In Conclusion, Part 2, I argued that the Left is rapidly being sifted. There are those who abide by reality, and those who simply will not–ever. I left off noting that the latter used to be held in balance against the former, but that this equilibrium no longer exists. Today, the irrealists are increasing in number, and those who would eventually be shaken from their insanity are doing so later and later in their lives.
I must discuss this. We cannot understand what is unfolding unless we factor this in, even if it is not expressly a function of leftism. Although, as the astute readers will observe, much of it is the result of leftism. To the degree it is intentional or unintentional is a later topic.
The rock bottom reason for why this equilibrium between realists and irrealists exist is demographics.
In the 1960s and 1970s, it was believed by policy makers that there were too many people. Along with all of the cultural Marxism and the rest of the Leftist ideological stew, changes to the basic unit of society, the family, were inevitable. The family… the daily act of co-existing with other individuals, some of whom for a time are completely dependent on you, and for the most part, consists of people you love deeply who yet still manage to infuriate you sometimes… is also a powerful experience through which irrealities are drubbed out of a person.
The Statists of the 1970s decided that changes to the Family were required in order to “save the planet.” They succeeded in making these changes, and today we see the consequences. (Again, I’m leaving aside the question of how intentional the creation of irrealists was, for now.)
It was decided that people should get married later–if they get married at all–and have fewer kids. Policies were put into place to facilitate these changes.
But why should the family impact the proportion of irrealists?
At the end of Conclusion Part 2, I invoked the old saying that “a conservative is just a liberal who has been mugged.” In other words, people have high minded ideas which are violently refuted by harsh realities.
Getting married and having kids is a big part of the ‘mugging’ process that most of us experience as we get older.
As you raise kids, you discover that regardless of your good intentions, it is still possible to make bad parenting decisions. The more kids you have, the harder it gets to do right by all of them. By the time you are 40, you put two and two together and say, “If I can’t do right by the 4-5 kids that I have, and I live with them every day, what makes me think I can treat 300,000,000 people as my children, and do right by all of them?”
Moreover, when you have kids (especially when you have more than one), you begin taking your responsibilities very seriously. Steady employment becomes important. Where you live becomes important. What happens in your kids’ school becomes important. What they eat becomes important. Parents become skeptical about things that they didn’t give half a thought about before they had kids.
For example, in my case, I have a daughter who was born with spina bifida. Along with many other issues this has raised for us, there was the obvious question: what caused her to have this condition? Was it genetics? Was it environment? If it was environment, what was it? The food we ate? What was in our water? The building materials in our house? Other things we put into our bodies? WHAT DID IT? Since the cause of spina bifida is unknown, all the options are on the table. Now, pretend for a minute that your well-meaning, but paternalistic social engineering liberal comes to you and says, “Do this! Do that! This is good for you! This has no harmful effects! Trust me, I’m an expert! WHO ARE YOU TO QUESTION ME? I AM AN EXPERT. YOU MUST HATE POOR PEOPLE. Otherwise, you wouldn’t dare challenge me on my views!”
You can imagine that given my situation, if someone comes to me with that attitude, I tell them where they can shove it.
Our paternalistic social engineer, statistically speaking, is not married, and if s/he is, s/he married later–in his/her thirties, or later. S/He has no children; perhaps just one.
I was married when I was about 23 years old. We had our first house when I was about 25. We had our first child when I was about 26. This is actually fairly delayed compared to the sequence in the 1970s, 1950s, and 1930s. But, your average liberal, if he’s even out of his parent’s basement at 26, is not likely to marry until he is in his 30s, and won’t have his first kid until he is 35 or so.
Actually, the average within liberal conclaves is around age 31… the average… so…
“It feels like no one here has babies under 35 anymore,” said Mary Norton, interim chair of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Because of fertility treatments and genetic testing, there is less fear about health complication and less stigma about having babies after 35, she said.
That’s the NYT, so take it with a grain of salt. Still, it comports with my own research. Sometime, check out all the stuff out there written by women who regret not having children earlier… our social planners didn’t see fit to tell THEM how things would be different if they waited until their thirties to have children.
So, all of those experiences that took me by the shoulders and shook me hard are not going to happen for your average liberal for another ten years. Getting up at 3 a.m. to clean up projectile vomit. Being locked into a job you detest because leaving it means hurting your family; you can’t just get up and walk away without due consideration. Being passed over for a job because of your skin color (this happened to me). Discovering that your kid’s fifth grade teacher is telling your kid that anal sex is safe sex. Driving 2 hours to the university hospital where your daughter has just been airlifted to have brain surgery, only to have the brain surgeon call you and ask permission for a procedure that your other brain surgeon believes to be too dangerous–although, you only learn this after you give permission. Because, you know, you are still 60 miles away, and your daughter is on the table already, and you have to make a call. When you snap at your child only to discover that one of your other children was to blame. When one child resents you for pestering him about his personal hygiene because you never bring it up with the other kids… because the other kids have proved perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. And on and on it goes.
