September 2, 2004


The Future Belongs to the Fecund (James Pinkerton, 09/01/2004, Tech Central Station)

I'm old enough to remember the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade, and I must admit I had no idea that the controversy would still be raging, more than three decades later. Back then, feminism and emancipation seemed like the wave of the future. And of course, the role of women in American society has changed dramatically in the last three decades.

Yet even so, today, the White House and both chambers of Congress are controlled by avowed pro-lifers. The basic freedoms guaranteed by Roe are still intact, to be sure, but as both sides in the debate argue, just one more anti-Roe justice on the Supreme Court could reverse that ruling.

So what happened? I think a lot of the answer can be found in birth-rate differentials -- demography is destiny. To put it bluntly, in the name of "empowerment," the Left has birth-controlled, aborted, and maybe also gay-libbed itself into a smaller role in American society. Yes, it was their personal-is-political choice, but others will benefit politically. We might consider, as just one example, what's happened to New York City. In 1973, the Big Apple had a population of about eight million; the population of the United States overall was 211 million. In 2004, the Apple was still at around eight million, but the country's population, in the meantime, had increased by nearly two-fifths. It's not automatically a bad thing for a population to stay stagnant -- unless, of course, the goal is to wield power through the ballot box.

What's shrinking New York and other yuppoid places is the paradoxical impact of prosperity upon fertility. Nationwide, some 44 percent of women aged 15-44 are childless; but those childlessness numbers skew above average in high-income states such as Massachusetts, Vermont, and Colorado. By contrast, the lowest percentages of childless women are in downscale states such as Alaska, Mississippi, and Wyoming. In other words, those who have the most capital -- financial, but also, often, intellectual and educational -- are the least likely to have children.

This phenomenon -- yuppie singles and couples walking down what is literally a demographic dead end -- is witnessed across the Western world. As gloomy authors such as the conservative Pat Buchanan and the liberal Phil Longman have observed, the fertility rate among women in most of Europe is well below the "replacement rate" of 2.1 children per woman. Italy, for example, faces demographic wipeout; its population today is 57 million, but if present trends continue, that number could fall to 41 million in 2050, and perhaps to 20 million in 2100.

So will these countries just be empty? Probably not. Most likely, the lands of Western Europe, having been depopulated through plunging birthrates, will be repopulated with immigrants from high-birthrate countries in the Middle East and Africa. Is this bad? Not if you're an upwardly mobile striver from Algeria or Nigeria. But of course, there's not much chance that Italian language and culture will survive such an ethnic occupation. And others might wonder about the fate of the Western alliance if Italy were ever to have a foreign minister first-named Mohammed.

One who saw all this coming was Charles Galton Darwin; his 1952 book, The Next Million Years, argued that human history is first and foremost the story of populations. As he wrote, "The fundamental quality pertaining to man is not that he should be good or bad, wise or stupid, but merely that he should be alive and not dead." That is, underneath all the concern about the pursuit of happiness and the promotion of the general welfare is one unyielding bottom line: either the population reproduces itself, or it doesn't.

Echoing the survival-of-the-fittest themes of his more famous grandfather, Darwin added, "Any country which limits its population becomes therefore less numerous than one which refuses to do so, and so the first will be sooner or later crowded out of existence by the second."

And so the more recent Darwin offered a grim prediction: the future of the world belongs to illiberal religions. Or, if you prefer, conservative religions, including not only Christianity, but also Islam and Hinduism. How come? Because those faiths that emphasize traditionalism, including traditional sex roles, are more likely to be procreative. In modern countries, feminists are free to be feminists, but if they don't have feminist children -- which is to say, boys and girls who sustain the "free to be . . . you and me" philosophy -- then the politics of the future will be shaped by those hands that do, in fact, rock the cradle -- after putting a baby inside.

And that's what's been happening. The right-to-life movement, and the social conservative movement overall, is more than holding its ground. As The Wall Street Journal observed in an August 30 news story, states that might have once been thought to be solidly Democratic for John Kerry are, instead, "in play." And why is that? Because the population-blossoming parts of the state are Republican. As the Journal explained, "Minnesota's Scott County outside the Twin Cities; St. Croix County outside Eau Claire, Wis.; and Deschutes County around Bend, Ore." are the places where the vote-ducks are to be found.

The idea that the Gopher, Badger, and Beaver states, and their 25 electoral votes, might be in play for a Texas Republican fighting a foreign war would seem absurd to the anti-war liberals and hippies who once dominated state politics. But maybe those lefty folks aren't around any more. Nearly four decades after the sit-ins of the 60s, ex-radicals are more likely to be staging die-offs -- their own. And oh yes, they forgot to have children. The future belongs to the fecund.

