The concept of time preference, as explained at length by Hans Hoppe, explains the process of both civilization and de–civilization. Civilization results from the systematic lowering of a population’s time preference — that is, their preference for a better future over enjoyment in the present. The destruction of civilization is what occurs when people systematically prefer the the consumption of goods in the present.
Sex roles play a critical role in both processes. Women are the only sex that can give birth to children, and are their primary caregivers except in extraordinary situations. This gives women a unique advantage in terms of gender specialization, and one that technology hasn’t supplanted, despite protestations to the contrary. Even artificial wombs, were they to be invented, would both require generations of research to perfect, and would likely be quite expensive. If it has been decades since the invention of the birth control pill, and new hormonal birth control methods still cause lethal side effects, it stands to reason that far more complex technologies will take even longer to reach maturity.
To the extent that society and its governing institutions encourage women to invest into their children and stabilize their families, they contribute to the waxing of the time preference of that civilization. The sacrament of indivisible marriage is the building block of a civilization that transcends generations. It’s the legal, religious, mystical, and sexual institution that prevents people for living solely for themselves within their lifetimes.
When institutions encourage women to abandon tending to their families, to instead work in bureaucratic settings, it contributes to present time orientation in society. The labor resources of women can be extracted by corporations and the central state, rather than clustered around the hearth and home, where they can’t be taxed efficiently or redirected towards corporate profits.
Western institutions encourage families to send young women into the workforce, where their work can be profited from by governments and corporations alike, at the expense of their fertility and the health of their infants. While this does contribute to the availability of financial capital within the society, which can be invested into capital growth, it causes a degeneration in the human capital of society, for whom that financial capital must ultimately serve, or it becomes worthless.
The modern mentality, derived as it is from Protestantism and republican egalitarianism, tends to privilege the human activities that can be measured, counted, and written about easily (see the books of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn for more on this theme). The elevation of text alone to a sacred position, as in Judaism and most forms of Protestantism, accentuates this tendency within countries where those two religious forms are dominant, even in secularized forms as they are today.
That female labor drives profits in the present for various institutions is indisputable. However, the breakdown of family structures is itself a well-understood contributor to crime and other major agents of decivilization. In this, Western institutions have traded a ‘good’ that can be easily measured for a set of ‘bads’ that are more challenging to quantify, but no less difficult to understand.
In the modern world, it’s more responsible to encourage a woman to earn $45,000 per year for 2,000 hours of her time than it is to reduce her family’s stress, be a resource for her children, and to begin raising infants when her body is healthiest. From the perspective of a major corporation, a self-sufficient household is expensive to advertise to; a nuisance. A well-rested and capable home-maker doesn’t need to send money to Proctor and Gamble when it takes 20 minutes to brew up a superior alternative to Tide out of common chemicals. She doesn’t need to buy ready-made meals from Stouffer’s when she can make something better from scratch.
Further, the local government can’t collect sales tax on those containers of blue fluid, she may not demand a public school (and therefore jobs for bureaucrats), and her children will not be neurotic enough to demand prescriptions for brand-name amphetamines.
In the aggregates obsessed over by GDP-minded economists, each kid hooked on Adderall is considered to be a net gain to society, even if it damages the long term health of the child. Econometricians tend to favor an economy of frenetic activity, of a multiplying of transactions, pretending that larger numbers on spreadsheets connotate greater societal achievement. As most human activity can’t be quantified with any precision, even with stupendous computer models, the obsessions of the ‘wonks’ are liable to miss far more than they understand.
Hoppe writes that as decivilization progresses, “formerly provident providers will be turned into drunks or daydreamers, adults into children, civilized men into barbarians, and producers into criminals.” Per Hoppe, it’s no surprise that the most resonant drama within the upper middle class in the United States is ‘Breaking Bad,’ which tells the story of the fall of such a man.
