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Very interesting post Michael. For me, a good starting point on this issue is Ian McGilchrist’s “The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World” – a book that made a big impact, at least here in the UK. Here’s the Amazon link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Master-His-Emissary-Divided-Western-ebook/dp/B003ZSHUG6/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1500530196&sr=8-1-spell

What you are suggesting is that we are currently seeing further changes that are either “Divided Brain” driven, or have “Divided Brain” consequences (or perhaps both). That things have changed in the way you say is, to me, undeniable. As you acknowledge, much of what you say on the role of the internet etc. here is speculative – but that also strikes a chord with me.

There are, I think, some big ideas underlying what is happening here. In particular, while we can disagree about both the extent to which the world has really changed, and the nature of these changes; it is undoubtedly the case that our perspective on the world has changed (expanded?), at least in part for the reasons you cite. This is generating in some individuals huge tensions and conflicts, whether they are now materially better off or not – hence the aggressive retreat into oversimplified, polarised positions.

Embracing fresh ideas/perspectives, and the losing of certainties/embracing of ambiguities that necessarily accompany doing that, is clearly a challenge too far for many. Interesting, but possibly dark, times.

Simon

All of which puts me in mind of the 1980's speculation that we are now beginning the process evolving into a non-biological life form.

Anyway, I do feel that the internet changes our perception of others; both for the good and the bad. It's easier to use our intuition to 'read between the lines' when following others' written communications because we're less likely to be distracted by other aspects of personality, such as superficial charm. But, on the other hand, we are unable to feel any warmth of the kind that might radiate from someone who speaks with us in person. If one tends to be succinct (abrupt?) then that communication style can be interpreted as hostile when it's simply meant to be expedient. Personally, I find telephone communication the best verbal indicator of character and intention.

On the subject of feminine power/influence, I don't think it's too far fetched to imagine that in earlier times there might have been goddess worship. After all, the most basic interpretation of God is that of an omnipotent, caring and nurturing - if sometimes strict and unpredictable - parental presence. And, as infants, the first thing/power we come to rely upon to protect and feed us is the mother, whose face we imprint into our brains as we feed. Our mothers initially appear to us as godlike in the extreme.

And as for the concept of political polarisation, here in the UK we traditionally had only the two options staunch right-wing or staunch left-wing. It's only in the last thirty years that there's been any weakening of that ingrained division, with the introduction of various middle ground and ecologically focused parties.

Even so, yours is a very thought provoking essay, Michael, and one with which I sympathise, for the most part. But it also brings to mind Niels Bohr's famous observation concerning the paradoxical nature of truth; something along the lines of, 'For every great truth, the opposite is also true.'

Ps. Also, it's a well-recognised phenomenon that communities bond far more closely in times of trouble. Sharing the same fears is a great bond.

But, going back more directly to the Internet, I find myself comforted by the fact that I can be in touch with so many sources of information, interest, stimulation, and diversity. There's no such thing as 'parochial' anymore in the modern world - and a good thing too, methinks. :)

Michael, thanks for this. Even though it's off normal topics, I'm fascinated by it.

Like you, I am increasingly disturbed by the hysterical partisanship we're seeing. In fact if I get into a political debate these days my typical position (I notice) is more anti-partisanship than anything else. If I think people are 'othering' the opposing point of view, I feel the need to defend that point of view, certainly if it's objectively pretty reasonable.

I certainly think digital technologies could have something to do with it. But rather than a reordering of our cognitive processes, I wonder if it could be the result of something more like the profusion of aspirational images - images of lives that look better and more beautiful than ours. Or perhaps it's the result of trying to maintain a stable sense of self amid that flood of information you talk about. You have to define yourself stridently in order to stay stable, and for the same reason you attack others stridently.

I'm not quite clear if you're suggesting the anxieties we're all experiencing are the result of a transitional period, or of the new technologies themselves. I worry that it's the latter.

One way or another, though, you've put your finger on a key contemporary phenomenon. I'm not sure enough people are able to step back sufficiently to perceive the phenomenon, because they're immersed in the partisanship and constant online conflict.

"Is it possible that the Internet is altering brain function in some new way?"

The medium is the (mental) massage—and not necessarily a competent one?