The thing that makes America unique is that it has managed to remain illiberal religiously, even shift back towards being more illiberal after a flirtation with secularism, while maintaining a liberal democracy. It seems more likely that this balance can be struck by a Christianizing Asia and Africa or by a democratizing Shi'a than that the rest of the West can return to religious faith. That means our future--the future--lies with the former, not the latter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 2, 2004 1:14 PM

This also touches on another important dynamic: judicial attempts to resolve political issues usually will end up embittering and prolonging the conflict, rather than presenting a true resolution.

Posted by: mike earl at September 2, 2004 1:28 PM

The flaw in this thinking is that one's persuasion births a child of the same. Just because a liberal has no child and a conservative has 5 doesn't necesarily add 5 conservatives to the mix, it could add 5 liberals or 3/2, 1/4, etc. This thinking only works in terms of basic nationality, not political or social or religious opinion.


Posted by: Tammy Riley at September 2, 2004 2:01 PM

Not a flaw, just a potential modifier. However, I would wager that for every child born to a 'conservative' household, more than one person is added to the 'conservative' pool. In my very personal experience, it is much more likely today that a liberal's offspring will wander off the plantation than a conservative's.

The same week of the 30th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, Hispanics passed blacks as the country's largest minority. Yes, immigration plays a role, but abortion plays a bigger one. Funny how the paronoid factions of the black community think AIDS and crack are plots to decimate the black population. No need for it. There's already a perfectly leagal and politically correct system in place.

Posted by: YankeeVulture at September 2, 2004 2:15 PM


Many studies over the past several decades have demonstrated that children by a very high percentage register in their parents' party and vote that way. This is one of the problems Republicans have in breaking the Democratic strangle-hold on the black vote. Its a generational phenomenom, and can take several generations to crack. Ditto Irish and Italian Catholics and Southern 'yellow dog' Democrats(until Reagan).

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 2, 2004 2:39 PM

Soon Mississippi and Louisiana will be majority Black and Texas already is majority-minority. So, I would not be so sanguine about population growth being good for people who are tired of paying handouts.

Posted by: Bart at September 2, 2004 3:27 PM

Bart - what a blithely racist comment

Posted by: YankeeVulture at September 2, 2004 3:50 PM

Have you seen the Black elected officials from the South? Cynthia McKinney, Corinne Brown, Melvin Watt and the rest. It is hardly racist to make note of that.

Posted by: Bart at September 2, 2004 4:34 PM

>Yes, immigration plays a role, but abortion
>plays a bigger one. Funny how the paronoid
>factions of the black community think AIDS and
>crack are plots to decimate the black
>population. No need for it. There's already a
>perfectly legal and politically correct system
>in place.

And it dates back to Margaret (Planned Parenthood) Sanger and the Eugenics Movement. ("Life to the Fit; Extinction to the Unfit!" Veh-ry Fah-shionable among Our Intellectual Betters 60-100 years ago.)

Sanger was very into Eugenics (as well as Total Sexual Freedom); the early Planned Parenthood put a lot of its clinics in black areas in order to breed the "mud races" out of existence through birth control.

Posted by: Ken at September 2, 2004 4:43 PM


By the standards of those Eugenists 60-100 years ago, I am half of one of those "mud races" -- the one known as "wop", "dago", "guinea", or "white n*g*er" back then.

Posted by: Ken at September 2, 2004 4:46 PM

The conflation of race and IQ is one of the most noxious ideas we have ever had. However, this does not mean that we should not consider intelligence when we make policy. Why should we encourage the least intelligent or successful of us to breed? Why should welfare recipients be paid additional bucks when they have more kids?

Intelligence, as distinguished from IQ, is probably more or less equally distributed among the 'races.' However, some cultures are the fast lane to failure and others aren't. It is imperative for us to encourage successful cultures( e.g. Cantonese) and discourage failing ones (e.g. Inner City American Blacks). The people trapped in those cultures aren't to blame, they must be uplifted and we must be scrupulous about encouraging right behavior and banning wrong behavior.

Posted by: Bart at September 2, 2004 10:39 PM



Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 11:50 PM

Isn't Mississippi becoming less black?

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at September 3, 2004 1:31 AM

Orrin is correct to observe that regions with the greatest experience of Christianity are least interested in remaining Christian.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 3, 2004 2:27 PM

That's the paradox. You have to be to get anywhere but it's too hard to maintain once you get there so most of them are choosing death instead. It makes you believe in Chosen People and Providence.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2004 2:53 PM

A loving God would not allow such a paradox.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 3, 2004 7:16 PM

You love your kids?

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2004 7:40 PM


Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 4, 2004 3:23 PM

You make their decisions for them?

Posted by: oj at September 4, 2004 5:35 PM

Not after they got to be around 7 years old. We would talk it over, but they got to choose what they liked

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 5, 2004 6:31 PM

Yet you love them. Just so God.

Posted by: oj at September 5, 2004 7:42 PM