Monday, June 15, 2015

Do Young Men's Lives Matter?

The strange thing is: some lives do matter more than others. In particular, female lives seem invariably to matter more than male lives. The rule applies in all communities. Today, it is most evident in African-American communities.

One does not know how this proves the persistence of patriarchal oppression, but black women are more successful in life than are black men. They are more likely to graduate college and to pursue careers. And they are less likely to be incarcerated and less likely involve themselves in gang wars and criminal behavior.

Parts of black America appear determined to destroy themselves—black men, that is, rather than black women, who graduate from university at twice the male rate and hold more full-time jobs. Call it genosuicide, the self-willed extinction of a people, and it happens all the time, especially when young men decide that to matter, they must assert themselves violently.

As the nation’s politicians and media figures gnash their teeth about police misconduct, young black men are producing a crime wave that is killing, for the most part, other black men.

The numbers are staggering. Goldman writes:

To demonstrate that they matter, young black men kill other young black men in appalling numbers. The Economist notes that if black America were a country, it would have the highest murder rate in the world, adding, “Black Americans are still eight times more likely to be murdered than whites and seven times more likely to commit murder, according to the FBI. An incredible one-third of black men in their 30s have been in prison.”

Think about it: blacks are eight times more likely to be murdered and seven times more likely to commit murder. Black Americans have the highest murder rate in the world. It boggles the mind.

At the least, it tells us that the social programs that were designed to improve the lot of black Americans have failed… miserably.

Goldman argues that what he calls “genosuicide” has occurred throughout human history. As a rule, and in the examples he cites, it occurs at certain moments in wars, when a nation on the brink of defeat throws more and more young men into the fray, causing more and more casualties.

In Goldman’s words:

The lives of a third of young black Americans have been ruined. That is an important statistic: wars never are fought to the point of actual extinction, but rather to the point at which there are too few prospective fighters to continue the war. Violent self-assertion is the common theme in such wars. Before the dawn of civilization, in fact, that was the norm of the human condition: two-fifths of prehistoric males typically died in tribal warfare, according to the anthropologist Lawrence H. Keeley.

Wars of near-extinction are not universal but are remarkably common in ancient as well as modern history.

Goldman’s analogy is not quite as good as it appears to be. Largely because young black men are not fighting for their nation or for a cause. They are fighting and dying in order to prove themselves as gangsters. It’s not about manliness; it’s about machismo.

Goldman recognizes this aspect of the problem:

To “matter” in the hip-hop culture that predominates among young black men is to be tougher and more rapacious than one’s fellows, to be indifferent to the prospect of prison or death, to get rich or die trying.

The gangster culture is a caricature of military culture. The ongoing slaughter in America’s inner cities more closely resembles the activities of Mexican drug cartels than it does the German army during World War I.

One suspects that machismo exists primarily in matriarchal cultures, cultures where men are deprived of a meaningful way to earn their place in the male status hierarchy. Clearly, America’s inner cities are far more matriarchal than are other parts of the nation.

But, why are men so drawn toward cultures that see warfare as a way to accede to the status of adult male? It’s not just that they want matter.

Unfortunately, the willingness to risk one’s life, the willingness to take another life in a socially sanctioned way seems to be endemic to manliness. Women are less likely to get involved in such activities because their bodies are more valuable, reproductively speaking, and more difficult to replace.

Does the test of manhood always involve risk to life and limb? Or, was William James right to suggest that commerce and industry can serve as a moral equivalent of war. Of course, this assumes that people who compete in the marketplace are following a martial ethic.

If James is right, his idea could explain why young men work such long hours at their jobs, without much regard for their health or for work/life balance. It also explains why they work so hard to win out in competition.

Women are less inclined to work such long hours because they are hard-wired to avoid risking their reproductive potential. Normal communities respect women’s choices in this area.

But, is the work more killing and more deadly when the cause is lost? Such is Goldman’s contention and it is  worth considering.

