The dissolution of traditional American society is apparent in the approval of abortion, oncoming gay marriage and legislative and judicial persecution of Christianity in spite of Constitution protections. The trend is reinforced by the popular abandonment of churchgoing and the widespread public acceptance of the result. But these are merely signposts along the way American society has been changing. We are in essence, now living in a country with two, mutually incompatible, societies. That is, just as is said of eternal American governmental financial deficits, ultimately unsustainable. You might refer to this as a social deficit akin to the financial one.
Societies form via similarities and cohere around common beliefs and behaviors. They lose coherence and fracture around dissimilarities and divergent beliefs. Even with much in common, they are stressed by differences, often visible where multiple languages are in use as in Eastern Canada, since politicians inevitably take advantage of these situations. But in America, the entire society has been fracturing around fundamental beliefs and behaviors on a generational basis. The young no longer accept their ancestral patterns as a model; they have struck off on their own and their direction is antipathetic to the visions of both their elders and of the Classical Liberal, Christian Founders of the United States. And such a split within a society is indeed, unsustainable. Either one side will eliminate the other, or the society will divide or even, disappear.
Consider: Popular music and social dancing in the first half of the 20th century, along with the forms of popular entertainment, progressed along a recognizable line. 1920’s jazz is easily traceable to 1050’s swing;; the Charleston can be seen in the New Yorker. Sigmund Romberg’s “Student Prince” is clearly visible in Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel.” Hollywood productions followed a universal ‘family’ pattern. And the children of American families tended to carry on the views and patterns of their forebears. Black citizens, while in the lower half of the economy, generally maintained strong family relationships and held out upstanding Christian practices.
While changes became quite visible in the “Roaring Twenties” Prohibition era, the society stood firm and cohesive. The beliefs and behaviors that now supersede the older patterns were outlaws, generally deplored and in various ways, often punished. It was hard to be a bastard in those days, or be identified as a sexually active, unmarried woman. Prenatal infanticide was simply murder and failure to believe in God was, when applicable, generally kept private. And most middle class women married and found their careers maintaining a home while their husbands, worked. Until about 1960.
The signature event of the social divorcing of their parents by the next generation may be 1969’s Woodstock. But to see the reality of what Woodstock now symbolizes, one must also look at the Altamont Festival of the same year. Proponents of 1960’s values often preach the ‘peace and love’ of Woodstock; they tend to silence about Altamont violence. The 1060’s saw the repudiation by the young of their cultural history and of its values. It was a very thorough abandonment. Music, dance, dress, manners, religious beliefs, morals, personal responsibility– all the now disdained ‘uptight’ traditional social gestalt was abandoned and repudiated. And now in the early 21st century we have replaced music with hip-hop and dance with gymnastics, and adopted semi-literate books and movies. It now requires two workers to support a family, while government supports unwed mothers of dissolute children who no longer face social opprobrium. Personal responsibility has been replaced with entitlement, abortion is becoming a government service and the feminists have freed women to either raise kids unaided by a man or die on a battlefield…or both. The societies before and after the 1960’s seem mutually exclusive.
This social Grand Canyon separating the older, traditional Constitutional America from what we have made now has been bridged, if awkwardly, by the fact that the folks on each side of the gulf have been members of the same families, held together by personal relationships while tugged apart by changing mores and beliefs. But as years pass, that bridge slips further into the past and weakens as it does so. Simultaneously, the percentage of traditionalists, shrinks. The choice is to pass quietly from the scene while the new model takes over, or to resist the trend; in essence, to take on the young. The young will not accept that graciously if history is informative.
A third and seemingly likely alternative is the dissolution of the new society from its own inconsistencies. When an entire society dissolves, it can be hard to predict who will pick up the pieces. As what we see shaping up to replace the traditional, Constitutional America does not have the look of a coherent, stable society, this last appears a likely bet. It will be accelerated by the evident inability of America to govern itself or to maintain financial integrity, as we have discussed before.
Some European countries, Australia and to a degree, Canada have shown an inclination toward self-correction of their previously, headlong courses toward dissolution. Whether the more disparate United States can adopt that road, remains to be seen.