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On The Great Replacement

On The Great Replacement

No, it's not happening, and it's good that it is.

Great Replacement Theory. Population Collapse. Demography is Destiny. Etc. We've all heard these things. We're all vaguely familiar with them. They signal anxiety, fear, population control, or all three at once. These are not new ideas either. Within the first chapter of F. Scott Fitzgerald's celebrated The Great Gatsby published in 1925, Tom Buchanan muses, “Civilization’s going to pieces. I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read 'The Rise of the Colored Empires' by this man Goddard?”

"Great Replacement Theory" trended yesterday on Twitter after the manifesto of the Buffalo shooter expressed some affinity for it. Conspiratorial questions of the cui bono? variety aside, the numbers do bear him out. White Americans have precipitously low birth rates and the highest median age among all other groups by a significant margin. Following the publication of the 2020 Census, headlines rang out about the White population decreasing as a share of the total population for the first time in American history. Pointing it out shouldn't be a crime, but people's insane reaction to the news perhaps has to do with how it was laundered in the mainstream press.

Reactions varied back in August when it first broke. Some, such as Tucker Carlson, voiced concern. Others, like the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin, expressed glee, proclaiming, "This is fabulous news." There were bizarre responses like Jimmy Fallon's audience clapping maniacally when he brought it up on his show, and then there were the predictable reactions like Michael Moore's declaration that it was the "best day in American history."

Even some on the vaguely defined right chimed in for sport. Perennial fence-sitter David French — whose ass must be sore by now — penned an essay that equated the shrinking of the White, Christian population — of which he is a member, it should be noted — with the radical and historically significant rise of equality in the United States.

So, given the very mainstream positive reaction to this news, what is a White Christian to do? Should he have no reaction because this news is neutral — which it clearly isn't? Should he have a positive reaction because it's good that the White majority is declining? Is this news of any consequence to anyone at all, or is it merely another statistic?

Eric Kauffman unwittingly hits the nail on the head in his piece on this in Unherd, saying, "Reminding white Americans about their impending minority status shifts their policy attitudes in a conservative direction and increases support for Right-wing populism." So while it is true that White Americans are losing political influence due to declining birth rates and the influx of more fecund immigrants, pointing this out benefits the Trumpist Right, so it's best we keep quiet about it. The article continues with a bunch of hand-wavy statistics meant to dissuade the reader from the very real phenomenon of the declining White, Christian majority because, presumably, allowing this information to persist unimpeded will get Big Bad Orange Man elected again.

The mantra "demography is destiny" comes to us from Auguste Comte — regarded as the first philosopher of science, a pioneer in the field of sociology, and coiner of the term altruism. He wrote in France in the aftermath of the French Revolution which witnessed a massive upending of the social order, so it makes sense that he'd spend his time thinking about how shifting political coalitions would affect his nation.

The major demographic realignment in American politics that persists to this day began in the 1960s following the assassination of JFK. As the Democratic Party undermined its working-class base by supporting the expansion of welfare programs and jettisoned its Catholic base by taking up abortion, the two parties began to fracture along racial lines. The Democratic electoral strategy hinged largely on appealing to affluent, White families in urban areas and Black and Hispanic voters. Republicans absorbed rural, working-class Americans — even as the manufacturing sector vacated the interior — and White Catholics and Christians who were moderately serious about their religious convictions.

Demographic decline is not something that can be reversed overnight and, as stated above, the White population in the US has a median age of fifty-eight which — when compared to the median age of eleven in the Hispanic community and twenty-eight in the Black community — makes it abundantly clear that White Americans have little desire to rock the boat because, well, most of them are on the way out anyway. This explains the volume of complaints coming from the aged Republican Party and underscores their ineffectiveness as a coalition mostly because they lack the spirit of youth to carry out the orders. Revolutions and Civil Wars tend to occur in sufficiently young nations or groups with median ages somewhere in the range of twenty to thirty. For example, leading up to WWII, Germany had a median age of around thirty, and Russia had a median age of around twenty-one.  Around the time of the Civil War in the US, the median age was twenty.