Even though Goldman has mistakenly confused military campaigns with gang violence, he still offers an interesting observation when he says that in conflicts like World War I and the American Civil War the greatest number of casualties occurred when the wars were basically lost.

For the losing side, in particular, wars end when there is no longer anyone left to fight them.

In Goldman’s words:

… casualty rates typically rise in inverse proportion to the probability of victory. The young men who fight great wars are not game theorists, calculating the likelihood of dying in battle against the probability of victory. On the contrary, casualty rates typically rise sharply after hope of victory has faded. What matters is to “matter.”

Of course, we may entertain other possible interpretations.

In some cases, a nation that is facing defeat will be unwilling to accept it. Its leaders might believe that one last counteroffensive—throwing everything it has against its enemy—will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

In other cases, men might believe that an honorable death is better than ignominious defeat, or, in a more Darwinian sense, that the members of a defeated army should not be breeding the next generation. This would be the rule until a nation faces the possibility that there might not be enough men left to breed.


priss rules said...

"Call it genosuicide, the self-willed extinction of a people, and it happens all the time, especially when young men decide that to matter, they must assert themselves violently."

Not true. Black men may mess up, but whoever happen to be around hump lots of different women and make them pregnant.

After all, black birthrate is higher than white birthrate despite the fact that so many black men are in jail. One black male can impregnate dozens of black women in the black community. Such things are not uncommon.

Also, there is massive immigration from Africa.

It's the white race we should be worried about both in the US and Europe.

priss rules said...

One possible explanation of high casualties when defeat is near could be the sheer sense of fear and desperation, especially if the losing side believes that the victors will seek a Carthaginian Peace.

Germans surrendered in WWI with the knowledge that they will be allowed to survive.

But given the gravity of their crimes in WWII, many Germans saw the war as do or die with nothing in between.

priss rules said...

Though the black community is the epicenter of rap culture/music, its ripple effect on the global stage has been staggering and corrupting.

What does rap culture teach young people? To emotionally never mature, act like each one is the center of the world, and feel contemptuous hostility toward the entire world.

Most pop music has been shallow, but they were positively about having a good time. Rap is about negative feelings of domination and destruction.
But young men love the thrill of violence and young women are allured by raw power.
Hormones in teenagers have their own 'logic'.

JK Brown said...

In America, it is centered in the Black community, but if you read Theodore Dalrymple's 'Life at the Bottom' you'll see the same "underclass", as he labels it, characteristics among the White poor in England. The underclass to differentiate from the economically poor. And the underclass isn't limited to the poor although the poor are less able to recover from the consequences of the underclass habits. Habits such as lack of a sense of agency, acting on impulse, lack of the ability to deny gratification and save, an active disdain for education and let's not forget the serial illegitimacy due to unstable personal relationships.

Reading his essays, you see, race isn't the determining factor, it just happens to be the most noticeable in the US.

Also, neither is economic status, except that the rich kid or pop star has more resources to recover from the consequences.

David Foster said...

Much criminal violence seems due to the fear of being "disrespected"...that if you back down this time, you will forever after be a particular target. Not completely dissimilar from the behavior of nation-states in the Hobbesian jungle of international politics.

I hypothesize that the extreme fear of being Disses, with associated willingness to use violence, is much stronger in situations where people expect to be in the same social group for a long time. Get Dissed in a situation where you don't know work in a temporary job, let's much less consequential than getting Dissed in a neighborhood where all your friends and your actual or prospective enemies will know about it.

Ares Olympus said...

re: ...This would be the rule until a nation faces the possibility that there might not be enough men left to breed.

That's a rather crude way to end an a blog, and inaccurate given we know women are more important, and a small number of men who survive a war or whatever can father a large number of children if the women survive.

And the linked Economist's article would seem to follow the conservative's "family structure" point of view, including a graph showing 70+% of black children born outside marriage compared to 30% of white children.