Michael,
I share your concern about what is happening to our perceptions, but I don't think that it is solely an effect of technology. I may be more cynical than you, but I think extreme partisanship is encouraged by the powerful to keep us focused on each other and not those pulling the strings. Edward Bernays developed and promoted the idea of manipulating public perception that led to the modern practice of Public Relations used by Corporations, the Military, political parties and government in general. I can't help but see technology as somehow enabling the efforts of those who we don't elect but yet hold on to real power through persuasion.
Unfortunately, the internet is rife with all those folks using these kind of ideas to persuade you to give them your money as well. We all need to guard our sanity and also have compassion on those who see things differently from ourselves.

Julie Baxter:
"Also, it's a well-recognised phenomenon that communities bond far more closely in times of trouble. Sharing the same fears is a great bond."

Well, I have to say that you didn't show much evidence of this, when I came under attack from sceptics. In fact, you jumped straight on the bandwagon!

I'm not sure if the internet has feminised the brain, though who knows. In the past we read books I guess, so similar use of brain function. And of course their is feminisation and male change influences on the brain due to androgens- testosterone and oestrogen among others.

I think the barrage of information we now receive, not just cultural, political, and media, but also the vast amount of comments and articles on what gender means. Whether we see ourselves as transsexual, bisexual, being male or female, the internet has influenced culture throughout the world, in how people see themselves.

The thing that concerns me, is that we all spend too much time on the internet, whether computer, phone etc. I read less for sure, and I'm sure todays kids do too, they are far less active (as shown). It has replaced a lot of activities, not just the physical.

Personally I often wonder what part it has played in suicide, as we are so caught up in ourselves. Selfies are a way of life, and we can be sure they are a way of getting 'likes'. They also perpetuate the importance of physical characteristics, not behavioural ones, and self obsession. I often wonder if helping people get out of their 'heads', may be by volunteering to help others. Known to make one feel good, as shown by research. Certainly getting away from self obsession would help I think.

Lastly I worry about AI, if it takes over society, the brain will have even less to 'do', wont we all get dementia? I wonder. Lyn x.

I have often wondered about the loss of the Soviet Union. Tribalism is intractable. Those who think they can overcome it are hopelessly deluded. The very act of denying it confirms the thesis. "Those other people might be tribal, but I'm not." The goal is to make tribalism work for you and your interests, and the US no longer has the sort of opposing force the Soviet Union represented. Islamic terrorism, being decentralized and confined to no geographic boundaries (and certainly lacking the capacity for MAD) can't substitute for one.

As one of the alt-right's fondest sayings goes: Strong men create good times, good times create weak men. Weak men create bad times. Bad times create strong men.

As for the internet reprogramming people, yep, I've noticed that both in myself and in others. I've wondered quite a bit about swerving so dramatically in my political affiliations. You mentioned autism and aspergers. I think homosexuality and transsexualism are also spread at least partially via the internet, at the very least in terms of activating latent impulses people might not have even known they had. But I'd wager it's even more than that.

It occurs to me that people used to show the same kind of concern about the effects of television - not least that it would result in square eyes. :)

Steve Smith:
"Edward Bernays developed and promoted the idea of manipulating public perception that led to the modern practice of Public Relations used by Corporations, the Military, political parties and government in general. I can't help but see technology as somehow enabling the efforts of those who we don't elect but yet hold on to real power through persuasion.
Unfortunately, the internet is rife with all those folks using these kind of ideas to persuade you to give them your money as well."

Yes Steve; Spin is to Lies, what Scam is to Fraud: lesser terms that hide the true intentions of those employing such tactics.
Politicians and those in Public Relations now view 'spin' as part of the 'Game' and an acceptable way of avoiding the truth.
Those with criminal intent, almost justify their actions by saying, Well,..its only a scam." They don't view themselves as being criminals, but justify their actions from behind the veil of 'buyer beware' as though that association gives them 'Cart Blanche' to go about their activities.

Well, I think there is a lot going on here that needs to be unpacked from the main theme of the post.

First, in a nut shell, IMO, a lot of the current complaints against the current societal status have little to do with the neurological effects of the internet. There's an historical basis for a lot of it.

