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I’ve often wondered if our current culture is so regimented that kids don’t take risks at all as they fear that messing up is going to alter their life trajectory too much to be safe. They hear parents and older siblings talk about, or worse live out the consequences of one bad decision made in the moment. Maybe sex and you either get the girl pregnant or get accused of rape afterwards — there goes the hope of being comfortably middle class in adulthood. Or drinking. A car accident, saying the wrong things, maybe partying and possibly not doing well enough on your grades to get into the right school. It’s almost, just looking at the trends like kids have a sense that being spontaneous, doing something crazy, means messing up, and that messing up is unrecoverable.
I keep thinking about our various discussions of identity, and I keep coming back to how self-focused the modern western notion of identity is. In the past, almost all of a human’s identity was proscribed for him often before birth, though sometimes afterwards. You were given your identity, born into a certain social class, a certain culture, and within a family, clan and tribe. You practiced whatever religion your tribe did. And you were treated as a member of your natal gender as well. The intersection of all of those identities you were handed at birth determined most of your behavior. And the idea that you might just choose something else was unusual. A woman in 1800 couldn’t just reject her womanhood or do things associated with men. You couldn’t just decide you want to be a Buddhist or Muslim in Catholic Poland simply wasn’t an option. A peasant could not simply decide he wanted to be a noble and a noble couldn’t chuck aside his title and be a farmer.
Alternative view is that you’re mistaking ad copy for content. The “debates” and public appearances and speeches given to the pubic are vague on purpose. They are not meant to inform. The point is to give out nice sounding platitudes that the base hopefully claps for and that can be quote mined for advertising purposes. Saying something too specific about what your plan is will make some of the base oppose it and that doesn’t help. If you propose cutting the Department of Transportation, people who think we need it won’t vote for you. If you just vaguely wave at cutting something, everyone assumes that their programs are safe and you don’t lose votes.
I think it’s mostly that this place has the exact same people who have the same opinions all the time. We read most of the same several sources, the same newspapers and blogs, follow the same people on X, and therefore tend to produce the same or similar opinions to those sources, and often on the same topics. Then when people comment about those topics, they have similar opinions to the authors of those sources, and make arguments similar to what the writers most people here read say on similar topics. I consider such intellectual incest to be a problem in the production of quality writing whether fiction or nonfiction because it limits your exposure to new ideas and facts contrary to your narrative. Then you’re limited in where your thoughts can take you because you literally don’t see the interesting stuff you disagree with.
I think it depends. Social conservatives are much more likely to get involved in politics simply because they care more that their government supports their socially conservative views than they do about getting rich. This is one reason I’m a bit more optimistic about the chances of social conservatives becoming much more of a political force in the next generation of politicians. The reason is much like what you’ve said. The landscape is shifting precisely because the left has been so forceful in pushing its views and ideas through institutions and forcing them into businesses that there’s no longer the option of not being involved unless you’re okay with those ideas. Politics is coming for them in a way that’s kinda unprecedented. When you have to vet every piece of entertainment, your kids school, toys, stores, food and drinks, churches, clubs and organizations to make sure they’re not promoting things that you consider vile, being apathetic isn’t much of an option anymore. There’s no such thing as being left alone, no neutral territory. And because of that it’s going to come down to one of two options— opt out of society completely and live more or less like the Amish or Hasidic Jews, or fight for the right to not have that stuff shoved down your throat all the time.
I think ultimately this is a self correcting problem. People cannot effectively run systems that they don’t understand and have no experience with. A bunch of lawyers and other elites who have no idea how food is produced won’t be able to make food production safer, healthier or more efficient. A NTSB director who doesn’t understand how an airplane is produced cannot hope to make good safety rules. Sooner or later, such problems will become obvious and either the liberals will learn to think like conservatives or will have to invite conservatives into the inner circle.
I think just assuming for a moment that the results are accurate, a couple of things stand out about conservative parenting particularly.
