Politics, recent

‘The Great Scattering’: How Identity Panic Took Root in the Void Once Occupied by Family Life

Of all the issues that divide us, none seems as inimical to reasoned discussion as identity politics. Conservatives excoriate such politics as politically opportunistic theater, the acting out of coddled “snowflake” students. Liberals and progressives put forth an opposing grievance-first narrative, arguing that identity politics emanates from authentic wounds.

But what if both contenders have a piece of the truth? What if many identity-firsters today are claiming to be victims because they and their societies are victims—only not so much of the abstract “isms” they denounce, but of something else that till now has eluded description?

Let’s try a new theory: Our macro-politics have become a mania about identity because our micropolitics are no longer familial. This, above all, is what happened during the decades in which identity politics went from being a phrase in an obscure quasi-radical document to a way of being that has gone on to transform academia, law, media, culture and government.

Yes, racism, sexism and other forms of cruelty exist, and are always to be deplored and countered. At the same time, the timeline of identity politics suggest another source. Up until the middle of the twentieth century (and barring the frequent foreshortening of life by disease or nature) human expectations remained largely the same throughout the ages: that one would grow up to have children and a family; that parents and siblings and extended family would remain one’s primal community; and that, conversely, it was a tragedy not to be part of a family. The post-1960s order of sexual consumerism has upended every one of these expectations.

Who am I? is a universal human question. It becomes harder to answer if other basic questions are problematic or out of reach. Who is my brother? Who is my father? Where, if anywhere, are my cousins, grandparents, nieces, nephews and the rest of the organic connections through which humanity up until now channeled everyday existence? Every one of the assumptions that our forebears could take for granted is now negotiable.

The panic over identity, in short, is being driven by the fact that the human animal has been selected for familial forms of socialization that for many people no longer exist. Let’s test this theory, here dubbed the “Great Scattering,” via some evidence from social science, anthropology and pop culture.

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Just how attenuated have family ties become? Consider a few examples.

When sociologists first began mapping the post-revolutionary empirical world beginning a little over half a century ago, they looked first, naturally enough, to the terrain that was easiest to see and measure: fatherlessness and its correlates. In his 1965 report, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, future U.S. senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that black poverty was tied fundamentally to the implosion of the black family, and worried over the rate of out-of-wedlock births—which was then around 25 percent, much higher than that of whites. That rate would continue to rise for both whites and blacks during the decades to come, and academics began connecting dots to show what was happening to children and adolescents in the new social order.

In 1997, one of the most eminent social scientists of the twentieth century, James Q. Wilson, summarized many of these findings succinctly in a speech that was later published as an essay. He identified the root of America’s fracturing in the dissolution of the family, and described what he called “the two nations” of America. The dividing line between these cleft territories was no longer one of income or social class, he argued. Instead, it had become all about the hearth.

“It is not money,” Wilson documented, “but the family that is the foundation of public life. As it has become weaker, every structure built upon that foundation has become weaker.” He pointed to the library that social science had been building for decades, filled with books and studies about the correlations between crumbling family structure and various adverse results. Kinship composition, as Wilson’s work among others demonstrated, had become more important to positive outcomes than race, income, or one’s station at birth.

Absent fathers have been only the most visible and measurable of the new family lacunae. In a landmark 2000 book called Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce, Elizabeth Marquardt, working with sociologist Norval Glenn, reported on a study into the long-term effects of parental breakup into adulthood. She administered a lengthy questionnaire to 1,500 young adults, half of whose parents had split up by the time the children turned fourteen, and documented differences between children of divorce, and those who came from intact families.

At times, the two groups exhibited starkly opposed concepts of identity. For example, children of divorce were almost three times as likely to “strongly agree” with the statement, “I felt like a different person with each of my parents.” They were also twice as likely to “strongly agree” with the statement, “I always felt like an adult, even when I was a little kid”—a particularly poignant expression of confusion about the question “Who am I?” Almost two-thirds of the respondents of divorced homes also “agreed” with the following statement, which similarly expresses the division of oneself: “I felt like I had two families.”

This is evocative evidence, again, of the unsteady sense of self that many people, adult and child alike, now experience as the givens of life. It expresses the division of one into more than one—of selves torn, as in the book’s title, between worlds. And though these researchers limited their study to children of divorce only, their findings would also appear to apply to any home where two parents play a role in a child’s life from different locations.

