Thursday, February 6, 2014

And So Fell Rome: The Disintegration of the American Family

The Roman Empire fell for many reasons. One cause was the immorality and despotism of such emperors as Caligula. Another cause, even more damaging, was the decay of the Roman family.

Nearly 70 years ago, a French professor, Jerome Carcopino, wrote a seminal book entitled Daily Life in Ancient Rome. In it, he described Rome in decay and enumerated the reasons for Rome's fall. His remarks about the collapse of the family in Rome contributing to its fall tell us a lot about the problem we face in the modern day with our own social decay, as the fundamental institution of marriage and family continue to come under attack. Carcopino wrote:
Whether because of voluntary birth control, or because of impoverishment of the stock, many Roman marriages at the end of the first and the beginning of the second century were childless....

The feminism which triumphed in imperial times brought more in its train than advantage and superiority. By copying men too closely the Roman woman succeeded more rapidly in emulating man's vices than in acquiring his strength.
Does this sound familiar?

In a more recent book, Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind notes that the decay of the family must be addressed:
The decomposition of this bond [i.e., marriage] is surely America's most urgent social problem. But nobody even tries to do anything about it. The tide seems irresistible. Among the many items on the agenda of those promoting America's moral regeneration, I never find marriage and divorce.
Bloom spoke of the scourge of divorce. Since he wrote those words, the institution of marriage has all but given up the ghost. Countless attacks from every angle threaten the remaining vestiges of this foundational structure. Consider the following attacks on marriage:
Rampant divorce (especially "no fault" divorce where couples can stop being married just because they don't want to be); the de facto acceptance of abortion as a legitimate means of birth control; the woman's right to choose (to kill an unwanted child); the decriminalization and acceptance of gay sex; rampant pornography; increased child neglect and abuse; increased spouse abuse; the increase and general acceptance of single parent families; the increased welfare state "encouraging" single mothers stay single and living in poverty; the lack of responsibility of fathers to financially support the family; unfair divorce settlement practices; child custody battles where parents use their children as weapons against each other; the rise in teen pregnancies; a general rise and acceptance of sexual promiscuity outside of marriage; the acceptance of living together as an alternative to marriage; the general disdain of marriage as expressed in popular culture; same sex marriage; and the list goes on.
When will Americans wake up to the decay which threatens our society and will bring about the collapse of America as we know it?