Men and Marriage

By George Gilder

Pelcan Publishing Co., Gretna 1986, USA

[Ten years ago, Lipschutz warned of an extremist political reaction as the inevitable response to radical feminism. I asserted that it would be male driven, fascist, right wing, not left wing. Later I found the idea on p187 of Margaret Mead, Male and Female, pub. Penguin 1950/1964. I have now found the same assertion in Gilder 1986. Some of the mechanism is explained well in Gilder.]

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Fascism is the political counterpoint of the social breakdown of monogamy into the disorders of polygyny, homosexuality, and female-headed families. The release of large numbers of young men from the bonds and discipline of marriage and family always leads to a threat to social stability. The punk rockers and soccer riots of mid-eighties Britain reflect the loss of male roles through high tax rates and resulting levels of joblessness. The breakdown of law and order and the demoralization of the courts and police in U.S. cities suggests the utter impotence of the superstructure of government when the infrastructures of sexual discipline collapse.

Without a stable family order, in which adult men civilize the young men, terror necessarily rules. No array of daycare centers, police powers, social welfare agencies, psychiatric or drug clinics, special schools and prisons can have any significant effect. William Tucker's fine new book Vigilante vividly shows the imbecile bathos into which our legal system has already fallen as a result of the decline of the stark mandate of justice into the weasels and waffles of social liberation.

At a time when millions of young men are slipping beyond the reach of democratic institutions - indeed, outside the social order itself - the drive to emasculate our politics threatens the foundations of democracy itself. Democracy is not so secure a system that in a serious crisis it can easily survive the loss of the instinctual appeal of male leadership. A state oin which the police and other governmental authorities are heavily in female hands would not last a week. The very emergence of such a state would itself signify either the massive estrangement of men from politics or the degeneration of democracy into some court-ruled system of quotas.

It is part of [Phyllis] Schlafly's genius to have persistently linked the concerns of family with the reform of education, the conservative revival of our politics, and the rehabilitation of our military. From her concern with the national defense to her defense of the nation's families, she espouses a fully coherent vision of the American predicament. A society of families both constrains male aggressions and channels them toward the protection and support of family and society.

With the breakdown of families, the economy also declines, as the long term efforts of male providers give way to short term and predatory economic behaviour. An emasculated state neither can defend itself against male outlaws and exploiters, muggers and terrorists, hijackers and assassins, nor can it achieve the economic growth to finance the welfare programs and police efforts required by a culture in chaos. As in the ghetto, the defection of men from family responsibilities leaves the women helpless to handle their teenaged boys and the police impotent to control them. The youth bully and terrorize the women and the weak.

Similarly in the international arena, an emasculated politics is incapable of sustaining an effective national defense. Rather than defending society, the young men attack it and exalt foreign potentates and desperadoes. Again the captivation of ghetto and other youth by Third World thugs and enemies of America illustrates the contempt that an emasculated politics and economics earns from its young men - and young women as well.

By joining the two issues of national defense and family defense, Phyllis Schlafly has tapped the energies that spring from the eloquent assertion of any long suppressed, evaded, and fragmented set of primal truths. All politics is on one level sexual politics. Defending the sexual constitution, she is clearly America's leading exponent and protector of democracy and capitalism.

The best sign of the continuing health of American society is the regular emergence of political leaders in unexpected places who are willing to commit themselves to a new defense of the values of civilization. Under perpetual assault from the forces of decadence and decline, protectionism and sloth, the American system still summons new tides of resistance and revitalization.

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Just as the nuclear families of Western Europe unleashed the energies of the industrial revolution, so the new miracles of modern technology are created and sustained by the moral discipline and spiritual incandescence of a culture of churches and families. In families, men and women routinely make long term commitments and sacrifices that are inexplicable and indefensible within the compass of secular hedonistic values. Modern society, no less that any pervious civilization, rests on the accumulated moral and spiritual capital embodied in the rock of ages.

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Sweden

Most feminist proposals seem designed to establish the working mother as the social norm by making it impossible for most male providers to support their families alone. The feminist attack on the social security system for giving housewives a right to the husband's benefits after he dies; the subsidies for day care; the affirmative-action quotas for women who pursue careers outside the home - all such measures seek to establish the careerist woman as the national standard and incapacitate the woman who tries to care for her own children.

