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History

The Renaissance of Family

October 18th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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Whatever happens in Washington, Wall Street, Main Street, Hollywood or Silicon Valley in the next ten years, it will all be irrelevant if our families don’t come together at a much higher level.

Without a renaissance of family, no new candidate can rise to save us. No new legislation, policy or program will heal our land.

On the other hand, the buttressing and revitalization of our society at the most basic level of family, though it be quiet and virtually ignored, is the most powerful catalyst to the revitalization of our freedom and prosperity.

Rising Pressures on the Family

In crisis periods of history like the one we are now experiencing, virtually everything changes –in major and surprising ways.

Since few people realize that historical cycles are driving things, most are frustrated and feel vulnerable and even victimized by widespread changes.

Many turn to government to solve our most pressing problems, hoping it can work miracles. Others turn to different institutions. Still others rely on their own individual efforts.

Few, however, realize the power of families in such times. Indeed, increased financial challenges and frightening world events often amplify the pressure on marriage and family relationships.

Divorce rates increase, family dysfunction grows, and people look outside the family for more and more help–at the very time family members need each other and can help each other the most.

Buckle Up; The Crisis is Just Getting Started

“But the crisis is over,” some say.

Gross Domestic Product is a preferred indicator by economists to determine growth or recession. GDP is calculated by combining several factors including private profits, capital values and government spending.

GDP has been in recession for the past year, but it showed small growth in the third quarter of 2009, causing some to that we are in a recovery.

The fact is that this “recovery” was actually one more quarter of decreased profits and capital values–no change in the trend of economic slowing there–masked by the other factor: government spending in the form of Cash for Clunkers and other bailouts.

And since government gets its money either by taxing the private sector or printing money, it can’t keep spending like this and maintaining a “recovery” for long without drastically raising taxes or causing inflation.

In short, reports that a recovery is here to stay are, let us say, premature. A lasting recovery will only happen if profits and values also increase. Also, one of the better indicators of where we are is the unemployment rate, which continues to worsen.

As the Family Goes, So Goes the Nation

This means that pressure on families is almost certain to increase for the months and probably years ahead.

Crisis Periods in history are preceded by Good-Times Periods, then followed by Rebuilding Periods.

If the cycles of history hold true and we face major military conflict and even the draft in the decade ahead, or even if unemployment continues to worsen, families will face even more challenges.

I am an optimist, and I’m convinced that great things are ahead for America and the world.

But let’s be clear about one thing: Our nation and our world will rise no higher than our families. If the family continues to decline, so will peace, prosperity, freedom and happiness.

The experts have studies and graphs outlining the details, but history is absolutely clear on this point:The future of the family is the future of our world. Higher numbers of single-adult, single-parent and other non-traditional families are included in this great opportunity.

A Disturbing Divergence From the Past

In past Crisis Periods, layoffs and failed businesses have resulted in the family pulling together–planting gardens, starting businesses, chopping wood to save on fuel, and otherwise facing upheavals and trials and working to overcome them together.

In our current world, with its urbanized and technologically advanced lifestyle, we aren’t following this pattern of family retrenchment. We aren’t relying less on paychecks and more on the family farm, or even leaving the family farm to find opportunity in places like the New World (1780s), the West (1860s), or California (1930s).

In our times, no geographical Promised Land has arisen to deliver us.

At the same time, the modern world keeps us busy and separated from each other–kids at school, youth with groups of friends, mom and dad holding down multiple jobs or seeking employment, etc.

Even where both adults in some homes are unemployed, they don’t necessarily spend more time together, but rather cope with their stresses and seek solutions independently.

Diminished finances for vacations, no time off at a new job, productivity-related compensation and workplace competitiveness all bring pressure to emphasize less family time and more work time.

And the technologies that used to be tools to help connect us have turned on their masters. No longer luxuries, they have gone from being pervasive to invasive to divisive; each family member has his own unique and virtual social life, and family life suffers as a result.

The average American couple in 2009 spends only 16 minutes a day talking with each other, according to a report in Men’s Health. Half of that time is spent discussing things like household chores and finances, leaving very little time to build relationships.

The same article reported that “lack of quality time” is the number one cause of tension in couples’ relationships in 2009–more than finances, work issues or other challenges.

Unlike past Crisis Periods, we are spending less time together just talking and having fun as couples and families than we did even in the past two decades. Rather than refocusing on our marriage and family relationships during Crisis, we are pulling even further apart.

The Potential Tragedy of Lost Opportunities

The simplistic reason that Good-Time Periods turn into Crisis Periods is that families turn away from each other to serve the agendas of corporations, marketing firms, schools and others.

Crisis Periods are all about recapturing the most important things–especially happy and successful families. If families don’t come together, strengthen communities, build new entrepreneurial enterprises and begin to rebuild society, we won’t see the benefits of a great Rebuilding Period ahead.

This is a potential tragedy of Dark Ages proportions. Just consider Rome in the first century, France in the late Seventeenth Century, the South after the Civil War, or modern Cambodia, Bosnia or Rwanda.

A society has no destiny that is not tied to the strength of its families. Without a family renaissance, no society rebounds from crisis.

The Good News

The good news in all this is that the bad news is good news: If the biggest challenge in our families is lack of quality time and taking the time to really talk, then the solutions are simple.

What if you spent a lot more time with your spouse talking about less urgent, more important, more fun things and enjoying each other? What if you did the same with each of your children, siblings and/or parents?

Not everyone has all these options, but clearly not enough of those who do have families are giving them enough attention and effort.

What if families spent two or three evenings a week and half a day each weekend doing fun things, entrepreneurial ventures and/or service projects together?

Together is the key word here. This is truly the way that Crisis Periods in history are solved at the grassroots level.

Usually economic or political realities force family unity and mutual cooperation in surviving and making a living. In our day it is still as vital to ending the attitudes, behaviors and habits that brought on Crisis; these same elements will keep the Cultural Renaissance progressing until things change.

Of course, this only works where families both bond within and connect without–not isolating themselves but strengthening their relationships with each other and the rest of the community.

And it works most effectively where families reject the temptation to draw factional, us/them lines, and instead reach out and build new relationships.

The Little Things That Make a Huge Difference

Here is the pattern: improve marriages, strengthen family relationships, make new friends, and build stronger connections with friends and community.

This naturally overcomes Crisis, and without it Crisis Periods persist and worsen.

Ironically, it is the little things that will most likely win (or lose) this battle. In the next decade, improving your marriage one hour a day (at least) may be the most important thing you can do for society. Same with many hours a week spent actively talking with and doing activities together with children and grandchildren.

Seldom has so much depended on such little things!

Will we follow the course of societies past that have lost their way and crumbled under the devastating forces of economic upheaval, war and other crises? Or we pull together as families and communities to create a brighter future?

