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Is Civilization Really a Good Thing?

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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    No snark was intended. I think you're making a value judgment that we don't have much evidence to base our decision on. If we look at objective measures, I'm not sure how we're worse off now. We live longer, starve less, die violently less and know more. We can wax poetic about "losing human connection" but that is hardly an objective measurement.

    It can be totally objective. The study I mentioned above about subjective feelings about health is an example of how you can be empirical about feelings.

    Also, we can objectively state that people have far fewer friends, smaller families that they spend less time with, more stress, more hours spent working, greater wealth inequality, and all manner of negative things that didn't exist back then.

    I won't argue civilization isn't without its drawbacks, but your list of issues seems to be largely cherry picking cultures rather than the idea of civilization as a whole. American stress levels don't exist because we have grocery stores, they exist as a result of a culture that places production above well being. There are plenty of civilized societies that don't.

    The same is true for family issues, social networks, and wealth inequality.

    Styrofoam Sammich on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    No snark was intended. I think you're making a value judgment that we don't have much evidence to base our decision on. If we look at objective measures, I'm not sure how we're worse off now. We live longer, starve less, die violently less and know more. We can wax poetic about "losing human connection" but that is hardly an objective measurement.

    It can be totally objective. The study I mentioned above about subjective feelings about health is an example of how you can be empirical about feelings.

    Also, we can objectively state that people have far fewer friends, smaller families that they spend less time with, more stress, more hours spent working, greater wealth inequality, and all manner of negative things that didn't exist back then.

    I won't argue civilization isn't without its drawbacks, but your list of issues seems to be largely cherry picking cultures rather than the idea of civilization as a whole. American stress levels don't exist because we have grocery stores, they exist as a result of a culture that places production above well being. There are plenty of civilized societies that don't.

    The same is true for family issues, social networks, and wealth inequality.

    I think that this is pretty close to what he's saying, though. You can have the benefits of civilization without the drawbacks of the particular civilization(s) that we're familiar with.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Duffel wrote: »

    I think this is the thing I hate the most about modern society. Yeah, it's relatively easy to acquire wealth and comfort unthought of even 150 years ago.

    You usually do it at the cost of moving 500 miles away from your home into some nameless 'burb and working with a bunch of anonymous strangers. Used to, a 1st cousin was a relatively close family relation, someone you probably thought of like a sibling. You had your aunts and uncles and your godparents and what have you. Now? A cousin is somebody you might see on holidays or at a family reunion. People have no deep connections or roots to the place they live or most of the people they know.

    I am also not a primitivist, but the society we've constructed took a lot of sacrifices, and frankly, some of them I'm not crazy about.

    Yeah, I think post-war society pretty much completely fucking broke domestic/interpersonal life as we know it. I think that's what spawned second-wave feminism, actually (home life went from being a socially-engaging, intellectually-demanding way of life to boring, sterile, and isolating -- although with the caveat of really only for the college-educated, suburban middle/upper-class white women who lived that lifestyle. Hence the relative (and continuing) lack of poor women and WoC in American feminism).

    What's problematic about this also is that public policy is completely not oriented to address this. The modern concept of policy and governance revolves solely around objective measures of well-being -- the idea that policy should target feelings is super alien to us, and as a result I doubt that we'll really get around to addressing these issues in any productive way for several decades.

    Uh, are you seriously claiming that the reason poor women and women of color are less visible in post-WW2 mainstream feminism is because they had fewer things to complain about?

    o_O

    Lawndart on
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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    Fartacus wrote: »
    No snark was intended. I think you're making a value judgment that we don't have much evidence to base our decision on. If we look at objective measures, I'm not sure how we're worse off now. We live longer, starve less, die violently less and know more. We can wax poetic about "losing human connection" but that is hardly an objective measurement.

    It can be totally objective. The study I mentioned above about subjective feelings about health is an example of how you can be empirical about feelings.

    Also, we can objectively state that people have far fewer friends, smaller families that they spend less time with, more stress, more hours spent working, greater wealth inequality, and all manner of negative things that didn't exist back then.