Allan Carlson has explained how a similar policy worked in Sweden. Until 1965, Swedes spurned a quarter-century of feminist indoctrination and followed a social pattern similar to the U.S. Only a quarter of mothers of children under seven entered the work force and more than half of them held part-time jobs. Over the years, however, the Swedish socialists, under pressure from feminists led by Alva Myrdal, managed slowly to destroy the essential supports of the nuclear family. The entire present agenda of American feminism - from universal day care and family-planning programs to paternity leaves for fathers - was eventually enacted.

Carlson writes: "With the homemaker declared to be 'a dying race', legal changes removed the special protections afforded women in marriage. Changes in Swedish tax law essentially eliminated the joint return for a married couple, and have left all persons paying the same tax, whether alone, married but childless, or married with children ." Moreover, marginal Swedish income taxes were increased to nearly 100 per cent at modest income levels, making it all but impossible to support a family on one income by extra personal effort. "Swedish welfare policy was also altered to discourage maternal care of preschool children. Housing and tax benefits are effectively curtailed if families decide to care for their children and refuse to place them in day care centers [and their parents also lose] benefits such as free children's meals and diapers."

By 1986 these policies had failed to induce Swedish women to perform men's roles or men to assume an equal role with children. But according to Carlson, laws were proposed to "force men to shoulder their responsibilities" in the home. School officials were ordered to "redouble their efforts to challenge conventional stereotypes" that after fifty years of feminist indoctrination still orient Swedish schoolgirls toward "traditionally female roles." Women still earn less than men throughout the economy and are virtually absent from the higher echelons of the established multinational corporations that utterly dominate the Swedish private sector.

Nonetheless, the Swedish policy was dramatically successful in several important ways. By 1984 the official "poverty line" for a family of four in Sweden was approximately 40 per cent above the average annual wage. Therefore only the rich (chiefly families with sources of funds outside Sweden) could maintain a family on one income. The male role as principal provider was effectively abolished for most of the population. This policy, though, resulted not in more egalitarian marriages, but in the obsolescence of marriage itself.

Not only did tha rate of illegitimacy rise to over 40 per cent of all live births, but the marriage rate fell to the lowest level ever recorded in the world demographic data. Despite the world's most ambitious programs of sex education and family planning, despite the widespread issuance of free contraceptives, the abortion rate soared to a 1981 level just below the U.S. rate of 43 per cent of all live births. The Swedish people voted against the officially favored egalitarian marriage by mostly not marrying at all. The birthrate fell to a point 40 percent below the replacement rate required to maintain zero population growth. Despite one of the world's best-educated populations and some of the world's most resourceful large companies, the Swedish economy foundered. With the industrial world's highest tax rates came also a governmental deficit in the early 1980s some three times as high as America's huge shortfall as a share of GNP.

The United States is enacting many of the policies that brought sexual suicide to Sweden. Despite the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment and universal day care, the feminists are gaining their ends piecemeal. In particular, the decline in the value of the child deduction has shifted the tax burden massively onto families with children. Through court decisions in favor of comparable worth, through the infiltration of the schools by feminist texts and teachers, through the day-care tax credits and other subsidies for the two-earner family, and through the rapid erosion of the joint income-tax return and the housewife's right to social security, feminists are winning quietly by legal and legislative action what they cannot win in referenda.

The central lesson of the Swedish experience is the profound and irretrievable damage inflicted by a policy of driving mothers of small children out of the home and into the work force. Women in the home are not performing some optional role that can be more efficiently fulfilled by the welfare state. Women in the home are not "wasting" their human resources. The role of the mother is the paramount support of civilized human society. It is essential to the socialization both of men and of children. The maternal love and nurture of small children is an asset that can be replaced, if at all, only at vastly greater cost. Such attention is crucial to raising children into healthy and productive citizens. Moreover, the link of men through marriage to the support of particular children is crucial to male motivation and productivity.

The provider role of men not only gives the society the benefit of a lifetime of hard work oriented toward long term goals. It also channels and disciplines male energies and aggressions that otherwise turn against society. By contrast, full time work by mothers of small children comes out at serious twofold cost: first, the loss of the immeasurable social benefit of the mother's loving care for her child; second, the frequent loss of the husband's full-time concentration in his career. The tield of the mother's job to the economy or the man's help in the home only rarely can offset these costs of her employment. The society will pay the costs one way or another: not only through tremendous outlays for the day care but also through economic declines, population loss, juvenile delinquency, crime, mental illness, alcoholism, addiction, and divorce.

Together with the tragic breakdown of the American black family, the Swedish example should disabuse Americans of the illusion that it couldn't happen here. Family breakdown and demoralization can occur with frightening suddenness when government policy destroys the role of the male provider in the family. The alternative to traditional family roles is not a unisex family; it is sexual suicide.