Monday, 14 December 2015

The Rise and Decline of the West: Why and Whereupon.

The dose makes the poison.
-Paracelsus.

INTRODUCTION:

In this article I shall attempt to construct a theoretical model to understand and interpret the major historical developments of the past few centuries in the West, and use this to diagnose the causes of the maladies which I believe are currently besetting the west. In particular I shall posit that egalitarianism, a crucial factor in the meteoric rise of the West, is now a cause of its decline.

Here, the West is defined as the prosperous, industrialized liberal democracies, particularly those of USA and Europe. A substantial amount of the focus will be on England, as developments in England have often foreshadowed many of the defining events of the West.

The primary distinguishing feature of the west, especially England, which allowed it rise from relative obscurity on the periphery of Eurasia to a position of global domination, the reason why this article is written in English and not another language, is the massive advancement in scientific, technological and industrial development that began in England and spread to Europe somewhat later. This industrial prowess, inevitably translated into geopolitical power, allowed the West, especially England, to thrust itself onto the global stage and consciousness.

THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND ITS CAUSES:

What caused the industrial revolution to occur in tiny England rather than China or India or Italy with their thousands of years of civilization and huge populations (for the former two)?

Below I will briefly mention my thoughts about factors that led to the rise of the West on the back of the industrial revolution and how the factors behind it may now be causing its decline.

Various causes are mentioned by historians to explain why the industrial revolution (~1750-1850) occurred in Britain and not elsewhere. Among them are natural advantages like the availability of coal, or manpower, or navigable rivers, which, while important, are certainly not decisive, being present at numerous locations globally, not least in China and India and other places in Europe, where no industrial revolution occurred until the precedent of the British industrial revolution. A focus on such circumstantial factors also missed the point that the industrial revolution was primarily a revolution of technology and invention, like the steam engine or power loom, rather than mere marshaling of manpower and materials, a feat at which China is unsurpassed (e.g the Great Wall, the grand canal etc) without undergoing a revolution like that in England.

The crucial factors must predate the industrial revolution and are likely related to society and politics; we see a glimpse of this in the fact that Newton's Principia, (published 1687) which introduced the concept of gravity, the laws of motion and calculus, predates the industrial revolution by several decades. More broadly, the scientific output emerging from Europe between the 15th and 17th centuries, long before the industrial revolution, in the form of works of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Boyle, Leibniz, to name only a few, all greatly amplified by the ease of mass dissemination enabled by the printing press (a Chinese invention, but which is much more compatible with European scripts, due to their fewer characters and linear arrangement, than with the Chinese, or Indian scripts) testify to the development of intellectual firepower in the West far outpacing what the rest were either willing or able to achieve. It is likely that the origins of this process date even further back. This intellectual firepower, when deployed towards industry in the 18th century, led inevitably to the massive strides that characterize the industrial revolution.

The question then becomes; why, after millennia of relative parity between the civilizations of Europe and Asia, did the European ones start to pull far ahead in scientific and intellectual endeavor? And why did this process start in England, theretofore obscure, and not elsewhere in Europe?

Approaching the question from another perspective, if one wanted to initiate sustained scientific and technological progress in society, what factors are essential? In my view, it is evident that these are 1) educated and intellectually curious citizens and 2) empowering these citizens with a conducive, predictable economic and political climate, with rule of law, a free market, property rights etc in which these citizens may exercise their talents without fear of being arbitrarily dispossessed.

The question can then be framed as follows:

1) do we see the presence of these factors in Western Europe, particularly England, while being absent in Asia?

2) do these factors precede the scientific and technological revolutions?


EXPANSION OF POLITICAL FRANCHISE:

In the case of England, the trend of political power distribution has been as follows. In 1215, the seminal Magna Carta was signed between King John and feudal lords in England, limiting the ability of the king to impose taxes without the consent of the feudal lords, giving birth to an assembly which would become the English Parliament. There followed several conflicts between the parliament and the king, including the English civil war (1642-1651), during which the royalists were defeated and King Charles I decapitated. Within the Parliamentary faction there were even more radically egalitarian factions like the levellers and diggers, who foreshadow socialism and communism of later centuries. This tussle eventually culminated in the Glorious Revolution and the ensuing Bill of Rights in 1689, when the supremacy of parliament was unambiguously established. Parliamentary representation itself was gradually expanded from lords to include prominent commoners. Similarly the Habeas Corpus act (1679) enshrined the principle of lawful detention and the predictable rule of law and fair trial more broadly. These precede by decades or centuries similar developments in other nations.

