F. Roger Devlin, American Renaissance, June 2008
There is nothing new under the sun. The radicals of the 1960s who championed sexual liberation and called marriage a “system of oppression” imagined they were doing something revolutionary—and in a sense they were, but feminism and the sexual revolution have led to the reemergence within the white world of a more primitive family system long observed in Africa.
A forgotten warning
About the middle of the “roaring twenties,” the eminent literary critic Irving Babbitt issued a warning:
Sexual unrestraint is wreaking fearful havoc to society. The resultant diseases are a menace to the future of the white race. There is an undoubted connection between a certain type of self-indulgent individualism and an unduly declining birthrate. The French and also the Americans of native descent are, if we are to trust statistics, in danger of withering from the earth. Where the population is increasing, it is, we are told, at the expense of quality. The stocks to which the past has looked for its leaders are dying out and the inferior or even degenerate breeds are multiplying.
As for remedies, Babbitt acknowledged that people are not usually motivated by “such general grounds as the good of the white race menaced by ‘the rising tide of color’ ” (alluding to Lothrop Stoddard’s then-recent book). He proposed that traditional ideals of self restraint—continence and monogamy—would be of greater racial benefit than explicitly eugenic considerations.
Today the sexual situation in the Western world has reached a state worse than Babbitt could have imagined possible, and his warnings are more timely than ever—and his skepticism about explicitly racial solutions is still warranted. Normal people do not make decisions about marriage and children on the basis of scientific findings or because of racial politics.
The problem is not intermarriage. Only about 1 percent of whites marry outside their race and just 0.4 percent of whites marry blacks (though these rates are much higher than in 1880, when only one in a thousand whites married out). On the other hand, vast numbers of Western women are either not reproducing or doing so at below-replacement level. Some racially conscious whites seem to be more concerned about one interracial union than 50 childless white couples. I believe it is because they can see the occasional white mother pushing a mixed-race baby in a stroller, whereas they cannot see the children other white women are not having. The greatest threats to a nation do not always strike the eye.
Racially conscious whites also object to the small number of white men who go to the trouble and expense of seeking wives in exotic places such as the Philippines and South America. Calling such men “race traitors” only alienates our natural constituents—whites unfamiliar with racial realism but potentially sympathetic to our cause—without establishing a single new white family. Most of these men go overseas because women in more traditional societies are more submissive, more feminine, and give family life higher priority than our women do.
The problem lies elsewhere, mainly in what is known as feminism. It is this, I believe, that mainly explains collapsing white birthrates. For several decades, white women have been reared in an unprecedented manner: They have been encouraged to do almost anything but marry and have children. It is extremely difficult for any society to make its young women unattractive to its own young men, but the West now appears close to succeeding (an achievement attributable, no doubt, to our high IQs).
Experts report that in cases involving child custody women initiate divorce almost every time. Courts routinely award them custody and generous child support payments regardless of whether the man is at fault. Under these conditions it is futile to scold men that it is their “racial duty” to marry. Men do not have such a duty, and outside the tiny ranks of the hard core, such exhortations would be futile. The ordinary white man who does not read American Renaissance or perhaps even think much about race will be more encouraged to marry a white woman and start a family as his ancestors did only if the effects of feminism can be undone.
Feminism has encouraged the erosion of traditional Christian and European standards of conduct and has replaced them with a polygamous mating pattern in which women compete for the most attractive men. This is something we see in primate packs, but even among humans, polygamous societies are nothing new, and a great deal is known about how they operate. It so happens that the most polygamous part of the world is West Africa, the ancestral homeland of America’s own black population. A look at these societies may shed light on what is happening in the West today under the influence of “women’s liberation.”
Polygamous West Africa
An unusual feature of the region is that women produce nearly all the food: one anthropologist calls it “the region of female farming par excellence.” That is not because Africans have a progressive belief in careers for women, but because West African agriculture is very simple. Cultivation tends to be extensive rather than intensive, and the principle tools are hoes, which women can use as easily as men. The more challenging climate of Europe calls for intensive plough cultivation, which made women dependent on men for food.
There is, of course, much variety in family patterns among West Africans, but a number of generalizations are possible. Since West African women can provide for themselves, and often for their husbands as well, men do not need to worry about the cost of taking multiple wives. Contrary to what we might expect, a wife may even encourage her husband to marry another woman, since that usually relieves her of some of her chores. The men enjoy considerable leisure, which they can devote to politicking, fighting, drinking, and the pursuit of what ethnographers delicately refer to as “polycoity.”
