How to Have More and Better Children
Marian Evans, American Renaissance, December 5, 2023
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We have all seen graphs like this one.
Over thousands of years, the human population inches upwards and then after the Industrial Revolution, it shoots up, with no end in sight. We imagine a nightmare world of people stuffed liked sardines into mass-produced, identical houses, eventually smothering in each other’s waste.
Many people still think this is our future. They’re wrong. With birthrates falling, the human population could now be close to as high as it will ever get. Here are two projections, one from 1981 on the left, and one from 2019 on the right.
The one from 1981 projected no population declines. The one from 2019 projects declines in India, China, Latin America, and Europe — and an explosion in Africa. The projected increase for North America is, of course, though immigration.
If the projection on the right were updated, it would probably show even sharper declines outside of Africa. Europe and East Asia already have more deaths than births, and unless birthrates suddenly rise, there will be a sharp die-off.
There is a serious natalist movement for people who want the species to carry on, and it held a conference last weekend in Austin, Texas. This is from the promotion material:
By the end of the century, nearly every country on earth will have a shrinking population, and economic systems dependent on reliable growth will collapse. Thousands of unique cultures and populations will be snuffed out.
I learned from attendees that many natalists are very worried about any association with “white supremacy.” Liberals already think they are dangerous freaks, and the conference had already prompted such headlines as “The Eugenic Circus Comes to Town,” and “The US pro-birth conferences’ links to far-right eugenicists.” In fact, there was only the faintest possible whiff of eugenics about the program and nothing explicitly or even implicitly racial. Nevertheless, the natalists’ ideas about how to increase birthrates will work for anyone. I learned a lot, and I think anyone who cares about the survival of Europeans or who just has a long-term view will, too.
In what follows, I summarize the presentations without commentary. I have included almost nothing about the speakers’ backgrounds, but the links lead to the sites to which the conference organizers linked the speakers’ names.
Kevin Dolan, one of the conference organizers, set the tone. We are here, he said, to solve a problem more serious than global warming: the collapse of birthrates. “Will your children have children of their own?” This is not just an economic problem of not having enough people to pay for our retirements, not just a future glut of abandoned houses rather than a housing shortage. What we are seeing is “the bubble of all bubbles,” and if it pops suddenly, everything we think of as civilization will collapse with it.
Mr. Dolan noted that this problem is not self-correcting, and the results can be either catastrophic or managed. Japan and South Korea, with their falling populations, are probably the best examples of how to “let the air out of the balloon slowly,” but this is nothing more than “an orderly, managed retreat from the planet.” Demographic collapse will be much harder for countries “that got old before they got rich,” such as China, Russia, and Brazil. In the United States, immigration keeps the population growing, but this only puts off the inevitable.
Mr. Dolan said he has two girls and two boys, but feels that he “caught the last train out.” The social infrastructure that used to help people have children has broken down, and even young people who want children are rudderless. Only 10 percent of people who end up childless consciously didn’t want children; society left them that way. It is easy for men to blame women and vice versa, but the problem is much larger.
Life is beautiful, he concluded, and we must make sure it continues.
The first speaker, who calls himself Raw Egg Nationalist, spoke remotely with a British accent. His theme was that the fertility crisis is not just social but also chemical, and an important culprit is endocrine disruptors (EDs). Also known as hormonally active agents, these are chemicals that interfere with hormone balance.
These substances were first produced artificially 100 years ago, and are now everywhere: in food, cosmetics, the oceans, the atmosphere. They pass through the blood/brain barrier and are found even in breast milk. Often, they are microplastics, which are tiny by design, but become even smaller through decay.
Many ED plastics have no safety record at all. We know nothing about their long-term health effects, nor how long they stay in the body. The plastics industry should end its standard of “safe until otherwise proven.”
EDs mimic estrogen and disrupt the hormonal balance in men and women throughout their lives.
Studies in animals, rats, fish, and amphibians show that ED exposure can lead to such things as birth defects, miscarriages, low sperm counts, early puberty, certain cancers, neurological abnormalities, and obesity.