If we get it right, we’ll also see a renaissance of America and, hopefully, watch it spread to the world. No matter what experts may say or what historians may someday write about our times, it will certainly be defined by either the Demise or the Renaissance of the Family.

Recommended Reading:

Click Here to Download a PDF of this Article

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Culture &Economics &Family &Featured &History &Liberty

The Marriage Plot, New Feminism, & the End of Men

October 13th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

AT THE CENTER OF ALL SOCIETIES sits the family, and when family culture drastically and irreversibly changes, the whole civilization is impacted.

Our politics, economy, relationships and character are going to be different based on the major family shift now occurring.

What could cause such an all-encompassing change? What exactly is happening right now that is altering our societal future?

The answer is: The shift to a matriarchal society.

And whether this actually happens in full or we are simply witnessing a slight move in this direction, the consequences are momentous.

In short, this boils down to four major trends that are remaking our society:

  1. The rise of matriarchal society
  2. The decreasing popularity of marriage
  3. The growing confusion about manhood
  4. The opportunity for masculine nurture

The Rise of Matriarchal Society

The Great Recession is touted by many as having brought the end of male dominance in our culture, and of ushering in a new era of matriarchal supremacy.

As Don Peck writes in The Atlantic:

“The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults….It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities….Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture and the character of our society for years come…

“[J]oblessness corrodes marriages, and makes divorce much more likely down the road. According to W. Bradford Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, the gender imbalance of the job losses in this recession is particularly noteworthy, and—combined with the depth and duration of the job crisis—poses ‘a profound challenge to marriage’…

“‘We could be headed in a direction where, among elites, marriage and family are conventional, but for substantial portions of society, life is more matriarchal,’ says Wilcox. The marginalization of working-class men in family life has far-reaching consequences.

“Marriage plays an important role in civilizing men. They work harder, longer, more strategically. They spend less time in bars and more time in church, less with friends and more with kin. And they’re happier and healthier.”

Women are now the majority of the paid workforce for the first time in history, the majority of managers are now women, and significantly more women than men now get degrees.

“For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women?”

As Hanna Rosin outlined in a an article on “the unprecedented role reversal now under way—and its vast cultural consequences,” couples at fertility clinics are now requesting more girls than boys, three quarters of the jobs lost in the Great Recession were lost by men, many college women now assume that they will earn the paycheck while their husbands stay home and mind the kids, and women now earn 60 percent of all bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Ask Rosin:

“What if the economics of the new era are better suited to women? Once you open your eyes to this possibility, the evidence is all around you….Indeed, the U.S. economy is in some ways becoming a kind of traveling sisterhood: upper-class women leave home and enter the workforce, creating domestic jobs for other women to fill.

“The postindustrial economy is indifferent to men’s size and strength. The attributes that are most valuable today—social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus—are, at a minimum, not predominately male….

“The economic and cultural power shift from men to women would be hugely significant even if it never extended beyond working-class America. But women are also starting to dominate middle management, and a surprising number of professional careers as well.”

Of the top 15 careers projected to grow in the decade ahead, says Rosin, only two—janitor and computer engineer—are filled by a male majority. And the trend is not limited to the United States: both China and India boast similar indicators.

College statistics show “with absolute clarity that in the coming decades the middle class will be dominated by women.”

The Decreasing Popularity of Marriage

At the same time, and certainly not unrelated, many women are finding marriage less attractive.

Sandra Tsing Loh writes that:

“for women, obsession with real estate is replacing obsession with love and marriage….Whatever the emotional need, we women can engineer the solution. But such continual resculpting may be irksome if the vessel of our current and future happiness is an actual male….

“So what if, in comparison with Jane Austen’s time, when the heroine’s journey was necessarily Girl Meets Boy, Girl Marries Boy, Girl Gets Pemberley, 200 years later our plots are Woman Buys Pemberley, Pemberley Needs Remodeling, Woman Hires Handsome, Soulful, Single Architect to Find Perfect Farmhouse Sink but After Whirlwind Affair Boots Him Out Anyway Because She Hates His Choice of Carpeting…?

“Whether you wish to chant ‘Our houses, our selves’ or ‘We have houses, hear us roar,’ for us women, home is where the heart is.”

Loh suggests that “middle-aged female readers’ tastes,” at least, “are shifting away from the marriage plot.”

She cites such current female classics as Committed by woman’s icon Elizabeth Gilbert, Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House by Meghan Daum, and Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes.

About The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine (which the New York Times Book Review called “an update of Sense and Sensibility”), Loh said that it is

“less about who ends up with the men than who ends up with the real estate….

“As the years grind on, Sheldon [‘bald and in bow ties’] will only continue to physically collapse, as opposed to a house, whose luster just improves with age. A 100-year-old farm house? Make it 200! Even 300! Original hardware! Wide-plank floors! And what’s more fun than falling madly in love with a piece of real estate?”

Quoting Meghan Daum:

“Moving, like chocolate and sunshine, stirs up many of the same chemicals you ostensibly produce when you’re in love. At least it does for me. Like a new lover, a new house opens a floodgate of anticipation and trepidation and terrifying expectations fused with dreamy distractions. It’s all encompassing and crazy making. You can’t concentrate at work…”

And about Hayes’s book:

“I am raptly studying the New York Times piece on lefty stay-at-home mothers in Berkeley who raise their own chickens. In a house with no cable…the only entertainment we have is reading….Evenings go by so slowly, I’m already halfway through my every-four-years read of Anna Karenina…

“I’m intrigued by the stay-at-home-mom chicken-slaughtering because on my rickety nightstand (flea market—$8!) is my new bible, Shanon Hayes’s Radical Homemakers. Sure, it has some of the usual tropes one would expect from a crunchy-granola rebel seeking to live off the land: Hayes’s daughters have lyrically daunting names like Saoirse and Ula; there is copious homeschooling; there are hushed-voice, enigmatic, and unironic biographical descriptions like ‘She raises and forages most of her food in the heart of the city’ (Chicago). More timid souls might balk at maybe limiting their diet to venison, figs, and prickly pear cactus; melting beef tallow for soap….And yet, I find myself dog-earing page after page, exclaiming ‘Aha!’ and circling passages….

“What a heady brand of feminism—self reliance in the home is a path to more authentic macro-freedom; freedom from government, freedom from corporations, freedom from a soul-diminishing economy! Like early American rebels who freed themselves from dependence on the British by pairing turkey not with imported jam but with locally grown cranberry sauce, we, too, can start a revolution in the kitchen!”

A much more direct new feminism, according to Rosin, comes from leaders like Iceland’s female Prime Minister who campaigned by promising to put an end to “the age of testosterone.”

And many women are simply foregoing marriage. Says Rosin:

“In 1970, 84 percent of women ages 33 to 44 were married; now 60 percent are….[T]he most compelling theory is that marriage has disappeared because women are setting the terms—and setting them too high for the men around them to reach.”

