years for highly intelligent teenage men, have immediate results like a job coming out of college, and be about things men could see the immediate practical need to know -- latin, greek, law, or mathematics, all of which would immediately be applied in their careers as priests, professors, accountants or lawyers.  Now they are about everything and nothing.  The history of China.  Feminism.  English literature.  Environmentalism.  Physics.  Calculus.  It could be anything.  But it definitely won't be anything you care about, or have any guarantee of a job after you're done.  It's learning for the sake of learning, it's just hanging out and chatting about things.  It's a trivial, meaningless, meandering journey to nowhere.

Supposing you're the lucky guy who survives college and graduate school, with a laser like dedication to getting the certificates necessary to become a doctor, you get your career at around age 30, however, you're so saddled with student debt that you couldn't possibly afford to provide for a family, and still live a lower class lifestyle no different from the garage mechanic next door.  Since no one inherits the family estate anymore, they have to build their wealth from the bottom up every generation.  To make matters worse, taxes are so high, especially on higher income earners, that the money you should be making never appears, and the money necessary to save up for a big house and nice car retreat ever further away.  So let's say that by age 35, or even age 40, a guy finally has made it big with his job as a doctor.  He's paid off his student loans, he's paid off his mortgage, he's finally good to go.  Then, and only then, could a girl finally recognize his desirable status and be ready to marry him.  But unfortunately, biologically, girls are only attracted to people their age or slightly older.  It is rare for 20 year old girls to want 40 year old men, and biologically, it's quite foolish to do so, since children of said men are more likely to have disadvantageous mutations.  So now we've completely thrown askew the timing of reproduction.  People are biologically attractive in their teens and twenties.  They're attractive in terms of wealth and status in their 40's and 50's.  As a result, they're never attractive at any point in their whole lives.

What do women want?  They want Mr. Darcy.  A guy in his 20's who already is assured of vast wealth and high social status, with impeccable character and great looks, who is deliriously in love with them and only them.  Where can they hope to find such a guy in modern society?  Nowhere.  It's not that the quality of men has gone down.  It's the system.  The system was designed to improve the economy and to reward merit.  It was never designed to create stable families quickly and efficiently.  Foolishly, people assumed that would just 'take care of itself' like it always has.  We had become so used to people being able to find an attractive mate, that we took it for granted, and never even questioned what the connection was behind our economic and philosophical system and our cultural ways and means of matchmaking.

The hindu caste system is probably the most optimal way to quickly marry off people in history.  Today's free market is probably the most optimal way to reward merit and create wealth than any other in history.  The problem is the two are diametrically opposed.

The free market loves uncertainty.  It wants to cast down losers and reward aspirational ambitious strivers who come out of nowhere.

Marriage loves stability.  It wants to know exactly what the station of every man is so you can marry Mr. Right and stick with him to the end.

The free market loves unemployment, layoffs, bankruptcies, and collapses.  It wants to quickly get rid of the old and get on with the new.

Marriages cannot survive unemployment or bankruptcies.  When a man loses his social status, he loses his attractiveness in the eyes of his wife, and then she can't bear to be with him anymore.  To her, it's like being degraded by swimming in mud or feces all day, to even have to endure the touch of such a slimy, loser male.

The free market wants a college dropout to become a billionaire due to the next big idea in computing.  The free market wants phd's in bird watching to go suck eggs.

Marriages want people's financial futures to be secure and predictable even for children who haven't even attended school, much less people who do everything they were told and graduate with the right degree.

It just isn't working.  And men aren't making it any easier.  Men are impatient, passionate people.  Even if a girl explains over and over that he must do something he dislikes in order to get what he likes, the boy won't do it.  It could be eating vegetables, apologizing to someone when he doesn't feel he's done anything wrong, lying to get a good test score on the next essay question, tricking people out of their money by hyping a product beyond its worth, getting along with someone who deserves to be punched in the face -- anything.  Men just can't handle it.  They were never designed to excel in those fields.  We have muscles for farming, courage to go to war, and focus to accomplish our dreams.  We do not have patience, we do not have false smiles, we do not have winning personalities, we do not have what the economy wants.  Unintelligent men flunk everything and quickly go to jail.  Intelligent men become daydreamers who excel at everything except money or status, learn endless details about a game's mechanics or a sports statistics, but not a single fact about electricity or physiology.  The more intelligent you become, the less interested you are in the material world, and the even less attractive you become to a woman.

Worse, intelligent men are so intelligent that they've even lost interest in impressing women.  If someone tells them they have to lie and listen to boring lectures to get through college, they'll say, 'why?  What's in it for me?  Who could endure such a thing?'

If they are then told "college will get you the social status necessary to find a wife and have kids," intelligent men will just take it one step further --

"Who needs a woman like that?"

