The cause of social decay

Prosperity is not the problem.

Many great nations have declined before we did, showing much the same symptoms as we are showing, and none of them were as prosperous as eighteenth century America.

I suggest the root of civilization is patriarchy.

Firstly, patriarchy with monogamy gives men posterity, and civilization is what men build for posterity. In a society where most men do not have children or do not know who their children are, do not raise their sons, they have no reason to work, to save, to invest, to build, nor to fight, to defend, to conquer, so their society leaves behind nothing for future historians to remember them by.

Secondly, patriarchy where marriages are arranged between families rather than lovers links families, creates tight knit extended families, links families through marriage, marriage in patriarchy being between families rather than purely between a man and a woman. The resulting society is able to create public goods, good government being one such public good. Instead of government creating the public good of the road serving your homestead, you contribute to getting the road built, because otherwise your father, your father in law, your brothers, and your brothers in law would disapprove of you.

Women get liberated, marriage and the family break down, society becomes atomized, a sea of isolated individuals. Becoming incapable of creating public goods, society looks to good government to create them – but who will create the public good of good government?

Without the capacity to generate public goods the struggle for political power becomes an advance auction of stolen goods. Eventually the army finds that it is at the back of the line behind various special interest groups sucking at the teat of the state. The army collapses, or goes into politics, or both.

The reactionary prescription for our present problem is that the army should go into politics, and fire most of the state apparatus. Other civilizations facing a similar decay have done that, it is pretty much the standard solution, and it has worked somewhat, but not really cured the problem. Rome under the five good emperors had good government, but nonetheless the continued decay of classical civilization was apparent.

48 Responses to “The cause of social decay”

  1. Karl says:

    A much closer example to our present times would be the Spanish civil war and Franco. The army got into politics, a general got to rule. His achievements lasted only a generation, so he doesn’t compare well to the first Roman emperors, but Spain in the 1930s is much more similar to our present time and therefore more accessible in understanding what happened then and what could happen today.

  2. […] Way #1: Way #2:These images bring to mind a quote by Jim from earlier this year: […]

  3. J says:

    Wrong thinking. In Argentina in the seventies corrupt politicians had made such a mess that the military – that saw itself as the moral sustainer of the State – intervened and kicked out the politicians. It ended badly. Dont propose military dictatorships.

  4. […] Jim on the necessity of patriarchy, Jim on black privilege, and Jim on the Keynesian card trick. […]

  5. […] The cause of social decay « Jim’s Blog […]

  6. VXXC says:

    And Victor Davis Hanson joins the Talk…and is not fired.

    An era passes.

    Mostly people are fed up with Crime.

    Unz – a smooth operator if ever there was one – feels it is time to publish findings he suppressed in 2009. And it’s viral. I saw it happening in mid November, it sotto voce became viral then. Now the virus openly replicates.

    An era passes.

    • jim says:

      And Victor Davis Hanson joins the Talk…and is not fired

      You are easily pleased.

      Sometimes the Cathedral requires 98% compliance in its official opposition, sometimes it relaxes, and merely requires 96% compliance.

      When Victor Davis Hanson tells us that Martin Trayvon was a drug addled thug who was allowed to get away with burglary because he was black, then I will be impressed.

  7. […] cause of social decay. Related: Socialism destroys trust and social […]

  8. Zach says:

    Males first produce for themselves, and to become men. Then men produce for pussy; first for low quality women, with high quality pussy, then on to high quality pussy with a virtuous woman, his wife. Then men produce for family while protecting that which he acquired.

    Rinse repeat.

    Feminism will possibly lead to women being placed in the front lines on a battlefield, because hey, why not? males and females are interchangeable, so interchangeable in fact, it will get every person on that battlefield killed. Doh!

    That arranged marriage bit was interesting, but ultimately I reject arranged marriages with no data whatsoever to back me up! (for now) ha!

    • jim says:

      Arranged marriages seem to work pretty well for Indian software engineers.

      Female choice leads to females making bad choices.

      • Zach says:

        I read your comments on ESR’s website when you went “One Man Army” on them. In some of those comments you mentioned a case with prison guards and in so doing making a similar point but in a different context.

        You made sense.

        Under patriarchy, a female gets to choose but is restrained to a natural gender role. But look where that has gone. We are where we are now (in part) because that one important choice was not taken away.

        Admittedly I don’t really know how arranged marriages work historically, so I could be assuming a lot about that which I know little, if anything.

    • Red says:

      I work with a women who had an arranged marriage. She is without a doubt much happier than 90% of the married women I know.

  9. Sam says:

    You’re exactly right. I read somewhere once that the Romans instituted no fault type divorce and this corresponded with their decline. True?

    • jim says:

      The truth is complicated, but as a short summary of the truth, that is as true as you can be without writing a thesis.