In all of this, men are often seen as dull, stulted, unimaginative and unable to cope with change, while women are seen as naturally innovative, able, creative, adaptive and ready to deal with and overcome anything.

When challenges come, men are expected to mope, but the women assess the situation, develop solutions, and then muster resources and support to turn challenges into triumphs.

In this new worldview, the stereotypes are significant: men are naturally needy and dependent while women are bright, engaged and full of initiative.

Why would women even want to marry in such an environment? Many college women, according to Rosin, see men as “the new ball and chain.”

Growing Confusion about Manhood

President Obama said in his 2008 Father’s Day Speech that fathers are critical to the foundations of the family:

“They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and men who constantly push us toward it.”

Kids who are raised without fathers are five times more likely to commit crime or live in poverty and nine times as likely to drop out of school. But these statistics are all in debate, and no clear conclusions are accepted by the researchers.

In fact, as the author of Parenting, Inc., Pamela Paul, put it,

“The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there’s nothing objectively essential about his contribution. The good news is, we’ve gotten used to him.”

Such tepid support for the role of fathers is becoming the norm. As Don Peck wrote:

“In Identity Economics, the economists George Akerloff and Rachel Kranton find that among married couples, men who aren’t working at all, despite their free time, do only 37 percent of the housework, on average. And some men, apparently in an effort to guard their masculinity, actually do less housework after becoming unemployed.

“Many working women struggle with the idea of partners who aren’t breadwinners. ‘We’ve got this image of Archie Bunker sitting at home, grumbling and acting out,’ says Kathryn Edin, a professor of public policy at Harvard, and an expert on family life….It may sound harsh, but in general, [Wilcox] says, ‘if men can’t make a contribution financially, they don’t have much to offer.’

“Two-thirds of all divorces are legally initiated by women. Wilcox believes that over the next few years, we may see a long wave of divorces, washing no small number of discarded and dispirited men back into single adulthood.

“Among couples without college degrees, says Edin, marriage has become an ‘increasingly fragile’ institution. In many low-income communities, she fears it is being supplanted as a social norm by single motherhood and revolving-door relationships. As a rule, fewer people marry during recession, and this one has been no exception.”

More people are putting off marriage and just deciding not to marry.

One result of all this is that more communities are filled with unmarried, unemployed, underemployed, increasingly less educated, frustrated and unproductive males.

Even among educated men who are married and employed, there is increasing confusion about the ideal and proper role of men.

Few men are willing to voice a strong opinion about the roles of men and women any more, though it is a frequent topic among women.

Even those men who do share an opinion most often begin or end, or both, with a disclaimer along the lines of, “but what do I know? I’m just a man, after all.”

We are at an interesting place in gender relations in America. Hanna Rosin wrote:

“Throughout the ‘90s, various authors and researchers agonized over why boys seemed to be failing at every level of education, from elementary school on up, and identified various culprits: a misguided feminism that treated normal boys as incipient harassers (Christina Hoff Sommers); different brain chemistry (Michael Gurian); a demanding, verbally focused curriculum that ignored boy’s interests (Richard Whitmire).

“But again, it’s not all that clear that boys have become more dysfunctional—or have changed in any way. What’s clear is that schools, like the economy, now value the self-control, focus, and verbal aptitude that seem to come more easily to young girls.”

I have suggested for many years that girls are a couple of years ahead of boys and that we do much harm by pushing boys into academics too early.

In fact, until they have a love of learning (which comes early) and then a love of studying (which usually comes to boys shortly after puberty), requiring them to do a lot of typical school work is often very destructive to their long-term education.

By establishing grade levels by age, rather than as phases that come to different children at their own pace, society often labels boys as “dumb,” “not smart,” “less gifted,” and “behind,” when in fact they just aren’t yet ready to meet some arbitrary standard called a grade level.

Some boys, and some girls, may develop more slowly than the “established norm,” but they are still fully capable of superb performance when they are allowed to move at their own pace.

Unfortunately, this flies in the face of the “expert” wisdom and is largely discounted by most.

One suggested solution by those currently dealing with this trend of “underperforming” boys is to create gender-oriented tests instead of standard exams. This strikes me as sad and frustrating, since I have been promoting personalized, oral exams instead of standardized tests for years.

Another proposal is to allow boys to walk around during class in order to get out their nervous attention and allow them to concentrate like girls or older students.

Again, I have taught for nearly two decades that younger children aren’t quite ready for the academic environment we have forced them to endure.

Some experts want to establish all-boys classrooms and even all-boys school, and to focus on the needs of boys instead of requiring them to fit into standard classrooms.

I agree with Rosin:

“It is fabulous to see girls and young women poised for success in the years ahead. But allowing generations of boys to grow up feeling rootless and obsolete is not a recipe for a peaceful future.”

Unfortunately, the pro-men and pro-boy movements that are now happening are either discounted by many as too religious, too extreme, or too angry and anti-women.

In short, the only thing which really seems to work in raising boys toward ideal manhood, regardless of what the experts are saying, is the intimate and ongoing example of fathers, grandfathers, uncles and other key male role models.

Solutions

This reality, in fact, is one of those amazing coincidences that can only be called either inspiration or serendipity.

The current crisis is offering an opportunity for men to develop their nurturing side.

Before you discount this, consider that men are as naturally prone to nurture as they are to provide.

Thousands of years of the Nomadic, Agrarian and Industrial Ages have conditioned hundreds of generations of men to find success through work.

And the long era of comparative peace and prosperity since 1945 have tended to make them feel entitled to plentiful jobs, extra cash, vacations, and leisure time, and numerous other opportunities—often with minimal effort.

The Great Recession has challenged these assumptions, requiring a new type of individual with two sets of character traits and skills:

  1. First, extremely high levels of initiative, resiliency, ingenuity, and tenacity.
  2. Second, much higher than traditional levels of cooperation, communication, unselfishness about who gets rewards and credit, and teamwork.

Today’s generation of men and women are capable of the first list of needed traits and changes, but many men struggle to compete with women on the second list.

Indeed, for much of history it was man’s lack of these very “weaknesses” that made him independent, self-assured, bold, assertive, ambitious, and what has been called simply, “manly,” “Roman,” and “tough.”

When boys are taught, “be a man,” “don’t cry like a sissy,” and men are told to “cowboy up,” it often means precisely not to be the cooperative, communicative, depend-on-others types.

“Stop talking and just do it.” “Who cares what others say or do, just do what you want.”

Men still laugh at Tim Allen’s grunts as the essence of male communication, and even in team athletics boys are taught to stand out and rise above the crowd.

What used to be the unwritten rules of “male dominance” are now actually seen as inability to excel in the vital second list of characteristics (communication, cooperation, unselfishness).

While of course this generalization is overcome by a number of individuals, it remains a reality for many.