    I won't argue civilization isn't without its drawbacks, but your list of issues seems to be largely cherry picking cultures rather than the idea of civilization as a whole. American stress levels don't exist because we have grocery stores, they exist as a result of a culture that places production above well being. There are plenty of civilized societies that don't.

    The same is true for family issues, social networks, and wealth inequality.

    I think that this is pretty close to what he's saying, though. You can have the benefits of civilization without the drawbacks of the particular civilization(s) that we're familiar with.

    Yeah I'm not sure either of us are really criticizing civilization as much as critiquing the results it has brought in a few societies.

    I'm not sure anyone could reasonably prefer H/G society to the one we have now.

    Styrofoam Sammich on
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    JuliusJulius Captain of Serenity on my shipRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Irond Will wrote: »
    better hope you don't break an ankle, or be born with diabetes

    Yeah, because outcomes for people born with diabetes are great right now.

    I mean, yes, you can live longer than you could before modern medicine, but you're going to struggle with illness your entire life, which is a tradeoff, especially if we're talking about someone dying as an infant which is (to my mind) not significantly different from an abortion (my argument here is that when we talk about death being bad, we're basically invoking Theory of Mind, and arguably a 6 month old doesn't have many of the pre-requisites for conventional definitions of mind), and it's something that family members are capable of shrugging off.

    What I'm saying is that you're presenting a clear longevity bias -- not that longevity isn't something to be valued, but I don't think it ought to be an unquestioned value. Yes, we live longer. Ceteris paribus, that's a good thing probably, but it ain't fucking ceteris paribus.

    Without insulin kids with diabetes would die in their teens, not as infants.

    People with diabetes surviving and keeping healthy for pretty long is without doubt awesome. You seriously can't get relative about that. It's +40 years in lifespan and some minor health-issues that only become serious later on contrasted with a short life and a fuckton of suffering.
    or, you know, have a bad winter, or get scratched by a wild animal

    Yes, some things were harder back then than now. Some things are harder now than then! Like, ah, being happy! Having friends, close-knit families, religion (which, say what you will, makes people happy), etc.
    Uh, it's not that hard being happy for the majority of people. And even if I were to grant you that people are having trouble being happy, that shit has only really started like 10 years ago.
    it was impossible to really develop sciences or the arts or crafts or really any kind of non-hunting specialist without cities and agriculture.

    Er, they had arts. Evidence of art far predates agriculture. Also, we could get into the discussion of pre-broadcast art vs post -- i.e., even in civilization, pre-industrial though, you had tons of people involved at a local level in creating and performing art. Arguably, the broadcast era, while giving us 20,000 songs on our HDDs has also essentially removed any strong likelihood that the average person will ever seriously engage in artistic activities themselves. Which is more rewarding? I don't know, but I wouldn't be cut-and-dry about it.

    And yeah, science is pretty rad, but on the net I'm not sure it's made life any more enjoyable.

    You're joking right?

    Julius on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Basically, I think the ideal situation is where civilization reaches a point where we start directly modifying our feelings through the liberal application of pharmaceuticals and otherwise brain-altering technology (the electrodes they put in Parkinson's patients heads are just the beginning, hopefully!). Basically, I tend to think that Brave New World is probably something to aspire to, and really the absolute best case scenario we can hope for.
    This I'm not sure if I agree with.

    I spend most of my time looking at past cultures and honestly don't think about the future that much, but personally I wish we'd just somehow reinvigorate the importance of extended family and community membership in our culture, instead of prizing "getting ahead" (which, in our society, usually translates to "getting lots of money").

    I wish the hometown success story was the person who stayed there to open up a free clinic or be a teacher working with the children of people they themselves grew up with, instead of some dude who packed up, moved to Manhattan and made lots of bank.

    Duffel on
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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    It's almost unquestionable that the introduction of agriculture lowered the standard of living for the majority of people. This can be ascertained via the archaeological record, which shows agriculture bringing with it marked increases in malnutrition and early mortality. In fact, up until the industrial revolution, it is plausible to argue that standards of living still had not recovered for the vast majority of people--life as a provincial serf, for instance, was more or less intolerable, and cities actually had negative intrinsic population growth: they were so filthy and unsafe that scads of people constantly died, and they only sustained themselves by siphoning off young men from the countryside.