The kinds of experiences you have when you are married with kids and a job you absolutely rely on tend to ‘mug’ you left and right. People claim to know better than you do about X, and perhaps if the well-being of your kids didn’t depend on X, you would have just blindly accepted what people claim. But your kids DO depend on it. Like, REALLY. What is REAL turns out to be very, very important, and not the kind of thing you can regard glibly. So you look into X for yourself, and then you discover that the people have concealed information or worse, told you flat out lies. Then, they berate you if you don’t simply accept what they say.
Why, after a while, you begin to rethink your view on people and whether or not its a really good idea to give them more power.
These, I think, are very natural and normal progressions. I don’t think my experiences are unique, by any means.
But, they are experiences which are being experienced at older ages.
So, the raw number of ‘good liberals’ is lower than it was in years past, with a good slice of them dying of old age with 10 years of ‘good liberalism’ that would otherwise have been in play in society being eliminated. But, proportionately, the idealistic young whipper snappers, who in the past would have begun grappling with REALITY at the ages of 20 to 25 or so, do not do so until 30 to 35.
On one side of the spectrum, the ‘good liberals’ are dying of old age. At the same time, on the other side of the spectrum, there is a larger mass of idealistic people who have no responsibilities, have only their own interests to manage, have no children (and hence, are more inclined to view all of society as their children), and have not yet been battered by real life, or disappointed by the damage that real people can do–regardless of their intentions.
Since a lot of these folks have worthless degrees (eg, gender studies) and cannot get a job besides making coffee at Starbucks, they are effectively unemployed. Yes, they have their $8 an hour job–which, is all they are qualified for, since they decided to get a worthless degree–but its basically a disposable job. They could drop it and get another without having to worry that by doing so, their children will not eat.
And there are fewer people more dangerous than unemployed irrealists.
It is observed that the politics of those in the cities is almost the polar opposite of of the politics in the ‘country.’ Many reasons are put forward for this, many of them valid. But do not underestimate the fundamental difference in experiences related to whether or not a person is more likely to be in a family or not, and when that person starts a family.
Now you may be thinking to yourself… “Huh. Didn’t the Marxists think destroying the Family was an integral part of their program?” Good question. If only we knew! Oh, right, we do. Beginning with its Manifesto itself, Marxism has long understood that the Family is a primary threat to their schemes. But I’ll leave that for the reader to sort out for now.
I would like to illustrate this post by reference to a person who has passed through the refining fires of reality in a way similar to myself. Before I do so, I should acknowledge that there are many ways to get ‘mugged.’ There are actual muggings, of course. The ‘muggings’ that seem to me to have the most ability to turn someone into a ‘conservative’ are the ones where a betrayal has occurred. (Eg, for me, I was raised in a union household, basically as a liberal; the unions screwed my family, and indeed the entire community. This left a mark!) Events can serve as a ‘mugging’ that cause us to re-think who and what we trust.
For me, 9-11 was a significant mugging. And I am not, by any means, the only one this applies to. However, I mention it here in the context of this post because I didn’t just experience 9-11 as an individual in isolation. I was recently married with our first child on the way. I lived in Illinois at the time, which means that I was utterly defenseless–although the fact that I could not defend my family was not something I considered important until after it was vividly revealed that my government could not be relied on to defend us.
I haven’t researched it, but I would not be surprised to learn that a lot of the people who were strongly affected by 9-11 had as their backdrop a family life. I doubt the change was something that could have been expressed in a proposition. It was less the proposition, and more the stakes. Those with families interpreted events in light of the higher stakes to the questions.
The example I’d like to refer to here is the British journalist Andrew Anthony. He has a book called The Fallout: How a Guilty Liberal Lost his Innocence. That 9-11 is going to be a central factor is made clear by the cover, in which the twin towers are prominently displayed.
Now, I’m really hard on journalists. These days, an honest one seems hard to find. However, I have been somewhat keeping tabs on what Anthony writes and have been impressed with his ability to report the news without inventing the news or putting his own spin on things. This appears to be a lost art within journalism. Here is an example of an article I thought he did well with (and one I may react to someday in a blog post).
To my knowledge, Anthony is still very much a liberal. It would appear he is a ‘good liberal,’ although I confess the most I know about him is his book and a spattering of his articles (within which, as an actual good journalist, he keeps his private views muted). Still, the book supports this assessment.
I’m not really going to go into that all that much, but you can almost be sure of it judging by the fact that when his book came out, his fellow liberals decried him as, you guessed it, a racist. His thought crimes are many, but you can read them yourself in his book. What I would like to draw attention to is the progression that he recounts in the book.