Wise fathers, grandfathers and role models will help teach boys and men that there is much more to manhood than the wartime and gang-related values.

Indeed, the lessons taught from fathers to sons by generations of hunters, farmers and entrepreneurs differ greatly from those idealized by warriors, politicians and corporate raiders.

The first group idealizes cooperation, communication, and progress whereas the second prefers competition, dominance and victory.

In the Industrial Age, the “Organization Man” became the ideal for males—detached, admired, cash-carrying, benefitting from a lot of leisure time, and considered in charge of his family and its members.

The Industrial Man was the provider and the boss. At work he was an employee, a servant, but at home he was the center of the universe. He too often tended to treat his wife and children like employees and act like the boss he resented at work.

With a life experience built on succeeding as an employee, he didn’t know another way of acting.

His wife was either an employee, the boss, or perhaps a fellow worker in competition for advancement, attention and rewards.

His marriage was most often seen as a contract, where both sides were expected to perform their agreed upon roles, rather than a covenant where he would give his all in sacrifice and longsuffering regardless of what the other side did.

His relationships with neighbors and his nation took on this same contractual perspective.

He voted like an employee, for what he wanted—rather than for what the nation truly needed like a farmer or owner protecting the land or the organization he raised from scratch.

Today some men are lamenting (often quietly) the loss of this concept, while at the same time the need for a new male ideal is vital.

Before the Industrial Revolution, the masculine ideal was often the best nurturer. It takes nurturing, not detached management, to grow a farm, build a business from the ground up, and raise children into adults.

The necessary attention to detail is legendary. Indeed, in the Agrarian Age the iconic man’s occupation and business was Husbandry.

Providing was part of their role, but it was a secondary natural outgrowth of nurturing children like a small business in its infancy, encouraging and husbanding plants and coaxing them to grow and flourish into a farm in full bloom.

As Wendell Berry put it:

“…a man who is in the traditional sense a good farmer is husbandman and husband, the begetter and conserver of the earth’s bounty, but he is also midwife and motherer. He is a nurturer of life. His work is domestic. He is bound to the household.

“But let ‘progress’ take such a man and transform him…sever him from the household, make…‘uneconomical’ his impulse to conserve and to nurture…’ and not only will much of his incentive to be a good husband end, but his attachment to the land, to his nation, and to his wife and children, who are, after all, not particularly economical.

“Then, send his children away to school during the day, thus severing the wife from both husband and children, and she will naturally follow him to work looking for connection and meaning.

“Our homes are left abandoned and barren across the nation—father, mother and children are all elsewhere, seeking love and acceptance and nurturing.”

New Opportunities

Then the economy tanks, the era of the male provider-warrior ends, and man stands wondering if he has any importance.

As women take more than half of the new jobs in the market, they too begin to wonder if man is needed.

Here comes the miracle.

Like a wildfire burning a forest and opening the seeds for the growth of new trees and vast swaths of new woodlands, men look around, try to see any value in their lives, and find, hopefully, inevitably, their inner nurturer.

If this sounds effeminate, you still don’t realize how much the world has changed.

This transition is not simple, and we fight it with the zeal of the government battling the most threatening forest fires.

The experts and activists may call it “A New Era of Matriarchy,” “The End of Men,” “The Failed Marriage Plot,” “The Victory of Feminism,” or “a Matriarchal Society,” but all of these miss the most central point.

After generations of an economy driving men further and further away from their nurturing selves, of making them more and more the provider-manager-disconnected-careerist or confused-noncommittal-freewheeler-playboy, something drastic is required to reawaken a generation of husbandmen.

A generation of husbandmen could improve the world like perhaps nothing else. Indeed this is the highest ideal of manhood promoted by feminism and its opponents alike.

And if unemployment and economic struggles are what it takes to bring about this change, it is certainly worth it.

Of course, making this change will be neither immediate, easy nor sure. There will be ups and downs, and individuals may reject the whole thing.

But the change is here, women and men are empowered, and our society is poised to take a great step toward an ideal world.

Speaking as a man, I am both overwhelmed and intrigued by the prospects.

This is about much more than just seeing the proverbial silver lining in economic struggles. We literally have the chance to become better as men, women, and people.

The debate about gender that has raged my entire life can finally be answered. We don’t need to worry so much about what men or women should be or who is ahead.

We have reached a point where all the incentive is simply for men to be better men. If each of us, male and female, see things this way and simply set out to be better, just imagine the potential.

I am so glad my daughters live in a world of such opportunity—both in and out of the home. And I am equally thrilled that my sons will build their lives in a world where the whole man—nurturer as well as provider—is emerging as the ideal.

I am more enthused than ever about the potential for all our children to be equally yoked and fully happy in their marriages.

I don’t believe that the era of marriage, family happiness, or the high point for men or women is over. In contrast, I have never been more optimistic about the future of family.

If we are entering an era where both women and men more broadly improve themselves, the future of the home is indeed bright—and the impact on the rest of the world is inevitable.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Culture &Current Events &Economics &Family &Featured &History &Mini-Factories

Types of Tribes

October 6th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

NEARLY ALL OF THE WEAKNESSES I listed here are found in many traditional tribal cultures.

In our day new kinds of tribes are emerging with huge potential influence, power and popularity.

Indeed, the 21st Century may be the era where tribes become the most influential institutions in the world.

The trends are already in play, and nearly every major institution, nation and civilization is now made up of many tribes.

In fact, more people may be more loyal to their closest tribes now than to any other entity.

There are many types of tribes in the history of the world. A generic overview will obviously have its flaw and limitations—as will any inductive study, from personality typing to weather forecasting.

But with the necessary disclaimers and apologies, we can still learn much from the generalizations as we seek lessons to apply to ourselves.

There are several significant types of tribes in history, including:

  1. Foraging Tribes
  2. Nomadic Tribes
  3. Horticultural Tribes
  4. Agrarian Tribes (communities)
  5. Industrial Tribes
  6. Informational Tribes

Each is very different, and it is helpful to understand both the similarities and unique features of these types of tribes.

Note that the fundamental connecting factor which kept these tribes together was their means of production and their definition of wealth.

Families usually sacrificed to benefit the means of production. On a spiritual/emotional level, one way to define a tribe is a group of people who are invested in each other and help each other on an ongoing basis.

All these types of tribes meet this definition.

Level One Tribes: Everyone Knows Everyone

First, Foraging Tribes were usually established by family ties—sometimes, small family groupings and in other cases, larger groups with more extended family members. In marriage a person often left the tribe to join a new tribe.

Foraging tribes lived by gathering and hunting together. Their central means of production were legs: the ability to go out and find food for the family.

Children were the greatest source of wealth because they grew and provided more legs to the tribe.

These tribes were often female-centric, and their gods were fertility goddesses and earth goddesses who provided bounty of food.

Nomadic Tribes hunted and gathered, but also pillaged in order to survive and prosper. They traveled, some within a set area and a few more widely ranging.