    But since the advent of modern medicine, the green revolution, political liberalism &etc, the argument becomes much harder to make. We have access to incredible material conditions, and that access is only growing (see: China lifting 100 million people out of poverty in the last decade). Especially if we confine our area of discussion to modern America (or, preferably, modern Finland, Norway, Sweden, or Canada) then it seems we are hands down better off.

    This is not to say that I think our culture is the bees knees (it isn't) or that it could not be improved (it could), but rather, that when we take the "primitivist" challenge seriously--which we should, given that for most of our history it was more or less correct--it seems that we have a satisfactory response.

    MrMister on
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    Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited September 2010
    yeah i find myself in agreement with fartacus

    though i would add that the atomization of physical community and family is one of the prices we have paid for the viable options for very solitary existences, social lives oriented around the internet or gaming, and the rich patchwork quilt of subcultures that so many of you guys prize so highly.

    basically, when given the options, we have most of us elected to go off and do that thing that appeals to us, leaving behind the extended family and circle of friends that would have been there had we all not been so affluent with so many opportunities

    Irond Will on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    I won't argue civilization isn't without its drawbacks, but your list of issues seems to be largely cherry picking cultures rather than the idea of civilization as a whole. American stress levels don't exist because we have grocery stores, they exist as a result of a culture that places production above well being. There are plenty of civilized societies that don't.

    The same is true for family issues, social networks, and wealth inequality.

    Sure. I mean, the OP is a bit unclear if we're talking about America, Western culture, or society at large.

    However, if we do go global, then civilization is way less compelling since most people live under formal governments in a varying degree of industrialization, and yet still have really shitty objective living conditions. And it seems that the more people come in line with us in terms of wealth and all that, the more they adopt our cultural norms and start becoming depressed and lonely (and other things).

    One thing that's rarely talked about is how in pre-ag society, gender roles do exist, but tend to be very mild and informal. Sex was usually treated a lot more liberally than in post-ag societies. Again, a case of something we're still in the process of un-fucking.

    I tend to think that most of the drawbacks to modern industrial culture are a result indirectly or directly of inequality. I'm with Edward O Wilson in thinking that something about creating an enormous status hierarchy, far more complex and with greater difference between its top and bottom rungs than anything in h/g life is the sources of cultural "hypertrophies" such as gender discrimination, where something relatively mild and informal in h/g life becomes formalized and extreme (politics is another example).

    Fartacus on
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    CasedOutCasedOut Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Quid wrote: »
    CasedOut wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    Oh you got us there. Civilization isn't perfect. A fantastic insight.

    So it clearly isn't a good thing for a large number of people.

    Life before civilization was a bad thing for large numbers of people too. Pretty much everyone really.

    oh so its a good thing that some people live better lives by exploiting others?

    CasedOut on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Basically, I think the ideal situation is where civilization reaches a point where we start directly modifying our feelings through the liberal application of pharmaceuticals and otherwise brain-altering technology (the electrodes they put in Parkinson's patients heads are just the beginning, hopefully!). Basically, I tend to think that Brave New World is probably something to aspire to, and really the absolute best case scenario we can hope for.
    This I'm not sure if I agree with.

    I spend most of my time looking at past cultures and honestly don't think about the future that much, but personally I wish we'd just somehow reinvigorate the importance of extended family and community membership in our culture, instead of prizing "getting ahead" (which, in our society, usually translates to "getting lots of money").

    I wish the hometown success story was the person who stayed there to open up a free clinic or be a teacher working with the children of people they themselves grew up with, instead of some dude who packed up, moved to Manhattan and made lots of bank.

    Yeah, I'm with you. I think that's a good solution also.

    I just tend to think, well, who's happiest right now? Honestly, it seems like religious ascetics (monks, for example) tend to perform way better in this regard than almost anyone else. Basically, the Buddhists got it right -- if you try to make yourself happy by changing your environment, you're fucked; you gotta make yourself happy by changing yourself.

    But having policy that turns everyone into a goddamn monk seems really impractical, so recreating the neurological state of happiness as effectively as possible seems like the next best thing.

