Quote note (#193)

Dreher:

Carle C. Zimmerman, the Harvard historian and sociologist, was not a religious man, but in his book Family and Civilization, which examining the history of the decline and fall of ancient Greece and Rome, and looking at medieval and modern European history, Zimmerman found that the presence of 11 factors preceded the dissolution of those civilizations — factors relating to the atomization and fragmentation of what he calls the “domestic family” (one man + one woman, exclusively). Those factors include widespread divorce, the loss of a sense that the domestic family is normative, and the general acceptance of sexual diversity (called “perversity” by Zimmerman, but he wrote in 1947).

In Zimmerman’s view, the family is the basis for civilization, and “familism” — an ideology that in general puts the family’s needs above the needs of the individual — is necessary for a healthy, stable society. A society that has lost familism will follow customs and impose public policies that work against the domestic family, thereby eating its seed corn. Fertility declines, and with it, the civilization’s ability to thrive.

So says Zimmerman. If he’s right … this is us.

(Noteworthy.)

(Yes, the first sentence of this quote is a grammatical train wreck — beyond anything I could work out how to fix. Read Dreher’s intro. to the article for a — partial — excuse.)

October 26, 2015admin 25 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Fertility

TAGGED WITH : , ,

25 Responses to this entry

  • Reactionary Expat Says:

    Carle C. Zimmerman was a Harvard historian and sociologist. In his book Family and Civilization, he examined the history of the decline and fall of ancient Greece and Rome. He also looked at medieval and modern European history. He found that…

    Although not a religious man, in Zimmerman’s view…

    Shorter sentences that deal with a single point generally don’t hurt.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 26th, 2015 at 12:42 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bettega Says:

    The nuclear family as it existed in the last 100 years is already a sign of decadence. Healthy societies have clans and extended families. Writing in defense of the family trying to preserve the nuclear family is like those conservatives who just want to conserve the last revolutionary change of the left.

    [Reply]

    Kgaard Reply:

    That’s a damn good point. The nuclear family is collapsing because it’s kind of a depressing existence. It is too far away from the tribal norm in which man existed for the preceding 99.9% of his history.

    [Reply]

    Kgaard Reply:

    This is another factor, similar to pathological altruism, that can be blamed on European culture itself, and not on immigrants.

    [Reply]

    ivvenalis Reply:

    You’re wrong: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/17/family-ties-3/?hp

    hbdchick (look her up) has written extensively on this. As Steve Sailer put it succinctly: the “absolute nuclear family” probably originated “post-Beowulf, but pre-Chaucer”. About 750 years ago.

    Allegations to the contrary are based on various combinations of ignorance and malice. For instance, when someone complains about how their grandmother lived in a family structure that would not be identified as “nuclear” in the linked article, the usual culprit is that the grandmother didn’t originate from one of the “nuclear” regions of Europe.

    Now, that’s not to say nothing has changed. Families used to be larger within living memory, for instance, and the destruction of civic life is quite real. But the nuclear family wasn’t invented in the 1950s, or even in the 1850s.

    [Reply]

    Kgaard Reply:

    Yes but 750 years is still a drop in the bucket — and the economic backdrop has changed so profoundly over the last 100 that there was no way to expect the family structure to remain unchanged. Women’s first priority is to ensure biological survival of their kids. That means securing a steady flow of resources and information. Women don’t need to be rich … but it’s even more important for them not to be destitute. Thus the best reproductive strategy in a period of economic plenty is to socialize the wealth of the (relatively) small group of male high achievers, rather than attempting to lock down ONE man who might prove to be a winning lottery ticket or a complete bust. Plus it is important for women to live in a more urban setting rather than cordoned off in suburban houses in order to secure steady data access.

    [Reply]

    ivvenalis Reply:

    Is that what we see? That the most economically prosperous societies / civilizations are less likely to be monogamous? I think not.

    Also I don’t understand why it’s “important” for women to live in cities. Because they have a biological imperative “to secure steady data access”? Really? Women in cities had and have lower fertility, that’s for sure. In fact suburbia’s existence results from attempting to keep family life *out* of cities while enjoying other benefits of urbanity. Lots of people think that the city harms their prospects for having children.

    Back to nuclear families, the claim was that they were “invented” within the past century, which just isn’t true. The childless “family”, perhaps, was invented recently, as was the litter-of-bastards model. I would agree these are both signs of decadence.

    Kgaard Reply:

    Ivvenalis: There are a bunch of subtleties here.

