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Fertility Collapse Demands New Cultures
Demographic collapse is now inevitable in most countries. Families that optimize for child-rearing now will build the cultures of the future.
Doomsday scenarios often emphasize a dramatic ending. Climate catastrophes, nuclear war, and AI-Skynet scenarios emphasize a fire-and-brimstones finale to human civilization, although it’s not even likely that those would be enough to finish us off.
A quieter, more immediate danger is already at hand and it is a much quieter world we are headed toward. In Simone and Malcolm Collins’s new article on the coming global fertility collapse, the societal implications of population decline are examined.
Once replacement-rate fertility reverses, it spells massive troubles for the culture experiencing it. Take the example of South Korea, where the fertility rate is predicted to be 0.7 by next year:
As recently as the mid-1990s, South Korea had a birth rate of 1.7, which is close to the U.S.’s present rate. A fertility collapse takes around thirty years before it causes a population collapse, and once that happens, the collapse is inevitable. If 70 percent of a nation’s population is over age 50, and even though many of those people have almost half their lifespan left they are not going to be having any more kids.
And it’s not just South Korea. China, India, and even African countries are expected to fall into population decline within this century. Because even countries with a high birth rate are destined to fall below the replacement rate, immigration to the metropoles cannot not be a panacea for sustaining the populations of developed societies.
Some people make the assumption that a decreased population means that there will be more resources to go around for everyone else. But because the remainder population has an inverted population pyramid, things like pension plans and inflated real estate prices make the economy a ticking time bomb. Even a society’s infrastructure becomes at risk—road and water infrastructure will be just as expensive to maintain in a community with half as many residents. But this is only one aspect of the problem:
Consider that almost everything about the human sociological profile has a genetic component, ranging from prosociality to altruism and voting patterns.
Our economy is structured in a manner that organically identifies and maximally utilizes talent to create short-term marginal productivity. The system differentially sorts for the most potentially productive among us and then offers them money and status to forgo other life activities that don’t create immediate productivity.
When the lineages of people who make society function are also the ones least likely to reproduce, this puts a timer on society as a whole. If there is no economic or cultural reconfiguration that changes this model, then it’s only logical that this mode of civilization will dwindle away until it can no longer be sustained.
While the window for reversing problems caused by demographic decline has already been passed in much of the world, high-agency families looking to influence the future have never been better placed in time. As the Collinses write, “The future belongs to those who show up.” Read the article now to find out how.
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When do you think the fastest plane in the world was built? 2018? 2004? How about 1963? Palladium correspondent Brian Balkus’s new article on mid-century America’s aerospace renaissance takes a look at the personalities and process knowledge that made the production of the Blackbird SR-71, among other aerospace engineering marvels, possible.
In the aftermath of World War II, American military planners recognized the superiority of German engineering. Among other advanced weapons, Germany deployed the first operational cruise missiles and jet fighters during the war.
Operation Paperclip would bring over 1,600 German technical experts to work on U.S. military projects. Importantly, other projects that aimed to learn from Nazi-era technical data were fruitless. Everything that could be learned relied on the physical presence of emigre scientists, engineers, and technicians at every stage of the design and production process. It was experts like Wernher von Braun who would lay the foundation for accomplishments like the Apollo Program.
The engineering excellence of this generation was made possible by its unique workflow. Experienced, passionate engineers like Kelly Johnson basically lived in informal but intense factories like Skunk Works. The collocation of engineers and the shop floor combined with accrued knowledge from Operation Paperclip is what made the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest plane in the world, possible.
But times have changed since then and the speed of the SR-71 has still not been beaten. While it is a different class of aircraft altogether, the troubled history of the production of the F-35 multirole stealth fighter tells the story of how new approaches fail to surpass old results. Plagued by bureaucratic overhead, increasing costs, and an extremely complex supply chain that separated its engineers from the manufacture of the plane, the F-35 still has over 800 “open deficiency reports” and routinely fails production quotas. Process knowledge is fragile, and takes time to develop. If it is not maintained, it will be lost like any other tradition.
You can read the rest of Brian’s article here.
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Here’s what’s been on the front page lately:
Fertility Collapse Demands New Cultures by Simone and Malcolm Collins. Demographic collapse is now inevitable in most countries. Families that optimize for child-rearing now will build the cultures of the future.
The Golden Age of Aerospace by Brian Balkus. Postwar America’s aerospace industry combined captured German personnel with manufacturing excellence to accomplish the most incredible engineering feats in history. But process knowledge can be easily lost.
A School of Strength and Character by Tanner Greer. Nineteenth-century Americans stunned outsiders with their capacity for self-organizing. By cultivating the virtues of public usefulness, procedural formality, and agentic hierarchy, they created a powerful set of norms for building institutions.
Midcentury Planners Demolished America’s Social Fabric by Anton Cebalo. The decline of American community life did not begin with the internet. Over the course of the mid-twentieth century, the country’s urban centers were bulldozed through to make room for freeways.
Madame Mao’s Nietzschean Revolution by Dylan Levi King. As Mao Zedong’s wife, Jiang Qing helped lead China’s Cultural Revolution with a Nietzschean philosophy of art. Through revolutionary operas and ballets, she sought a heroic consciousness that could transform society.
That’s all for now.