About Men

Men, the real men, not the cartoon characters of the movies, advertising and other media.

The men who labor and support their families.

The men who make and fix tools.

The men who study the arts and letters, then tell of what they have found or dreamed of.

The men who will not be moved by false prophets and public poseurs—the ingratiating, smiling, talking heads.

The men who use their physical strength in useful purposes.

The men who remain silent and prepared when all around them are losing their grip.

The men were boys, once.

Who taught them? What did they teach them?

That they are worthy just as they are?

That their dreams can be realized?

But the machines have come. They have replaced honest labor.

Now, ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is sought by the masters of society. When we have achieved AI, we won’t need but a few men anymore.

Men will drop out of sight, under bridges, in vacant fields, in river bottoms, in abandoned buildings.

But the machinery of ‘civilization’ will continue, very efficiently.

Cui bono?

About Ron Pavellas

Expatriate American living in Sweden with wife. Retired from employment in the USA. Currently focused on blog articles, memoirs, and creative writing.
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26 Responses to About Men

  1. That’s sort of a gloomy gus outlook, Ron. I hope you’re OK. Yeah, times are tough. But the sun still comes up in the morning. Cheer up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Pavellas says:

      Hi David,
      I don’t feel gloomy. I’m just reporting what I see. I am thankful to have been able to be useful to others before I became obsolescent. All things will pass, and AI will ultimately fail to achieve its intended purpose. I have written an oration which explains my perceptions:

      Liked by 2 people

      • Your answer might not be so different to how I’d respond to such a comment. Even as I talk and write about such problems on a regular basis, I can’t say I feel in a particularly bad mood or even exactly pessimistic. I used to have crippling depression, but I haven’t felt that at all in recent years. However useful I may or may not be to others, I’m not quite obsolescent, although getting closer.

        I enjoy life on a basic level and there is plenty that gets me up in the morning. My complaints and criticisms are more general than personal, even as I have plenty of personal issues. I don’t know what makes some people hyper-aware of what’s wrong with our society while others don’t seem to notice at all or not consider it all that important or compelling or something.


        Liked by 2 people

    • Ahem…. Sorry to interrupt the male bonding session, but if I may make one quick observation I believe is applicable to “hominids” (period), I’ll be on my way.

      It’s that word: “useful.” When, exactly, did our relationships with Nature and one another come to be seen as depending on how “useful” we are? Hmm.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ron Pavellas says:

        I achieved this notion, at least for myself, when I was 13. My father handed over a book he had just read: *Arctic Adventure’ by Peter Freuchen, a Danish explorer second only to the great Roald Amundsen. He was trekking across Greenland with an Inuit family when an older woman of the group sat in the snow and indicated she would stay and die there. She was still physically able to keep trekking, but she had outlived her usefulness. Her teeth were worn to the bone from chewing seal hides, to soften them for clothing. She decided, no one else did. I have since concluded, from having worked in menial jobs, semi-skilled and skilled jobs, as a chief executive of hospital and medical organizations, and in being the father of five children that, yes, people in general want to be useful to others. Now at almost 84 I am ever more aware that I have created and expended most of my usefulness to others. I don’t have a suicidal nature, so my wife and children don’t have to have concerns about this, but I am aware that the end is calling me. It is frustrating, now that we are so much house-bound and unable to associate with others, that I have almost nothing useful to do, other than the usual household cleaning and maintenance. I’ve written and said pretty much all I have in me to say, several different ways and many times over. I dread becoming garrulous–maybe I already am, to some people. I will continue to assert that people want to be useful to other people. We are all connected in this and other ways.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah. Thanks for the elaboration. Your beneficence is most appreciated.


      • Ron Pavellas says:

        I’m not sure I have, or can issue any beneficence. I thought people with offices such as the Popes were such. Perhaps you had tongue in cheek? If so, touche…


      • Beneficence is goodwill. Nothing more; nothing less. Last I checked, there were no office holders over it. 😉 But as I say, don’t mean to interrupt. On my way….

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      • I suppose I can see both sides of this issue. I can’t say I’ve particularly idealized the notion of being useful. If anything, I’ve been opposed to it, as I don’t have a desire to be useful within this dysfunctional system. In that, I never sought success.

        Besides, there is an attraction to the Taoist view on being useless. There was a gnarly tree in the middle of a village that was thousands of years old. It was too bent and had too many knots to be useful. So, it was left alone.