Pop culture weighs in, too. In a 2004 Policy Review essay called Eminem Is Right, I documented how family rupture, family anarchy and family breakup had become the signature themes of Generation-X and Generation-Y pop. If yesterday’s rock was the music of abandon, today’s is that of abandonment. The odd truth about contemporary teenage music—the characteristic that most separates it from what has gone before—is its compulsive insistence on the damage wrought by broken homes, family dysfunction, checked-out parents, and (especially) absent fathers. Papa Roach, Everclear, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, Snoop Doggy Dogg—these and others have their own generational answer to what ails the modern teenager. That answer is: dysfunctional childhood. During the same years in which progressive-minded and politically correct adults have been excoriating Ozzie and Harriet as artifacts of 1950s-style oppression, millions of American teenagers have enshrined a new generation of music idols whose shared signature in song after song is to rage about what not having had a nuclear family had done to them.

In 2004, identity politics was not the omnipresent headline subject it is today. Even so, the effect of family decline on the sense of self already was appearing writ large across popular music. Tupac Shakur rapped about life with a single mother and no male parent, including in his 1993 Papa’z Song, about a boy who has to play catch by himself. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, both towering figures in 1990s rock, were children of divorce, and both referred back to that event repeatedly in their songs and interviews.

Above all, there is the fiery emotional connection that generations of teenagers have found in rap superstar Eminem. It exists not only on account of his extraordinary facility with language, but also, surely, for his signature themes: absent father, inattentive mother, protectiveness toward a sibling, and rage. Eminem is the Greek chorus of family dysfunction. And long before today’s brand of identity panics, a lot of young America already was stumbling over how to answer the question “Who am I?” Just listening to what they were driving up the charts proved the point.

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Another demographic factor of note has been the shrinkage of most Western families, whether split or intact—one of whose consequences has been the diminishing number of people who grow up with siblings. It is now much more common for American mothers to have one or two children, rather than three or more, as was the case in the early 1960s. Singleton children have become the norm across much of Europe and parts of Asia, and the numbers are increasing in the United States. Many contemporary children and adolescents not only lack a parent—typically, a male parent. Many also have no siblings, or no sibling of either the same or the opposite sex.

Why might this matter? Because diverse findings show that being accompanied through early life by non-parental contemporaneous others (i.e., siblings) gives children and teenagers a leg up on socialization—in other words, knowing who they are in the social order.

A Canadian study published in 2018 suggests that siblings learn empathy from one another, independent of birth order. Another study has found that the likelihood of divorce later in life can be predicted by the number of siblings one has; the higher that number, the lower the likelihood of divorce. As with other analyses of the benefits of having brothers and sisters, the authors conjecture that the necessity of sharing resources prepares siblings for essential social skills later in life, such as bargaining and taking turns. One more study that made headlines recently showed that growing up with an opposite-sex sibling makes teenagers and young adults more confident and successful in the romance market, because they have had the opportunity to observe and interact at close range with a contemporaneous member of the opposite sex.

Such findings also are consonant with similar observations made from inquiries into animal behavior. One paper reviewing research into a variety of primates, including rhesus monkeys, baboons and macaques, concludes: “The bulk of the available evidence suggests that during childhood the nonhuman primates who grow up in the presence of siblings (or maternal half-sibs) will develop childhood social relationships with others in their social group earlier; and that these relationships will be of a more extensive nature than those formed by infants who grow up in the absence of siblings (or maternal half-sibs).”

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Finally, another body of evidence that also speaks to our familial dislocation and isolation can be found in one of sociology’s hottest and fastest-growing stocks: loneliness studies.

Substantial numbers of men and women are suffering from what social scientists and medical professionals in their stricken societies call an “epidemic” of loneliness. Over half a century after the embrace of the sexual revolution, the paradox emerges that the materially better-off countries of the planet are also the most emotionally impoverished for many citizens, particularly though not only the elderly. Google any Western European or other advanced country followed by “loneliness,” and the same results appear: an outpouring of research on the new isolation.

This loneliness is a unique form of human poverty, abounding in societies awash in material wealth—places where, by the 1970s, divorce rates were rising, marriage rates were falling, and cradles were rapidly emptying.

