Some who celebrate (or mourn) Trump’s victory seem to think we will return to the 1950s status quo.
That won’t happen as never in history has any other historical period been revived despite the best efforts of thousands of years of reformers. Erasmus always loses and even a successful Diocletian or Constantine end up creating something new rather than bringing back the old.
What we are left with is to figure out where we’re at and where the forces in play will take us.
To begin with, a majority of marriage age adults are now single and I do not foresee the trend away from matrimony will change anytime soon. In practice a society of “free love” leaves a majority of males making free love to their hands but everyone dreams of having multiple desirable partners, the fulfillment of which always seems to be just a few clicks away. Though most people will mathematically end up losers, the lure of being a winner is just too good to pass up. Besides, the old system just isn’t cool.
Customs of matrimony require centuries, if not millennia of traditional reinforcement to establish and once undone require the right forces to coalesce once more. Matrimony is reinforced by a pre-industrial world where resources are much scarcer and the long term pooling of resources between males, females, and their families is necessary for survival. Marriage isn’t fun and it never was for fun. It’s all about preserving resources in hard times and providing support for offspring whose survival was uncertain even with the best possible care. So long as most people feel confident they’ll at least be able to eat and that their illegitimate kids will survive, it won’t change. The combination of a steady basic food supply with low hopes of property acquisition, and social atomization that discourages pooling of family resources is an especially potent combination of disincentives.
Marriage will become much like it used to be, an institution that mostly serves the needs of the propertied classes.
The religion of the 1950s is not coming back either. Even back then, it had been going steadily downhill in influence for centuries. Christian religion requires faith in abstractions that is difficult to maintain in a world where information on every subject is abundant. From now on, Christianity will only be useful as a value system for the prole classes, never again as the ruling ideology of a society with mass modern communications.
From now on, spiritual feeling will revolve around symbols and symbolic people that make abstract social concepts tangible. We are seeing already a return to idolatry. As people once imagined earthly human hierarchies in heaven and hell, they will return to a more primitive mindset of regarding earthly human hierarchies as heavenly. Many only somewhat ironically refer to President Trump as God-Emperor. They all know he is just a man, but they associate the idea of God-Emperor with the social and political forces he represents, just as Zeus represents lightning storms and leadership of his pantheon, or Hades stands for the land of the dead and riches mined from the earth.
It may seem absurd at first but for human minds that cannot rightly grasp the magnitude of a million people any more than the size of a galaxy, godhood is the best concept to describe those humans whose barest whims affect the lives of millions.
The primary purpose of spirituality will not be to legitimize a moral philosophy but as in the days of cavemen to usefully describe the ethereal social sphere through concrete metaphor.
The economy of the 1950s is not coming back either. Trump will be doing the right thing by at least removing policies that make the problem even worse and buy us some time, but no one can change the underlying forces. Human labor will be ever less in demand as world economic growth becomes static. The seemingly endless easy gains of the industrial revolution are coming to an end and we have been entering a sort of new dark age.
I have a saying “diversity is easy in times of plenty” because once you have a pie that’s either static or actually shrinking the need to survive combined with the extreme competitive pressures in a free sexual market reduces the whole world into two categories.
-People who increase your chances of securing scarce resources and social status.
The forces in play are pushing humanity back towards tight tribal associations. We now see widening fault lines along ethnicity and class and that will continue—but ultimately determining allegiances will be complicated. Especially as it becomes more permissible to analyze humans by intelligence and temperament just as if they were breeds of dogs, so will humans divide up by neurotype and form the basis of the tribe-state.
The basis of sovereignty will no longer be primarily by geographical territory, but by the existence of a group, the culture it shares, the wealth it controls, the political power it wields. In any given state or city in the West there are representatives of every type of person we can imagine. Secession as we once would have imagined it is impossible. What we will end up with is nation-tribes doing business, making treaties, and when that fails making war, as often by buying up real estate and businesses or setting the doctrine in schools as by outright violence.
Right now, Trump is among the first generation of leaders of the Neo-Tribal dark ages. He rose to power on class and ethnic loyalties with a persona of stripped of pleasantries appropriate to the norms of our more barbaric times. He gives us a template of what leaders will look like from now on. In a dark age, people believe leaders should have the biggest winning rather than the finest principles. So from now on the people in charge will be aggressive, generous desert sheikhs flaunting the money and harems everyone else admires. The most honorable man will be he who has many children, has slain many men in battle, and delivered bounties of plunder to his followers. With the old social contract shredded to pieces the people will have no more patience for staid married family men who are frightened of saying anything mean.
The tears and screaming of Hillary supporters is not irrational. They sense in their guts, correctly, that their social universe is going through the apocalypse. The system they have devoted their entire lives to as virtuous cooperator acolytes with all its ritual jumping through credentialist hoops and saying the right things for status is beginning to crumble all around them. They have massive investment and sunk costs all up in flames. They do not even know of, cannot even begin to understand anything else. Learning in one cataclysmic event that history does not always favor “progress” is like a sheltered true believer hearing someone say “God doesn’t exist” for the first time. It is to face a horrifying void. Against every doctrine they were ever taught once-invincible civilization is actually regressing.
We return to primitive norms because only the extreme pressures of civilization ever made us otherwise. This is why civilizations always change overnight the moment people have enough wealth to have any alternative whatsoever. Civilizations persist by keeping people secure enough but at bare subsistence enough that they cannot dream too far and therein lies its fatal weakness when confronted with the slightest taste of prosperity. The real change this time, though, is the access individuals have to information—far more agile and orders of magnitude beyond what even the printing press could offer. Societies both primitive and civilized require most people to be ignorant so they can be indoctrinated into irrational beliefs that hurt the individual while benefiting the whole. The result of millions empowered to advocate in their own interests is a recipe for upheaval, and so we go forward into uncertain territory.