There could be nothing more despicable to a man than someone who is judged on outward irrelevancies.  Money, status, power, it's all so much dust to the intelligent.  What we care about is honesty, virtue, strength, integrity.  That can be found in a game or a sport, but it can't be found in college.  It can be found in other men, in friends and family -- but it can't be found in women, who only want you for your money and status.  Men respect religious women, who lead lives of virtue and devotion to God.  They think it is a good sign that said women will live just as virtuously and with just as much devotion as a wife.  They aren't attracted in the least to women of loose morals and vague principles, who do not hold to anything solidly in their lives.  Fickle women are just a curse and a sure sign of a coming divorce.  Who needs them?  Unless the woman is solid and grounded, unless she's proven herself by being a virgin who prays nightly to the lord in heaven, awaiting her coming lord on earth with humility and resignation to whatever the lord sends her -- who needs her?

In Japan there's even a term for this, 'herbivores.'  Men who have totally lost interest in women, or doing what it takes to impress women.  It's like World War II was just fought and there are 100 women of marrying age for every eligible bachelor.  Men are on strike.  They have removed themselves from the entire game.  They don't want to do what it takes to impress women, and they don't want the women who would be impressed by such things anyway.  Far better to fantasize about a better type of woman, who would love them for the same reasons they love themselves, than to ever stoop to reality.  With easy access to fantasies via entertainment and the internet, real women simply can't cut it anymore.  Who needs them?  Certainly not the daydreaming class.  And these tend to be the brightest, most competent men out there.  The only men still angling to impress women are the salt of the Earth types, who aren't intelligent or creative enough to find satisfaction in something else.  And these very men aren't capable of getting the college degrees necessary to impress women, who virtually all succeed in getting the degrees themselves.

Men's psychology is making it impossible for men to become attractive to women's psychology.  Likewise, women are becoming ever less attractive to men as a variety of changes occur on the female side.  Men are NOT attracted to whores or sluts.  They just aren't.  The more sex women have, the less likely any man of any worth will ever wish to marry her.  They are NOT attracted to bossy, aggressive women who make tons of money, has an assertive opinion on every subject, and thinks everyone should be doing exactly what she says they should be doing at all times.  They are NOT attracted to women who have dumped other men in the past for not living up to their exacting standards.  They are NOT attracted to women who have never shown a permanent attachment to anything else in their lives, and are motivated solely by selfishness in all human interactions.  As far as men are concerned, women aren't even women anymore.  They might have breasts, but they are so foreign from femininity mentally and emotionally speaking, that they may as well just cut them off already.

Men are attracted to women who evince belief in a higher power and a desire to abide by its morality at any cost.  That gives them a sense of security, okay, this woman won't suddenly dump me or cheat on me to satisfy herself, but will take the longer term perspective and please God instead.  They are attracted to women who are retiring in their sense of self because it gives them a sense of security, okay, we all know women dump men whom they believe are of lower station, so the lower the station the girl gives herself, the more secure we are to be of a higher station than them, so the less likely she is to dump us.  They are attracted to women who are good with children, close to their parents, and show a sense of domestic felicity -- if she's such an asset to her old home, she'll be equally wonderful in my home, and tranquility and harmony will extend to the children she so clearly loves as well.

These three traits are all taught by Christianity to women -- humility before God, fear of God's judgment for sin, and love of family before love of self.  All three traits are actively preached against in liberalism.  Liberalism says there is no higher power, no one can be judged, and self satisfaction is the only measure of morality.  Liberalism says families are prisons and everyone must break free into their own individual self-actualizations.  And liberalism says 'you can accomplish anything' and that self-esteem is all important, as is girl power and always asserting that you can beat any guy at any field given even half as good a chance.  Everything liberalism preaches women should be and do, is a turn-off to men.  A man would have to be sex-starved or insane to be attracted to a liberal.  As a result, liberals simply don't reproduce.  Only religious women have children, and it's because only religious women are even recognizably female to the male eye.

As religion fades, so too will family formation and birth rates.  This isn't because religion is necessary, but because femininity is necessary.  And as the economy further modernizes, families will become obsolete.  This isn't because we need feudalism, but because stable heirarchies are necessary.  What we need to do is synthesize.

There are necessary elements of past life that are being neglected by modernity.  They represent a mortal peril to human happiness and even our very existence.  There are also necessary elements to modernity that the past did not address, like being rational, fair, just, and letting people flourish through creative experimentation with their future growth.  Both are necessary for people to be happy, both are necessary for the next generation to succeed.  There's a ton of ways to combine the two.  But until we at least recognize that the past was right about some things, we'll never even get to the point of brainstorming what to do about it.

For starters, let's admit that families are valuable, life is valuable, and at some point we're going to need to start having replacement birth rates.  Let's also admit that whatever we're doing right now isn't working, the system is fundamentally flawed, and the status quo cannot go on.  The rest will flow quickly and naturally from there.

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