Within American society, major national power now resides in the economic, the political, and the military domains. Other institutions seem off to the side of modern history, and, on occasion, duly subordinated to these. No family is as directly powerful in national affairs as any major corporation; no church is as directly powerful in the external biographies of young men in America today as the military establishment; no college is as powerful in the shaping of momentous events as the National Security Council. Religious, educational, and family institutions are not autonomous centers of national power; on the contrary, these decentralized areas are increasingly shaped by the big three…
Families and churches and schools adapt to modern life; governments and armies and corporations shape it; and, as they do so, they turn these lesser institutions into means for their ends. Religious institutions provide chaplains to the armed forces where they are used as a means of increasing the effectiveness of its morale to kill. Schools select and train men for their jobs in corporations and their specialized tasks in the armed forces. The extended family has, of course, long been broken up by the industrial revolution, and now the son and the father are removed from the family, by compulsion if need be, whenever the army of the state sends out the call. [Ed: This book was written in 1956.] And the symbols of all these lesser institutions are used to legitimate the power and the decisions of the big three.
…If the centralized state could not rely upon the inculcation of nationalist loyalties in public and private schools, its leaders would promptly seek to modify the decentralized educational system. If the bankruptcy rate among the top five hundred corporations were as high as the general divorce rate among the thirty-seven million married couples, there would be economic catastrophe on an international scale. If members of armies gave to them no more of their lives than do believers to the churches to which they belong, there would be a military crisis.
-C. Wright Mills [Emphases added]
The Power Elite (pp. 6-7)
Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition
The following spergout was inspired by a reflection on the divorce industrial complex:
My followup question is, what analogous economic mechanism caused the Boomers to act toward future generations the way thots act toward Betas in divorce court? If it’s such an easy thing to destroy the institution of marriage by incentivizing a military industrial divorce complex, then what exactly is it that Boomers are missing in their souls toward their children, and what disincentivized its natural growth? To phrase the question more concretely: If feminism was born to produce incentive structures which destroy marriages, what is the -ism that produced incentive structures to destroy parents’ natural affection toward their children? To get there, we need to know what the structures were.
I believe the key is that Boomer parents observably have similar attitudes to the foster parents of child protective services. As Jim describes it, “They are not hostile to children, but are alarmingly indifferent to their welfare.” State-sponsored caretakers don’t leave inheritances to their charges.
But cat ladies and Boomers have a major difference too, because Boomers act “gay” whereas cat ladies act like lesbians. That is, Boomers are high-libido hypocrites on cocaine whereas incentivized caretakers are high death drive hypercrites on SSRIs. I suspect this example of libido decoupling was driven by the improper use of incentives by well-meaning wamen, where extrinsic motivation drove out intrinsic motivation.
Behavioral scientists like Deci began discovering the Sawyer Effect nearly forty years ago, although they didn’t use that term. Instead, they referred to the counterintuitive consequences of extrinsic incentives as “the hidden costs of rewards.” That, in fact, was the title of the first book on the subject—a 1978 research volume that was edited by psychologists Mark Lepper and David Greene.
One of Lepper and Greene’s early studies (which they carried out with a third colleague, Robert Nisbett) has become a classic in the field and among the most cited articles in the motivation literature. The three researchers watched a classroom of preschoolers for several days and identified the children who chose to spend their “free play” time drawing. Then they fashioned an experiment to test the effect of rewarding an activity these children clearly enjoyed.
The researchers divided the children into three groups. The first was the “expected-award” group. They showed each of these children a “Good Player” certificate—adorned with a blue ribbon and featuring the child’s name—and asked if the child wanted to draw in order to receive the award. The second group was the “unexpected-award” group. Researchers asked these children simply if they wanted to draw. If they decided to, when the session ended, the researchers handed each child one of the “Good Player” certificates. The third group was the “no-award” group. Researchers asked these children if they wanted to draw, but neither promised them a certificate at the beginning nor gave them one at the end.
