“Demography is Destiny”… It’s been a common quote on the political landscape throughout the post war era; often credited (with no primary sources to back it unfortunately) to French mathematician and social scientist/philosopher (and totalitarian socialist to boot – what a combo) Auguste Comte.
Comte, charmingly, also penned “Love as a principle and order as the basis; Progress as the goal” to support his totalitarian socialist views (which was later shortened to “Order & Progress” to become the motto of Brazil – and part of the justification for their death squads). Much more euphonious than “From each to his abilities, to each to his needs” eh.
At any rate, and disregarding the dictatorial delusions of a 19th century Frenchman; there’s a strong point to be made with the statement.
To the extent that human behavior is predictable (and on the macro scale, it can be surprisingly so), or more to the point that societies and subcultures behaviors are predictable; the primary factor in those predictions is demographics.
Of course that is so, because demographics is specifically the study of ones (or ones “group”) position in society; social, economic, religious, political; and how that is likely to effect the actions and decisions of those similarly grouped. In fact, in many ways demography is specifically the study of how people can be broken into groups of (at least somewhat) predictable behavior.
I know personally two demographic experts, who happen to be married to each other; Kim and Connie Du Toit. Connie uses her expertise in determining the best way to train corporate workers on a large scale (like the entire workforce of a fortune 500 company in India); and Kim uses it to design retail store environments (where to locate stores, what merchandise to sell in what stores at what locations, and where to put it in the store) for maximum sales.
So, given that Kim is a demographic expert (and believe me, he is… actually THEY are. They can talk about the subject for hours); the fact that he was gobsmacked by this piece that he linked is somewhat surprising:
Heinsohn is not concerned with the absolute size of populations, but rather with the share of teenagers and young men. If this share becomes too big compared to the total population, we are facing a youth bulge. The problem starts when families begin to produce three, four or more sons. This will cause the sons to fight over access to the positions in society that give power and prestige. Then you will have a lot of boys and young men running around filled with aggression and uncontrollable hormones. And then we shall experience mass killings, until a sufficient number of young men have been eradicated to match societyâ€™s ability to provide positions for the survivors.
According to Heinsohn, 80 per cent of world history is about young men in nations with a surplus of sons, creating trouble. This trouble may take many forms â€” a increase in domestic crime, attempts at coups dâ€™Ã©tat, revolutions, riots and civil wars. Occasionally, the young commit genocide to secure for themselves the positions that belonged to those they killed. Finally, there is war to conquer new territory, killing the enemy population and replacing it with oneâ€™s own.
But, as Heinsohn emphasizes again and again, the unrest and the violent acts caused by youth bulges have nothing to do with famine or unemployment. In his book he describes it as follows: â€œThe dynamic of a youth bulge â€” it cannot be emphasized too often â€” is not caused by a lack of food. A younger brother, who may be employed as a stable hand by the first-born son and who may be well fed and perhaps even fat, does not seek food but position, one that can guarantee him recognition, influence and dignity. Not the underweight but rather the potential losers or the dÃ©classÃ© are pushing forwardâ€ (p. 21).
And thatâ€™s just part of the prelude. The rest, and the analysis itself, will leave you slack-jawed with astonishment, I promise you.
Itâ€™s not often I read something which makes me smack my head (figuratively speaking) and exclaim, â€Of course!â€, but this analysis managed that quite easily. Itâ€™s one of those pieces which grabs all the little loose ends lying around in your brain, and ties them all into a big, tidy knot.
And, if heâ€™s right, we are facing some really interesting times aheadâ€”in a bad sense.
Oh he’s definitely right (Heinsohn that is). Astute China and India watchers have been saying for years “watch out for the demographic bomb”.
China and India both have a vastly disproportionate share of young males to young females due to sex selective abortion and infanticide. Combine that with huge and growing populations, and little opportunity for upward mobility; and it doesn’t take a genius to see trouble on the horizon.
