Population Implosion: Western Civilization Has Lost the Plot

 

One of the reasons why I support Vivek and, indeed, every constructive Christian group I know of, is because our civilization (which includes every wealthy country in the world outside of Israel) is suffering from a complete vacuum of purpose and meaning.  People are not having children, because they simply fail to see an intergenerational reason to care.

Refusing to propagate is a global malaise, affecting every wealthy country, from South Korea to Japan to Europe and the United States.  Even in China, a country that is not rich at all (on a per capita basis), the birthrate has now fallen to the lowest it has been since Mao’s imposed famines in the 1960s. Chinese are calling their refusal to live “Let it rot.

People who don’t really see the point of life either engage in weird death-cult ideologies (like abortion or euthanasia as a sacrament), or the equivalent of sacrificing people on the altar of Gaia (forcing ruinous “Green” policies on a third world for whom expensive energy leads to dead people).

And these same people are distracted by anything else that might give them a sense of momentary meaning, however fleeting or superficial. From LGBTQ+ to invented COVID crises, to manufactured outrages over everything from January 6 to BLM, our world is careering through an endless stream of mass psychosis events. None of these lead to investing in other people, let alone investing in children.

There is no easy cure for apathy. Sometimes (and this is true for Jews), all you really need is an enemy.  Having children is a way to fight for survival against those who want you dead. I think the fact that Israel has enemies is the reason that Israel is the only wealthy country in which secular woman have 3 or more children, far above the “replacement rate” of 2.1. Israel is the only civilized or wealthy country in the world where this is true.

But the rest of the world does not have an enemy. Not the kind that makes people decide to have children.

So the only alternative would be a positive civilizational goal. Something to live for. Something to give everyone a reason to invest in the future. A reason to make the investments needed to have children, instead of just living to maximize the pleasure we enjoy before we die. Vivek is trying to promote such a vision, though he is undercut from every side, especially from a cynical GOPe punditry.

Whether from Vivek or elsewhere,  positive visions are very hard to build, share, and sustain. We Jews have plenty of positive visions – but we still would not exist today if it were not for anti-semitism. Israel would only have population growth among the ultra-orthodox (in whose ranks I include myself) if it were not for Hamas and other enemies of the Jews. Can a shared national political vision, like Vivek’s, stand a chance? I don’t have a better idea.

Can a strong Christian revival lead to a revival in our nation? I don’t know. Here are the figures-by-group:

Even more relevantly… here are the rates that show which groups are well placed to greatly improve their reproduction:

 

The groups with big fat bumps at the bottom are better placed. Muslims, Mormons, Hindus – and even atheists are better than standard Christian denominations.  Jews, on average, don’t have children (though observant Jews are an exception – many families have more than 5).

I don’t have answers for America or for the rest of the world. But we have to clearly acknowledge the problem in order to have a chance to save, quite literally, the future of humanity. Without people, nothing in the universe has any meaning. 

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  1. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Without people, nothing in the universe has any meaning. 

    1. The Atheists will tell you that nothing in the universe has any meaning, with or without humans.
    2. The greens (I’m thinking largely residing in the NIP column) will tell you that humans are the problem, and that the world would be better off (in some sort of way) if humans went extinct. 

    So I think two of your candidates for human thriving are off the board already.

    • #1
  2. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Without people, nothing in the universe has any meaning.

    1. The Atheists will tell you that nothing in the universe has any meaning, with or without humans.
    2. The greens (I’m thinking largely residing in the NIP column) will tell you that humans are the problem, and that the world would be better off (in some sort of way) if humans went extinct.

    So I think two of your candidates for human thriving are off the board already.

    yup.

    • #2
  3. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    One of the issues addressed at some length in Mark Steyn’s “America Alone.”

    • #3
  4. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    iWe: We Jews have plenty of positive visions

    “Our humor has sustained us for thousands of years.”

    • #4
  5. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Effective accelerationism: tongue in cheek optimism for an age of rockets, AI and memes. Science + hustle + free speech + capitalism + having babies = a better future. 

    • #5
  6. Keith Lowery Coolidge
    Keith Lowery
    @keithlowery

    May be an image of 1 person and text that says '"The signs of the decay [of Gondor] had then already appeared, for the high men of the South married late, and their children were few." -J.R.R. Tolkien, Appendix The Lord of of the Rings.'