        Then there is the tortoise who was killed and his shell beautifully decorated with expensive jewels. The tortoise’s shell was exhibited in the palace where it held a place of pride. The tortoise had found a use.

        On the other hand, I totally get Ron’s perspective. At one time, I sought what I perceived as independence, to not need or be needed by anyone else. But I failed at that rather odd aspiration. In my depression, I instead found comfort in belonging.

        During that time, if I hadn’t felt useful at all, even if only to friends and family, there is a good chance I would have killed myself. Would that have been a bad ending? I’d simply be gone and so wouldn’t be here now having this dialogue.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ron Pavellas says:

        As a sometime aspiring writer, it took me about 20 years to realize that words will never capture what’s being perceived, imagined, or felt. Similarly with my little and imperfect thesis. All I can know with some degree of certainty is how I feel, not how others may feel. Yet… there is sympathy and empathy, and fellow feeling even with different species. A recurring picture/memory is from around age 11 when living in a slum in Brooklyn. The young fellows were heading toward leading dangerous and dissolute lives. My mother was amazed to see my childhood neighborhood friends transform from nice boys to savages when the hormones kicked in. The neighborhood was controlled by the Clementi family who, apparently, controlled the local bookie (with whom my father placed bets), owned the pool hall on Third Avenue between 48th street (where we lived) and 49th street, under the elevated causeway–and probably other illegal enterprises of which we were unaware. The cops were seen as enemies in the neighborhood, although I had no strong feelings except to go along. The older guys hung around the corner, making a nuisance, and they and others were apparently causing some minor mayhem in the dark hours. The Police created (or the city fathers did) a Police Athletic League, P.A.L. They invited all the young males to enter basketball and other athletic tournaments with the police themselves, in a building over on 47th street, across from P.S. 2 (Public School Number 2, my grammar school) and around the corner from the bookie on 3rd Avenue. I thought it was a great idea, although I didn’t participate, being too young and anyway not athletic. I could see that it was a positive alternative to hanging around and doing mischief. I think this remembered event falls under the heading ‘useful’ among other descriptors. A side benefit was to see the cops as people, not necessarily enemies. Ah, well, I am, indeed, becoming garrulous.

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      • It is interesting how such a simple word like ‘usefulness’ can elicit such different responses. I was talking to my dad who is closer to your age. He had a childhood more similar to your own and he too has aspired toward usefulness, something he probably likewise came to at a young age. Indeed, my dad has spent a lifetime of being useful and does feel his usefulness is nearing its end. This has made him contemplative.

        What we were talking about was bureaucracies, whether well-functioning (i.e., ‘useful’) or not. It was maybe Francis Fukuyama who made the point that for decades following the post-war period, the United States was known as having the best run bureaucracy in the world.

        That has since changed. Many people now attack government as bad, dangerous, or wasteful. But at one time, most Americans probably felt a sense of pride and confidence in good governance, at a time when government programs were serving the public good. And yet now, trust in public institutions has declined.

        The public mood has soured. I was just now wondering if the decline in social solidarity and a sense of communal belonging could be behind shifts in how people perceive and judge concepts like ‘usefulness’. No one wants to be useful in a bad society. But is that a criticism of usefulness itself or a criticism of our present society?

        That is why your personal anecdote from childhood stands out. It comes from another era, back when public trust was much higher, even in a neighborhood like that. It might not so much be usefulness or not but usefulnes of what kind, for what reason, and to what end.

        The societal context has changed. And so maybe that is why a more Taoist-like view of uselessness appeals to some now. Many of those famous Taoists were writing at a time when bureaucracy had become overbearing and harmful. Like Jesus, they were offering advice on how to find peace of mind amidst authoritarian oppression.

        Obviously, that is not an optimal state of affairs. But what if were living in a healthy social democracy where the public good was prioritized and public trust was high, where communities were strong and citizens were cared for? In that case, how different might our discussion be of usefulness and uselessness.

        It would be interesting to look to other countries. In Scandinavia or Japan, how would they discuss what it means to be of use to others or not? These are not objective issues that have universal application, as it depends on the world in which we live. Of course, no good person would want to be useful in Nazi Germany. There is the rub for those of us who find ourselves the subjects of the American Empire.