A Dutch traveler left an amusing description of the typical polygamist on the 17th century Gold Coast, who “idly spends his time in impertinent tattling (the woman’s business in our country) and drinking of palm-wine, which the poor wives are frequently obliged to raise money to pay for, and by their hard labor maintain and satisfy these lazy wretches in their greedy thirst after wines.” Traditionally, husbands need not share personal earnings with their wives; the definition of marriage does not include community of property.
There is a disincentive for polygamous husbands to spend too much time with any particular wife, as this would tend to provoke jealousy among the rest and interfere with the smooth functioning of the household. On the other hand, in a polygamous society there are plenty of footloose bachelors who are willing to keep lonely wives company. The distinction between licit and illicit relations may become blurred, and men and women lose any notion of a permanent marriage bond. Some simply have “relationships,” of a kind not unknown among certain populations in this country.
The result is that paternity tends to be uncertain. Men therefore do not put much effort into fatherhood; why should they, when they do not know whether the children are their own? In some cases, men devote more time and effort to their sisters’ children. No matter how uncertain a man may be about his own children, there can be no doubt about kinship through a sister’s line.
The greater role of the mother leads to what anthropologists call “matrifocal” families, but this does not necessarily mean mothers make up for the lack of interest shown by fathers. They are often content to delegate care of their offspring to older relatives or friends to whom they pay a modest fee. This practice, known as “fosterage,” is in no way seen as dereliction of a mother’s duties.
Fosterage can begin when the child is quite young, since early weaning allows the mother to return to fertility sooner. Relieved of her child, she is able to devote her full attention to having another. In other words, the effort she saves on childrearing goes into childbearing.
Western humanitarians worry about what seems to them the scandalous poverty of Africa and are anxious to relieve it. They are sometimes surprised to learn that Africans themselves do not share their concerns. Parents seem confident their children will get along somehow. This could be a racial trait, but it is no doubt reinforced by fosterage: Parents who delegate care of their children do not feel the same need to husband their own resources. Once the children are out of the house, the mother (and father) may not have much contact with them. The result is a large number of somewhat loosely reared children.
The simpler and more spontaneous culture of West Africa may be able to get along in this fashion, but Western Civilization grew out of different norms. The achievements that form our cultural heritage presuppose stable social arrangements. Predictable familial and civic relations, long apprenticeships, and capital accumulation are what allow men of talent to invest time and effort in endeavors that do not necessarily have a quick or obvious payoff. That makes the arts and sciences possible.
It may be that Europeans are better adapted through evolutionary pressures to monogamy and deferred gratification, but it would be well not to presume too much upon this. One of the reasons for studying Africa is that it is like a window onto our own remote past. During declining phases of civilization, primitive cultural forms tend to reappear. Whites are not immune to what might be called “reafricanization,” and there is evidence that something like it is taking place now. Western man is in certain ways returning spiritually to the continent from which he emerged.
In the first place, let us consider the contemporary West’s obvious and abnormal preoccupation with sex. Anthropologists speak of reproductive effort as a combination of mating effort and parenting effort. There is a natural tradeoff between the two. The less time people spend looking for mates, the more they have left to devote to their children. The traditional European practice is to encourage young people to pair off early and emphasize fidelity in order to reduce sexual competition and allow adults to concentrate on the serious business of raising families.
This is not a universal human pattern. On average, Africans appear to make the tradeoff between mating effort and parenting effort differently, with the result that sex assumes greater importance over a longer period of time. White writers of earlier days frequently noted the prominence of sex in the black man’s thoughts; when recalled now, these observations are cited with horror. In fact, early observers were reporting what they found, and what is still noted by professional anthropologists today.
As monogamy decays in the West, our mating system increasingly comes to resemble the more competitive African model, and with similar results. Young women devote more effort to maximizing their allure in order to snag high-status men, and men compete for status in order to attract these women. This comes at the expense of childrearing and family life.
At the same time, the feminist program of cajoling women into the workplace means they become self-supporting, as are the female farmers of West Africa. The Dilbert world of work cubicles may not resemble the farming plots of Africa, but both stand in marked contrast to the male-breadwinner tradition of the West, in which childrearing was a woman’s most important duty. Indeed, the modern workplace, optimized for risk-free, repetitious, sedentary work is probably the best environment for eliminating women’s economic dependence upon men. By the same token, it discourages the moderately large families of well-brought-up children that are the indispensable preconditions of Western Civilization. If enough women fail or refuse to marry and become mothers of such families, our way of life cannot be sustained.