    Fartacus on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Uh, are you seriously claiming that the reason poor women and women of color are less visible in post-WW2 mainstream feminism is because they had fewer things to complain about?

    o_O
    No, he(?) is saying that they had different issues, some of which arose from affluence and the disconnection from the traditional family/friend support network that was often the price of that affluence.

    Duffel on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    My personal favorite thing about modern civilization is that it means I can bone really hot women of color, which is something I wouldn't have been able to do as a cave man running around central Italy.

    I would really like to marry MIA please.

    Fartacus on
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    QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    CasedOut wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    Oh you got us there. Civilization isn't perfect. A fantastic insight.

    So it clearly isn't a good thing for a large number of people.

    Life before civilization was a bad thing for large numbers of people too. Pretty much everyone really.

    oh so its a good thing that some people live better lives by exploiting others?

    This happened before civilization.

    Quid on
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    Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    I won't argue civilization isn't without its drawbacks, but your list of issues seems to be largely cherry picking cultures rather than the idea of civilization as a whole. American stress levels don't exist because we have grocery stores, they exist as a result of a culture that places production above well being. There are plenty of civilized societies that don't.

    The same is true for family issues, social networks, and wealth inequality.

    Sure. I mean, the OP is a bit unclear if we're talking about America, Western culture, or society at large.

    However, if we do go global, then civilization is way less compelling since most people live under formal governments in a varying degree of industrialization, and yet still have really shitty objective living conditions. And it seems that the more people come in line with us in terms of wealth and all that, the more they adopt our cultural norms and start becoming depressed and lonely (and other things).

    One thing that's rarely talked about is how in pre-ag society, gender roles do exist, but tend to be very mild and informal. Sex was usually treated a lot more liberally than in post-ag societies. Again, a case of something we're still in the process of un-fucking.

    I tend to think that most of the drawbacks to modern industrial culture are a result indirectly or directly of inequality. I'm with Edward O Wilson in thinking that something about creating an enormous status hierarchy, far more complex and with greater difference between its top and bottom rungs than anything in h/g life is the sources of cultural "hypertrophies" such as gender discrimination, where something relatively mild and informal in h/g life becomes formalized and extreme (politics is another example).

    why do we think that gender or social roles were less onerous under H/G or nomadic societies?

    The bedouins or mongols don't really strike me as all that laid-back

    Irond Will on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    One thing that's rarely talked about is how in pre-ag society, gender roles do exist, but tend to be very mild and informal. Sex was usually treated a lot more liberally than in post-ag societies. Again, a case of something we're still in the process of un-fucking.

    Depends a lot on the society, and seems to correlate with the harshness of the environment.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    Fartacus wrote: »
    One thing that's rarely talked about is how in pre-ag society, gender roles do exist, but tend to be very mild and informal. Sex was usually treated a lot more liberally than in post-ag societies. Again, a case of something we're still in the process of un-fucking.

    Depends a lot on the society, and seems to correlate with the harshness of the environment.

    Yeah, this is true. That is the thing about talking about h/g societies in general -- lots of variation around some of the cultural stuff (less about stuff like work-weeks, composition of diet, exercise, obvs). Violence is another one that varied pretty wildly (from only slightly above modern rates of homicide+war, to a 1/3 chance of being murdered if you were a dude. Crazy shit).

    Fartacus on
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    LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Uh, are you seriously claiming that the reason poor women and women of color are less visible in post-WW2 mainstream feminism is because they had fewer things to complain about?

    o_O
    No, he(?) is saying that they had different issues, some of which arose from affluence and the disconnection from the traditional family/friend support network that was often the price of that affluence.

    Except the concept that post-war affluence was able to disrupt traditional family support networks doesn't ring true when the entire social and cultural tenor of the '50s and early '60s was geared towards pushing women back into those traditional family networks.

    If anything disrupted those gender-based traditions it wasn't post-war affluence, it was the war itself, specifically how it forced the American war industry to employ a large number of women, and the post-war return of men to the workforce and the massive cultural and societal backlash that inspired.

    I'm still missing how claiming that pre-war women were intellectually challenged and socially engaged while for some vague reason post-war rich white women somehow were "disconnected" from how awesome it was to be a housewife is anything other than revisionist history.

