Although I am known for being alarmist, sometimes alarm is the best response. These tables are a good example of that. I found them on Indian Bronson’s Twitter feed:
Numbers don’t lie. The whole world, with the West and other industrialized nations leading the charge, is moving at a rapid pace in terms of demographics. Although this is not new news, it is something that we collectively refuse to ignore.
Every civilization must produce its next generation. This is the first and most important task. It dies if it fails to do so. Although technically you don’t need to be married in order to have children, the global fertility rate is at its lowest point.
The replacement rate in industrialized countries is below 2.1. South Korea actually has the lowest fertility rate in the world, at 0.8. Unless there is a miraculous turnaround, South Korea’s population will plummet by half by the end this century. You might think, “Great, we won’t be so much of a burden on the earth,” but you should think again. Underpopulation has profound economic and social consequences. We will all be much poorer and more isolated.
It is possible that someone who was not raised in a stable family will never be able to start a family. This knowledge is not something you can get from books. I was curious about how the collapse in West Roman Empire led to the loss of basic knowledge needed to run a civilization, such as how to build roofs. Bryan Ward-Jones, an Oxford historian, has documented the catastrophic effects of Rome’s fall on European peoples. Because we have all of this knowledge in books, I thought such a fate could not happen to us. We are witnessing a mass forgetting of basic knowledge that is necessary for civilization to continue: how to create stable families and why.
Oswald Spengler stated 100 years ago that civilizations end when people stop thinking about whether they should have children, rather than having them as a matter-of-course. That is what we are experiencing right now. (I know this because I am a part of a divorce. As I have mentioned, in 2013 I spoke to professors from a conservative Evangelical college. They told me that their biggest concern was that their students would not be able marry and start families. I was curious. I inquired. I asked.
He wasn’t talking about inner-city children. These were Midwestern Evangelicals.
My favorite book is Carle C. Zimmerman, a Harvard socioologist. His 1947 masterwork Families and Civilization was my go-to. The West was going through a period of decline and disintegration. His book is about how family structure influences civilizational functioning. While not all family structures are equal in their ability to support human flourishing, the clannish system found in primitive societies is a sub-optimal example. However, all societies require stable families. Zimmerman witnessed decades ago the same conditions we live through today.
Zimmerman wrote Family and Civilization in an effort to find that “actual, documented and historical truth.” This book is a remarkable feat of research and interpretation. It spans the millennia, and digs into the natures of disparate civilizations to uncover deeper social traits. Zimmerman’s inquiry is guided by the question: “How much of the total power [a] society has to do with the family?” How much of the total control over action in [a] society is available to the family?
Zimmerman identified three types of families by analysing these levels family autonomy:
(1) The trustee family, with a lot of power rooted in extended families and clans;
(2) The atomistic family , has little power and very limited field of action;
(3) The domestic family is a variation of Le Play’s “stem”, in which there is a balance between the power of the family members and the power of agencies.
He examines the changes that occur as nations or civilizations move from one type of society to another. Zimmerman’s central thesis states that the “domestic household” is the system found at the peak of civilizations’ creativity and progress. It “possesses a certain degree of mobility and freedom, while still maintaining the minimum of familism necessary to continue the society.”
Social history, also known as “social history”, has been a booming discipline since the 1960s. It was first stimulated by the French Annales school for interpretation and then the new feminist historiography. There are now thousands upon thousands of studies that cover marriage law, family consumption patterns and premarital sexual sex. Zimmerman may not have seen some of these details, but he could probably imagine many more. Despite this, the mass of data has not undermined Zimmerman’s basic argument.
Zimmerman is focused on the hard but important truths. Zimmerman affirms, for instance, the virtues of early marriage. He says that “Persons who don’t start families when they’re reasonably young often find they are emotionally and physically unable to have children later in life.” This author also emphasizes the intimate relationship between voluntary and involuntary fertility, suggesting that they both arise from a common mentality that rejects familism. He refutes the idea that widespread contraceptive use would lead to the elimination of human abortion. In practice, the population that wants to lower its birth rate is actually. . . It seems that there is a need for both more abortions and more contraception.
