March 02, 2006

Population > Philip Longman's "The Return of Patriarchy"

(Before bursting a blood vessel, be sure to read Longman's definition of patriarchy, which doesn't include keeping women in garters, panty hose, or chastity belts.)

From Foreign Policy via Instapundit.

Meanwhile, single-child families are prone to extinction. A single child replaces one of his or her parents, but not both. Nor do single-child families contribute much to future population. The 17.4 percent of baby boomer women who had only one child account for a mere 7.8 percent of children born in the next generation. By contrast, nearly a quarter of the children of baby boomers descend from the mere 11 percent of baby boomer women who had four or more children. These circumstances are leading to the emergence of a new society whose members will disproportionately be descended from parents who rejected the social tendencies that once made childlessness and small families the norm. These values include an adherence to traditional, patriarchal religion, and a strong identification with one’s own folk or nation.

This dynamic helps explain, for example, the gradual drift of American culture away from secular individualism and toward religious fundamentalism. Among states that voted for President George W. Bush in 2004, fertility rates are 12 percent higher than in states that voted for Sen. John Kerry. It may also help to explain the increasing popular resistance among rank-and-file Europeans to such crown jewels of secular liberalism as the European Union. It turns out that Europeans who are most likely to identify themselves as “world citizens” are also those least likely to have children.


Societies that are today the most secular and the most generous with their underfunded welfare states will be the most prone to religious revivals and a rebirth of the patriarchal family. The absolute population of Europe and Japan may fall dramatically, but the remaining population will, by a process similar to survival of the fittest, be adapted to a new environment in which no one can rely on government to replace the family, and in which a patriarchal God commands family members to suppress their individualism and submit to father.

The current reliance on government won't last forever. Government can provide a safety net, but it can't replace a family. A case worker isn't kin.

It will be interesting to see if Western liberals who easily grasp natural selection in the context of Darwinian evolution will be able to grasp the identical concept when applied to culture. It's true, of course, that culture pre-ordains destiny to a much lesser degree than genetics, but it's hard to argue that cultures and sub-cultures that are dying demographically will prevail culturally.

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack


See also: Shakers

Posted by: Thibodeaux at March 01, 2006

In more ways than one.

The Shakers were incredibly idealistic. They believed in equality in all forms. That was good in a lot of ways, but they extended it to mean that no one would have any special relationships (not just sexual, but also familial relationships - they split up families that joined) and everyone would be financially equal, with no private property. They were a really Marxist outfit.

Posted by: Les Jones at March 01, 2006

Interesting stuff. Of course, it's important to remember that cultural groups can gain new members by immigration as well as by reproduction.

Posted by: Mike at March 02, 2006

Very true, and of course that immigration (in the cultural rather than geographic sense) goes in both directions.

Posted by: Les Jones at March 02, 2006

Immigration changes culture.

Posted by: anonymous at March 03, 2006

Dr. Tony Cavendar, my college anthropology professor, taught us that "A little ethnocentrism is a good thing." Member loyalty. A desire to procreate, expand and promote the group's values. These are important factors in the survival of a culture. And those factors do not have to be at the expense of other societies.

Many elements can contribute to radical change or collapse of a culture. Resource depletion, attack from neighbors or diminished trade etc. One important indicator of whether a society will survive such threats is the willingness of the members to defend and grow it. Measured reflection of the good and bad in their history is necessary for the growth of cultures. But if honest reflection gives way to self-loathing - that doesn't bode well for survival.

Fortunately, despite the soul-sucking ennui among Western elites, most people just want to live life. They sweep walks, put fillings in teeth, write computer code or clean public restrooms every day. Every day. Those people usually look forward to having children. Their values are the ones which survive simply because they lead lives of growth instead of retreat.

Posted by: Chris Range at March 05, 2006

You are of course assuming two things. 1)That people grow up to have the same idealogy as their parents, which is patently not true. Many atheists and homosexuals (gasp!) came from deeply fundamentalist backgrounds. 2)That either society or Social Security as we know it is going to collapse. To that I ask, ever heard of a 401(k) or a commune?

Posted by: Johanna at January 15, 2007
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