Thus we see political developments in England, which progressively secure the citizenry and their property, and provide rule of law, preceding the developments of the scientific and industrial revolutions by centuries. Combining this unprecedented "egalitarianization" of political power with an expanded educated class enabled by the printing press, and other secondary factors, it is unsurprising that England was best positioned as the nucleus of the ensuing scientific and industrial revolutions.

These egalitarian expansions of political power continue and even accelerate during and after the scientific and industrial revolutions, possibly as a consequence of mutual reinforcement. The reform acts of 1832 and 1867, the Representation of the People Act of 1884, 1918 and 1928 further expanded the political franchise, first to adult males of some wealth (about 1 in 7 adult males), then to a substantial number of males, then to all men and some women, and eventually to all adults in Britain. Building on this egalitarian trend, in the early to mid 20th century we see the introduction of free education, Welfare, the National Health Service and so on.

The same correlation between political and scientific progress is seen, to varying extents and with varying timelines in different countries like France, Russia, USA etc. Thus we may conclude that there exists a strong correlation between industrial development and prosperity on one hand and the degree of distribution of political power in the other.

 

MUTUAL REINFORCEMENT  BETWEEN THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND POLITICAL FRANCHISE:


Putting these pieces of the jigsaw together, it is likely, in my view, that a combination of an increasing (and increasingly) educated class, combined with favorable economic and political regimes, led to initial scientific and industrial innovations, leading to somewhat broader prosperity. This prosperity (and attendant political power), if suitably disseminated, in turn will lead to greater literacy and higher education, expanding the educated classes which are essential for scientific and technological progress, thus creating further fuel to feed technological innovation, leading to an exponential process which starts slowly but accelerates sharply as a critical mass of educated citizens builds up. In support of this model, the available data shows that literacy in England greatly exceeded that in India or China by centuries. This model is shown schematically below:






This model also cogently explains the slow but steady progress seen during the scientific revolution in the 15th to 17th centuries and then the exponential nature of the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the parallel march of technological and political rights growth, mutually sustaining and reinforcing each other. In support of this proposition, we see that England, the first nation to undergo the industrial revolution, also underwent its anti-monarchial revolutions (the Magna Carta in the 13th century and the English Civil War in the 17th) long before similar events in other countries like France (1789 and later), Western and Central Europe (19th century, see events of 1848), Russia (early 20th century), China (between early and mid 20th century) etc.


The mutual acceleration will continue until the incremental productive capacity generated by a given act of power and resource dissemination exceeds the value consumed as the cost of that act. In other words, as long as:

P(act) > C(act); where P is the incremental productivity and C is the cost of implementing that change.

For instance, the provision of free education or public works like sewage treatment plants can be considered to produce a value in terms of more productive citizens, which is generally greater than the cost. In light of this model, it is unsurprising that for centuries, a continuous dissemination of political power and, for related reasons, public services like universal education, healthcare, welfare etc has been the trend in the West.


Thus, for centuries, P(act) has been greater than C(act), and an ever expanding circle of empowerment has been the trend in and habit of the West. However, the psychological mechanism pushing for this expansion is a blind, unqualified sense of empathy. Thus, we see that the seminal leftist ideology of the 19th-20th centuries, Marxism, as well as softer leftist (i.e. power diffusionary) movements do not argue for improved representation or more public services as these become cost-effective owing to greater prosperity flowing from industrial development, but rather construct millenarian schemes depicting eternal warfare between classes. The same instinct manifests itself in modern times as feminism, gay rights, animal rights, etc. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that modern Western empathetic impulse can be summed up as follows, "the underdog is always right". 

This may help as long as P(act) is greater than C(act), but carried to excess by blind instinct, it could easily veer into territory where C(act) is greater than P(act).  

In this, it is analogous to the epidemic of obesity prevalent in many countries today; an instinct to consume and store of excess calories as fat, which was useful during the era of subsistence agriculture, can rapidly become counterproductive when circumstances change (the calorie glut produced by industrial agriculture). To reflect the parallels to obesity, I shall refer to excess, counterproductive empathy as empathobesity.



TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?