Raw Egg recommended a book by Shanna Swan on this subject called Countdown. Testosterone levels are plummeting in both sexes. It is possible that due to ED hormonal disruptions, the median sperm count in men could fall to zero by 2045, and our species may find it impossible to reproduce naturally.
ED production should be sharply controlled, but in the meantime, you can limit exposure by cutting out plastics as much as possible, especially in food containers. Get as much plastic as possible out of your house. Stop eating processed food. Filter your water. Cook your own food — organic, if possible — and don’t eat processed food. Exercise and saunas are good, because sweating drives poisons out of your body. EDs are stored in fat, so lose weight. Women should stop using cosmetics and personal-care products; going cold turkey can quickly and substantially reduce EDs excreted in the urine.
Malcom and Simone Collins are a husband-and-wife team who stood at the mic together and alternated speaking. They said that if the fertility declines we have seen from 2010 to 2020 continue, every 100 Americans will produce only four great-grandchildren. Worldwide fertility has been crashing at such a rate that even India has fallen below replacement level. Muslim countries used to have high birth rates, but even Iran, for example, has fallen below replacement.
Preaching fertility may be a waste of time because it will not change society, but we can change ourselves and the small groups of which we are parts. What we must demand from society, however, is the right to religious and cultural independence for communities, and the right to homeschool children. The ultimate prize for people who succeed in this will be many grandchildren who love your culture, but natalist communities will have to defend their right to be different, even despised.
A heathy society creates networks that encourage dating, marriage, and childbearing. It used to be possible to insulate a pro-natalist group from America — the Amish, Traditional Catholics, Orthodox Jews, Mormons — but the internet makes that much harder. However, being surrounded by and resisting what the Collinses calls “the monoculture” can sharpen your own culture and make it more resilient. You should also pay attention to other successful groups and copy what works.
The two warned that you cannot shelter your children. They will be exposed to every poison, no matter how vile. You must anticipate this and inoculate them psychologically. The Amish are maintaining their numbers in the teeth of a raging “monoculture” and, if anything, their defection rate is declining. They have the practice of Rumspringa, in which teenagers are allowed out into the “gentile” world so they can know it and make a conscious choice to return. That outside world is now so repulsive that hardly any young Amish are drawn to it.
High birth rates are invariably associated with religious faith, yet faith is dying. At the same time, the digitally-driven “monoculture” is far more sophisticated than any previous ideology at undermining traditional ways. Therefore, it will be those rare tech savvy, pro-natalist groups that will inherit the future. Today’s “urban monoculture” is self-centered to the point of deriding motherhood. Thus, it can’t maintain its numbers unless it poaches children from people who have them.
A pro-natal mentality is one of discipline and self-control, and gives rise to such traditions as Lent and Ramadan. Natalists save rather than spend, and are faithful to the ways of the past. They have a culture of material scarcity whereas, as we see all around the world, the end of scarcity destroys both tradition and fertility.
Contraception can be dangerous; the pill has many bad side effects. Banning abortion may lead to a slight uptick in births, but fertility then drops back to where it was. In any case, abortion is for people who conceive by mistake, and we don’t want people having children by accident. Society must be structured so that people want to have children.
How you behave around your spouse has a powerful effect on whether your children want to have children. Husbands should make their wives look like stars to their daughters, and wives should make their husbands look like heroes to their sons. Women naturally want children very, very much. In the past, they risked terrible pain in childbirth and even death. This is the instinct we must revive.
Ben Braddock noted that falling fertility is not unprecedented. The late Roman Empire had a terrible collapse, with the best having the fewest children. “The human harvest was bad.” For almost all of human history, population growth was slow; the past 300-year boom is an anomaly. Modernity created tremendous wealth and also ended most cases of infant mortality. Medical people like to take the credit, but good sewage and clean water were more important than vaccines — though antibiotics certainly contributed to population growth.