While Goldman's conclusion certainly is provocative "The heavy hand of the police in inner cities, despite its frequent brutality and disregard for legal niceties, saves black lives."

If I think my to my own rather mild childhood rebellion, I'd say the number one cause of my outrage came from nonproportional responses by people with authority, that is to say, if you treat someone like a criminal, treat honest mistakes as criminal activity, you're actually teaching people to act in criminal ways. If being good doesn't get you ahead, then you might as well be a smarter criminal than naive loser who gets knocked down for doing your best.

So I think it is very dishonest to say brutality in authority serves any positive purpose, and saving lives doesn't help if those lives discover distrust of authority and mirroring that brutality is what gets people ahead.

Anonymous said...

I read the book Iron John, by poet Robert Bly, in 1992.

I recall two main ideas. First, he wrote, "If you are a young man, and you are not being admired by an older man, you are being hurt."

Second, he said the industrial revolution caused men to take modes of work that made them disappear from the day to day view of boys (and girls).

The division of labor in "civilized" society partly destroys some of the organic modes of interaction which boys find meaningful in the process of identification with men.

Dennis said...

To the society at large the answer is NO! Because of that we are gradually building a large number of disaffected and alienated males. This finds much of its genesis in radical feminism's attack on being male, fatherhood and the importance of fathers in a family to both boys and girls. Much of this also is a result of an education system that is so female dominated that it takes little consideration as to how boys learn. We have basically an education system that is for girls, by girls and of girls to the point that it is the "subjective" judgment of females that determine how males should learn or what being a male is.
This of a matter of course leads to the lack of any male image for most young men to identify and leads inexorably to a significant number of males who have no real stake in the society that is defined by "What do women want?" Given that males who lack any real standing in society at large will create power positions to contend with the general abuse heaped upon them. Creating disrespect for males will create disrespect for females.
My real fear here is that we are in essence creating volunteers for terrorist groups which will ultimately destroy this country. We have cared so little for boys and men in general that it should surprise no one that these things happen. Sadly, many young women are creating their own demise by allowing feminism to create a large gulf between them and the boys and men who should be their partners. For any group its members have to have a stake in the survival of it or it is destined to die. Ignore this at your peril.
The last thing a society needs is a growing number of men without a job or something to occupy their minds and time.

David Foster said...

Anon..."the industrial revolution caused men to take modes of work that made them disappear from the day to day view of boys (and girls)"

Partly true, but overstated. The American Indian hunting band, for example, did its work out of sight of girls and the younger boys.

A difference is that what they brought back with them was more *tangible* than what the employed factory or office worker brings, particularly since cash was largely replaced by direct deposite.

Anonymous said...

Tribal relations created many more opportunities for girls and boys to find relationships among older men and women organically. Younger hunters and warriors spent time with boys training them from age 5 or so for male roles, and older men who could not hunt or go to war also spent much time closer to home. A female did not so much "own" her children in a nuclear family ... the older males and females and adult female peers were around to influence and moderate how women raised their children.

Natives had iconic heroes, such as great hunters, or great warriors, however in a civilized society any deprivation in early social relationships in childhood gets amplified and associated with iconic-role worship. I had to fire several therapists who simply resisted my efforts to recognize that I had no appetite for money as a child and that its first meaning is icon of adult/parent roles. Travel anywhere in the United States with some money to spend and you will encounter customs that are common to "the dollar-tribe." This is not a bad thing but it also fuels foolish debates over the government spending and taxing policy (driven by infantile bias and not by reason and compassion) and children's real emotional cognitive development needs are not yet well understood.

n.n said...

The "genosuicide" concept bears an uncanny resemblance to selective-child or pro-choice policy. Although, in the latter case, it is a sacrificial rite normalized or promoted by society. Presumably the self-initiated victims will voluntarily embrace evolutionary dysfunction (e.g. kill their Posterity), and adopt an amoral and opportunistic philosophy, in exchange for secular incentives, including: wealth, pleasure, and leisure... and general environmental stability.