STUDIES: When highly developed cultures undergo sexual revolution and license they collapse with monotonous regularity within three generations

I am posting this mainly for bishops and priests to read over and ponder.

I know… I know… “I’m tooooo busyyyyy to reeeeead anything morrrrrre.”

No, not this time.   You should pay attention to this one.

Here is something, frankly, alarming and precisely zero surprise at all.

For a while I’ve been ranting about the massive demographic sinkhole that is about to open up under the Church.   Here is another aspect to consider.

Not just the Church.

At kirkdurston.com (rummage a little on his site – he has an organized mind) there is an article which invoked the studies in a somewhat dated 1934 book, but still useful, Sex and culture [electronic resource] by Joseph Daniel Unwin, a 600 page summary of his 7 volumes of studies.

[…]

Unwin examines the data from 86 societies and civilizations to see if there is a relationship between sexual freedom and the flourishing of cultures. What makes the book especially interesting is that we in the West underwent a sexual revolution in the late 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s and are now in a position to test the conclusions he arrived at more than 40 years earlier.

[…]

I have prepared a 26-page collection of quotes from his book that summarize his findings; but even that would leave you with a significant under-appreciation of the rigour and fascinating details revealed in data from 86 cultures. Here are a few of his most significant findings:

  1. Effect of sexual constraints: Increased sexual constraints, either pre or post-nuptial, always led to increased flourishing of a culture. Conversely, increased sexual freedom always led to the collapse of a culture three generations later[Do the math!]

  2. Single most influential factor: Surprisingly, the data revealed that the single most important correlation with the flourishing of a culture was whether pre-nuptial chastity was required or not. It had a very significant effect either way.

  3. Highest flourishing of culture: The most powerful combination was pre-nuptial chastity coupled with “absolute monogamy”. Rationalist cultures that retained this combination for at least three generations exceeded all other cultures in every area, including literature, art, science, furniture, architecture, engineering, and agriculture. Only three out of the eighty-six cultures studied ever attained this level.

  4. Effect of abandoning prenuptial chastity: When strict prenuptial chastity was no longer the norm, absolute monogamy, deism, and rational thinking also disappeared within three generations[Listen to young people and the Left.]

  5. Total sexual freedom: If total sexual freedom was embraced by a culture, that culture collapsed within three generations to the lowest state of flourishing — which Unwin describes as “inert” and at a “dead level of conception” and is characterized by people who have little interest in much else other than their own wants and needs. At this level, the culture is usually conquered or taken over by another culture with greater social energy.  [Nĭménhăo!]

  6. Time lag: If there is a change in sexual constraints, either increased or decreased restraints, the full effect of that change is not realized until the third generation. (Note: I’ve added a clarifying footnote at the end of this article. See footnote #13)

[…]

Unwin wrote:

The history of these societies consists of a series of monotonous repetitions; and it is difficult to decide which aspect of the story is the more significant: the lamentable lack of original thought which in each case the reformers displayed, or the amazing alacrity with which, after a period of intense compulsory continence (sexual restraint), the human organism seizes the earliest opportunity to satisfy its innate desires in a direct or perverted manner. Sometimes a man has been heard to declare that he wishes both to enjoy the advantages of high culture and to abolish compulsory continence. The inherent nature of the human organism, however, seems to be such that these desires are incompatible, even contradictory. The reformer may be likened to the foolish boy who desires both to keep his cake and to consume it. Any human society is free to choose either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom; the evidence is that it cannot do both for more than one generation[Certainly this is evident in some sectors of the Church.]

[…]

Unwin found that when strict prenuptial chastity was abandoned, absolute monogamy, deism, and rational thinking disappeared within three generations of the change in sexual freedom. [NB] So how are we doing as we enter the second generation since our own sexual revolution at the end of the 20th century? [Ask James Martin, SJ.   He’ll tell you that we’re doing just fine.]

[…]
Summary of where our culture is going, given Unwin’s findings

For the first part of the 1900’s, mainstream Western culture was rationalist and experienced enormous technological advances — from horse-and-buggy to cars; from hot air balloons to supersonic flight and spacecraft landing people on the moon; from slide rules to computers. Unwin’s three main predictions — the abandonment of rationalism, deism, and absolute monogamy — are all well underway, which makes the ultimate prediction appear to be credible … the collapse of Western civilization in the third generation, somewhere in the last third of this century.

[…]

Bishops, especially, and priests.  QUAERITUR: What is your role in this?

He brings in the studies of Mary Eberhard on the rise of Mass killings, suicides, etc.

Her research indicates that increased sexual freedom led to the decimation of the family, which resulted in the loss of family identity, which produces Eberstadt’s ‘primal screams’—a massive increase in mental health issues, mass killings, and the rise of extreme identity groups at war with each other … all symptoms of a society rapidly spiraling into collapse. This appears to have greater explanatory power than Unwin’s psychological suggestion, although the two may actually be closely related, given what Eberstadt shows.

Both Unwin and Eberstadt provide substantial evidence that a sexual revolution has long-term, devastating consequences for culture and civilization. As Unwin states, “The history of these societies consists of a series of monotonous repetitions,” and it appears that our civilization is following the same, well-travelled road to collapse.

