We seem to be at a unique place in history, where further progress may in fact require a general regression. However, I’m not proposing some troglodyte idea of rejecting everything about our current society in favour of recreating the 1950s, but rather reverting the negative changes and reviving most of that culture while retaining the technology, art, and positive social change of the last sixty years. The existance of new art not withstanding, we seem to have passed our cultural peak.
Rules to Norms to New Rules
What we as a society need to understand is the distinction between rules and norms. Rules must be followed but you have the right to go against norms, as long as you accept that you’re the exception. Over the last century western civilisation has converted many rules into norms but the last few decades have seen new, inequitable rules that contradict the largely complimentary norms.
Gender roles are the perfect example. Traditionally gender roles have been quite complimentary. Men were the providers and defenders, so generally worked harder and accepted greater personal risk. Women on the other hand, worked in the relative comfort of the home, which also became quite easy by the 1950s. So, it was only fair for men to have more power since they had comparatively harder lives. The only significant problem, was that it wasn’t a choice.
The new rules, however, create problems for everyone. Power in a relationship is often determined by coercion. They add to the workload without increasing the reward. They reduce leisure time and take parents away from their children. Our right to choose our own lifestyles is being taken away, not to form a stable structure but to wipe away all differences.
The Pendulum of Social Change Has Been Thrown
Correcting injustice would naturally behave like a pendulum, each injustice being replaced by a smaller and opposite injustice until it eventually reaches equilibrium, but that’s not what happened the pendulum has been thrown. All members of the groups that were formerly “advantaged” are now inherently evil and the supposedly disadvantaged groups can do no wrong. We punish people for the atrocities of the past because they share some trait with the perpetrators, even when they have no more connection to them than the descendants of the victims do.
When the worst of the racist atrocities were happening in North America, my ancestors were being tortured and murdered in Europe for preaching a message of peace, love, and tolerance. I harbour no I’ll-will towards the descendants of my ancestors’ persecutors, in fact some are likely my friends, but I still get lumped together with those same persecutors.
To make it all worse, many claim it’s justice to punish the innocent for the acts of people who just happen to look similar. Accusations of racism now have nothing to do with events or ideas, but rather race itself. Some people even go so far as to say that it can only be called racism if the perpetrator is white and the victim is not.
The Liberty Movement
The most destructive change of the last few decades comes from what I like to call “the liberty movement.” The liberty movement is the trend that started in the 1960s to worship the “gods” of money and personal freedom, eschewing worship of literal gods and the common good. They used to have a different name for this ideology; anarchy. Anarchy is inherently unstable and is always replaced by another power structure, usually an oppressive one, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen happen. Complete personal freedom does nothing but create conflict. Ideas like moral relativism are mutually exclusive with the common good.
Consider the arguably beneficial rights feminism has won for women; the right to vote, the right to employment, the right to choose her own lifestyle, and the right to wear pants. The right to vote went from being an abstract idea with little to know relevance in reality, since they were expected to be represented by their husbands’ votes, to a failed attempt to mitigate an injustice, because only voters are represented at all anymore. The others are quite beneficial when most choose not to exercise them, and are respected either way, but become destructive when they’re widely exercised out of personal freedom and a wilful ignorance of the effect on the rest of society. How did these rights go from being beneficial to destructive? The right for a woman to seek employment was originally a way to support her family if her husband couldn’t, but it opened the door for the rich to exercise their personal freedom to increase profits because they were no longer obligated to pay a man enough to support his family, so now most women are forced to work as well, prompting many millennial women to strongly oppose feminism. The workforce has grown but not enough new jobs have been created to cover it and cost of living has increased by a far greater factor than incomes. The right for a woman to choose her own lifestyle allowed women to pursue careers they felt passionate about or pass off duties at which she was inept, but since then it’s been so widely exercised that finding a woman who wants a traditional lifestyle has become so difficult that men have effectively had that same right revoked. The right for a woman to wear pants is really a “slippery slope” problem. Women wearing pants when appropriate presents no problem whatsoever, and that’s how women used to wear them, but when pants become the norm in all contexts in which they’re acceptable it begins a self perpetuating process to abolish femininity and gender identity.
Patriarchy is a Myth
I don’t mean patriarchy as it’s properly defined but rather the form feminists complain about. It’s never been common for men to exercise any power over women and children in an oppressive manner. It used to be that men and women were thought of as generally equal but considerably different, which is where gender roles came from.
Who Had the Best Life in History?
The white middle class house wife in 1950s North America. Nobody else in history had as little to worry about as she did. Her needs were met, she was looked on favourably by everyone, and she had the quickest and easiest work ever. The next best life belonged to her husband. He had to work harder but had more power. Not quite as good a life as his wife’s but still much better than the norm now.
Is it time for a general cultural regression? Yes. We should be striving to restore the culture of the 1950s sans the racism, and retaining most of the newer technology and art.