The middle east, which has comparatively few opportunities for position and advancement in comparison to it’s huge population of young males (also due to cultural sex selection, though there is less infanticide and almost no abortion – females are simply not allowed to be active members of society; combined with active neglect and plural marriage, the pool of available women is very small), has been going through this for it’s entire recorded history; and the problem is only accelerating.
There are only two ways to defuse the bomb: The first is to provide more opportunities for status, position, and advancement; the second, to reduce birth rates, especially of males.
America has done both quite successfully, providing consistent year over year growth in excess of it’s population, while bringing birth rates down to replacement levels through organic cultural incentives (not through population control policies, which simply don’t work as intended, in fact creating demographic bombs as above), and allowing relatively moderate immigration (in fact our primary demographic issue in the US is assimilated illegal immigration).
Europe quite frankly has not done either very well (and the mid-east hasn’t done anything at all except get worse). Since the 1970s (after the post war recovery and then economic boom – also largely caused by demographics) Europe has only provided modest opportunities for relatively small percentages of it’s population, while reducing their birth rates far too drastically.
This population implosion has required Europe to import unskilled labor in massive amounts; thus resulting in nearly the same problems that exist in the mid-east: large numbers of low status young men, with little opportunity for advancement, little attachment to the political and social fabric of the society in which they live (or rather which they live outside of but conterminous with), and a strong incentive towards violence.
Europe cannot decrease their birth rate (it’s already well below the replacement rate), in fact they need to INCREASE it (some governments are already offering incentives to do so – they don’t work well either); and if they stopped importing labor they would have a total economic collapse; which would simply accelerate the descent into violence that has already begun in France, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
They are desperately trying to stave off the problem with their welfare state, but they don’t understand, it’s not about hungry people, it’s about people who feel like they have no way of getting ahead. People who have little self worth and a burning desire to feel important; and no way of doing so.
Those people are rife for recruitment into radical religious and political sects; because they give an inflated sense of self worth, and accomplishment; as well as giving people with excess of energy and aggression (the definition of angry young men) goals that they can expend that aggression on.
Oh, and I should note, Americas OTHER major demographic problem is also an excess of young men in an area of little opportunity, with a lot of excess anger and energy, and a lack of self worth and self respect: we call them gangs.
In many ways you can see much of the radicalism of the middle east as one giant street gang, sucking up the angry young men and using their energy to do violence on others.
The only way that Europe is going to solve this problem is by allowing opportunities for advancement and growth to (excuse the bad reference it’s sure to create in your head) explode. The only way they could do that would be to drastically reduce their regulatory and tax burdens: to remove the negative incentives and allow the positive incentives to grow and take over.
…but they won’t do that.
Europes choice is economic freedom, or bloody revolution; and yet somehow they seem to think the only way to avoid the blood is through LESS freedom, thus they are accelerating the problem.
They are married to an ideology of government control, and nannyism. This is ultimately an ideology that is incompatible with the aggressive side of human nature, and one that will eventually explode (and not very far off unless I miss my guess terribly).
They believe that somehow, making sure everyone is fed and has a place to sleep, will make everything alright. Of course they do this by taxing everyone into penury; at the same time regulating the productive down to nearly nothing, and reducing competition … it’s more “humane” after all… which eliminates jobs or reduces them to meaningless time serving. Combined with legislating low work hours, minimum wages, and protectionist markets…
They’ve eliminated both real work, and competition almost entirely. In the process they’ve eliminated all of the opportunities for people to advance socially and economically; and to EARN self worth and self respect.
People need to have some way to earn self respect; it’s not something that can be given to them. In fact attempting to do so makes the problem worse. If you’re given everything, you value nothing, including yourself.
People don’t just want to be warm and safe and fed and “equal”… oh I know, for some it’s enough, for a while anyway; but man is a competitive and aggressive beast by nature, and blood will eventually out… people want to strive, and excel, and fight, and win.
You can’t win, if they don’t let you play.