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      • As I’m apt to do, the morning’s thoughts were rolling around in my skull as I sauntered into work on this lovely day with the pleasant warmth of sunshine. It occured to me that, in this cynical age, how quaint sounds the simple faith that usefulness matters. There are so many rational criticisms to make against it. And it feels almost silly to try to defend it.

        Few Americans would recognize themselves in the story you shared from your youth. It almost seems unreal at this point, something more likely to be seen in a Hollywood movie with kids playing stickball in the 1950s Bronx or some idyllic small town.

        The perception of police back then wasn’t that of perfect trust or anything. But not many Americans at the time would’ve accused the US of being a police state and, indeed, the police didn’t roll around poor communities in military gear and military vehicles.

        Like you developed a desire for usefullness as a young lad, I too early on had taken on this aspiration of being a ‘good’ person, inspired by positive-thinking Unity upbringing. It was a very general ideal, but I sense to some degree it included the desire to be useful.

        I quickly became jaded as a young adult and my idealism lingered on in fueling my cyicism. But my idealism, however suppressed, never went away. I continued to just want to be a good person. And it does sometimes come out in my behavior.

        I’m not one to do grand gestures in seeking to make the world a better place, much less save civilization. I’m not much of an activist, although I’ve halfheartedly joined a few protests in my lifetime. More in my style, I’m the kind of person who takes in injured animals, talks to the homeless like they were anyone else, and such.

        I’m not sure I’m useful to anyone exactly. I help my parents and I’ll help the neighbors. And I don’t expect much back in return other than the sense of belonging, that I somehow matter to those around me.


      • Ron Pavellas says:

        I have never hankered to make the world a better place. In the mid-seventies I read ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, by Robert Pirsig (I think I may have mentioned this to you before). I saved this (edited) passage: “If we are going make the world it a better place to live in, the way not to do it is with talk about relationships of a political nature…, or with programs full of things for other people to do… Programs of a political nature are important end products of social quality that can be effective only if the underlying social values are right. The social values are right only if individual values are right. The place to improve the world is first within one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there…” It fits my Way perfectly.
        PS: I played stickball on 48th Street, Brooklyn, between 3rd and 2nd Avenues, near the waterfront, in the late 1940s.
        Thanks for your thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, yes. I recall seeing some movies about your childhood. In watching various newer movies and shows set in the 1980s, I was thinking about how my own childhood has become the new era of nostalgia, the time when people look back to a simpler world.

        Anyway, some of the changes might be a more general generational shift. According to Strauss and Howe, you are of the Silent Generation and Artist archetype. Your generation was born into Crisis, came of age during the High, hit Midlife during the Awakening, and now has reached older age during the Unraveling.

        The early life of Silents, so Strauss and Howe argue, was an experience of public consensus, personal sacrifice, and institution building. The ideal of usefulness might be a good term to capture the general ethos of the early life of your generation.

        People of that cohort were uplifted during a period of booming prosperity and progress. It was primarily the older generations who built the new institutions, but it was Silents who in benefitting from them had a stronger desire to serve, maintain, and defend those institutions.

        Their role was far from passive and submissive as they sometimes get portrayed in stereotypes. Many of the most influential activist leaders during the 1950s and 1960s were Silents. Many of them genuinely believed in the public good.

        I’m a GenXer. Most of my life has happened during the Unraveling and Crisis. For the even younger generations, they’ve never known anything else. What shaped a child and young adult in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s is far different than that of the late 20th century to early 21st.

        It’s harder for many of us youngins to comprehend what inspired your early sense of usefulness. Even an idealist like me so easily and quickly internalized the darkening mood during which I came of age and entered the adult world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ron Pavellas says:

