Monday, January 12, 2015

Where Men are Men

Lumberjacks.  Real Men.
. . . and women are glad of it?  No, we’re not talking about the Last Frontier.  Raymond Cardinal Burke recently gave an interview in which he laid out the reasons why he thinks there is a “Catholic Man Crisis.”  We had a number of problems with the article, which we read in great detail.  Primarily, since when is the “crisis” a “Catholic thing”?  Well, maybe His Eminence meant “catholic,” which means “universal,” in which case, okay, we’ll agree with him.  Up to a point.

Lumberjill. Real Woman.
Then there’s the fact that Burke claimed that radical feminism, which has caused (in his opinion) the blurring of distinctions between the sexes and confusion of male and female identities.  This is plausible, but . . . no.

For one thing, there’s a lot of confusion over what “feminism” is, and thus “radical feminism.”  Did you know that James Cardinal Gibbons opposed women’s suffrage?  He thought it would lead to more divorces.  If the term “radical feminism” had been around then, he probably would have used it. (“Cardinal Gibbons Says Suffrage Would Fill the Divorce Courts: Miss Jane Addams and Other Suffrage Leaders Assert That Prelate is Wrong,” The Miami News, Saturday, September 21, 1912, 1.)

Cardinal Gibbons.  Real Men wear cassocks.
In our opinion, radical feminism, along with all the other “isms,” is just a symptom of the general decay in society.  If the family were secure in its foundation — meaning economically secure with an independent income not dependent on the State or a capitalist elite — then there would be less influence from outside forces, for good or ill.

All of the problems cited by Burke apply in various forms to women as well as men.  And all of it started with pushing men out of the family by concentrating capital ownership so that most men simply weren’t home most of the time.  Why?  Because they were out working for somebody else for a wage, instead of in their own shop, or on their own land.

Then technology advanced and forced down the market value of human labor relative to non-human capital.  Men were either replaced with capital to keep down costs, forcing women into the jobs market to support the family, or a double income was necessary just to keep the family marginally solvent.  Both forced women out of the family, just as men had been forced out earlier.

Guns don't shorten sermons.  Preachers do.
Now, this is not to say that Burke’s prescriptions are bad, or not useful.  They are excellent, and apply to everyone, not just Catholics.  Spend more time at home.  Take a positive role.  Step up religious observances, and take an active part in your faith community.

In short, be a mensch.  Or a womensch (or whatever the equivalent is for a real woman; we’re not exactly fluent in Yiddish here).

But it’s not enough.  Let’s get down to brass tacks here.  It’s all very well to say these things . . . but how are you going to do it?  A couple who is working three jobs that they hate between the two of them, and whose children are being properly supervised, and who are keeping up the house and everything else, aren’t going to feel like making that extra effort on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday (or Thursday, if they are Teutonic pagans).  They’re tired.  Why should they go to sit on hard seats, listen to badly performed music that they wouldn’t like even if it was good, hear some guy or gal talk about a lot of stuff that either doesn’t apply to them, or that they don’t care about even if it did, and pay actual cash money to do so?  And miss the game?

"Haste to the Wedding"
Now . . . suppose the spouses, and even the children, had capital assets sufficient to generate enough income so that only one of the spouses had to work . . . and could afford to take less pay to do a job he or she loved, and that took less time?  Husband and wife would both be at home enough to provide manly and womanly role models for the children and comply with their religious and civic duties, to say nothing of cutting down on the divorce rate because people would actually know each other instead of drifting apart.

Is this some kind of fantasy?  Hardly.  It’s a proposal called “Capital Homesteading,” and any country that adopts it first is going to take the lead in restoring the family as the basic unit of society.  (Not to mention restoring a sound economy and all that other trivial stuff.)

That’s why CESJ, an interfaith group, will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia this September.  Get used to it.  We’re going to be talking about it a lot.


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