  10. Robert in Arabia says:

    I realized America was pathological the first time I visited Washington, D. C. and saw the capitol building and realized that Brobdingnagian monsrosity was build during Lincoln’s war.

  11. […] The cause of social decay « Jim’s Blog […]

  12. RS says:

    It often amazes me how much Nietzsche seems to be talking about the same essential civilizational problems as us. –And even Stirner, too, who published in ’44, the year Nietzsche was born.

  13. RS says:

    This is quite relevant. Late Nietzsche, English by Kaufmann.

    Just what the hell he literally means is not transparent. But basically he begins with the concepts of

    A. patriarchal marriage, family-approved — a key, and paradigmatic, ‘institution’

    B. intergenerational solidarity and orientation towards the rather distant future.

    A and B arise from certain instincts while suffering attrition by other instincts. A and B reinforce each other strongly, perhaps in more than one way. One might have mixed feelings about A — he elsewhere praises romantic love in the most lavish terms — but without B you just get terminated like Sparta. (Sparta lives on in some ways, but far less so than Athens.) What then was the point of your Spartan life, once Sparta terminates? As a rule we humans want our lives to still have some remaining significance after our deaths.


    39. /Critique of modernity/. — Our institutions are no good any more: on that there is universal agreement. However, it is not their fault but ours. Once we have lost all the instincts out of which institutions grow, we lose institutions altogether because we are no longer good enough for them. Democracy has ever been the form of decline in organizing power: in /Human, All-Too-Human/ (I, 472) I already characterized modern democracy, together with its hybrids such as the “German Reich,” as the form of decline of the state. In order that there may be institutions, there must be a kind of will, instinct, or imperative, which is anti-liberal to the point of malice: the will to tradition, to authority, to responsibility for centuries to come, to the solidarity of chains of generations, forward and backward ad infinitum. When this will is present, something like the imperium Romanum is founded; or like Russia, the only power today which has endurance, which can wait, which can still promise something — Russia, the concept that suggests the opposite of the wretched European nervousness and system of small states, which has entered a critical phase with the founding of the German /Reich/.

    The whole of the West no longer possesses the instincts out of which institutions grow, out of which a future grows: perhaps nothing antagonizes its “modern spirit” so much. One lives for the day, one lives very fast, one lives very irresponsibly: precisely this is called “freedom.” That which makes an institution an institution is despised, hated, repudiated: one fears the danger of a new slavery the moment the word “authority” is even spoken out loud. That is how far decadence has advanced in the value-instincts of our politicians, of our political parties: instinctively they prefer what disintegrates, what hastens the end.

    Witness modern marriage. All rationality has clearly vanished from modern marriage; yet that is no objection to marriage, but to modernity. The rationality of marriage — that lay in the husband’s sole juridical responsibility, which gave marriage a center of gravity, while today it limps on both legs. The rationality of marriage — that lay in its indissolubility in principle, which lent it an accent that could be heard above the accident of feeling, passion, and what is merely momentary. It also lay in the family’s responsibility for the choice of a spouse. With the growing indulgence of love matches, the very foundation of marriage has been eliminated, that which alone makes an institution of it. Never, absolutely never, can an institution be founded on an idiosyncrasy; one cannot, as I have said, found marriage on “love” — it can be founded on the sex drive, on the property drive (wife and child as property), on the drive to dominate, which continually organizes for itself the smallest structure of domination, the family, and which needs children and heirs to hold fast — physiologically too — to an attained measure of power, influence, and wealth, in order to prepare for long-range tasks, for a solidarity of instinct between the centuries. Marriage as an institution involves the affirmation of the largest and most enduring form of organization: when society cannot affirm itself as a whole, down to the most distant generations, then marriage has altogether no meaning. Modern marriage has lost its meaning — consequently one abolishes it.

  14. RS says:

    > Many great nations have declined before we did, showing much the same symptoms as we are showing, and none of them were as prosperous as eighteenth century America.

    History not being math, a single example like 1700s America can’t do much to deflate a hypothesis about prosperity and decay that has — especially if you’ll allow me to expand from the concept of prosperity to that of comfort, which I guess combines prosperity and security — been echoed from Heraclitus to Cicero to Ibn Khaldun to Nietzsche. I don’t know that you’re wrong, I’m just not convinced so far.

    Who else was rich during pre-industrial modernity? I hear, England and Holland. England underwent hard core social decay by your own account, unless you want to call it ‘political decay only’. (But I don’t think you do?) It then underwent golden regeneracy by your account — but for all I know this might have been because the sobering lesson of decay was fresh in the mind.

    And Holland? I don’t know.

