Thursday, January 11, 2018

Collapse Needs a Few Good Men, Part I

It is currently fashionable to deemphasize the importance of biology. Perhaps once upon a time humans lived alongside other animals, subject to all of the same vagaries of nature, but now we have the technology: birth control, in vitro fertilization, cesarean deliveries, intensive care for premature births and so on. An attempt to make the point that we are, in the end, just a bunch of animals, and that civilization is a temporary condition, is unlikely to be well received. A particularly fraught and heavily contested aspect of biological determinism has to do with sexual differences. As a matter of official ideology, we are now required to believe that men and women have exactly the same capabilities, and anybody who says anything different is judged guilty of “perpetuating gender stereotypes”—an act which, as one white male Google employee recently discovered, is now regarded as cause for immediate termination.

However, as technological civilization nears its end of life due to depletion of nonrenewable natural resources and increasingly devastating environmental disruptions, the realities of the typical collapse cascade of financial-commercial-political-social-cultural collapse are exceedingly likely to be such that sexual differences will once again become obvious and very important while gender studies and feminist theory gently fade into oblivion. In attempting to gauge which social and cultural adaptations are likely to be the most conducive to surviving collapse, a back-to-basics approach seems justified. In the old days, women have had to rely on men for a great many things, and a spinster’s or a widow’s lot was most often unenviable. Most modern women would find the prospect of having to return to such times nothing short of appalling. But their recent political victories of gender equality are safeguarded by a political realm that is subject to collapse, and their economic independence is made possible by an economic realm which is likewise subject to collapse. What will they have to fall back on?

If we admit that, in almost any conceivable collapse scenario, women would once again have to rely on men, a question arises: Which men? The modern economically independent, liberated woman has a greatly reduced need of a male consort: a timely donation of sperm is all that is actually required; companionship, romance, and help with raising children are desirable but optional. And with a greatly reduced need comes a greatly reduced sense of responsibility: the modern man’s response is to focus on his own needs rather than those of women, choosing to remain egotistical and childlike. What sorts of transformative events would have to take place in order for men to once again accept the traditional full burden of male responsibility? Is such a transformation even possible? And, if not, are we willing to concede the point that in a collapse scenario modern societies will go extinct while traditional societies (which modern societies consider backward) will muddle through?

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