        It’s very useful (not intended to be cute) for me to read about the generations that have succeeded mine, and I thank you. I have not been able to remember and properly assign the various handles they have been given, nor the assigned character each has been given–somehow (!?)
        I grok this: “Your generation… now has reached older age during the Unraveling.” It’s much how I see things. Then I tell myself I can’t have the perspective of folks in younger generations–perhaps they don’t see an unraveling; but then, I can’t see what they do see. I don’t know what or whom to listen to. If I could still appreciate music in general (my advanced tinnitus won’t let me), I should listen to popular music, if I could stand it’s alarming difference from what I imbibed from 1940 to 1975, and if I could discern the words behind the enormous noise. I feel I have been in was in two generations. I attended Berkeley after I did service in the US Navy. I was a graduate student when the Free Speech Movement arose there in 1964. I was in tune with the Freedom Marchers in the South and know one fellow who returned safely from there. I loved the Beatles, and still do. My first wife and I attended concerts of the Doors and other musicians in the psychedelic era (we were both born in San Francisco) and immediately after. I even used LSD, when it was not yet illegal. ( https://wp.me/prazu-1Wh ). My older children listened to music I thought angry, chaotic, and even ugly. I tuned out after that. And, anyway, I got busy making and raining a family and working in the profession I had been educated/trained in.
        Is it unraveling? What is the ‘It’ that may or may not be unraveling? It’s in your hands now, and in the hands of my four grandchildren. I almost feel like Roy Batty in the final scene of Blade Runner.

        Liked by 1 person

      • What is the ‘It’ that may or may not be unraveling?

        To some, the “It” that is unraveling is the “New World Order” of Neoliberal/Neoconservative globalization. To others, the “It” that is unraveling is the “consciousness structure” underpinning it. (Gebser afficionados posit a double-movement of unraveling paradoxically concomitant with a re-organization and transformation.) Some call this time of interregnum (in the Gramsci sense of the word) and liminality “The Great Turning;” others the “The Great Transition;” etc.

        All this signifies what I personally consider a perfectly natural turn away from a self-centered (anthropocentric), over-wheening, death-dealing, human civilizational structure that has far exceeded its limits and shelf life to a life-affirming, diverse, resilient and sustainable global community none of us can yet fully imagine or articulate.

        Personally, I hope the latter comes to be. If it does, though, it won’t be in my lifetime.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ron Pavellas says:

        The Anthropocene will fade and will be succeded by…? Maybe smaller units of societies? Fewer people, in general?


  2. Too many desperate men is how problems start. That is what leads to populist revolts or even revolutions, sometimes civil wars and coups. But the ruling elite might simply try to eliminate excess men by starting unnecessary wars of aggression for them to die in. One way or another, it ends in violence, assuming a better solution is not offered. Even if the ruling elite used better technology for effective social control, it would still be violence. Poverty is slow violence that causes mass suffering and death. Some say we should avoid violence, but we’ve already failed that. The US government kills millions of innocent people every year, not only through the class war of enforced poverty but also through actual endless wars, occupations, overthrowing governments, supporting terrorist groups, causing mass dislocations, starving populations with sanctions, and on and on.

    It would be easer and wiser, not to mention more compassionate, to simply eliminate poverty. In our lifetimes, the United States government has given away hundreds of trillions of dollars as socialism for the rich, whereas social Darwinian capitalism has been limited to the poor. For single industries alone like big oil, they receive trilliions of dollars in subsidies every year. That doesn’t include the costs the government pays in cleaning up their spills nor the endless other externalized costs. Also not included is what basically equates to giving away of natural resources from public land, i.e., the commons. Big biz gets these natural resources at very little cost and it’s mostly pure profit.

    This is theft not only from we the people in this living generation but, as Thomas Paine understood in proposing a citizens dividend, theft from every generation following. Think about those hundreds of trillions of dollars. It’s not merely the theft that is so horrifying but the waste. The plutocrats throws most of this wealth away on lavish lifestyles and financial gambling, along with massive investments into the military empire and police state to enforce violent oppression in suppressing the people of the world seeking justice and self-governance. Imagine what kind of wondrous social democracy could be built. The Scandinavians achieve all that they do with a fraction of the immense wealth and resources wielded by the US elite.

    Then the plutocrats and corporatists benefiting from the system try to hide the horror of it all behind such things as philanthrocapitalism. I was reminded of this the other day. Take the Gates Foundation. It not merely a charity organization. That is only one side of it. It is also a highly profitable venture through immense investments. In one case, the Gates Foundation is saving lives by funding healthcare in a particular community while also harming those same people by investing in the factory in the area that is poisoning them. Another trick the Gates Foundation uses is giving for free some initial vaccine from a company they’re invested in but the vaccine is ineffective unless the individual or government buys a product that fully activates it, which basically holds the population hostage to corporate profits. It’s dementedly sick at the level of outright psycopathy.


