It’s been right chilly of late here in the Shenandoah Valley, so the other day I trashed the planet and fired up the wood stove. Global warming will arrive come spring. Then out of the blue, my auroral languor was rudely interrupted by a ping on my device. I decided to take a look.
What popped up was an intriguing essay in Aporia Magazine, “The Baby Boom: Causes, consequences and implications.” It is a thought-provoking page-turner under the byline Arctotherium, which I learned is a large bear that roamed about in the Pleistocene, a bit before my time.
Before we delve further: Aporia means a contradiction or impasse, e.g. “To be or not to be.” Aporia claims to be “the world’s only sociobiology magazine.” Sociobiology is about how biology influences social behaviour. That can be a contentious topic, but lest we forget, science and controversy have been joined at the hip for ages.
Right off the bat the author debunks the conventional wisdom that falling fertility “appears to be the inevitable price of modernity.” The mid 20th century Baby Boom happened in the most advanced and affluent societies on the planet. So rising prosperity alone does not account for falling fertility. Something more is afoot.
You can have a rich, rapidly growing, technologically sophisticated, personally free and individualist, urban, long-lived and fertile society. There’s no need to choose between slow extinction and preindustrial poverty. [Emphasis added]
Bravo! Finally, somebody besides Elon is spreading the word.
The author continues: “[W]e can effectively reduce the Baby Boom to a marriage boom: more people getting and staying married at younger ages.”
So what caused this marriage boom? The answer appears to be a rise in young men’s status compared to young women’s. The marriage boom can be explained almost entirely by a combination of female labor force participation (down). young male wages (up), and male unemployment (down). [Emphasis original]
Kudos for the courage to let it slip that the well-being of men has anything to do with anything. Strike a blow for testosterone! Male Lives Matter!
Second wave feminism
But Arctotherium is just getting started. He strays even further from the “mainstream,” explaining why the Baby Boom ended:
In three words: second wave feminism. By this I mean the suite of changes referred to as the Sexual Revolution (no fault divorce, normalization of premarital sex, delegitimization of marriage as the normative form of the family), combined with a concerted political campaign to raise women’s relative economic and social status. Fertility in every Boom country, as well as in several countries that didn’t experience the Boom… cratered within a few years around 1970…
[S]econd wave feminism thoroughly redefined marriage. It shifted from a patriarchal institution in which husbands had social (and some legal, though this was mostly dismantled by first wave feminism) power over their wives to one in which wives had effective legal power over the husbands (through the mechanisms of feminist family courts, greatly expanded definitions of abuse, and the replacement of the marriage model of the family with the child support model), and from a lifelong contract to one dissolvable at will (though the institution of no-fault divorce). In JD Unwin’s terms, we shift from a regime of absolute monogamy to one of modified monogamy. This had obvious and immediate consequences on marriage rates.
That is way off the PC reservation. The chattering class continually bloviates about feminism. Oppression of women is a staple of public discourse. But rare it is when masculism makes the public square. That would be the mean old “patriarchy” talking. Little wonder the author dons a nom de guerre. ‘Tis best to avoid cancellation, doxing and public pillory. Speech police are everywhere these days.
In essence, Arctotherium concisely dissects the cultural metamorphosis from traditional values to wokeism (moral relativism, etc.). He understands the worrisome implications for humanity going forward. Dystopia beckons.
I agree. Changing values have had disastrous demographic consequences. I get it about second wave feminism, etc. But that is an incomplete diagnosis. Other factors also play into this transmutation of values. What are they? Revisit the comment that fertility “cratered within a few years around 1970.”