Thus we see that the history of Western political empowerment has been one of an ever expanding tent; from uncontested monarchy to a group of lords, to wealthy white men, to middle class white men, to all men, to all adults, various welfare arrangements, to the sexual revolution, to mass importation of migrants, to homosexuals and transgenders, animal rights, and perhaps in the near future, legal personhood for chimps and cetaceans (5,6) and so on. At some point however, the constant broadening of the circle can become counterproductive and lead to decline rather than progress. I believe that the West passed this point sometime in the early to mid-20th centrury, and developments since have generally been empathobese and responsible for the stagnant and decaying West we see today.

I discuss some of these developments below.

1) Feminism: Feminism is the notion that women should have the same options as men; the underlying empathobese assumption is that men and women are essentially identical and all differences is imposed by patriarchy simply to oppress women. It is worth noting at this point that it is likely not an accident that matriarchal or matrifocal societies like the Mosuo or Khasi, are few and are confined to inaccessible locations of the globe; these are models of social organization evolutionarily uncompetitive with patriarchy and have only managed to survive competition from patriarchy in these remote places.

In practice feminism has meant complaints about how men are disproportionately represented in desirable jobs like CEOs and legislators, and demands for quotas to rectify the same. Rather less mention is made of the deaths of millions of men in world wars or that workplace deaths, bankruptcies, and most sewage workers or garbage collectors are also men. Feminism has developed during the 20th century, possibly catalyzed by the availability of contraception which freed women from childbearing and has resulted in the mass entry of women in the labor force.

Now, an expansion of the labor force is generally good development, as the expansion of the educated classes was likely a catalyst for the rapid progress seen in the industrial revolution. However, the entry of women into the labor force in massive numbers has inevitably come at the cost of child bearing and is thus shortsighted; after an initial spike in the labor pool, the ensuing shortfall in offspring will lead to a greying and aged workforce with fewer, not more, workers and more elderly dependents.

The birthrate in the west now ranges from barely 1 in the Mediterranean nations to closer to 2 in some like France or Sweden, although how much of this is owing to migrants is unclear. The ensuing shortfall of young workers in the west is predicted to lead to economic decline; for instance, social security in the USA is expected to run out of funds to cover its obligations by 2036 as the number of retirees rises without a sufficient youthful demographic to support them (1). Combined with the economic stagnation that the west has found itself in since 2007, possibly in part as a consequence of the demographic decline, this has led to a sense of deep malaise throughout the West; for the first time, a majority expect that the next generation will be worse off than its parents, reversing a decades long trend (2,3). The west, historically a byword for progress and prosperity, now seems destined to a period of stagnation at best, and more likely decline.

2) Hostile sub populations: By itself, a demographic and economic slump may be overcome eventually; the period of weakness and decay will eventually subside, even if it takes generations. Yet, coinciding with precisely this weak and vulnerable phase, is the presence of hostile, unassimilated and growing populations within the West, especially in Europe. The empathobese dogma here is that all people are the same as those in the West and have no underlying ideological divergence. 


Muslims in Europe form significant percentages of the populations of many of the biggest nations of the West. These sub populations have a history of separateness and even conflict with the mainstream West, as well as a political self awareness different from, and at odds with the traditional liberal West, combined with generally poor socio-economic achievements. 

A rational examination of Islam globally yields the following pattern. In most country where Muslims are the majority, non-muslims are prohibited from preaching to and converting Muslims, whereas the converse is allowed. These restrictions are more severe in countries like Saudi Arabia where Islam is more prominent. Similarly, in many countries where a substantial Muslim minority is present, we see hostility or outright militancy, such as in Australia, Philippines, Thailand, India, China, Russia, as well as Western countries like the UK, France, Sweden, Spain, USA, Canada etc. 

 The Muslim percentage of the population of the UK has doubled in the decade to 2015, and is even higher in the 0-4 years of age demographic (4). The same picture obtains in France or Sweden. 
This year alone, Germany is on track to receive about a million Muslim migrants. Coupled with this increase is the unassimilated and hostile attitude to the West as well as all other non-muslims; the regular occurrence of terrorist attacks in the UK and France, the inability of the authorities to stop these, especially the November 2015 attacks in Paris, the large number of Muslim citizens of Europe heading to the Islamic state, and promising to bring Islamic law to Europe, and the unshakable sense that they just might, gives a foreboding picture of the future of the West. The empathobesity of the West makes it politically incorrect to point this out, let alone act accordingly, and thus the issue is allowed to fester and grow, adding to the sense of impotence besetting the West.

