John Derbyshire’s reaction to the BBC documentary, “No Sex Please, We’re Japanese,” about Japan’s “demographic catastrophe” is probably somewhat different from what the producers had in mind. In short, he considers it a feature, not a bug. In fact, he thinks “The 21st Century Might Belong to Japan” because they are biting the demographic bullet now.
The documentary follows reporter Anita Rani, a Briton of Indian descent, as she leads us through a series of nightmares in the demographic basket case that is modern Japan. There is Yubari, a coal-mining town in the north, that once teamed with children, but whose maternity ward has been converted to a dusty storeroom. There are a pair of late-30’s geeks whose main love interests, schoolgirls aged 15 and 17, reside in the virtual world of a Nintendo box. There is a prison that is rapidly becoming a geriatric ward. And finally we cut to the chase. In a conversation with American-born economist Kathy Matsui, Rani observes sagely, ““Immigration. Surely that’s the solution that’s staring them in the face.” Matsui agrees, noting the extreme indebtedness of Japan, its stagnant economy, the increasingly unbearable cost of caring for a rapidly aging population without a steady supply of young taxpayers to milk, etc., etc. However, she notes, “There is an order of steps that need to occur” for mass immigration to become acceptable in a traditional society like Japan. Right, just like the order of steps that take you to the top of a gallows.
According to Derbyshire, “Mass immigration at best postpones the day of reckoning for a few years,” and by biting the bullet now, Japan may, “…speed off ahead of us into some new socio-economic order suited to low population levels and better age ratios, as we struggle with the transition they have already mastered.” Regardless of how she masters her economic problems, Japan is fortunate indeed to have a “traditional” society that discourages immigration. As Jayman put it in a recent tweet, “we should be so lucky” as to have a similar problem. I can but hope that Japan never becomes so suicidal as to take the “order of steps” to mass immigration.
The peddlers of the “demographic catastrophe” scare stories would have us believe that there can be nothing worse than stagnant or declining economies. Actually, there is something worse; failure to survive. You don’t have to go back too many years to come to a time when this was actually a serious concern for Japan. Just read some of the books and magazines about her published in the 30’s when her population was half what it is today. However, with the agricultural technology available at the time, it appeared that there was no way she could continue to feed her population if it grew much beyond that. We now know how she attempted to solve the problem, and the results of that attempt. Now we are supposed to be shaking in our boots if her population returns to that level at the turn of the next century.
Apparently we are to believe that such unfortunate byproducts of continuous population growth are all behind us now. Search the Internet and you can find articles claiming that the planet can easily accommodate 10, 50, or even 100 billion people. As a wag on the nightly news once put it, “maybe so, but who wants to eat standing up?” What’s amazing is that this stuff is being eagerly swallowed on both the right and the left. The Beeb, of course, is reliably leftist, like most of the rest of the western European media, and unlimited immigration is one of the boards that makes up the ideological box that the left lives in these days. It’s as if the denizens of that box are a bunch of lemmings who can’t wait to commit demographic suicide, or serve as promoters for the next wave of civil wars.
Consider, for example, the case of Switzerland, whose voters recently decided to apply some reasonable limits to immigration from the rest of the EU. The German papers and news websites, which I happen to follow, became positively hysterical. I haven’t seen much to compare with it since the most recent eruption of anti-American hate in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Among other things, the evil Swiss were supposed to be hicks from the back woods, consumed by greed. Their vibrant economy was built with the wealth accumulated by the Nazis and assorted other dictators, etc. It was a classic example of the response of an ingroup to perceived attack by an outgroup.
Oddly enough, the right is playing a similar tune. Anyone who thinks the planet might be better off with a smaller population must be “anti-Life.” I have personally heard a retired Army 4-star general defend unlimited immigration, supposedly because it’s necessary to support a strong economy and, with it, a powerful military. I’m of a different opinion. I’d rather not rock the boat.
Global warming may or may not be a reality. We may or may not run out of clean water. We may or may not be able to produce enough food to feed the planet’s increasing population. We may or may not run out of affordable energy in the next few hundred years. It seems to me the pertinent question is, “Why take chances?”
Does that mean that the readers of this little blog should refrain from having as many children as possible? Of course not! Heaven forefend, gentle readers, that any of you should ever become defective biological units. However, Mother Nature, in her wisdom, enabled us to perceive the world in terms of ingroups and outgroups, with different rules and versions of morality applying to each. To paraphrase General Patton, the idea isn’t to commit genetic suicide yourself. The idea is to get the other poor, dumb bastard to commit genetic suicide. The result will be a world with a manageable population where you will be able to pursue your own version of “human flourishing” in peace. As for Japan, I don’t doubt that she is still producing men (and women) whose love interests don’t reside in Nintendo boxes. In time, their children, and their children’s children, will inherit the islands. When they do, the population demographics will likely take a turn for the better.
Of course, I’m supplying you with a “should” here, and as my readers know, I don’t admit the existence of objective “shoulds.” Take it with a grain of salt, if you like. It certainly won’t bother me. I’ve made my reasons for preferring genetic survival to a life in which I make a “meaningful contribution” to the rest of mankind, and then croak, clear enough in earlier posts. My point is, if you happen to share this whim, this preference for survival with me, don’t be concerned the next time you see some feminist harridan railing about the evils of having children. Why on earth would you ever attempt to persuade her she’s wrong? The best response is to smile, get a room, and get busy.
UPDATE: More on the Derb’s article over at Occam’s Razor