    • #6
  7. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    iWe:

    I’m more interested in charts that distinguish the Jews, Catholics, and Protestants who really mean it. Like Traditional Mass Catholics and Protestants who recognize the Bible as the Word of G-d and go to church 4 times a month.

    • #7
  8. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    I’m more interested in charts that distinguish the Jews, Catholics, and Protestants who really mean it. Like Traditional Mass Catholics and Protestants who recognize the Bible as the Word of G-d and go to church 4 times a month.

    As am I. I have not found good data. I have for Jews…

    Note this is per adult, not per women. So 3.3 children per adult is somewhere in the 6.5 range for women. 

    • #8
  9. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Those age distributions are worse than they appear at first glance. Unless they’re controlled for the number of people of a given age, then those top-heavy distributions are drawn from bottom-heavy populations with more people alive at e.g. 40 than 75.

    • #9
  10. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    You need another chart, one that shows average number of children per producers and per takers. Spoiler alert. The takers are having more than the producers and we are even importing more takers.

    • #10
  11. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Those age distributions are worse than they appear at first glance. Unless they’re controlled for the number of people of a given age, then those top-heavy distributions are drawn from bottom-heavy populations with more people alive at e.g. 40 than 75.

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re trying to do here, and it takes a while for the lump to pass through the snake as it were; but you do realize that 40-year-old women are already mostly too old to have children?  Which seems to be a big part of the demographic problems in many advanced countries.  They wait too long, IF they planned to even have children at all.

    • #11
  12. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    We have eight kids and already double that number of grandkids. You’re welcome, Western Civilization.

    My unscientific opinion sampling of young people, females in particular, is that having babies may be having an attitudinal comeback but the logistical impediments (absurd student debt, decline of relative male economic prowess) prevent its manifestation.  The weird risk aversion mindset that colleges are fiercely promoting (so that grads will all be good East Germans) also interferes. Lastly, there is an abundance of distrust created by hookup culture and a weird acceptance of the notion that marriage vows are contingent of things being hassle-free.

    I have often been asked by younger co-workers and acquaintances how it was financially possible to have had eight kids. I respond that after careful analysis, it must not have been. We must have all died, including the ones that now have degrees, careers and families. I must not be really here, either.  Life is supposed to be a challenge, an adventure, kid. Stop waiting for your accountant to tell you when to get pregnant and take the ride.

    • #12
  13. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    We have eight kids and already double that number of grandkids. You’re welcome, Western Civilization.

    It’s not quite that simple, of course.  You have 8 kids, who presumably each married someone who came from different families.  So each of those people had 2 parents as well.  But if those parent pairs each had only one child, who married one of yours, then you’ve got a total of 18 people (you and the 8 other sets of parents) who have, so far, only produced 16.

    Granted that’s not nearly as bad as if each group of parents – including you – only had one child.  But a lot of parents do only have one child.  And at least so far, that’s still a decline.  It’s also very unfair for you to carry so much of the burden yourselves.  Those other parents(-to-be) need to get bizzah!

    • #13
  14. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    genferei (View Comment):

    Effective accelerationism: tongue in cheek optimism for an age of rockets, AI and memes. Science + hustle + free speech + capitalism + having babies = a better future.

    Succinctly put. You have to fight the neurotic anti-human blue-hair tumblr brigades that have infected online discourse, but it can be done.

    • #14
  15. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    kedavis (View Comment):
    You have 8 kids, who presumably each married someone who came from different families.  So each of those people had 2 parents as well.  But if those parent pairs each had only one child, who married one of yours, then you’ve got a total of 18 people (you and the 8 other sets of parents) who have, so far, only produced 16.

    Thing global. Act local. 

    • #15
  16. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Today’s report from China:

    The 9 million births was the lowest total since at least the start of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and 11 million people died.

    • #16
  17. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    iWe (View Comment):

    Today’s report from China:

    The 9 million births was the lowest total since at least the start of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and 11 million people died.

    Those trends tend to increase over time as well, since aging populations aren’t so good at producing children.

    • #17
  18. Eridemus Coolidge
    Eridemus
    @Eridemus

    I have a hard time believing, however, that if 20 and 30 year olds are wary of kids due to financial uncertainty, that the even worse shadow of an enemy would spur them in the opposite direction. It’s true that pre-WWII families had more kids, but that may be due to other reasons, like the one wage-earner being a better anchor than in today’s economy (along with more traditional expectations of women). And even back then, the baby boom took off not just when men came home but when people were more optimistic about lasting peace.

    • #18
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