3) Serial military defeats and the stench of weakness:Since the end of the Korean War, the West has been humiliated in all the major conflicts it has entered, Vietnam, Iraq 2003 and Afghanistan. These defeats have not come about due to a lack of firepower or technology but the unwillingness of Western populations to bear prolonged news of casualties, even those of its opponents. Thus, the Vietnam war was lost not in the jungles of Vietnam, where the Americans did not lose any major battles, but on the streets of America where massive anti war protests made continued war untenable. The impression that emerges is one of weakness, irrespective of the merits, or lack thereof, of these wars.

In addition to these sign of dimming vitality (demographic, economic, military decline) is the bizarre and unscientific turn of recent Western policy, such as that of gay marriage. From an evolutionary point of view, marriage is a stable platform on which to rear the next generation. As such, it only makes social sense to confer privileges and subsidies on child bearing couples, for they privately bear burdens of child rearing which will bear fruit collectively when those children become productive citizens. However, the West has bamboozled itself owing to empathobesity into extending these privileges to homosexual couples simply for making sexual contact with each other.

Meanwhile we see glimpses of what empathobesity may bring in the future; attempts to confer personhood on chimpanzees and even cetaceans (5,6), none of which can even comprehend, let alone reciprocate these gestures. Although this seems ludicrous now, so did gay marriage only a decade or two ago. Referring to the equation above, P(act) is now far below C(act).

Thus we come to the quote at the beginning of this article. A sense of empathy and wider dissemination of political power, which helped initiate and fuel the revolutions that propelled the West to the top, applied in excess, in changed circumstances, is now causing its decline. 


What alternative belief systems can replace the empathobesity dogma? I shall discuss this in the coming weeks.

Lastly, if you found the ideas presented here interesting, please consider disseminating them and refer people to this blog.



References:







19 comments:

  1. I'd opine that the West hasn't lost wars because of weakness of character, it has lost wars because large numbers of people simply didn't see what was the point. Lest we forget, in Vietnam the French, Aussies and USA were fighting expansionist communism, lost the will to prosecute the war (after killing something like 3 million people) and today Hanoi has a stock exchange.

    The sad part is that your empathobesity narrative is valid. The real war, the one the West's citizens should recognize as existential, is the one where the West elects Fifth Columnists as rulers and throws open the doors to the invaders. This is a war of annihilation, yet citizens of the West are overwhelmingly oblivious to it.

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  2. I further argue that the behavior of Westerners is identical to the behavior of children and grandchildren of highly successful and talented businessmen, entertainers, etc. The descendants inherit the wealth of their ancestors but not the skills or acumen, at least not in the concentrations required to emulate their predecessors.

    This yields ignorance of the source of their high living standards and a certain guilt at being better off than others. How often do we see pathological indulgence in vice (drug abuse, alcoholism, gambling, etc.) emerge, along with devotion to collectivist follies by the score?

    The West is saturated with this weird form of "guilt." Unless People of Northern European Descent (PONED) embrace their entitlement to the high ground of wealth and power, they will doom Western Civilization and its vast array of human enrichment. Without a minimum number or concentration of PONED, humanity is doomed to stasis or regression.

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    1. Hi dc.sunsets, thank you for your comments. On the whole we're of one mind.

      Regarding Vietnam, irrespective of the political merits, compared to Korea, where the USA suffered similar casualties (58000 in Vietnam vs 36000 in Korea), a distinct shift in mood seems apparent to me. It is perhaps no coincidence that Vietnam was the major first war fought after the 60s counter culture revolution. Although there are additional factors like the length of the war or the availability of television pictures, it also remains true that there were never before such vociferous protests against the armed forces in the USA.

      "the behavior of Westerners is identical to the behavior of children and grandchildren of highly successful and talented businessmen"

      Interestingly, there is apparently a Chinese saying to the effect that family wealth lasts only 3 generations.

      "The West is saturated with this weird form of "guilt.""

      Maybe this is a consequence of a phenomenon similar to the hygiene hypothesis of allergy. Briefly, the hygiene hypothesis is that there is a set level at which our immune system has evolved to operate as the parasite burden was quite high historically. Now that there has been a sudden drop in parasite load, the immune system has started attacking self antigens, leading to allergy.