    1) Key distinction: I said prosperous cities will become less monogamous — not that monogamy doesn’t HELP LEAD TO prosperous cities. I’m basically channeling Spengler here: Once you get rich, the conditions of collapse set in because the underlying drive to get rich is gone.

    2) It’s not important for MARRIED women to live in cities because they have already met their husband. But for high-IQ single women who want to find an appealing single man cities are the ONLY place to go. What use is beauty if there is no potential mate around to appreciate it? The fact that 50% of women then choose to party rather than marry … well … that is an issue but a separate issue.

    3) I still don’t see what difference it makes how recently the nuclear family was invented. The point is that it is rapidly collapsing in the west because in a time of plenty serial monogamy combined with single motherhood and a large central government with a heavy redistributive function are more appealing to a majority of voters. That may lead to decline, but that’s the next generation’s problem!

    Posted on October 26th, 2015 at 12:55 pm Reply | Quote
  • Quote note (#193) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on October 26th, 2015 at 1:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • blankmisgivings Says:

    As someone has already suggested, I would imagine that to a Roman elite of the 1st century BC, companionate marriage of our kind (and of the heterosexual kind too) would already look like monstrous decadence, let alone the idea that an elite male should absorb himself in child rearing/entertainment for a substantial portion of his life. Perhaps Zimmerman’s scholarship is a little dated or perhaps he has a rather broad definition of ‘nuclear family’ – which I take to be a peasant custom incorporated into middle and latterly upper middle class life quite recently.

    [Reply]

    michael Reply:

    i dont know those old Barrons usually had their pigs in the castle as well as their families and they couldnt have had all those children if they were never home. it was a cozy world at every level except high court.
    It true the out marriage imposed by Christianity made complicated societies possible which led to decay we cant go back to the sweet spot but while we still remember it we could re invent it. families need more wealth and time to invest in children i think the money is already there it squandered by the trillion on diversity. without the costs of diversity [and welfare is but a tenth at most] western societies could afford families a lot less women would work and feminism would subside. without diversity almost all leftism struggles to stay afloat. cultural confidence can return the culture divide is a most a disagreement no longer nazis vs saints.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 26th, 2015 at 2:06 pm Reply | Quote
  • michael Says:

    whats probably afoot is urbanization, which creates opportunities outside the family clan tribe for affirmation. soon a point is reached where those that have gone to court seek release from the shackles of conformity and get it.with no penalty more follow.A man with a family has more interest in a stable society.a single person seeks opportunity and novelty. The rewards of a stable family are passed down through stable families, the rewards of urban life are passed down though media,what passes for stable families today pass little down.techno commerce has lifted the cap on how many and what quality of people can come to court, but not how to sustain the exodus.A cowboy I know in Idaho rails against the evils of women leaving the home to work. I point out to him it was only 50 years before she left that the man left for work.Just think for a moment about the difference between a man and woman and their children working together vs all spending most of their days apart. things like feminism are not the root they are the symptom. Can technology make working at home pay enough to raise a large family in an advanced society.can it make home schooling a viable alternative to reeducation camps. can court life be restored to its proper size and quality

    [Reply]

    Jefferson Reply:

    This also dovetails nicely into the concept of IQ shredders. The efficiency of density creates an economic gravity well, drawing in high quality individuals while breaking down tribal bonds, only to replace them with weaker familial ones.

    I suspect that technology cannot overcome this issue, because our corporate (fascist) economy favors face to face contact (owing at least partly to the prevalence on women in the workplace).

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 26th, 2015 at 2:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • pyrrhus Says:

    The nuclear family is a product of outbreeding, the breakdown of the clan, and the consequent near elimination of cousin marriage in northwestern Europe. Outbreeding produced much more intelligent and healthy populations, but weakened clan/tribal ties greatly. So a great civilization arose, but it doesn’t seem to be sustainable against much dumber clannish cultures.

    [Reply]

    Seth Reply:

    So the nuclear family is the sweet spot?

    [Reply]

    Grotesque Body Reply:

    For the individual it probably represents a reasonable trade-off between agency and tradition. From the perspective of rulers it is ideal to have a dual structure society with a nepotistic clan, that of the rulers, at the top (whether that clan be actual blood relatives as in Saudi Arabia or the Blue Team ideological clan in Washington*) and a mass of atomized labourer-consumers at the bottom. The nuclear family represents a mid point or hybrid of these opposing tendencies, so it makes sense that we see these in societies that are transitioning towards the Eloi-Morlock arrangement that Western countries are going to have in the future.