Loneliness is no mere adolescent affectation. Social isolation on the scale found throughout the countries of the West is now exacting serious health costs that can be expected to rise as the Baby Boom generation enters its final years. Yet while senior citizens are the most visible objects of concern, they are not the only people so affected. One national survey conducted by health-service company Cigna, whose results were released in May, 2018, found that nearly half of all Americans report “sometimes or always” feeling alone, and that Generation Z—born between 1995 and 2010—is the loneliest generation of all.

Big Health takes an interest in social atomization for sound reasons. In their 2008 book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, scientists John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick summarized evidence linking atomization to health risks, including a literature review in Science indicating that social isolation is a risk factor for illness and death whose effects are comparable to other, more familiar ones: high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise and smoking.

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Wherever one stands in matters of the “culture wars” is immaterial. The plain fact is that the relative stability of yesterday’s familial identity could not help but answer the question at the heart of identity politics—Who am I?—in ways that now eludes many. The diminution and rupture of the family and the rise of identity politics cannot be understood apart from one another.

Anthropological evidence from every culture and era verifies that human beings, by their nature, live in families—just as coyotes and elephants and other mammals live in families, not just in random collections of individuals of the same species. Apart from the outlier that is the contemporary West, family has been an integral, unbidden demand of our kind, everywhere that human beings have been found. Its relational structure has provided the default ways of answering the question, Who am I? And now many people, deprived of a robust family life by post-1960s trends, can no longer figure out how to answer that question.

No wonder the flight to collective identities based on gender, ethnicity, and all the rest has become so impassioned. For more and more people, Narcissus can no longer find himself anywhere else.



Mary Eberstadt is a senior research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C., and author of the newly published Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. This essay is adapted from Chapter Two, titled “The Great Scattering.”

Featured image: The family of Ole Hanson (1874-1940), a mayor of Seattle and the founder of San Clemente, CA.


  1. A 4 hour old Quillette article with no comments? Just the chirping of crickets . . . Here’s a rambling comment to break the ice.

    This extract of a chapter doesn’t present specific mechanisms by which the decline of traditional families lead to the extraordinary rise of identity politics. I am sure that heightened rates of divorce, conflict, reduced numbers of siblings and lack of a loving father and mother are important contributors to the societal changes from which identity politics emerged. Chapters 3 to 6 apparently contain such arguments.

    In some ways life was simpler in a world where most people had a family, where boys, girls, men and women were what most people expected them to be, where social structures and the entire outlook on life were supported by shared religious beliefs, a racially homogeneous society, and lack of access to critiques and alternative visions. (I am a 1955 model with two good parents - the first of six children who are all doing well.) It may be tempting to think we would all be better off with more traditional religion, less fractious queerness and less hacking away at the traditions which (supposedly) sustained humanity in the past.

    But this vision of simplicity and harmony is largely illusory. The many people whose sense of self and sexual attraction did not match the norms for their physical sex had a very hard time indeed. There was immense social exclusion, loss of human potential, cruelty and the violence due to society’s inability to deal with actual human diversity. This blinkered vision of humanity lead, for instance, to the horrific problem of homosexual men marrying women in order to “fit in”.

    Life was duller in many ways, though people’s longer attention span and limited input from the wider world had advantages - now largely lost to the ravages of TV, the Web and social media. There are more and more drugs now, legal and otherwise - so greater traps for addiction and damage. At least we now know to avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol.

    Individuals who didn’t accept religion, or whose creativity was frowned upon and suppressed, had lives much diminished compared to what is now possible. For instance girls who like to read being told, out of love, by their parents and grandparents that boys don’t like girls who read books.

    Acceptance of such differences is now common, and with Internet communications, people who don’t fit their family’s, or society’s idea of who they should be can discover that they are not alone, with a simple web search. They (we, I count myself in this) typically join and benefit from one or more birds-of-a-feather online, fully two-way communicative, un-edited, non-hierarchical “communities” with no geographic restrictions.

    Some families and whole societies can be like a barrel to shoot fish in, there being no escape. Now SJW mob-rule vigilantes play the same game, globally tarring and feathering whoever displeases them - there being no escape from the influence of social media.

    Religion is less and less believed, for good reason. Science offers no replacement - it has nothing to say about love, meaning, belonging, morality etc. Its cosmological dogma of the Big Bang is just another creation story when instead, we should all recognise how little we understand conventional physics (e.g. the heating of the solar corona) much less have reliable theories about the origins of the Universe.

