Zeitgeist

Silver Linings

November 24, 2011

1c: Differential demographics. The more civilized, higher-IQ nations of north Eurasia, together with their settler nations elsewhere, are reproducing below replacement—well below, in the case of the East Asian and South European nations. Meanwhile, barbarous regions with low human capital have high fertility. How can this end well?

Answer: In the first place, by not being a permanent feature of the scene. Fertility rates are falling almost everywhere. Sure, when they’ve leveled out worldwide, the proportion of Ice People in the planet’s population will be at a historic low, but there’ll still be plenty of us. With our mean-IQ advantage, we should be able to hold our territories against Sun People attacks if they get aggressive.

And what evidence is there that they will get aggressive? Most people are pretty happy where they live. As modern technologies and political/managerial systems continue to seep southward, why shouldn’t the Sun People lands settle into stability, albeit at a lower civilizational level? The invading hordes in The Camp of the Saints were supposed to be from India; yet 40 years on, India’s pretty stable and content.

1d: War. China, like Wilhelmine Germany, has modernized and industrialized under an illiberal regime with hegemonic ambitions. They have a surplus of males to boot. The Middle East—six major wars and counting since WWII—is as inflammable as ever, with big players nuking up. India and Pakistan—three major wars and counting—still hate each other and already are nuked up. Russia is dwindling, angry, and paranoid. There must be a big war in our future.

No, there mustn’t. Modernity has brought worldwide changes of attitude. The mechanized trench massacres and city-flattenings of 1914-53 have been repeated only once, and then only between semi-civilized states (Iran-Iraq, 1980-88). The evidence is good, and growing, that the world is settling into a Kantian peace, with major conflict as unthinkable as promiscuous cigarette-smoking.

China? Look at those dwindling demographics. Chinese parents don’t want their “little emperors” to be cannon fodder. As for that surplus of males: strictly temporary. Sex ratio at birth is already back to normal in South Korea. It’s normal for first births everywhere; and with low fertility, first births are well-nigh all there are. Hitler came to power in a Germany with huge surpluses of women due to WWI male battle deaths.

The Middle East? Israel not only has a human-capital advantage (all those super-smart Ashkenazim) but also a demographic one: Total Fertility Rate 2.70—and no, it’s not only the ultra-Orthodox, still less Israeli Arabs. Saudi Arabia is at 2.31, Iran at 1.88. We’re running out of cannon fodder all over. India-Pakistan? So they’re nuked up and hate each other. So were we and the USSR. Speaking of Russia…

2) Low Expectations of One’s Fellow Men

People are self-deceiving and not very rational. “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

But human nature is obviously improvable, if slowly. We no longer—except in a few isolated dark spots—enslave, eradicate, or eat each other. In advanced countries we no longer smoke in the office, grope the opposite sex uninvited, or say “cripple,” “coon,” or “faggot” outside the most private circles. Boxing is no longer a big-ticket entertainment—to say nothing of bear-baiting, cockfighting, or public executions.

And technology follows close behind pure science. The kind of understandings about human nature that Kahneman or Herrnstein and Murray delivered will be followed by tweaks and enhancements at the molecular-genetic level to iron out unwelcome traits.

Failing any of that, one can always hope for the Singularity!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Do I believe any of this happy talk? No, of course not. Too many things can go wrong. And there’s the issue of temperament: I am, as one of my oldest and dearest English friends reports, “a gloomy fucker.”

You never know, though. None of it’s impossible. Are we doomed? Probably, but there is no certainty in human affairs.

 

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