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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Louise Perry

If we're all going to become boring eventually, I think that makes me, for the first time in my life, a trendsetter running ahead of the curve.

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The 1960s 'radical' flight from the allegedly boring to the truly tiresome:

"In my young days in the ‘60s this lower middle class, white-collar stock was perhaps England’s model of decency and sobriety. Most would have missed out on a university or polytechnic education and so missed out too on The System needing to be smashed and vengeance needing to be wreaked on trade union picket line crossers etc. These were people bored quite quickly by political opinions - including even their own - and least prone to fashionable dysphorias. But they weren’t the kind to become television producers." https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/englishness-as-a-brand

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founding

Very thought-provoking essay. The one thing it glosses over is that some old people are worse than boring—they can be controlling and cruel, and the burden always falls on daughters and daughters-in-law.

I know multiple women who face intense pressure to help their verbally abusive mothers-in-law with domestic tasks, and eventually, elder care, despite being treated horribly by the family. I get the sense that educated women receive the worst treatment sometimes. When you have an older woman who dedicated her life to homemaking and caregiving, faced with a daughter or DIL with a law degree (for example) it can cause resentment. I also think some parents and in-laws feel threatened when women have jobs and options, so they dial up the pressure in response. (I’m trying not to give personal details, but I am thinking of a few specific women I know—most, but not all, from traditional cultures).

I agree with the larger point, that we should place more value on family and generations helping each other. I will be there for my parents, and I hope my son cares about me when I’m old. But when I hear what some of my friends go through, I wish they would leave the situation.

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The struggle is not only to figure out how to build up more communitarian social support in a society with more disposable income and freedom of travel, but how to do so that is not just a fallback to patriarchal subjugation of women. Yes, we need to support those women who want a traditional lifestyle, or just who want to be mothers. But the reality is that long before the Boomers, when women are given the financial and social means to reject traditional society, a lot of them will do so.

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In India many young women are now hoping to live in a nuclear family set-up rather than the traditional joint family system that has always been the norm and where daughters-in-law are kept as servants in the homes of their in-laws.

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Thank you for saying this. If more is going to be asked of working-age adults, then an effort should be made to avoid giving them the car-parked-under-the-bird's-nest experience.

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""I know multiple women who face intense pressure to help their verbally abusive mothers-in-law with domestic tasks, and eventually, elder care, despite being treated horribly by the family.""

Tell them to go to hell. I wouldn't lift a finger for someone who treated me poorly.

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Can't do that in India where the joint family system is the default and it's just expected that the daughter-in-law will silently tolerate any sort of treatment.

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You can add me to that list. It is beyond exhausting...

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"I know multiple women who face intense pressure to help their verbally abusive mothers-in-law with domestic tasks, and eventually, elder care, despite being treated horribly by the family. "

Happens all the time in the Indian joint family system.

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Louise Perry

This essay sounds similar to the analysis and prescriptions of Rod Dreher in "The Benedict Option" and "Live Not by Lies." Mr. Dreher includes discussion of the critically important (in my mind) spiritual element. For Christians, the potential exists for an incredibly rich and fulfilling community wherein we believe in a God who loved us so much that He suffered and died to save us from our own selfishness, a God who gives ultimate meaning and purpose so life here on earth is not in vain, and a God who describes His ideal community as His bride, that is, the Church and Christ.

Of course, Christians come under relentless criticism due to our inadequacies and "wolves in sheep's clothing" amongst us. But this is the way that I look at it, analogous to Winston Churchill saying that 'democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others': Christianity is the most oppressive and hypocritical philosophy in the world, except for all the others. We struggle and make many mistakes, but if you want to give this religion one chance to maybe find out some good things about it that you may have not realized, then read "The Book That Made Your World; How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization", by Vishal Mangalwadi, and "Three Theories of Everything", by Ellis Potter, and finally, "Believing is Seeing", by Michael Guillen. I have no connection with these books or authors.

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This is a fascinating and insightful argument, it definitely made me think. I am an atheist but have become far more sympathetic toward Christianity over the last 10 years or so. My main counter point here is that while it's possible that society is better off with Christianity as a dominant structure and ideology, people have to actually believe it or it will fade out over the long term. There's no mechanism I can think of to reliably make people believe it. What you're saying might make sense in theory but I'm not sure there's any practical application for the idea that Christianity is beneficial.

