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Home | Blogs | JoeU's blog

How the destruction of marriage is strangling the feminist welfare state.

(This excellent analysis/essay was originally posted here: http://dalrock.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/how-the-destruction-of-marriage-... )

The standard narrative is that feminism removed the artificial restrictions that were holding women back, and what we observe today is a level playing field.  The Social Pathologist described this in his recent post Hypergamic Affirmative Action:

The social, sexual and economic liberation of women in the latter half of the 20th Century has meant that for the first time women were able to compete with men in society without restriction. The result has been spectacular if not particularly beneficial to the happiness of women. Whilst not all degrees are created equal (men still overwhelming dominate the “hard” fields of knowledge) the fact that there are now more degree credentialed women than men is simply astonishing. As income is broadly correlated with economic well being,  its safe to assume that women have been able to achieve a economic parity with men. The manosphere may not like this result but the fact is that women have been able to effectively compete with men when the shackles of social convention have been removed.

What he is describing is the feminist fantasy coming true, and out of respect for the feminists reading I suggest taking a moment to savor the euphoria before we continue.

The problem with his statement is he is ignoring the incredible amount of social engineering required to achieve and maintain the current state.  Feminism has become a central organizing force for western culture.  Nearly every decision public and private must consider feminism first, and everything else second.  This is true for everything from our last ditch nuclear deterrent to men’s entertainment.  Even the Word of God must kneel before the word of feminists.  The reason this doesn’t come to mind for most people is it is everywhere.  It seems normal, if not natural.

What is too easy to forget is that this is artificial, and therefore requires constant effort to maintain.  Feminism didn’t demolish a barrier between two seas and let the water levels adjust;  it is a massive pumping operation.  Turn off the pumps even for a little bit and reality will come flooding back.

The longer we keep the pumps running, the more the true cost of the operation becomes evident.  Most of what feminism gained it did on credit of one sort or another, and these bills are coming due.  The reality is human biology makes it impossible for a large percentage of women to focus on casual sex and professional advancement to the degree that feminism insists is only natural.  The reason for this is children require more investment than women themselves can provide.  Women who want to be mothers need to extract resources from men in order to be truly successful parents.  Many have looked at the success of a small number of widows in raising their children without the help of a husband and assumed husbands and fathers aren’t really necessary.  However, what is possible as an exception isn’t something we can build a society on.  Aside from those who started with great wealth, widows have always struggled to provide for and raise their children.  In a healthy society made primarily of husband lead households they also benefit from an in tact social and familial structure.

But a husband-lead permanent family structure is something feminists must destroy.  They have no choice if they are to achieve their goals.  They need to find a way to compel men to provide resources for children while removing men’s authority and women’s responsibility.  In a society with traditional marriage men voluntarily agree to produce more than they personally need in order to lead a family.  The problem for feminists with this voluntary model is something which is core to all voluntary cooperation agreements;  women must give something up in exchange for men doing the same.

There are of course multiple ways to attack this problem of mutuality.  While the methods appear different on the surface, the ultimate end is the same;  men must be compelled to offer financial (and sometimes parenting) resources to women who want to have children, and women must be freed from reciprocal obligation and responsibility.  The methods to achieve this tend to fall into one of three models:

  1. Socialist State Model:  The economy of the state must be reorganized to redistribute production.  While the stated aim of socialism is to redistribute wealth from rich to poor, in practice this is a very effective tool to redistribute wealth from men to women.  In the socialist state model marriage becomes largely irrelevant because the resource transfer is being achieved at a state or corporate level.  These resource transfers can take the form of make work jobs, cash benefits, and free or subsidized child care and education (which tend to become one and the same).  Marriage tends to be looked down upon in this type of model because women living with men are forever at risk of being “oppressed” by male leadership.  Marriage also works counter to the socialist aim of equality of outcome;  if some children grow up with fathers (even weak ones) while others lack fathers altogether the children with fathers have a large advantage.  This inequality of maternal outcome poses a danger to feminism as well because women who want to give their children an advantage are at risk of suffering from exposure to male authority.
  2. Sham Marriage Model:  This is the model preferred by feminists with a sense of nostalgia.  In this model great effort is expended to maintain the illusion of marriage as a fundamental and legitimate social institution.  While the edifice is left in place however, the institution itself is entirely debased.  Husbands are still expected to support and protect their families, but their authority and rights are all removed.  Marriage becomes a vehicle for theft, and something women delay as long as possible and discard as soon as it is no longer needed.
  3. The Stanton/Povich Model:  Under this model women enjoy their sexual freedom and are free to pursue their goals of education and career without the responsibilities and limitations which come with being a wife.  Should such a woman find herself giving birth, she heroically whittles down the list of paternal suspects until she determines the biological father of the child.  She then enlists the state to compel the biological father to bankroll her and her children.