They were nearly all herding societies, using animals to enhance their ability to hunt, gather and pillage. Their means of production was their speed, provided by great runners or herd animals.

They usually traveled in larger groups than Foragers, and intermarried within the tribe or from spouses taken during raids. Marriage meant joining the tribe of your spouse.

Nomadic Tribes were usually dominated by males and often practiced plural marriages. Herds were the central measure of wealth.

Third, Horticultural Tribes planted with sticks, hoes or hands, and tended crops to supplement food obtained by hunting.

Because hoes and sticks can be wielded equally by men and women, these tribes were often female-centric. Men hunted and women planted and harvested, bringing an equality to production.

Hands were the central means of production, used either in hunting or planting. Children were a measure of wealth, and deity was often a goddess of bounty.

These first three types of tribes make up the first level of tribal cultures, where nearly all tribe members worked each day to feed themselves and the tribe.

In the second level, specialization created free time for many to work on matters that have little to do with sustenance—from education to technology to arts and craftsmanship, and even extending into higher thinking of mathematics, logic and philosophy.

Level 2 Tribes

Agrarian Tribes began, as Ken Wilber describes it, when we stopped planting with sticks and hoes and turned to plows drawn by beasts of burden.

The change is significant in at least two major ways: First, pregnant women can plant, tend and harvest with sticks and hoes, but often not with plows, cattle and horses. That is, in the latter many pregnant women were in greater danger of miscarriage.

In short, in Agrarian society farming became man’s work. This changed nearly everything, since men now had a monopoly on food production and women became valued mostly for reproduction.

This was further influenced by the second major change to the Agrarian Age, which was that plows and animal power produced enough surplus that not everyone had to work to eat.

As a result, tradesmen, artists and scholars arose, as did professional tax-collectors, politicians (tax-spenders), clergymen and warriors.

Before the Agrarian Revolution, clergy and politicians and warriors had nearly all been the citizen-farmers-hunters themselves.

With this change came class systems, lords and ladies, kings and feudal rulers, and larger communities, city-states and nations.

The store of wealth and central means of production was land, and instead of using whatever land was needed, the system changed to professional surveys, deeds, licenses and other government controls.

Family traditions were also altered, as farmers found that food was scarce after lords and kings took their share.

Men were allowed one wife, though the wealthy often kept as many mistresses as their status allowed. Families had fewer children in order to give more land, titles and opportunity to the eldest.

Traditions of Agrarian Tribes, Communities and Nations are surprisingly similar in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and many colonies around the world.

While small Agrarian communities and locales often followed basic tribal traditions, larger cities and nations became truly National rather than tribal.

The fundamental difference between the two is that in tribes nearly all the individuals work together frequently on the same goals and build tight bonds of love and care for each other, while in nations there is much shared history and common goals but few people know each other or work together regularly.

As society nationalized, most people still lived and loved in tribal-sized communities.

Whether the ethnic communities of European cities, the farming villages of the frontier, church units of a few hundred who worshiped but also bonded together throughout the week, or so many other examples, most people during the Agrarian Age were loyal to national government but much more closely bonded with members of a local community.

When life brought difficulties or challenges, it was these community tribal members that could be counted on to help, comfort, commiserate, or just roll up their sleeves and go to work fixing their neighbors’ problems.

Community was also where people turned for fun and entertainment.

For example, one great study compared the way people in mid-century Chicago watched baseball games, attended cookouts and nearly always went bowling in groups, to the 1990s where most Americans were more likely to watch a game on TV, grill alone and go bowling alone or with a non-family friend.

Level 3 Tribes

Indeed, by the 1990s America was deeply into the Industrial Age.

Industrial tribes (no longer really Tribes, but rather tribes, small “t”) were built around career. People left the farms, and the communities which connected them, for economic opportunities in the cities and suburbs.

Some ethnicities, churches and even gangs maintained community-type tribes, but most people joined a different kind of tribe: in the workplace.

The means of production and measure of wealth in Industrial tribes was capital. The more capital you could get invested, the better your tribe fared (at least for a while) versus other tribes.

Competition was the name of the game. Higher capital investment meant better paychecks and perks, more job security, and a brighter future—or so the theory went.

While it lasted, this system was good for those who turned professional education into a lucrative career.

With level three came new rules of tribe membership. For example, individuals in industrial societies were able and even encouraged to join multiple tribes.

Where this had been possible in Agrarian communities, nearly everyone still enjoyed a central or main community connection.

But in the Industrial era, everyone joined long lists of tribes. In addition to your work colleagues, Industrial professionals also had alma-maters, lunch clubs like the Kiwanis or Rotarians, professional associations like the AMA or ABA or one of the many others, and so on.

With your kids in soccer, you became part of a tribe with other team parents; same with the boy scouts and girls clubs.

Your tribes probably included a community fundraiser club, donors to the post office Christmas food drive, PTA or home school co-op (or both), church committees, car pool group, racquetball partners, biking team, local theatre, the kids’ choir, lunch with your friends, Cubs or Yankees fans, and the list goes on and on and on.

In level three, the more tribes the better!

The two major tribes that nearly everybody joined in Industrial society were work tribes and tribes of friends.

Between these two, little time was left for much besides work and entertainment.

But make no mistake, the guiding force in such a society, the central tribe which all the others were required to give way for, was making the paycheck.

Families moved, children’s lives conformed, marriages sacrificed, and friends changed if one’s work demanded it. It was not always so, and this morality defined Industrial Age culture.

One big downside to Paycheck Tribes is that they cared about your work but not so much about you. Indeed, this is one of the main reasons why Industrial tribes weren’t really even tribes.

The other major reason is that you had only a few close friends and most people didn’t truly count on any non-family group or neighborhood or community to really be there for you when you needed it.

That’s why this is called National society, because it’s not really a tribal community of bonded, connected people who truly love you and will take a stand for you.

Of course, there are some who build and maintain fabulous agrarian-type relationships, friendships and communities during Industrial eras.

It is just harder and less naturally occurring than in the other types of tribal periods and places. The main reason for this may be simply that capital is less naturally connective than legs, hands, family, church or a caring neighborhood.

This is not to say that companies can’t care, love and connect. In fact, I think that is exactly what they’ll have to do to truly succeed in the Information Age.

However, during Industrial Ages connecting and caring and building relationships is less valued by many. Those who put family, friends and other vital relationships first find much happiness and community connection during any period of history.

Fortunately, we live in a time when the new e-tribes are growing and increasingly available.

Level 4 Tribes

The sixth type of tribe is the Information-Age Tribe.

We are all still struggling for the perfect name. The term “e-tribe” is too narrow, since many of the new relationships are not online.

I’ll settle for calling them the New Tribes, and let the future show us exactly how they turn out.

The New Tribes appear to be a whole new (fourth) level of tribe, for a number of reasons.

