“There are none so blind as those who will not see.”
A long-term solution to the demographic crisis is right in front of us. It is eminently logical and based on common sense, easily explained by a pronatalist couple from Pennsylvania. But before delving into that, an assessment of the situation is warranted.
Specter of extinction
If current demographic trends continue, homo sapiens is on the path to extinction. Many cannot fathom the notion of human extinction, dismissing it as the disjointed imaginings of a “conspiracy theorist” mindset. How could something like that happen to the most intelligent critters ever? Ask Mother Nature. Extinction is an equal opportunity employer. No species is exempt, not even Man almighty.
Per fertility, things will get worse before they get better – if they get better. A few countries, notably Hungary, China and Russia, are implementing measures to entice people to do what comes naturally, to reproduce. Thus far financial incentives have had mixed results. While there have been birth upticks, they are usually not sustained and do not reach replacement level. Below-replacement fertility for three decades or so brings on population collapse when the oversized elderly cohort passes. That is already happening in East Asia and Eastern Europe.
When things that should just come naturally don’t happen, it is cause for concern.
In our unraveling epoch, population increase and economic growth go hand in hand. Then comes relative affluence and the Modernist mindset takes over. Mammon worship arises as materialism and consumerism become ends in themselves. Fertility falls because getting ahead in such a dystopian world trumps religious faith and all else in its path. Lamentably, this state of affairs will prevail until the status quo fails.
All that travail could be short-circuited if mammon worship withered and children were no longer considered an obstacle to making it in a money-mad world. Could that happen? Of course. History repeats — or at least it rhymes. However, such a sea change will not come about anytime soon from our perspective. But from a historical perspective it could be precipitous, like the 50 percent decline in fertility over 50 years. That is not only precipitous but also unprecedented. Scary.
Today’s threadbare economic model spurs growth through debt financing, which has become a way of life as government, business and families wallow in debt. Central bank control, adopted by the US in 1913, ensures that we’re awash in money. Debt financing is based on constant and never-ending growth.
But when population declines and growth stalls, the buy-now-pay-later-get-rich-quick mojo fades. What then? With less people generating wealth, the tax base shrinks and costs of infrastructure, pensions and all else geared to perpetual growth become unsustainable. Overall demand shrinks with population, so watch for fickle markets and precarious pension plans.
No one understands this more than pronatalist crusaders Malcolm and Simone Collins. In a stunning article, “Fertility Collapse Demands New Cultures,” Mr and Mrs Collins dispense with establishment hokum about offsetting below-replacement fertility with immigration and artificial intelligence. Then they cut to the chase:
Our entire civilization has been built like a Ponzi scheme that requires constant growth. That scheme will eventually collapse.
Whoa! Can’t get more unvarnished than that. Kudos to the Collinses for spelling it out in no uncertain terms.
Now about that long-term solution to evade extinction: It is already operational among communities such as the Amish and Haredi Jews. But it can also be implemented via rising subcultures of like-minded families. Mr. and Mrs. Collins:
[T]he final reason people have more than two kids: The presence of a cultural motivator.
Suppose we manage to build a culture that is pronatalist, technophilic, productive, and pluralistic but immune to the siren call of the talent beast. Suppose we, the authors, have eight kids and each of them has eight kids, for example. If this could be kept up for eleven generations, we would have more descendants than people currently alive on Earth and would have set the tone for the future of human civilization. This example is perhaps unrealistic and even undesirable, but it illustrates that a relatively small seed can have a big effect.
Cultural mass extinction is avoidable if just a handful of families from each culture manage to make their cultures intergenerationally durable. Their cultures would be made durable in the sense that they have children above the repopulation rate, and they raise these children in a way that convinces enough of them to also have many children, and so on…
The key challenge for these new cultures will be to maintain their social defenses against the alluring pathologies of the failing modern social system …
In a dying world, all you have to do is create something intergenerationally durable.
There’s our solution. Intergenerationally durable. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
There are indications that the West is entering a new Dark Age. I hope not. But things are becoming unwound as faith is forgotten, ideology rules over reason, and fiscal profligacy’s day of reckoning approaches.
The entire Global North is rapidly ageing. Populations are shrinking and societies are losing their vitality. This is uncharted territory; thus intergenerational durability is imperative.
As consciousness rises the pronatalist community grows. Elon Musk has raised awareness through Twitter. The Collinses have assuredly made a splash. Demographers are going public with well-documented concerns. Governments are becoming involved. If there is to be a turnabout, this could be a start. But it will take a while.
Unfortunately, pronatalism offers no immediate economic gratification. But short-sighted capitalists should understand that more children mean growing markets. They can make more money in the long run selling to young families and children than to ageing boomers. If it is all about money, that line of reasoning can work for pronatalism as well.
Meanwhile, advocate for an intergenerationally durable culture. That’s the formula for the future.
Louis T. March has a background in government, business and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. His article is printed with permission