Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Their Worldview Shattered

Rod Dreher writes:

The author, a white man, was raised working class, and focuses on a new think tank report showing that white working-class youth are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to educational achievement.

The writer blames Thatcherism for breaking the unions in the 1980s. Excerpts:

It is simply that a specific part of their [white working class] culture has been destroyed.

A culture based on work, rising wages, strict unspoken rules against disorder, obligatory collaboration and mutual aid.

It all had to go, and the means of destroying it was the long-term unemployment millions of people had to suffer in the 1980s.

Thatcherite culture celebrated the chancers and the semi-crooks: people who had been shunned in the solidaristic working-class towns became the economic heroes of the new model – the security-firm operators, the contract-cleaning slave drivers; the outright hoodlums operating in plain sight as the cops concentrated on breaking strikes.

We thought we could ride the punches. But the great discovery of the modern right was that you only have to do this once.

Suppress paternalism and solidarity for one generation and you create multigenerational ignorance and poverty.

Convert Labour to the idea that wealth will trickle down, and to attacks on the undeserving poor, and you remove the means even to acknowledge the problem, let alone solve it.


Thatcherism didn’t just crush unions: alone that would not have been enough to produce this spectacular mismatch between aspiration and delivery in the education system. It crushed a story. 

And what the most successful Chinese, Indian and white Irish children probably have – although you would need more research than offered here to give this assertion rigour – is a clear and compelling story.

In my first week at university, myself and a few other working-class kids on our course were quizzed by our middle-class peers: “You must be exceptionally bright to get here, against these odds,” was the theme. We were incredulous. We had been headed for university since we picked up Ladybird books.

Without solidarity and knowledge, we are just scum, is the lesson trade unionism and social democracy taught the working-class kids of the 1960s; and Methodism and Catholicism taught the same.

To put right the injustice revealed by the CentreForum report requires us to put aside racist fantasies about “preferential treatment” for ethnic minorities; if their kids are preferentially treated, it is by their parents and their communities – who arm them with narratives and skills for overcoming economic disadvantage.

If these metrics are right, the present school system is failing to boost social mobility among white working-class kids. But educational reforms alone will barely scratch the surface.

We have to find a form of economics that – without nostalgia or racism – allows the working population to define, once again, its own values, its own aspirations, its own story. 

I am not in a position to comment knowledgeably on the writer’s pinning this on Thatcherism. 

The trade unions had brought Britain to an economic standstill by the late 1970s, and that’s the kind of thing Thatcher was elected to stop.

I find it hard to believe that all would be well if Britain had been governed by Old Labour instead of the Tories during the 1980s, or New Labour in the 1990s. But I’m willing to hear that case.

That said, just as in this country the Trump campaign has forced many of us to reconsider the destructive social effects of free trade deals — so popular with Republicans and Clinton Democrats — on the white working class in the US, it’s worth considering the social effect of neoliberal economics on the British white working class. 

Whatever the validity of this left-wing author’s take on Thatcherism, I’m less interested in that than in his contention that the white working class lost a narrative that gave them pride and helped them make sense of their lives in a constructive way. 

Economic liberals tend to say that there’s nothing wrong with the working class (of whatever race) that high-paying jobs wouldn’t fix. Maybe. But how do you give a “tribe” back its story, its myth?

You know what this sounds like? Native Americans, their worldview shattered by being conquered by alien Euro-American culture, sinking into chronic despair. 


Time magazine’s cover story this week is about what ubiquitous hardcore pornography is doing to men.

I can’t link to it because it’s a subscribers-only piece, but Southern Baptist pastor Denny Burk has a detailed (but not NSFW) rundown of what it reports. 

The gist of it is that porn is changing the brains of young men, who have been watching it from a young age, such that they are impotent with actual women. 

Burk, quoting the article: 

A growing number of young men are convinced that their sexual responses have been sabotaged because their brains were virtually marinated in porn when they were adolescents.

Their generation has consumed explicit content in quantities and varieties never before possible, on devices designed to deliver content swiftly and privately, all at an age when their brains were more plastic—more prone to permanent change—than in later life.

These young men feel like unwitting guinea pigs in a largely unmonitored decade-long experiment in sexual conditioning.

More Burk:

But it is precisely here that the picture gets really dark. Pornography has been a ubiquitous fixture in their lives for the better part of a decade.

Two dates are important to remember in this discussion. In 2007, broadband internet reaches over 50% of American households. In 2013, smartphone ownership exceeds 50% of the population.

That means that at some point around 2007, more Americans than not had access not simply to still images but to free video images of people engaged in sex acts. 

By 2013, more Americans than not had access to video porn at any time and at any place The average age that a young man first encounters pornography is 11-13 years old.

That means that countless young men have spent the better part of the last decade with access to moving porn.

For many of them, everything they have learned about sex has come from pornography. Their sexual preferences have been shaped by this content.

One more bit from Burk: 

One of the most striking aspects of Luscombe’s article, however, is the complete absence of a moral framework. The big debate is whether or not porn use is a “public health crisis.” 

In other words, the main problem with porn is that keeps men from fornicating with lots of women. That is why the title of the article is “Porn and the Threat to Virility.” 

We are at a place in our culture in which sexual morality has been reduced to consent.

And that is why Luscombe’s article—even after narrating the devastating consequences of porn use—cannot bring itself to condemn pornography as a moral evil.

And that is what is so sad about this article. It documents a real problem in our culture, but it has very little to offer by way of remedy. 

I am not being hyperbolic when I call porn use a civilizational calamity. 

The sexual revolution promised us more sex and more pleasure. It has actually delivered to us a generation of men who think of women as objects to be used and abused for their sexual pleasure. 

It has not given us men who know what virtue and honor are. It doesn’t teach men to pursue their joy in self-sacrificially loving and being sexually faithful to one woman for life.

It teaches young men to use women for sex and then to discard them when they become unwilling or uninteresting.

This means that it has given us a generation of young men completely unprepared for marriage and for fatherhood. 

Read the whole thing. It’s a very, very important piece.

There you see the attack on the family, down to the neuroscientific level. Brilliantly evil. 

Think about what you might be setting your son up for by giving him a smartphone.

A junior high school principal said to me recently that she invited a specialist in porn addiction to give a talk at her school about this, but parents balked, saying their kids didn’t even know what that was. 

Fools. This is not simply a matter of getting a smartphone out of your kid’s hands.

Remember my telling you about the family I know who removed their kids from a school because fifth grade boys in her son’s class were watching hardcore porn on smartphones their parents gave them?

The boys were building a pornified culture of boyhood. Fifth graders. 

How much do you know about the porn habits of your teenage or adolescent son and his friends? It’s important to find out.

This civilization of ours has a death wish. You see it more and more with each passing day.

1 comment:

  1. You have been saying all this for 20 years, your day is coming.