To begin with, people are joining many of them like during Industrial times, but also limiting them somewhat to reflect what is truly important to them.

For example, where in levels one and two people belonged almost exclusively to one tribe and in level 3 they joined dozens of tribes, now most New Tribers are active members of a few, important tribes, usually at least four per person.

In addition, many members of New Tribes want to be leaders in tribes, and many leaders of New Tribes want the members to all lead. That’s a huge improvement on levels 1-3.

Also, members of New Tribes seem to care about each other much more than Industrial tribes but also even more than many ancient-style and agrarian tribes.

I think this is because people had little say about who their tribal and community members and neighbors were down through history, but in the New Tribes you can make your very best friends your daily confidantes.

The interaction is powerful, and it can and does create deep bonds of friendship and caring.

The Future of New Tribes

Few people realize how widespread the New Tribe revolution has become.

The many examples of online New Tribes show how rapidly this trend is growing. But there is even more to it than that.

One cycle of business growth says that all new things go through four levels:

  1. They are ignored.
  2. They are laughed at.
  3. They are opposed.
  4. They are accepted as obvious.

The growth of New Tribes is at the Obvious stage.

For example, tribal currency is now the most widely used money in the world. That may surprise some people who believe that the dollar or the yen or some other national currency is most used.

But try this experiment. Pull out your wallet or planner, and see how much money you have in government-printed currency.

Then see how much you have available in private bank currency (checks or debit cards).

Finally, how much are you carrying in tribal currency (from, say, the Visa or Mastercard tribes, or Discover or American Express)?

While it is true that these private currencies exchange into government money, the truth is that your credit account is most likely a niche or tribal account rather than a government account.

And I dare say that more than a few readers are befuddled by this example, as they transact very few purchases by pulling out their wallet, with the actual plastic in hand; they most often buy over the phone or online—further making the point.

The significance of this is huge. How much wealth are you carrying in sky miles, for example? Or hotel or travel points?

The reason companies issue loyalty cards is to get you to stop being in the traveler niche and instead join the Delta or British Airways tribe.

While you still have your wallet or purse out, look through it to see how many tribal membership cards you carry. Costco? Sam’s Club? Trader Joe’s? An automobile club? What else? Do you carry a church card, or a school card?

The point of all this is that New Tribes are here to stay, and indeed that before the 21st Century ends they may well take over many roles that were traditionally governmental.

For example, the phrase “I’ll fedex it” has replaced “I’ll mail it” in many corporate circles, and toll roads are becoming more popular around the world.

Just like government railways were phased out by private airlines, look for the rise of many more tribally-led industries and services in the years and decades ahead.

For New Tribes to fully achieve their positive potential, it is helpful and perhaps essential for them to learn from the best lessons of the tribes throughout history.

Both leaders and participants of tribes gain much wisdom by studying the best practices and traditions of the world’s tribes.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Community &Economics &History &Information Age &Tribes

Why Tribes are Vital to Success in the 21st Century

October 4th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

SETH GODIN’S RUNAWAY BESTSELLER Tribes took a quaint anthropological label and turned it into a pop culture buzz-word.

And while his timely ideas helped articulate a fresh and needed approach to marketing and beyond, the power of tribal culture is far greater than any publishing or sales phenomenon.

Whether he realized it or not, Godin swerved into a truth of huge ramifications — far more significant than social networks or marketing wizardry.

Tribes are not only the shape of our past, but the key to our future; and they have everything to do with freedom.

Several millennia of history seem to argue that there is something both natural and functional about tribal society for human beings. And yet most moderns have little sense of its value, nor less, its relation to our freedom and our future.

Our Tribal Roots

On many occasions I have asked well-read college students, including executives and masters/doctoral students, to diagram the American government model which established unprecedented levels of freedom and prosperity to people from all backgrounds, classes and views.

It’s turned out to be something of a trick question, as they usually do it in the wrong order — and they invariably get the most important part wrong.

Specifically, they start by diagramming three branches of government (a judicial, an executive and a bicameral legislature) and then sit down, thinking they’ve done the assignment.

When I ask, “What about the rest?” they are stumped for a few seconds.

Then, some of them have an epiphany and quickly return to the white board to diagram the same thing at the state level. This time they are sure they are done.

“What level of government came first in the American colonies?” I ask.

After some debate, they agree that towns, cities, counties and local governments were established, many with written constitutions, for over two centuries before the U.S. Constitution and many decades before the state governments and constitutions.

“So, diagram the founding model of local government,” I say.

They usually diagram a copy of the three-branch U.S. Constitutional model — which is entirely incorrect. This little exercise would be a whole lot more amusing if its implications were not so troubling.

This sad lack of knowledge indicates at least one thing: Americans who have learned about our constitutional model have tended to memorize it largely by rote, without truly understanding the foundational principles of freedom.

We’re like apes at the switch: highly trained, but with no earthly idea what all the machinery is for — or any sense of our lacking.

Civics 101

The first constitutions and governments in America were local, and there were hundreds of them.

These documents were the basis of later state constitutions, and they were also the models in which early Americans learned to actively cooperate to govern themselves.

Without them, the state constitutions could never have been written. Without these local and state constitutions, the U.S. Constitution would have been very, very different.

In short, these local constitutions and governments were, and are, the basis of American freedoms and the whole system of Constitutional government in the United States.

The surprising thing, at least to many moderns, is that these local constitutions were very different than the state and federal constitutional model.

True, they were harmonious in principle with the ideals that informed the state and federal models. And there were some similarities; but the structure was drastically different.

The principles of freedom are applied distinctly to be effective at local and tribal levels.

Freedom at the Local Level

Another surprise to many is that nearly all the early townships and cities in the Americas adopted a constitutional structure very similar to each other. They were amazingly alike.

This is because they are designed to apply the best principles of freedom to the local and tribal levels.

But there is more. A similar model was followed by the Iriquois League as well, and by several other native American tribal governments.

This same model of free local/tribal government shows up in tribes throughout Central and South America, Oceana, Africa, Asia and the historic Germanic tribes.

Indeed, it is found in the Bible as followed by the Tribes of Israel; this is where the American founders said they found it — primarily in Deuteronomy chapter 30.

This pattern is not accidental, coincidental or imitative. It is a predictable model based on natural law and human nature; and an understanding of these leads to the establishment of efficient, effective and freedom-producing local forms.

And it is these local “tribal councils” that are the roots of freedom, from which all the more complex and over-arching forms at the state and federal levels are derived.

Detach these from their tribal-governance roots, and you end up with a very different outcome.

Foundations of American Freedom

The most accurate way, then, to diagram the American governmental system is to diagram the local system correctly, then the federal and state levels with their three branches each, separations of power and checks and balances.

But how exactly does one diagram the local level?