In the 1960s the door was opened to the expression of some radical anti-American/anti-Western culture ideology. What opened the door was a burgeoning population of young people (the "baby boom") and all the usual accompanying youthful angst, rebellion, etc. That door was opened even wider by the VN war and the draft that was sending a lot of regular every day young men to their deaths or mutilations (or to do things, like kill, that they didn't want to do) for a murky cause. Then there were the mind expanding drugs that took people beyond the paradigms within which most of America was raised. This was all topped off with the civil rights movement that began hardcore questioning of the moral foundation of the country itself. Within this milieu, Marxist ideologues began to become ascendant. They saw the opening and drove a truck through it. Things were getting out of hand very rapidly.

As the chaos of the 60s began to fade ( due to exhaustion on the part of the avg citizen) along with the end of VN war, the Marxists took cover and ensconced themselves under cover of the environmental movement and the social justice movement. The burrowed like ticks into the education system, where they could indoctrinate future generations into their ideology. The product of their indoctrination are what is now generically known as "progressives".

The problem with an ideology that values "progress" is that it relies on the perception that the current is unacceptable. After all, why would we want to "progress" beyond where we are unless where we are is bad. Therefore, the better things actually are by objective measures, the more extreme and, frankly, ridiculous, the criticisms of the current state must become. The criticisms are detached from the reality that most are experiencing. That is what we are seeing today.

Most of the people calling themselves "progressives" are merely indoctrinated by propaganda they began receiving when they entered the education system and via weird stuff coming out of Hollywood and the pop music scene. They don't really believe all the progressive messaging, they just don't know to think critically and prog talk is just how they have learned to communicate. Take Facebook owner, Zuckerberg; a multi- $billionaire living in a walled estate with legions of armed security guards....who is against building walls and against guns and speaks of the need to redistribute wealth to the poor. Or John Lennon, a multi-millionaire, that wore and had a huge collection of fur coats and beat his wife, dreaming of a world with no possessions.

Complaining about injustice and constant critique of the country is like a social club to these people. It's just a common currency that binds the herd together.

The true believers, the real radicals, in the universities are meanwhile churning out bogus and skewed data to keep fueling the sense of outrage. Of course the internet is used to dispense the propaganda to increasingly biased audiences (the echo chambers). These people want Power. They do seek to overthrow all existing order to the point where even basic biology is deemed antiquated. They also want revenge for perceived slights against their genius and truth.

Where I think the purely neurological aspects of the internet come in is in the realm of Skinnerian conditioning and addiction as well as attribution theory (a well established psychological phenomenon).

It goes like this, more or less; You personally are having a rough time of it. You graduated college with a useless degree and a lot of debt and can't find a decent job. This creates anxiety, frustration, maybe depression. You seek to alleviate these feelings. You go to the internet and quickly come across people/groups that are telling you about social injustice. These messages are often carefully crafted such that they lend themselves to transference and attribution. Your problems are no longer yours. You are no longer alone. Your sense of hopelessness and anxiety is attributed to societal problems and "those guys". You are now filled with righteous anger. That feels better than what you were feeling when alone. You now feel empowered and part of something larger.

Whenever you are feeling the bad feelings, a morale "boost" is just a click away. It's like a crack hit. It's working on the dopamine in the brain. Soon, you are hooked. You can't live without the hit. Critical thinking evaporates and all that is left is pursuit of another hit. Since the hit consists of stories of moral outrage and injustice, the machine - the pushers - must search ever farther for examples to keep the fire fueled.

This is how the progressive message becomes increasingly goofier and disconnected from actual reality.

Also, IMO, the feminization is something that is taught in the indoc centers (i.e. the education system and Hollyweird). Removing males from traditional roles is just another way to destroy the existing order. However, I do think that internet usage contributes directly to it as well. Male characteristics are not needed when one spends so much time in the safe and fantasy prone environment of the internet where conflicts can get no more "real" than name calling and slinging links and counters links. Maleness atrophies under these conditions.


Michael Vann:
"I think homosexuality and transsexualism are also spread at least partially via the internet, at the very least in terms of activating latent impulses people might not have even known they had. But I'd wager it's even more than that."

Well, this is news to me. I dont know how you can measure these things; unless there has been a survey of some kind.
If people have latent impulses, then these are likely to show themselves at some-time, eventually. However, it is a stab in the dark to suggest that these issues are spread by the internet, as though it is a corrupting influence.

