How America Changed in the 20th Century

In a moderate-length article at Ancient Faith, an Eastern Orthodox website, Joel J. Miller argues that, because of changes in American society in the 1940s, same-sex marriage was inevitable.

Back in 2010, economist and conservative intellectual Thomas Sowell published the book Dismantling America. The Hoover Institution interviewed him about it, and he talked about changes in the US across the 20th century in explaining how our nation is being taken apart. Some highlights of the interview were his comments on patriotism, his childhood in the Harlem public schools, his thoughts on Barack Obama, his comments on same-sex marriage as it was working its way up the courts, and why African Americans shifted from the Republican to the Democratic Party. I became interested in Thomas Sowell in particular after finding out he was very influential on the young Clarence Thomas.

Both the article and interview gave me new things to think about as I wonder how we got where we are today. I think I'll give Sowell's book a read.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Thank you for the links. My own recent thought is that in retrospect, elevating romantic love and de-emphasing the having and fostering of children made same-sex marriage inevitable.

Tom said...

I think that was certainly part of it, but I look to the cultural revolution of the 60s. I think it's all tied into sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll.

What caused that? I think Miller, and the historian he cites, Alan Petigny, have a piece of the puzzle. But there are more that seem obvious, though whether they actually played a significant role or not I don't know. Those things would include the march of secularization stemming from the Enlightenment, Thomas Malthus, and the Frankfort School's relocation to American universities. But this happened across the West, not just in the US, so what pushed it all? I think secularization and liberalization (in the classical sense of focusing on the individual) probably played the biggest roles.

That's sad, because good things came out of those two movements as well. I consider myself a classical liberal, but too much emphasis on the individual and not enough on republican ideals of duty to community were, to my mind, a big part of getting us here.

But I'm just starting to study this.

Grim said...

You should watch this documentary about the effects of pscyhoanalysis in the 20th century. I'm coming around to the view that Freud is the most destructive thinker since Marx, and those who followed him in practice are worse influences than he was in the same way that Marx is not as bad as Mao.

Dad29 said...

Don't know if my comment made it into your earlier post. What Freud/Bernays wanted to conquer are the effects of Original Sin. That's futile, of course, particularly when such 'control' ignores the cause. It's like trying to cure an infection in the left foot by shooting a couple of rounds through the right hand.

Grim said...

Comments on older posts require me to approve them (or one of our other admins, which is anyone who posts here, though I'm not sure anyone else gets notified of them). It's up now.

jaed said...

elevating romantic love

" the highest kind of relationship, and in some ways the only kind of love." I think this is a very significant and underappreciated change. When was the last time you heard anyone refer to someone who wasn't their sexual partner as a soulmate? In fact, when was the last time you heard someone (over age 14) refer to a close friend as "the most important person in the world to me", or even as an important relationship?

The near-universal assumption is that your closest relationship - spiritually and mentally - is with your sexual partner. And that if you have a close relationship with someone who isn't your sexual partner, something is wrong. You should get into a sexual relationship with that person in order to fully express your bond. (I'm wondering how many stupid divorces this has caused - you discover after marriage that there is another person you can have a wondrously close, comradely relationship with, and decide this means your marriage is lacking.) (And if the person who becomes close is of the same sex, you may decide this means you're actually a gay man or lesbian, since your closest relationship is with someone of the same sex and close relationships are supposed to be romantic and sexual.)

How many times has some writer discovered that a historical figure had a close relationship with someone of the same sex, and immediately done a standing broad jump to the conclusion that this means the historical figure was gay? More times than I can count. It is a sterling example of presentism, but it also points to the fact that we've almost completely lost the concept of non-sexual close relationships.

(rant rant)

Grim said...

Good points, all.