    Flaky new religions proliferate, without the social benefits of Christianity or, I guess, some other religions. For instance many people regard their thoughts as an instrument to manifest things in the World, so they police their thoughts assiduously to avoid negativity etc.

    Society is fragmenting. I think it was easy in the 1960s to be presented with a straight view of everything and then to develop alternatives which seemed better. Now there is no straight version of anything - and everyone is being coached in guilt and nature-defying ideas of human racial and sexual differences. The essential teenage business of shocking one’s parents is no longer easy.

    Even if some consensus does develop about cosmology and whatever lies beyond our physical world, I doubt that it will have the drama and unifying passion which drove Christianity to create a morally strong (if at times cruel and destructive) framework on which Western civilisation was constructed.

    Hopefully the Internet will continue to work and we can continue to compare notes via birds-of-a-feather “communities” such as the Quillette Circle.

  2. Why must the author do as nearly all Quillette authors do, and make the left and the right equally correct.
    “But what if both contenders have a piece of the truth? What if many identity-firsters today are claiming to be victims because they and their societies are victims—only not so much of the abstract “isms” they denounce, but of something else that till now has eluded description?”

    I understand that she goes on to explain in a “new” way how people are victims, but this is simply another attempt to avoid being seen as, heaven forbid, an outright classical liberal or a conservative.

    The left created this and the left owns it. Yes, there was plenty wrong with the 1950s America, but heavens, it had far fewer unhappy and miserable people than today. I grew up in it and there were many miserable people. But today is a relative bloodbath in comparison. The Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan understood this in 1965.

    Why do so few writers even at Quillette have the guts to say they have some traditional, classical liberal or conservative values. I can only think they fear for their reputations and careers. And therein lies the reason we may never recover from the catastrophe the left has brought upon us. Very few influencers will dare to confront the source of this tragedy.

    PragerU is doing this tomorrow with another day in court against the totalitarian giant taking over every aspect of our lives, Google. Should PragerU lose, the public square will be gone for all dissenters and then even mild dissent such as that of Mary Eberstadt will not be uttered.

  3. The article has established that family life has declined and this has damaging effects on individuals.
    Identity politics has become mainstream and dominant in some parts of society but is one the cause of the other?
    I don’t think so. I think identity politics arose because it is an easy comforting ideology for those with the ‘right’ identity. It is no different to amti-semitism or other froms of racism. It is very attractive to be able to point to a group of people you are not a memebr of and say it is all their fault, while smuggly satisfied that you are part of a virtuous group who has been wronged.
    The cynical politics of hate are as old as time and it is the essence of identity politics. What is so depressing is it should be the liberal left that opposes it rather than supports it and i think this is one of the reasons the left is collapsing.

  4. Nice use of the word excoriate, especially given the context. But generally, the article deserves praise for having developed a second argument (or spoke on the wheel) detailing the development of identity politics and Grievance Studies. The first was as a substitute for religion, with Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose having discovered the essentially religious nature of Grievance Studies, with white maleness defined as original sin. Now, we also have family (or the lack thereof) as another complementary candidate.

    Much of the roots of this cultural shift can be traced back to the post-second world war period, the Liberal Consensus and one of it’s leading thinkers, Isaiah Berlin. It was his thinking, specifically in his analogy of the Nun and the Mother and how value pluralism might lead to conflicts between cultures, because of irreconcilable moral goals- that led to the belief that religion should be downplayed, or even discouraged, to prevent future conflicts between cultures. Consumerism was the chosen weapon to dismantle troublesome beliefs and foster future amity. Secularisation even enjoyed a certain degree of success for a time in the Middle East, before the inevitable backlash.

    But it was in the West that this movement was most successful. By the 70’s the West had ample examples of consumer goods to showcase to the world. It even had the effect of weakening the Soviet Bloc by the contrast of living standards. It also had the influence of rather unexpectedly weakening social cohesion, as the absence of older men at football games (who were instead traipsing around Garden Centres), led directly to the rise of football hooligansim. At the same time family sizes continued to drop, as couples were forced to choose between their new semi-luxurious lifestyle complete with foreign holidays, and larger families.

