Introducing five precepts of civic natalism

In no particular order.

  1. Your time is not fungible. With the corollary that DIY is anti-community.
  2. Aim for mother-friendly, not child-friendly because child-friendly really means “no siblings allowed”.
  3. Busy is selfish.
  4. Leisure isn’t lazy. It’s how people get the fun social and civilizational goods they claim to (often “traditionally”) support, after all.
  5. Service isn’t servile. Having (usually unrelated) people do things for you and giving them money to do so is not imposing servility on them.  It was a staple of even the very poor in pre-modern times.  The modern era is defined most sharply as the point where paying people to do things for you was utterly deprecated.  In America, this was actually the postwar era, but in the rest of the West, it was early Vietnam-era.

These precepts are just a beginning, a tiny seed of a bigger idea, and working the implications out is a longer term goal.

Advertisements

President Trump is a normal President, not an unPresidential one.

He’s the first President to fully exist in a 24/7 insta-news world, and this means that once again, as during the campaign, people are trapped in presentism regarding his demeanor, actions and general P. They are also trapped in the emotional firestorm of the media, where it being everywhere means that many people hear it, tune out the specific content, but absorb the negative feelings around Trump that really do emanate from all those CNN airport screens and MSNBC gym screens.

So even people who should know better mindlessly repeat the idea that Trump should go hat in hand to the media in order to get Congressional Republicans to vote for his stuff when the very idea that a President is supposed to do that is unhistorical and would actually be unPresidential. Or they repeat other demonstrably false ideas from the general negative pool of media tripe, like “Trump isn’t getting anything done, he’s too busy tweeting”, “Trump doesn’t know how to negotiate with politicians”, “Trump is childish”, etc, etc, etc.

When you fly up into the air of overall Presidential history and take a slightly less insta-news view, it becomes clear that Trump’s firmly within historical norms for both snark and general Presidentin’ even this early in his Presidency.

People see what they want to see and people who want to see Trump as a buffoon who can’t get it together have plenty of places to have that feeeeeeeeelllllllliiiinnnnnnnggggggg reinforced, supported, backed up by babbling heads on endless tv screens. Those of us who live lives where we just happen to not have media ranting as background noise and only read a little of it in passing have a different view of the President because we’re somewhat more insulated from the sheer emotional weight of the angry, legitimately childish and maddened media. He’s doing a lot of pretty ordinary Presidential things. One can debate whether what Presidents do normally is good or ill, certainly, but he’s not showing any signs of incompetence by historical standards.

The previous President did some very historically questionable things, like the rhetoric that led to police being shot, using a sexual slur to describe Tea Party supporters, to pick just two. But the media didn’t have negative emotional energy about that stuff, because they liked it, so their neutral-to-positive emotional feels made anyone tuning in feel that he was dignified and suave while stirring discord and being even more gross in public speech than Mrs. “Deplorables” and “right-wing conspiracy” Clinton. He also had a long list of tweets that could easily be labeled short-sighted and petty as well, though more in the historical norms for snarking. In this respect, the media’s influence in the emotional realm, where identical behavior is interpreted in opposing ways because emotiomal stirring-up is impossible to fully resist without conscious effort, remains massive and powerful.

They’re working on that one, though. Kinda hope they succeed in undermining that emotional punch skill they still have, it could only be better for us all.

The American woman has always been and will always be a contradiction

When I first started blogging here, I had a misinformed idea that there was a lot more pro-mother tendency in American women before roughly the 1960s.  But that isn’t the case.  What is the case is that from the pre-America colonial days up until now in the Age of Devices,  American women have always been the definition of Hegelian contradiction, pulling in opposite directions.

Unusually even among European cultures, American women have always had a contingent that privileged the mother-child dyad so extremely that nobody else was supposed to provide care or upbringing of the child(ren).  This remains shocking to me and something I’m still trying to accept.  But even when women mostly had to have other women around, American women have had a subset that was very loud and pushy about how they could or ought to go it alone and rear their children without any other humans involved, even dad.

The conservative flavor has brought us the sorts of people who believe mother-only childcare and child rearing is universal, historical and natural on the conservative or right-wing side.  A different flavor, call it liberal though it crosses many political lines, has brought us the ultimately damaging attachment parenting model.  A lot of the mommy wars are American women singing their usual Hegelian song.

The Puritan factory model of child rearing, in which many people got a crack at rearing the child and the mother-child dyad was not privileged as such is the other side of this coin.  There’s also always been a contingent of American women who believed children to be fungible, and thus it was merely a matter of applying the right systems to a child by any adult who’d mastered those systems.

There were a lot of women, often mothers, behind the drives for daycare, systematized mass education and other attempts to genericize child care and child rearing.

I don’t have the energy to make a separate post, but the Little Golden Books were a combination child psychology experiment and mass kid-marketing experiment done by a working mother who believed more “authentic” children’s tales would be useful in improving the educational level of young urban children.  She herself was a major promoter in the early 20th century of the right of women to combine having a family and having a productive, fulfilling career.

Meanwhile, one of my favorite American writers, Gene Stratton-Porter, was a massive promoter of mother-care as the only real care in her fiction and some of her non-fiction writing.  She combined this, in that contradictory way of American women, with explicit commentary about how it was acceptable to have relatives, governesses or tutors though.

So the American project, distaff side, has always been contradictory and oxymoronic.  The American woman is a social creature, but yet anti-social.  Maternal, sometimes cloyingly so, yet dismissive of maternal love.

I’ve been looking into women’s history around the world and American women are Just Different compared to other women when it comes to all these things.  They have always had massive personal freedom, even many enslaved women during those eras.  But they’ve also had a sometimes bizarre interpretation of the life domestic compared to historical norms, even ones concurrent to their own for a given point in American history.

The American woman is, was and will be fried ice and its promoter as long as there is an America.