There is a popular saying in the English language which goes “don’t judge someone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”. The meaning of this idiom is that every human being has their own individual circumstances which cause them to behave in the particular way that they behave, and that one must refrain from judging those whose circumstances they do not fully comprehend.
Before my loyal readers get up in arms and start accusing me of moral relativism, let me introduce a concept in politics that will be referred to on this blog as paleolibertarianism. The goal of paleolibertarianism is to put people in scenarios which are well outside of their comfort zones to see how they react. Numerous examples of paleolibertarianism can be found in modern society, but the one that Americans are probably most familiar with is that of the dysfunctional household:
Azharuddin Ismail, star of the popular British film Slumdog Millionare, crying out after being beaten by his father for refusing to speak with journalists after returning from his trip to Los Angeles. Although this behavior may seem out of place in a Muslim household given Islam’s emphasis on modesty (which it tries to enforce among both genders) and general distrust of Western media in the Muslim world, it makes a lot more sense when you realize that social conservatism and postmodern values are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Alpha males are a classic example of this phenomenon at work– just about every human society encourages them to participate as much as possible, without any regard to notions of individual well-being or even physical security. Fortunately, Ismail’s father apologized for his behavior after being begged to stop by the child’s mother, who was able to take advantage of the high status held by mothers in South Asian cultures to gain leverage over her husband.
Common sense tells us that if you want your kids to live happy and fulfilling lives, you need to take good care of them while they are young. This principle is a reference to mammalian biology: most mammalian species spend a singificant amount of time taking care of your young, both in the form of providing them with necessities such as food and protection and in the form of teaching them essential survival skills. Childcare is significantly less complicated in other parts of the animal kingdom, with many species producing large numbers of offspring with the expectation that only a few will survive to adulthood. But we’re humans, and we have an anthropocentric view of the universe, so what does it matter to us how those “lesser species” behave?
A springtail. Springtails are an arthropod lineage that is considered to be the most numerous on the surface of the Earth, with up to 200,000 residing in a square meter of soil. The period following the K-T
extinction event c. 65 million years ago is often inaccurately referred to as the “Age of Mammals” in reference to the vertebrate lineage that occupied the niches once held by the dinosaurs. It can just as easily be referred to as the “Age of Insects”, since they make up most of the planet’s biomass.
The argument typically goes something like this: one day the family’s children get fed up with the way the household is being run, and they decide to confront the parents about it, since most cultures place adults in a position of authority over their children. The parents typically respond by saying something like “we may not be perfect, but would you children do any better if you were in our position?”. What typically ensues next is a long lecture by the parents describing the myriad problems they have to deal with in order to maintain a functioning household. Occasionally, there may even be a temporary role reversal, where the children are allowed to take over the household with the parents occupying a subordinate position.
The purpose of this social experiment is to teach the children to respect their society’s authority figures. After all, they perform difficult jobs which are necessary to keep society running. However, in order for society to truly thrive, the children need to eventually reach a state where they can take over the duties of the elders and maintain a household of their own. The Millenial generation appears to be an exception to this rule: as of 2015, young Americans were living with their parents at a rate roughly equivalent to the Great Depression.
The current period of recovery from the Great Recession can effectively rule out economic explanations for this behavior. Explanations involving some sort of cultural shift within American society can also be ruled out if one understands that Biblical Christianity has a moderate bias in favor of female sexual liberation, as exemplified by incidents such as the Curse of Canaan, which places the blame for public nudity on the people who view it and not on the people who expose themselves:
Under a liberal mating culture, there is a distinct bias against low-status males (see the post on Life Under Radical Feminism). Therefore, the tendency among modern Millenial men to stay with their parents long after maturity represents a break from Judeo-Christian values, which otherwise encourage men to separate themselves from their parents’ homes (see the parable of the Prodigal Son). Once economic and cultural factors are ruled out, one and only one possibility remains: the United States is fundamentally a frontier society, and requires an area beyond the pale of settlement to put young men so that they can stake out a claim for themselves
Since the closing of the physical frontier in 1890, several other alternatives have been proposed, such as global trade and high technology. Economic collapses such as the Dot-Com Bust at the beginning of the previous decade and the global financial crisis at the end have proven that these are short-term solutions at best. This leaves aside one last possibility: disasters. Cataclysmic events that shake up the global landscape, predicted to become more frequent as the 21st century progresses, will be what allows the current batch of American youth to truly shine, just as the Greatest Generation was defined by their experience during World War II.
BBC article on which species deserves the title of dominant life form: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150211-whats-the-most-dominant-life-form
Time Magazine article describing living arrangements of the Millenial generation: http://time.com/4108515/millennials-live-at-home-parents/
Census Bureau infographic outlining 21st-century population trends: