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Population and patriarchy

United Families International is promoting the “documentary” Demographic Winter, about a supposed crisis caused by falling birth rates. Idyllicmollusk at The Czech has already seen between the frames and conducted an analysis of what the film is really about. I am deeply indebted to her for doing so. Please jump over to The Czech and read the four posts and their comments as I will be referring to them in my own discussion after the jump.

Race in Demographic Winter

Idyllicmollusk reached the conclusion that “Race is the elephant in the room throughout this entire film.” Indeed, she concluded that the film is really about how certain groups are concerned that white people are going “extinct” since they sub-replacement fertility. Using her commentary about the funders and the experts, I’d like to narrow her conclusion as follows:

If there are even any anthropologists who consider the notion of race a valid concept, there would be different criteria and definitions to consider someone a member of one race as opposed to another. A book I have, (Walter Karp. “How did the Human Races Originate?”  Chapter 9 of Mysteries of the Past. Joseph Thorndyke, Ed. American Heritage Publishing. ISBN 0-8218-0206-6 or 0-8218-0207-4) on page 220 refers to the work of anthropologist Stanley Marion Garnwho classified people into nine different races, one of which, in his terminology is European. As most people would consider “European” more or less synonymous with “white person”, his terminology would be an acceptable definition. The book quotes Garn’s terminology as follows: “European (the people of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East)” (emphasis added). In other words, while Europeans are white people, not all white people are Europeans. Idyllicmollusk’s research on funders and the experts in the documentary reveal that an appreciable portion of them are socially conservative and sometimes explicitly religious. Hence, I conclude that the film is not really concerned about humans going extinct. It is really concerned that white people are going extinct, being “outbred” by others. And only some white people. If it was only all white people, it would be just as concerned about the sub-replacement fertility in Lebanon and Iran as in Europe. No, I agree with Idyllicmollusk that when the film “talk[s] about humans going extinct, what they really mean is whites”. In this lies the socially conservative suggestion, that Idyllicmollusk holds is implied by the film, that women’s rights must be rolled back so that white people have more children. But not all white people, only the right whites.

Population and its limits

In any situation, the change (d) in population (N) of an organism during a specific is controlled chiefly by two factors: r (the growth rate) and K (the carrying capacity). Combining these terms allows us to derive the following formula, which calculates the change in population during a given time:


The formula indicates that the raw percentage change in a population (rN) is limited by how close the population is to the carrying capacity. As population increases, n/k gets closer and closer to 1, which slows population growth. This implies that when the population reaches the carrying capacity, 1-N/K equals zero, canceling out rN and indicating zero population growth. This is indeed what is seen, although in practice a population at its carrying capacity usually oscillates slightly above and below the carrying capacity rather than as a constant level.

What factors go into K? What an organism (including humans) needs to survive. These include food, water, air, space, and shelter. The factor with the lowest availability limits the carrying capacity regardless of what levels the other factors are.

How have humans gone from thousands of nomadic hunter-gatherers to over six billion people when hunting and gathering cannot support that many people? We have increased our K. The development of agriculture allowed more food to be produced, allowing a larger population. When population strained primitive agricultural techniques, people invented crop rotation. And this process has been repeated until the present day. In addition, a society may locally reduce its N by ostracizing and expelling a portion of its population and sending them elsewhere. On a planet-wide basis, local expulsion does nothing to reduce N. So long as the things that maintain K at some level can continue to do so, a population can be sustained for an indefinite time. Much of the world’s K is governed by the amount of food.

The three most important plant nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and these are what the three numbers on bags of fertilizer indicate. In modern agriculture, phosphorus is ultimately derived from the mining of phosphate rocks, and potassium is usually also mined. Although nitrogen is found in the air, the triple bond in the N2 is very stable, and hence aerial nitrogen is unavailable to most plants. Hence, plants usually absorb nitrogen from the soil, and much nitrogen in the soil is added through fertilizer. The most important exception is legumes, who have nodules on their roots containing bacteria that fix nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil. In addition, agriculture often has irrigation using water from elsewhere, and the tractors and machines used often run on petrofuels.

From the above it follows that what goes into agriculture becomes what comes out of agriculture, and that what comes out of agriculture is not returned. In other words, agricultural production will be high enough to support the world’s K so long as the inputs last. Since there is no giant factory inside the earth producing phosphate rock, the current inputs will run out eventually. Hence, humankind will either have to find new methods to maintain K at its level, or else accept a lower K, which implies a population fall.

One might ask why then, if running out of resources is inevitable, why less overpopulation would make any difference? Well, in that case, it means that the peak or depletion will be farther in the future, giving us more time to prepare for it. And sub-replacement fertility is not in of itself necessarily bad, as while a country may well have to spend more on old age pensions and health care, it may be able to spend less on elementary schools.

Blaming the decline of the “traditional family” on women and LGBT people

United Families International, in one of its points, lists “Politically-correct movements to advance destructive and seemingly unrelated causes such as abortion, the so-called normalization of homosexual behavior and cohabitation outside of marriage…” as being factors causing a decline in birth rates. As Idyllicmollusk concludes, the film implies that the only way to preserve the “traditional family” (which I discuss below) is a rollback of women’s rights to make them have more children. The linking of LGBT rights to the fall of white fertility rates, which Idyllicmollusk also discusses, is due to the film’s implied social conservatism. That extreme social conservatism is in favour of patriarchy, where men rule, and with the husband is head of the family in a hierarchy of unequals, and against cognarchy, where both men and women rule, and against marriages where both spouses are in a partnership of equals.