[…]

There is a lot of food for thought here.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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40 Responses to STUDIES: When highly developed cultures undergo sexual revolution and license they collapse with monotonous regularity within three generations

  1. Kent Wendler says:

    I published this following as a letter to the editor in our local newspaper last July 7:

    “It seems to me that it is apparently mostly forgotten in the “Public Square” that sexuality only exists in the natural world for the propagation of species. This is also true for human beings. If sex did not exist, we would not be here.

    “Therefore, we say that sexuality is ordered for the continuance of each kind of living thing — including us. Putting it to an unrelated use is therefore a “disordered” utilization.

    “In some of the “lower orders” of living things, notably the mammals and possibly birds, this seems to have been facilitated by a perception of pleasure for the individual creatures performing the sexual act. Nevertheless, they do not have the capacity to understand this and do not have the free will to engage in it or not.

    “Of all of the living creatures, only humans have this capacity. We understand that the sexual act provides physical pleasure. We should also understand that when it is open to new life, it also helps bond the two complementary (female and male) partners into a lifelong union that serves them and their children.

    “When it is not open to new life then, as stated before, it is an act disordered for its natural purpose and it is a deviation from the higher human understanding of its purpose and a yielding to baser, animal instincts.”

    The implication here in this context is that these allegedly human beings are actually behaving like beasts, and beasts do not and cannot maintain a civilization.

  2. jaykay says:

    Much food indeed, not least that the picture is surely reminiscent of “Ozymandias”: “two vast and trunkless legs of stone…”

  3. abdiesus says:

    Quick Question: is it Eberhard or Eberstadt? Thanks….

  4. John21 says:

    Strong men make good times, good times make weak men, weak men make bad times, bad times make strong men, and repeat.

    I just wonder exactly what our “collapse” would look like, barring an anomaly, of course.

  5. Letholdus says:

    Yet even with his lengthy and generally convincing analysis, Unwin himself still chose “sexual freedom” over the truth of the Church:

    “It is at this point that any student of the cultural process, or any thinker who wishes to hasten the cultivation of the process, comes into conflict with organized Christianity.”

    https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.204493#page/n353/mode/1up

  6. Kathleen10 says:

    But the people who embrace sexual libertinism would be the last to want to put on the brakes.
    Indeed, they would laugh at such an idea, delay their gratifications for even a moment? Oh my no, they must indulge every inclination and find ever more base pleasures to hit that same high.
    And what would be the reason to stop or slow down? God is a myth to them. And there are no voices to counter that in our day. No pastor or preacher there to remind them of the Four Last Things.

  7. Semper Gumby says:

    Joseph Unwin wrote that book in 1934, decades before the movies and TV shows which heightened the effects of the 1960s Revolution, and internet pornography. So perhaps Kirk Durston’s estimate, relying on Unwin’s thesis, of civilizational collapse during the last third of the 21st century may be revised closer to mid-century.

    Incidentally, another anthropologist, Margaret Mead, published a few years before Unwin in 1928 “Coming of Age in Samoa” in which, to paraphrase, Mead wrote: “young Samoan girls reject virtue and spend their energy in sexual adventures” and “do what makes you happy now.” Mead’s book was jubilantly received in certain quarters in Europe and the US as a tool to wield against Christian faith. Some say Mead is the Mother of the Sexual Revolution. Mead’s research was later demolished, for starters she often projected her libertine personal views on the Samoans, but she still has her defenders today.

    From a recent UN Sexual and Reproductive Health manual: “Sexual responses can be directed towards inanimate objects, animals, minors, and non-consenting persons.” The WHO Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe begin with children aged 0-4. There are various apps, videos, and courses online aimed at children and teens.

    Then there is “SexTech” which is, among other things, exploring robotics. Instead of cracking a SkyNet joke here, let me just say this about that:

    “You get wise, you get to church!”
    -The Blues Brothers

  8. Ages says:

    More fruits of the glorious 1960s-70s. Thanks, Boomers….

  9. catholicjen says:

    I am wondering what effect contraception will have on the rate of decline. Any ideas on that?

  10. TonyO says:

    So perhaps Kirk Durston’s estimate, relying on Unwin’s thesis, of civilizational collapse during the last third of the 21st century may be revised closer to mid-century.

    I absolutely agree with that. A traditional counting of generations uses approximately 25 years per generation (can be less in some societies, and slightly more in some rare cases). Even if we date the sexual revolution to as late as 1970 (i.e. the very end of the 60’s decade), add 75 years, and that only brings us out to 2045. This matches my own personal projections and prognostications of the advance of our social problems, assuming we even make it that far.

    I am wondering what effect contraception will have on the rate of decline. Any ideas on that?

    I don’t see any way it can have any other effect than accelerating the decline. Some of the social decline comes directly or indirectly from the MERE lack of children, and there can be no doubt that the combination of contraception and legal abortion makes the occurance of “oops” children far less common than they would have in other social conditions.

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  12. JabbaPapa says:

    After I began studying these matters, oh, donkey’s years ago in the 20th Century, the general consensus was that this destruction occurs over a period of time a little longer than three generations.

    It suggested that the first thing that happened was a more general but also more subtle form of decadence and corruption not displayed outwardly through behaviours, but silently eating at the culture from within.

    Only after this first stage was complete did the more overt forms of decadence appear, in the licentiousness of excessive luxury and sexual immorality. These last two are anyway, quite clearly, symptoms of a society that has become decadent and is coming to its end.