      Analogously, it maybe that humans have a default level of empathy. Legitimate targets for empathy, who are willing and able reciprocate, has dropped with increasing prosperity. Now this empathy is now attaching itself to entities that are incapable or unwilling to reciprocate. I'd say that feminism, open borders, veganism, chimpanzee personhood, whale worship, or the ban on spanking children etc etc are examples of this.

      "Without a minimum number or concentration of PONED, humanity is doomed to stasis or regression."

      Full disclosure: I'm a POSAD (Person of South Asian Descent), as you might have guessed from the title of this blog. Nonetheless I'm a big fan of the Enlightenment and empirical reasoning. I'd agree that the possible decline of the West will certainly be a loss not only to the West but to all humanity.

      But one wonders how long the West will remain the West of the Enlightenment. More and more, it seems like the Enlightenment West is disappearing, crushed between a suicidally mad empathobese overclass and a homicidally bad Islamic underclass (at least in Europe).

      We can prevent this by raising awareness of the haywire instincts which are causing this. I urge you to spread the word, especially popularize succinct terms like "empathobesity" to shed light on this pathology.

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    2. Hi Tark Marg, I used to be a raving anarcho-capitalist capable of quoting Mises, Bastiat, etc. but have since realized the degree to which the trend of the Enlightenment was not necessarily the be-all and end-all.

      It seems important to me that I realize a couple things: 1) that my knowledge and insight is so limited that no matter what I believe, it will necessarily be based almost entirely on bias, and 2) the world really does go by itself and there's not a single thing I can do to alter the larger course.

      The metaphor I embrace now is that I'm like an ant on a leaf riding on a large river. I may attempt to see what's coming down river and thereby try to paddle the leaf left or right, but there is no way to alter the course of the river and my imperfect vision of what's coming may lead me to actually paddle in the wrong direction.

      What will be, will be. If our current times are a top before a very large consolidation or if they are a top before a vast (think Fall-of-the-Roman-Empire) consolidation, there's really nothing I can do about it but do the "right" things I'd do anyway (mostly living honorably and loving my family.)

      All of the rest of this stuff is very interesting, but other than the academic comfort of thinking I have a handle on the "why," there's not much to do about it.

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    3. @dc.sunsets - I disagree. The positive developments in the moral and intellectual spheres came about in part because moral and intelligent people persuaded others. There is no reason to give up hope, as we are not that far gone quite yet. Especially not in America, where one can still largely discuss these matters without threat to their livelihood (as long as it's done in the tone of this blog post, at least).

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  3. "Feminism has developed during the 20th century...and has resulted in the mass entry of women in the labor force. Now, an expansion of the labor force is generally good development, as the expansion of the educated classes was likely a catalyst for the rapid progress seen in the industrial revolution"

    How do we know that this is the case? For example a female doctor is 25 percent less productive than a male doctor, while women working in science, engineering, and tech fields are 45% more likely than their male peers to leave the industry. The average female worker will always be less productive than the average male worker, because women tend to get pregnant and have kids.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-health/9950248/Part-time-women-doctors-are-creating-a-timebomb.html

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/keeping-women-in-high-tech-fields-is-big-challenge-report-finds/2014/02/12/8a53c6ac-93fe-11e3-b46a-5a3d0d2130da_story.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/opinion/12sibert.html?pagewanted=all&_r=4

    And you don't have countless doctor, tech, or manufacturing jobs, the number of quality, highly productive jobs is limited, therefore putting female workers in these sectors will make things worse. It already caused serious problems in the medical sector. A benefit from female labor force could occur only if you have full empoyment for males, and then females take the rest of the available jobs (which will probably be service jobs, or part time jobs).

    Also if you raise the birth rate of western women, and get them to have more kids, they will become even less productive workers than they are today.


    There are non-western advanced or rising economies such as Japan, South Korea, Israel, Turkey, China, etc. that do not rely on large female labor force the way the West does. The biggest growth story/industrial revolution the last 40 years is China, a country with gender imbalance, having more males than females in its population, and a huge 40 percent gender pay gap. (The gender pay gap in Western countries is around 20 percent, the large gender pay gap in Asia or Israel indicates that women there work mostly in low quality or part time jobs).