Eric Newhill:
"IMO, the feminization is something that is taught in the indoc centers (i.e. the education system and Hollyweird). Removing males from traditional roles is just another way to destroy the existing order."

Eric, I have to ask; is that a bad thing? Is this something to which we should be concerned about?

Stuart and Michael Vann,
I think the trend toward increased transgender and homosexuality is pretty much due to what I said in my earlier comment (above).

It goes like this:
1. The Marxists want total equality. They cannot stand that there are differences between men and women that are biologically determined. Therefore they seek to erase biological differences with goofy theories and simply attempting to shout down reality.
a. The Marxists hate the existing order because they have no real power in it. Maleness is seen as a symbol of the current order and therefore must be destroyed.
b. The Marxists get a thrill out of throwing a wrench into the current order and duping people. preaching what is obviously wrong and having it accepted by gullible minds gives them a rush.
c. Therefore they preach and disseminate all over on the internet as well as in universities that gender is socially determined and really doesn't exist.
2. People that are having problems in life (esp. adolescent struggles)go the internet to try obtain information, gain a sympathetic ear, support, etc. When they do they may succumb to the syndrome of clicking away their anxieties on sites that confirm their weaknesses and blame others for the struggles they face. Dopamine increases with each click. Neurology is changing. Psychological transference occurs with each click. It's not they need to work on their confidence to ask a girl on date, or build themselves up physically to be picked for the sports team (or conversely choose to be a well informed intellectual). No. It's that they are oppressed victims of a society that has misplaced and over-emphasized value on traditional male characteristics.
3. The result is that some individuals come away neurologically programmed that their problems are not due to unwillingness to work through issues, to be braver, tougher, smarter, etc, but that the answer lies in retreat into an effeminate shell of themselves.
4. The more #3 occurs the more a feedback loop with #2 occurs. At this point we have 12 and 13 year olds begging their parents for gender re-assignment surgeries and considering it abuse if denied.

The Marxists are behind this, but their is definitely an interaction between their propaganda and the neurology involved with clicking away problems on the internet.

All IMO, of course.

MP said:

No matter how you look at it, our opportunities for leisure, recreation, and discovery are greater than ever. And the average middle-class American today lives like a sci-fi character in a '70s TV show .

Here's a recent, brief (and uneven) list of "40 ways the world is getting better":

http://reason.com/archives/2017/07/18/40-ways-the-world-is-getting-better

Stuart Certain wrote: "Well, this is news to me. I dont know how you can measure these things; unless there has been a survey of some kind.
If people have latent impulses, then these are likely to show themselves at some-time, eventually. However, it is a stab in the dark to suggest that these issues are spread by the internet, as though it is a corrupting influence."

The internet is inarguably a "corrupting" influence. But do you say "corrupting" to imply what you believe or what you think I believe? The internet facilitates exposure to all sorts of ideas, arguments, images and communities that one would not otherwise encounter, and such exposure alters peoples' thought processes and beliefs. Whether that counts as "corruption" is largely a function of whether the person is moving towards or away from something you hold to be true. A christian might consider his son turning to atheism after being exposed to the community online to have been corrupted. His fellow atheists would consider him "liberated, enlightened" or some such. The same would hold true for any shift in ideology.

Even if we accept that latent impulses are likely to show, it doesn't mean they all will. The internet can provide a trigger for such impulses. My peculiar proclivities developed as my exposure to new and different ideas progressed, which occurred chiefly through the internet. So my appraisal of my own ideological and sexual shifts is rather more than a stab in the dark.

MP said:

the West faces no true existential threat remotely comparable to the Axis powers of World War II or the USSR of the Cold War, it is truly strange that we find ourselves coming apart at the seams. We live in what should be seen as a Golden Age, yet we’re obsessed with apocalyptic visions and paranoid fantasies.

North Korea is an existential threat. Especially since I suspect it was deliberately made so by Russia and China, as a catspaw and/or bargaining chip, so they therefore lack motivation to curb it.

Perhaps we collectively sense that threat (perhaps via a psi premonition). I had a vivid dream (rare for me) a few days ago that seemed to be about a nuclear attack on us.

"Eric, I have to ask; is that a bad thing? Is this something to which we should be concerned about?"

Yes. It's a bad thing for a couple of reasons.

