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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What the Left Just Doesn't Understand

Camille Paglia gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal that has resulted in scorn from the left--because Paglia wandered off the plantation, which is not allowed by liberals.

Paglia, who appears to have a trait mostly missing among the left--some modicum of intellectual honesty--had the temerity to question whether it is wise to have a society that neuters males. She says:

'What you're seeing is how a civilization commits suicide," says Camille Paglia. This self-described "notorious Amazon feminist" isn't telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can't Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that's just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.
... But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society's attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.
She starts by pointing to the diminished status of military service. "The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster," she says. "These people don't think in military ways, so there's this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we're just nice and benevolent to everyone they'll be nice too. They literally don't have any sense of evil or criminality."

The results, she says, can be seen in everything from the dysfunction in Washington (where politicians "lack practical skills of analysis and construction") to what women wear. "So many women don't realize how vulnerable they are by what they're doing on the street," she says, referring to women who wear sexy clothes.
... Ms. Paglia argues that the softening of modern American society begins as early as kindergarten. "Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It's oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys," she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. "They're making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters."

She is not the first to make this argument, as Ms. Paglia readily notes. Fellow feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has written about the "war against boys" for more than a decade. The notion was once met with derision, but now data back it up: Almost one in five high-school-age boys has been diagnosed with ADHD, boys get worse grades than girls and are less likely to go to college.
She goes on to describe how the war against men is skewing society dangerously out-of-balance. Of course Paglia, who is a life-long feminist, remains a committed "Ibsen woman." And her warnings echo an increasing number of researchers--by alienating and discounting half of the population, we are going to open a Pandora's box. While Paglia looks at the just the impact on the loss of "manly" jobs--i.e., construction and so on--it will also have a severe impact on engineering and the physical sciences, which are overwhelmingly male careers.

However, liberals continue to live in their delusions. This is exemplified by Conor Friedersdor's pitiful rebuttal at The Atlantic. Friedersdor's article is based on a rather disingenuous straw man argument.He writes:


Camille Paglia says the end may be near. "What you're seeing is how a civilization commits suicide," she said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The interviewer supplies the necessary context. "Her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging," Bari Weiss writes. "The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead."

I submit that she is exactly wrong.

While I'd hardly say the military is out of fashion, given its gargantuan budget and esteemed place in the culture, it is my belief that overvaluing military virtues is a far greater threat to modern civilization than undervaluing it.

Perhaps it would be helpful to compare the health of western civilization at the present moment, flaws and all, with its health at times when the military was in fashion. As yet, our civilization hasn't actually offed itself, else we wouldn't be here, but its suicidal tendencies were certainly on display during World War I.
Paglia, of course, isn't discussing war. She is talking demographics, economic growth and competitiveness, and social instability. When she speaks of the decline of prestige of military service, she is talking about the manly virtues--honor, discipline, service to country--that it installs, as well as the more practical matters of understanding and responding to foreign threats. She is not concerned with militarization or societies succumbing to a martial spirit. She is talking about how the military is no longer a path to leadership in the nation or our communities, and the loss its insights bring. (You may remember a little incident called Libya, where certain government leaders with not a single iota of military experience or insight believed that the West could bomb Libya into order and prosperity).

David Goldman's seminal book on How Civilizations Die discusses the demographic decline that leads up to the collapse of a civilization. He postulates that the demographic decline is largely a lack of faith. Oswald Spengler points to demographic decline as a natural result of women abandoning their natural roles as mothers to be ... well ... more like men.

But it takes two to make a baby, and the fact is that the current liberal/feminist tactic of beating men into submission has simply resulted in men dropping out--choosing not to be men and choosing not to be fathers and installing manly virtues in their sons. And the result? It can be seen in those groups where the family unit has had the longest period of time to decline--the black community. It points to a future of increased crime and violence, illegitimate children, and so on. And children without fathers, whether boys or girls, have poorer life outcomes. It creates a vicious circle.

So, yes. The war on men is civilizational suicide.

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