Skip to comments.The collapsing birthrate in the developed world
Posted on 10/17/2001 12:06:45 PM PDT by ex-snook
The collapsing birthrate in the developed world
By John F. Kobler
A few years ago one of our Passionist retreat house directors told me he was thinking of using The Culture of Death as the theme for the forthcoming years retreat talks. However sympathetic I was to this important theme of John Paul II, I told him frankly he didnt have the horses! At that time I did not think the generality of preachers had a realistic grasp of the complexities of this problem nor a comprehension of the entrenched cultural opposition to the Churchs teachings on sexual morality. I am happy to say that the situation is now changing. A large segment of the secular culture is becoming aware of a serious demographic crisis, especially in the developed world. I would like to list some of the new data and insights reinforcing this changing outlook.
Peter F. Drucker, as you know, is the leading management theorist in the U. S. One of his latest books is Management Challenges for the 21st Century (NY: HarperBusiness, 1999). His second chapter (pp. 44-50) starts out: The most important single new certainty if only because there is no precedent for it in all of history is the collapsing birthrate in the developed world. Drucker lists the general figures for Western and Central Europe (e. g., the mostly Catholic countries of Portugal, Spain, Southern France, and Italy), and Japan. All of these nations are drifting toward collective suicide by the end of the 21st century. Italy is the nation at present most given to contraceptive practices!
In his book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1996), Samuel P. Huntington offers some comparative population growth figures between Christianity and Islam (pp. 65-66) and concludes:
In the long run, however, Mohammed wins out. Christianity spreads primarily by conversion. Islam by conversion and reproduction. The percentage of Christians in the world peaked at about 30 percent in the 1980s, leveled off, is now declining, and will probably approximate about 25 percent of the world population by 2025. As a result of their extremely high rates of population growth (see chapter 5), the proportion of Muslims in the world will continue to increase dramatically, amounting to 20 percent of the worlds population about the turn of the century, surpassing the number of Christians some years later, and probably accounting for about 30 percent of the worlds population by 2025.
It is good to recall that Islam today is going through a great religious resurgence of a virulent anti-Western nature, and in some areas of a violent anti-Catholic nature. In chapter 12, The West, Civilizations, and Civilization, Huntington has some sobering and instructive observations on the need for Renewal of the West and the problems posed by multi-culturalism in the United States.
I am aware that the above sources are contested on occasion. Therefore, I recommend an even more authoritative source: Replacement Migration: Is it A Solution to Declining and Aging Populations?, published by the Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat (ESA/P/WP.160, 21 March 2000, English only). This lengthy brochure (pp. viii, 143) studies the dwindling populations of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Europe, and the European Union. In a quite clinical and antiseptic way this study sums up the explosive challenges facing this collapsing birthrate (p. 95):
The new challenges being brought about by declining and aging populations will require objective, thorough and comprehensive reassessments of many established economic, social and political policies and programs. Such reassessments will need to incorporate a long-term perspective. Critical issues to be addressed in those reassessments would include:
In the light of the above demographic facts I believe that since 1968 Catholic theologians and moralists who have endorsed contraception have done a distinct disservice to the magisterium of the Church and the moral fibber of Catholics in general. More and more it is becoming evident that such theologians are isolating themselves from grassroots Catholic concerns and are largely talking to themselves in their university enclaves. A fine article by William Dean may be found in Criterion, a publication of The Divinity School of The University of Chicago, vol. 39:1 (Winter, 2000) 24-29, under the title, The Voluntary Decline of Public Theologians. Deans remarks aimed primarily at Protestant theologians apply in large part to the liberal elite of Catholic university theologians and moralists in the U. S.:
. . . the academic public intellectuals continued to comply with the university mindset and with their disciplinary colleagues around the country. What did it cost them when they glorified Mao Tse Tung or Che Guevera and allowed the university curriculum to be driven first by the counterculture and then by academic fashions? They did not need to depend on the public for their jobs or reputations, as the neoconservatives did. In fact, their jobs usually became safer and their reputations stronger when they shocked the public and belittled its patriotism. So, naturally, they felt little public pressure to reconsider their fundamental assumptions.
