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Is Senator Schumer With Us or Against Us? Competence vs. Manliness

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This Spring Do It for the Children

by Christopher Chantrill
March 19, 2006 at 7:48 am


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.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990

Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures

German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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