extended families and fertility

A commenter elsewhere suggested that once the extended family disappeared fertility was doomed. The idea being that the costs of motherhood are so high that women will not accept those costs for more than one or at the most two children unless they have a strong support network.

This does sound like a plausible argument.

Perhaps humans have to have extended families in order to breed. Perhaps the nuclear family is a toxic idea.

If you want extended families there are several other things you need. Obviously you need stay-at-home mothers. You need stable decently paid employment for men, stable being the more important factor by far. And you need social stability. You need tight-knit organic communities of people who know and trust each other and those communities need to remain intact. Social mobility was one of the major factors that destroyed the extended family. People need to be able to find jobs in their own communities.

The Industrial Revolution undoubtedly played a rôle in disrupting established communities but the urban working classes managed to create new communities that were actually quite healthy. Those communities thrived until our leaders (encouraged by the corporate sector) decided to declare war on the working class.

Conservatives like to blame the welfare state for most social ills. In fact the wholesale destruction of manufacturing industry and the destruction of rural communities have been far more disastrous.

Of course the decline of religion and the growth of feminism have contributed to the demise of the extended family but the big factor is the breaking up of communities when children move to other cities to pursue their careers, or when family members are forced to leave established communities because they cannot find work.

The corporate sector loves the idea of a “flexible” workforce. In practice that means a demoralised workforce and a loss of community. These are both bonuses as far as the corporate sector is concerned. The corporate sector does not like extended families – people might start to think there was more to life than being a docile worker and a compliant consumer.

In fact if we are ever to rebuild real communities we need to realise that there really is more to life than working and consuming.

Real communities and extended families have other benefits aside from increased fertility. They provide an alternative to hedonism and degeneracy and they also provide some protection from evils such as feminism.

Of course it’s understandable that our politicians didn’t think of any of this. Who would ever have imagined that tight-knit communities might turn out to be essential for a healthy society?

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demographic collapse and economic incentives

That the West is heading for demographic collapse is pretty much an established fact. Sub-replacement fertility is now the norm. In countries like Germany the fertility rate is disastrously low. In eastern Europe the situation is even worse, with countries like Lithuania well on the way to national extinction. And in east Asia it’s worse still. Taiwan is almost certainly beyond saving.

It’s long been accepted that economic development and prosperity almost inevitably leads to a plummeting birth rate, but while you might expect that fertility rates would eventually stabilise at a much lower level that isn’t happening. They just keep declining.

And of course we’re then told that we must accept mass immigration from the Third World or we’re economically doomed. Whether that’s really true or not can perhaps be debated, it  is possible that lower populations might be advantageous in some ways, but nonetheless it’s an argument that immigration restrictionists must find a counter for.

So can anything be done to halt the decline of fertility rates? Obviously the answer is yes but most of the solutions are at this point in time politically out of the question. It’s not very likely that any western government is going to outlaw feminism or abolish quick and easy divorce, no matter how desirable such actions might be.

Among the few politically feasible measures are economic incentives. To the extent that they’ve been tried they haven’t been notably successful but that may be because they’ve been poorly thought out. The idea that putting more money in people’s pockets will make them more willing to have children is simplistic and naïve. If people are contemplating starting a family they do not want short-term handouts. What they want is long-term security, and affordable housing.

Long-term security means job security. Job security is something we used to have in the bad old days. Of course in the bad old days we also had successful marriages and happy family life.

When it comes to having families what matters is not how much money people have, but the extent to which they can rely on having an adequate income for long enough to raise children and then be able to look forward to not living in destitution when they get old.

Equally important is affordable decent housing. That means not just a reasonably comfortable home, but a home that is not so far out in the suburbs that it requires a two-hour commute to get to work and a two-hour commute to get home again.

I’m not suggesting that job security and affordable housing would magically solve our demographic problems, but there’s little doubt that it would at least help a little. And as an added side benefit it would allow people to live lives that are somewhat more satisfying than the pursuit of mindless pleasures and an endless supply of consumer goods.

Of course I’m just day-dreaming. Can you really imagine a government wanting to put the interests of families ahead of the interests of globalists and social justice warriors, or seeing family life as more important than GDP growth?

how many people do we need?

If we want to oppose immigration we need to have a coherent well-articulated position on the issue. Simply saying we want immigration stopped isn’t going to work. If you do that you simply get accused of racism, and of wanting to wreck the economy. We need to put a bit more thought into our position.