We are now approaching total antibiotic resistance. Some strains of gonorrhea are now almost impossible to kill. It is easy to forget that it was not just the pill that uncoupled sex from consequences. By reducing the damage from venereal diseases, antibiotics also helped bring on the sexual revolution. Exposure to antidepressants in the womb makes the children more likely to have mental illness, and more and more women are using them.
Human quality is declining, along with quantity. Even among the better specimens, there is high mutational load, because medicine saves weaker babies who in previous centuries would not have survived. Autism is a new disorder and is increasingly common. The causes are disputed, but taking Tylenol in pregnancy may increase autism in boys. Some people fear childbirth because they don’t want an autistic child.
Chemical birth control is bad for women. It reduces their testosterone, and if they don’t have enough, it lowers their libido and their ability to conceive as well as their openness even to the idea of having babies.
The decline in population is inevitable, but by choosing mates wisely, we can at least try to improve the quality of the children we have.
Michael Anton started with the basic problem: How does boy get girl? His talk was about the lessons a pickup artist might learn from Socrates’ only surviving dialogue with a woman. The lady was Theodote, a beautiful, high-class courtesan of the kind known as a hetaira. Every Athenian man was at her feet, but by the end of the dialogue, she is begging Socrates — the fat, ugly, penniless Socrates — to let her come see him.
According to Mr. Anton, Socrates had the spirit of the successful lady-killer, an “abundance mentality,” the assurance that there are so many women out there that any individual turndown doesn’t even count as a failure. Socrates genuinely didn’t care if she said “no.”
Socrates also befuddled her with his quick mind, setting logical traps for her. He also put her through what the pickup artist calls “compliance tests,” or making her follow his rules. The successful bar crawler doesn’t buy a woman a drink; he tells her to buy him one. Socrates led Theodote through the conversation in the same dominating way. He also used the “push/pull” technique of alternating between seeming interest and indifference. Running hot then cold only increases her interest in him. The fly so much becomes the spider that by the end of the dialogue, Socrates warns the desperate Theodote that she may come try to see him, but he won’t talk to her if he is with people he finds more interesting.
Indian Bronson asked, “How do we make more, better people?” If you know your goals, you can work towards them. Solutions are easy to list but hard to achieve. We need: a bottom-heavy age pyramid, less fornication, early marriage, more marriage, more men in the workplace, grandparents who are young enough to help look after children.
In low-fertility countries, women end up having fewer children than they want. Everything in society must encourage family and childbirth. Even something as basic as affordable minivans makes it easier to have big families.
Young people must know that every choice forecloses others. For a woman, becoming a doctor means her chances of having a large family are practically zero. Also, most lady doctors retire by age 40, and don’t have much to show for their ambitions.
Many countries have successfully fought teenage pregnancy, without realizing that these measures also turn off fertility until women are in their late 20s.
It is important to establish communities of parents who live close to each other and who check up on each other. The grandparents’ generation must be close by and ready to help. Boomers who spend their “golden years” on cruise ships will not have grandchildren.
There was a panel discussion between Jonathan Anomaly, Kevin Dolan, and Malcom and Simone Collins about the link between religion and fertility. The link is undisputed. We are inherently a religious species, and religion is pro-natal, even if it requires believing implausible things. Smart young people who want to have children may even think that going through the motions of religion will help, but Mr. Dolan argued that faith can’t be faked: “You can’t decide to believe in God in order to have children.” Unfortunately, the irreligious who do want big families rarely cooperate with devout believers.
Is there a substitute or proxy for religion that stimulates child-bearing? Some of the ancients believed that loyalty to the group was enough to encourage large families.
Most people have no belief in anything, and this is terrible. Many people now say the planet would be better with no people, and there are even churches that are anti-natalist. The Collinses say they have invented a personal religion of traditions into which they have injected a faith in which they now believe.
How do you get your children to have children if you have no religion? Does any metaphysical bond qualify as religion? Even traditional religions have lost their power. How many Catholics live lives grounded in the faith?
Evolutionary psychologist Diana Fleishman gave a talk on the “sterilizing meme” that children are fragile. These memes are widespread ideas that discourage child-bearing. Examples would be that women need PhDs, or that if you have children, you will never be carefree and happy or able to retire.
