TradFam as Startup
Why are so many intelligent, driven young people abandoning the personal-liberty-maximizing bohemian lifestyles and adopting Traditional Values as they enter their thirties?
I think it’s a way of solving a coordination problem.
Lets consider two key roles of a modern startup: Founder and Venture Capitalist.
The Founder is the person who does the work of creating the organization that makes The Product. Founders are famous for dedicating nearly all of their waking hours to working on this, for years at a time. It occupies their every attentional resource. The Product exists only if the Founder is successful.
The Venture Capitalist (VC) funds this project. The Venture Capitalist is not nearly as involved in the creation of The Product or the managment of the organization that will be creating it. Their primary role is to provide The Founder with the money that is needed to achieve success, which can be a staggering amount.
Building a family is a lot of work. It is also very expensive. In the TradFam model, the role of Founder is the Mother, the role of VC is the Father, and The Product is a genetic lineage.
Ways in which this analogy is handy:
It brings a fair bit of prestige to the Mother role. The term “homemaker” feels like some combination of nanny, maid, and cook. Direct analogy to a startup founder illuminates how much work and dedication is involved, and the scope of the work. It highlights the fact that successful Mother-ing requires a great deal of entrepenurial spirit and is a rare and valuable skill.
It gives clear responsibilities and acheivable goals to the VC. The VC/Father brings in the funding needed to continue the project. That’s his primary role, and everything else is secondary. Any question can be sufficiently answered with “because this is what I need to do in order keeping the necessary funding going.”
It explains the need for strong enforcement mechanisms. Liberty-maximizing bohemian lifestyles are wonderful and freeing and joyful. But you can’t start a massive investment on a long-term joint venture with someone who is finding themselves. Binding contracts are required, contracts that don’t give clauses for “as long as it’s a joyful expression of my true self.” A secular marriage straps people together with long-term financial obligations, but nothing more than that.
People who want actual assurance of defaults being strongly punished have to embed themselves into a community that has a proven record of strongly punishing defaulters of the Founder/VC contract. They must also choose a Founder/VC partner in a similar community. When both parties have deeply rooted their lives into a system which will believably destruct around them if they default, they are much better able to offer the assurance of commitment that a project like this requires.
This credible signal is what a Traditional Religious Community (TRC) provides. Importantly, it may also provide some measure of portability. If the Religion is both wide-spread enough and retains its structure, the enforcement mechanism will remain robust as long the startup/family relocates to areas that have a strong matching-TRC presence.
As an additional benefit TRCs provide networks of experienced Founders & VCs that can give advice on best practices, or support during rocky transitions.
Right now, pretty much every TRC comes with a lot of bullshit baggage. Often they require professing belief in a god and following absurd religious practices. The generally have no structure to support poly families, or mono-reproductive but sexually-open families. They tend to hate gays, have no room for healthy use of mind-altering substances that aren’t alcohol, and have varying maladaptations that don’t work with the modern day.
And yet, no other organizations have yet risen up to offer a competing model that allows members to credibly signal commitment to a family startup at severe personal cost.
I think someone should do something about that. It’s a massive untapped opportunity.