What we see in practice tends to be a blending of the three models above.  The exact blend of course will vary over time and from country to country, but any country which fits The Social Pathologist’s description has by necessity fully implemented some combination of the three.

The fatal flaws of all three of these models, including their use in blended form, are the same:

  • There is insufficient incentive to keep the mass of men producing at the levels needed to transfer enough wealth to women.
  • Women who spend their early adulthood focusing on education and career before becoming mothers lead to an enormously expensive mis-allocation of investment in human capital.  This exists across all industries but is most easily identified in the case of medical doctors, as The Social Pathologist has witnessed.
  • Children don’t just need financial resources, they need a real father.  Fathers who aren’t head of the household are a very poor substitute for those who are.
  • By prioritizing women’s careers over becoming mothers, the birthrate greatly declines.

While the first two bullets reduce production by existing men below their potential, the last two reduce the number of productive men in future generations.  Taken together we end up with reduced numbers of productive men, and less production by those few who exist.  These problems aren’t visible at first with feminism however because there is a delay in experiencing the loss of production by men.  This gives the initial appearance of a free lunch, where the only result is the increased production associated with women prioritizing paid work.  However, this apparent free lunch is simply the inertia of the system;  the flaws become progressively more evident from generation to generation.

It is worth reiterating that both the destruction of marriage and the resulting lowered production are ultimately inescapable for any society which makes feminism a priority.  There is no way to square this circle, no matter how many people claim it is only natural.

The truth of what I’m describing can be found by opening any economic or business publication.  The nations of the west are all facing a time bomb of entitlements caused by demographics moving the wrong way.  In the US, Social Security and Medicare present looming demographic threats which get closer every year.  Eventually there will be too many people taking out of the system and too few willing or able to produce at the excess levels required to fund them.  Discussion of this problem is constant in the financial press, with articles like the one by Forbes titled:  America’s Baby Bust: How The Great Recession Has Jeopardized Our Demographic Health

Without these future workers our already tottering pension system will become even more untenable, as is occurring in Europe and Japan.

Of course since feminism is the dominant philosophy of our time the author struggles to understand why birthrates are falling.  For some inexplicable reason in the past economic growth has lead to falling birthrates, while economic decline is now also leading to falling birthrates:

Without growth, the long-term decline of most high-income countries, including the United States, is all but assured.

This turns on its head the commonplace assumption that societies reduced their birthrates as they got wealthier.

The problem in the US is worse than it looks on its face.  While we remain at near replacement level fertility, the internals of the macro number are cause for concern.  Slate explains this in an article subtitled Why America’s widening fertility class divide is a problem.  The feminist system comes with perverse incentives regarding family formation.  The most capable women are encouraged to delay childbirth as long as possible.  At the same time, successful men fear becoming fathers because fatherhood is the bait for the trap feminists and their enablers have set for honest men.  Ironically the New York Times can see the disincentive for productive men to become fathers, but only when looking outside of the United States;  the headline declares In Europe, Divorce and Separation Become a Burden for Struggling Fathers, and the stories are straight out of the manosphere:

The pain of Europe’s economic crisis is being felt sharply by a new class of people: separated and divorced men who end up impoverished or on the streets as they struggle to maintain themselves while keeping up child support and alimony payments.

The Forbes article cites the NY Times piece, and in an added twist of irony manages to conflate fatherhood and parenthood just in time to miss the point:

Stories about divorced Spanish or Italian young fathers sleeping on the streets or in their cars is not exactly a strong advertising for parenthood.

Making the problem worse is the list of solutions currently on the table.  We can go the way suggested by the Slate article, and increase transfers to women with children.  Never mind that this brings us back to the core problem.  The other solution is to raise taxes, but this exacerbates the productivity problem.  In order to tax our way to solvency, we would have to declare a fiscal jihad on the productive.  But men are already showing signs of being less willing to create the very excess wealth these taxes are after, for the reasons explained above.  If men don’t see the incentive to lead a family, higher taxes will convince ever larger numbers of capable men to decide to get by on just enough to keep themselves comfortable.