    So, I would like to posit that a third spoke on the wheel that led to the rise of identity politics and Grievance Studies as consumerism itself. It’s not that young people don’t have enough money (although the debt hanging over their heads is understandably a weight), it’s that they’ve come to see that the consumer cornucopia that their parent scrimped, saved for and worked their bloody arses off for, is a natural state of being, to which everyone should be entitled. It’s not by accident that white liberal progressives are often drawn from the wealthiest rungs of society. It’s also not unique- levels of unhappiness amongst the young affluent in China are enough to confound the authorities in Beijing.

    One of the problems Jonathan Haidt identifies in ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ is the role that social media plays in making teenagers subject to anxiety and depression. Once the hit their twenties, I think the problem persists. Only then it is the constant kaleidoscope of consumerism that besets them. They could pay off their debt. They could start to save for a home (though God knows how they would ever afford one). But instead they have never built up the natural immunities to the market that previous generation took for granted. They don’t know how to cook budget food or wouldn’t think to take a packed lunch into work. They aren’t conditioned to think about buying a cheap ass phone, TV or computer. The thought that they might sell some of their accumulated stuff on eBay or at a car boot just wouldn’t occur.

    I am beginning to think of good government policy, as best achieved through the medium of arms length mechanisms- simple methods that require minimal money and labour to achieve ambitious goals. A parallel to this, that occurs naturally within society, is a system of aligned interest. The idea being that several related or independent forces or trends combine to produce a far more powerful effect. Think of it like a set of six dimensional co-ordinates in three dimensional space, and using them to assess a line of direction (fans of Stargate will know the reference). In the case of identity politics and Grievance Studies, it might have been possible to predict their popularity, given the general erosion of the family, religion and the more negative effects of consumerism, especially given the cultural landscape the West found itself in. In this context it’s useful to think of identity politics and Grievance Studies as both filling a void, and feeding an addiction- the consumerism of bad ideas.

  5. I tend to agree with the author that the lack of a family is critically important. I teach and have taught a lot of students from the inner city, and oh boy do they suffer because of that. I remember the first year that I taught, 50% of the students had no father listed anywhere. Others of the students had fathers, but came from homes where fighting was constant. There was a certain rage at that. A rage that occasionally was taken out on their teachers or other adults, because we were safe to take that out on. On the other hand, they never ever missed school. Where would they go? And, despite the strictness of our rules, they did appreciate us, and often saw us as mentors and sometimes surrogate parents.

    While I am not sure about identity lack being caused by this, I am sure that the destruction of the family is critically important. The problem of loneliness, which is indeed rampant, and which is likely to kill a great many people before their time, is one that needs dealing with.

    One issue with this article that I take, which may not be its fault, is a solution. Putting together the family is a generational or multi-generational task. The people who are quite literally dying of loneliness, what do we do about them? How do we make people feel less isolated from each other? Even if people who are so isolated and lonely don’t suicide, loneliness is linked to a number of problems, including cardiac stress and a number of other things that are going to cause early death. What do we do to provide support?

  6. My cynical 2 cents: This was a predicted outcome by a number of actors on the left. Attacking the family has a known effect on increasing identification with other identity groups; that makes people easier to lead into their causes.

    It’s all one piece with pushing abortion as not being an invasive medical procedure, that women should marry only late if at all (reduces number and likelihood of children), that sexual promiscuity should be a thing (decreased likelihood of marriage/survival of marriage), etc.

    Destroy the church, destroy the family, and destroy patriotism as a core value (instilled via education), and manipulate the masses.

    People don’t just become conservative having kids- having kids makes them realize how stupid some of the identity politics is.

    Also, first commentator: There’s a democracy question buried in your ramble. Some people are always going to be unhappy. Speaking broadly, justifying destroying the family because LGBT individuals found it oppressive, while the destroyed non-LGBT family members find its lack oppressive, is saving a tiny percentage of the populace at the cost of the overwhelming majority.

    Too many things are like that. The US is a free society, but your rights stop where the contravene and oppress mine. Too many are too setup on their rights to understand their fellow citizens also have rights.

  7. Identity politics is foundational to left-wing thought, and I agree with others who have criticized the author for trying to make it sound bi-partisan. It simply isn’t.

    Marx started with class, and when that didn’t win enough hearts and minds, other identity groups were tried. The basic formula hasn’t changed.