The basics are as follows.The true freedom system includes establishing, as the most basic unit of society, local government councils that are small enough to include all adults in the decision-making meetings for major choices.

This system is clearly described in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Volume 1, Chapter 5, and in Liberty Fund’s Colonial Origins of the American Constitution.

These town, city, or tribal councils truly establish and maintain freedom by including in the most local and foundational decisions the voices and votes of all the adult citizenry.

These councils make decisions by majority vote after open discussion. They also appoint mayors/chiefs, law enforcement leaders, judges and other officials.

All of these officials report directly to the full council and can be removed by the voice of the council.

Representative houses and offices are much more effective at the larger state and national levels.

But the point that cannot be stressed enough is: The whole system breaks down if the regular citizens aren’t actively involved in governance at the most local levels.

In this model, every adult citizen is literally a government official, with the result that all citizens study the government system, their role in it, the issues and laws and cases, and think like leaders. Without this, freedom is eventually lost.

Indeed, in a nation where the government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, is it any wonder that a population of unengaged “citizens” is the beneficiary of a government constantly increasing its power at the cost of our freedoms? What other outcome can reasonably be expected?

Once again, the most successful tribes, communities and even nations through history have adopted this model of local governance that includes all citizens in the basic local decision-making.

The result has always been increased freedom and prosperity. No free society in history has lasted once this system eroded.

Tocqueville called this system of local citizen governance the most important piece of America’s freedom model.

Today we need to better understand the foundations of tribal culture so that we actually, truly begin to understand local and tribal governance in a system of freedom.

This will be vital to the future of freedom in a world where the new tribes are taking the place of historical communities.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Citizenship &Community &Constitution &Government &History &Liberty &Tribes

Beyond the Vote

September 30th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Imagine what would happen if a huge chunk of citizens stopped accepting what they are told by one of the parties, stopped just aligning themselves with candidates from one of the monopoly parties, and started deeply studying, analyzing and thinking about the issues of government independently.

Imagine if they shared their thoughts openly with many others, instead of just letting the news be defined by the big media responses to the big parties.

Imagine the revolution that would occur in the voting citizenry.

This is exactly what happened in the decade the Internet went mainstream. It is valuable to know the profound history that led to this freedom revolution.

Keynesianism

Karl Marx agreed with Hegel that history is created by the dialectical conflict between upper classes and the masses; Lenin transferred the attention from class warfare to the conflict between rich and poor nations.

Most Americans and Europeans adopted this view during the Cold War. Indeed, the Cold War was the “inevitable” result of class conflict leading to conflicts between the governments of the “greedy” nations and the collectivized socialist states.

Keynes, like Lenin before him, shifted the debate by arguing that since many nations were not willing to adopt socialistic government ownership of all business, the only solution was for big businesses to give people privatized “socialism” such as health insurance, savings programs (like the current 40lk), retirement programs and other employee benefits.

Keynes further predicted that if government did things right, then small businesses would be increasingly less able to offer such benefits over time and that eventually big business would run the entire economy in partnership with highly-regulating governments.

Together, Keynes thought, big government and big business would phase out the disruptive, nonconformist and anti-social element of independent small business power and replace it with big corporations offering all the benefits envisioned by socialism.

Simultaneously, governments would keep mavericks, entrepreneurs and innovators from rocking the boat. Socialist goals, albeit through private corporate means, would be implemented into all capitalistic nations.

The result would be the end of warfare between owners and labor and the solution to most world problems.

Keynes said that once companies become so big that they are less focused on profits than appearing caring, helpful and socially responsible to the public, they will make decisions based on public relations and therefore socialistic values rather than making money.

If enough big companies could be coaxed to this point, and if increased government barriers to small-business success could effectively squelch entrepreneurial initiative, even the most capitalistic nations would provide privatized “socialist” safety nets for the whole society.

This is aristocracy, pure and simple.

In such a system, big corporations would work together with big governments to continually increase the delivery of socialistic goals such as:

  • Free education for all
  • Free health insurance for all
  • Free health care for all
  • A society of employees
  • Jobs for everyone
  • A meritocracy of experts ruling society
  • A docile and obedient populace

This system was adopted slowly but consistently so that Richard Nixon could announce by the mid-1970s that “we are all Keynesians now.”

In short, Keynesianism promotes big government with high levels of regulation along with big business promoting various private offerings of socialist goals.

This social safety net has proven popular in all the Western nations, and has offered a number of short-term and positive lifestyle benefits.

It has also proven a better solution than government-only socialist equivalents in one-party states like the USSR, Eastern European nations and modern Russia, China and Cuba.

In multi-party nations like France and Germany some parties promote big business and others big government, and still others emphasize their pet areas of focus.

In the United States the maintenance of Keynesianism requires a major party supporting the government, a major party supporting big business, and a system of swinging back and forth between the leadership of each.

When the big-government party is in power, the Government-Industrial-Complex grows, and when the big-business party is in power the Industrial-Government-Complex expands.

When Keynesianism is flourishing, both parties use power to increase entitlements, foreign involvements and government spending.

Taxpayers and small businesses suffer.

The End of History

Francis Fukayama predicted in the 1990s that with the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War this conflict between the rich and poor nations was over; he called this “the end of history,” citing both Hegel and Marx.

In the ensuing model of the 1990s, where everybody was a “capitalist,” economies flourished.

With a united Germany, declining Soviet power, and the dot.com and real estate booms, everybody seemed to have forgotten Keynesianism in the Roaring 90s.

Everybody, that is, except the two big parties.

Entitlements, debts and deficits grew during the Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations.

When 9/11 struck, everyone realized that history was far from over and that major challenges were still ahead. If the end of history had come, Keynes won.

Ironically, the fact that Keynesianism uses capitalistic means to accomplish socialistic ends allowed both liberals and conservatives to claim victory.

Conservatives rejoiced that socialism had lost to markets, and liberals celebrated that the era of big, irresponsible capitalism was over.

Unfortunately, what they brought us was far from the utopian ideal envisioned by socialism’s iconic philosophers or the freedom statesmen in history.

In fact, it was not so much socialism—where the state provides for all—as aristocracy, where the masses provide for the elite.

But back to our narrative: Keynesianism requires both political parties constantly and vocally doing battle. Neither can fully win or destroy the other; and when one wins an election the other is needed to play a minority role until it can win back the majority.

Whichever party is in power, the scope of government and big business must both increase during their tenure.

Of course, the result is that the far right hates Democrats when they are in power, and then turns on Republicans when they win and grow government. The far left does the opposite, hating the Republicans when they rule and then turning on Democrats in power for not doing enough.

Mainstream members of both parties simply support their party and dislike the opposition.

The key action in all this, the thing which makes Keynesianism work, the linchpin of the whole model, is for the citizenry to do nothing but vote.

Of course, they can live their lives, work at their jobs, send their kids to school and volunteer in their community. If they do these things, plus vote, they are good citizens. No more is asked, or wanted, from them.

