The problem with patriarchy

Posted on June 4, 2012 by


Well, I’ve just gotten back from my father’s ancestral home, for our monthly pilgrimage to visit some relatives. If you want to know why my husband and I are constantly broke despite our income, it’s that we spend a fortune flying and driving all over two continents to visit our relatives.

Both of us have close-knit extended families, and everyone wants to be visited regularly, so most of our free time and free money is spent traveling around like a band of gypsies. Sleeping in hotels sometimes, but mostly on couches, in guest bedrooms, kids bedrooms, cots, on mattresses in damp basements. Even in the hotels we’re usually residing in true Clan Character, with six people stuffed into a room with two double-beds. We’re not allowed to complain though, as our relatives are all doing the same thing, which is why we have twice as many beds as we have people in our home.

It’s hard to keep track of where everyone lives and what their phone number is, since there’s a lot of moving around going on. There’s a large group holding down the fort in the ancestral homelands, but the family quickly outgrows that and starts spilling over into neighboring towns, then neighboring states, then foreign countries. And there’s lots of trading-off between the nuclear families. This nephew is living with his grandparents to be nearer to his college, that niece has decided to travel the world and is crashing at her second cousin’s pad, aunt so-and-so isn’t doing so well so she’s rooming in at her homemaking grand-niece’s place, junior got stationed near his great uncle so you’ll usually find him there on Sundays, etc. It’s chaotic, but luckily there are the matriarchs keeping track of everyone’s whereabouts, birthdays, and babies.

Yes, there are matriarchs in a patriarchy. They keep the show running really, and without them it would all fall apart and the birth rate would quickly decline, just as without the patriarchs there would be a quick slide back to mud huts and degeneracy. In our patriarchy, our extended family ruled by male elders, there’s order to the chaos. There’s a moral system underlying the interaction that is based upon the pagan virtues: the acknowledgement of natural law, the reaffirmation of family allegiances, reverence for our traditions and ancestors, and the wonder of the supernatural. In our family, everyone loves God, everyone loves everyone else, but nobody is allowed to love primarily themselves.

This, my readers, is what a patriarchy looks like in practice. And that is why patriarchy has died in the West. Because patriarchy depends upon a clan-like structure at its base, and it rises above matriarchy because clans led by men are more inclined to cooperation and mutual sacrifice.

How many people would be interested in being part of a tribe or clan again? There are some, I’m sure, who opine of tribal allegiances, based upon race or religion, or something similar. But the day-to-day stress, communitarianism, and sacrifice required for maintaining such allegiances are more than most people are willing to give.

How many men who lecture about the virtues of patriarchy have ever lived in one? How many of them realize that the rule of male elders doesn’t mean that each man rules his home like a fiefdom, but that he rules the decisions that affect primarily his own household and has to consult his male elders on everything else? How many men are willing to submit to the moderating influence of family councils — the same family councils that kept ancient patriarchy from dissolving into the abuse of women and children, even when the immediate father’s rule was inadequate?

How many people who lecture about the genetic ties of race have managed to cultivate these strong tribal allegiances within their own closer-related extended families? How many of them would sacrifice for second or third cousins they’ve never even met? So why the expectation that anyone would do that for someone of the same race that doesn’t even have blood ties with them? The heart doesn’t speak the language of genetics, it just knows that family is family.

How many people who think of themselves as patriots understand that patriotism is a progression of piety? That people loved their families and were willing to die for them, so they cooperated with other families, and those groups of families grew into towns, regions, and nations? Do they really think they can keep that patriotism going in a nation with nothing but a flag holding it together, and the individual families, towns, and regions disintegrating?

Good luck with all of that. I’ll stick with what my father taught me:

1) Love God.
2) Blood is thicker than water.

Posted in: Relationships