I know of only one Catholic demographer, Michel Schooyans, Professor of the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, who has grappled with the theme of A World in Crisis, and pointed out the present-day context and implications of the collapsing birthrate in the Western world. I became interested in Schooyans works because the crisis of the modern world is the larger context within which I view the pastoral rethinking of Vatican II. I must admit that, while I may have appreciated the philosophical antecedents of these problems, their concrete expression in Communism and Nazism, and Third World poverty problems, Schooyans opened my mind to the Totalitarian Trend of our Liberal Culture. Schooyans vision of the modern world is shaped by a deep Catholic faith and a profound scholarship. His ideas would give depth to any preacher of renewal today.
Three of Schooyans books have been translated into English: i. e., The Totalitarian Trend of Liberalism, The Gospel Confronting World Disorder, and The Demographic Crash: From Fatalism to Hope (forthcoming). All three books have been translated by Fr. John H. Miller, C.S.C, S.T.D., editor of the Social Justice Review in St. Louis. The books may be obtained from the Central Bureau, CCVA, 3835 Westminster Place, St. Louis, MO 63108. One of the outstanding qualities of Schooyans books is his familiarity with the data provided by international organizations (e. g., the UN) and governmental sources (e. g., U. S.). He also displays a profound acquaintance with the social encyclicals of the Holy See.
I would like to conclude by drawing attention to two issues deriving from the widespread contraceptive practices in the world today. Schooyans points out that much of the radical feminist movement is a modern version of the Marxist theme of class warfare. Lastly, Lionel Tiger, the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University, has a powerful book, The Decline of Males (NY: Golden Books, 1999). Tiger attributes the massive changes in society between men and women to effective contraception, the cause of todays gender wars.
I close in a lighter vein: due to the decline of males on campus a number of colleges have designated their male applicants as the new candidates for affirmative action!
Any chance of recovery or have we doomed ourselves?
There'd be twenty million more people in this developed country without abortion, for starters.
Fixing a demographic disaster like the one the Culture of Death has inflicted on itself will take 25 years or more. And reversal will only be possible if Europeans and Americans can throw off the decadence into which they have drifted and find new energy and purpose.
Then Catholics just may be the last Christian remnant as the West kill itself off.
Of course, wars result in higher birth rates though the increased births rarely exceed the number of casualties.
Would this moral fibber be the conscience of, say, "Catholics for a Free Choice"? Or Clinton, perhaps? Typos can be insightful, on occasion.
Two of my favorites are first "affluenza". Once a people become rich, they become complacent. We, in the west, have achieved social stability beyond our wildest dreams and now we don't need excess children.
The second reason that I favor is simply that the western/modern lifestyle precludes having many children. Large families in the past used to be an economic benefit because children could work on farms and cottage industries to help the family.
Today, a large family is an economic liability.
It costs a great deal of money to rear children in an affluent society and so fewer children get a larger percentage of the family income.
You all know the parent with one or two children who shower them with everything popular culture produces. If not for tremendous social to keep you kid competative, families would have more money to spend on more children.
Extinction is the natural result of allowing women freedom?
We aren't talking about people have slightly smaller families. If you have an average birthrate well under 2.0 children per woman, you're talking about the eventual extinction of the culture. The mathematics are not very forgiving.
I'd suggest that maybe women don't have enough freedom. They have the freedom to do what men do, but not the freedom to be mothers. My wife just conceived our fourth child. You ought to hear the flak she's getting from her own parents over it.
YUPPIE BOBOS MUST DIE!!!
Thats my rant for today.
I know a couple in their mid-30s with 7 kids. You can imagine the shocked looks and comments that total strangers seem perfectly within their rights to give them. This is bad enough, but the youngest child has Downs Syndrome, and I've heard people actually say things to the effect of "it serves you right" to the parents, as if they deserved such a thing because of their audacity in choosing to have a large family. "Choice" is a one-way street, apparently.
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