This past week, a seemingly innocuous TikTok featuring a young woman preparing kielbasa sausage and mac-n-cheese for her family went viral, racking up millions of views across multiple social media platforms.
“Watch out, baby,” the fair-skinned, raven-haired woman warns as her toddler reaches toward the stove in her family’s modest kitchen. “Dinner [in] the trailer park as a 22 year old mom of 4,” the video’s inner caption reads.
On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this; in fact, it appears value-positive. A working-class woman is preparing dinner for her family while her husband is presumably on his way home from work.
However, this appears not to be the case. Yes, the woman’s TikTok page is filled with videos of her celebrating her children and the joys of motherhood — things that ought to be encouraged — but alongside these posts are ones in which she encourages “yeeting that fetus,” proudly acknowledges aborting her fifth child, dismisses drug use while pregnant, admits being a mom by day and “[pornstar] by night,” and promotes her decision to be both a “young mom and a [sex worker].”
To be sure, “Mama c’s” page is filled with videos of her trying to provide for her family. She seems like a caring and loving mother, but by any objective, honest standard, her life and priorities are disordered, and they are increasingly commonplace as the West continues to reinforce perverse cultural and economic incentives that divorce our political economy and materialist pursuits from civic virtue and basic truths about human decency.
Mama c’s lifestyle meets the anxieties and fears addressed by Pat Buchanan in his 1992 “Culture War” speech with nonchalance and indifference as the presumed father of her children goes on to work multiple jobs while she prostitutes herself online. Nevertheless, the “spiritual” and “cultural” war wages on as younger generations are being reared by people with an utter disregard for the institutions and practices shown to improve quality of life.
But the fault does not entirely lie with people like Mama c, who — despite outwardly cultivating a blue-collar “tradwife” aesthetic that right-wing pundits fetishize — merely exist within an established ecosystem where this way of life has become the standard. After all, we live in a deeply unhealthy society in which a young mother willingly opts to prostitute herself online while encouraging this same lifestyle on a public platform that her own children may soon be able to access.
In Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, Putnam discusses how the collapse of American civil society — institutions offering people meaningful face-to-face peer engagement — through things like the dissolution of high-trust communities, the large-scale adoption of technologies like the internet and social media removing the immediate drive for in-person social engagement, and the consequences of economic liberalization, in a way, rendered in-person community obsolete as it became less and less practical to interact with other people.
J.D. Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, puts a personal touch on this phenomenon. The now-junior senator from Ohio reflects on his upbringing in the post-industrial Rust Belt, describing how whole communities were ravaged by economic displacement, subsequently losing vital support networks that instill things like hope, virtue, and shame in their members. Patrick Deneen argues in Why Liberalism Failed that America’s generational emphasis on satiating individual appetites has left massive portions of the country atomized and isolated and, as a result, caused considerable segments of the country to revert back to a sort of state of nature in which people are unable to recognize virtue and properly orient their lives around such concepts — thus it is neither uncommon nor surprising that young mothers are using one of the world’s most trafficked websites (TikTok) to brag about their pornographic careers.
One of the major reasons Donald Trump remains so popular is his ability to inspire hope in the everyday American who has been displaced culturally, politically, and economically in his own country. But as Buchanan said over 30 years ago, we are engaged in a “spiritual war” — hope simply isn’t enough to overcome the omnipresent cultural rot.
However, levels of social conservatism have reached decade highs throughout the country. Amid beloved American institutions embracing anti-Christian bigotry, delusional men who think they’re women flaunting their fake breasts on the White House lawn, and grocery stores partnering with satanists, the American people are realizing there is no such thing as political neutrality and that our institutions do in fact shape public virtue. This infrastructure is critical in shaping the beliefs and value sets of the public and therefore determines the cultural and political trajectory of the nation.
The institutions upholding and pushing objectively correct values are increasingly at odds with the modern world. This can be seen in young people’s increasing disinterest in attending church and the West’s outright hostility toward traditional values, biological reality, and natural law. Whereas institutions that cultivate this disorder — universities, bureaucracy, HR departments, etc. — thrive.
It’s not impossible that civil society throughout the country — small-town communities the sort of which the above authors lament the loss of — gradually reasserts itself should this resurgence in social conservatism and the push for reestablishing a domestic industrial manufacturing base be sustained. After all, people follow the money. Where there are jobs, communities will form. And should more and more people over time realize the rabidly disordered nature of the country, perhaps the conditions in which a robust civil society can flourish can be reestablished. But this will require considerable action at the state and federal level. It is nothing less than an effort to reclaim our civilization, but if the “spiritual” and “cultural” wars are to be won, this battle must be fought.
We’ll know we’re on the right track when we no longer see 22-year-old stay-at-home moms with pornographic side hustles.