Two things drive higher fertility in wealthy countries — religion and affordability. All the major religions promote childbearing, give prestige and status to women who have children, and men who stick around; on top of that, attending a church, mosque or synagogue is associated with a number of measures of wellbeing that breed optimism.
The second factor is money. If both partners in a couple must work in order to survive, fertility is going to be severely depressed. …
Back in the 1970s, Russian women marvelled at how their American equivalents could afford to leave work while they had children. As the New York Times reported, they “express astonishment when they learn that an American father can support a family of two, three or four children without his wife’s working. Many are also surprised that American women would willingly have more than one child.” For them, it was a huge struggle to raise just one.
Western real wages stagnated or even went backwards slightly starting in 1971 — when, maybe not by coincidence, we finally broke the last link between money and gold, giving the finance industry free reign.
In 1971 you could have a middle class life style on one average salary. Now it takes two. Most families now have two people working instead of one, and they call that “progress”. Commutes, cubicles, and spreadsheets instead of raising your own kids — many people have been short-changed.
Four decades on from its superpower rival, the United States had now become a country in which people were dying younger, driven by overdoses and suicides. That this epidemic took so long to register may have been the solitary and often legal nature of the drug problem; unlike Aids, it did not affect too many celebrities, Prince being the exception. But it could also be who the victims were — predominantly rural white Americans, neither powerful themselves nor championed by powerful supporters.
Just like the Soviets:
Like the Soviet Union, the United States has developed a system in which some social classes and races are officially favoured, and some are disfavoured, reflected in post-war legal innovations like affirmative action. …
Equity is similarly a zero-sum game: someone has to lose, and if one group is feted, in some cases even sacrilised, then others have to suffer, whether with tangible matters like college places or simply status and prestige.
Today America’s thought-leaders are obsessed with white nationalism and regularly denounce white supremacy as a lethal danger to the nation, in what is probably history’s least ever white supremacist country; a country in which the majority is officially discriminated against by certain institutions, and where membership of the group is considered so tainted and wicked that the media has regular denunciations of whiteness, and where numerous people avoid this taint by faking their ethnic origins.
Communist assumptions rule:
There are other resemblances to the older empire. At the heart of Soviet thinking was the blank slate, the idea that life outcomes are determined entirely, or almost entirely, by social forces rather than genes. As Mao said of the peasantry, “a clean sheet of paper has no blotches, and so the newest and most beautiful words can be written on it”.
Likewise, American progressivism today is entirely built on the blank slate, and as in the USSR, where belief in Mendelian genetics led to internal exile, American social scientists offering any sort of genetic explanation for outcomes face ostracism. Privately, lots of people will agree, but they’ll lose their job if they speak out, or their publisher will drop them, or it will only embolden the party’s enemies and harm the noble goals of progressivism.
Communists saw their political beliefs as so all-encompassing that even science was political: if science contradicted the goals of communism, it wasn’t science. In today’s United States the slow death of liberalism has resulted in the blatant politicisation of science, to the extent that as in Russia, scientists teach things which are obviously untrue because it supports the prevailing ideology.
Then there is the media, much of which parrots the party line with almost embarrassing, “Comrade Stalin has driven pig iron to record production” levels of conformity. Once again, if you want to hear the truth, go to the BBC (until the young people who run the website take over).
A high-trust society no longer:
America, once the most trusting of societies, is heading in the direction of Russia, one of the least trusting. Most disturbing of all is that, formerly the most demographically vibrant of western countries, today the United States has suffered a spectacular collapse in fertility. This is mostly down to stagnant wages among the middle class, who can no longer afford a family with one breadwinner, and a rapid decline of religious faith. But maybe people have also lost belief in themselves, and the ideals of their country.
Breaking up is sometimes the best option:
The Soviet Union broke into 15 different pieces, and the transition was, as CNN might put it, mostly peaceful …
Today it is the United States where people talk of secession, escaping a crumbling superpower ruled by geriatrics. This seems very unlikely to happen, more clickbait than reality, because why would you leave what has been for more than two centuries the richest, most impressive state on earth? But then a generation ago few would have foreseen the Soviet Union crumbling in a haze of alcoholic despair.