First, parenting for conservatives is a focal point for life. Family formation and child rearing are central to the conservative and they will absolutely rearrange their lives and schedules to focus on their family life. If they see public schools as a problem, they’ll do whatever they have to do to route around the problem. If they have to scrape by on one income, drive beater cars and live in a tiny house or apartment so that mom can stay home with the kids they will do that. Kids do pick up on this. They know the kinds of sacrifices their parents are making for them. They know that the reason dad works long hours is so that they can have the best life possible. And this tells them they matter to their parents enough to make serious sacrifices for them, which tells them that they are absolutely valued.
Second they tend to teach self discipline, which in my mind is absolutely critical to developing self esteem because disciple is what makes achievement possible. And achieving things is where real self esteem comes from. A kid that lacks the self discipline to make the baseball team, or keep a clean room or get decent grades or whatever else fails a lot, and he doesn’t have the mindset of “I’ll do this thing differently and then I can make the team or get the grade next time.” Without knowing how to succeed in his efforts life becomes arbitrary and frustrating because he has no idea why he’s such a failure. This is why so many children of liberals love Jordan Peterson. His advice isn’t magic, there’s no “one weird trick” he’s telling people what conservative parents have been saying all along — get disciplined, do the work, get along with people, and learn some self control. Without those things you get lost and often depressed.
Third, the conservative mindset itself might well be protective. It doesn’t focus too heavily on how you feel at the moment, which prevents rumination on negative emotions. Not to say don’t feel them or that they don’t matter at all, but the conservative mindset does not see feelings as facts in themselves. They see it “either you do something about the problem, or learn to live with it.” It’s a kind of practical stoic mindset. Yes, people can be jerks, don’t be one of them, but also don’t let them ruin your day. This is a major issue I have with modern therapeutic culture in which people are encouraged to focus on feelings, treat them as facts, and do nothing about them. If I wanted to cause depression, that would be the ideal way to do it. Especially if I can make you anxious about things you have no control over.
I mean as a practical matter, removing the moral elements, this is how the world tends to work. Most of us meekly follow along with the powers that be. We might grouse about it, but we’ll do it because most of us have remarkably little power in our lives. If you have to at least pretend to love big brother (in whatever form it takes) just be a you have to eat, keep a roof over your head and so on. If you have to feed your and especially your kids, you’ll give your consent to a lot of things that if they were proposed without the stick you’d be opposed to. I don’t think anyone in a cold state would agree that any given medical procedure should be a condition for getting into a store or restaurant. But if you know you’ll be fired if you don’t check the vaccine card, you’ll check the card.
I think excluding trans generational mental health data is a bit of a cope for the pro sexual revolution side. It’s a back door way of ignoring data that points to the traditional relationship view.
Looking at the statistics of people seeking treatment for anxiety and depression show people seeking out more treatment today than in 1983 or 1963. We know there’s much more divorce now than there was in the past. Even statistics that show generational problems like school success, family formation, drugs and alcohol as much bigger problems now than in the past.
The trouble is that once you leave pure science and math, neutrality is impossible. The events covered in history and how you cover them are not neutral by nature.
If you take the American Revolution, there are all kinds of culture-war issues. Founders were slave holders, and even bringing this up is a culture war issue. Then there’s the fact that we fought against our own government at the time, the issues of the stamp act and the tea tax and the involvement of France. How do you “neutrally” discuss a war like that? At every turn, you’re bringing politics into the classroom.
And in literature, it’s much the same. Every piece you pick and the subjects covered are saturated in culture war issues. Even the nationality and race and gender of the authors are political issues. If I assign Brave New World or The Raven or The Martian, those books have a viewpoint and themes that someone might well not like. Some will certainly be offended that there are no minorities or women on the story list.
