Introduction: Men are abandoning the rat race. They are dropping out of the labor force and avoiding marriage (see here and here). The great and wise explain this without bothering to ask men. They say that these young men are pawns of economic and social forces, and neurotic Peter Pans that refuse to grow up. But men are rationally responding to changes in our society. We should learn from them because this trend has just begun. The effect on society will be immense, unpredictable, and probably bad.
“Work is the grand cure of all the maladies and miseries that ever beset mankind – honest work, which you intend getting done.”
— The Inaugural Address of Thomas Carlyle as Lord Rector of the University of Edinburgh (1866). This belief changed the West. The West will change again when we no longer believe it.
Why most men worked so hard, and fewer do so now
Men work most often to obtain social status, to get money, to get women, and to support a family. Economically independent women have radically changed every aspect of that game, especially for the men at the rear of the pack.
(1) Women’s added participation in the workforce increases competition for good jobs and depresses wages. This makes running the rat race more difficult for men.
(2) Sex is now more easily available outside marriage, often without expensive dating rituals. This makes running the rat race less necessary for men.
(3) Increasingly liberated from the need for male providers, women increasingly select for dark triad traits (i.e., entertaining jerks, often treating them badly). Some of Taylor Swift’s songs clearly describe how this works. For betas (most of us are betas), success with women increases by learning to imitate dark triad behaviors). Why should men marry these women when they’re over 28 and ready to “settle”?
(4) Patriarchy was a benefit to men to offset the burdens of marriage. Now women need men only to get legitimate children and pay child support after the divorce. Patriarchy is evil; its remnants are being liquidated.
(5) Roughly half of marriages end in divorce. Roughly 80% are filed by women, getting both independence and cash. Divorce courts are biased against men. Only 18% of custodial parents are fathers (26% of US children live with only one parent). For more information see the 2013 Census report on Custodial Parents.
(6) We have more ways to take vacations from reality. Gin was the cheap drink of choice for people in 18th century London seeking alternatives to reality. Technology has given today’s rat race dropouts more and better alternatives: great booze, designer drugs, rock music, a thousand channels on TV, and computer games (which push the same buttons in the brain as addictive drugs). Marriage now has more competition for a role in men’s lives.
The bottom line: many men are “going Galt”, but not like in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. They are abandoning both work and marriage. See the details here. And more destabilizers are coming, such as sexbots.
Lifting the veil to see what I won. Oh, it’s toil & trouble.
Marriage in the new world
We can only guess what society will look like after 10 or 20 more years of these changes. But even the changes so far make marriage – and even working hard to get a woman – look as anachronistic as serenading girls in the evening to earn their love.
Feminists considered unisex a utopian goal in 1970. Now it is here, radically changing male-female dynamics. Men and women dress alike, talk alike, and have similar careers.
The literature that encouraged marriage for centuries has lost much of its force (obvious to anyone watching Hollywood’s pitiful attempts to make romantic comedies; see here and here). As Allan Bloom explained in Closing of the American Mind …
“All the romantic novels with their depictions of highly differentiated men and women, their steamy, sublimated sensuality and their insistence on the sacredness of the marriage bond just do not speak to any reality that concerns today’s young people. …”
Hollywood’s stories depict this new world. For example, the hit series “Castle” (2009 – 2016) described the romance between NYPD detective Kate Beckett and rich playboy Rick Castle – showing how it eroded his character from alpha into a pudgy contemptable beta (as in the Book of Job, the writers tacked on a happy ending). It is a cautionary tale showing how traditional romance has become toxic to men in modern America (see the details here).
A modern woman looking for a husband.
Social and economic trends have made marriage less attractive to men while new alternatives have arisen. Men have responded rationally by prioritizing other aspects of life over the accumulation of material goods and pursuit of good women (aka the “rat race”).
By dropping, out these men act against society’s norms – proving that they have agency, the ability to act independently and exercise free choice. As usual, the establishment’s analysts condemn this new counterculture as immoral.
We are seeing the first wave of these phenomena. Time will make them impossible to ignore as the men of Generation Z, and the next generations now in school, will show us its full force. Born into this world, they see it with greater clarity than their parents – without preconceptions from the America-that-once-was. We will see how these men react to the incentives we have set for them.