There is for instance one very important question we need to consider. Exactly how many people do we want in our country?

Australia’s population is close to 25 million. That doesn’t sound much when you look at the size of the country but in fact our population is concentrated to a quite incredible degree in a handful of large cities. Well over a third of the population is concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne. Those cities are increasingly unpleasant places in which to live.

So assuming we want to stabilise our population, at what point do we want to stabilise it?

The same applies to other countries. The UK’s population is now 66.5 million, surely much too high. The US has a population of 325 million.

In all these cases the ideal figure would probably be somewhat lower than the current figure. Arguing for any serious population reduction is not within the realms of the politically possible. But we do need to have some kind of target to aim for.  Which means we need to come up with a realistic rate of immigration to achieve that target. A rate that will obviously be very much lower than the current rates.

Of course in reality we probably don’t need any immigration at all. The problem with that is that such a view will get you labelled as not merely an extremist but a hopelessly unrealistic one. I do think though that choosing some kind of target figure would be politically useful. If you’re asked how much immigration you want and you reply that you don’t know then you tend to look like someone who hasn’t thought things through.

In the year ending June 2017 Australia’s net migration intake was a staggering 245,000. The danger for anti-immigration advocates of not having a clear idea of how many immigrants we should be bringing in is that the government could announce that it was “slashing” the yearly immigration intake to 220,000 and we would be expected to hail that as a major concession. On the other hand if we say that we actually need no more than a maximum of 20,000 then it would be easier for us to point out that any minor reduction was merely a sham.

We also need to address other major issues. The demographic collapse of white European populations is real and it’s been happening for a long time. The official figures for fertility rates in western countries understate the scale of the problem because those figures are artificially inflated by the very high fertility of immigrant populations in those countries. The problem is a critical one. We need sensible ideas for addressing this problem. The big worry is that the demographic collapse may already be irreversible. We don’t know, because we’re the first society in history to try to commit suicide by failing to reproduce.

If we can’t articulate a strategy for reversing this demographic suicide then we leave ourselves open to the specious arguments of immigration boosters that western countries cannot survive without mass immigration. We also need to be able to counter the argument that an ageing population will be a disaster.

We also must find a counter to the argument that without immigration GDP would stop growing and the sky would fall.

There’s a fair amount of anti-immigration sentiment out there but it’s hopelessly disorganised and diffuse and incoherent. We need to take a position on the issue that is focused, consistent and well-reasoned.

politics, culture and immigration

One thing I notice on a lot of dissident right sites is an obsession with the idea that immigration must be stopped and that every other issue needs to be either put on the back burner or even entirely abandoned in order to focus on immigration. I think this is a mistaken view. I want to emphasise that this does not mean that I don’t think the immigration issue is important. It is vitally important. I simply don’t think that fighting on that one issue is a viable strategy. I’ll try to explain why I think this way.

The most crucial thing to understand is that politics really is downstream of culture. The state of the culture determines whether a particular political fight is winnable or not, in the current circumstances. At this point in time I don’t think the political fight on immigration is winnable. It could become winnable but that will necessitate at least some degree of cultural change.

The immigration debate cannot be won right now for several reasons. These reasons apply in the US, in Britain, in Australia and in western Europe, to varying degrees.

The first reason is that many people, possibly even a majority, simply do not see immigration as a major problem. The communities devastated by diversity are mostly poorer communities. Upper class and upper middle class people have not been affected. Even lower middle class people have, to a large extent, escaped the worst effects. Since people generally have difficulty in understanding the concept of long-term consequences those who have not so far been affected still believe they never will be.

Secondly, most people are still more concerned about social conformity than immigration. The social consequences to the individual of opposing immigration (accusations of racism, possible loss of jobs, social harassment) seem to outweigh the social consequences of immigration for the nation as a whole.

Thirdly, most people still buy the economic arguments in favour of immigration – without immigration economic growth would slow down and nothing could possibly be worse than having a slight slowdown in GDP growth.

Fourthly, the elites are still absolutely united in their determination to push immigration.

So what changes need to be made to the culture? Firstly the idea that GDP is the one and only measure of national well-being needs to be attacked. People need to be persuaded that there’s more to life than having the latest smartphone. Secondly, the whole basis of liberalism has to be attacked.