1. While men are being feminized, women are being masculinized.

2.Biology is still what it is. You can imagine yourself to be anything, but you still are what you are. When there is conflict between what you imagine and what you are, there will be trouble.

3.Freedom means we can develop and express the best of our true selves, but this progressive revolution is trying to mold people into what serves the revolutionaries' notions, not what serves the individual.

Why is feminine better than masculine? That is a weird value judgment. It takes both to make the world go round.

I'm not so sure women are being masculinized and vice versa. It's obviously a different world now, yes women work when perhaps they didn't so much in the past. But their roles haven't changed much. Research even says women who work, still do the majority of chores and look after the children, as they always did.

A higher percentage of men are sill soldiers, achieve a higher rank at work, and earn more. I still think there is a marked difference between male and female lives - all that testosterone. Lyn.

"we are undergoing a massive transition from one mode of consciousness (developed as a result of general alphabetic literacy) to a new mode of consciousness"

No doubt about it. Years ago, while emerging from some of my deepest experiences in altered states, I remember thinking: "Ah—once again, a return to Word City." That was my whimsical way of describing the difference between the spiritual state and the physical. For I understood in those moments that our current earthly reality is largely *built* of words, just as a home is built of wood or brick.

Here on the Earth Plane, it's a shift that's been going on since man first began to develop language.

But in the largest sense, is it progress? Or is it more accurately described as Spirit experimenting, trying out different possibilities, but without improving anything *or* making it worse? (In much the same way that art and music evolve, changing in ways for which value judgements would be inappropriate.)

I vote for the latter.

Of course, we've had this discussion before, and I know that few here would agree. :)

Bruce, I'm not saying the changes (possibly) attributable to our immersion in the Internet are bad. What's bad is the instability, anxiety, and confusion that may be engendered by this transitional state.

In the long run, the world may well be better off. It's the short run that's got me a little worried ...

I hear you, Michael. To be honest, I'm skeptical of *any* statement *anyone* makes as to whether the world is getting better, worse, or is in a state of transition. Here's one reason (in the first paragraph):
https://books.google.com/books?id=YHoT68TOyioC&pg=PT41&lpg=PT41&dq=al+franken+%22the+truman+administration+to+this+day+ranks+highest%22&source=bl&ots=bGLnrN2Dtn&sig=LE3j7Sxai6zGwp_P2wWqVysvCAA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjx4oPOjJ7VAhXnx1QKHbrCCZUQ6AEIJDAA#v=onepage&q=al%20franken%20%22the%20truman%20administration%20to%20this%20day%20ranks%20highest%22&f=false

To complete my last thought, I question whether anyone is ever capable of being more objective than Franken is there. And he's a giant of the Senate!

Michael Vann, I think you hit the nail on the head with tribalism. In the U.S., politics has become like a football game for many, who root for their "team." I don't know how many times I've seen comments from Republicans, gloating as they imagine "liberal tears."
Two other comments:

1) Does anyone actually know any Marxists today? Aside from Cuba and maybe a few tiny other countries, does it even exist? Russia is no longer communist, and China runs more on a state capitalist system now.

2) I'd argue most women have always worked, unless they were part of a wealthy family. After WW II, in the West, was probably a unique time when women most didn't work.

Kathleen: Women rarely worked outside the home and homestead until recent decades.

PS: Of course some women began working away from home in the 1890s, with the invention of the "safety" bicycle and the spread of trolley lines. The spread of the telephone provided jobs for operators, and the spread of the typewriter provided jobs for typists. (And prior to that there had been jobs in textile factories, and jobs as teachers, nurses, and librarians.) But such women were a minority. Now they're a majority.

PPS: After WW2 (and WW1) there was a decline in women doing war-work outside the home, but that war-work was an outlier, or blip, in the normal rate of women's outside employment.

@Kathleen,

Yes politics gets pretty depressing after a while. I remember being on the other side in 2008 and gloating about neoconservative tears. The ugly reality (red-pill, if you like) of politics is that morals, values and principles are a hindrance. Kick the hell out of the other side. All other priorities rescinded.

The issue with Marxism is cultural Marxism. It isn't simply an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Cultural Marxism defines oppressed and oppressor along racial and gender lines. Liberalism operates on a kind of moral retribution theory, often expressed as "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.". Oddly enough for a group of people largely characterized by antipathy to religion, it's a sentiment right out of the mouth of Christianity, "the last will be first."