I think I’d have mandatory after school clubs. Sports might be a part of it, but I think one thing sorely missed in modern childhood is time to simply explore interests with other children their own age. Let kids who want to write stories write them, let the jocks play any sport they want, have a manga club or a sci-fi club or dance or robotics. Get kids socializing and learning and hopefully exploring the stuff they’re into. You could do that 3 days a week and gym 2 days if you’re super worried about fitness as well.
Assuming school is 8 hours, and sleep is eight hours, it’s about half of a student’s waking hours on weekdays.
I’m not convinced. The behavior of Muslims doesn’t indicate they’re 1990s style Americans who are okay with other religions as equals. They’re absolutely not okay with gays, they don’t want women working, and so on. There are numerous videos of Muslims preaching that America or Europe will become Muslim. A Baptist preacher saying even 10% of that is a far right radical. A Baptist preacher saying that and blocking major roads for prayer services would be probably thrown out of the SBC.
This public reaction is predictable and ultimately going to be worse than the relatively small chance of a disorder being the direct cause of an accident.
This is why red-flag laws in the USA are so dangerous. People won’t consider seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist if the potential consequences are “they’ll take away my family’s guns”. So now people who might be considering suicide or have other issues will get worse without treatment, and perhaps avoid getting help for the kids if there’s a risk that that could get on a watchlist.
I mean the problem with sending someone to report on a topic that knows little about the topic is that they don’t have any way to vet what each set of experts is telling them.
A scientifically literate reporter is probably going to have some insights into how diseases work and how germs spread and so on. Maybe not perfect but enough to know where the expert’s story might not add up, or what questions need to be answered or even whether the research referenced says what the expert claims it says.
A political science literate person who knows the history and main actors in Israel and Gaza is not simply going to uncritically report the two competing narratives and call it good. They’re in some sense going to examine the evidence in light of what is known about the parties and give as accurate of a picture of what’s actually true.
Schooled. Journalism schools still exist, but I hesitate to say educated because at least from my conversations with the students they were not well rounded independent thinkers. They learn good technical writing of articles, but generally don’t get enough background in other subjects to allow them to understand what is actually happening.
I mean the thing for me is that those wars ended decisively with one victor who won strongly enough to prevent the losing party from being able to spin back up to relight the fuse and try to win again. In 1850, if two countries went to war, they fought until one capitulated to the other, and it was known by all parties that the matter was settled. If the Ukraine war had happened in 1903, then we’d probably find ourselves redrawing the map to reflect that Western Ukraine wasn’t able to control Donbas and Crimea. Instead, we’re still trying to keep the war going instead of having West Ukraine simply cede the territory and shore up defenses.
If you’re looking for alternatives, I’d point to Buddhism, Confucianism, and possibly Zarathustrianism. They all have decent track records of producing high civilizations.
How much of that came from Christianity itself and how much came from the Roman Imperial substrate it grew in? Rome is uniquely the source of a lot of Western legal traditions, democracy itself is Greek and republics are Roman. I don’t know but I doubt a place as cosmopolitan as the Roman Empire was inbred. Even after Christianity came to dominate Greek and Roman Philosophy were taught in schools. I think Christian apologists tend to overestimate the influence Christian ideas had on making society what it eventually became mostly by portraying the Romans as idiotic barbarians who were completely backwards.
Having read a lot of the philosophy they produced, the Romans were a sophisticated civilization that believed in virtue and reason and that ideally laws would serve the public good. The Stoics are halfway to being Buddhists and there was a strong sense of duty and helping your fellow man. They were nearly modern in their thinking, and very pragmatic.
The one thing Christianity brought that didn’t exist before was Missionaries. They’re the first religion that had as a major tenet to convert the world and that if you weren’t specifically a Christian (and an orthodox one at that) you were damned to eternal hellfire. The Judaism that Christianity grew from wasn’t missionary, and still isn’t. They believe that their religion is for them and that others are not expected to become Jews. Buddhism sees itself as one choice among many. Only Christianity and Islam really push the idea that if you don’t become part of the religion, you’re damned to hellfire. This gives a lot of push to recruit, and conversion of the Indians was a driver to get people to the new world. And since the west developed the mindset of “our way is correct, and everyone should adopt it” you can create more westerners by conversion to our ideas.