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  3. There is another angle to consider. What you’re talking about is a particular result of inequality. It’s not only a disparity of employment and wealth but more broadly an unequal distribution of resources and opportunities, not to mention justice, along with a concentration of power and privilege. From Aristotle to Adam Smith, it has long been understood that healthy and free societies are not possible when worsening inequality dominates.

    Walter Scheidel has written a historical analysis. He looked at diverse societies where economic inequality rose to high levels. In every case, what followed was some kind of mass violence that forced the redistribution of wealth or otherwise leveled economic differences: civil war, revolution, collapse, famine, plague, etc. Peter Turchin has found something similar that even includes disparities among the elite when the number of elite exceeds the available respectable positions for the elite. So, many elite turn into counter-elite who challenge the sytem or sometimes join or even start revolutions.

    That happened in the American colonies where the second sons of aristocracy ended up when they didn’t inherit anything like first sons and didn’t get positions as respected priests like third sons. They were treated like second class elites and felt they weren’t given the full rights of Englishmen. When revolution rolled around, they threw their weight behind it, including becoming leaders within it. French aristocracy and the priestly class, in feeling in a pinch during tough times, also turned to revolution against the monarchy.

    We are seeing counter-elite emerge in our present time, as seen with the likes of filty rich Steven Bannon, a plutocrat with too much money and too much time on his hands. So, Bannon sought to promote a populist uprising by supporting a demagogue like Donald Trump, another counter-elite. Both Bannon and Trump are super-rich but not entirely respectable among the rich, the former first generation new wealth and the latter second generation new wealth, and so have somewhat of that second class elite status.

    There is also the work of Keith Payne, overlapping with the work of Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson. Payne shows how stressful and destabilizing is wealth disparity, increasing all kinds of unhealthy and dysfunction behaviors while unleashing diverse social problems, especially aggression and violence. It’s not only the rise of poverty, as poor countries with low inequality don’t show these kinds of severe issues. Pickett and Wilkinson share immense amount of data demonstrating this across numerous countries. Furthermore, all three show how inequality even worsens conditions for the wealthy who likewise exhibit higher rates of mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc.

    The sense of conflict increases all around. The wealthy elite fight over position and power while seeking to defend their interests against the lower classes. Similarly, the upper middle class becomes divided from the lower middle class as the middle class shrinks, causing many people to feel precarious in fear of falling down the economic ladder. This can lead to dark fantasies being projected upon the poor, justifying punching down while pulling up the ladder. The poor, of course, feel increasingly desperate and disempowered.

    Public outrage grows, as do populist movements. With overwhelming stress, anxiety and fear, many are drawn into reactionary thought and authoritarian politics. Interestingly, it’s the middle-to-upper classes, including the liberal class, that are often the first to turn to authoritarianism, as was seen with the rise of the Nazis. Class war further splinters society and so many turn to a strongman or powerful regime to reinstate order, which typically happens with promises to rebuild the economy while scapegoating various groups. We all know how that story ends.

    Looking at this through a gendered lens adds another complicating factor. When times get hard, men are disproportionately found among the homeless, vagrants, and imprisoned. Women with children have more access to welfare and shelters are tend to take in women and children before men. We have the added factor that various forces are causing a gender disparity favoring women in who atends college and gets professional jobs. This is seen physiologically, as the data shows that boys are physically maturing later and girls earlier, possibly caused by estrogen-like compounds in modern industrial food packaging and diet.

    Other things cause stress. Poverty and desperation is hard on women as well, but for men it often leads to aggression, violence, criminality, and gang membership. Men will seek respect and honor where they can find it when mainstream society refuses to offer pathways to gain it. During difficult times, families more likely to fracture, such as unemployment and lengthy traveling for work increases divorce and decreases the chances of marriage in the first place.

    Then in the places where young single men become concentrated, such as boom towns where many single men look for work or else homeless camps and shantytowns, there is a well known increase in crime. For example, it’s been proven that there was higher homicide rates on the Wild West, as shown in the work of Roger McGrath. Others have demonstrated a specific correlation being the lack of women, as researched and written about by David Courtwright, S. Matthew Stearmer, Steven Pinker, etc.

    Inequality continues to spread and exacerbates the desperate sense of social Darwinian struggle and conflict, especially when not only wealth and opportunities are sparse but so are women as potential girlfriends and wives. This worsens not just violence among men since women also become targets of sexual violence: rape, sex trafficking, etc. In response, Courtwright argues this is a large motivation behind the rise of a more powerful feminism in American society, what some perceive as male-bashing, as the gender divide equalized.

