The members took a vow of celibacy, and the church depended on new members joining. As of today, there are just two offical Shakers left, both quite old.
Really? So the population has to always increase? When does it end?
> American population and culture is in no danger of dying off
Neither is japan's. You could argue that japan's population and culture will last longer than america's.
I look at say Japan and they've got all this history, art, literature, customs, even essentially their own religion. Their culture is very distinct.
I look at Russia, Austria, England, France, most of the rest of Europe and Asia and see the same thing. They have their own art, history, customs and behaviours that are quite distinct from one another.
But I don't see America's culture. I suspect the problem is that American culture has been exported throughout the western world so much that it's hard to tell it apart but I'm not sure.
In that sense it lacks some inherent culture because it's a collection of different people who came here from all over the world. Japan (and most other older nations) has a shared ethnic and religious identity that goes back centuries or millennia, whereas America by definition doesn't really have that. Instead it's an amalgamation of all of the different people who live here. To me, "American culture" means going to downtown Mountain View, CA for dinner and getting to choose from dozens of amazing cuisines from all over the world (with varying degrees of authenticity, but still).
Even food/cultural artifacts/etc. which are strongly associated with America tend to be things brought here from other places and cultures and adapted to local tastes.
The "blood and soil" people are especially alarming to me because what they're most passionate about is attempting to retcon America into being based on religious/ethnic/geographic identity politics rather than what actually makes America somewhat unique and successful, which is simply the fact that it's based on ideas rather than tribalism, and was designed as a haven from tribalism in other countries.
I'm sure someone will read this and get all up in arms about the gazillion times America has done horrible things that went against the very ideals that I just described. Trust me, I know. I'm not trying to idealize everything and sweep that stuff under the rug. Every country has always and will always deviate from its own principles, but it falls on patriots (as opposed to nationalists) to do whatever they can to help steer it back in the right direction. Patriotism should be about fixing things when they go wrong, not "my country right or wrong".
* Philosophy: the concept of philosophical pragmatism and big contributions to economic and political liberalism
* Music: Aron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Jazz, ...
* Architecture: Frank Loyd Wright and a lot of contributions to modernism
* Literature: Hemingway, Faulkner, ...
If you want to talk about "customs", a mindset typical of a country that sets them apart from the other cultures you described, the most typical American trait is a pioneer belief, a radical optimism with very little regard for traditions. That attitude permeates the list above.
I doubt Japanese culture will survive this century, but it is only seventy-odd years old.
Each one of those chip away at American culture. It _is_ in danger IMO.
edit: To clarify, I'm not saying whether or not this is a good or bad thing. All I'm saying is that our culture is changing massively, the fundamental norms of our culture are shifting, and an argument can be made that common American culture is "under attack" by forces changing it into a completely different direction.
I would argue, rather, that American culture isn't under attack. It's merely changing with the beliefs and ideals of newer generations, both native and immigrant. That's perfectly normal, as culture isn't and shouldn't be static, nor should it serve to maintain the status quo of power for any particular race, religion or political ideology.
If fundamental changes to a culture isn't a culture under attack, then what would you consider an attacked culture look like?
However, it doesn't necessarily follow that the influence on American culture made by the demographic minority is less legitimate than that of the majority. As immigration to the US has increased and with it the political power of different ethnicities and religions, the locus of American identity has become distributed to reflect that greater complexity.
And that's what's happening - an increase in cultural complexity reflecting an increase in demographic complexity and distribution of political and social power.
Therefore, I submit that it's not possible to attack a culture from within that culture, as a participant of that culture.
What you consider to be under attack are echoes of a traditionalist past we're trying to put behind us. And good riddance.
Along the same vein, there can be legal freedoms provided to us while having cultural limitations placed on those freedoms. Social pressures are powerful and occur in every group.
Holidays, religious traditions, and to some extent language are artifacts of where the earliest American founders happened to be from, not bedrocks of culture nor the only foundations upon which communities can be built.
Edit: The alienation you imply is happening is a direct result of our collective inability to let go of outdated traditionalism and give people space to explore who and what they truly are.
(Your use of words like "under attack", "our", and "danger", and negative examples of multiculturalism really make it sound like you wish women stayed at home and everyone was Christian.)
I used "our" because I am an American in the midwest that is part of majority American culture, and I assume most readers are too. These changes affect me.
I used negative examples of multiculturalism because people tend to react more strongly to negative stimuli, so these are the changes that most people are going to react negatively to, emphasizing the "under attack" portion of my statement.
I did edit my original comment to emphasize that I'm not trying to attach my belief of whether or not it's a net positive or negative to the situation, so hopefully that will help a bit.
If "American culture" means women should stay in the kitchen  and I should pretend to be Christian , then good. I hope "American culture" dies.
 "women in the workforce are splitting families apart"
 "Our workers don't have common holidays anymore"
just because things are from the past doesnt mean theyre automatically invoked in the least charitable way you can interpret them.
If your panda bears are failing to breed, surely the solution is not to just import grizzly bears and pretend the panda bears never existed there? I guess it's a type of solution to the problem of "lack of bears", but is it really a good thing?
2. With regards to here, yes you're correct. If anything I should be calling the people in question out for using HN like Reddit (i.e. I downvote that which I disagree with).
Culture is not fixed at birth. People both adopt the surrounding culture and change it.
