Tag Archives: closing of the american mind

The collapse of gender roles: an unseen revolution with unimaginable consequences

Summary: Here is another brief note looking at the revolutions of our time that are reshaping our world. This looks at gender roles, changes that will take generations to work out and with implications probably beyond imagining.

Gender Equality

Two of the utopian goals of the late 1960s are within reach, but their success is not fully appreciated. First, the West is at zero population growth (before immigration) — a goal coined by Kingsley Davis in Science (10 Nov 1967), although he said it could not be done by voluntary means (government action would be needed). Second, the shift to a unisex society — with the role of gender drastically reduced (e.g., in child-reading, education, the workplace, dress, behavior).

Combined these two mutually-reinforcing trends (a drastic drop of fertility made possible a more unisex society) represent revolutions larger than those in politics and perhaps even technology. History has seen nothing like these since the shift to agriculture millennia ago.

In one sense we have already made the change: in fiction. Books, TV, and films reflect a more unisex world. Change the names and pronouns in books (e.g., military science fiction), TV, (crime shows “Castle” and “Forever”), and films (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) — can you identify the gender of the characters?

Like most speculative fiction, they assume that gender roles evaporate leaving society otherwise unchanged. That seems unlikely to me. Society might take generations to adjust to the changes that have already occurred, as the existing but outmoded forms of thought and behavior only slowly adjust to the new realities. But the resulting changes might be large beyond our ability to imagine today.

There are few books that even hint at the future that awaits us. One of those is Plato’s The Republic. He describes a city in many ways more alien that that found in most science fiction stories, but which we might be approaching in this one sense. Here Allan Bloom explains how Plato’s insights illuminate our situation.

Excerpt from Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom

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. …

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Look to the Left to see the force powering Trump and Carson

Summary: Moderates and liberals look with incredulity at the rise of far-right candidates to leadership of the Republican Party, both in the House and in the presidential campaign. How can this happen? The answer is seen in the news, as people look at the Left and choose what they consider the lesser evil on the Right. The Left prefers to ignore how their actions contribute to our darkening politics.

“The world revolves around the inventors of new values; it revolves silently.”
—- #12 from Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885). See the full excerpt here.

The new era begins

Why have so many Americans embraced the ignorant throwbacks on the extreme Right, servants of the 1%? perhaps because they fear the madness of the Left, and choose what they consider the lesser evil.  Racial and gender quotes plus transgendered bathrooms, taking extreme measures to fight an imaginary “rape culture” on campuses, revising our economic system to fight untested theories of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change (following their previous false apocalyptic forecasts about pollution and population growth), opening America’s doors to unlimited immigration, etc. It’s a long and scary list.

Events on US campuses (a bastion of the Left)  most clearly show where the they seek to take America. We see demands for “safe spaces”, “trigger warnings”, mandatory re-education programs (e.g., “diversity” and “sensitive” training), and punishment of “microagressions”. Radicals hold our rights, such as free speech, in contempt. The news overflows with examples, but here are few recent and noteworthy ones.

Can We Start Taking Political Correctness Seriously Now?‘ by Jonathan Chait. WaPo: “These college protesters are demanding the media who cover them support their cause.

Free yoga classes halted at Ottawa College because they are “‘cultural appropriation”. “Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced {and the cultures they} are being taken from {who} have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy … we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga”.

Someone posted vague threats on Yik Yak against minorities at Western Washington University, a response to protests about its mascot (a Viking). Police didn’t consider them a danger. The President cancelled classes, starting Thanksgiving holiday a day early. (AP story.)

As this movement accelerates, even in this early stage it has become quite mad. For example, see this summary describing how “Occidental College May Burn Self At Stake“.  Reason magazine has posted the draft; it must be read to be believed. The faculty is proposing to Occidental College’s faculty is proposing to end it as a place of serious learning. Tuition is $49 thousand per year. Parents paying it should order their children to change schools.

How did this happen? What are the roots of these events on campus?

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The revolution in gender roles reshapes society in ways too disturbing to see

Summary:  Today we start a new series about one of the most profound revolutions ever to hit western society — the change in gender roles. The conclusions of the series are, like so many on the FM website, wildly non-consensus — and disturbing to most readers. This is the warm-up pitch.

Gender Roles

I updated my list of accurate predictions and the (thankfully much smaller) list of failed predictions, and drew two conclusions. The list of “hits” is impressively long (posting the score makes me careful!) but I’ve not made many new predictions in the last year. I’m confused about the economic and geopolitical issues that bedevil our world. So I’ll change the focus to something I believe much easier to forecast: the revolution in gender roles now under way.

Side note: what’s the secret of my forecasting success?  I describe the obvious things that we all see, but that we do not want to acknowledge. This accounts for the dark tone of so many posts on the FM website (despite the occasional posts with good news). For example, the posts about cybercrime and cyberwar by various experts describe trends of extreme importance in a manner understandable by a general audience — yet gets fewer-than normal views. Too disturbing; we prefer not to see. I suspect that this series will provide another example, as its observations and conclusions will upset almost everybody — Left and Right (as usual for the FM website).

For the opener in this series we start with an excerpt from Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind. Published in 1987, he clearly foresaw the changes coming to American society. It’s at the top of my list of recommended books.  He’s the equivalent for social issues of Martin van Creveld about war. Here Bloom looks at the revolution — one of the most profound ever — coming to the family and gender roles. It was mind-bendingly prophetic when written 30 years ago; it’s implications remain stunning today.

 From The Closing of the American Mind
Chapter Three: “Relationships”

Relations between the sexes have always been difficult, and that is why so much of our literature is about men and women quarreling. There is certainly legitimate ground to doubt their suitability for each other given the spectrum — from the harem to Plato’s Republic — of imaginable and actually existing relations between them, whether nature acted the stepmother or God botched the creation by an afterthought, as some Romantics believed.

That man is not made to be alone is all very well, but who is made to live with him? This is why men and women hesitated before marriage, and courtship was thought necessary to find out whether the couple was compatible, and perhaps to give them basic training in compatibility. No one wanted to be stuck forever with an impossible partner. But, for all that, they knew pretty much what they wanted from one another. The question was whether they could get it (whereas our question today is much more what is wanted). A man was to make a living and protect his wife and children, and a woman was to provide for the domestic economy, particularly in caring for husband and children. Frequently this did not work out very well for one or both of the partners, because they either were not good at their functions or were not eager to perform them.

In order to assure the proper ordering of things, the transvestite women in Shakespeare, like Portia {The Merchant of Venice} and Rosalind {As you Like It}, are forced to masquerade as men because the real men are inadequate and need to be corrected.

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