The Tide has Already Turned

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by W.F. Price on December 23, 2010

In any discussion there’s always the danger of allowing the arguments and line of thought to stray ever farther from the reality of any given situation — the facts on the ground so to speak. This is especially the case where politics are involved, because making a moral case takes on such importance, as opposed to, say, engineering, where the goal is to make things work in the physical world.

Because of this peculiarly irrational nature of politics, great acts of folly have been undertaken in the name of “progress.” For example, Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which directly caused the unnecessary deaths of millions of people in an effort to realize a Communist utopia. The Communist Party demanded nothing less than the impossible from everyone from farmers to industrial engineers, causing catastrophic failure.

What this demonstrates is that there are limits not only to the stress a structure can withstand, but to the feasibility of political programs as well. In an often misunderstood gesture, a wise old ruler of England once sat on the seashore and commanded the advancing tide to stop. The story about Canute, a Danish viking who ruled over England, Denmark and Norway, may have been apocryphal, but the event may have occurred as a demonstration carried out by the king. As the saying goes, the sea ignored his command, and Canute then proclaimed that the power of kings is as nothing compared to the might of heaven. Some think Canute was trying to make a point about the limits of his earthly authority, and was rebuking the flattery of sycophants.

Today, armed with high technology, power and wealth beyond the dreams of Canute, it is easy to forget that despite our advances we are still subject to the same reality as medieval English kings. Our politicians promise to manipulate the weather and thereby save the world, to create wealth out of nothing, and to elevate all our children above the mean. Perhaps it is a result of democracy — one wins an election not so much by obtaining results in the real world, but by making the most fantastic promises for tomorrow.

As we discuss the plight of men in our society we tend to focus directly on the promises made by politicians, feminists and others wedded to the status quo. In so doing, we run the risk of losing sight of reality as well, and, ironically, in aiding them in their attempts to impose the impossible.

What we need to remind ourselves is that feminism as envisioned by most of its supporters is at best an unfeasible plan. At worst, it is an impossible effort. The distinction between the two is quite important, because where the former may siphon off work and waste time while people explore the plan and attempt to find a way to implement it, ultimately it will be abandoned as they realize it simply can’t be done. The latter, as Mao’s Great Leap Forward, would be an all-out attempt to impose a system doomed to catastrophic failure.

Some may say: “But look at all that feminism has accomplished! It is well on its way to total, permanent victory forever and always.” No, this is far from the case. While feminist policies may have been imposed in a great many places in our society, this has come at great expense; an expense that we probably cannot maintain for much longer. Disassembling the American family has been enormously costly over the last generation. Millions of children are failing to live up to their potential as productive citizens, and social costs have been piling up as a result of fatherless homes and single motherhood. The divorce industry may be very lucrative for those involved with courts, but it does not add one cent to national wealth. Higher education has been successfully promoted for girls, and now we have millions of young women wasting several productive years obtaining useless degrees that give them little more than a sense of entitlement. The lower number of boys in higher education is not the real problem; it is the excess of females that we ought to worry about.

Although some have cheered the fact that productive male industry and occupations, such as resource extraction, manufacturing, construction and engineering have been on the decline for decades, and suggest that we have “advanced” to a service economy, they seem blind to the fact that the success of that service economy depends on our ability to force people to use it through the dollar’s primacy as the world’s currency. This is directly tied to our status as the world’s policeman — a job Americans are no longer all that enthusiastic about. The service economy is a house of cards; platitudes notwithstanding, our women and girls have nothing of particular value to offer the rest of the world.

Countries that have built themselves up largely on the backs of their women have existed, particularly in East Asia, where developing countries turned to light industry as a source of much-needed foreign capital. Korea pursued this strategy in the 60s and 70s, and China more recently in the 80s and 90s. However, these countries did not develop through services provided by females, but rather by putting women to work in materially productive occupations.

There is only one country in the world where services provided by females form a pillar of the national economy, and that country is Thailand. Through prostitution, Thai women bring in over 10% of Thailand’s GDP, which would make them some of the most economically productive women on the planet, but somehow that does not seem as though it would be a viable strategy here.

So what we have here is a movement and policies that were paid for first by economically productive men in the US, and then as the productive, male economic base shrunk, by what amounts to foreign subsidies, and finally by loans from Chinese industrialists. For all the triumphalism, proclamations of eternal victory and articles rubbing men’s collective face in women’s piles of cash, feminism has been an economic failure. It is an enormous money pit that sucks wealth and productivity into oblivion. It is a hothouse flower maintained in an artificial environment.

Given continuous, strong economic growth, it is plausible that the current state of affairs could continue indefinitely, but not probable. In fact, more likely than not feminism would eventually consume itself even in an economically healthy environment, because it is counterproductive by its nature, and even if we did not face bottlenecks now and in the foreseeable future, it would sow the seeds of its own destruction by reversing the traditional flow of wealth into the creation of and out from the fruits of productive endeavors, i.e. the men who finance them as well as those who profit from them would be forced to turn their wealth over to women. At its core, feminism is about nothing more than resource distribution from men to women, and after a certain point such redistribution causes a breakdown of the mechanisms that keep an economy functional.

However, we do face some bottlenecks, chief among them the energy issue, so whether or not feminism could survive during sustained growth is moot. Humanity will not run out of gas all of the sudden, but the cost involved in procuring the energy that allows us to maintain such a complex economy will certainly rise, and the return on our investment will fall. We’re running out of easy oil, environmental pressure is limiting the fruits of the Green Revolution, and political resistance is cutting into the profits of global trade.

We are not looking at another period of sustained prosperity such as the one that began after Word War II and ended some time in the last decade. Instead, we are facing a struggle that will require some tough decisions if we want to maintain anything like our current lifestyle. We will need scores of new nuclear power plants, advances in agricultural technology, new modes of transportation and an overhaul of our infrastructure, to name a few things. Although we have the native talent to achieve these things, it’s entirely possible that we will fail.

This is relevant to feminism because it suggests two scenarios for the end of feminism: the first, and more favorable one being a conscious political choice to let it die so as to focus effort and energy on tackling the more pressing issues of sustaining economic and technological progress despite the challenges we are facing. The second and less comfortable scenario would be a failure of political will and the eventual end of feminism due to economic contraction and the concomitant lack of means to enforce and support it. Given contemporary politics, the latter appears more likely, however, this outcome may not be as bad as it sounds — it could happen sooner than we expect.

Speculation aside, the reality is that feminism has already begun to decline. That so many media outlets and women are declaring its victory means nothing; the fact is that they have far less of value to offer women than they did ten years ago, and they will have even less in another ten years. Every man who is ruined so that his hormonally deranged wife can realize her soap opera fantasies, every business dismantled by a sexual harassment lawsuit, every man tossed in prison at public expense, and every productive job replaced by a woman pushing paper at a government-funded nonprofit is a material loss for women in aggregate. Because we no longer have significant excess wealth, women are going to have to pay for each feminist victory with a decline in their wealth and standard of living. It may not be entirely obvious yet, but it will be soon enough, and at that point we will see a rise in anti-feminism amongst women themselves.

At this point, feminists can demand all they want that the world and reality follow their command and conform to their wishes. They can proclaim eternal victory and shout their power and omnipotence into the wind. For our part, we men can take a step back and watch, knowing that no matter how much they wish it and order it to happen, the tide won’t stop, and just like old king Canute they’ll end up with nothing more than wet feet.

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