Cause of the Culture wars Even a casual observer of the American culture cannot help but be impressed by the increasing degree of polarization not only of American politics, but of cultural values and even lifestyles and attitudes. There seems to be an endless array of conflict – not just minor differences of opinion, but major conflict – even resulting in violence and murder. The results seem to be applauded or abhorred – depending on whose side you are on. The outcome of this conflict could not be more important – it is nothing less than the survival of Western civilization. This is because the roots of this conflict run far deeper than most people realize, and its consequences far more serious. For example, one of the major battlegrounds is over civil rights for homosexuals.
On the one side, there are conservatives who claim that homosexuals are seeking special rights and have a gay agenda calculated to secure those special rights. On the other side are liberals who believe that homosexuals are a repressed minority who suffer discrimination and bigotry, and that homosexuals deserve minority status and rights. The liberals who represent that view believe that government should not involve itself in the private lives of individuals, provided it cannot show a compelling state interest in doing so. Many conservatives, on the other hand, believe that the government should be based on a view of governance inspired by their interpretation of Christian culture, rooted in the Bible. Why are the two views at such loggerheads? Why are they willing to fight each other, even to the death? It is because of a basic, fundamental change that has taken place in Western civilization.
The change is the result of two technological innovations that have fundamentally changed how Americans and Western societies in general are organized and how these people relate to each other. The first is mass transportation. For the first time in human history, it is possible begin a journey on one continent in the morning and be on another continent in a different part of the world before the sun sets that same day. And at a price that can be afforded by a large percentage of the world’s population. It is also possible to pick up and move on short notice, to follow a career or find more acceptable neighborhoods or living conditions. The second is mass communications, especially worldwide television broadcasting.
Again, for the first time in human history, it is possible for an individual to make his voice heard by people around the world, and in so doing, make his opinion known. And every evening, the opinions expressed by ordinary people regarding events that have affected them, are seen and heard by viewers around the world. Again, people living in the poorest villages in India and Africa see these events in a world they have never known before. The results have undermined the very basis on which civilizations have been organized since the first stirrings of civilizations in Mesopotamia and East Asia. For millenia, people have had a commitment to their home town for no other reason than that they were stuck there. They couldn’t move. Even if they had the physical means, there was often no job or other economic opportunity that made moving away from the birthplace possible.
For this reason, most people were forced to remain in the same community, and few were willing to risk the ire of their neighbors. It was a clear reality that these people would be part of the rest of their lives, and it was vitally important to get along by going along. Now that is no longer the case. Mass transportation has made it possible to change hometowns and find a more workable or pleasant living and working environment. And since people can, they often do. Americans move more frequently with each passing year.
The result has been a lack of commitment. Why make an effort to know your neighbors when you are going to be gone in a year or two anyway? Or they may even be gone before you! So why get to know them? Why settle a dispute? Just move away! We no longer have the incentive to settle disputes and go along to get along. So we no longer feel a commitment to our communities, and cheap mass transportation is the reason why. But why all the acrimony? It is because the very basis of civilization as we know it has been undermined. That basis is patriarchy, and it works like this: Since time began, since the origins of humanity, right up until about 7,000 years ago, societies were organized around women. Contrary to what most people think, archaeologists tell us that in ancient hunter-gatherer societies that did not live in villages, women ruled the roost. They told men when to hunt and what to gather.
They were responsible for rearing the children. They did the work and since men were dependent on them, the women called the shots. Men seemed to be along for the ride, and were considered inferior in status. This is reflected in the religions of the period – gods were almost always female in gender and were benign of character (fertility goddesses and the like). About 7,000 years ago, a remarkable change occurred. Almost all over the world at about the same time, people settled down in villages with agricultural economies.
What made this event occur was the invention of the army. To defend resources, favored hunting grounds and the most productive flora, armies had to be raised to defend the group from its enemies. The logical people to do the defending were the men, who weren’t responsible for anything else. So here you have available manpower and someone is needed to organize it. Well now, any good tyrant can spot the makings of a deal here: If the men subdue the women so they can be required to raise lots of sons for the army, and if the men will join the tyrant’s army, the tyrant will give him status – for the first time, the man in the family will call the shots.
All the tyrant demands in return is that the man subjugate the women in his life and that he maintain political loyalty and the willingness to go into battle. There was an increase in family size, since women no longer were in control of their fertility and men were needed for the army. With the increase in family size, agriculture became important as a means of supporting the increasing population. The rise of agriculture made centralized governments …