    So Asia is both high growth region and low gender equality region.
    http://www.cnbc.com/2014/07/30/gender-wage-gap-in-asia-set-to-get-worse.html


    "The birthrate in the west now ranges from barely 1 in the Mediterranean nations to closer to 2 in some like France or Sweden, although how much of this is owing to migrants is unclear."

    White women do not have more than 1.7-1.8 TFR. The replacement rate is 2.1 for rich countries with low child mortality rate, and even higher if you have race mixing going on (so you will need at least 2.2 for white women in diverse countries such as the US).

    According to Pew, european non-muslim women TFR is below 2.0 in all european countries, but if you remove the other minorities as well, such as gypsies, blacks or hindus, white female birth rate even in countries such as France or Sweden should be no more than 1.7 - 1.8
    https://muslimstatistics.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/pew-fertility-rate-for-muslims-and-non-muslims-in-europe/

    In the US white TFR is 1,76, in Canada - 1.5, in Australia - around 1.7, in Russia - around 1.6

    Muslim TFR in Western Europe is 2.5-3.0, in the US 2.5, in Canada 2.5

    37 percent of newborn in France, 35 percent of newborn in Britain, and 51 percent of newborn in the US are non-white.

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    1. Thank you for your comment.

      I more or less agree, but I'm not sure that there is a fixed number of high quality jobs available. The expansion of the workforce owing to the entry of women, if done without slashing birthrates (which would only shrink the future workforce), could increase the number of people contributing to increasing knowledge and technology, similar to how the scientific and industrial revolutions in Europe got started, in my view.

      Although the strict per capita productivity of women would be lower than that of men, this might well be compensated for by the indirect productivity contributed by their presumably educated and productive offspring.

      "There are non-western advanced or rising economies such as Japan, South Korea, Israel, Turkey, China, etc. that do not rely on large female labor force "

      Regarding the role of women in China, while there may be a wage gap, I can personally attest based on first hand experience of living in a Chinese city, that Chinese women are economically as active as Chinese men, and have as little interest in child-bearing as Western women.

      I suspect that the drop in birthrates is a process similar to drug addiction or obesity (yes, I realize I might be overdoing comparisons with obesity, but bear with me). Historically, reproduction was a direct consequence of the sex drive, so humans did not need to actively seek reproduction; just sex, and reproduction would follow. With the advent of contraception, it is now possible to enjoy the pleasures of sex, without reproducing, thus leading to a "short-circuit", similar to how drugs simulate the neurochemical effects of achievement or popularity, without actually doing so.

      Other reasons like the cost of raising children etc are incomplete at best, as we don't see millionaires having more offspring than the poorer classes, quite the opposite. The trend does indeed seem dysgenic as you mentioned.

      What can one do? We must spread the word, both about the sex-reproduction "short-circuit", and the broader empathobesity concept.


      Full disclosure: In the context of birthrates by demographic, there are white muslims (e.g. John Walker Lindh) as well as non-whites who are vehement defenders of the Enlightenment. I'm one myself, and am of South Asian origin. It should not, in my view, be simply cast as a white vs rest issue.

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  4. Part of the western decline could be caused by dysgenics: the women with the highest education and those in managerial positions are also those women most likely to be childless. The most highly educated women in society are having fewer children than the less educated women.
    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/04/07/more-u-s-women-are-going-childless/

    It appears that there is general IQ decline in the West.
    Evidence suggests that the IQs of people in the UK, Denmark, Norway and Australia have declined in the last decade.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2730791/Are-STUPID-Britons-people-IQ-decline.html

    http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/mind/iq-in-decline-across-the-world-as-scientists-say-were-getting-dumber/news-story/f08cbe3b4ab62c500e28d4a4e3b64780

    Data fot the US also suggests possible IQ decline.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-09-03/americans-have-never-been-dumber

    http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/brookings-now/posts/2015/07/decline-in-average-intelligence-marine-corps-officers

    East Asian students are now outperforming western students according to PISA surveys, which wasn't the case before 15 years:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment

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  5. Great and original thinking, thank you. I suggest "empathology" as a more definitive term, as the obesity of "empathobesity" drowns out the meaning regarding empathy.

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    1. Empathology is an interesting term too, though for a moment I thought you meant empatho-logy (i.e. study of empathy; like bio-logy) rather than em-pathology.