    It is quite true that the breakdown of the family has made the message more effective, but that breakdown was engineered by the same people who are now taking advantage of it.

  8. Destroying the nuclear family and organized religion creates a vulnerability that ideologues/governments with socialist tendencies can exploit to better police and control the populace. This is straight out of the Marxist playbook. Progressives honestly believe that the government can meet the financial and psychological needs of the average human better than the family. They sincerely do, with all their heart. Undoing the family is philanthropic work for them.

    Think about it. What’s going on behind the closed doors of those homes in fly-over country? Fathers are spanking kids, mothers are teaching kids that the earth is 10,000 years old, crazy uncles are molesting kids, grandmothers are feeding kids foods high in trans-fats and cholesterol, crazy aunts are pinkify-ing the girls, and grandfathers are handing down their legacy of toxic masculinity. The family is the vehicle used to carry out all these atrocities.

    Face it, the average American family is so sexist, racist, sex-negative, and antiquated, there is no way a utopian society will ever materialize. The government must get involved if life is ever going to get better.

    I agree with @ajohnson above. Identity Politics succeeds because it uses the same gimmick that every other radical racist/sexist organization uses: “Everything would be perfect if [people of certain race/gender] hadn’t done what they did.” It offers a simple answer to simple-minded people living in a complex world and it legitimizes the baser instincts of hate and bitterness.

  9. Thousands of year of societal evolution were correct. The nuclear family tends to be the best arrangement, having children out of wedlock is detrimental, denigrating motherhood devalues the most important of all the societal roles, it is not really a conspiratorial patriarchy and masculinity is not toxic. Looks like the flower children of the sexual revolution go it pretty much wrong.

    One aspect the author did not discuss but several of my friends have mentioned is dinner parties. My parent’s generation was fond of also fraternizing and bonding with their friends. They hosted rotating dinner and bridge parties with their friends. When it was your family’s turn to host that meant cool left over snacks. There were gatherings for other parties and cookouts. All the kids played together and were answerable to even other kids parents. We vacationed together. Even when there were no parties the kids rotated playing at each others’ homes. Despite having friends that have all remained married with children, this de facto communal family is not something my generation really practiced.

  10. A counter-hypothesis of causation in the opposite direction is only viable if the phenomena are sufficiently proximate in time that from the point of view of the observer either could have preceded the other (as is the case with your climate example). I think one would need a very broad definition of identity politics, much broader than what is usually decried under that name, to argue that it preceded the family breakdown, which (as noted in the article) was evident to Sen. Moynihan in 1965, three years before the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. passed leadership of the Civil Rights movement from classical liberals to other leaders, who might be seen as precursors of the full-blown identity politics we see today, and a year before the formation of the National Organization of Women.

    Other counter-hypotheses are still viable: there is a common cause to both family breakdown and identity politics (ideally something more proximate than the Fall of Man or some vicissitude of evolutionary psychology of which the Fall is a poetic description), or that they have nothing to do with each other and just happened in the same historical epoch (as for example, the start of the Russo-Japanese War and the opening of the NYC subway system, the only relationship between which is that they occurred in 1904).

  11. But why?

    After the Fall of Man, what’s the next story in Genesis? That’s right: Cain murdering his brother, Abel, in a jealousy-fuelled rage.

    And how do we know that there was murder in Cain’s heart? Because he killed his brother: it wasn’t a killing done on the battlefield (possibly in self-defence if attacked). You can’t wage war on your brother: if you kill him, you murdered him.

    Whoever & however many wrote Genesis, they certainly got to the point: Man gets kicked out of Eden, then the 2nd generation immediately gets busy massacring each other over social status.

    And aren’t family breakdown & identity politics all about social status?

  12. The concerns I mentioned above about religion, general societal culture and narrow-minded families failing to understand and support actual human diversity do not mean I support destruction of the family. Ideally, families would cope with the challenges of children who don’t fit heterosexual norms by being supportive, rather than suppressive and destructive. These differences have advantages and disadvantages and it is best to work with the reality of how people’s brain developed in utero, rather than deny or overly-pathologise it.

