Amazon recently revealed they have 90 million or so Prime users in America, and that in the income ranges that mark the married class they have 70 to 90% uptake, with the 100k+ being close to 90% as far as they can tell. By nearly any guess or estimate or account list, the majority of American households period are not just buying from Amazon, but subscribed to its Prime division.
I see right wing people brag about not buying from Amazon ever, and then I look at the reality on the ground for married mothers, who continue to have most of the children.
Acknowledgement of the extent of SCALE is part of the way towards reducing it. Bragging on a Amazon Web Services-backed server about how you personally never go near the website to buy books or whatever, not so much.
The frontier, the leading edge of private retreat, was not possible without a massive international and global infrastructure and use of cutting-edge technology and instant communication.
A common modern variation, telecommuting while “farming” ten acres in a rural community, is also obviously impossible without technological scale. Scale refers to the idea that human societies grow in complexity and, er, scale with advancements in technology and the resulting productivity gains creating a reinforcing cycle of more and more scaling and consolidation and globalization.
As to more typical forms of conservative private retreat, they are also scale-dependent. Homeschooling was originated by people using cutting-edge communication technology and benefiting from the postwar explosion in mechanical advancement producing farm equipment that could be used to work otherwise marginal parcels of land in either size or quality. Even though ultimately most didn’t do much agrarian stuff and still don’t, the online and DIY ethos was carried forward and is still a substantial part of homeschooling as lifestyle.
There’s also the dependence of conservatives on industries that can’t exist without an overscaled society. Like IT, or government administration. Many small-government conservatives are employed in government jobs at government departments that didn’t even exist thirty years or even twenty and see no contradiction between their dependence on a larger and larger government and their belief that government should be smaller. IT in its tech-company form is obviously full of deviance and general anti-family social aspects, yet it is if anything promoted the absolute most by conservatives as a family-supporting career path.
Conservatives tend to rely for frugality tips on mass production of cheap goods and also see nothing wrong with this dependence on cheap global labor in textiles and food. A common example where Costcos are located is telling mothers to take the kids to Costco to fill up on samples before dinner as a “frugality hack”.
There is much truth to the idea that progressives want everyone to progress towards a state of total and perfectly individual consumption, but the flipside of that is that conservatives want the same thing, except one level up, at the level of the nuclear family rather than the single individual.
But the problem with relying on more and more scaling up is that extreme complexity collapses, and brutally so. There is no graceful failure mode in a world of just in time grocery shelf stocking. Yet without an outlet for private retreat, there isn’t anything like the American conservative at all.
Early Superwife fantasy.
Something that goes very unremarked is how many generations we’ve had of pornography exposure being a significant male rite of passage in America. And how government funding injected enough cash into the industry to industrialize its production. You can start a timeline with World War II, in which pornography was distributed as an alternative to camp followers and the “gifts” they brought (mostly venereal disease, but also babies). There were millions of young men exposed to pornography in a mostly or all-male environment. Then, after seeing hundreds and thousands of pictures of women dressed even less discreetly than the picture opening this post and doing way more than what that lady is, they went home to wives and future wives.
That was the Greatest Generation.
Their sons got exposed a little earlier, magazines under the bed, late teens high school bonding. But it was already normalized as something a young man might want to do. It was acceptable fringe. Not to mention their sons were coming of age in the middle of “free love”. There was now some idea that it might be ok to try a few of those things in the magazines out before marriage, just not with the girl you planned to marry.
Well, we all have a pretty good idea how the Boomers and Silents handled the influences of mass pornography getting even more normalized and mainstream in their young adulthood.
They were the swingers and nudists and the earliest waves of what is now called “polyamory” on the secular fringe. On the Christian-inflected fringe side, they were Flirty Fishers and sisterwivers in the 1970s and 1980s. There was also the acceptable fringe of taking your date to a pornographic theater, although now that is moving more into Generation X.
It’s hard to accept, but these were the parents of the Millennials and Generation X. And this is just part one. Part two is going to note what the consequences were to those Millennials and Gen X’ers.
Might also want to notice that this is an early example of managerialism and modern efficiency thinking, too.