The Silver Bullet | Ryan Anderson
Within International Development circles there’s a notion that there are no ‘silver bullets’ to the panoply of problems faced by developing communities except one: the education – and thus liberation – of women. Inter alia, the theory states that by educating women you break the poverty cycle by reducing the high birth-rates that drive the subsequent Malthusian events. An educated mother, it is both thought and confirmed, is less likely to have an excess number of offspring hence a reduction in the social maladies that overpopulation ultimately brings.
Turning to the developed world, there seems to be few, if any, silver bullets for the litany of problems facing us. An enfeebled fertility rate, an entire generation priced out of the housing market, and vast social fractures around the issues of religion and race are but a few of our present dilemmas. Thus, ipso facto, anyone proposing a single solution to these and other such problems is to be met with an incredulity bordering on outright hostility. Yet in direct contrast to the developing world, there is one – assuredly contentious – solution to our collective trauma: that is, a retraction of many of the so-called ‘gains’ of female liberation, with a return to natality and domesticity both a viable shift in policy and one that’s accompanied by an array of long-needed benefits.
To begin, and to counter the facile critique that such a proposal is but a thinly-veiled misogyny, such a shift will benefit women themselves. Having been raised since the 1960s on the thin gruels of postmodernism, uber-liberalism and self-serving corporatism, many women have come to realise that the gods they were proffered were ultimately false, with the lure of the corner-office no substitute for the natural telos of motherhood and family.
Which is a realisation that has often proven to be brutal. Aside from the vast social damage inflicted by our post-60s movement, which, in the US, has pushed the average age of marriage out to 32, the age of the first child born from 21 to 27, and lowered the fertility rate to a below-replacement 1.7, the individual results have been equally bitter: with many women resentful they’ve had fewer children than they would’ve liked, or sadly, none at all. A disquieting state of affairs that’s repeated in the UK, and right across the Anglosphere.
In this regard, the observations of Miss Sex and the City herself, Candace Bushnell, – ‘when I got divorced and I was in my 50s, I started to see the impact of not having children and of truly being alone’ – are emblematic of an entire generation of women betrayed by the shiny facade of corporate liberalism in lieu of the healthy pursuit of natural ends. A notion bolstered by a superficially diverse yet profoundly connected array of contemporary phenomena, such as the rapid rise in egg-freezing, the astronomical growth of fertility clinics (complete with the typically myopic applause of the pro-market right) and by what women themselves claim they actually want.
Not only will such a movement help women, it will aid their children and their physiological development as well. In spite of the now-fashionable praise for ‘rainbow families’, such as that of the US Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, our schizophrenic cultural trends offer flimsy support in the face of our mammalian nature. As both common experience and scientific study confirm, the female form is not merely an object of male adoration, or a vehicle for commercial profit, but an integral aspect of infant development, given the nutritive properties of breastmilk, the importance of maternal speech and the centrality of interpersonal bonding between a mother and her child.
A posture that is reinforced given our culture- and epoch- wide insanity of severing maternal and familial ties as soon as possible by farming out the supervision of our children to strangers in mass, state-supported childcare. Which is but another so-called example of liberal ‘progress’, yet one that is correlated with a range of malignancies such as increased anxiety and aggression, decreased motor-social development and a higher propensity for crime.
The mere domestic presence of parents also eases the child’s transition to adulthood and lessens many of our communal maladies. As Mary Eberstadt has written in a range of locales, many of our easily-observable social failures stem from parental absence. Be it weight-gain and the obesity epidemic, poor classroom behaviour and reduced educational attainment, or wider social unrest in the form of protest, riot or communal violence, the driver of much of this social disquiet is often solely the absence of a parental presence.
Perhaps paradoxically, such a shift will also benefit men. As has been both recently witnessed and famously observed, the presence of a wife and child act as a civilising force for men. A prescription which is almost essential given the presently nihilistic state of Western manhood as manifest in the commitment-free cads and ‘Peter Pans’ on the one hand and the bitter ‘incels’ and basement-dwellers on the other. A return to family will answer many of the inchoate longings of these men in their tacit battle against the absence of meaning that so deeply characterises our contemporary state.
A familial return will rectify many of the structural flaws in our socio-economic edifice too. For one, a reduction in the number of women in the labour market will aid the job- and life- prospects of many of these un- or under- employed and marginalised men (a shift which is paradoxically female-friendly, given the understandable propensity of women to avoid underemployed low-status men). Such a stance may also mitigate one of the more troubling problems of our age: the two-income trap, thus supporting natality and the flourishing of family life.
Yet most importantly, all of this will reduce our reliance on that most contentious of all topics: immigration. Aside from the politically expedient and selfishly commercial components of immigration (more people = a greater overall GDP), the next most cited rationale is usually the need to stave off our civilizational senility by shrinking the average age of the populace. Hence the seemingly limitless import of youthful foreigners to keep our countries spry and ‘to do the jobs we won’t do’. Or, as the great Mark Steyn puts it ‘to be the children we couldn’t be bothered to have ourselves’.
An increase in local natality would, of course, eliminate many of these and other related problems. Firstly, a baby-boom would obviously provide an entire cohort of new consumers, for at least a generation’s time. It would also lower the average age of the populace, thus decreasing the demographic calls for mass immigration; as well as providing a range of other subsidiary benefits: be they, a growth in junior sports league, a rejuvenated student populace, and the somewhat banal yet nevertheless optimistic sight of a youngster involved in his/her first job. The sight of a lanky lad behind one of our remaining checkouts may not seem much, but it’s an implied faith in the future, some ‘kin in the game’ and another step towards repealing the anomie inherent to our age.
Such a stance also addresses many of our more delicate socio-cultural problems. For one, and as much as the multiculturalists will protest, an increase in local natality strengthens the natural cohesion of a society: it accords with the currently unfashionable yet innate desire to prefer ‘one’s own’ to the culturally distant and foreign. Such a change would also ease many of the innate tensions (like anxieties over demographic change) inherent in multicultural societies. Even less obvious measures, like the often callous outsourcing of our elderly to care homes, would be aided by a reprioritizing of the family and the retention of seniors somewhere with the familial structure.
That any such movement will prove publicly palatable or particularly popular is clearly a fantasy. Indeed, as Scott Yenor has just experienced, a level of vituperation akin only to that meted out to so-called ‘racists’ awaits anyone brave enough to stick their head above our feminist parapets. Still, the truth is on our side. No amount of obfuscation will convince careerist women that they’re actually happy, nor will claims that nominal ‘mothers’ like Pete Buttigieg et al are viable replicas for real-life flesh-and-blood women actually make it so. To paraphrase the late Alan Bloom, our liberal feminism may prescribe that the male nipples be made equal to the female ones, but they still will not give milk. Our denial of reality can only last so long and be stretched so far.
The need for such a return may also be existential. Given the current ructions in France, and across Europe more broadly, the fate of Western civilisation is presently unclear, particularly in light of the recent waves of migration, the growing Islamic presence and the enfeebled fertility rate of Europe’s indigenous inhabitants (something foreseen by insightful observers, both here and here). To quote Mark Steyn again: the future belongs to those who show up; which is something that nations like Hungary have quietly acknowledged and taken steps towards addressing. Thus a return to a more traditional vision of the family may not be only a desirable policy proposal, but one of actual civilizational necessity.