    Michel Foucault, who should BTW never be read in the ghastly English translations created from his work as they have been made by post-modernist ideologues who have warped what he wrote to the measure of their own delusions, which is extremely ironic BTW in the light of his actual theories, has a very decent analysis of these things in his Les mots et les choses, where he suggests that the solution to such turmoil lies in the re-stating of the underlying civilisational truths so that the revolutionaries in the society can understand and then re-discover them from their own positions, and the revolution can end.

    Civilisations fail when that process of rediscovery fails, and they become subjected to foreign ideologies instead. Such as the “Errors of Russia” that Our Lady warned us against at Fatima …

  13. Broggi66 says:

    Although Boomers take the brunt of the blame for our current culture and downward spiral, I posit that it was the Silent Generation that instigated the sexual immorality that Boomers adopted. Remember Gloria Steinem and Hugh Hefner along with Andy Warhol and others are not Boomers but Silent Generation. Always beware the silent types.

  14. WVC says:

    I think folks tend to underestimate how raunchy and immoral the Roaring Twenties actually were. However, you can see early traces of the rot seeping into the roots of American culture well into the mid to late 19th century. There are reasons America’s first Serial Killer was so successful murdering young women at that particular moment in history. The attack on the family and on local communities has been going on for some time, and a significant shift in the economic factors post Civil War accelerated things dramatically.

    Anyone who thinks the 1950s were some sort of halcyon age of moral uprightness has spent too much time watching the “Donna Reed Show.” The 60s were sort of a final collapse in a demolition effort that has been going on for some time.

  15. GregB says:

    Human sexuality is the way that God gave us a share in His image and likeness as our Creator. In separating sex from procreation the sexual revolution in effect served divorce papers on God the Creator. The sexual revolution for all practical purposes has terminated God the Creator’s parental rights in the sex act that He created.
    *
    The new alphabet soup of alternative lifestyles is based primarily on personal behavior. If a person acts on their orientation then it becomes a behavior. Any society that wants to survive needs to favor conduct and behavior that facilitates the orderly having and the raising of the next generation. If people want to call this prejudice, then all of nature is prejudiced. Continuing self perpetuation is a mark of a successful species.
    *
    You need to add to this that societies and civilizations are form of societal infrastructure. They need every bit as much repair and maintenance as physical infrastructure does. Physical infrastructure often collapses as a result of a long period of neglect and lack of maintenance. Societies and civilizations often collapse for the same reason. Roman civilization was not built in a day, and it was not destroyed in a day. It is this delay that social engineers can count on to push their crackpot schemes.

  16. pconnell says:

    Much the same topic is discussed at the link

    https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/12/birth-control-decline-civilization-steven-kessler.html

    which I read over the last forty eight hours or so.

  17. cengime says:

    @WVC: It is possible to underestimate how decadent people were in the olden days. It is also possible to overestimate it. The fact that there were enough hedonists around for Cole Porter to write “Anything Goes” doesn’t mean that higher moral standards weren’t really held and practised than today in wider society, especially outside of cities.

    Some might be interested in what Unwin’s book has to say about “female emancipation.” Unwin pooh-poohs the idea that feminism is a new invention of modern, enlightened man. Rather, “a female emancipating movement” seems to invariably follow as the consequence of absolute monogamy and always precipitates cultural decline, not, he thinks, because of the emancipation, but because female emancipation is always accompanied by extension of sexual opportunity.

  18. I haven’t read the summary yet (and I certainly will), but a “generation” (according to dictionary.com) is considered to be about thirty years, “during which children are born and grow up, become adults, and begin to have children of their own.” The author of the study says (if I understand correctly) that a civilization would last for three generations after the onset of this revolution of societal mores.

    Soooo … if we were to put the beginning at, say, 1969, this would mean that the fall of civilization would occur by 2059, the year I turn 105.

    Maybe I’ll be around to see it. If I’m lucky, maybe not.

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  20. The Masked Chicken says:

    As much as I would like to agree with Unwin’s conclusions and as much as Natural Law suggests the same conclusions, nevertheless, one has to examine the research as as objectively as possible.

    To begin with, the psychology of the time (1034) was governed to a large extent by the Freudian hypothesis that sexual sublimation = creative “energy” = civilization or “flourishing.” I read Unwin’s book, today, or as much I needed to understand his research methodology and it is froth with problems. His terms are poorly defined, his selection criteria are poorly defined, he has no control-groups, he lived in an age when statistical sampling was poorly understood and there was no control for bias. He is looking at a highly complex system, civilization, and using only one variable as a measure with no control of other variables. For instance, was there drug use in the society? If so, does it occur before or after the breakdown in sexual mores? Couldn’t drug use cause societal breakdown? What about natural disasters, etc.

    Also, he has a simple measurement criteria (his summary chart is in Appendix I) and he uses only a + or – to indicate whether or not that variable is measurable within the society. How many unmarried people does it take for a society to regress – 10%, 50%? At what point does a society get a + sign for having that property – does only one count or does it have to be over 50% and how would he know, given the scant historical data?. Is there a dose/response property: the higher the sexual license, the faster the fall? He also never seems to find any for counter-examples. The non-existence of them is highly, highly suspicious: one almost never gets 100% correlation in a social science setting. Heck, we can’t even get that in the physical sciences. Given the reproducibility psychology experiments are only at the 37% level for the most historically important psychology experiments, one can hardly think that Unwin’s research is reproducible or meets even the barest criteria for acceptable science. It is an interesting historical document, showing the research methodology of the era, but I would hardly call his conclusions valid.