The children-are-fragile meme warns that a single misfortune or mistake by parents could wreck a child. In fact, children are resilient, and can come through many bad experiences without permanent scars. Studies of identical twins reared apart show that there are many ways to rear children, but the results are much the same.
Prof. Fleishman explained the respective contributions of genes, shared environment, and non-shared environment to how a person turns out. In the long run, the family, or “shared environment,” doesn’t count for that much, so we don’t have to micromanage children — in fact, we can’t. As they get older, they become more like the genetic patterns we gave them, and are less likely to follow the rules we thought we laid down for them.
Father-absence is supposed to be awful and to turn boys, especially, into a psychopaths, but the problem is not the absent father per se, but the genes that made him walk out and were left in his children. If the father would have stuck around but died, children are not nearly so afflicted. Helicopter parenting and excessive “safetyism” do no good. Lefties are more worried about protecting their children from life, while “trad” parents believe in hard knocks, so long as they don’t open arteries. If a child’s problems are things people coped with in the evolutionary environment — violence, seeing Mom and Dad have sex, meeting crazy people, missed meals — chances are, children will be fine.
Groomers and drag-queen story hour are not the threat you think they are, and woke schools probably won’t warp your children. Some people fear that gestation in a surrogate womb is awful for children, but the children seem to come out alright. Their parents are usually rich, so they probably got good genes. Even daycare probably won’t hurt your children, though the data are mixed. It may even be that the good effects of “trad” parents are due to genes and not a real environmental benefit. If, within broad, non-psychotic parameters, there were a reliably terrible way to rear children, there would be data on that. Finally, what toddlers naturally want to eat is probably good for them.
What does hurt children is isolation. Moreover, we have not evolved to resist social media or endocrine disrupters (see above). One of the little-known unpleasant effects of internet dating is that people with mental illnesses find each other and have children.
Once you have the right mate, structure your life to have more children rather than structuring your life around the one or two you have.
Pat Fagen explained how to have large, happy families and many grandchildren. All humans find great joy in the marriages of their children, and the more God, love, and religion there is in a home, the more often that blessed event will take place. The less of these, the fewer children and grandchildren; love of spouse is as important as love of God.
Mr. Fagen reported that even when other things are controlled for, children in intact families that worship weekly get the best grades. Couples in such families have the most sex and the most orgasms while they are at it. Charismatic pastors who can fill churches every week are doing society a great service.
One recent finding is of the importance of fathers holding their babies to their chests, skin to skin. Even just 15 minutes a day is reported to deepen attachment and have many benefits. Mom watching Dad holding her baby that way is also very good for her.
Mr. Fagen spoke about “the strategic importance of fatherhood — how do you rear boys to be great husbands and fathers?” The best sex education for a boy is to see his father treat his mother with affection and respect, but fathers should also talk frankly about sex with their sons.
One of the greatest gifts fathers can give children is to play with them — and as children want to play, not as adults may. It’s a huge confidence builder for a child to see delight in his father’s eyes at even the smallest achievements.
Teenagers should be encouraged to talk openly about what kind of person they hope to have in a spouse — marriage should be a taken-for-granted goal for all of them.
Mr. Fagen recommends that children learn to dance. This is an innocent but instructive way for the sexes to mix and is a pleasure to be enjoyed well into old age.
Children need friends — ideally, many within walking distance. This makes community important. There should be people nearby who share your values. At puberty, this group of people may well become future spouses. You should have a community of friends who have many children whom you would be glad for your children to marry. Dinner time should be a sacred time for the entire family to be together.
Britt Benjamin is a divorced woman who works as a California divorce lawyer. Her subject was how no-fault divorce destroys lives and depresses birth rates. She says most marriages can be saved if both sides try as hard as possible to save it. No one is perfect; we are all “full of snakes.” We must learn to deal with the snakes as best we can and enjoy to the full what’s best about our spouses. No-fault divorce, which lets couples separate on a whim, means “men and women have given up the greatest tool for personal growth.”