All of us who lived through it can remember where we were on 9-11. For Anthony, it wasn’t so much where he was, but where his wife was, that caused him alarm. Quoting from the first chapter of the book:
My wife was in New York and she was flying to Washington DC that day. I couldn’t get through to her number. I tried again and again without success. Panic started to rise up from my stomach into my shallow-breathing chest. […] After what I imagine was just a few minutes, but felt infinitely longer at the time, I got through to my wife’s London office. They had heard from her. She was OK. Life would continue. The panic was over.
His wife was actually in NYC and was due to actually fly from there to DC, another locale that would be attacked by air planes that day. The original plan was for her to have been in the north tower that morning, in the offices of Cantor Fitzgerald. All 700 of those who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald that made it into work that morning perished. He writes: “[9-11] was not our story, but it could have been.”
Now, that’s quite a mugging for you!
When some crazy progressive lunatic now starts mouthing off about how the Muslims hate us and its our fault, perhaps a lot of us can abide that as just another strange notion in the universe of ideas. We reject it on its merits. But, for Anthony, there is a visceral reaction, felt, not spoken: “Hey, stupid! We’re talking about my WIFE here.” Imagine, if you will, all those who actually did lose husbands and wives. The argument that its “our fault” is not going to fall on fertile soil.
As the chapter unfolds, he describes how abhorrent he found these sorts of arguments. He doesn’t put into words that he rejects them because he nearly lost his wife in the event, but the mere fact that he places those arguments in context of his wife’s near-miss shows that they were indeed connected.
It is not a coincidence that immediately after recounting the near-miss, he mentions that he is a new father. He writes:
I was just a few months into my fortieth year in September 2001. The previous year I had become a father for the first time and published my first book.
I was younger on 9-11 by a little more than ten years, and my first born would not be born for a couple of more months. What happened and is happening to Anthony is what happened and is happening to me, just offset by 10-15 years. He continues:
It is in such conditions [when things are going well] that a man, particularly a man, can start to question himself and his purpose in life. If the midlife crisis is a figment of the psychiatric and literary imagination, it’s a figment that has migrated to the male imagination at large. The option of fleeing one’s responsibilities seems, paradoxically, to grow more appealing as the responsibilities become more rewarding. And in the same counter-intuitive fashion, there is nothing like the arrival of new life to focus the mind on the proximity of death. You become more grounded and simultaneously the ground becomes less steady. My daughter was just starting to walk and suddenly the world was full of dangers, and not of the interesting variety. A vegetable knife protruding from the dishwasher became a mortal threat, an unguarded stair case a potential descent into hell. How would such heightened sensitivities contend with the gruesome incineration of three thousand people and the destruction of two of the most recognizable structures on earth, buildings in whose dizzying elevators I had ridden to what was once the highest man-made point in the world? How steady would the ground seem after that?
And there it is. Almost exactly how I felt. And, as someone well into his ‘mid life’, I think I concur with that bit, too.
Another similarity to my own reaction to real life events comes on page 173.
We were all powerless: the girl, the onlookers, and the culprits who had been led by great social forces beyond their control to stick a broken bottle in a young girl’s face. There was nothing anyone could do aside from vote for a new government and hope that the implementation of the correct policies would in years to come discourage teenage girls from resolving disputes with improvise lethal weaponry.
For some days after the stabbing I thought about the impulse to blame the government.
Yes, I’ve thought about that, too. And concluded its just plain stupid to create systems to solve problems that are so bloated and massive that when it discovers another problem to solve, it cannot turn in time to address it. But, I would like to note the bolded section.
When you are powerless but only need to concern yourself with yourself, you can reconcile yourself to being powerless far easier than you can when you are acutely aware of the fact that your powerlessness means you cannot protect the individuals immediately within your sphere of protection… that is, because of the nature of the system, you can’t protect them.
Though he does not always state it plainly, just the manner in which he writes, the air we breathe in the book, as it were, is saturated with the backdrop of the fact that he is a family man. You can tell that he finds certain viewpoints intolerably stupid because they mean, in real life, the existential risk not to himself–which he could bear–but to those under his care. [Evidence for him being willing to risk his own well-being, and for that matter, a reason I consider him a ‘good liberal’ is on pages 177-178, where he directly involves himself in preventing an assault.]
Consider this quote, in relation to, a literal robbery in his own house.
