What went wrong with the West? (7)

In the closing essay of the series I will deal with one aspect of the West’s demise which overlaps all issues mentioned in the previous posts – family, free enterprise, patriotism and religion. This problem, by itself, makes the lifestyle of the Western populations unsustainable. We do not produce enough children.

In simple terms societies need to reproduce to survive. An average of 2.1 children per woman are required to keep the population steady. This is just to ensure one-for-one replacement of the oldies who pass away. To grow and expand even more children are needed. At present the highest fertility rate in the West is in France – 2.08. New Zealand is at 2.07, US 2.06, UK 1.91, Netherlands 1.78, Australia 1.77, Sweden 1.67, Canada 1.59, Russia 1.43, Germany 1.41, Greece 1.39, Poland 1.31, Czech Republic 1.27. Not a single Western country produces enough children to even keep the population stable and these above the fertility rate of 2.0 rely on immigrants to bump up the stats (more on that later).

If this is not chilling I do not know what is. We are living in a fools’ paradise which, for reason of demography alone, will not survive past the next generation. While going crazy to make everything sustainable – food production, power generation, construction practices, packaging – we have overlooked the fact that our social framework will not last. Two other scenarios conspire to make a serious problem fatal. One is the growing national debt in the West which, in theory, will have to be repaid by future generations. The other has to do with the huge latent financial liability in the form of state-funded retirement schemes. In essence we are expecting the dramatically shrinking pool of future tax payers to fund our retirement while also repaying the national debts. Quite clearly this is impossible.

Let us now step back to ask why people have children. I believe there is a combination of reasons which includes genetically programmed behaviour, religious and social convention, expectations of one’s parents, urge for continuity etc. So why did people in the West stop having children? Again, there is a bunch of reasons which I will list in no particular order.

Most of the traditional social conventions which made having children a default option are now gone. The concept of a nuclear family is dead, being single and childless carries no stigma. The genetically coded signals for procreation have been drowned by post-modern social noise. In a mad rush for “progressiveness” having children is seen as a relic of an old era. The options for entertainment are these days more numerous than ever and the duties associated with rearing children are viewed as limiting. In a nutshell – people do not feel they are expected to have children and so, for selfish reasons, choose not to.

Also, at a sub-conscious level, we have children because we feel the set-up we have created is worth sharing  with others, carrying our genes. This comes from the underlying pride at what we have achieved, both individually and as a society. What makes the process even more satisfying is being able to bring up one’s children to respect the set of values we believe are important. Unfortunately, in the West, the above scheme works in reverse. We have lost confidence in the Western civilisation, do not value our past achievements and the education of our children has been largely taken over by social engineers who expound values we have little confidence in. Why bother producing children who will be fed “progressive” ideology at public schools and will enter adulthood burdened with enormous debt, only to witness the demise of their culture?

The “solution” enacted in the West to deal with the demographic problem is misguided. Mass immigration from the third World countries does help with the work-aged numbers and bumps up fertility rate but it also creates a raft of social problems. This is material for another essay and I am only mentioning it here to point out that the half-decent fertility rates of the likes of France are not a sign of rebound in the West. They are a sign of capitulation.



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