    There are counter-examples to his claims. For example, the Montanists, as evidenced by late Tertullian, highly prized virginity and monogamy, but they hardly flourished (they, also, had a view of the spiritual which I think Unwin would classify as primitive). Likewise, prior to the Communist take-over in China, there was the practice of concubinage. Is that a form of marriage? How would Unwin classify that? In any case, modern China has very little sexual restraint, these days (the statistics of pre-marital sex have gone from 15.5% in 1985 to 71% two years, ago), and, yet, they hardly look to be falling apart. Indeed, by Unwin’s criteria, they seem to be flourishing.

    What Unwin does not take into account, it seems, is that any organizing principle in a society will tend to make the society more organized in terms of energy use and productivity, be it sexual restraint or even a fascist type of control. Independent of social scientists, I seem to have discovered the notion of social entropy. In statistical mechanics, entropy is defined as S = k log W, where W is the number of accessible states of a system, The larger the number of states, the greater the disorder within the system. Any tightly controlled system limits the number of accessible states and so the entropy decreases and order increases (the Second Law of Thermodynamics is a little more complicated than this, but excuse my over-simplification for the purposes of illustration). Thus, sexual restraint is just as effective as totalitarianism at generating organization within a society.

    What Unwin may have discovered is that any liberalization of society eventually creates disorder. Indeed, I submit that before sexual liberty occurs, a general liberalization of the culture occurs. This is why the West is falling, but China is ascending – our version of liberalization is to remove restraints on everything, even reason. This liberal spirit has been an undercurrent in the West since the Enlightenment and it has, largely, been held in check by the Catholic Church. The devastation of two World Wars has accelerated the liberalization of the West as it allowed for the rise of the youth after each War. Another thing that Unwin does not look at is demographics or age distribution with each society. He might have caught onto the idea that the rise of youth without a restraining history leads to the fall of a society.

    In any case, there is much more to say, but this book is not the go-to book for making the connection between sexual license and the fall of society that one would like. It seems to be an exercise of confirmation bias, since the data give the very unlikely 100% correlation. A more stringent assignment system for the variable would, I suspect, make his conclusions go away.

    The Chicken

  21. catholicjen says:

    @TonyO

    “I don’t see any way it can have any other effect than accelerating the decline. Some of the social decline comes directly or indirectly from the MERE lack of children, and there can be no doubt that the combination of contraception and legal abortion makes the occurance of “oops” children far less common than they would have in other social conditions.”

    I was also thinking that the contraception would hasten the rate of decline. But I also think that it makes the occurrence of oops-babies more common, not less, simply because the rate of pre and extra marital sex is dramatically much higher in a contraceptive environment than in a non-contraceptive one. More oops-babies means more social chaos, not through any fault of theirs but just because of the extra complexity they have to navigate in order to have a reasonably normal life. Many don’t manage to navigate it, actually. I say this as someone conceived as an oops-baby who was almost aborted! So I have no judgement on oops-babies and the problems they face. But it’s a complex life, no question, far more complex than if I had been conceived and raised with my own married parents.

    Anyway, thanks for your perspective!!

  22. Semper Gumby says:

    Kent Wendler wrote: “The implication here in this context is that these allegedly human beings are actually behaving like beasts, and beasts do not and cannot maintain a civilization.” Good point.

    JabbaPapa wrote: “…the general consensus was that this destruction occurs over a period of time a little longer than three generations.

    “It suggested that the first thing that happened was a more general but also more subtle form of decadence and corruption…”

    Good point. Unwin’s “three-generations” is interesting, but something must have been afoot before then to get the clock ticking. That brings to mind Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach” in which he sensed something around 1850.

    “The sea is calm tonight.
    The tide is full, the moon lies fair
    Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
    Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
    Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

    “The Sea of Faith
    Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
    Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
    But now I only hear
    Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
    Retreating, to the breath
    Of the night-wind”

    WVC: Yes, the inter-war era was the setting of, for example, The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises. Ennui (acedia) and excess were present in the Twenties as they are today. Then there was Weimar Germany and 1920s Berlin (which produced, for example, Christopher Isherwood’s “Berlin Stories,” and inspired “I Am a Camera” and “Cabaret.”)

    One could argue though that Weimar Germany was not a civilization but a culture. Debauchery in the cities aided Hitler’s rise to power (though of course more than that was going on, and he never received more than about 43% of the popular vote). A twist here is that Hitler’s SA (“brownshirts”) were key to destroying Weimar and clearing a path for Hitler, though the SA leader Ernst Rohm and his deputy were homosexuals.

    On the other hand, that era saw, as you know, not just Unbelief but Belief. See Joseph Pearce’s “Literary Converts” which takes a look at Waugh, Wilde, Lewis, Tolkien, Chesterton, etc.

    Masked Chicken: You have a good point, (though Unwin states, for example, that his diagrams are simplified.) Perhaps Gertrude Himmelfarb’s 1995 “The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values” could expand and refine Unwin’s interesting hypothesis.