Median age is useful, but not perfect, as a way to measure how old the bulk of the population is, and thus, what age drives the politics of the era. Nationwide, the median age is thirty-eight years old. That, of course, doesn't help much in understanding the age of the people driving the political decisions though. In 2020, registered Democrats had a median age of forty-nine and Republicans of fifty-two. Both of these represent an increase from 1996 indicating that voters continue to age. A higher median age among leaders tends to correlate with shallower political vision and the inability or unwillingness to think long-term.

Think of the great rulers of the past. Alexander the Great claimed the throne when he was 20, Caesar Augustus inherited authority when he was 18, Napoleon came to power in his 20s, and the median age of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was 39 with Alexander Hamilton being just 21 and Thomas Jefferson just 33. More recently, we've seen the two oldest Presidents in US history. One ran an entire campaign on Making America Great Again. The other can barely get a sentence out and his policies, when he does have policies, represent a 1968 Paris Communist's wet dream. Neither of the two will receive accolades for their vision and both in their own way indicate a nation or a people out of ideas and on the way out.

Political vision and the ability to think long-term are capabilities found only in young populations. Aged populations tend to cling to short-term interests. We make good fun of the gerontocracy around here, but their age is the number one mark against them and goes a long way in explaining why there are so many bad ideas floating around Washington DC. What's more, as birth rates in the US continue to rely almost entirely on new immigrants — who return to the national mean after a single generation on average — the population shows no signs of getting younger.

An older population means more capital will be tied up in care for the elderly. A significant portion already is. In Nashville, for example, the looming deficit crisis in the city arises entirely from generous pension plans divvied out to Metro employees. The cost of maintaining these benefits will only grow as the population ages, and more employees leave the workforce.

What should be stated clearly is that developed nation's around the globe are suffering from demographic collapse, declining birthrates, and high anxiety around the future as a result. China, France, the UK, Japan, and just about every other developed nation in the world experiences depressed birth rates and an aging population. Hungary, for example, suffers from one of the lowest birth rates in all of Europe which has motivated a hard turn towards pro-natalist, conservative policies aimed at driving them up. They've received much criticism as a result.

The temporary solution is to bolster birth rates with immigration — as both France and the US do — but that is no long-term solution. The birth rates of immigrants tend to regress to the mean after a single generation. What's behind plummeting birth rates? Hard to say. Some studies suggest that urbanization and secularization of the Western world starting in the late 18th century spurred the decline in birth rates. Urbanites and non-religious folk tend to produce fewer children. Israel is unique among developed nations in that it maintains a high birth rate even among its secular population. This can be attributed, in part, to the harsh, war footing the country has maintained since its inception which necessitates a certain amount of cohesion and commitment to the long-term success of the nation absent from more peaceful milieus like the US or France.

Back to the question at the beginning of this essay: are White Americans being replaced? Well, if we're to accept that Democrat's strategy continues to be to appeal to minorities and non-religious Whites, would it benefit them if the White Christian population decreased? The answer is obviously yes. It's not conspiratorial to point out incentives. Democrats are incentivized to aid in the creation of a White Christian minority. Of course it's happening. It's been happening. It's a political advantage for them to dismantle the family, separate people from their lineage, and divorce them from their faith regardless of their race or religion. Is pointing out the constituencies of one party and stating that it's to their advantage to increase their number a conspiracy theory of some sort?

As I sit here and write out these facts so as to dispel whatever fetishistic taboo hovers around them in the hopes that confronting harsh truths will enliven some people to gird themselves and move ahead with enthusiasm, I wonder if any of my literary idols would set out to do the same. Would Lord Byron speak seriously on such matters, for example? The answer in Byron's case is surely no. Byron spent his years relaying stories of daring men in pursuit of the sublime as he lived out this spirit himself. Maybe not the best model for the present moment or preceding topic, but there is a lesson we can glean from Byron. Much weeping and gnashing of teeth follow man on his course, and yet, he has always the choice of how to approach his situation.