      I've become accustomed to using empathobesity in my thinking, so I'd prefer to continue with it, but whatever term we use, it's important to try and explain the reasoning behind it. Do try and refer people to this post or mention this concept in day to day conversations where feasible.

      If you have particular suggestions or criticisms of the post, I'd be very interested in reading about them too.

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  6. This is brilliant. I wish I could recommend it to my facebook friends. Unfortunately, I would lose most of those friends instantly and my job within two weeks.

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    1. Thanks for your encouraging feedback. I'm not sure that sharing a link to this blog would have such adverse effects; the blog is written in quite sober language.

      Please consider trying to disseminate the concept. In my view, the future of the Enlightenment is at stake.

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  7. Let's not throw the baby out with the sauna. Gay married couples provide nests for raising children. Nothing suggests that such children, whether adopted or artificially inseminated, are by any measure worse off than traditionally raised kids. I'm not gay, but I see the trend pulling gays into more traditional roles, rather than negatively affecting the rest of society.

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    1. Possibly. I'm leaning in the direction you suggest, but am reserving judgement pending further data. In particular, I'd like to know if the nurture component of having gay parents (in the case of adoptions) increases the likelihood of homosexual lifestyle preferences in said children.

      In any case, I certainly have nothing against gays having children via insemination etc. Prohibiting or restricting that is too intrusive in my view. As I have mentioned in my "Tark Marg: Polestar of Morality" post, social privileges should follow the bearing and rearing of productive children irrespective of the sexual orientation of the parents/guardians.

      What I'm opposing is the conferring of marriage privileges on gay couples out of emapthobesity. See http://tarkmarg.blogspot.sg/2016/04/tark-marg-pole-star-of-moral-behavior.html for more detail.

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  8. BTW, this is an interesting blog. But let's not fall to hyperbole. The "cetacean rights" supporters aren't suggesting they're going to vote, although looking at the politics on the right it's clear that a right to vote has already been granted without verifying competence to understand anything more complicated that short slogans. But on the dolphins, it's just a matter of treating living beings with decency. The more we perceive traits of consciousness, the more a conscious human being will treat them respectfully. It's automatic. There's no survival value for us in devastating the planet and its biodiversity, anyway.

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    1. "The "cetacean rights" supporters aren't suggesting they're going to vote"

      Today's reductio ad absurdum is tomorrow's burning civil rights issue, or at least could be. Two decades ago people would've called the possibility of gay marriage hyperbole. In any case, I'm not saying that chimps voting is around the corner, but wouldn't rule it out happening in some form or shape. Btw, there already is a party of the animals http://www.partyfortheanimals.nl/. They're not calling for animal voting, but for animal interests to be taken into account.

      "The more we perceive traits of consciousness, the more a conscious human being will treat them respectfully.."

      That'd be the default reaction of most people, but that's not the same thing as being rationally correct. As I see it, the level of sentience and possibility of cooperation in the case of dolphins is nowhere enough to justify much more consideration than other animals. I've tried to develop an objective framework to view the subject of animal rights. If you have the time and inclination, see http://tarkmarg.blogspot.sg/2016/04/tark-marg-pole-star-of-moral-behavior.html for more detail.


      "There's no survival value for us in devastating the planet "

      No doubt. I'm not suggesting we devastate the planet. For instance I support taking well calibrated actions to counter climate change for instance. My sole parameter is self-perpetuation (or survival value as you put it). Whatever gets us that, I'd support.

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  9. You're absolutely right about "underdog-ism," but I'm afraid I can't follow you into your rejection of feminism and gay marriage.

    That doesn't mean that I think women are the same as men: I think they're equally intellectually capable and valid, but they may be constitutionally less aggressive or self-promoting, and this may put them at a disadvantage in competitive workplace scenarios. I have been in meetings in which I've witnessed the one or two women in the room constantly getting interrupted and talked over, not because the men are evil chauvinist pigs, but because the men are simply innately likely to 1) be more forceful, and 2) listen to people whom they perceive as being like them. So I think a moderately feminist proposition is that we ought to work a bit to counteract those scenarios, whether by heightening the awareness of those involved or by trying to elevate female voices a bit.