No-fault divorce also means that the most important contract most of us will ever sign is the only one for which there is no penalty for breaking it. Another consequence of no-fault divorce is that outright fault no longer counts. Your spouse can abandon you, have flagrant affairs, introduce your children to pornography; this makes no difference in how a judge settles your case.
No-fault divorce started in California and spread to most of the country. As it spread, fertility dropped. This makes sense because the value of marriage drops if there is no penalty for ending it, and this makes marriage a bad bet. Spouses must wake up every day and decide to choose each other all over again.
Divorce deprives children of their fundamental birthright of a stable home with two parents. As Miss Benjamin has followed families through divorce, she has seen how awful it is for children. It also destroys the extended family and is almost always a financial disaster.
Miss Benjamin dispelled the myth that men don’t often get custody. Their problem is that they often don’t ask for it; when they do, they get it 70 to 75 percent of the time. She also reported that divorce is more common in Republican than in Democrat states, but could not explain why — perhaps because there are more marriages to begin with.
If no-fault divorce were to end, would there be more marriage because people could count on it as a permanent bond, or would there be less because people were afraid to chain themselves to another?
Finally, Miss Benjamin reported that matchmaking can be good. Your parents know who you are but don’t have your adolescent traumas, so they may choose more wisely than you would.
Peechy Keenan is the pen name of a woman who contributes to The American Mind and to The Federalist. She is a convert to Catholicism from liberal feminism. She pointed out that having a big family is almost taboo — it is for hicks and religious nuts. Even so, many “normies” like the idea of big families and are selective about which ones they scorn. Liberals scoffed at Sarah Palin’s five children with their trailer-park names; no one ever criticized Nancy Pelosi for having five. For the people who have decided that two is the right number, your five are an affront — or are they a threat?
However, the war with the anti-natalists is a war against an enemy that shoots its own soldiers: Fear of climate change will keep liberal birthrates low. “[Pro-natalists] have seized the means of reproduction.”
Miss Keenan is happy to see “trad” families having large families, but says they can’t do it alone. We need smart, tech-types who also want big families. “We even have to market natalism to the midwits, to the Swifties,” so it is very helpful when celebrities make a splash by having four or five children. We have to encourage natalism to more people but they have to be sane people.
Miss Keenan noted that the city of Austin is full of nice-looking women of marriageable age: “We need to push them off their ebikes into minivans full of toddlers.” She looks forward to a time when “maternity maxing will become a full-blown trend, not a luxury lifestyle.”
Charles Haywood talked about the need for “men-only spaces.” Masculinity is in a crisis; there are too many feminized men. You don’t get children unless men behave like men, and no matter how they are educated, women love masculine men.
Everyone recognizes what masculinity is. A man provides, protects, competes, is decisive and prone to action. Competition is central to masculinity: “When a man walks up to a group of men, at least part of his brain is asking, ‘Can I kick these guys’ asses?’ ” All these aspects of masculinity go into making babies.
For the past 60 years, society has tried to domesticate boys and destroy the masculine in men. And to become men, boys must spend time face to face with men. You don’t learn how to become a man by reading how in the “manosphere.”
Men need places that are for men only, and women should stay out. Even low-testosterone groups, such as bowling leagues and model-railroad clubs, used to be all male and should stay that way. But the best groups for building men are based on masculine pursuits: hunting trips, gun clubs, canoe expeditions, jiujitsu and boxing clubs.
There may be some hope for old-line male organizations such as the Moose, Elks, Rotary, Lions, and Masons, but most are dying. Men’s groups at churches are usually worthless. They invariably try to “elevate” women, are consensus-driven, and apologize for existing.
Workplaces used to be functionally segregated by sex; we should go back to that. On the job, men should be able to favor each other for promotion, especially men with families. Unfortunately, that’s against the law; all anti-discrimination laws should be abolished.
Masculinity must be positive. You can be a criminal and very masculine. Healthy masculinity is clearly something different from thuggery, even though some women claim they are the same thing: “The actual meaning of masculinity has been destroyed by vampire feminists.”