“Just shut up and vote,” is the subtle message from both parties.

Of course, if one is an expert in politics, if it is their job, they are expected to do more than vote. They are required to study government, the issues and impact public opinion.

The same applies to professional journalists, attorneys, professors, etc. But this only applies to professors of political science, law, public policy or a related field.

Professors of literature or chemistry, for example, like postal workers and soccer coaches, are encouraged to leave governance mostly to the experts.

This cynical view is, unfortunately, widespread. Keynesianism depends on a society of experts where nearly everyone leaves governance to the political professionals.

Citizens are subtly taught that voting is the role of citizenship, along with serving on a jury if called up, and to otherwise leave governance to the experts.

After all, their party is watching their back for them and keeping the other “evil” party from doing too much damage.

Or, if the other party becomes dangerous, their own party leadership and the media will let them know.

Responses to Being Patronized

When a few citizens realize that they are being “handled” by the professionals of their party, the first response is naturally to want to elect better party leaders.

When time shows that this doesn’t work — that in fact it is the nature of party leadership to spin the truth and patronize the party rank-and-file — the disillusioned party loyalist often looks to some extreme group within the party—such as the radical right or the fringe left.

Alas, honest citizens find that faction leaders are usually as prone as major party heads to spin the issues and handle party members.

At this point, many party members just give up.

“The other party is bad,” they rationalize, “and my own party leaders are just too political. But at least candidates from my party are better than those from the other party.”

Some sincere seekers actually ignore tradition and years of brainwashing and seek for a better situation in the other party.

At first, party switchers may find a few things they really like better about the new party—especially if they attend in-person events and get to know some of the people in the other party.

“Republicans /or/ Democrats aren’t so bad,” they realize.

The longer they stay with the new party, however, the more they see that both parties are run in virtually the same way, like a formula primetime program, with the same character-types inhabiting the various roles.

Eventually they see most of the same problems that caused them to question their original party.

The idea that both parties are a problem is like the end of history for many voters. Most have seen politics itself as a war to put the “good” party in power and kick out the “bad” party.

So when a voter realizes that both parties have serious problems, and even worse—that neither party is likely to really solve America’s problems—there is a major paradigm shift.

Some give up in utter frustration, while others get really mad at their own party. Others get even more angry at the “other” party and refocus their support for their original party.

But one reality remains in the minds of most people arriving at this understanding: Neither party has the answers, and neither party is likely to really fix our problems.

More, the system is basically designed so that the party of big government and the party of big business take turns being in charge.

When regular citizens understand the goals of Keynesianism, it is a major shock.

At this point, what is a caring, sincere and committed citizen to do? When you learn that parties are parties are parties, how do you stay involved in governance? And how do you stay positive and optimistic about the future?

The Big Decision

The answer to these questions is for citizens to begin to study and think a lot more about government and to stop ignoring freedom by leaving it to the political professionals.

Unless regular people realize that freedom is up to them, not the experts, and that they need to learn more and take more action to make a real difference, they are unlikely to become true citizens.

When a person does make these realizations, however, he or she drastically changes. He becomes excited about impacting freedom.

There are three major ways to do this, and the three are drastically different:

  1. Populism
  2. Activism
  3. Independence

This is “the big decision” for free citizens who really want to maintain and even increase freedom.

Whether your political views are generally liberal, conservative, libertarian, progressive, green, or centrist, the big decision is a powerful way to start making a real difference.

Here are more thoughts on the three paths of the big decision:

1. Populism

This means openly and vocally fighting the system, pointing out its flaws, and actively participating in influencing change.

Populism has a long history in America, from the People’s Party movement of the 1880s and 1890s which arose because many people felt that neither of the two major parties would listen to them, to the Progressives of the early 1900s, the Labor movement of the 1920s and 1930s, or the counter-Culture revolution of the 1960s and the counter-Populism of the 1970s.

More recent populism includes anti-incumbency, Tea Parties, Coffee Parties, and the Green movement, among others.

2. Activism

Activism consists of committing to one of the major political parties and really having a powerful influence on it.

While I strongly emphasize the rise of independents, it should not be understated how valuable truly independent-thinking citizens can be if they choose to maintain strong party ties.

This is not only a legitimate but a highly-needed role of promoting freedom in our society. Both major parties need more members who really study, analyze, independently think and participate in improving party communication, leadership and impact on society.

3. Independence

This means becoming your own, personal political party—a party of one citizen.

Today there are more independents in the United States than either Democrats or Republicans. Independents don’t depend on any party but independently study, analyze, think, spread their influence and then vote for candidates and issues they feel will most help the nation.

Whatever your decision—whether you choose to help improve society through populism, activism or independence—note that is it vital to do certain things.

Those who simply depend on party experts leave these things to others, and the result is a loss of freedom. These things include:

  • Making a deep study of the principles of freedom and the U.S. Constitution.
  • Studying the history of freedom in order to truly understand current and future events within their context.
  • Studying and analyzing current issues in depth and from many different perspectives.
  • Considering the views of those who disagree with you and really understanding the points of merit (and not just your points of contention) in their ideas.
  • Drawing your own independent conclusions about proposals and policies after deep study.
  • Articulating and sharing your ideas with others.
  • Using your influence to impact the direction of the nation on specific issues and in general.

Populists are often criticized for not doing these things, but those who do can make a real, positive difference in populist circles.

Activists who commit to these things can greatly support party choices, and independents need to do these in order to have a meaningful impact.

The American founders wanted citizens to do these things, and predicted that the loss of such behaviors by the citizens would be the end of the republic.

If we want our freedoms to remain and even increase, we must be the kind of citizens who deserve such freedoms.

If we leave our future to the current power of Keynesianism, we will see more of the same: on-going crises, angry and ineffective politics, increased government spending and debt, increased taxes and regulations, continuing foreign conflicts and the loss of American lives, and an inability of government to solve our major problems.

The more the parties fight and the louder the conflict, the greater the power of Keynesianism. Keynesianism depends on heated arguments that drive the citizens to demand bigger government programs.

As long as the party of big business and the party of big government hold a joint monopoly on our society, voters will vote and little will change—except that debts, economic crises and problems will increase.

If this is the future we want for our country, we just need to leave politics to the politicians.

In contrast, the future of freedom depends on citizens who do a lot more than just vote and serve on jury duty. It depends on citizens who do the things which bring freedom—as populists, activists or independents, but all studying and thinking independently.

The American system was designed with the people as overseers of government. We all need to fulfill this role better.

We need a party of small business, a party of family, a party of entrepreneurial leadership, a party of the regular citizens, a party of freedom.

The American founders had a name for such a party: Citizens. Such a party naturally occurs and grows in free society when we do our true part as citizens.

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Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Aristocracy &Business &Economics &Government &History &Independents &Liberty &Politics

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