Nowadays I never go to bed without double-locking the whole house. It’s taken three burglaries to teach me that the laidback approach to home security is in effect [ie, the REALITY] an invitation to burglary. on the last occasion my house was broken into, our cat awoke me in the middle of the night. As we shut our cat in the kitchen, there were two explanations for her presence on our bed at 4:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Either someone has forgotten to shut her in, or someone has let her out. If it was the latter, then logic suggested that person was a burglar. I went downstairs half dressed and half asleep with my fist clenched, ready to meet an intruder. I passed my two-year-old daughter’s bedroom and looked inside. She was asleep and no one was in there. I did the same with the rest of the rooms and came finally to the sitting room, by which stage, convinced that the cat had simply not been locked in the kitchen, I had begun to feel ridiculous in my pyjama bottoms and I unclenched my fist. Having checked that the sitting-room windows were not open, I walked sleepily back out, neglecting to look behind the open sitting room door, and returned to bed. The burglar, of course, was behind the door and once I was back asleep he cleaned the house out and stole our car. I’ve often wondered what would have happened had I pulled back the door.
He wonders, perhaps, if he could have ended up like someone very much like him, a certain Robert Symons, who I would add, was killed by a knife, not a gun. Mr. Symons, a fellow who, like Anthony, was in his mid-forties, married, and had two daughters aged 3 and 5 sleeping upstairs when he was murdered.
A single fellow, perhaps, could abide someone breaking into his apartment, hiding in a closet so as to not escalate things. I mean, why risk your own life or even the life of the burglar for replaceable things?
Except your wife and children are not replaceable.
And to pose high-minded theories about crime and criminals and human nature itself to people who, by a historically normal progression of actual adulthood now have people besides themselves to be worried about will be met with skepticism to say the least. Outright contempt seems a more likely response.
You can easily see how a man would conclude that if the job of protecting one’s family is going to fall on him, he’s not going to be receptive to silly ideas that have been known to get people just like himself killed. You can easily see why a man would be thinking that perhaps a better tool for the job might not be a ‘clenched fist’ and why he would resent… deeply resent… irrealists who think people should not be allowed to arm themselves. Statistically speaking, these irrealists are not putting their own family’s well being on the line. Just yours.
Its worth quoting Anthony again on this subject [pg 182]:
The third time I was burglared I became, like Riley, angry. But unlike him, I did not catch my man. I felt invaded and abused, and my thoughts were filled with violent fantasies. The following day I went out and I bought a baseball bat. I decided that if I were to meet a burglar in [the] future I’d like to be holding something a little more protective than my bunched fingers.
Not long after, on a visit to a friend’s house, I noticed that he had the same make of baseball bat in his bedroom as I had in mine. […] He too had bought his bat after one too many burglaries. In the most recent, in the previous summer, a burglar had gained access to his house through his two-year old daughter’s bedroom window. He climbed over the little girl’s bed as she lay asleep. [….] My friend is an old-fashioned lefty, someone who is a committed activist for penal reform, and he looked uncomfortable when I brought attention to the baseball bat. But he admitted that he hadn’t been sleeping too well in the months following the break-in. It wasn’t the worry about losing a VCR that was causing his insomnia. Like any father, he was troubled by the thought that an armed stranger had been in his daughter’s bedroom.
Just FYI, in America, conservative men sleep like babies. The baseball bat is in the cabinet with all the other children’s toys. Men like myself need not rely on sporting equipment to defend their families. And we don’t.
Now, Anthony goes on quite a bit in this vein in a number of different contexts. I don’t think it would be wise to take my point only through the prism of national security and crime. My point is that as people get older, get married, and have children, everything that happens in life becomes interpreted through the prism of Family.
The saying “if you are not a liberal when you are young, you have no heart; if you are not a conservative when you are forty, you have no brain” is funny but not accurate. ‘Conservatives’ still very much have a heart when they reach their middle ages and young people have brains. What young people do not have…yet, which conservatives tend to have, are families.
In the context of Family, a lot of stuff put out by liberals… is perceived as completely out of line with reality. While it might be fun to play at ideas, the conservative knows that those ideas are going to impact actual people, and some of those people are going to be the ones they love the most. Ideas are not going to pass muster just because they are offered with ‘good intentions.’ And if you try to force the matter, you should not be surprised if they get pissed. Especially when it is well known that Reality has already put the lie to those ideas.
You can see the process with Anthony, who did not have his first child until he was about forty years old–15 years or so later than when I had my first child. Anthony and I almost certainly disagree with some things; but taking into account the ‘shift’, (and the fact that he lives in emasculated England), I bet there will be more agreement to come…as he comes closer to my positions, not me closer to his.
There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, this general pattern within society has been playing out for 200 years or so. However, since 1970, the pattern has been shifted back 10-15 years. There is now a good 10-15 years more before people start realizing that Ideas can hurt people, badly. It takes almost a full generation longer for people to realize that defying Reality risks creating tremendous pain.
We are at the threshold of that pain, now, and with proportionately fewer people available to stave it off.
He who has ears, let him hear.