This Spring Do It for the Children

It is the first week of spring, the season of rebirth.  But in Europe people can't be bothered.  The average number of children per woman in Spain is 1.15, in Germany 1.15, and in the United Kingdom 1.60, according to the Economist Pocket World in Figures for 2004.  Why is that?  Is it because of taxes?  Is it because of inadequate child care credits and facilities?  Is it because of the sexual revolution, contraception, and abortion?

Here in the United States things are a little different.  Our women bear an average of 2.1 children in a lifetime.  The parking lots of our exurban malls are crammed with minivans.  But liberal cities like San Francisco and Seattle are more like Europe.  They sneer at malls and minivans, and don't have many children.  This is no accident.  The progressive culture teaches women to live a full life and not just limit themselves to a life of marriage and children.

The difference is important.  The fertility of our American women means that the United States will likely still be here in a century or so.  The jury is out on Europe.

In the matter of family life fashionable progressive opinion has changed over the years.  A century ago at the full flood of the Progressive movement—when the Progressives were just getting started on the culture of compulsion we call the welfare state—fashionable opinion was almost Puritan.  Earnest liberal reformers were determined to curb the careless profligacy of the rich "upper ten" and their childlessness and divorces.  They were also concerned about the working class, their ignorance and their showy sexuality. Today of course the fully paid—up progressive is busy imposing gay marriage on the nation and softening it up for polyamory with a jolly Mormon family in HBO's Big Love, and the liberal woman is often childless.

 Some people aren't getting the message.  Catholic Charities in Massachusetts has just decided to get out of the adoption business.  Massachusetts passed a law banning "discrimination against gay and lesbian couples who seek to adopt," but for Catholics gay adoption is immoral.  Catholic Charities might be right, or they might be wrong.  But when did liberals start legislating morality?

This spring, keep an eye on the birds and the bees.  Their lives are transparently devoted to the task of getting the young off the nest.
It's a fine thing for humans to live a full life, as long as they don't get too distracted from the mainstream of life: earning a living and filling the world with children.

Could it be that the fashionable progressive model of life with its government education, extensive government social services, a "sex life" rigidly differentiated from the generation of life, and the normalization of every kind of sexual orientation and practice is in fact a death sentence for the progressive human race?

That's what Phillip Longman suggests in  "The Return of Patriarchy" in the March/April 2006 Foreign Policy.  Although we have all been worrying about overpopulation for the last century:

"Throughout the broad sweep of human history, there are many examples of people, or classes of people, who chose to avoid the costs of parenthood. Indeed, falling fertility is a recurring tendency of human civilization. Why then did humans not become extinct long ago? The short answer is patriarchy."

Longman does not mean by patriarchy a culture of male oppression.  By patriarchy he just means "a cultural regime that serves to keep birthrates high among the affluent, while also maximizing parents' investments in their children. No advanced civilization has yet learned how to endure without it."  Anyway, perhaps the Victorian patriarchy wasn't as bad as all that.  Back then, Agatha Christie wrote in her Autobiography, women had "their menfolk where they wanted them. They established... their constant need of being protected and cherished... but they were almost invariably successful in getting their own way."

The problem, argues Longman, is that without a culture of patriarchy there are too many enticing prospects for a young man of good family, not all of them beneficial.

"Patriarchy may have its privileges, but they may pale in comparison to the joys of bachelorhood in a luxurious society—nights spent enjoyably at banquets with friends discussing sports, war stories, or philosophy, or with alluring mistresses, flute girls, or clever courtesans."

It is true that flute girls are rather thin on the ground in fashionable circles these days, but an educated young man recently told talk—show Dennis Prager that he thought a life spent sitting in a Paris café discussing philosophy was richer and fuller than getting married and having children.

He may be right.  But it really doesn't matter if women don't have enough children.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

It is the first week of spring, the season of rebirth.  But in Europe people can't be bothered.  The average number of children per woman in Spain is 1.15, in Germany 1.15, and in the United Kingdom 1.60, according to the Economist Pocket World in Figures for 2004.  Why is that?  Is it because of taxes?  Is it because of inadequate child care credits and facilities?  Is it because of the sexual revolution, contraception, and abortion?

Here in the United States things are a little different.  Our women bear an average of 2.1 children in a lifetime.  The parking lots of our exurban malls are crammed with minivans.  But liberal cities like San Francisco and Seattle are more like Europe.  They sneer at malls and minivans, and don't have many children.  This is no accident.  The progressive culture teaches women to live a full life and not just limit themselves to a life of marriage and children.

The difference is important.  The fertility of our American women means that the United States will likely still be here in a century or so.  The jury is out on Europe.

In the matter of family life fashionable progressive opinion has changed over the years.  A century ago at the full flood of the Progressive movement—when the Progressives were just getting started on the culture of compulsion we call the welfare state—fashionable opinion was almost Puritan.  Earnest liberal reformers were determined to curb the careless profligacy of the rich "upper ten" and their childlessness and divorces.  They were also concerned about the working class, their ignorance and their showy sexuality. Today of course the fully paid—up progressive is busy imposing gay marriage on the nation and softening it up for polyamory with a jolly Mormon family in HBO's Big Love, and the liberal woman is often childless.

 Some people aren't getting the message.  Catholic Charities in Massachusetts has just decided to get out of the adoption business.  Massachusetts passed a law banning "discrimination against gay and lesbian couples who seek to adopt," but for Catholics gay adoption is immoral.  Catholic Charities might be right, or they might be wrong.  But when did liberals start legislating morality?

This spring, keep an eye on the birds and the bees.  Their lives are transparently devoted to the task of getting the young off the nest.
It's a fine thing for humans to live a full life, as long as they don't get too distracted from the mainstream of life: earning a living and filling the world with children.

Could it be that the fashionable progressive model of life with its government education, extensive government social services, a "sex life" rigidly differentiated from the generation of life, and the normalization of every kind of sexual orientation and practice is in fact a death sentence for the progressive human race?

That's what Phillip Longman suggests in  "The Return of Patriarchy" in the March/April 2006 Foreign Policy.  Although we have all been worrying about overpopulation for the last century:

"Throughout the broad sweep of human history, there are many examples of people, or classes of people, who chose to avoid the costs of parenthood. Indeed, falling fertility is a recurring tendency of human civilization. Why then did humans not become extinct long ago? The short answer is patriarchy."

Longman does not mean by patriarchy a culture of male oppression.  By patriarchy he just means "a cultural regime that serves to keep birthrates high among the affluent, while also maximizing parents' investments in their children. No advanced civilization has yet learned how to endure without it."  Anyway, perhaps the Victorian patriarchy wasn't as bad as all that.  Back then, Agatha Christie wrote in her Autobiography, women had "their menfolk where they wanted them. They established... their constant need of being protected and cherished... but they were almost invariably successful in getting their own way."

The problem, argues Longman, is that without a culture of patriarchy there are too many enticing prospects for a young man of good family, not all of them beneficial.

"Patriarchy may have its privileges, but they may pale in comparison to the joys of bachelorhood in a luxurious society—nights spent enjoyably at banquets with friends discussing sports, war stories, or philosophy, or with alluring mistresses, flute girls, or clever courtesans."

It is true that flute girls are rather thin on the ground in fashionable circles these days, but an educated young man recently told talk—show Dennis Prager that he thought a life spent sitting in a Paris café discussing philosophy was richer and fuller than getting married and having children.

He may be right.  But it really doesn't matter if women don't have enough children.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.