THE DEMOGRAPHIC BOMB

Clay Shirky clay@shirky.com
Wed, 17 Oct 2001 20:15:16 -0400 (EDT)


> She's right of course, the only way to win long term is to breed like
> rabbits.

Nope. The opposite. Its falling birthrates that correlate with rising
per capita income. We win by lowering the birthrate elsewhere, which
means raising the opportunity cost for having babies, which means
educating women everywhere.

If we had any sense, we'd be paying FBIS to translate Betty Friedan
into Pashto right now.

> If Western civilization does face collapse, it will not come from outside
> invaders -- they can sow terror but not destruction -- but from the baby
> bomb. In Western countries people have for two generations stopped caring
> enough about having children to reproduce our population.

This is one of the foulest, most racist things I've ever read. The
idea that Western countries can only keep growing populations by
breeding, as if Western culture were some sort of hereditary
privelege, is ill.

Anyone who is willing to participate in a secular free-market
democracy is a Westerner. Period. No litmus tests of race or religion
necessary, there are Westerners from Jakarta and Sudan and Mongolia
happily living in my city right now, and more on the way every day.

If "the West" stands for anything, it's that man's relationship to man
should be defined in political rather than biological terms.

> "The result of a crisis in ... family lifestyles," writes Russian
> demographer Anatoly I. Antonov in a recent issue of The Howard Center's The
> Family in America, "depopulation now threatens 20 economically developed
> countries around the world."

...and if he were to list those countries, you would find that they
are the places which are desperately clinging to the idea that race,
religion, and national identity should somehow be linked. Japan and
Italy and Germany will be demographic time bombs as long as they
prevent Koreans from becoming Japanese and Albanians from becoming
Italian and Turks from becoming German.

We, on the other hand, are set, because more Americans arrive every
day.

-clay