The problem with the cultural marxist conception is exactly what you note. History isn't as simple as oppressive men and oppressed women or oppressive whites and oppressed blacks. Women did a great deal of drudge work before industrialization allowed household chores to be mechanised. Women have suffered acutely from industrial disasters like the Triangle fire and the industry that produced it. And poor men were hardly in positions of power. Women have also played roles in enforcing cultural norms that were oppressive of men (the White Flower girls, for example). Movements like feminism, BLM and others serve simply to exacerbate divides rather than heal them, and produce counter movements like MRAs, MGTOWs and the alt right. Maybe that's just the nature of the beast, a constant cycle of fractious interest groups beating each other up.

Absent a unifying external force, our inherent tribalism is turning us on each other. We need aliens need to invade.

> Eric Newhill >

Eric, thank you for your consise viewpoint, regarding my earlier question.
However; I find that I cannot agree with you. There appears to be a hint of pessimism running throughout your comments.
I have to ask; do you suffer with depression?
All of us, at some time or other, and especially if our lives are not turning out well; or as expected, tend to look back over our early years and even back beyond into the historical roots of society; to find an explanation for our woes.
It appears that you have found an explanation which suits your current outlook upon life,
How do you relate your overstated points regarding Marxism, with the ill's of 'Hollyweird' (as you put it.)? I cannot see where you are coming from, on that.

"I think the trend toward increased transgender and homosexuality is pretty much due to what I said in my earlier comment"

Is there any evidence of increased 'transgender and homosexuality' ? People, these days, may feel free to openly display their proclivities. But, does that mean an increase in such?
Suppression of these matters, in earlier times, may lead one to observe an increase. However, freedom of expression, together with increasing population can account for these perceptions. How you can make the assumption that the percentage of these matters have risen, is beyond me? The fact is; we have no idea, surely?

"Removing males from traditional roles is just another way to destroy the existing order."
and then:
"No. It's that they are oppressed victims of a society that has misplaced and over-emphasized value on traditional male characteristics."

Forgive me, but surely; this is a contradiction?

Roger Knights:
"Women rarely worked outside the home and homestead until recent decades."

Robert, does it matter? Work is work, wherever it takes place.

@ Stuart Certain. Here's a recap:

Kathleen said, "After WW II, in the West, was probably a unique time when women most didn't work."

That implied she was talking about work outside the home.
That was incorrect; I assume you agree.
Errors are bad; it therefore "matters" that they should be corrected.

||"Removing males from traditional roles is just another way to destroy the existing order."
and then:
"No. It's that they are oppressed victims of a society that has misplaced and over-emphasized value on traditional male characteristics."||

Not a contradiction at all. Because the latter half of the quote is the belief, they seek to instill the first half.

Am I prone to depression? Nah. Not really. I have had a relatively tough life, but I always rise above the tragedies and achieve. Like anyone, I have my down days, but I also have my up days. Essentially, I enjoy the simple things and most of the time I'm doing that.

However, I am human and thus imperfect. I also try to be as honest and unbiased as possible. So when I see a trend in myself, I observe it and analyze it, even if it's unfavorable. Then I see how the same - or similar - process might be working in others. Furthermore, I am pretty well versed in psychology and comparative religion. Thus I'm tuned in to universal/archetypical human needs and expressions. If I can understand how those operate in me, then I can understand how they operate in others. Finally, I talk to others about these things. I admit that I might covertly yet deliberately introduce an experimental variable or two into a conversation just to observe the reaction and test a hypothesis.

I am pretty sure I am correct in what I wrote previously. The internet is working like an anxiety relieving addiction (a crack hit) for most people who spend regular time on it. The reward centers of the brain are all aglow with reward inducing click to a confirmatory link.

I also think Michael is onto another aspect re; the intuitive nature of identifying maximum reward inducing links.

You don't see Hollyweird as being a center for Marxist meme dissemination? Really? Do you think that the movies depict a factual world, events and people? Come one. The movies have always been used to drive the public towards certain attitudes. They were deliberately engaged in propaganda during WW2. They still are creating myths for us, but now those myths are often anti-American and anti-traditional values. Listen to the actors and actresses giving political speeches off stage. They're radicals. More very wealthy people living in elite exclusive neighborhoods, telling the rest of us how we need to be more socialist.

