June 22, 2006


Navigating Battlestar America: Sci-Fi Show Asks Real-World Questions (Alex Wainer, 6/14/2006, BreakPoint)

[G]alactica has quite deliberately shaped itself as a metaphoric exploration of America in the post-9/11 era, with the democratic Colonials as the U.S. and the Cylons as radical Islamists determined to destroy the West and its values. But one episode from this spring, “The Captain’s Hand,” was particularly relevant for one of the big questions facing us: Can a civilization increasingly downsizing itself confront a growing Muslim population that is increasingly “over here” in Western nations?

Like most contemporary dramatic television episodes, “The Captain’s Hand” has at least two plots. In the episode’s main story, the Colonialists’ abortion policy is brought into question. The subplot involves a young woman who has smuggled herself aboard the Galactica seeking an abortion, which is legal, though she comes from a colony that frowns on the procedure—sort of like their version of the Bible Belt. When President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), who has always supported abortion rights, expresses her support for the young woman’s decision, Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) urges her to reconsider. President Roslin is sitting under the whiteboard where she keeps a running count of the usually declining human population which now numbers 49,584.

Adama: I hate to say this. Because I know that this is a political issue. The fact is that that number doesn't go up very often.

Roslin: I fought for a woman's right to control her body my entire career. No. No.

Adama: I'm just remembering what you said. Right after the Cylon attack. That if we really want to save the human race, we'd better start having babies.

Adama’s words found real-world echoes in a column written by Mark Steyn that points out at length that the West—that is, Europe, England, and the United States, as well as other modern and developed nations—face their disappearance this century not because we will be outfought on the battlefield, but because of the crisis of childlessness. Western nations, as well as Japan, China and other countries, are, simply put, not replacing their current populations by having at least two children per couple. In the West, populations are dropping—at least white populations are—but in Europe, Muslim populations continue to grow. Steyn and others argue that it’s a simple mathematical progression that in two generations or more, Islam will have triumphed without a battle simply because the self-imposed depopulation of the West will cause it to lose cultural weight, creating a vacuum to be filled by Islam.

Steyn asserts that, in the real world, we are at war with radical Islam, which finds its foot soldiers from growing masses who are confident of an eternal reward for their deaths in the battle with the West and face an enemy with no clear reason to fight them:

That's what the war's about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: "Civilizations die from suicide, not murder"—as can be seen throughout much of "the Western world" right now. The progressive agenda—lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism—is collectively the real suicide bomb.

Modernity provides the conditions for diminishing procreation. Speaking in purely economic terms, when an agrarian society changes to an industrialized, urbanized society, the need for children to help with the family farm’s crops decreases and the outgo of family wealth in the cost of raising and educating them receives very little in return. That’s the case Glenn Harlan Reynolds makes in an article about declining birthrates. He also discusses how parenting has simply become more difficult as overprotectiveness and the need to cart kids to endless activities drains the joy out of raising children. And this increases the pressure to have fewer or no children.

Add to that the assumptions of autonomous individualism—the ease of birth control, consumerism, the rise of the welfare state and other factors, all contributing to rationales for abortion—and you have a formula for a birthrate under the replacement level.

It requires an astonishing level of self-absorption to think that raising children has become more difficult because you need to drive the little rug rats to little league than it was when you lived in fear of not being able to feed them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 22, 2006 10:21 AM


While you are certainly 100% correct on the reality of the situation, your point about "self-absorbtion" explains the problem.

The perception that "things are harder today" is so entrenched, that obvious statements like yours are seen as "mean-spirited."

When I told my rich, double income neighbors that they were self-absorbed because they were taxing the elderly out of their homes for public education supported "Child Care Services," the look of hatred on their faces was both amusing and frightening.

On the other hand, raising children HAS become more difficult, not because of "little league," but because one has to fight their being "socialized" in culture of self-absorbed doped white mice.

Posted by: Bruno at June 22, 2006 11:42 AM

Yes, that's the kind of silliness I mean by self-absorption. You think American schools are a greater threat than influenza was.

Posted by: oj at June 22, 2006 11:53 AM

That doesn't make any sense. ~50K total humans is way too few to have multiple planetary colonies. So where does the young women really come from? Or the human population total off by an order of magnitude or so?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at June 22, 2006 12:05 PM

Yes, 50k people barely suffices for the living standards of 9000 BC. It certainly couldn't maintain space-traveling technology.

Posted by: pj at June 22, 2006 1:01 PM


It was billions at the beginning of the war; 50K is refugees in the civilian fleet fleeing with Galactica.

Posted by: Mike Earl at June 22, 2006 1:41 PM

It's a tv show.

Posted by: oj at June 22, 2006 1:48 PM

It'll be interesting to see if the upcoming prequel series Caprica, set in the leadup to the first Cylon revolt, is equally interesting or if it's just mush. My bet is on mush, sadly.

Posted by: Mike Earl at June 22, 2006 2:03 PM

Back to rectification of names for a moment: "progressives" are for suicide, so for them, death is progress.

Why do we stand by when this canard is uttered?

Please don't say because it is because the fight for truth has already been lost.

No! Make them say it. Make them say that their "progress" is death.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 22, 2006 2:43 PM

Because progress isn't good.

Posted by: oj at June 22, 2006 3:48 PM

If I remember that episode correctly, she went from a pro-choice stance to a policy that was essentially pro-life without anything in between or accomapanying the policy. Basically: "There are too few of us, so I'm going to make it law that any woman that doesn't want children and should accidentally become pregnant, must give birth." I'm largely pro-life but this doesn't make much sense to me. She should have at least accompanied this with a plea that every woman who is able to have children. Perhaps using medical technology to have multiple births. Nothing. The girl at the center of the episode, I think she was allowed to have the abortion...why not make an appeal to her? If only out of patriotism that she should have the baby? I just thought the whole thing was ill-conceived.

Posted by: RC at June 22, 2006 4:19 PM


In a similar vein, I believe it was in junior high or early high school when a teacher or some public speaker (sorry, I'm fuzzy on the exact details) matter-of-factly repeated the usual malarkey that our generation would be the first in American history to have worse lives than our parents.

I remember being rather skeptical of this when I heard it. As you've suggested, it's one of those standard lines that people repeat unthinkingly, because one moment of serious reflection would demonstrate how absurd it is.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at June 22, 2006 7:24 PM


We were told that back in the mid-70's by our teachers as well.

Posted by: Dave W at June 22, 2006 9:51 PM

What they said under their breathe was, We fervently hope that our generation would be the first in American history to have worse lives than our parents. Nice try, but no cigar to the self loathing lefties who tried very hard to reduce the U.S. to third country status.

Here and there you can still see some remnants of this movement in moonbat redoubts located on college campuses and huddled in places like the streets of San Francisco, Bezerkly and Boston.

Posted by: erp at June 23, 2006 8:52 AM