For More Information
Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- Millennial girls had a golden age. Gen Z’s inherit wreckage.
- See how women’s calculus of marriage shapes America.
- Men are abandoning the rat race, & changing American society. — See the data.
- Will today’s young men marry? America’s future depends on the answer.
- The coming crash as men and women go their own way.
- Men are going Galt. Marriage is dying. – A review of books from the cutting edge of the revolution.
- Marriage dying. Less sex. More loneliness. Society dying.
- First fruits of the war on marriage: poisoning women’s lives.
A book about what’s happening …
… but not why. For a deep look at this important phenomenon, see Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis by Nicholas Eberstadt – Harvard Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government; see Wikipedia – (2016). From the publisher …
“By one reading, things look pretty good for Americans today: the country is richer than ever before and the unemployment rate is down by half since the Great Recession – lower today, in fact, than for most of the postwar era.
‘But a closer look shows that something is going seriously wrong. This is the collapse of work – most especially among America’s men. Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, shows that while ‘unemployment’ has gone down, America’s work rate is also lower today than a generation ago—and that the work rate for US men has been spiraling downward for half a century. Astonishingly, the work rate for American males aged 15 to 54 – or ‘men of prime working age’ – was actually slightly lower in 2015 than it had been in 1940: before the War, and at the tail end of the Great Depression.
‘Today, nearly one in six prime working age men has no paid work at all – and nearly one in eight is out of the labor force entirely, neither working nor even looking for work. This new normal of ‘men without work,’ argues Eberstadt, is ‘America’s invisible crisis.’ So who are these men? How did they get there? What are they doing with their time? And what are the implications of this exit from work for American society?
‘Nicholas Eberstadt lays out the issue and Jared Bernstein from the left and Henry Olsen from the right offer their responses to this national crisis.”
About the rise and fall of romantic marriage
As explained by Allan Bloom in Closing of the American Mind …
“None of this results from the sixties, or from the appeal to masculine vanity begun by advertisers in the fifties, or from any other superficial, pop-culture events.
“More than two hundred years ago Rousseau saw with alarm the seeds of the breakdown of the family in liberal society, and he dedicated much of his genius to trying to correct it. He found that the critical connection between man and woman was being broken by individualism, and focused his efforts, theoretical and practical, on encouraging passionate romantic love in them. He wanted to rebuild and reinforce that connection, previously encumbered by now discredited religious and civil regulation, on modern grounds of desire and consent.
“He retraced the picture of nature that had become a palimpsest under the abrasion of modem criticism, and he enticed men and women into admiring its teleological ordering, specifically the complementarity between the two sexes, which mesh and set the machine of life in motion, each differing from and needing the other, from the depths of the body to the heights of the soul. He set utter abandon to the sentiments and imaginations of idealized love against calculation of individual interest.
“Rousseau inspired a whole genre of novelistic and poetic literature that lived feverishly for over a century, coexisting with the writings of the Benthams and the Mills who were earnestly at work homogenizing the sexes. His undertaking had the heaviest significance because human community was at risk. In essence he was persuading women freely to be different from men and to take on the burden of entering a positive contract with the family, as opposed to a negative, individual, self-protective contract with the state.
“Tocqueville picked up this theme, described the absolute differentiation of husband’s and wife’s functions and ways of life in the American family, and attributed the success of American democracy to its women, who freely choose their lot. This he contrasted to the disorder, nay, chaos, of Europe, which he attributed to a misunderstanding or misapplication of the principle of equality — only an abstraction when not informed by nature’s imperatives.
“This whole effort failed and now arouses either women’s anger, as an attempt to take from them rights guaranteed to all human beings, or their indifference, as irrelevant in a time when women do exactly the same things as men and face the same difficulties in ensuring their independence. Rousseau, Tocqueville and all the others now have only historical significance and at most provide us with a serious alternative perspective for analyzing our situation. Romantic love is now as alien to us as knight errantry, and young men are no more likely to court a woman than to wear a suit of armor, not only because it is not fitting, but because it would be offensive to women.”