Someone's been watching too many episodes of "The Americans," I think.

Roger, I don't know how you can think that most women haven't worked most of the time throughout history, either in agriculture or in factories. Those cows don't milk themselves, the corn and wheat doesn't harvest itself, the clothes don't appear out of thin air.

Eric Newhill:
"Listen to the actors and actresses giving political speeches off stage. They're radicals. More very wealthy people living in elite exclusive neighborhoods, telling the rest of us how we need to be more socialist."

Eric, I see this phenomena as something far less sinister.
More, a case of adrenaline junkies, seeking to keep themselves in the limelight.

Kathleen, if I understand Roger's point, it's that, prior to recent decades, women mostly worked in the home or on the homestead, which would include the farm chores and clothes-making tasks you mentioned.

What was new in WWII was that large numbers of women started working in offices and factories.

MP said:

What was new in WWII was that large numbers of women started working in offices and factories.

(Also during WW1.) Right. After both wars there was a dip in outside employment, then a resumption of the long-term upward trend in outside employment that had really got going in the 1890s.

Kathleen: Reread my response to Stuart Certain above, at http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2017/07/the-internet-vs-the-zeitgeist.html?cid=6a00d83451574c69e201b8d2995049970c#comment-6a00d83451574c69e201b8d2995049970c

Kathleen, on second thought, I now better understand what you meant to say when you wrote: "After WW II, in the West, was probably a unique time when women most didn't work."

Were you saying that their post-war chores at home were no longer so onerous as to be counted as "work," thanks to improved home appliances and the prosperity to acquire them widely? And that "homesteads" were becoming rarer proportionately, again reducing that sort of work? And that toward the end of the 60's, women started going to work outside the home in greater numbers, making the post-war period unique in retrospect? If so, you're correct.

Roger writes: "(Also during WW1.) Right. After both wars there was a dip in outside employment, then a resumption of the long-term upward trend in outside employment that had really got going in the 1890s."

Yes, the Industrial Revolution changed many work traditions - as did the concurrent Agricultural Revolution. Until that time, almost everyone's lucrative employment was some kind of cottage industry (exchange and barter) except, I suppose, for work in the mines.

Even so, women have traditionally been employed in domestic service; we even have the stereotype of the 'milk maid' who was employed on estates where farm animals were raised.

But the idea of selling our labour (lives?) to the capitalists was very much a by-product of the Industrial Revolution.

That's about it, Roger. But pre-WW II in the West, "housework" wasn't just in the home - families had cows to milk, vegetable gardens to tend, and a lot of heavy work. Non-wealthy women worked for other families before they married, or worked in farms and factories, then when they married, there was still work, unless you could afford farm workers or maids.

I just find it amusing when people today state that only "recently" have women been working. Our great-grandmothers and great-great grandmothers would be shaking their heads in disbelief.

Kathleen, I'm glad we're in agreement on the generalities and on the following point:

ME (way upthread): "Women rarely worked outside the home and homestead until recent decades."

YOU: "... pre-WW II in the West, "housework" wasn't just in the home - families had cows to milk, vegetable gardens to tend, and a lot of heavy work."

Roger Knights:
"Perhaps we collectively sense that threat (perhaps via a psi premonition). I had a vivid dream (rare for me) a few days ago that seemed to be about a nuclear attack on us."

Roger, I too had a similar dream and around the same time as your dream.
In mine, I was near a beach and looking along the coastline where I saw a huge plume of smoke arise in the distance. There was no sound of an explosion but, the shock wave arrived soon after and ripped through the ares where I was standing; causing the sea to swirl about and people were swept off their feet and cast into the sea.
Is this anything like your dream?

Kathleen:
"I just find it amusing when people today state that only "recently" have women been working. Our great-grandmothers and great-great grandmothers would be shaking their heads in disbelief."

Kathline, yes; I couldn't agree more.
The push to encourage women into work outside of the home, is a ploy implemented by governmental think-tanks, for the sole reason of keeping wages down.

