Saturday 23 December 2023

Keeping Traditions Alive

How often do we hear that the old traditions are dying out?

How often do we say much the same thing?

But what are we doing personally to keep these traditions alive?

Recently I was talking with one of my brothers and I mentioned that I only received one Christmas card this year. He replied he hadn't sent any out and that it seemed that it was a tradition that was dying out. Which made me realise that I was part of the problem as I never send out Christmas cards. If I want this tradition to survive then maybe I should do something to keep it alive. Like telling people that I want Christmas cards sent to me, maybe even going the radical route and sending some out myself.

This week I have been out and about doing Christmas shopping and everywhere I have been I have been wishing people Merry Christmas and people like it. People want to be a part of the festive season and they like it when other people are nice and pleasant to them. I have seen people smile, I have had people then wish me a merry Christmas. What I have not encountered is any pushback. If we want to keep our traditions alive then we need to keep them alive.


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Saturday 16 December 2023

Why Aren't We Having More Children?

In the 1990's the Left shared an African proverb, 'it takes a village to raise a child'. They loved that this traditional phrase called upon a collective for child raising. What they failed to notice was that in an African village nearly everyone is likely to be a relative of that child. It is not about a collection of random people or of professionals raising a child, but the importance of the extended family in looking after itself.

From Italy to South Korea there is hardly a country in the developed world that doesn't have a baby shortage. This is even spreading to the third world. Here we are witnesses to a civilizational issue, not simply one restricted to one country or society. Which means that to understand the issue we must look more broadly. 

Men and women want children, but we are not simply creatures of instinct. We think, which means that what we think can be influenced by things other than our instincts. The environment in which we live and the ideas that exist around us also influence us. As does the reality of raising children. They take up time, money and resources. Even though people want children, children come at a cost.

However in the past people seemed to be willing to pay that price and today more and more people seem to be unwilling or unable to. The standard answers as to why are always economic. People moved from the farm to the city and children went from being an asset that could provide labour to a burden that instead cost money. That as women become more educated they wanted less children. Each idea suggests that these things are rational and logical. Even that having a large family is indulgent and selfish.

In 1700 no matter where someone lived they were nearly always surrounded by family. Everyone in the town, village or district is related in some way to the other people who also live in that place. Which means that there was a vast network of people who could help in the day to day raising of children. But when a family moved to the town or city they left behind that support and they disrupted two communities. We are familiar with the idea that the village is disrupted, but so too is the community that someone moves too. A stranger arrives and is now competing against the locals. Ties are broken and that includes those of the extended community. If no one can look after the children then it makes less sense to have more. It is not economics or logic that encourages less children. But instead the reality that it is much harder to look after them. 

There is an old saying, 'many hands make light work', meaning that if a job is done by many people each persons share of the work is reduced. In the past motherhood used this principle, many people other than the mother took some of the burden. Mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, cousin, niece, daughter, all pitched in. When a women is in a new place amongst new people then all of that changes. Motherhood becomes a much bigger and harder part of her live. 

We see this in modern times, a couple have a child together and it is a very trying time for them. The husband feels as if he is doing everything that he can to support his brand new family, working, helping out, providing emotional support for her and often she is frustrated beyond belief, why is he doing so little to help she wonders? 

Which has a big impact on how many children this couple will have. It is an enormous test for their relationship. The answer is other women, specifically her mother, then her aunt, sister and any other women who are related or experienced with children. It is an unfortunate modern trend for the father to take the place of all the women in the village, it's too much.

Then in the middle of the 20th century we had a massive population boom, the rapid growth of population in the third world as it received the benefits of transport, new rapid growth crops and pharmaceuticals. In 1927 the worlds population was around 2 billion, in 2023 it has gone over 8 billion, but nearly everywhere the fertility rate has declined.

In the West we had the babyboom between 1944-1964, but that created it's own problems as new families left older communities and started new lives amongst new people. Those older family ties and formations broke down and today we are seeing that continue although with new challenges. One of those new challenges is how hard it is to get into an economically stable position and then to remain there. In the past a great deal of effort was made to get families to form and to make sure that jobs were available and that prices were kept under control. Today none of that is true.

It is still required for a man to have a stable job and to pay, but permanent employment is harder to obtain. Competition from women, mass immigration all make family formation harder. Marriage has  been made unstable. 

I have mixed feelings about the fertility decline, in 1086 when Willian the Conqueror had the Domesday book compiled there were around 1,700,000 people in England, today there are more than 56,000,000. I can't help feeling that that is insane. Sure about 20% of that is from immigration, but even 45,000,000 is a lot of people. That problem is now all over the Earth. Capitalism, the handmaiden of Liberalism says that a bigger population leads to a bigger economy and thats what really matters. I'm a bit more agnostic on population, I'm not convinced that a smaller population is a bad thing. 

Having said that, if we want people to have more children then we need to make family formation easier. family stability a priority and to make women more important to society than to the economy. Today we are burning the candle at both ends because in theory it increases the economy. But if increasing the economy leads to our extinction then that isn't a good deal at all. 

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