  23. FromVicBC says:

    The Real Story by Edward Sri – Dr. Sri describes the old testament as a collection of stories about the rise and fall of the Israelites over the centuries. I believe he said the average length of period was about 300 years. Obviously when Israel is adherent to Yahweh they flourish, and when they mingle with other societies and accept paganism, things go badly. Reading The Real Story was a huge eye opener for me and has strengthened my faith immensely.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightfall_(Asimov_novelette_and_novel) – A fiction from Asimov. When the world goes crazy it’s the religious zealots that pick the pieces back up.

  24. Semper Gumby says:

    abdiesus: It’s “Eberstadt.” She’s written “Primal Screams: How The Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics”, and “How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization” and several other books.

  25. JesusFreak84 says:

    In a minor defense of Andy Warhol, he may or may not have always lived according to the ideals of his Faith, (during life, alluded that the rumors about him weren’t always based in fact, and at least some of his family believed that he let the rumors fester because at least people knew his name; he may not have realized until much later that not all publicity is worth it,) but he died, AFAIK, in full communion with the Ruthenian {sp?} Catholic rite, into which he had been baptized.

    That said, I agree with the poster above who said things started going wrong at LEAST in the 20s. Have you seen the dress and dancing from that era???

  26. BobCT says:

    Umm. Western Civilization is already collapsing. Right now. Look at the idiot box and the one in your hand at this very moment…no, not a generation or two away from collapse…it has been since around 9 11 …thank Almighty God that the Merciful Illumination of all Consciouses will occur within hopefully the next 5 years , if not sooner! Come Holy Spirit Come!

  27. Cincture says:

    Many very interesting and informative comments here generated by Fr Z’s post. Not much to be said of the time-bound attempted pseudo-social/psychological synthesis of Mr Unwin (even Mr Burkson has been taken to task for imprecision in his mathematical cosmonogy).
    However, pace Unwin, assuming a pre- and post- nuptial monogamous anthropology, comprised of a purer family rights structure, we still risk limiting ourselves to merely an inquiry into the sociological nature of humanity. That is, we circle on a relative head of a pin if we devote ourselves merely to a historical/social commentary on sexual energy relations and the concomitant wax and wane of relative masculine and female dominance and subservience. Indeed history tells of disproportionate and outright imposed unfairness in such relations. Even as the Church has acquiesced in part politically to times of sheer domination between sexes, it has nonetheless pointed to a complementarity of man and woman. The mere attempt at definition of masculinity and femininity in their true respective and coordinate gifts is a universal (in the religious sense) not just a modern or premodern historical challenge. It is in default of human nature without the moral guidance and check on ignorance otherwise, to witness a reduction in relations to physical strength in circumstances, most especially outside of, but as history has shown also within, the social contract. With many more than three generations in much of more remote history presented with static or very slow development, compared to more recent history presented with more rapid change in literacy and technology and societal resources, Unwin’s and others’ similar hypotheses, dissipates in the name of something larger by way of explanation and avoidance. We scurry about in our own generational timeline of life and death viewing through a lens that is comparatively myopic. Consider a disruption in society wherein all that technology, social resources and even literacy is once again unavailable, or alternatively is manipulated for other purposes. As to either, there is a familiar power which would re-assert or institute itself. Thus the earthbound pin head circling in terms of the relative scale of humanity’s status viz a viz God. Accordingly, we turn from microcosm to an inquiry into the macrocosm of the purpose of humanity, and its right orientation. This turn forces humans to look at their ultimate purpose, which in turn should re-focus their view towards one another in Creation. Is that purpose not clearly set forth through the Apostles, Doctors and magisterium of the Catholic Church, all of which points to Christ’s transfiguring history and to the ultimate purpose of the attaining the beatific vision? What other synthesis of “history” is there than that of the Incarnate Word, Wisdom, Christ, which subsumes all, the individual, social and cosmic, in directing to that divine vision? Does not the sacramental unity of masculinity and femininity, God and His Church (the Bride and Bridegroom), provide for the reconciliation of each of us and creation itself through the Eucharist, with the Saints and choirs of Angels surrounding the altar at consecration? Our freedom is to ignore the grace which we are afforded by The Holy Ghost, each in our own way with our own gifts, in our marital relations, in our priestly or monastic endeavors, in our single or religious vocations, to act in such way as to seek that reconciliation with God. The so-called sexual imperative for some, and the well or mis – placed energies it entails, while sociologically relevant to right human relations, ignores the bigger picture of humanity in its history, as well as the thought to its proper direction.

  28. KateD says:

    If one considers the research at face value, Unwin defines a generation as 33 years. Recently in working on genealogy, it seems generations in America have tended closer to 20 years….If we set the sexual revolution timer at Woodstock in the Summer of 1969, we would be looking at collapse somewhere between 2029-2068.

    But I think our culture got an unintended jolt of correction in the late 80s with the unfortunate advent of the AIDS crisis and the return to premarital abstinence and post nuptial monogamy. (Prior to the outbreak, popular sitcoms like Three’s Company reflected the culture’s cavalier attitude regarding sex) So perhaps we may push the collapse to 2059-2088? Meaning there’s still time to avert the societal train going completely off the rails? If unwin was correct. It feels imminent, though…Like RIGHT NOW!

    There is an analogous American axiom having to do with the mortality of family businesses: “From shirt sleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.”. Every major civilization has a version of this saying.