    Lawndart on
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    shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    No snark was intended. I think you're making a value judgment that we don't have much evidence to base our decision on. If we look at objective measures, I'm not sure how we're worse off now. We live longer, starve less, die violently less and know more. We can wax poetic about "losing human connection" but that is hardly an objective measurement.

    It can be totally objective. The study I mentioned above about subjective feelings about health is an example of how you can be empirical about feelings.

    Also, we can objectively state that people have far fewer friends, smaller families that they spend less time with, more stress, more hours spent working, greater wealth inequality, and all manner of negative things that didn't exist back then.

    The problem with this whole line of thought is it's completely cultural. It's not due to civilization, it's an artifact of the way certain groups have defined their culture.

    The death of the extended family and long working hours and shit is in large part a North American (and specifically American) phenomenon.

    Look at other countries. More vacation, more family, more laid back.

    shryke on
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    CasedOutCasedOut Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Basically, I think the ideal situation is where civilization reaches a point where we start directly modifying our feelings through the liberal application of pharmaceuticals and otherwise brain-altering technology (the electrodes they put in Parkinson's patients heads are just the beginning, hopefully!). Basically, I tend to think that Brave New World is probably something to aspire to, and really the absolute best case scenario we can hope for.
    This I'm not sure if I agree with.

    I spend most of my time looking at past cultures and honestly don't think about the future that much, but personally I wish we'd just somehow reinvigorate the importance of extended family and community membership in our culture, instead of prizing "getting ahead" (which, in our society, usually translates to "getting lots of money").

    I wish the hometown success story was the person who stayed there to open up a free clinic or be a teacher working with the children of people they themselves grew up with, instead of some dude who packed up, moved to Manhattan and made lots of bank.

    I really like this idea.

    CasedOut on
    452773-1.png
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    shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Basically, I think the ideal situation is where civilization reaches a point where we start directly modifying our feelings through the liberal application of pharmaceuticals and otherwise brain-altering technology (the electrodes they put in Parkinson's patients heads are just the beginning, hopefully!). Basically, I tend to think that Brave New World is probably something to aspire to, and really the absolute best case scenario we can hope for.
    This I'm not sure if I agree with.

    I spend most of my time looking at past cultures and honestly don't think about the future that much, but personally I wish we'd just somehow reinvigorate the importance of extended family and community membership in our culture, instead of prizing "getting ahead" (which, in our society, usually translates to "getting lots of money").

    I wish the hometown success story was the person who stayed there to open up a free clinic or be a teacher working with the children of people they themselves grew up with, instead of some dude who packed up, moved to Manhattan and made lots of bank.

    That's more an artifact of our changing society and people going where the work is. Alot of small towns are drying up as their reason for existence (a factory or some industry or the like) disappears.

    shryke on
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    lu tzelu tze Sweeping the monestary steps.Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    So, is civilization really such a great thing? Were people better-off in a simpler time? What positive features do civilizations possess that make-up for their faults?
    You can ask this question.

    On the internet.

    Without irony.

    My culture is fucking dead, summon the meteors...

    lu tze on
    World's best janitor
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    Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited September 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    I'm still missing how claiming that pre-war women were intellectually challenged and socially engaged while for some vague reason post-war rich white women somehow were "disconnected" from how awesome it was to be a housewife is anything other than revisionist history.

    it's the central thesis of Friedan's The Feminist Mystique

    Irond Will on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Duffel wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Uh, are you seriously claiming that the reason poor women and women of color are less visible in post-WW2 mainstream feminism is because they had fewer things to complain about?

    o_O
    No, he(?) is saying that they had different issues, some of which arose from affluence and the disconnection from the traditional family/friend support network that was often the price of that affluence.

    Except the concept that post-war affluence was able to disrupt traditional family support networks doesn't ring true when the entire social and cultural tenor of the '50s and early '60s was geared towards pushing women back into those traditional family networks.

    If anything disrupted those gender-based traditions it wasn't post-war affluence, it was the war itself, specifically how it forced the American war industry to employ a large number of women, and the post-war return of men to the workforce and the massive cultural and societal backlash that inspired.