The nuclear family consists of a generation of parents and a generation of children (includes step and adopted). For the purposes of this paragraph, I will expand the term “nuclear family” to include childless couples, single parents, and adults raising collateral relatives. These nuclear-type families all fit into the general pattern given above. (EDIT: Idyllicmollusk has informed me that the film only considers two parents and children structure to be a nuclear family; the forms I extended it to, and which might be considered nuclear by governments, would not be considered nuclear in the film; this implies that the “government nuclear family” is less common than the “film nuclear family”; see Idyllicmollusk’s comment) It is currently the most common household arrangement in the western world, but the idea that it the twoparents-children model is “traditional”, “proper,” or “perfect” is entirely a myth. Want to know what really causes nuclear families to proliferate? Geographic mobility. If a family has to change residence, the couple and and their children would reasonably stay together, but they cannot compel adult siblings to come with them, which makes accumulating an extended family in one household nearly impossible. This need geographic mobility is the main reason for the predominance of nuclear-type families in the western world. This need for geographic mobility also predicts that neolocal residence (where an adult or a newlywed couple acquire their own residence, rather than say, living with other relatives) would be common, and that is exactly what is seen. Tradition, culture, and religion have nothing to do with the current predominance of the nuclear family.

What causes homosexuality? A variety of factors have been suggested, but it is certainly not a “choice” because that would imply that heterosexuality is a “choice” as well. One suggested cause for some homosexuality is known as the older brother effect. This predicts that each older brother a man has increases his chance of being homosexual. The fact that adopted brothers do not have this effect, while older brothers who are raised in a separate family do shows that this is not due to environmental effects. This effect has no effect on females; that is, the number of older sisters a man has has no effect on his sexual orientation, and a the number of older sisters a woman has appears to have no effect on whether she is a lesbian or not. It has been theorized that this is due to maternal prenatal causes. This is readily testable, as it predicts that uterine half-brothers (half-brothers with the same mother) would display this effect, while agnate half-brothers (half-brothers with the same father) would not. The older brother effect implies that larger families would be more likely to have homosexual sons; in other words, that social conservatives are stumbling over themselves to increase the number of gay men!

Cross-culturally, social acceptance of homosexuality varies widely. Variables 176 and 177 in the Standard cross-cultural sample, a representative collection of 186 cultures from around the world that includes peoples ranging from the Yanomamo to the Yapese, concern homosexuality. They indicate that 9 cultures accept or ignore homosexuality, 4 have “none”, 6 ridicule it but do nothing, 4 mildly disapprove, and 17 strongly disapprove. This variable is of limited use statistically as 146 cultures have no data about their acceptance of homosexuality. Of the 69 cultures that have data on the frequency of homosexuality, 40 consider it to be “absent” and 29 “present”. Societal attitudes and punishment for homosexuality appears to have no impact on the incidence of homosexual sex. In Afghanistan, despite strong social disapproval and the death penalty being a punishment for homosexuality and sodomy, it is estimated that somewhere between 18% and 50% of Afghan men engage in sex with other males at least once.

What makes a culture accept or condemn homosexuality? No one knows for sure. Two cross-cultural correlations are common: a society that frequently have food shortages are more tolerant of homosexuality. Second, societies that disapprove of abortion and infanticide are also more likely to disapprove of homosexuality. This two things imply that population pressure influences societal acceptance of homosexuality. Therefore, in their urge for white people to have more children, they will cause population pressure, creating an environment where their favourite villains abortion and homosexuality thrive. And that is an excellent example of irony.


Comments on: "Population and patriarchy" (5)

  1. Hey there. Glad you tapped into all my research on Demographic Winter. Let me tell you, watching that twice more than qualifies as “taking one for the team,” so I’m glad to was useful to you.

    “The nuclear family consists of a generation of parents and a generation of children (includes step and adopted). For the purposes of this paragraph, I will expand the term “nuclear family” to include childless couples, single parents, and adults raising collateral relatives.”

    I take issue with this statement. The makers of the film clearly do not consider single parents, childless couples, or any structure besides a man, a woman, and their biological or adopted children as a “nuclear family.” It is also important to point out that nuclear families are not so common as supposed. Only about 52% of households could be defined as a “nuclear family” household, though I’m sure many of the households counted as nuclear by the government wouldn’t be considered as such by DW makers, so the number may be lower than 52%.

    “Therefore, in their urge for white people to have more children, they will cause population pressure, creating an environment where their favourite villains abortion and homosexuality thrive. And that is an excellent example of irony.”

    Interesting conclusion that I hadn’t thought of.

    Have you seen Demographic Winter yet? I recommend you do so… it will give you so much blogging fodder.

  2. Thank you for your information. I have edited the post to include your information about what was considered a nuclear family in the film. I included them to allow the situation where one parent is widowed or orphaned children are raised by aunts or uncles.

    And no, I haven’t seen the film. When I get the means to watch it I’ll do so and blog about it some more. And thank you for watching it and “taking one for the team”.

  3. Forget “conservatism,” please. It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    “[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth.”

    Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    John Lofton, Editor,
    Recovering Republican

  4. @Rob: You’re welcome! 🙂 I’m curious how you will interpret the film… it is possible you will disagree with my interpretations, and I’m eager to see how other bloggers handle it. Not a lot of progressives/moderates/liberals/dems have actually seen DW- they’ve only heard of it. I think watching it is important to grasp a certain strain of thought that’s running around in the moneyed part of the religious right. A strain they are interested in transforming into a political agenda in America and Europe.

    @John: Our country is collapsing? How did I not know this? Using Bible quotes to support a statement isn’t considered very good logic, because it is a religious text specific to a certain religion. Therefore those who don’t adhere to that religion will not find Bible quotes to be convincing evidence. Usually research, statements from experts, and articles from respectable journalistic publications are considered ‘convincing evidence’ when one is trying to prove a claim.

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