Introducing civic natalism

“The early 20th century was the summit of civilization and human accomplishment.”

I think there is a good argument to be made for that statement. However, that is not quite what this post is about.

It’s about the worldview I’ve adopted as I’ve come to appreciate and learn more about that era of human history, a mere century or so ago. I discussed the idea that this blog was a way to work out an alternative to Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option, and now I think I’ve got a grasp on what that alternative is.

Civic natalism.

This post is just an introduction to the phrase as concept.  Civic natalism was what a surprising number of Americans had a century ago, but it was an effect.  We can look at what they had access to that we don’t have now and the goal is to find out how we can have those things in a modern society.  Theirs was atomized and global, too, they were the vanguard of globalism.  Natalism also is about more than just maxing your pregnancy numbers, it’s about making it possible for motherhood to be something fully human, so women don’t want to reject the natural outcome of marital intimacy.

They had the following:

  • Large casual labor pool, particularly of women.  This means that there were maids and nannies and cooks, but it means so much more than that.  It means that you could pay people to do a lot of normal things and lend occasional assistance.
  • No commuting. The commuting was, mostly, the long-distance travel type, which human societies have developed a lot of tools to deal with.  It typically wasn’t the hurry up and wait tension that daily commuting tends to put onto people.  It is very possible to reduce commuting, but a deeper analysis of commuting patterns with an eye towards family improvement and cohesion is needed.
  • Rational autonomy for children. This means society is structured so that children take as much responsibility for themselves as possible, appropriate to their age.
  • Advocacy for feminine leisure.  

Starts are always rocky, so I’ll just conclude with this.  I’ve finally secured enough readable copies of Gene Stratton-Porter’s non-fiction nature books and essays that I will resume a publishing order review of her work in the coming weeks. She was a fascinating example of civic natalism, even though she herself had only one child.  Her entire career as a housewife who wrote bestsellers and spent hours in nature studies that are a direct line to the Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan strain of environmentalism and farming is an Ur-example of what civic natalism can provide when “just” a side effect of wider social norms.  She was also an influential advocate for other women to have better homemaking conditions and society-wide support.

And yes, there will be some commentary about the politics of civic natalism.  They intersect with how the right wing in America used to have a pretty good deal for bright women to be housewives and how they threw it away.  But those same politics also intersect with radical feminist policy ideas about how to support motherhood.  To summarize those future posts, let’s just say Phyllis Schlafly was a radical feminist when it came to motherhood.

Blew my mind, too.

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Sarah Palin is Lisa Jackson

In both cases the people in question were slack about doing their jobs and that is why they had the ‘secret’ email accounts.  Less paperwork/weeding through hundreds of emails.  Less…work.

Also, both nailed by their own provincialism.

I picked these two examples because the media treated one example verrrry differently than the other, both the mainstream media and the right wing media.  The mainstream media tried to present Sarah Palin as specially corrupt, while the right media tried to present Lisa Jackson as specially incompetent and affirmative-actionish.  Both women, despite being quite on opposite sides politically, were actually playing standard roles.  Government officials, both elected and unelected these days seem to think doing their jobs is beneath them, but by gum y’all had better be ready to pay more taxes/vote in more bond issues.

I would also note that for complicated tribal reasons, a surprising amount of doxxing was done to both women which resulted in their having to suffer some consequences for their slackness.  Just think of the possibilities if this was done As A Rule for government officials!

Nobody thinks of government as containing people who are fellow community members anymore.  It’s all very atomized and deracinated.  Nobody, especially conservatives, seems to want locals as their government anymore.  But that’s also real community and real authority, not bouncing around all over the country for promotions just like in the terrible private sector.

Something to consider when conservatives go on their tears about the evils of “government”.  It’s supposed to be their very neighbors, friends and relatives, but they are too blinded by ideological haze to think of it that way.

An example of where the Bureaucrat Wiki would sure come in handy (graphic content warning in link)

Someone who took the time to find out which employees are doing these things (they are listed in a search-only directory, it would require Nerd Power to do online-only, some phone calls to the Denver EPA office otherwise) would be doing a pretty impressive job of setting up a means to demand accountability from government employees who think they can literally do whatever the poop they want.  That link is pretty gross, because the people involved are doing appalling scatological things in their workplace.

Just posting all the EPA employees by working through the search-only directory with contact phone numbers would be a powerful and useful act.  Better than pointing and laughing followed by laments that “these people can’t be fired.”

I talk about the Bureaucrat Wiki as an idea in its own permanent page.