It was also a war we were directly involved in. It was our troops, our bombs our leaders making the decisions. Yes, in that instance we could and should have done what we needed to to stop the war we started in a way that doesn’t destroy what remains of Iraq.
The problem with us getting involved in wars that we have no interest or stake in is that it artificially prolongs and deepens the strife because they know the west in general is there to play cop and stop things before they get too crazy. Hamas doesn’t think that attacking Israel is a potentially lethal move for them because they know that Biden will negotiate a “pause”, that the retaliation will be decried as genocide, and that they’ll get billions in aid and other middle eastern countries will resupply them with weapons as soon as the coast is clear. Israel has no fear of the consequences of their actions because they know that nuclear aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean is a warning to all the Arabs that the American empire and her Allies will bomb the shit out of them if they intervene. What this means is that the war continues to infinity because we prevent them from fighting to the conclusion, and thus creating whatever the final outcome of the war that’s been going on since 1948. Instead we have the war flare up every few years, fight it to the exact same stalemate we’ve been stuck at for 75 years and know that whatever happens in this round is ultimately meaningless as the ceasefire just means rearming and preparing for the next round of the forever war.
I don’t think it’s psychopathic to suggest that you not give inordinate attention to conflicts happening half a world away that don’t concern the vast majority of Americans except in the form of aesthetics. I think it honestly holds back lasting peace because a lot of the decisions are made in a grandstanding way with no thought to the possibility of securing a peace. If the world weren’t protesting and watching and following everything on social media, then there’d be a lot more reason to end things quickly. And point of fact, we are actually pretty selective about the conflicts we pay attention to and follow let alone protest. Nobody’s breaking into Grand Central Station over the plight of Uyghurs, Yemenis, or Armenians. Syria has had a decades long civil war, and again the mental space that conflict has on us is pretty small. Those conflicts exist, and others exist around the world, but again they’re not fixtures in our collective imaginations even if thousands die there.
And furthermore, there’s only so much a country can do about these conflicts. We cannot get involved in every single conflict as we have limited resources. We’d have to at some point be selective about who we back and why, and it makes more sense to base the decisions about who to back on what’s in our interests than on whether or not one party or another is posting tear jerky videos on Twitter.
This is why I’m much more of a nationalist in international affairs. It’s actually harmful to everyone involved to have the entire planet watching the war. If this conflict were treated like any of the dozen other low grade conflicts going on in the world, it would be over quite quickly and would not flair up as often. It would also mean less division in America and Europe as people wouldn’t be using it as another front in the culture wars.
I think it’s power dynamics. The Nazis lost badly and had no institutional support after the war. So they were held to account by their enemies and every crime was exposed and recounted in mass media. Nazis were tried publicly for their crimes. Communism has institutional support in government, in media, and in the academy. They never really lost. They faced no public reckoning for their crimes. I think if you reverse that, have the communists lose badly in a war, lose institutional support, and the leadership face a media backlash exposing everything that went wrong, they’d have the same need to distance themselves from Soviet era communism.
The problem I see with the mainstream environmental movement isn’t vibes, it’s a lack of people who understand engineering and other scientific concepts. The people I’ve talked to who are environmentalists are by and large humanities students and similar. They’re unable to understand that nuclear energy works. They don’t understand the difficulties of solar. They don’t know where the things they use come from. And while I don’t think most care enough to find out, they don’t know because they’re not engineers.
I see women’s role in political movements and frankly most social and artistic movements as normalization much more so than radicalization or avant- garde adoption of ideas. Once a movement captures the attention of women, it tends to go mainstream pretty quickly. I agree that women tend to be gatekeepers. And I think they do so mainly by controlling sex. If your political, social, or artistic tastes are things that you’ll likely at minimum keep quiet about it lest it hurt your fuckability levels.