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Thank you for your comment. The practical application of a beneficent Christianity is what Mr. Mangalwadi's book is all about. The other two books show how a Zen Buddhist master (Mr. Potter) and an atheist scientist (Dr. Guillen) came to Christianity from two directions that could not have been further apart. And their observations are so interesting - really creative reasoning that I enjoyed and had not thought of before.

Society is better off with the truth as the dominant structure and ideology; I think that truth is Christ.

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I disagree. I think one can believe in the philosophy of Christianity without having to accept the virgin birth and miracles. Do unto others as you would be done by and love thy neighbour as thyself are excellent precepts by which to live. And the physical churches often add beauty, calm and space for thought to our lives.

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I think this can work on an individual basis, but for Christianity to work for an entire community or society I think you need a critical mass of people who genuinely believe it. For example, within a family you may have a situation where the grandparents are fundamentalists, the parents are culturally and philosophically Christian like you describe, the kids are C&E Christians who give occasional lip service to the faith, and next generation after them is completely secular. Without sincere belief the overall trend will be toward secularism.

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The one caveat is that people do not have to be theologians, well-schooled and solid on every jot and title. The so-called Age of Faith featured innumerable illiterate people who had only a very top-level knowledge of Christian doctrine, and who often enough retained more than a few pre-Christian superstitions.

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Thank you for seeing some helpful wisdom in Christianity. But you should read the short book by Ellis Potter. It only takes an hour or so. What is the meaning of life? If it is a variant of existentialism, then the problem I have with it is the same as described by James Sire: existentialism is nihilism wearing a mask called value that is stripped away at death.

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I imagine if he were Canadian, Uncle Colm would have been euthanized by now. MAID is coming to a retirement community near you, unless you have kids to advocate for you.

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author

A horrible thought, how true

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I saw the Barbie movie last night and it made me think about all of this stuff. I thought it was horrendous. The most important character in that whole movie is Midge. The pregnant, discontinued Barbie, who doesn’t get to say a word throughout the whole thing. The one Barbie that represents the apex of feminine powers of fertility, reproduction, sexuality, regeneration, birthing, and mothering capacity - who was - according to the movie - an embarrassment to all the other Barbie’s and Mattel. Mostly for being pregnant out of wedlock (for rightists) or for being young, pregnant by a man (read: cis, heteronorm, nuc family), and happy about it (for leftists)

I’m with Midge. I’m for reclaiming motherhood and all parts of womanhood as relevant and sacred and demanding society stop trying to belittle her value and hide her in the shadows, as we’ve so often relentlessly done. We never have gotten to a place in society where we’ve honoured all the facets of the experience of being a woman. Instead, we pushed women towards either acting like men to make it in the world, abandoning womanhood all together to be relevant in the world, eschewing motherhood to have freedom in the world, and so many more examples of the way women can’t actually just be who we are because there isn’t space in society created for us.

I mean, when you have a movie that starts with a bunch of little girls, playing with dolls, stating that “once upon a time girls could only play with dolls in which they pretended to be mothers“ and then have them kicking and destroying the babies, and the dolls and the carriages, you’re saying something very explicit that is devaluing motherhood - devaluing something very distinct and universal about womanhood as being ‘outdated’ or insignificant. And that is a huge, huge, huge dark and insidious problem in our society. We’ve never been able to value the Mother, and so we’re always trying to circumnavigate her and her power and keep it shut up, while we continue to draw and extract whatever we need from her at the same time.

Ironically, the rest of the movie goes on to show an exhausted, lonely mother who isn’t receiving any credit, validation, love or respect for being who she is, pleading with Mattel at the end for them to make “ordinary Barbie“. And all the while you have Midge there in the background who is pretty much an ordinary WOMAN (the one we still haven’t come to holistically value and include in society) on the way to ‘ordinary’ motherhood who is relegated into the background as a joke, the entire time. It drives me freaking insane.

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I understand what you mean, and as a whole I agree, I do think however in the Barbie movie with Midge, they discontinued the doll IRL because of an outcry at the time to a pregnant Barbie being a bad role model and example to young girls, as that was something already ingrained in the minds of and expected of young girls as they were already playing with baby dolls and kitchens and there was already a big emphasis on motherhood for them; the outcry was because Barbie was supposed to be encouraging them to be more and to strive for more, so I think the movie was commenting on that in a satirical way, and that is the way that I took it, however I can understand that you took a different view on it. Maybe it’s because I’m not a mother yet that I haven’t experienced the things you refer to and haven’t thus picked up on these things yet like you have.