This has occurred within our lifetimes, as the male labor force participation rate has plummeted, at the same time as the participation rate for women has increased. Indeed, the rate has reduced from over 85% to under 70% since after World War II, although one must not accord too much precision to these numbers collected by a bureaucracy subject to all the usual failings of bureaucratic institutions that have no incentive to promote merit.
As the culture deteriorates to a focus on pleasure today at the expense of flourishing tomorrow, feminine symbols within culture become progressively more fixated on a sort of self-annihlatory frenzy.
In such a childlike society, given to fixation upon fantasy and image as more important than reality, decay is inevitable.
Although it’s fashionable in the cities for clever writers to poke fun at bourgeois parents for gasping in horror at the antics of Miley Cyrus, there are some portents in those gasps. It makes no sense to be a high-investment parent if your daughter is going to become a whore, or is going to emulate whores in her after-hours, when she goes from her job to the nightclub.
It becomes a marker of insane irresponsibility for a parent to let their daughter to sit in front of Disney Channel shows for four hours a day if that corporation’s emblems of young womanhood go on to become emblems of harlotry, again and again. Little horrifies the K-type psychology more than the prospect of having lived a life of dashed meaning.
It’s challenging for a left-wing elitist to understand that, within the United States, there still exist strong family cultures in isolated and dispersed parts of the country, where people still take pride in old-fashioned family portraits of smiling, healthy children going on to fulfilling and successful adult lives.
Tut-tutting defenders of degenerate mores may trot out the moralizers of days gone past, like Tipper Gore, but like many things in life, social trends tend to go on for longer than most individual lives. The quantitative obsessives can come up with endless spreadsheets ‘proving’ an increase in general well-being, as unhappiness, failure, and prole drift compound misery within society.
Even if degeneracy does make people happy (and it does), it does so by making them happy in the present at the cost of greater potential happiness in the future, and itself depletes cultural capital by privileging the present over the future.
Further, the statistics-gathering bodies of Western governments are roughly as credible as those of the Soviets. Publication standards are low. Statistics are quoted readily by economists and journalists without knowing how they were collected, and without independent verification. It’s safe to assume that all numbers reported in the popular press and by academics are fabrications, just as a time-saving heuristic. The faith in these numbers would be charming if it were not so harmful.
Attempting to reverse this ratchet through high-minded arguments about the esoteric connection between zero interest rate policy and time preference is unlikely to succeed, and has never succeeded at halting the self-destructive tendencies inherent to democracy, which is itself a variant on Communism. Only mass death corrected the bad policies of the Soviet Union, or rather, forced Stalin and his successors to liberalize the economy further and to retract some of the revolution’s most idealistic social policies.
Further, changing the intellectual character of the United States as a whole is an impossible goal to achieve given current resources. It is instead easier to lop off a section, and get to work on reforming that one to health. Easier said than done, but to do it, one must say it first, and repeat it often enough to recruit enough people of the right caliber to make it happen.
Grandiose goals for global change as a starting point always fail (and aping the organizations that do this is a recipe for failure). Just as Alexander the Great began his march across the world in tiny Macedonia, any great task must start at the smallest possible level, as success builds upon tiny victories.
In the 1970s, Christopher Lasch wrote that such a return would be unthinkable. Within his lifetime, he was correct. Currently, the outcome is less certain, as cultural Marxist tropes, taken as they were from ordinary-Marxist tropes, become challenged by (probably outnumbered, certainly out-funded, definitely out-gunned) a rising trend of masculine thinking in the popular culture. As the university system in the West comes under the same pressures as the Communist university system did, it too will collapse with a suddenness that will shock thousands of professors into suicide, as it did during the Soviet collapse, even if the exact manner in which it happens occurs differently.
In this cultural vacuum, there will be opportunity & peril. Restoring patriarchy must occur as a critical foundation before returning Western civilization to at least partial order. Getting the steps backwards is like attempting to put a roof over a house before pouring its foundation.
To that extent, promoting a return to the patriarchal family in law and culture is critical, as is a return to traditional female roles in the family unit.