Razib Khan started with a demography lesson. He put a world map on the screen that showed how thinly populated the Americas are, and explained that the hemisphere’s population is now relatively steady but will fall.
East Asia is in catastrophic decline. South Korea has a total fertility rate (TFR) of 0.7, and in Seoul, the figure is 0.34. The 30 percent of the Korean population that is Christian doesn’t seem to help. Southerners may jeer at their communist neighbors, but TFR in North Korea is a much healthier 1.9. In a few decades, South Korea could disappear.
Mormons used to be the big exception to falling birth rates, but their TFR has crashed to a barely replacement-level 2.4.
Malthus was wrong to think food production increased arithmetically while population increased exponentially, and that mass starvation was inevitable. Famine has been largely abolished and wealth brought fewer children, not more.
In the United States, middle-class people could easily have much larger families; they would just have to cut out the luxuries they think are necessities.
Israel has managed to keep its birthrates above replacement; the orthodox have big families and even secular Jews have 2.3 children per woman. Cultural competition can spur childrearing; Israelis know that Israel cannot survive without Jews.
National fertility rates don’t tell the whole story. In Bulgaria, Gypsies are far more fertile than anyone else. In 40 years, the country could be half Gypsie.
Mr. Khan warned that new technology is inevitable. Traditional Catholics hate the idea, but there will be artificial wombs, starting with farm animals and then humans. Surrogate mothers and in-vitro fertilization will become normal. There are already 8 million “test tube” babies.
Proponents and opponents of the brave new world will have to build coalitions and work together. In the meantime, we can have more children ourselves and encourage those around us to do the same.
The final speaker was Balagi Srinavasan, Skyped in from Singapore. He estimated the cost of rearing a child in the United States at $230,000 and said the cost goes up more quickly than inflation. Reducing this figure should be an important national goal. He noted that in the West, fertility drops as income rises, except for the very rich, for whom large families are a luxury good.
Mr. Srinavasan listed three components to high fertility: God, the state, and technology. Everywhere, believers have more children than non-believers, and governments now play an important role. In Hungary, after a couple has its fourth child, it pays no income tax. This is a real, windfall-sized benefit, especially for people who make a lot of money, and some families build their careers around having that fourth child. Some economists argue that the increase in producers/consumers will mean subsidies pay for themselves.
In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yu tried to encourage large families, but it didn’t work. A few thousand dollars per child wasn’t enough.
China now knows its one-child policy was a disaster and is serious about having more births. Its leaders often take something that works in the West and expand it; IVF for the poor is an example. It is easy to imagine the government offering big, Hungary-style incentives for large families. In China, there will be no “ethical” worries about artificial wombs or embryo screening (fertilizing many of a woman’s eggs in vitro, testing the embryos, and choosing the best for implantation). It’s not hard to imagine semi-coercive measures to promote childbearing.
China has an important advantage: It is 92 percent Han. China also does not hesitate to inculcate patriotism, even to stoke hostility towards neighbors and the West. If a determined, authoritarian government promotes natality on all fronts, it could forestall the collapse that everyone else faces.
At the local level, community is crucial. People with the same values must live close to each other and support each other through such things as cooperative day-care.
As for the United States, Social Security will go bust. Young non-whites will not pay to support old whites.
On a global level, we need a new frontier where pioneers have elbow room and can have many children. With the internet, people can live and work anywhere. Eventually, we will go to space, but, for now, the oceans are a vast area that could be made livable and become the new frontier.
This was an enjoyable conference. I had been only vaguely aware of “pro-natalism” as a movement, and this was a chance to meet some of its leading figures. They are clearly smart, motivated people who are thinking both about human happiness and the future of our species.
It was also interesting to spend time with people who, though not nearly so reviled as white advocates, are open dissidents. I support all dissidents and these are peoples whose goals are easy to share. I suspect that this movement, with its emphasis on fulfillment, meaning in life, and expanding one’s horizons beyond the personal and selfish, has a bright future.