Two weeks later, back in the classroom, teachers set out paper and markers during the preschool’s free play period while the researchers secretly observed the students. Children previously in the “unexpected-award” and “no-award” groups drew just as much, and with the same relish, as they had before the experiment. But children in the first group—the ones who’d expected and then received an award—showed much less interest and spent much less time drawing. 2 The Sawyer Effect had taken hold. Even two weeks later, those alluring prizes—so common in classrooms and cubicles—had turned play into work.
To be clear, it wasn’t necessarily the rewards themselves that dampened the children’s interest. Remember: When children didn’t expect a reward, receiving one had little impact on their intrinsic motivation. Only contingent rewards—if you do this, then you’ll get that—had the negative effect. Why? “If-then” rewards require people to forfeit some of their autonomy. Like the gentlemen driving carriages for money instead of fun, they’re no longer fully controlling their lives. And that can spring a hole in the bottom of their motivational bucket, draining an activity of its enjoyment.
Lepper and Greene replicated these results in several subsequent experiments with children. As time went on, other researchers found similar results with adults. Over and over again, they discovered that extrinsic rewards—in particular, contingent, expected, “if-then” rewards—snuffed out the third drive.
Drive (pp. 35-37)
Penguin Publishing Group, Kindle Edition.
This is, in my opinion, the most important finding in psychology in the last fifty years.
So something that seems like a good idea intuitively for incentivizing parenthood, like tax breaks for having children, is actually counterproductive because it can drive out natural, intrinsic motivations. My suspicion is that there is something turbocharging Boomer status striving (extrinsic motivation) such that it drives out natural affections toward one’s children. In response we see an out-of-control generational hysteresis, going something like this:
I further suspect it could be explained in simple numbers as compared to the capacity of existing institutions to absorb them, a la mouse utopia. As Steve Sailer pointed out with regard to ski slopes, more people means elites are driven to practice greater elitism.
To keep fewer people from climbing San Gorgonio in summer, the Forest Service moved the trailhead back. When I climbed it first on July 4, 1971, the shortest way to the top was 16 miles and 3,750 feet of elevation gain. That took from 10am to 8pm of almost nonstop hiking.
Now, though to climb Mt. San Gorgonio is 21 miles and 4600 feet of gain. Why? The L.A. Times explained in 1989 that the government felt too many people were climbing the tallest mountain in Southern California, so they made it harder to make it more elitist…
…We respond to the pressures of a growing population by making life more elitist.
It’s interesting how the sensible arguments on both sides outlined in the Sports Illustrated article 54 years ago are kind of off-limits today because they touch on the sacred cause of immigration. The notion that immigration-driven population growth poses tradeoffs today is considered … HATE.
Southern California’s Lost Ski Mountain
So I think what happened is with so many kids around in 1960 and the adults mostly checked out, every Boomer understood at some level they had to distinguish themselves from the mass by chasing “exceptionalism”. By becoming a doctor, for example. But there were only so many hospitals. They responded to this limitation with an attitude of expansionism–make more hospitals–and this strategy paid off because for a single brilliant moment in time the economic ground was set just so.
In other words, status striving was a positive-sum game for a brief moment, and this is the environment for which Boomers are now adapted as a matter of selection pressure. But by the time Gen X came along, the assumption that new hidey holes for every new mouse could be created by massive expansionism was no longer plausible. It had already been pursued to diminishing returns. So if a Zoomer goes to a Boomer and says “Burger King is a dead end job, wat do” the Boomer says they should work their way through medical school and build their own hospital, because you could pull that sort of thing off in the world to which they adapted.
Thus, the Boomer’s central conceit is to insist “Go West, young man” when there is no more West to go to.
Within a few generations all such roles in all physical space available to the species are filled. At this time, the continuing high survival of many individuals to sexual and behavioural maturity culminates in the presence of many young adults capable of involvement in appropriate species-specific activities. However, there are few opportunities for fulfilling these potentialities. In seeking such fulfilment they compete for social role occupancy with the older established members of the community. This competition is so severe that it simultaneously leads to the nearly total breakdown of all normal behaviour by both the contestors and the established adults of both sexes. Normal social organization (i.e. ‘the establishment’) breaks down, it ‘dies’.
Young born during such social dissolution are rejected by their mothers and other adult associates.