    “In Italian it is “dalle stalle alle stelle alle stalle” (“from stalls to stars to stalls”). The Spanish say, “quien no lo tiene, lo hance; y quien lo tiene, lo deshance” (“who doesn’t have it, does it, and who has it, misuses it”)….Or in the famous words of John Adams, “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” -https://www.corpmagazine.com/interest/family-business/shirt-sleeves-to-shirt-sleeves-in-three-generations/

    Perhaps a generation focused on art, poetry and music looses the value of hard work?

    Another similar axiom is found in the homesteading community. It takes one generation to loose the knowledge of self sufficiency on a farm and then it takes THREE generations to become self sufficient again.

    It’s interesting that it always comes back to three generations.

    I’m still chewing on The Chicken’s comment….

    Perhaps a reboot of the study in this century using modern and more objective methodolgy might clear up some of those questions and lead to more accurate analysis. Think of how much easier it would be to crunch the data with todays computer software programs!

  29. Semper Gumby says:

    FromVicBC wrote: “Obviously when Israel is adherent to Yahweh they flourish, and when they mingle with other societies and accept paganism, things go badly.”

    Good point. Though it may be impossible not to mingle with other societies. The United Monarchy under King David then King Solomon was at a crossroads connecting Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt. Then there were the nearby Ammonites and Moabites.

    That said, Solomon, after building the First Temple c950 BC, obviously need not have turned to Astarte or Moloch, or built a high place to Chemosh. Because of Solomon’s actions the Lord did not destroy the Kingdom, but He divided it (1 Kings 11).

    After the Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians c720 BC, the Southern Kingdom of Judah experienced a period of reform under Hezekiah. However, Jerusalem was eventually captured by the Babylonians in 586 BC and the faithful exiled to Babylon for seventy years.

    To paraphrase John21’s comment:

    “Faithful people make good times, good times make some people unfaithful, if there are many unfaithful people that means bad times, bad times make more people faithful, and repeat.”

    There’s something to be said for that. Though, this can lead some, or many, to adopt the mindset of history being just one damned thing after another and, hey, why bother?

    History is in fact Salvation History: from Adam and Eve to Abraham to Moses to Deborah to Solomon to Hezekiah to Mary to Jesus Christ who redeemed us from one damned thing after another to Peter to…well, you get the idea.

  30. Semper Gumby says:

    Cincture wrote:

    “Not much to be said of the time-bound attempted pseudo-social/psychological synthesis of Mr Unwin (even Mr Burkson [sic] has been taken to task for imprecision in his mathematical cosmonogy).”

    Recall, Unwin published in 1934- the era of Margaret Mead, Margaret Sanger, eugenics, etc. Dismissing Unwin, as you appear to do, is unwarranted as he was clearly on to something. Note the following quote by Durston:

    “Unwin found that when strict prenuptial chastity was abandoned, absolute monogamy, deism, and rational thinking disappeared within three generations of the change in sexual freedom.”

    A fair warning by Unwin, and rather prescient for 1934.

    A quote from Durston regarding Eberstadt:

    “Her research indicates that increased sexual freedom led to the decimation of the family, which resulted in the loss of family identity, which produces Eberstadt’s ‘primal screams’—a massive increase in mental health issues, mass killings, and the rise of extreme identity groups at war with each other … all symptoms of a society rapidly spiraling into collapse. This appears to have greater explanatory power than Unwin’s psychological suggestion, although the two may actually be closely related, given what Eberstadt shows.”

    Note how Durston is building on Unwin’s research by reference to Eberstadt’s research. Now, perhaps we could add Gertude Himmelfarb’s “virtues to values” research and Humanae Vitae.

  31. Semper Gumby says:

    BobCT wrote: “Western Civilization is already collapsing…it has been since around 9/11.”

    Many would say that the process was underway before 2001…

  32. Semper Gumby says:

    KateD wrote: “Perhaps a generation focused on art, poetry and music loses the value of hard work?”

    Interesting. Perhaps an answer lies in the difference between Cimabue, Giotto, Dante, Michelangelo, and Mozart, and the content of much, but certainly not all, of modern art, poetry, and music.

  33. Semper Gumby says:

    JesusFreak84 wrote: “That said, I agree with the poster above who said things started going wrong at LEAST in the 20s. Have you seen the dress and dancing from that era???”

    Good point about the Flapper era. Perhaps that foreshadowed present-day Tinder and, er, certain unusual clubs and restaurants. On the bright side, I’ve been informed that the “Victoria’s Secret Christmas Show” has been cancelled.

  34. The Masked Chicken says:

    Semipermanent Gumby wrote:

    “Recall, Unwin published in 1934- the era of Margaret Mead, Margaret Sanger, eugenics, etc. Dismissing Unwin, as you appear to do, is unwarranted as he was clearly on to something.”

    I will say it, again – Unwin’s research would never be published in any reputable journal, today. His methodology is ad hoc and very imprecise. I am not saying that his overall conclusion is wrong, just that his methodology is so flawed that one cannot derive any statistically significant conclusions from it.

    I have not read Eberstadt, so I cannot comment on her methodology. If she cites Unwin to any great extent, then this seriously undermines her arguments.

