The Testosterone Crisis

The sweeping Democratic electoral victory has left many conservative Americans concerned about their children's future.  With the federal government, educational establishment, entertainment industry and media thoroughly in the hands of the left, disturbing questions surface concerning the kinds of values our children will begin to accept as "mainstream."  Matters get worse when one considers what might become forced indoctrination in "community service" organizations as a prerequisite for college admission.

These concerns were on my mind during a recent outing with my young children to a local playground.  While I watched my kids try to scale walls, climb ropes, and navigate through other challenging structures various male voices I had obviously missed on previous visits to the park suddenly resonated.  "Try it on your own" or "you don't need any help with this one" the gaggle of fathers would say as their sons and daughters sized up various obstacles.  And while many of the moms cringed on the benches the young ones tripped, fell, clawed, and cried at times but they usually ended up victorious.

The ancient Chinese thinkers would have called my local park a microcosm of nature -- a dynamic reciprocity between the forces of feminine yin and masculine yang.  It is as natural for the moms to be overly concerned about the bumps and bruises as it is for the fathers to be encouraging independence and self-reliance.  Yin and yang represent two complementary energies in nature, the balance of which determines the health and harmony of a marriage, a family, a village, and even a nation.  These same Chinese philosophers warned however that unhealthy families, like unhealthy nations, are usually the victims of an overabundance of either the feminine yin or the masculine yang.

Chinese emperors for example attempted to head off this underlying and menacing threat of imbalance by castrating their ministers.  Why?  Too much yang testosterone in the palace would lead to dangerous factions and competition.  More eunuchs around the court meant the palace would be a better reflection of the harmony in nature.  Imperial concubines would also be sheltered from potential male rivals of the potentate, but this was entirely incidental to the theory.)

While an excess of yang energy was considered explosive and dangerous, what happens in a country like contemporary America when there seems to be a dangerous oversupply of feminine yin?

In his book The Suicide of Reason Lee Harris argues that our present state of liberal democracy has led to "eliminating the alpha males from our midst, and at a dizzyingly accelerating rate."  Instead of supporting and valuing testosterone's virtues we're "drugging our alpha boys with Ritalin."  In addition, one could view Barack Obama's election as the triumph of yin over yang.  Obama's policies promise to cast the father out of America's parks and replace him with the more "caring" and yin oriented federal government.  For Lee Harris however the feminization of American men comes at an extremely high price:

"The end of testosterone in the West alone will not culminate in the end of history, but it may well culminate in the end of the West."

It was in ancient Greece for example when the West began to associate the masculine yang voice with freedom and self-reliance.  Why?  Because when Athenian citizens perused the known world they noticed something rather curious: in no country other than Greece did citizens enjoy freedom or the virtues of democratic government.  Famous Greeks like the fifth century B.C. physician Hippocrates attempted to explain this fascinating anomaly. What Hippocrates and other Greek observers all tended to conclude was that the rest of the world's subjects must be "effeminate" or else, like the Greeks, they would have demanded -- like real men -- to be left alone by their leaders. 

In his essay On Airs, Waters, and Places for example Hippocrates notes that those who endure life under a despot are "cowardly, as I have stated before, for their souls are enslaved."  Greeks however are "independent, and enjoy the fruits of their own labors," and in addition they "encounter dangers on their own account, bear the prizes of their own valor, and in like manner endure the punishment of their own cowardice."  The good doctor concludes with a rather chilling observation: "A man's disposition will be changed by his institutions."  In short, what Hippocrates argues is that the more "maternalistic" the government, the less the citizenry will value freedom.

We can now start to understand part of Obama's appeal.  Alpha males in this nation have been browbeaten in every profession, most notably in education.  Indeed, the largest percentage ever of young, educated Americans in a presidential contest threw its support behind Barack Obama.  In addition, whereas John Kerry received 51% of the female vote in 2004, Barack Obama garnered close to 60%.  When black Americans overwhelmingly supported Obama to the tune of 90%, how much of this support was a product of race and how much was simply a product of a culture in which 70% of children are raised without fathers?

Both political parties now believe that they can garner votes by playing the yin, or compassion card.  We've seen this with the Bush Administration and its heavily statist "compassionate conservatism."  On the other hand, Democrats in congress thought that extending loans to unqualified borrowers was an act of compassion.  An excess of yin is now causing many of our states, like California, to go broke.  Despite these examples an "uncaring" America was the chief rallying cry of Barack and Michelle Obama during the recent election.

In his classic work Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville entitled one of his chapters "What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To Fear."  Near the end of the chapter there is a rather sobering observation:

"It is indeed difficult to conceive how men who have entirely given up the habit of self-government should succeed in making a proper choice of those by whom they are to be governed; and no one will ever believe that a liberal, wise, and energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient people."

Will Americans become so subservient under an Obama administration that a future yang style candidate like Ronald Reagan becomes impossible?  A healthy nation, like a healthy family, should have a proper balance of yin and yang.  Ideally, the relationship should be a balance between yang's independence, competition, and merit, and yin's more gentle, cooperative, and egalitarian energy.  We're at a critical moment in our history however when the forces of yin in American threaten to bury, not complement, yang.  Despite what the radical feminists might tell you, alpha male energy is natural and necessary for many things, including national survival.

There's an eight year old boy in my neighborhood who still rides his bike with training wheels.  There's no father at home.  Is America looking at training wheels writ large?  We know that most contemporary, estrogen-heavy Europeans would like to rid America of its testosterone.  They may just get their wish.