What went wrong with the West? (2)

The four cornerstones of post-WW2 prosperity in the West – family, free enterprise, patriotism and religion – are all interconnected. For editorial purposes I will try to cover them one at a time but some overlaps are unavoidable. This essay is dedicated to tracking the demise of the traditional post-WW2 family model.

For all their cheesiness and pomp, the stereotypes projected in ads from the post-war period do represent how most people lived back then. Yes – women stayed at home and men brought the bacon. Under social pressure spouses were expected to resolve their marital problems, divorces were rare. Out of the wedlock children were even rarer and something of a stigma to their mothers. Children went to schools where this model of a family was presented as a norm. All alternatives were viewed as aberration. Young people were expected to respect their parents and be courteous to all adults. While conservative and sometimes hypocritical, this system actually worked reasonably well as the anchor of social order. Until it fell to a four-punch combination of the social changes.

The first blow came in the form of a contraceptive pill. Made available to the public in early 1960s it conferred virtual impunity on those cheating on their spouses. No longer did the unfaithful need to worry about the possible long-term consequences of their actions. This, predictably, greatly enlarged the pool of willing participants and changed the rules of the game for everyone else.

The second major development chipping away at a traditional family was the introduction of no-fault divorce. Cheating on one’s spouse no longer attracted any legal consequences. Divorces became accepted as a natural course of events and no blame for them was attached to anyone.

The third invention which undermined a traditional family was social welfare targeting single parents. Decision to be a solo parent (by getting pregnant out of the wedlock or through a separation/divorce) was no longer associated with a prospect of abject poverty and so became a viable option.

What finished off the concept of a traditional family was artificial insemination. In conjunction with the universal social welfare it enabled procreation not only outside of marriage but also without any physical or emotional interaction with the co-procreator. Family lost its biological meaning and became a social construct.

These four, arguably well meaning, changes have conspired to produce a new social reality in which we now live. In the Western world between one third and one half of all children are brought up living with only one biological parent. This  leads to very negative social outcomes like juvenile criminality, abuse, neglect and other dysfunction. The monetary cost of this situation is astronomical and ruinous. We are all paying for it through bitter custody disputes, tax money spent on solo parents, having to deal with crime committed by unadjusted youths etc. This directly affects the budgets of the Western countries as well as creating imbalances in the societies.

What went wrong with the West? (3)

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