The Dissolution of the Family among Non-Elite Whites

Kevin MacDonald


I heard Naomi Cahn and June Carbone talk about their book, Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture (Oxford, 2010), on Commie Radio Pacifica, so you can be sure there is a “progressive” message. As summarized in their op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, the idea is that families in Blue State America are thriving, while families in Red State America are failing because they are too hung up on old fashioned ideas like sexual abstinence.

There is an obvious dishonesty in this approach because it completely ignores race in the analysis in an effort to pin the blame on traditional sexual beliefs and customs. Blacks and Latinos who live in urban areas and in very Blue States exhibit high rates of teenage pregnancy, non-marriage, and dropping out of the education process — much higher than Whites in Red State America.

So what they are really trying to explain is variation in family patterns among White people. And there they have a point. Red State White America is in a crisis. (Indeed, it’s no accident that Red State America is where most of the much-commented-on White anger is coming from.) The data they are summarizing really relate to some of the correlates of education which are in turn linked to IQ. But we have known at least since The Bell Curve that higher IQ people not only are more likely to go further in the  educational system, they are more likely to have stable marriages, they don’t have babies outside of marriage, and they begin child bearing later. These people are more likely to live in large urban and suburban areas where there are jobs for educated people.

The Whites in non-urban Red State America have a lot to be angry about. The present economic crisis is just the most recent disaster in the long pattern of dispossession of Whites who are less educated. Good jobs in the private sector have pretty much evaporated — the unions are gone and the jobs have been shipped overseas. These people see their communities invaded by racial and cultural aliens, many of them illegal, making a middle class life impossible. They see themselves losing political power to the coalition of minorities and elite Whites that has become the Democratic Party.

As The Bell Curve emphasized, since World War II the cognitive elite are pulling away from the rest of America. Hard economic times only make it worse.

And hard times are always difficult on families. As Cahn and Carbone note, “the latest studies show that as the economy has gone south, teen and nonmarital births and abortions have all increased. … Employment figures also demonstrate that male employment has fallen even further than female employment, making youthful weddings that much riskier.”

In evolutionary terms, the high-investment style of reproduction becomes non-viable as men are unable to provide for their families. Women start having babies sooner and don’t expect to receive support from males over a long period of time, especially where welfare programs are available.

Being on the left, however, C & C use this opportunity to propose that the real culprit is traditional family values. If we could just get rid of those Bible Belt ideas, all would be well:

Missing from this debate is recognition of the bankruptcy of traditionalist family values as policy for the postindustrial era. …

In the United States, states that emphasize abstinence-only education, limit public subsidies of contraception, restrict access to abortion – and, yes, oppose gay marriage – have higher teen birth and divorce rates.

Yet the failure of the family values movement simply produces another round of moral panic and calls for more draconian restrictions.

Their solution combines typical leftist utopianism with a very real program of lowering the birth rate of people with traditional values.

The solution? As we outline in great detail in our book “Red Families v. Blue Families,” there are three critical steps we can take: (1) promote access to contraception – within marriage as well as outside it; (2) develop a greater ability to combine not only work and family, but family and education; and (3) make sure the next generation stays in school, learns the skills to be employed, and cultivates values that can adapt to the future.

This is a nice distillation of the bizarre idea that all Americans have the potential to be college graduates with lots of skills suitable for a post-industrial economy. IQ never enters the equation. But this utopian future is just not going to happen. A far better program would be to provide better economic opportunities for White people, especially White males, whose prospects have been blunted by the present regime.

The fact is that traditional sexual attitudes worked perfectly well in the West to produce a very adaptive culture of high-investment parenting combined with individualist social institutions. C & C attempt to tar traditional values with the stigma of Muslim and African societies where female virtue is prized: “We are entirely sympathetic with those inclined to lock up their daughters from puberty until marriage, but we do recognize that the societies abroad most insistent on policing women’s virtue are locked into cycles of poverty.”

But there is no reason to suppose that the problem with Muslim and African societies is policing the sexual behavior of women. Other traits of these cultures are far more likely culprits,  including low average IQ and social institutions like cousin marriage and clan-based social and political systems.

The reality is that social support for high-investment parenting has always been a critical feature of Western social structure until the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Since then, all of the markers of family stability have headed south  — including divorce rates and births out of wedlock for all races and ethnic groups. (Nevertheless, there are very large differences between races and ethnic groups in conformity with Rushton’s lifespan theory of race differences.)

But this relative lack of social support for marriage has had very different effects depending on traits like IQ. For example, a well-known study in behavior genetics shows that the heritability of age of first sexual intercourse increased dramatically after the sexual revolution of the 1960s. In other words, after the social supports for traditional sexuality disappeared, genetic influences became more important. Before the sexual revolution, traditional sexual mores applied to everyone. After the revolution, genes mattered more. People with higher IQ were able to produce stable families and marriages, but lower IQ people were less prone to doing so, and these trends have been exacerbated by the current economic climate. Hence the Red State/Blue State dichotomy among White people observed by C & C.

And this brings me to thinking about Jews and particularly Jewish influence on sexual culture. In their book, C & C note that Jews tend to exhibit  the Blue State pattern— an unsurprising result given Jewish IQ patterns. A theme of Chapter 4 of The Culture of Critique is that the psychoanalytic assault on traditional Western sexual culture had a disparate impact on different IQ groups and benefited Jews:

Jews suffer to a lesser extent than [non-Jews] from the erosion of cultural supports for high-investment parenting, and Jews benefit by the decline in religious belief among [non-Jws]. As [Norman] Podhoretz (1995, 30) notes, it is in fact the case that Jewish intellectuals, Jewish organizations like the AJCongress, and Jewish-dominated organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union … have ridiculed Christian religious beliefs, attempted to undermine the public strength of Christianity, and have led the fight for unrestricted pornography. The evidence of this chapter indicates that psychoanalysis as a Jewish-dominated intellectual movement is a central component of this war on [non-Jewish] cultural supports for high-investment parenting. …

Although other factors are undoubtedly involved, it is remarkable that the increasing trend toward low-investment parenting in the United States largely coincides with the triumph of the psychoanalytic and radical critiques of American culture represented by the political and cultural success of the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s.

I then go into the academic version of the ideas presented here, especially the greater importance of social controls and traditional religious beliefs for people on the left side of the Bell Curve. (See here, in the  Conclusion).

There is nothing wrong with traditional Western sexual codes. C & C are trying to rationalize the destruction of the last vestiges of that culture by noting that people with traditional religious ideas on sexuality increasingly behave in ways that are contrary to those beliefs. But the problem is not the traditional culture. Rather it is the economic dispossession of non-elite Whites combined with a media culture that glorifies expressive individualism and uninhibited sexuality (i.e., drugs, sex, and Rock ‘n’ Roll) — a media culture that, in my view, was critically shaped by the Jewish intellectual movements reviewed in The  Culture of Critique.

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