Thursday, November 29, 2012


A couple Thursdays back David Brooks had a column devoted to a significant demographic shift underway in developed countries. 

More people are living alone.  "The number of Americans who are living alone has shot up from 9 percent in 1950 to 28 percent today."  Brooks says "This is not a phenomenon particular to the United States.  In Scandinavia, 40 percent to 45 percent of people live alone."

The bachelor and the bachelorette are a burgeoning demographic, what Brooks calls post-familialism, after a research report -- "The Rise of Post-Familialism: Humanity's Future?" -- prepared by Joel Kotkin.

Brooks asks "Why is this happening?  The report offers many explanations.  People are less religious.  People in many parts of the world are more pessimistic and feeling greater economic stress.  Global capitalism also seems to be playing a role, especially, it seems, in Asia."

So there you have it.  The system has been named, capitalism, although with two "seems" in the same sentence.

But for the rest of the column Brooks does what a crafty, formidable rhetorician toiling in defense of concentrated wealth does -- he turns the discussion away from the political economy to a manichean morality tale.

According to Brooks it is the self-indulgent, petulant urban single, the one who voted for Obama, who is spurring this collapse of the two-parent family.  If she would just buck up and take on a little responsibility and get married and make a baby then all would be well and good and the nation would be stronger.

As a bachelor with a string of wrecked relationships behind me I see the rise of post-familialism as a rational response to the increasing stresses accompanying whatever stage capitalism (finance monopoly) we are now living under.

For what it is worth, Brooks' columns of the last couple of years have been interesting.  Since the Republican Party has become overtly Birchite he has had to rely more on indirection, sleight of hand, to support his conservative worldview, and he has done this by writing about recent social science research.

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