    I'm still missing how claiming that pre-war women were intellectually challenged and socially engaged while for some vague reason post-war rich white women somehow were "disconnected" from how awesome it was to be a housewife is anything other than revisionist history.

    OK, basically:

    Pre-war is also pre-suburbia.

    That is to say, people were way more likely to live near or with family, and have extensive social networks. Women who worked at home weren't a lone housewife -- in cities, they very likely had siblings, cousins, and friends living in the same building with them if not the same house. They had more kids to watch over, but these responsibilities were somewhat more distributed, resulting in the task of keeping home being both more demanding but also one that you didn't have to do alone. Also, whether rural or in the city, pre-war women actually had a pretty solid chance of being involved in the family business, be it helping on the farm or an Eastern European Jewish immigrant helping her husband run their textiles business in 1917 New York out of their apartment.

    Basically, women had more autonomy, more shit to do, and more robust social networks pre-war. The thing about those "traditional roles" that the post-war era pushed women into is that they were idealized and in large part fabricated. They were supposed to be some pseudo-agrarian ideal of the nurturing, passive housewife that never really existed.

    Plus a shit-ton of these post-war women were college-educated, which was a new thing.

    Fartacus on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Irond Will wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    I'm still missing how claiming that pre-war women were intellectually challenged and socially engaged while for some vague reason post-war rich white women somehow were "disconnected" from how awesome it was to be a housewife is anything other than revisionist history.

    it's the central thesis of Friedan's The Feminist Mystique

    also this

    Fartacus on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    shryke wrote: »
    Fartacus wrote: »
    No snark was intended. I think you're making a value judgment that we don't have much evidence to base our decision on. If we look at objective measures, I'm not sure how we're worse off now. We live longer, starve less, die violently less and know more. We can wax poetic about "losing human connection" but that is hardly an objective measurement.

    It can be totally objective. The study I mentioned above about subjective feelings about health is an example of how you can be empirical about feelings.

    Also, we can objectively state that people have far fewer friends, smaller families that they spend less time with, more stress, more hours spent working, greater wealth inequality, and all manner of negative things that didn't exist back then.

    The problem with this whole line of thought is it's completely cultural. It's not due to civilization, it's an artifact of the way certain groups have defined their culture.

    The death of the extended family and long working hours and shit is in large part a North American (and specifically American) phenomenon.

    Look at other countries. More vacation, more family, more laid back.

    Yeah but with the exception of Western Europeans they're also way poorer and lack all those material benefits people are touting.

    I think you're right that Western Europeans probably have it figured out better than anyone else, but they still have the problems I'm talking about to a larger extent than in h/g or early ag societies.

    edit: Man, two triple posts and we're only on page 5!

    Fartacus on
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    LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    OK, basically:

    Pre-war is also pre-suburbia.

    That is to say, people were way more likely to live near or with family, and have extensive social networks. Women who worked at home weren't a lone housewife -- in cities, they very likely had siblings, cousins, and friends living in the same building with them if not the same house. They had more kids to watch over, but these responsibilities were somewhat more distributed, resulting in the task of keeping home being both more demanding but also one that you didn't have to do alone. Also, whether rural or in the city, pre-war women actually had a pretty solid chance of being involved in the family business, be it helping on the farm or an Eastern European Jewish immigrant helping her husband run their textiles business in 1917 New York out of their apartment.

    Basically, women had more autonomy, more shit to do, and more robust social networks pre-war. The thing about those "traditional roles" that the post-war era pushed women into is that they were idealized and in large part fabricated. They were supposed to be some pseudo-agrarian ideal of the nurturing, passive housewife that never really existed.

    Plus a shit-ton of these post-war women were college-educated, which was a new thing.

    The bolded part is something you really, really need to provide some evidence of, since you seem to be conflating autonomy with having more chores to do.

    And you're actually ignoring how the war years directly impacted perceptions of gender roles and how a generation of women were exposed to actually working on their own and not for a husband in favor of some vague rage against the suburbs.