    Arguably, 1700s America underwent severe intellectual decay in the form of over-Enlightenment, but stayed strong for a time, because it was not really all that serious in practice about ‘equality’, and not really all that confident in practice about revolutionizing human life and upending tradition with the nigh-infallible glorious instrument of Reason. I am amenable to the view that the Ideas of the 1776 fight were mainly a pretty and esthetically inspiriting flag for the fighters. The real question was, “being a palpably different sub-race from the other English (because most individuals do not choose to migrate 3,000 miles overseas), conditioned by a very different frontier environment………… shall we stick to the glory (affective and high-flown ‘existential’ meaning) of Britannia, and power (pragmatic ‘physical’ power of self preservation and self extension) of Britannia, or shall we diverge further from them in our ways and traditions of seeking power and meaning?” It has as much to do with Americans eschewing ornate manners, and lacking monumental architecture while having the pride of having just built everything around them from nothing, and being biologically individualist in personality, and daily ‘sensing’ the Wilderness a scant 150 miles away, as it has to do with John Locke or the largely hilarious ideas of Jefferson. (Who reminds me a lot of Thoreau, a very graceful and artistic writer and person, a hopelessly idealistic ‘thinker’.)

    • RS says:

      I mean, they were serious about having a fully-republican formal regime, as opposed to Britain’s throne-dominated foreign policy and throne-affected domestic life. They were true non-monarchists.

      Equality and hyperrationalism, not so much — not compared to the Frogs of ’89.

    • jim says:

      First, need to distinguish separate phenomena: Decadence and leftism. They are both happening at the same time today, but in the past usually happened at different times.

      The left singularity creates, indeed is, a religious state: It tends to be vigorous, dynamic, aggressive, and insane. It is apt to conquer the world and impose its ideas on the world, or make a damn good attempt to do so.

      A decadent state on the other hand, is apt to let empire slip through its limp fingers. One has the strength and energy of madness, the other the lethargy of an opium dream. Today, we have both, a state corrupt, ineffectual, and deluded.

      We have seen repeated left singularities in our recent past, in the recent past of the west.

      The previous occurrence of decadence in the west was a long time back, the Roman Empire in the west.

    • Alrenous says:

      True Reason respects tradition, and is extremely light and cautious in trying to change it. The ‘Reason’ you speak of was and is sophistry pretending otherwise.

  15. RS says:

    > Women kept their empowered status despite declining man power to the bitter end. They ever refused to have more sons despite large payouts from the state.

    Why do the women necessarily get most of the blame? The ancients were half-savage in general, and when Hellene men in particular really wanted something, they didn’t necessarily stop at payouts. They have more often been accused of excessive strife and force, than of insufficient strife and force. If Spartan men failed to cohere around saving Sparta it’s possible they didn’t/couldn’t will it strongly enough.

    Of course, it might largely be the case that the role the women played in the decline cannot be analyzed and understood separately from the role the men played ; the matter might be, with apologies for writing in an awful way, more ‘holistic-organic-interactive-systemic-systematic-dialectical’ than that. The same might apply to man and woman in modernity, or Europid and Ashkenazi in the West.

  16. ed says:

    Yes, patriarchy plus monogamy, but a reasonable degree of exogamy (a condition that makes marriage an affair both of families and the couple) is necessary if one wants a civilization where trust extends beyond the tribal level. Otherwise you get something more akin to arabic societies than european ones.

    • jim says:

      Arabic societies have high trust within the (quite small) clan, but low trust outside the clan, presumably a result of patriarchal endogamous (cross cousin) marriage. Presumably, with the collapse of marriage, we get low trust through and through, exemplified in the poor behavior of males rendered fatherless by sexual immorality. (Males who lost a father to early death have better performance). With a low trust society, large organization perform badly, government worst of all.

      • Red says:

        I don’t have statistics on it, but I know 2 divorced men who’s mothers sided with their cheating ex wives over their sons. For all intensive purposes the western family is dead if even the mothers don’t feel the bonds familia.

  17. Dr. Faust says:


    I refer to the generic, mainstream male and female for a reason. The outliers were the ones who spread feminism. Namely, those who didn’t fit into the structural model of patriarchy: lesbians, ugly, fat women. All of the women who couldn’t find a husband. Now the mainstream has been inverted. The entire culture is uprooted for a small, sexual minority of homosexuals and transgenders. Instead of focusing on the needs of the many the leftist tolerance machine has instead focused on the feelings of the few.

    In the future, I believe it’s wise to account for the outlier person within the structure since it is this anomaly where the majority of social decay will originate. Any model of patriarchy is still going to have to deal with lesbians, gays, and ugly unmarriable women.

  18. Dr. Faust says:

    Patriarchy was so successful because the mainstream generic man and woman benefited from it. Contrary to what the feminists want to think, women within the patriarchy have always held a large amount of power. Namely, power over their husbands which suits their temperament more as a woman would rather wield covert power by proxy through manipulating a man. This allows her to gain most of the benefits of that power but suffer few of the responsibilities.