The most important effect of economic autonomy upon women is that it reduces the benefits to them of monogamous marriage. They can mate as they please, in competition for the most attractive men. That is what the college “hook-up” scene is really about—it is not callous men preying upon wide-eyed virgins. Later, women use affluent men for their resources (either not marrying or marrying and then divorcing them). In any case, economic independence means they do not need a man in the same way previous generations of women did.
A second economic factor influencing female family behavior is easy consumer credit. Using a credit card is a little like providing for African children through fosterage. It shields young, present-oriented women from the need for frugality.
The American economy is fueled to a great extent by massive consumer debt. How much of this spending is by married men with children to support? Feminists complain that men continue to earn more than women, but they say little about which sex spends more. And, of course, the more time and effort women devote to careers and personal consumption, the less they have for the children they do manage to bear. The problem of “latchkey children,” raised by television sets and peer groups, was a predictable result of feminism.
To summarize, the contemporary West resembles traditional West African society in:
- female economic self-support;
- polygamous and unstable mating patterns;
- absence of long-term planning;
- low-investment parenting.
Polygamy without children
All analogies break down at some point, however, and when this one does it is to the credit of Africans rather than to us. The African system does not produce an advanced civilization, but it does at least ensure procreation, which is more than can be said for our present way of life. Africans may not sacrifice all that much for their offspring, but they are extremely fond of children. They have a proverb: “If you have a child, you have a life.” One of the justifications they offer for fosterage is that without it the poor foster-parent would be deprived of the happiness children bring. Africans not only want to have children; they want to share them with friends and neighbors. Efforts by Western busybodies to interest them in birth control, therefore, have not met with much success: 14 of the 16 most fertile countries in the world are in black Africa.
Sociobiologists speak of high-investment versus high-fertility reproductive strategies, but it is clear the contemporary West does not fall into either category. We are practicing both low fertility and low parental investment. It is uncanny how many of the “progressive” causes being pushed among us involve thwarting procreation: female careerism, unrestricted abortion, so-called safe sex, and special political protections for homosexuality. A society that makes these things its priorities can only have a death wish.
It is worth noting, however, that disordered childrearing is not universal in America. Many middle-class, college-educated, suburban women seem to understand instinctively that their children will get the best start in life only if they are reared by two adults who stick together through good times and bad, and who dedicate themselves to being parents. Among certain women—mainly white women—there is a growing realization that “alternative families” are not families at all, and that the old-fashioned ways reflected an ancient wisdom. Among college-educated women, divorce rates stopped rising in the 1980s and began to decline in the 1990s. As illegitimacy rates climbed to 70 percent for blacks and 45 percent for Hispanics, they peaked at just 4 percent for college-educated women, and then headed down. This rearguard action against collapse has not, however, gone all the way. These dedicated, neo-traditional parents usually have only two children or, at most, three.
Our task is to restore the monogamous heterosexual family as the normal social unit in Western society. The most important form of racial activism, after all, is childrearing. This goal will be achieved neither by denouncing “race traitors” nor by harping on racial differences in IQ. Instead, we must consider the actual incentives that drive women—who are the real choosers in the mating dance—and focus our efforts on altering them in ways that encourage family formation.
Why, for example, do white women take up with black men? Like men who search for foreign wives, they do it for a reason. Much has been written even by mainstream conservatives about the injustice of so-called affirmative action, but I have never seen a direct discussion of its sexual consequences. Given the natural female attraction to men with status, there will be consequences. Our current system subordinates the interests of whites to those of blacks. At the same time, whites must watch their words to avoid “offending” blacks, but not vice versa. Women see this; they have a keen sense of which males are dominant. Again, changing the incentives to which these women respond will be more effective than scolding or exhortation.
In contrast to European nationalists, American race realists have not yet had political success. When we do gain influence, we will have many more important things to worry about than mixed-race marriages or men who seek Venezuelan brides: things such as how to dismantle 50 years of “civil rights” legislation, the repatriation of millions of aliens, and ending anti-white indoctrination in our schools.
Many racially conscious whites worry about the absence of women in our ranks, but I believe they have it backwards. We do not need women on our side to succeed politically; we need to succeed politically to have women on our side. As soon as we start winning, the ladies will find our arguments plausible, our faces handsome, and our jokes witty. Direct political action by women is not part of the European tradition; respect for the vital female role in the family is. When we have done our work, they will gladly do theirs: bear our race’s children.