    Lawndart on
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    shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Fartacus wrote: »
    No snark was intended. I think you're making a value judgment that we don't have much evidence to base our decision on. If we look at objective measures, I'm not sure how we're worse off now. We live longer, starve less, die violently less and know more. We can wax poetic about "losing human connection" but that is hardly an objective measurement.

    It can be totally objective. The study I mentioned above about subjective feelings about health is an example of how you can be empirical about feelings.

    Also, we can objectively state that people have far fewer friends, smaller families that they spend less time with, more stress, more hours spent working, greater wealth inequality, and all manner of negative things that didn't exist back then.

    The problem with this whole line of thought is it's completely cultural. It's not due to civilization, it's an artifact of the way certain groups have defined their culture.

    The death of the extended family and long working hours and shit is in large part a North American (and specifically American) phenomenon.

    Look at other countries. More vacation, more family, more laid back.

    Yeah but with the exception of Western Europeans they're also way poorer and lack all those material benefits people are touting.

    I think you're right that Western Europeans probably have it figured out better than anyone else, but they still have the problems I'm talking about to a larger extent than in h/g or early ag societies.

    edit: Man, two triple posts and we're only on page 5!

    Waaaaaa????

    shryke on
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    IsidoreIsidore Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I know I'm a page late but I'd like some clarification, was the Brave New World line a joke that I'm totally missing?

    Isidore on
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    GalahadGalahad Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I think the death of the extended family isn't a civilization/technology thing. I think it is a culture thing. Also I think its an aspect of culture that is rapidly changing. It is getting to be less and less of a stigma to retain close ties with your family. Even for "successful men." A lot of this is being driven by technology.

    I mean, I resisted the Facebook thing for as long as I could, but then I needed to set up a family reunion... so I caved. Now I'm suddenly involved in the lives of my extended family even though we are spread over three continents.

    Privacy is a dying thing.

    And there was a TED talk recently talking about the fact that pockets of extremely long lived people can be found, where long life and happyness have pretty clear relationships to close knit family + spirituality + exercise. Was interesting.

    I go find that one now.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_buettner_how_to_live_to_be_100.html

    Galahad on
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    CasedOutCasedOut Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Isidore wrote: »
    I know I'm a page late but I'd like some clarification, was the Brave New World line a joke that I'm totally missing?

    Let us all hope this is the case.

    CasedOut on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    Duffel wrote: »
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Basically, I think the ideal situation is where civilization reaches a point where we start directly modifying our feelings through the liberal application of pharmaceuticals and otherwise brain-altering technology (the electrodes they put in Parkinson's patients heads are just the beginning, hopefully!). Basically, I tend to think that Brave New World is probably something to aspire to, and really the absolute best case scenario we can hope for.
    This I'm not sure if I agree with.

    I spend most of my time looking at past cultures and honestly don't think about the future that much, but personally I wish we'd just somehow reinvigorate the importance of extended family and community membership in our culture, instead of prizing "getting ahead" (which, in our society, usually translates to "getting lots of money").

    I wish the hometown success story was the person who stayed there to open up a free clinic or be a teacher working with the children of people they themselves grew up with, instead of some dude who packed up, moved to Manhattan and made lots of bank.

    I really like this idea.

    I just wish I knew some way to promote or incentivize it. It's very difficult to legislate cultural change.

    Duffel on
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    emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    If you want a fictional example in literature of a small community living in fear of a corrupt leader or strict religious dogma, throw a rock. All isolated small towns in all books have something wrong about them and I don't know why that trend started with fiction writers. When did small communities become camouflaged dens of evil?

    emnmnme on
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    FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »

    The bolded part is something you really, really need to provide some evidence of, since you seem to be conflating autonomy with having more chores to do.

    And you're actually ignoring how the war years directly impacted perceptions of gender roles and how a generation of women were exposed to actually working on their own and not for a husband in favor of some vague rage against the suburbs.

    I haven't specifically talked about the war, no, but it goes hand-in-hand with what I'm saying. It certainly made the shift from the pre-war style of living to suburban style of living much more stark. I don't think your wrong about the war's effects at all, but I don't think what you're saying really conflicts that much with my argument though.