The most dangerous delusion is that you can accept liberalism on social issues and still successfully oppose immigration. You can’t. If for example you accept the liberal argument on abortion then it’s impossible not to accept the liberal position on all other social issues. If individual choice (even extending as far as the choice to kill your baby) is all that matters then how exactly are you going to oppose the principle that individuals should have the choice to live wherever they want to live? Including the choice to live in your country rather than their own?

You can’t use the argument that by exercising that choice they are infringing other people’s rights. You’ve already accepted that a woman’s right to choose is sacred, even if it means killing her baby (which is about as big an infringement of someone’s else rights that can be imagined). You can’t use the argument that immigration has social consequences, since you’ve already accepted the principle that only the individual’s wishes matter. It’s the same with all other social issues. If you accept that people can choose their own gender you can’t very well argue that they can’t choose where to live.

If you accept that the individual is all that matters then society as such doesn’t exist (this was in fact the position taken by the right-wing liberal Margaret Thatcher). If we’re nothing but individuals pursuing pleasure and our own interests then borders must inevitably come to be seen as unnecessary, oppressive and harmful.

Interestingly enough you can oppose immigration from a left-wing perspective, if you drop the internationalism. In fact if you’re seriously left-wing you have to abandon internationalism anyway – it’s impossible to maintain a welfare state or anything approaching a command economy if you have open borders. So a communist can, quite logically and coherently, be opposed to immigration but a liberal cannot. This is not an argument in favour of communism, merely an observation.

The bottom line is that if you accept liberalism you will get open borders. If you oppose open borders you must oppose liberalism. And the fight against liberalism is the fight that really matters. It’s the fight that must be won.

economic apartheid

What is the future for the West? It seems to me that it’s more and more likely to be apartheid. Not racial apartheid, but economic apartheid.

It’s not just that the gap between the elites and the non-elites is widening. There’s also the elephant in the room, by which I mean automation. Now people have been saying for decades that automation is going to have grim consequences. It already has. Countless jobs have disappeared. That’s nothing compared to what we can look forward to in the next twenty years or so.

Of course there are other factors that are going to make the problem worse, immigration and outsourcing being the obvious ones.

There are going to be more and more people with no prospect of decent employment. No prospect of well-paid or meaningful employment. What exactly are the elites going to do with all these people?

Most will exist on welfare. They will still have some usefulness for the elites as consumers.

It is quite likely that the elites will want to employ more and more people as domestic servants. At the moment they prefer immigrants for this because they can pay them less. Pretty soon that won’t be a problem. They’ll be able to pay pleasingly low wages to anybody seeking such work, immigrant or not.

We may even see people forced into domestic service as part of “work for the dole” schemes. A very attractive proposition for the elites – they get servants at rock-bottom prices plus they get the pleasure of humiliating those forced to do such work. The media will applaud such schemes.

Of course the non-elites will be increasingly dissatisfied but that’s not going to be a problem. The elites will be living in well-guarded compounds. The non-elites will be confined to townships where they can’t cause any trouble. They can easily be bussed to the elite compounds to perform their menial chores and then bussed back to the townships at night.

Economic apartheid seems to be the best description for such a future.

But it won’t be so bad for the non-elites. They’ll be given enough money to buy cheap smartphones so they’ll still be able to access social media, there’ll still be lots of porn on the internet and superhero movies in the theatres. They’ll be happy with that.

