From Christopher Shannon’s review of Robert Self, All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s.
I suppose I should come clean on my own family values. I suppose I would call myself a traditionalist with a great sympathy for the vision of family life presented in the work of Wendell Berry. There can be no real family apart from a family economy, and so much of the ink spilled on “the crisis of the family” since the nineteenth century has been a futile evasion of this basic fact. In parts of The Feminine Mystique, Friedan invokes the frontier wife as a model of woman as an economic actor; in the end, she chose middle-class professionalism over a true home economy that would have men and women working together within the home. To the commentator who feared that I might be criticizing Self from a “monistic” understanding of sex and family life, I can only say that sexual novelty and experimentation make for a rather dull and shallow pluralism. Family life, especially farm family life, took on diversity through ethnic and religious traditions rooted in specific local places. The continuity in place over time require to foster and sustain any culture worthy of the name is exactly what a market economy that rewards rootless mobility refuses to tolerate. Among Americans of European descent, there is far less cultural diversity than there was a hundred years ago, despite all of our sexual experimentation. How many of us speak the language of our ancestors? In many ways, sexual and family experimentation is a symptom of the poverty of our post-traditional, consumer culture to satisfy the real and legitimate human needs once met by true culture.