    Fartacus on
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    HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    emnmnme wrote: »
    If you want a fictional example in literature of a small community living in fear of a corrupt leader or strict religious dogma, throw a rock. All isolated small towns in all books have something wrong about them and I don't know why that trend started with fiction writers. When did small communities become camouflaged dens of evil?

    When people grew up in them?

    HamHamJ on
    While racing light mechs, your Urbanmech comes in second place, but only because it ran out of ammo.
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    JuliusJulius Captain of Serenity on my shipRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    emnmnme wrote: »
    If you want a fictional example in literature of a small community living in fear of a corrupt leader or strict religious dogma, throw a rock. All isolated small towns in all books have something wrong about them and I don't know why that trend started with fiction writers. When did small communities become camouflaged dens of evil?

    Well it's not entirely a product of fiction. Strangers coming round these parts are not looked upon kindly.


    It seems a small and close-knit community is just more anti-outsiders.

    Julius on
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    DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Eh, I think the whole "small towners hate people" is kind of a myth.

    What you're dealing with is that, in somewhere like a suburb, there's no real insiders. You're just a bunch of people who share a street, probably have a roughly similar socio-economic status and might throw a barbecue together if they're feeling particularly friendly and the weather is nice. Nobody really knows each other on a meaningful level, they all just live there.

    Now, in a small town - or a tightly-knit community in an urban area, which is for all intents and purposes a small town stuck in a city - you know people. You're related to them, or your dad used to work with them, or your mom and their mom are third cousins, or your brother knows their sister from somewhere, or you went to the same school or church/synagogue/whatever. You grow up and go into the store and the old dude behind the counter asks if you're So-and-so's son/grandson and you say yeah and they've got all kinds of stories. Your teachers taught your older sister in school and you already know like half the upperclassmen anyway. Stuff like that.

    So, when somebody blows in from who knows where with no connections whatsoever, a total stranger... well, people don't really know what to expect. You're an unknown variable. At least until you've lived there for a few years and forged those connections.

    It's one of the things that really makes me not want to live too terribly far from where I originally grew up. When you leave, you're alone, not part of anything greater. It's just you and whatever you've accomplished. That's exciting because you can develop your potential, but it's also isolating, because there's no real permanence to anything you do. You're just FirstName Lastname, Occupation. And to me, that doesn't seem like the best kind of life that we could have.

    Duffel on
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    LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    The bolded part is something you really, really need to provide some evidence of, since you seem to be conflating autonomy with having more chores to do.

    And you're actually ignoring how the war years directly impacted perceptions of gender roles and how a generation of women were exposed to actually working on their own and not for a husband in favor of some vague rage against the suburbs.

    I haven't specifically talked about the war, no, but it goes hand-in-hand with what I'm saying. It certainly made the shift from the pre-war style of living to suburban style of living much more stark. I don't think your wrong about the war's effects at all, but I don't think what you're saying really conflicts that much with my argument though.

    What strikes me as odd about your stance, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that you're taking the circumstances that allowed the first "second wave" feminists to begin to articulate to mainstream culture their alienation with traditional gender roles as being the initial and sole cause of that alienation.

    You're also, and again correct me if I'm wrong, claiming that rural and working class women were more content with being in those traditional gender roles simply because they had more kids to take care of and more chores to do, when to me that only means that the rural, working class and women of color of that era didn't have the luxury or the ability to articulate their opinions to history for a whole host of reasons, including their relative lack of leisure time.

    Lawndart on
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    Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I can think of at least one illness in my life that might have killed me without modern medicine. And the broken arm I got as a kid might have left me crippled. Oh, and my wife's appendicitis a few years back would certainly have been lethal. And there was a good chance that without the skilled staff at the hospital, the complications she had when she was giving birth to our son might have killed one or both of them.

    So, yay civilization.

    Modern Man on
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    SkyGheNeSkyGheNe Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    If you want a fictional example in literature of a small community living in fear of a corrupt leader or strict religious dogma, throw a rock. All isolated small towns in all books have something wrong about them and I don't know why that trend started with fiction writers. When did small communities become camouflaged dens of evil?

    When people grew up in them?

    Someone I know is a therapist in rural vermont.

    There is a ton of horrible shit that goes on in those communities D:

    SkyGheNe on
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