    America has been an immigrant society for four centuries and immigration has meant a gender imbalance, as migration attracts large numbers of single men. Interestingly, not even the Civil War killed off enough men to offset the large numbers coming in as new immigrants. Women did not become the majority until 1946, following the mass death of men in WWII and further established through changes in immigration that made it easier for family members to also get citizenship.

    This was seen with Chinese-Americans. That population went from one of the most violently criminal populations in the late 1800s and early 1900s to becoming model minorites by the 1960s. What was the cause of the change? Initially, only Chinese men were brought in as workers and then immigation restrictions made it impossible for women to later follow. Eventually, the loosening of immigration laws allowed Chinese women to come and so ended the largest gender disaparity of any demographic in US history.

    Yet, as studied by Andrea M. den Boer and Valerie M. Hudson, violence has been increasing in China, along with India, because of the remaining gender divide there. China particularly has had a social problem since the one-child law and the wide availability of abortion. Also, modern industrial society no longer encourages large families and, in Chinese culture, male children play an important role in maintaining family lineage. Many poor Chinese now have both parents working, often in distant cities, with grandparents raising the kids or else the kids raising themselves. So, a lot of boys and young men at loose ends.

    Gender imbalance can go the other way as well. Courtwright writes: “Black America … has had the lowest gender ratio of any of the country’s major ethnic groups for the last century and a half…. The difference begins at birth. The gender ratio for black newborns typically ranges from 102 to 103, compared to 105 to 106 for whites. The higher mortality of black male children and young men causes the gap to widen with age. At ages twenty to twenty-four the black gender ratio is 97, the white 105. By ages forty to forty-four the black ratio is 86, the white 100.”

    A surplus of women is seen in other American and non-American communities, such as in Guyana. Comparative studies, historical and cross-cultural, confirm that such populations have higher rates of illegitimacy. This has been studied by Ryan Schacht, Kristin Rauch, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, and Karen Kramer. Whether there is an excess of men or an excess of women, increased violence results.

    Gender imbalances in general are destabilizing, probably often because they are outward signs of other imbalances in society such as high inequality. Poverty can cause gender imbalances by forcing men into boom towns, homelessness, prisons, etc. So, some places become concentrated with men while other places are disproportionately women. It’s not healthy for society in either case.

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    • Ron Pavellas says:

      A good point about the imbalance between the (2) sexes in a given polity. Russia, for instance, has had a problem in this department. Currently, according the the CIA World Factbook, in the age group 15-24 years, the number of males per female is 1.06; roughly 6.9 million/6.6 million. So, there are theoretically 300,000 males who cannot expect to form a ‘permanent’ relationship with a female in this age group.
      Also, since males have an average life expectancy at birth of 66.3 years and women with 77.8 years, the males quickly drop out of the equation such that in the age group 65+ years, the women outnumber the men by more than two-to-one (2.13). In the world as a whole this ratio is 1.24.


      • It always irritates me when a certain kind of person complains about single black mothers and a lack of black fathers. First off, broken families are common in communities high in poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. That is even more true in cities and countries that are high inequality.

        Anyway, where are all the black men? Well, many of them died young, are homeless, in prison, or caught up in the legal system. Blacks in the US are basically living in an a war zone ruled by a violent occupying force because of the war on drugs, militarized police, and school-to-prison pipeline.

        There is a high gender inequality. Black fathers aren’t around in large numbers because black men are largely missing from these communities. It’s not easy being a poor black male. It has nothing to do with some supposed race realism of genetic inferiority. All races where conditions cause gender inequality experience the same results.

        Inequality play a big role, specifically in terms of segregation. We live in a society where demographics are heavily divided. Blacks, whites, etc often live in separate neighborhoods and communities. The same is true of the economic segregation between rich and poor, even within a single race. And in some cases, there is the above gender imbalance where more men end up in some places and more women in others.

        This is a highly unnatural situation. It is caused by a destabilized society and, if not remedied, causes further instability. All of these divides have a cumulative effect. It wasn’t always this way, at least not to this extent. Sure, there were ethnic enclaves and such. But there was a lot more mixed communities in the past. Redlining, for example, was still being enforced in our lifetimes. Yet redlining didn’t exist until this past century.

