Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Tuesday, July 05, 2005  

Maybe the Pope was right


The nation's fertility rate in 2004 remained at a record-low 1.29, according to health ministry statistics Wednesday, indicating that measures to increase family sizes have yet to bear fruit.

South Korea:

Kim Ja-young (aged 31), the mother of an 18-month-old daughter, has a job. She doesn’t plan on having any more children, and her daughter is taken care of by her parents-in-law in Gwangju. They even tell her “We cannot baby-sit another one. Don’t ever think of having another one, even a son for us.”

Kim said, “It has been a while since I have seen my husband because we come home at different hours,” adding, “It would be too burdensome to have another baby because I love working. But most of all, babysitting is difficult to arrange and it is too costly to educate children in Korea.”

In Korea, the serious problem of women of childbearing age avoiding bearing children is arising. Childless or not, 50 percent of married women ages 30 to 34 answered, “I am not thinking of having children.” This means one child would do, just like in Kim’s case.

The European nations like Italy and Spain are also in severe decline in reproduction of humans, not to mention the rest of them.

This is what hedonism and nihilism accomplishes, I suppose.

I can't say that I ever favored a world which ever increased in population, but there is a question as to how many people does it take to sustain a modern society, advance technologically, perform disinterested science, study the past, and maintain a serious defense?

Certainly we don't need a lot of people who are currently busy making knick knacks, doodads, novelties, and a superfluity of non-essential items, but there must be some sort of modern critical mass in which a culture easily sustains itself and offers many choices, opportunities, and possibilities.

We don't need and wouldn't miss not having more Madonnas or Britney Spears, yet the idea of a static society (which the ancient Egyptians maintained for a couple of thousand years) is rather repellent.

Can a shrinking society still innovate? Well, the Japanese are devoting more attention to developing robots for all sorts of uses in order not to bring in foriegn workers to fill the gaps in production or personal services.

The United States can continue to allow millions of laborers into its land, but the eventual effect will be to overwhelm its cultural heritage and capital, and break the nation into competing ethnicities which can only lead to violence; perhaps even warlordism of a modern kind.

Isn't it curious, though, that when women achieve freedom and equality, the first thing they jettison is the desire to be mothers (and men couldn't care less. More fun, less responsibility.).

These are no new tendencies. People have always sought to flee responsibility; only now they can. People are generally poor parents, and experience teaches us that people prefer to do that which they enjoy and are good at rather than that which is difficult and at which they are vexed. (Watch any of those Nanny 911 type shows. Seemingly competent adults who are complete idiots at both partnering and parenting. Those people are not rare. Talk to any schoolteacher and you will know the facts.)

Mark Steyn says this today at The Corner:

"In the first half of this century, the pattern of our days altered drastically: we began to move about by cars, and airplanes, and to converse by telephone; the invention of the elevator spurred the invention of the skyscraper; electric lighting and refrigerators made the old lamp-lighter and the iceman redundant; self-raising flour and washing machines helped eliminate domestic servants; the outhouse moved indoors. A young man propelled by an HG Wells time machine from 1897 to 1947 would be flummoxed at every turn. By contrast, a young man catapulted from 1947 to 1997 would on the surface feel instantly at home. In the second half of the century, hardly anything has changed: our bathrooms, our washers, our kitchens, our high-rises, our cars and planes have barely altered."

That's from an essay in the 1997 New Criterion collection The Future Of The European Past by, er, me. It's not just that the rate of progress has slowed, but that even the jeremiads about the slowing of progress have been stagnant for eight years.

First lesson of punditry: It's never any use being right too soon. I go on to say in that piece that in the western world "change itself has changed". It's now "not technological so much as psychological" - which is why technology can't save Europe from demography.

We are changing psychologically (suicidally you might say), but it was always there in us from the start, although Islam isn't changing at all and may have the last, completely miserable, and impoverished laugh.

Or the meek (Christians) may well indeed inherit the Earth since they may be the only people with a vision, a hope, a confidence, and a willingness to maintain complimentary roles for men and women, and to discipline children according to moral standards. That would not be a last laugh but a triumph of an eternal will.

The problem, though, is that Christianity (Protestant) is not especially coercive, and so half or more of its children abandon it for hedonistic lives. And that just keeps the wheel turning in an endless cycle of folly and reaction.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:24 AM |