Demographic scattershot, this time without Doge

1) Vox Day argues that the Iranian government’s proposed battery of natalist legislation, including priority hiring for men with children and restrictions on access to contraception, is a crucial bulwark against demographic suicide, comparing it to the Lex Papia Poppaea in early Imperial Rome. That comparison doesn’t help his case: the Roman Empire is notorious to this day for its grandiose attempts to fix intractable problems with the overbearing application of positive law. The ultimate problem was that the Roman population did not have the character needed to reform itself, leaving its increasingly brutal and yet increasingly ridiculous government to feebly attempt to fence the wind by diktat.

Contra Vox Day, the corrosion of the Roman character had to do with a lot more than sexual laxity. The population and the government became increasingly deranged as the Republic collapsed into centuries of imperial tyranny. The Christians did much to reform Rome at the family and neighborhood level but little to stop the civic collapse and nothing to stop the administrative collapse, as witnessed by the abandonment of Rome’s world-class infrastructure and the descent of formerly advanced parts of Europe into parochial ignorance and barbarism. There was probably no fixing what was wrong with Rome in its last few centuries.

Iran today is simply too civically healthy to fall into a classical Roman or Greek grade of terminal decay. There are too many decent, competent people in its government and too engaged a citizenry to allow a civic collapse absent an unforeseen catastrophe. The only existential threats to Iran are coming from without, mainly from saber-rattling numbnuts in the US and Israeli governments. Iran has been spared the proliferating sectarian bloodshed of its Arab, Afghan, and Pakistani neighbors. It has one of the best, most reformable governments and safest societies in the region.

Its citizens would be perfectly reasonable to ask why on earth they should tolerate a top-down policy to force them to copy the atavistic hyperfecundity of a hellhole like the Gaza Strip. There are a lot of people in Iran who are appalled by the amount of religious mummery in their government. Given the vicious ongoing wars that have been raging in three directions on account of religious mummery, they’re well within their rights to decline demands from government officials that they effectively breed extra soldiers for God only knows what kind of suicidal adventurism the Iranian government might fancy in twenty years. The Iranian government is troubled and often brutally immoral, but it’s surrounded by vicious tinpot dictatorships and failed states. Few Americans can imagine how many Iranians are sick of the beards telling them to go off the pill and pop out babies so that a future government can flex more menacingly vis-a-vis Arab governments that know better than to invade Persian territory.

A cratering Iranian birthrate bodes ill in the long term, but it doesn’t take an American to convince huge numbers of ordinary Iranians that a high birthrate is no panacea. They’ve seen what has happened in Arab countries with stratospheric birthrates. They want peace and prosperity, not immolations of captured airmen, public defenestrations and crucifixions, or endless military blockades. High birthrates haven’t kept any of these things from consuming large swaths of the Arab world, and Iranians must have some idea of this.

Go figure that American officials are so belligerent towards a country that has one of the strongest organic peace factions in the region.

2) I was a bit pessimistic about my recent bougie baby count and its implications. In the few months since I wrote my first demographics screed, I’ve seen announcements from college friends that they’re expecting something like another six babies in total. At least two of these are second pregnancies of couples currently raising only children. I’ve also come across Facebook pages of acquaintances I hadn’t been in touch with for years who had children without my hearing of it.

Bougie’s demographics don’t have to be disastrous. This is true even for late Gen Xers and early Millennials. Most of the expectant mothers in this group are 30-35. This notion that all the broads will be forever sterilized by using oral contraceptives in their twenties is lurid junk science. The notion that some nefarious suite of chemicals has emasculated American men by fucking up their sperm is even crazier.

3) Another friend of mine, childless at the age of about 33, recently put a rather strident screed up on her Facebook wall about how she was sick of being pestered by well-meaning busybodies for not having kids already. She and a number of people in her peanut gallery got into a lather about how there’s no need for everyone to be a parent, to breed Idiocracy, etc.

What none of them mentioned is that this friend had a miscarriage in her twenties. This isn’t the first time that I’ve seen that sort of rationalization on the part of women who are nearing menopause or afraid that they’re nearing menopause. Some of these women have had lifestyle reasons for not having children. Some, like this friend, have credible medical reasons to remain childless. A miscarriage can open up a gnarly fucking can of worms. Successive miscarriages are even worse.

These situations can be insoluble for women and their physicians. Clerics and politicians have no business dropping by to nose around and speak ponderously of family life and demographics.

A lot of this stuff is self-correcting, especially if governments set up policies that aren’t gerontocratically boneheaded like Japan’s or brazenly thievish like Spain’s. Trying to set demographic policy through positive law is madness. It’s a form of centrally planned command economy imposed at the family level. It bears more than a passing resemblance to Stalinism, insofar as it involves some idealistic fuckwit in the government telling the peons what to do in their family lives and having a violent fit when they refuse.

“Less violent than the Holodomor” isn’t a civilized enough standard. There’s no need to go full Godwin to draw useful parallels with the folly of Stalinism. The thing is that a lot of the same people who foam at the mouth about “cultural Marxism” (is that even a thing?) or the violent idiocy of Stalin’s intrusions into family life see nothing wrong with using the full force of the state to compel couples to carry unintended pregnancies to term for the greater demographic good. This has to be in part because the private recreational sex lives of other people give them a raging resentment boner and forced farm collectivization does not.

Of course this subject brings Vox Day to the yard. He’s a paranoid authoritarian nutcase with deviant sexual fixations. If the proliferation of his kind of thinking into a national zeitgeist is the cost of above-replacement fertility, it’s an awfully high price to pay, but I tend to doubt that it’s a necessity. In any event, we’d be better off minding our own fucking business. We might as well have a society worth defending, not a ragingly fertile society of insufferable sexual busybodies.

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