    As for gay marriage, I'm obviously biased because I'm gay. But I think the key points are that: 1) Marriage as a social institution largely transcends the functional purpose of promoting childbearing (we don't forbid infertile couples to marry) - in contemporary society, marriage is a way to celebrate and affirm the union of two individuals based on love, conferring upon them certain rights, securities, and protections. 2) Ample research serves to confirm the biological basis of sexual orientation. As far as evolutionary utility, it seems that women who are exceptionally fertile are more likely to bear homosexual offspring, and the likelihood of a homosexual child goes up with each subsequent birth. Perhaps from an evolutionary perspective, this was simply a "risk worth taking." So once born, these homosexuals find other homosexuals and have cul-de-sac relationships, perhaps not bearing children of their own, but certainly contributing to society as productive members during their lifespans. And far from being "unnatural," homosexuality is something that occurs frequently in nature and the animal kingdom - it's just that most humans are not particularly aware of it. So if contemporary marriage is a social contract that confers rights and protections upon two people who love each other, why should it not be extended to all those who love each other, particularly if there is a valid biological basis for said love?

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    1. Thank you for your measured tone Alex. Many discussions on these topics veer into the verbal equivalent of screeching and clawing, so I welcome your calm arguments.

      "So I think a moderately feminist proposition is that we ought to work a bit to counteract those scenarios..."

      My point is somewhat orthogonal to this. As you'll see above, I'm all in favor of expanding the labor force as an expanded and educated labor force is indispensable in the model I've proposed above. My point is that from a self-perpetuation perspective (which is my sole criterion as described in my post from 3 April 2016) dogmatic feminism, while temporarily increasing the labor force, has sharply lowered the Western birth rate (note that I'm not of European ancestry myself) while at the same time, the forces which gave rise to feminism are also pushing mass immigration of often incompatible populations. This is a recipe for great trouble, previews of which we've been seeing for a long time.

      "Marriage as a social institution largely transcends the functional purpose of promoting childbearing (we don't forbid infertile couples to marry)"

      Can I please refer you to my post on 3 April 2016 titled "Tark Marg..."? (Tark Marg means Path of Reason in Sanskrit).

      As I have discussed there, in my view, for self-perpetuation, society should provide privileges/recognition/subsidies only to those who provide tangible benefits to society, namely future productive citizens, by whatever means. Thus, gay parents are more deserving of subsidies than childless heterosexual parents from a societal self perpetuation perspective, as they privately bear a burden which has a positive externality (future taxpayers and workers).

      "in contemporary society, marriage is a way to celebrate and affirm the union of two individuals based on love..."

      I'm not disputing this, I'm saying that this approach is illogical and counter to the underlying self-perpetuation rationale for all individual and social impulses and norms. This is described in more detail in my 3 April post (sorry to keep referring to it repeatedly).

      "As far as evolutionary utility, it seems that women who are exceptionally fertile are more likely to bear homosexual offspring, and the likelihood of a homosexual child goes up with each subsequent birth. Perhaps from an evolutionary perspective, this was simply a "risk worth taking...homosexuality is something that occurs frequently in nature"

      Possibly, although the widespread taboos surrounding homosexuality may also be argued to have a evolutionary underpinning. Indeed, the fact that such taboos are associated with not only homosexuality, but numerous types of sexual activity like incest, sex with animals or inanimate objects or with oneself, all of which share the feature of not furthering the reproductive basis for the sex drive, points quite strongly to an evolutionary basis for these taboos.

      In any case, my point is that social subsidies should be conferred for tangible contributions, like future taxpayers. Heterosexual couples who do not reproduce should also not be given said subsidies, nor should gay parents be deprived of them.

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    2. "So if contemporary marriage is a social contract that confers rights and protections upon two people who love each other, why should it not be extended to all those who love each other..."

      I agree that this is how contemporary marriage is construed, but I'm saying that this is erroneous on a self-perpetuation footing.

      Let me add that as far as contracts go, in my view all people should have some rights like nominating power of attorney or visitation rights, as these are not connected with sexual activity. Thus two siblings or good friends living far from next of kin should be have the right to be "married", in other words be able to nominate each other as proxies in case of accidents etc. In effect, based on this definition, children and parents, or siblings are already "married" in an asexual sense.

      Yet the term marriage is typically associated with sexual activity. Sexual activity in turn (in my view) is only relevant from a social perspective in that it leads to social self-perpetuation and for the sake of its survival society must put in place privileges to compensate parents over and above others for the burdens of bearing and rearing future taxpayers.

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