    Feminism is not mainstream and neither is the strong empowered woman. It’s propaganda and it’s there for a reason. When someone uses propaganda it’s always used as a bulwark against one’s nature. If it were natural for teenagers to refrain from sex there would be no need for the church to spread endless anti-sex propaganda. In similar fashion, the empowered woman model of female is only sustainable through constant behavioral and social reinforcement because without it she would naturally drift back into a dependent state and be happier for it. While I don’t have the poll available right now, over 60% of women in the UK (one of the most feminized countries in the world) wanted to be stay at home mothers. The women who feel this way are often shamed for even mentioning it.

    It will not be men who bring patriarchy back.

    • Red says:

      You may want to consider you claim that empowered women will drift back to dependent in light of what happened to Sparta. Women kept their empowered status despite declining man power to the bitter end. They ever refused to have more sons despite large payouts from the state. Eventually the Spartans could only field 10,000 men and the state collapsed after a single defeat.
      Women love being in power and only give it up when forced to by their own men or by external forces.

      • Dr. Faust says:

        “Women love being in power and only give it up when forced to by their own men or by external forces.”

        Men won’t force them. Not now. Nature will. Feminist women don’t breed. Conservative women do. Feminist women have weak men and weak families. Conservative women don’t. Feminist prosper in spring and die in winter. What do the Starks says? Winter is Coming.

        • Red says:

          “Feminist women don’t breed. Conservative women do.”
          They used to breed. Now they don’t.

          I know a conservative Christan home schooling family that had 8 children. All the girls but the youngest are married without children. They’re spending their time having fun or focusing on career. They plan to have children in their 30s or 40s(Good luck with that shit). My own conservative sister is doing the same.

          Now personal experience isn’t statistical data, but I firmly believe what I’ve observed will show in the data 10 or 15 years from now.

      • Dr. Faust says:

        I’ve only read little of Sparta. How bad did it get?

        • jim says:

          Modern European levels of reproduction. Possibly worse. Infanticide in place of abortion, late marriage, and frequent failure of married women to reproduce at all.

          Aristotle Politics, Book 2, Chapter 9. Powerful women, low reproduction. He suggests that the focus on full time military training and activity undermined the family, that the women, being unsupervised by their husbands, and supervising their husband’s wealth, got up to mischief.

          • Dr. Faust says:

            Did the women run the state? Are they capable of actually doing the work?

          • Red says:

            Sparta was a slave state. They had a large group of people known as helots that did all the labor and the women manged the estates the helots worked. The helots greatly outnumbered the Spartans thus the need for the men to do nothing but soldiering.

            They enjoyed the power that came with the running of the economy and failed in their basic duties to produce enough sons to keep the state going.

  19. VXXC says:

    From Unz essay above…

    “The exact mix of cultural, socio-economic, or demographic factors responsible for such notable Southern success in achieving relatively low urban crime rates is unclear, but might warrant further investigation. ”

    Fear perhaps?

    • Thrasymachus says:

      Yeah, I saw that too. The fact that even post-civil rights era, southern whites aren’t inclined to take too much crap from blacks helps.

  20. VXXC says:

    Why Ike whatever do you mean?

    Back to Turning Points Jim,

  21. Thales says:

    “Becoming incapable of creating public goods, society looks to good government to create them – but who will create the public good of good government?”

    Indeed, controlling government is the primary public goods problem that government itself cannot solve. I’ve seen many a Libertarian hit this wall and, unable to grasp that the problem is atomization, descend into the pit of anarchism.

  22. rightsaidfred says:

    Would the army re-install/carry on a patriarchy? In today’s climate, it might just be re-arranging the deck chairs.

    • jim says:

      That is the point. The five good emperors made mild mannered and ineffectual efforts to restore the patriarchy. I think our army would, at best, behave similarly.

  23. […] The cause of social decay « Jim’s Blog […]

  24. Bob Wallace says:

    I’ve said many times that all societies must be patriarchal to survive. For that matter, the purpose of all those world-wide initiation rites at the age of 12 was to pull boys away from the world of women toward the world of men – to teach them how to become man…and patriarchs.

  25. Johnny Caustic says:

    I like these ideas. They shoehorn well with one of Bruce Charlton’s observations, that creation is very hard–much harder than modern people think–and only really happens when there is a person who is Really Trying, whose first priority is creation. If your first priority is propagating your ideology or paying off minorities or skimming off some of the take, and your second priority is creating public goods, you will not be Really Trying to create public goods, and you won’t much succeed.

    The modern model is that we pay taxes to a government which uses the money to create public goods. But as Charlton might say, this can only work if there are people in the government who are Really Trying to create public goods. Without patriarchy, as you say, there is nobody whose primary motivation is to create public goods or build civilization.

Leave a Reply