    We know what happened in the 1920’s and 1950’s. Historians have known for some time that the Twentieth century was a bipartite century: WW I brought back to the West a young generation hopped up on Testosterone (we know that this increases under stress, especially in war theaters), eager to expend their energy in change. The breaking away from parochial life by encountering different foreign cultures during the War caused these young people to be primed for the new and different – a situation that the liberal cultures of the late 1800’s left over after the War were willing to exploit. The aggression of war was translated into an aggression against the old ways, leading to changes in sexual mores as well as a fascination with aberrant art, such as in German expressionism in film and art. This was a period best described by luxury. Divorce rates skyrocketed except in the Catholic population. This is a critical point. Catholics were inoculated against divorce.

    Such luxury demanded wealth and the safety onset of the depression killed the liberal movement. In epidemiological terms, the Depression was a vaccine against the encroachment of the virus of luxury/liberalism. Sex became much more conservative: indeed, the Eugenics movement went underground for most of the WW II period. Experimental nude films of the 1920’s were replaced with the Hayes code and G-rated films until the early 1960’s. The divorce rate stabilized. People could not afford to fool around. It was not, however, the constrained sexual mores that lead to the hyperactivity of production in WW II (it is arguable whether or not the U. S. could have focused as effective on war production if the machinery had not been in place DUE to the depression), but it was the economy that constrained sexual mores, nothing more. Indeed, after WW II, the same cycle of misplaced aggression fostering liberal causes was taken up, again by the youth, but one generation displaced, because, unlike after WW I, the youth who fought WW II put their energy into constructing suburbia. It fell to their children to form the repeating cycle of what happened after WW I. We are in a period similar to what would have happened had the Great Depression never occurred. The Great Depression put the breaks on the party everyone was having in the 1920’s. In the 1960-2020 period, we have continued to slide downward without any brakes. The Recession of 2008 could have been our salvation, but it hit older people more than the youth and the government bailouts prevented society from pausing.

    The cause and effect pattern after WW I and WW II are virtually identical and they do not stem from a mere diminishing of sexual restraint. This is just one factor among many that got caught up in the liberalizing wave. It takes a rich society to be able to flout nature and it was precisely in the West after both Wars that one sees the greatest changes in society as a whole. It is not sex that is the driver, however. It is the flouting of nature in general that is and that pertains not only to sex, but to any area of stable human experience. If, as in WW I, whole battalions of soldiers could be exposed to mustard and chlorine gas, what is off limits? Likewise, if a whole city can be bombed out of existence in an instant, what is sacred after that?

    The liberalization of sex is an effect, not a cause. Unwin simply did not do a comprehensive historical study of the groups he examined. He focused on one variable, not realizing that it was slaved to so many others. I am sorry. It is cargo cult science of the worst type because it is cloaked in a veneer of respectability. No one uses a two point rating scale to measure a range of responses in a linear response regime as Unwin does. That is binary thinking. It leads to a yes or no conclusion with no subtly or depth. If I sound so angry about this, it is because there are real driving forces behind the destabilization of the West far beyond the simple-minded idea of sexual liberation. There is an urgency that these forces be uncovered. Unwin never asked the very simple question: is the loosening of sexual restraint ever preceded by something else? He would have either found multiple causations or even just one, but in any case, he would have started to actually understand the driving forces and situated them far before the loosening of sexual restraint. In the end he would never understand anything until he understood the reality of Original Sin.

    I have spent the last year creating a very complex mathematical epidemiological model of the priest abuse crisis, so I have been doing a great deal of studying how society can change when it is infected by an idea. I am sorry, but unless the seven volumes of Unwin’s total work includes anything like a decay curve for each civilization, then it is useless. While I respect Durston’s willingness to take on the issue of how sex affects society, it might help him to read more widely in related research. The loss of sexual restraint can be thought of as a disease spreading throughout a population. Indeed, we can model this epidemiologically – it has been done with the AIDS crisis. I know what it would take to prove Unwin’s hypothesis. He doesn’t even come close. I know how to do it and the data might exist for modern cultures, but there is no way Unwin could have done it and he didn’t.

    The Chicken

  35. Semper Gumby says:

    Masked Chicken: Note that my username is “Semper Gumby.” Thanks.

    You wrote:

    “I will say it, again – Unwin’s research would never be published in any reputable journal, today.”

    Perhaps. Though, “reputable journals” have made errors before and no doubt will again in the future. So your statement may be irrelevant.

    “I am not saying that his overall conclusion is wrong, just that his methodology is so flawed that one cannot derive any statistically significant conclusions from it.”

    That’s debatable. Also, our host posted this as “food for thought.”

    “We know what happened in the 1920’s and 1950’s.”

    You then provide a wide-ranging discourse from WW I to the Recession of 2008 to back up your assertion. Note that the loosening of sexual constraints could also have been influenced by factors you failed to mention. To name a few: Margaret Mead, the Bloomsbury Group, Aleister Crowley and “Sex Magic”, and Freud.

    One more possible factor. Historians have noted that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was of widespread interest in 1919 when photographs of a solar eclipse backed up his theory. The Newtonian universe appeared not so certain anymore. Perhaps there were no absolutes, and if there were no absolutes then perhaps sexual restraints were unnecessary.

    Masked Chicken, there is no need to dismiss Unwin’s work with mainly assertions backed up by vehemence. Critique and refine, you bet. But for 1934, with toxic intellectual currents and a society in decay, Unwin did well by publishing a caution, a warning.

    From the post:

    “If total sexual freedom was embraced by a culture, that culture collapsed within three generations to the lowest state of flourishing- which Unwin describes as “inert” and at a “dead level of conception” and is characterized by people who have little interest in much else other than their own wants and needs.”

