The Morality of Brotherhood – Opinion is not responsible for guest opinions.

Joe Armendariz

Too often, the news features are filled with stories about anti-social young men who resort to violence using guns in numbers that is far greater than any other American demographic.

No doubt about it: our country is facing a serious social crisis. We are once again confronted by the horrifying fact that civil society has been ravaged and another horrible act of violence. Texas 18-year-old man has committed yet another unimaginable act.

Sociologists blame fatherless homes and point out the alienation young men experience from various civil and social institutions. Pandemic caused this to happen by isolating millions of children from their peers and locking them away for up to a year. What accountability is there for such a reckless decision?

Both on a global scale and at the local level, membership is declining in local service clubs. Many communities across the country are experiencing a decline in church attendance, where young men can fellowship with one another. Nearly half of Boy Scouts members are now non-existent. Other examples are too numerous for me to list. Young men are increasingly feeling isolated and cut off. In some cases, they feel more defensive.

It should worry all of us that the only “community” many young males appear to have available to them are online communities where extremist views are shared, encouraged, and ultimately fester to the boiling point where they become radicalized, and anti-social behavior is normalized.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while both as a father of a son and three daughters and as a concerned citizen. And as I often do, I’ve sought answers, and looked for solutions. I’ve discussed it with the men I respect in my life. It is not hard to find a variety of views on this topic. Perhaps our youth lacks the brotherhood and connections that historically have connected civil society men.

For example, and this might be a curious thought coming from a manic-contrarian, and committed free-market capitalist like me, but might the fact that America’s labor unions have been on the decline for over 40 years have something to do with the steady, downward social and economic decline of males in America?

With the hollowing out of America’s manufacturing base beginning with Bush 41’s presidency, the blue-collar jobs these young men’s fathers, uncles, and grandfathers had that could support a family are gone. And they didn’t disappear — they were exported to other countries where cheaper labor could be had so Americans could buy cheap plastic stuff from Europe, Japan, and China. But at what price?

The gales for creative destruction, which economists refer to as an irreversible phenomenon, is what this supposed irreversible phenomenon looks like. I’ve referred to it this way more than a few times myself, and I’m not against it. However, it was a costly decision.

Perhaps today’s lack of value-added solidarity and brotherhood among young men in unskilled job positions has caused a disconnect between the camaraderie of other males and their sense of meaning. Because there is real virtue in work — especially in work that has value to others. As a result of these macro forces of what look a lot like economic determinism, our boys are lacking purpose in this new creative world of social destruction…

My first and foremost identity is American. I’m also an economic conservative. A Republican third. While I am a strong advocate of free markets and lower taxes wherever possible, it seems that in the face of increasing dysfunction, private industry needs to reexamine its attitudes toward organized labor. It might be time for them to embrace this American institution, which was once a very important one, as both a civil and social good and as an economic and moral positive.

Perhaps our society is in serious need of a paradigm shift in the relationship between “capital” and “labor.” There should be no dispute that entrepreneurial capitalism is the best hope for working families to enjoy the morality of prosperity — and that no other economic system or arrangement comes close. However, in light of the increasing dysfunction that is unfolding around us, we can’t ignore the fact that something is seriously wrong. Civil society has collapsed. The current state of affairs cannot be continued.

There are things that are far more important than the numbers on a ledger sheet. Reintroducing the generation of males into a brotherhood centered around meaning work, purposefulness and the intrinsic value male friendship, teamwork as well as mentorship are just a few of the positive outcomes that can be achieved.

Many of our great-grandfathers, fathers, grandfathers and uncles had worked in labor unions. Maybe it’s time we consider resurrecting this once bedrock American institution that helped us forge a more civil, ordered, and organized society. And modernize it so that it reflects the realities of today’s information based, decentralized digital economy, not yesterday’s industrial based, centralized, top down economy.

What I am proposing is a more ethical economic and social construct that understands we are all on each other’s side and in a moral fight for the very soul of America. And as Americans, we all have a stake in each other’s success. They cannot win against us, nor can we each have our own success.

The future must be all of us working together to achieve an unparalleled level of economic prosperity. More doors must be opened to allow future generations of men access to a growing, stronger economy. This will create meaningful, purposeful and hopeful jobs, as well as better chances for them.


Joe Armendariz, Armendariz Partners, LLC, is the Director of Government Affairs. Additionally, he is Chairman of California Center for Public Policy. This institute studies economic and educational development in Santa Barbara County. You can reach him by calling 805.990.2494, or emailing at: [email protected]

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