    The same goes for society in general, and I think that in recent years much progress has been made. However, it seems that many or most LGBTQ activists (I have never heard of an intersex activist) are now intent on pathologising heterosexuality or at least shoving LGB and especially T down everyone’s throats as if the whole of society is supposed to hover about doing whatever it takes to satisfy the whims of non-straight people. This is particularly obnoxious since it involves, in part, people with (potentially modified) male bodies and still very much male minds, inserting themselves into situations where they are not welcome, where they may be a threat to girls and women, with the whole of society being expected to think of them no differently from actual women.

    This is on top of the excesses of feminism (beyond that necessary to remove unreasonable prejudices and barriers to women’s health and happiness) which pathologised ordinary femininity: wanting a good strong husband, able and willing to dominate his wife (for all the right romantic and practical reasons) and support her in child-rearing and homemaking and in whatever other passions she has, such as creativity and/or career.

    The whole idea of leadership and dominance has been pathologised with the assumption that it inevitably involves selfishness and harm to others. Still, perfectly healthy women (who would make great mothers) are attracted to dominant men with power over the outside world and the staying power to earn an income for their family, care for their children and protect them all for decades to come. (Citation: Romance novels, especially romantic spanking fiction.) Perfectly healthy men want gutsy, emotionally charged women who will hold their family well in the largely female social world, and have what it takes to bear and raise children, faithfully, for decades to come.

    All this is denied by Left insistence that there are no significant, on-average, differences between men and women. Women are told there’s something wrong with them if they don’t aspire to Career, including exactly the same kinds of work at which men excel. This is nature-defying in at least two respects: child-rearing can’t be done with a full-time, demanding career; and menopause hits many women really hard in their 40s and 50s. Perimenopausal women sometimes think they have dementia. They frequently want to withdraw and reassess. Its perfectly healthy for them to want to stay home most of the time. These women shouldn’t be working and they are incapable of doing the hugely demanding work feminists expect of them, even if they could do so a few years beforehand.

    Numerous factors make single-income families generally unsustainable now, while it seems that they were sustainable for many in the 1950s and 1960s. We now expect better houses, cars, education and health care than was common then. Japan’s and now China’s excellence in manufacturing gave us cheaper and better devices but decimated manufacturing in the West.

    I hope there will be a reversal of the nature-defying widely held beliefs about male-female equivalency and its pathologising of the strengths and needs of ordinary, healthy, heterosexual men and women.

    I hope that trans people in particular can recover from the overkill of the current wave of strident trans-activism, which I guess is no more representative of their actual desires than strident man-hating feminists are of the needs and dreams of most ordinary, man-loving, baby-wanting, women.

    Religion and other aspects of societal culture used to to dominate every aspect of life. They typically supported these traditional roles and the families which result, but they were oppressive to those who were not heterosexual, and to those heterosexuals who were atypical in their inclinations to career, family and individuality.

    Ubiquitous, morally and physically forceful, religion had its advantages and disadvantages. However, Judeo-Christian belief can no longer be the dominant operating system for most people, since it is based on the Torah, a bloody “myth and propaganda” (as one Amazon reviewer put it) tract put together in the 6th century BCE to unify the Israelis. The Exodus, Moses, conquest of the Promised Land never occurred. Jews arose from Canaanites. (Friedman: “Who Wrote the Bible” and Finkelstein & Silberman: “The Bible Unearthed”.) Jesus’ generosity, support of women and promotion of love and forgiveness resonate throughout the West and beyond to this day, but the religion he founded has frequently been misogynistic and destructive. His theology of a loving all-power creator god, with humans made in his image, with no critique of the Garden of Eden story, makes no sense to most people once they believe that the Universe is 13.7+ billion years OLD and at least 27.4+ billion light years BIG.

    I can’t imagine a future with a unifying, simplifying, widely believed social structure such as arose with Christianity - no matter the benefits it might bring.

    I hope families will be strong, loving and supportive all all in the future, with fathers and mothers playing to their strengths and following their passions. The current social contagion of anti-white, anti-male, true-femininity-denying guilt-mongering will hopefully fall by the wayside. We had enough guilt from religion and overly restrictive Society, thanks very much.

    I can’t see exactly how this will happen, but social contagions don’t last more than a few decades in the current environment of extremely heterogeneous and free communications. The only certainty is more social contagions - all the more likely now that generations have been schooled in post-modern relativism, with “clear thinking” (the ability to see fallacies in arguments) not having been taught since the early 1970s, as far as I know.