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Louise Perry

Thank you for the essay Louise it was wonderful. I've done quite a lot of design work down at a resort by The Villages so I'm fairly familiar with it and can say unequivocally that it is a very depressing amusement park for geriatric Boomers. While I have nothing but sympathy for working-class Boomers and I'm terribly sorry for the disparaging things I say about their generation nonetheless I'm adamant that the Elites of the boomer generation have a special ring of Hell reserved for them. They have infiltrated co-opted and bastardized all of our institutions. They have financialized the world putting it in debt and enslaving third world economies while hoarding all of their ill gotten gains so that they can drink margaritas and play golf. They've spent their adult lives raping and pillaging everything that their little hearts desired and have left the wreckage for us to contend with. They are a plague. Their legacy will be sowing seeds of populist uprisings and revolutions and those of us that survive will look back on this period of History and say that the spoiled Children of the greatest generation were the worst thing that ever happened to humanity. I guess a person needs more than free love psychedelics and rock and roll to develop into a reasonably decent human being. I hope I'm not being too strong:-)

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Sep 6, 2023Liked by Louise Perry

Hard men, good times, weak men, hard times and all…

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Well being a boomer, I will say you may have been too harsh. The people you describe could be from any generation. Elites tend to be the same in any generation.

I worked for 50 years. I paid the tax all those years. Now that I collect, it does not even cover my rent. But my government gives the immigrants who strolled in our southern border nearly twice that amount.

It is never a good idea to generalize whole swaths of people.

I personally did not embrace the ideologies of the sixties. I thought they were a bunch of brats as well who thought that they were inventing the wheel with their communist type ways. We are reaping the harvest of those ideas right now. But if you think our geriatric president is in charge think again those younger than him are and they don’t understand, obviously.

We all don’t live in the villages nor drink margaritas. So I suppose that makes us racist or bigots or homophobs or whatever name the younger generations want to call us.

Or perhaps that we should all be sent to hell.

It is your future- change it.

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“my government gives the immigrants who strolled in our southern border nearly twice that amount.

It is never a good idea to generalize whole swaths of people.”

Amazing.

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The same processes happened all over the world so I doubt liberalism has anything to do with it.

IMO the main culprits are improved entertainment and declining fertility rates.

People have more fun watching videos, gaming, scrolling or interacting with distant strangers on the internet, like I'm doing now, than chatting with their neighbors. The endless diversity of modern entertainment means that entertainment events stopped being communal events that you can talk about with neighbors.

Children are the glue of communities. When every adult is a parent, lots of people interact with neighbors at playgrounds, school meetings etc plus they are more invested in keeping the community spaces safe and clean.

You also can't have a large extended family when each generation is smaller than the previous one. I have an acquaintance that got pretty wealthy because he is the single heir of an extended family.

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Wow Louise this was amazing, I had no idea they did that at The Villages, please keep doing these I'm a big fan.

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So why did these tight-knit communities fall apart?

1 People bought cars and it became too dangerous for kids to play in the street.

2 Kids and dogs are your introduction agency. So, the circle of communal interaction and support collapsed.

3 Town planners separated home from work. More time spent in the car, more expense. Stress.

4 Collapse of real wages meant that women had to go out to work making it untenable to have children.

5 Contraceptive pill made work possible.

6 Being trapped in a house with kids and unable to go out is really hard on women and kids.

7 Kids deprived of the company of other kids before they get to school develop more psychosis and are harder to handle at home and in schools.

8 Blocks are smaller with less greenery in the neighborhood and less in the way of natural space in kids can play.

9 Neighborhood shops and cafes closed down as centralized shopping centers were developed requiring travel by car so that people had less reason to interact locally.

10 Families with fewer and less well socialized kids. Increased incidence of divorce.

Kids are the glue that can hold it all together, but they need the support and mentorship of a wider social circle than the nuclear family can provide. It takes a village to bring up a child.

Born in 1943.

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Re: Being trapped in a house with kids and unable to go out is really hard on women and kids.

I'm the son of a non-working mother and back in the 60s and 70s there was a whole culture of non-working women who most certainly were not "trapped" at home. Housework rarely took more than two or three hours per day and they were free to get together for various reasons: volunteer activities, card parties, shopping trips. We've lost that nowadays of course and the occasional non-working wife is trapped at home largely by the fact she has no close friends to do things with, unlike my mother when I was little.