    That’s food for thought.

  36. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Semper Gumby,

    Sorry about misspelling your name. i was the victim of iPad auto-correct and I failed to spot it.

    The Chicken

  37. Semper Gumby says:

    Masked Chicken: No worries, thank you.

    A buddy suggests: “Get a Christus Vincit phone. Latin-only, even the errors look cool. And it has a retractable narwhal tusk in case you find yourself on a London bridge with a jihadi.”

    Bear with me, unfortunately another suggestion has been made. I’m asked to write a “90-paragraph rebuttal, Thomistically of course,” refuting WVC’s comment about Donna Reed.

    Ok, how about this:

    Sed contra: Mary Bailey can do no wrong.

    *pounds the table, Thomistically*

    Thus is WVC refuted!

  38. Cincture says:

    “a cargo cult science of the worst type” indeed. Many authors seek to instill a thought, a conclusion, and wrap it with supposed support. It is the latter which often leads one astray, and MC properly points to it.
    And then of course we have an indicatory non-serious retort: “Perhaps there were no absolutes, and if there were no absolutes then perhaps sexual restraints were unnecessary.”
    If one were to engage in a serious discussion of sexual currents and import an Einsteinian theory which was known and incorporated by exactly .00001 of the population in its cultural thinking, (I seem to be methodologically guilty of the same thing of which I accuse SG, but I challenge any proposal as to enculturated fact), one would ignore the very Catholicity of the sexual bond and its meaning across space and time.
    Moreover, the commentary smacks of a different ideology, one which reminds one of Freud’s exhortation to a state quite different than the family: one of “But at present we are far from possessing any supranational organization competent to render verdicts of incontestable authority and enforce absolute submission to the execution of its verdicts. Thus I am led to my first axiom: The quest of international security involves the unconditional surrender by every nation, in a certain measure, of its liberty of action–its sovereignty that is to say–and it is clear beyond all doubt that no other road can lead to such security. ” – Freud to Einstein 1932
    which in its whole, if one reads further, was founded upon the former’s irreligious pomposity in channeling Eros and Thanatos, that is, sex, aggression and death, and scoffing at Christianity’s template as to the sentiments arising from same.
    When one surveys historical society, it would appear that the sexual imperative is one that continues to be one that is accepted and feared in political culture, one to be manipulated, not sought to be morally addressed; and that is a response to the drive-by attack by SG on MC or anyone who may be getting to the point, perhaps Unwin’s equivocal conclusion(s), but not his methodology, or one’s purpose in expounding it notwithstanding. What SG does propose is a consideration of tumultuous times, one where anyone can be pointed to in the intellectual current to confirm a bias or even a hypothesis. I refer back to my original post in that regard in terms of not losing sight of what matters, especially in regard to a sociological attempt which has no actual historical, statistical or methodological support.

  39. Semper Gumby says:

    Cincture: In a debate sometimes there can be pointed remarks, hey it happens, but your accusation that I made a “drive-by attack against MC” is unwarranted.

    Let’s continue. You wrote:

    “And then of course we have an indicatory non-serious retort: “Perhaps there were no absolutes, and if there were no absolutes then perhaps sexual restraints were unnecessary.””

    Re-read my paragraph in its entirety, keeping in mind intellectual currents (or cultural currents if you prefer).

    “If one were to engage in a serious discussion of sexual currents and import an Einsteinian theory which was known and incorporated by exactly .00001 of the population in its cultural thinking…”

    You are asserting “exactly .00001 of the population” without providing any supporting evidence. And in fact, your statement is incorrect. The intricacies of Relativity are not important here, the widespread impact of the 1919 experiments is the point. A few items from a simple internet search on “Einstein popularity 1919”:

    1. “On November 6 1919, at a joint meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society, held at London’s Burlington House, the ‘lights went all askew in the heavens’. That, anyway, was the rhetorical flourish with which the New York Times hailed the announcement of the results of a pair of astronomical expeditions conducted in 1919…”

    2. “When Einstein, who was bedridden and ravaged by wartime hunger, learned of the success via telegram, he was delighted. The next day, his face was splashed across newspapers around the world. The Times of London’s headline read: “Revolution in science NEW THEORY OF THE UNIVERSE: NEWTONIAN IDEAS OVERTHROWN.””

    3. “When he arrived in the U.S. in 1921, more than 5,000 revelers greeted him as he stepped off the steamship Rotterdam. Throngs of reporters trailed the scientist wherever he went, and lecture series he gave across the U.S. and Europe left attendees overflowing into the streets.”

    Those items put your claim of “of course we have an indicatory non-serious retort” in a different light.

    “What SG does propose is a consideration of tumultuous times, one where anyone can be pointed to in the intellectual current to confirm a bias or even a hypothesis.”

    You are correct when writing: “What SG does propose is a consideration of tumultuous times…” but are incorrect by jumping to the conclusion: “…one where anyone can be pointed to in the intellectual current to confirm a bias or even a hypothesis.”

    You close with this:

    “I refer back to my original post in that regard in terms of not losing sight of what matters, especially in regard to a sociological attempt which has no actual historical, statistical or methodological support.”

    May I kindly suggest that you loosen your grip on your assumptions, and re-read the post and discussion. Cheers.