I think few people appreciate how onerous housework was for the women who had to do it before electrical appliances and other kitchen convenniences, like gas stoves. For instance, “spring cleaning” involved rolling up the carpets, hanging them on a line, and beating them for ages, getting dirt on one’s clothes and in one’s lungs. Even in the postwar era, it wasn't until the 60s that clothes dryers were widespread and women were freed from the tedious chore of hanging up the washing (and bringing it in if it threatened to rain and then re-hanging it). Clothing was expensive and more easily torn than today’s, and had to be patched or darned if damaged. Even stockings were routinely darned (see a scene in the 50s film, Dial M for Murder). This is the sort of social history that ought to be in school textbooks.

Even men benefitted directly from improved household technology. For example, H.L. Mencken wrote feelingly about how liberated he felt after he installed thermostat-controled oil heating in his house and no longer had to get up each morning to shovel coal into the furnace. (And coal in its turn had liberated men from having to chop and store wood.)

BTW, I've been doing my bit to lessen drudgery by publicizing, on the Cool Tools website, about two dozen groovy gadgets I've discovered. (It's the brainchild of Kevin Kelly of Whole Earth Catalog fame and is well worth subscribing to.) Here are some of my tool reviews relating to household-chore and maintenance:

Canning Funnel for Regular and Wide Mouth Jars
http://kk.org/cooltools/canning-funnel-for-regular-and-wide-mouth-jars/

Easy Fermenter Wide Mouth [Mason Jar] Lid Kit
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DJVVORE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Five Microwavable Bowls with Handles
http://kk.org/cooltools/microwaveable-bowls-with-handles/

Double Toilet Paper Holder
http://kk.org/cooltools/double-paper-ho/

Oops, for the 2nd item above, the Easy Fermenter Wide Mouth [Mason Jar] Lid Kit, I provided the link to the Amazon selling page, not to my review, which is here:
http://kk.org/cooltools/easy-fermenter-wide-mouth-mason-jar-lid-kit/#kk-comment-wrapper 

BTW, the coolest kitchen tool of the decade is the smart countertop pressure cooker, reviewed here (though not by me) on Cool Tools:
http://kk.org/cooltools/instant-pot-7-in-1-programmable-pressure-cooker/#kk-comment-wrapper

Here in the UK, many women still 'peg out' their washing. And most country houses have at least one multi-fuel burner.

Stuart, my mums 81. Here's her life as a child.

She had to milk the cow in the mornings, and often recalls running to catch the bus with a piece of toast in her mouth. Her dad used to clean offices, so after school she helped him and didn't get to bed till after 10pm at night, even as a young girl. Lyn x.

Her life reminds me of a story I read in the readers digest some years ago. The teacher titled it "As the day I learnt to Teach".

She had a boy in her class that sat as far as he could down the back. He never gave his work in on time, or took part in class discussions. He never achieved good marks either. One day she asked the class to do a collage that would be representative of their lives. Finally after they had all been presented, he came up to her (after the allotted time) and asked if he could share his collage. She was reluctant, as he was late, but as he had volunteered she thought why not.

His collage showed a group of people (his family he explained) his house, and farm animals. Around the edge of the paper, he had stuck some barbed wire.

"This is my family, he explained, and this is our farm ". "The farm is what keeps our family together".

The teacher finally realised, why he was the first out the door, and never lingered after school. He ran the farm on his own, to give the family income, whilst still attending school.

She said after that she gave him her full attention, and in the end, he was the only person in his family's history to graduate. Lyn x.

Roger Knights:
"(It's the brainchild of Kevin Kelly of Whole Earth Catalog fame and is well worth subscribing to.)"

Crikey!..Is that still going? I remember that from the 70's. Big black book, with a picture of the earth on the front. Full of tips on survival, in the event of nuclear war.
Is it still the same?

Lynn:
"my mums 81. Here's her life as a child."

Lynn, my mother passed away last year (84.)
She began work in the last years of WW2. She was employed in office work, where she often attained head temp, wages clerk. She worked for some while at Lincolns Inn (Chambers.)
Pregnancy interrupted her career (me.) Resuming work, one of her notable employers was 'Teasy Weasy' Raymond, a famous hairdresser of the time. He went out of his way to keep her services - increased wages and her own purpose built office.
As a child, she was an evacuee. Hop-picking was an added work experience of hers. Stuart x.

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