The primary theme of Civilization is indeed fertility. Zimmerman focuses on the three functions of familialism as outlined by historical Christianity: fides and Sacramentum. He also discusses the benefits of premarital chastity and the benefits of marriage for health and finances, but he focuses on the birth rate. Zimmerman concludes that we see “ever more clearly” the role of childbearing or proles as the main stem and structure of the family. Societies with many children must have familism. Others, which have fewer children, do not have it.” Zimmerman uses this measure to determine social success or failure: the marital fertility rate. He says that a famiilistic society would have at least four children per household.
Carlson writes that Zimmerman missed the Baby Boom but that the Sexual Revolution was able to accelerate his predictions. We are here. Zimmerman complained in the 1940s that sociologists were driven ideologically by Marxism or progressivism. This definition of progress meant that individuals could be freed from the drudgery of the family, and Zimmerman ignored the negative effects of these trends. This is also true today. Because our society has so much of its understanding built on atomism and radical individualism, it is impossible to have an honest conversation about this. The future will be remembered by historians for the multifaceted perversity of the queer movement. They will marvel at how a civilization destroyed its ability to create families and the next generation.
Here’s a clip taken from Zimmerman’s book
He wrote it again in 1947. He also states in his book that the increase in divorce, homosexuality and promiscuity are not causes decline but are symptomsof the problem. My belief is that heterosexuals shouldn’t blame gays for the fall of traditional marriage. Gays are simply building on the work of heterosexuals via the Sexual Revolution in terms of changing the meaning of sex, and marriage. However, we are heading towards civilizational collapse if we continue to normalize heterosexual and homo behaviors.
This week I was able to read Matthieu Pagesau’s wonderful little book Cosmic Symbolism in Genesis. But it isn’t a culture war book. The book is a fascinating look at how reality is created. I was particularly struck by Genesis’s warning about violating the male-female pattern for reproduction and pairing, which would lead to the destruction of one’s society. This is the message that the Bible conveys, thousands of years old. It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian or Jew to see if these ancient myths have something to offer us today.
The Sexual Revolution is not the only factor. Japan is an example of a conservative religious society that isn’t religious, but it is not one. Japan does not allow same-sex marriage. It is interesting to see how Western elites, who rail against Poland, Hungary and Russia for refusing to accept gay marriage, have nothing to say about Japan. Yet, the Japanese fertility rate is among the lowest worldwide. This is due to economic factors and the belief that women don’t have to marry and have children.
In 2009, the Philip Longman, a demographer, published an article in Foreign Policy arguing that patriarchy will inevitably make a comeback because it is the only way civilizations can survive. Excerpt:
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Many middle-aged, childless people regret their life choices, even though they don’t have any children to share their wisdom. While a plurality of people may have one child, they will not be able to spend as much on that child’s education. In the meantime, descendants of parents with three or more children will be greatly overrepresented in future generations. This is also true for the values and beliefs that influenced their large families.
It is possible to argue that history, particularly Western history, is filled with revolts of children against their parents. Even if their parents are patriarchal and religiously-minded, could tomorrow’s Europeans not be another generation of 68?
One key difference is the fact that almost all modern societies were married after World War II and had children. While some had more children than others, the difference in the size of the families between religious and secular families was not as large. Childlessness was also rare. Childlessness is now common and couples with children often have one. Therefore, the children of tomorrow will, unlike the postwar baby boom generation of today, be descendants of a relatively narrow and culturally conservative section of society. As is normal, there will be some rising generation members who reject the values of their parents. They will discover that many of their potential fellow travelers are not even born when they search for counterculturalists and secularists to share the burden.
Advanced societies are becoming more patriarchal, regardless of whether they like it. These elements will have an added survival advantage due to population ageing and decline, which will result in higher fertility. People will realize that they require more children to ensure their golden years. They will also seek to bind their children by inculcating traditional religious values similar to the Bible’s command to honor your mother and father.
The most religiously-minded and generously funded welfare systems will be most open to revivals and a return of the patriarchal family. While the absolute population of Japan and Europe may drop dramatically, the rest of the population will adapt to a new environment similar to survival of fittest. In this new environment, no one can rely upon government to replace the family and where a patriarchal God orders family members to suppress individualism and submit under the authority of father,
It’s possible that you and I don’t like it, but reality doesn’t care about our feelings.