    *Of course, there is a blood relation element of the ruling clan in Washington, in that many of them spin the same dreidel, so to speak.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 26th, 2015 at 6:57 pm Reply | Quote
  • Hanfeizi Says:

    I wonder what explains China, then, where the multi-generational family (“four under one roof”) has been a social constant for millenia without similar periods of decadence. China’s social problem seems to actually trip to the other side of the equation- family isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing- there is no civil society. This is why China always collapses when faced with a moderately powerful outside enemy- loyalty to the state and centralized power is absolutely ad hoc, and a powerful enemy can just as easily be seen as a potential tool to exploit in your own rise to become the emperor- therefore, why sacrifice yourself fighting for the state when you could utilize chaos to ascend yourself? Multiply that by the fact that it’s what every other official in the empire is thinking… and you’ve got problems.

    In the 20th century, the one truly unbroken project that unites the KMT era, the Maoist era and the post-Mao era is the construction of Han Chinese Nationalism as a way of ultimately breaking this cycle. While much of the “old thinking” remains- and can be seen with the flows of capital out of the country (that, I might add, are per capita no larger than what was seen out of neighboring SK and Taiwan at a similar stage of development)- the fact that Han Nationalism has sucked a lot of diasporic Chinese into it’s maw is telling (and it’s also telling that it doesn’t seem to be winning in Taiwan or Hong Kong, while Singapore and the diasporic Chinese across SE Asia, Europe and the Americas seem to be all about it).

    [Reply]

    Zimriel Reply:

    How well do you understand China? I’m curious.

    I don’t claim to understand China myself. I have noticed a strong anti-anarchy current in Chinese literature. (“Three Body Problem” drips with this phobia.) I also know that China’s aristocracy has deliberately set out to create a mandarinate that would not be beholden to family. They even had eunuchs in the court from time to time.

    Also, “China always collapses when faced with a moderately powerful outside enemy” seems to be a priori reasoning: if an outside enemy wins, it’s powerful and if it doesn’t, it’s not. How’s this not true of every other nation? China defeated the Tibetans and the Tangut, or at least reached a stalemate, for many centuries without collapsing. IIRC the Tang even survived An Lushan.

    [Reply]

    Grotesque Body Reply:

    I also detected the tautology implicit in that last claim.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 27th, 2015 at 12:04 am Reply | Quote
  • Tachi Says:

    Is the posting of this an endorsement of the traditional family (as opposed to gay marriage and adoption and other types of family structure) and if so, how does this square with the techno-commercial strand of neoreaction, given the inevitable dissolution of the human security system (which includes the institution of traditional marriage etc) that comes with the assent of AI?

    I’m not sure how the family is a product of an ideology that privileges the family as group over individuals given that the family – as it appeared in England over the continent – was a break from extended kinship ties and an elevation of the individual above the group. The family in England was more of a contractual affair – children didn’t automatically inherit wealth, for example. Is that Zimmerman’s point, though, that the family as in continental Europe that privileged the group was more stable than that in England, where capitalism – and all of its destabilising effects – was linked to the new model of family which elevated the individualism of its components.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    It’s not an ‘endorsement’ of anything (unless uncomfortable data).

    [Reply]

    OLF Reply:

    There won’t be an “assent of AI,” all those LARPing transhumanists are even more delusional than LARPing monarchists… smart people obsessing over nonsense, it reminds of Newton’s obsession with the Occult.

    [Reply]

    Grotesque Body Reply:

    The only ones that are ‘delusional’ are those that believe, in the 21st century, that they aren’t LARPing in one way or another.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 27th, 2015 at 1:25 am Reply | Quote
  • Abelard Lindsey Says:

    I think we can all agree that kids need stable, two-parent families in order to flourish. I think we can all agree that the costs associated with having kids (education, health-care, and housing in good school districts) have increased enormously over both the inflation rate as well as that of mean income. It is also well-known that the regulatory hassle of having kids, everything from car seats to whatever else, have also dramatically increased over the past 30 years as well.

    I have not read this book. But the Amazon reviews of it suggests that, rather than addressing the above issue, it is merely a polemic against those who choose not to have kids, for whatever reason. Such polemic does not contribute to useful discussion on child and family issues. Those wanting to stoke useful conversion about children and families, I make a more useful book recommendation. I recommend “What to Expect when No One’s Expecting” by Jonathan V. Last. Unlike the polemic reviewed here, Last’s book addresses the issue with useful ideas.

    [Reply]

    fnn Reply:

    The book was written at the height of the postwar baby boom (1947!)- so I don’t see how it could possibly be a polemic against non-reproducers. But the work may be a victim of highly selective editing, since it’s an extreme abridgement of the original.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 27th, 2015 at 6:34 pm Reply | Quote

Leave a comment