the aged crisis and why it isn’t going to go away

One of the biggest problems that western societies must face over the next few decades is what to do about aged care. We’re going to have an awful lot of old people to care for and it’s going to be very expensive. It’s a problem that most of us simply do not want to face, and governments are reluctant to confront the issue because there is no easy way to provide the necessary money.
The aged crisis is partly a product of the many undesirable social changes that have occurred since the Second World War. Partly, but not entirely. A major component of the problem is simply that old people are living much longer, and they have fewer children to look after them. It’s no good saying that in the past people cared for their elderly parents so people today should be able to as well. It’s not that simple. Those elderly parents could live long enough to reach their nineties and by that time their children are going to be rapidly approaching old age themselves (a member of my family was in her seventies and still having to care for her mother who lived to be 99). A century ago an old person would typically have three living children to share the burden. These days many aged people are lucky if they have a single child to shoulder the burden.
It’s also not realistic to think that families can still care for elderly relatives without government assistance. It just isn’t possible. A frail elderly person might still have a decade or more of life ahead of them, and when people live to extreme old age there is more often than not the complication of dementia, and caring for an old person with dementia is not possible without a good deal of support. I can tell you that from personal experience. We have to accept that the government will have to be involved. The family, and private charity, are not sufficient.
Of course those social changes I mentioned earlier have made the crisis much worse. People today are not keen on accepting any kind of responsibility and are inclined to see elderly family members as an inconvenience best dealt with by putting them in a nursing home as soon as possible. The problem with that is that nursing home care is much much more expensive than caring for the person at home, and that’s quite apart from the fact that while a nursing home is sometimes the only option it is generally not a very good option.
A society that values hedonism, autonomy and freedom is not well equipped to deal with the problem of caring for the elderly, and it’s amazing how many people who embrace these values seem to be able to pretend that it’s not going to happen to them, that they are not going to face the prospect of one day being shipped off to a nursing home when they become an inconvenience.
There aren’t any easy answers but somehow we’re going to have to find some kind of answer. I have a feeling that we will continue to pretend the problem isn’t there and the results are going to be very unpleasant.

Adam Tooze’s The Deluge

British historian Adam Tooze’s 2014 book The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 takes an original and distinctive approach to the First World War. Tooze is not interested in how the war started nor in how it was fought. Only one thing really mattered – the entry of the United States into the war. US intervention had virtually no effect on the course of the actual war itself but it had a profound effect on the peace negotiations and on the postwar world. It changed everything. From that moment on the US was the world’s dominant power. The only question was how the US would exercise that power.

President Woodrow Wilson had very definite ideas on the subject. The failure of Wilson’s version of global internationalism has obscured the fact that the US, even under the supposedly isolationist Republican administrations of the 1920s, was not only the world’s dominant economic power but also the dominant political power.
For the other European powers, bankrupted by the war and reduced to financial dependence on the US, the question was what could they do about the situation? In Tooze’s view Soviet communism and the various strands of fascism represented an attempt to confront this problem.
For Britain the situation was exceptionally complex. Britain appeared to have emerged from the war stronger than ever but this was an illusion. Britain’s Empire was a large part of the problem. Maintaining and defending the Empire was far beyond Britain’s resources. The Empire had been a potential source of wealth but no British government had ever figured out how to make this potential actual. The rising tide of nationalism made it unlikely that Britain could hold on to its imperial possessions in the long term but no government was prepared to admit this. By the 1920s the Empire was largely an illusion, but despite this Britain very unwisely embarked on fresh imperial adventures in the Middle East.
Tooze (who is essentially an economic historian) focuses on some of the lesser known economic problems confronting the world during this period, such as the catastrophic American recession of 1920. He also points out that hyper-inflation was by no means confined to the Weimar Republic. Overshadowing everything else was the problem of how to pay for the First World War. The US had in fact bankrolled the war efforts of the French, the British and the Italians but now the debts were going to have to be repaid and the US was determined that every red cent would be repaid. This was a problem for the French, with much of their country in ruins and their economy in a shambles. Of course it seemed like a very attractive idea for the French to make the Germans pay for their war damage, but with the German economy in an even bigger shambles that was only going to lead to more problems and in any case Germany was simply not in a position to pay what was demanded.
The war had serious unbalanced the world economy in other ways as well, inflation was a problem everywhere, and the prospects for Europe were undecidedly unpleasant. 
The war also unleashed political problems. Wilson’s ideas on self-determination were not quite as crazy and unrealistic as they’re often portrayed but breaking up the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires was in retrospect a reckless step. The war also led to demands for greater democracy throughout the world, democracy being seen as some sort of magical answer to political problems (in practice it naturally produced ever more corrupt and ever more incompetent governments).
Tooze also mentions a number of fascinating events that seem to have disappeared down the memory hole, such as the French invasion of Germany in 1923. The 1920s was actually quite a tumultuous period in terms of the foreign policies of the various powers. There was a sense that a new world order was emerging but it was not clear what shape it would take.
Tooze is no great literary stylist but his writing is generally clear and workmanlike.
Most books on the interwar period focus on the 1930s so it’s interesting to find a really in-depth study of the 20s. Tooze offers plenty of food for thought. Highly recommended.