The Urban Dynasties Problem

I want to see Americans building large, powerful, and virtuous family dynasties. How would this work and how do we make it happen?

My basic thesis is that I don’t think America can sustainably succeed as a force for human good in the world without elites having larger families, and family-oriented people having more power.

The seat of power is the cities. This is unlikely to change; cities are where means are concentrated and deals are made, where social networks can be dense and central, and therefore where decisions are made, and therefore where power lives.

So if elites are to have larger families, and family oriented people are to have more power, it needs to be possible and desirable to have large families in the cities.

This is currently not the case. There are many barriers to the urban family. Some very real, some imaginary, and some due mostly to lack of skill and appropriate social technology.

Let’s understand and dissolve those barriers, to the extent possible.

An additional dimension of the problem is that raising a family, and having a good environment in which to do so, is inherently a social and at least locally political problem.

Family-oriented people who would build their families in the city therefore face a collective action problem: we need to act together to carve out a community of the right type.

It’s unclear what a functional family-oriented powerful urban community even looks like. This means we have a social technology research problem, as well.

The collective action and social technology research problems probably need to be solved simultaneously, because of the need for practical experience to feed into the social technology research, and the need for the social technology knowledge to feed into the practical implementation.

Mere family is not enough. We need powerful families. One current challenge is that family tends these days to be a drag on the ambitions of the parents, rather than a strategic asset. This is part of why we see so many childless elites; the childless outcompete those who have to take care of families. So we get a society built for and by people who don’t care for family and children, which is no good.

I suspect that there is another mode of family, or perhaps a community mode, quite alien to modern American middle-class practices, but probably familiar historically, where family is not a drag but an asset to ambitious parents. If you look at the biographies of past powerful people, you can see evidence of this in past.

Imagine you had friends and family organized in such a way that trustworthy child care and tutorial education was easily available, and getting labor from the kids was possible and acceptable, so that the kids would both be useful in your empire, and not dependent if you needed to travel for months.

Then imagine you and your wife (or husband) had a sort of power couple relationship where your family structure was deeply customized to the needs of your shared ambitions and empire.

This would make what we might call a “strategic family”. This kind of setup is what proper family would have to look like for elites.

Additionally, there is the problem of dynasty: how to raise the kids with the right values, virtues, and skills, so that they can succeed their parents in both skill and power, or can go start their own empires and dynastic families.

Let’s to to understand all these things. I occasionally have some insight on the subject as I learn from my own experiences and those of my friends. I’ll post more as I learn more.