  13. This theory has certainly crossed my mind, that identity politics, i.e. making a big deal out of one’s skin color, is a quasi search for family. It is also an effect of ‘diversity.’ Reading Barack Obama’s “Dreams from My Father,” I notice that he’s trying to figure out where he ‘belongs,’ whether he’s authentically ‘black’ or not. He sought out the other black people, his ‘tribe’ – despite the fact that he grew up in a white household that was the also a household that left its place of origin for a region (Hawaii) that is ‘diverse.’ Thus the white family was lost at sea, as was the mixed race Obama, who’d also lost his father, so to speak, finding himself on a quest for his true ‘identity.’ Another intriguing observation, that the blacks with whom Obama associated at Occidental were demanding black-only dormitories. So while the whites are seeking to diversify, the blacks sought spaces where there would be only people superficially like themselves.

    Add to this that whites are roundly criticized for even so much as intimating that they feel most comfortable around other whites. This taboo is oppression, in and of itself. That is 'white supremacy." Having lived in Asia, I know firsthand how difficult it is to feel completely comfortable with people of very different cultures. Acknowledging the differences seems to make it easier, yet the progressive tyrants dub whites observing cultural differences as ‘supremacists.’ So blacks can openly discuss their in-race preferences, whereas whites cannot. It’s as if everything in this edict is designed to promote whites offing themselves.

    No wonder there’s a mental health crisis among young people. The message is incredibly confusing. Means of mating are particularly brutal. Your family safety net is limited to a single mother who barely made it through raising you. This brings back a memory of after my father died (I was twenty) and going on vacation with my mother. She seemed small and ineffectual in his absence. I trace back my issues with anxiety to that moment.

  14. Throughout my entire conscious life, I’ve divided people based on the characteristic of sex. I never attempted to inseminate a male; I’ve attempted to inseminate many females. Does it mean that I’m not good?

  15. The original social justice movement championed by MLK during the civil rights era, was correct in it’s diagnostics and approach, using an appeal to our common humanity to bring people together. What it got wrong, was government failing to find a method that distributed equality of opportunity to everyone. Almost everything that has come since has been in service to partisan interests acting on behalf of constituencies for one side, or another. The situation is further complicated by the fact that people are quite able to be altruistic in the abstract, but less so when it comes to specifics, especially when it relates to their children.

    These are ‘wicked’ problems. They can only ever solved by people coming together from both sides of political spectrum and working together in good faith. Jonathan Haidt has found that this is only really possible in a ‘closed room’ scenario, in which the press has to wait outside, and only report on the conclusions.

    An example is education. Liberals in the US are quite correct that schools in poorer neighbourhoods require a fairer level of resources. To do otherwise, neglects potential future wealth creators from a significant percentage of a population, which is important if you want to compete with China. But where they go wrong is in two areas. First, the interests of teachers should never impinge on the interests of children- children and their parents are the customers. Now unions should be able to argue to pay for their members, better benefits and protections against unfair dismissal- but a line should be drawn where the teacher is grossly ineffective at their job. A school should also have a right to train and evaluate their employees, just like any other employer, without interference from a union.

    But the really big problem with education throughout the West is methodology. Progressive education, in which the child ‘discovers’ knowledge simply can’t act as a leveller between the knowledge-poor environments of poorer children and the knowledge-rich environments of wealthy kids. I have heard educationalists bemoan the fact that only 25% of educational outcomes are based in the school. That’s true- but only in the Progressive system. Because highly structured, knowledge-intensive learning, with strictly enforced low-level discipline is just so much more efficient. Only didactic teaching, in which the teacher imparts knowledge as efficiently as possible, is ever going to act as a leveller for a knowledge rich home with two well educated parents.

    The trick is to train representatives on both the Left and the Right to look for the root causes of sub-optimal individual empowerment, and then subject their findings and proposed solutions to the scrutiny of the other side. Only then can we begin to disconfirm bad ideas from becoming bad policies and begin to apply the scientific method to social policy. It really is to everyone’s benefit to dispel the myth of the lump fallacy, and make sure that everyone is society gets full access to opportunity. Only having 10-20% of the white population, by income, and a roughly proportional percentage of diversity admissions, having full access to the best opportunities doesn’t serve anyone’s interest- especially when it comes to competing with the rest of the world.

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