The rise of fundamentalists

It’s the atavistic fear of Northern Ireland writ large – the fundies are outbreeding the rest of us. It’s not about race, it’s about religion according to Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann, reviewed by the son member of the father and son team of climate sceptics Dominic Lawson. Now it’s “hyper-breeding Muslims” and the distortion of the politics of Israel and the Middle East by the over-fertile ultra-orthodox Haredim, to put it in crude Malthusian terms.

“Liberalism’s demographic contradiction — individualism leading to the choice not to reproduce — may well be the agent that destroys it…I cannot see a way out,” wails Kaufmann. The Bible-bashers might observe that their secularist opponents possess the seed of their own salvation from this demographic annihilation — if only they had not forgotten what it is there for.”

But where do we fit in?

Generations of Protestants (notably in Northern Ireland, but also in North America) believed that they were doomed to be driven into demographic oblivion by the uncontrolled breeding of Roman Catholics, and discriminated against them accordingly: but across the world, and for all the Vatican’s strictures, there is now very little distinction in the birth rates of these two great rival ­Christian tribes.

Cut the welfare budgets and breed more seems to be the gist of Lawson’s message but I don’t think he has NI in mind. Kaufman’s thought is that breeding patterns of one generation aren’t necessarily repeated next time round. Neither quite describes what the problem is: is it oppression by numbers alone or more by belief and culture? In either case, why no discussion of the Chinese or Indians? Locally, is this a slowly dying debate or does it still lie behind every move in politics?

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  • Mack

    Brian –

    Liberalism’s demographic contradiction — individualism leading to the choice not to reproduce

    He’s got it the wrong way round. The choice not to reproduce leads to liberal values and not vice versa.

    Choice is actually the wrong term here. More accurately we have a combination of the ability via contraceptives not to reproduce & the economic necessity of the same because of increased economic sophistication, technology and educational requirements and their costs & importantly massively reduced infant mortality – the cost of raising a child has increased rapidly while the cost of reaching functional adulthood has increased rapidly. Result = declining birth rates.

    Birth rates are falling all right across the globe (AIDS ravaged sub-Sarahan africa excepted for now) – to beneath the replacement rate in many countries Irish and British people would regard as third world.

    As we’re no longer getting married and starting families in our teens and twenties the old instituition of the family life, while not really under threat, is certainly undergoing serious change. Young people get married in their 30’s now – that means 12 or so years where they can legal have sex, but which conservative (ye olde) values say the shouldn’t. How likely is it that the young will abstain? Anyone who knows anything about human nature will say not very. These trends and pressures will undermine any religious pressures and in time also the religions in theocracies across the world. We’ve seen it in Ireland over the last 50 years. Even Iran and Saudi won’t be able to resist this for long.

    http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&ctype=l&met_y=sp_dyn_tfrt_in&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=country:IRN:SAU:BRA:CHN:MMR:QAT:ARE:UZB:MAR:DZA&tdim=true&tstart;=-315619200000&tunit=Y&tlen=47&hl=en_US&dl=en_US

  • Manfarang

    Why no discussion of the Indians or Chinese?
    Or the Africans-Christianity is a growing religion in sub-saharan Africa.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Fundamentalist protestants will outbreed the taigs in NI and then start to move into the Republic where they will do the same.

    One way to get a United Ireland, I suppose.

  • Mack

    Fundamentalist protestants will outbreed the taigs in NI and then start to move into the Republic where they will do the same.

    That was always the dodgiest interpretation of the 2001 census. Certain easily identifiable Protestant groups had a higher than average birth rate. For some reason many journalists then came to the same conculsion you suggest tongue in cheek above.

    Obviously they weren’t paying much attention when statistical variance was being taught in school (standard deviations and all that). I.e. there were also very many Catholics with an above average birth rate…