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"These Baby Boomers escaped the extended family when it suited them to do so, and some of them are still rich enough to find pleasure in what liberal individualism insists is the “true purpose of human life”: that is, their leisure time, free from unwanted social obligations."

Bruce Gibney makes a similar argument in his book “A Generation of Sociopaths”. He argues:

“[In 1978] the gross debt-to-GDP ratio was about 35 percent. It’s roughly 103 percent now — and it keeps rising. The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it. They habitually cut their own taxes and borrow money without any concern for future burdens. They’ve spent virtually all our money and assets on themselves and in the process have left a financial disaster for their children. We used to have the finest infrastructure in the world. The American Society of Civil Engineers thinks there’s something like a $4 trillion deficit in infrastructure in deferred maintenance. It’s crumbling, and the boomers have allowed it to crumble. Our public education system has steadily degraded as well, forcing middle-class students to bury themselves in debt in order to get a college education….[the boomers instituted] a massive push for privatized gain and socialized risk for big banks and financial institutions. This has really been the dominant boomer economic theory, and it’s poisoned what’s left of our public institutions….

I think the major factor is that the boomers grew up in a time of uninterrupted prosperity. And so they simply took it for granted. They assumed the economy would just grow three percent a year forever and that wages would go up every year and that there would always be a good job for everyone who wanted it. This was a fantasy and the result of a spoiled generation assuming things would be easy and that no sacrifices would have to be made in order to preserve prosperity for future generations. On an abstract level, I think the worst thing they’ve done is destroy a sense of social solidarity, a sense of commitment to fellow citizens. That ethos is gone and it’s been replaced by a cult of individualism. It’s hard to overstate how damaging this is. On a concrete level, their policies of under-investment and debt accumulation have made it very hard to deal with our most serious challenges going forward.”

That's not to say that Millennials are much better, as this great blog post "Millennials, the Dying Children" discusses in depth: https://archive.ph/7VPGE

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As a millennial, I wish I could read that whole insightful piece, but it seems to be cut off.

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Scroll down while selecting it :)

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Louise Perry

Thank you for sharing Khaldun’s concept of “Asabiyyah” - his work is so deep on my backburner list that I probably wouldn’t have encountered it for another 2 years.

Also, relevant to your account of the general changing zeitgeist around individualism vs collectivism/communitarianism is Gerstle’s “The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order.” I’m just about 1/3 through it and it’s packed with insights on the core factors affecting how Political Orders shift (in an American context, from the New Deal Order to the Neoliberal Order. As a subplot in the overarching narrative, it goes into some depth about the individualism vs communitarian aspect when explaining the history of liberalism. Worth a read - definitely relevant to your upcoming book if you want to nest the dialogue in ideological underpinnings as well.

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Extraordinary ageism to think old/er people are boring. Boring, demanding and needy people are spread pretty evenly across all age groups.

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Sep 9, 2023Liked by Louise Perry

Can't wait for your next book! I have been so enriched by your book The Case Against the Sexual Revolution. I have an organization based in Los Angeles called Father-Con which was conceived through my work on prevention of human trafficking and realizing the intersection of fathers and trafficking through personal behavior but also through the impact they have on sons and daughters. I have found great content in your writing and sharp analysis of the inconvenient data. Thank you!

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Louise Perry

Really enjoyed the audio option on this one! Content was of course great too.

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This is a fascinating essay, however it completely leaves out issues of abuse passed down generationally- some of us are no longer connected to our parents and extended families because they physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abused us, with much of the abuse continuing into adulthood. One of the things that has changed a lot over the past century is people’s refusal to take that kind of abuse, and economic independence is what allows us to do so- especially for women. I think we romanticize these bygone times of community, forgetting that many of these inter generational family systems were RIFE with abuse. And that’s not even taking into consideration anyone from the LGBTQ+ community. As someone who is no longer in community with my abusers, I do long to have grandparents to help love and care for my children, but not at the price it would cost me to have that.

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Thought provoking post.

I don't buy the argument that today there is a trade-off between a communitarian set-up and material prosperity.

I agree that the disappearance of the clan did have a propulsive effect on capitalism (See the book The Weirdest People in the World by Joseph Henrich)

But today a big source of social capital is still the extended family, including close friends, which leads to all sorts of material opportunities, including employment. Of course that sort of social capital can become elusive if you have a family "tree" without many children. so that there is no real extended family. And perhaps that's one of your points in your upcoming book.

robertsdavidn.substack.com/about

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