        There are two books that pair well, Our Kids by the liberal Robert Putnam and Losing Ground by the conservative Charles Murray. They are older white guys who grew up in what once were common small factory towns. They had similar experiences where people weren’t segregated, as everyone lived in the same neighborhoods while going to the same stores, churches, and schools. My dad grew up in such a small factory town, as did I in the first years of my life.

        I was born in Bellefontaine, Ohio at the edge of Appalachia. My dad was a factory manager, but factory workers were our neighbors. Within the same block, there were rich and poor, black and white. Segregation would’ve been an alien concept. That used to be common to many towns in the past. That is because most towns simply were too small to be segregated. And for certain, there rarely were there gender imbalances.

        But now our society is splintered my numerous demographic divides. These are gaps growing into chasms. We are now living in separate realities and have no sense of the experience of others. Americans are even self-segregating by ideology, such as conservatives concentrating themselves in suburbs. We are increasingly surrounded by people more and more like ourselves with little contact with those who are different.


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  4. Eric Gandy says:

    Is nature useful?
    The philosophy of utilitarianism has been usurped by those who benefit. Politicians, buisness, dictators, the church and their ilk to indotrinate people to fell moral guilt if they are not doing something “useful”, i.e. actions which produce an excess of beneficial effects over harmfull ones.
    Environmentalists have applied this way of thinking to the natural world, which is judged by the value of the biological services it provides for us.
    Has anyone asked the forests, rivers, mountains, fungi, birds, flowers if this is their philosophy? Whether they exist to provide mankind with a variety of useful services and products. Do trees feel good when they are cut down to be made into WC rolls? Or left standing for nature tourists to gawp at them? Or provide a safe haven for an eagle to build its nest?
    I suspect that “nature” is just doing its thing, living its life in its own way without a thought of any possible utility.
    Just a thought for today, when I have nothing else useful to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Pavellas says:

      … and a very good thought it is, Eric. Thanks for elucidating on utilitarianism. I wonder if another -ism emerged to counter it? I googled a pertinent phrase and got this: “One of the biggest issues detractors have with utilitarianism is its basic premise that pleasure and utility are the determinants of worth. In Classical philosophy, things like virtue, knowledge, wisdom and temperance are good in and of themselves. In utilitarianism, they are only good if they have a demonstrable utility; otherwise, they may be discarded.”
      My ‘assertion’ about feeling useful does not have “pleasure and utility are the determinants of worth” underpinning it, at least not consciously. It’s not about my pleasure, it’s about feeling useful to others; and, with the world being polluted by our consumer society, feeling like I am least moderating my contribution to the pollution. It’s the ‘feeling’, not the ideas of ‘Utility’, which has no heart in its ethos.
      I’m trying to find an example for my standing. What if I were alone in a local, small forest and I come across a living creature struggling to extract itself from danger–say like getting caught in a small pool of water or muck, or trapped in a thicket of branches and twigs? I imagine almost everyone would automatically try to help the animal survive (if it were’t an overly dangerous one). If successful, one could feel the pleasure of connecting positively with another living being, of enhancing life in some way.

      Your response has given me pause to reflect on my blog post, which I consider a useful thing.
      Now to some other correspondence which seems my greatest pleasure these COVID days. I have no Idea whether my message to another will be useful, but I imagine it won’t hurt anyone or anything.
      After issuing that last phrase a memory emerged: I once was employed by a medical research foundation which was sponsoring the building of a community hospital. I was the ‘number two’ person in the small hierarchy of this project. I toured the research facility and encountered a fellow who had constructed an over-scale model of the human circulatory system which could be tweaked to learn and hypothesize things. It seemed an amazing and admirable thing to me, and I said so to the inventor/researcher. He was quite modest in his demeanor as he answered, “Well, at least its harmless.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • The philosophy of utilitarianism has been usurped by those who benefit.

      Usurped is the word academics are employing to describe the phenomenon, but “usurp” is a pretty mild-sounding word and, so, hasn’t managed to cut through the background noise quite as well as some others, e.g. — say — “hijacked.” All our “-isms” have been hijacked whether by “the ego” or “wego” or whatever word we might like to use to describe “what” it is they’ve been hijacked by.

      Still, such hijackings are never completely successful. If they were, we wouldn’t still be hearing all about ancient wisdom, much less presentiating and contemporizing “ancient” wisdom in our time.


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