Wow, just wow. But I'll assume you're talking about the bigger picture of - if the country is to survive long term we'll need to have a higher birth rate, what could be done to encourage that. I'd say the first thing we have to do is get people off the economic treadmill. Stop encouraging people to pile on debt. When everyone is too busy trying to pay the rent there's a disincentive to have children.
Fixing that problem by further overpopulating certain regions seems like a rather odd fix and mostly motivated by some kind of "genetic egoism" along the lines of "My genes are so great, can't have future humanity live without them!".
It is weird how you make it sound so bad and insulting.
Do you want to suggest that we humans live for no other reason than to procreate?
Don't you think we, as a species, should be able to think a bit further ahead, instead of basing all our behavior and goals on procreating, like we are some kind of mindless virus?
Rabbits might not be sentient or "smart" enough to realize when they are overpopulating a region and having a negative impact on the environment.
But we humans most certainly are "smart" enough to realize it, yet we still act like rabbits to it.
So the smart thing to do, as supposedly the "smartest beings on the planet", would be to come up with another, maybe even sustainable, reason for existing than merely "propagating ourselves" like there are no limits to those finite resources we are mostly wasting to do that, at least right now.
In those rare cases where we decide to agree to "live for bigger and more complex reasons" we often manage to build amazing things; Like whole Empires, a "Land of the free" or space stations zipping across the skies at 17.000 miles per hour.
Imho that's one of the reasons why people like Elon Musk can have such an, sometimes nearly cult-like, impact: He offers visions for a "unified humanity goal" without using the clutches of religious dogma or much nationalistic fervor.
His ideas appeal because they still hold true to your original "biological cause" for existing: Colonizing Mars would be an epitomal achievement for "terrestrial life".
The reason women have fewer children nowadays is because of women's liberation - specifically in terms of education and professions. Working and studying requires time and dedication, and that conflicts with having and raising a child.
I don't really know how to solve this problem other than force women to choose between careers and children as they currently do. The best thing I can think of is subsidizing child care, trying to get more jobs that can support a family (so one parent can work and one can child raise), better maternity and paternity leave, and maybe making it more common to take a year or two off around 18 to 20.
1 - http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/11/birth-rates-...
Since most childcare providers are women and programs with high adult to child ratios are preferred doesn’t this lead to the strange situation where a large parts of the workforce are taking care of other people’s young children?
This story reminds me of two similar stories. One was a fad in England where middle class wet nurses were employed by the wealthy. The middle class then passed their children down to the lower class and the lower class to the lowest class. The result was the lowest class mothers wet nursing a half dozen children.
The second story was that in communist Russia the early leadership was obsessed with economic efficiency. The thought of mother’s raising their children was considered a waste of resources and so the idea was that the state would take over raising and caring for children. Professionals would be better equipped and trained and, more importantly, more efficient! The result was a nearly feral generation of children that almost collapsed the country.
Raising young children is just very labor and resource intensive. Forgoing having children frees up a tremendous amount of economic resources and can temporarily boost consumption. In economics this is known as the one time “generational dividend” that if squandered leaves society poorer and not richer.
I'm a believer in the idea that we should be using productivity to ease the obligations of labor. Ideally we could get back to one person per household working, or even better, both parents doing part time work (though I believe this plan requires socialized medicine). This would give plenty of time for child raising and wage earning, and distribute the burdens evenly among parents.
In recent years women have faced a declining happiness according to self reported results. We also have dwindling populations in the developed world and exploding populations in the under developed world where ideally that would be reversed and we could send the developing world doctors, engineers, teachers, etc. I see these problems as connected by the fact that women are structurally limited by society from pursuing their biological drive towards children whereas men, who don't face declining happiness, live in a society that encourages their biological drive (sex).
Women are not really struturaly limited to have more children. Most families could afford one more child if they wanted to. Not being at home is preferable then to be at home for women. There is a reason fight for female right to have career happened when large part of population was able to have one person at home - that situation largely sux for too many personality types and on top of it, you are fully aware of your lesser status.
It would be the same with man at home. He would become restless and unhappy too.
And sex has nothing to do with anything. Contraception made it so.
The counter argument was made in Elizabeth Warrens book The Two Income Trap where her research showed that the single income family of the 1970’s had more disposable income than the two income family of the 90’s after adjusting for housing, healthcare, transportation and childcare and showed that the majority of those expenses were primarily driven by children.
A household with children has less ability to make trade offs in the big four than a household without children. For example affordable schools and childcare may dictate more expensive or more distant housing.
The result is that children have a disproportionate impact to discretionary income beyond immediate needs for food, shelter and clothing. If you consider children as just another discretionary way of spending income people in many cases will make the rational choice to spend less on children if the cost is vastly increased.
In other words if the choice is between a minivan and instant coffee and a Mercedes and Starbucks many women may rationally choose the later.
If children were like any other discretionary purchase this wouldn’t be a problem but children are also a societal asset (or liability). Current public policy in many countries has shifted to privatizes more of the costs while socializing the benefits.
For example Social Security benefits is a pay—as-you-go program but there are no adjustments to benefits based on the economic value of the children that a household contributed to the current generation that is paying it. If the costs of raising those children were fully socialized it wouldn’t be an issue but otherwise it is a transfer of income from those who raised children to those who did not.
I did not meant money so much through. More like, overall lifestyle and your ability to do things that are not children related. With one child, mom can have work she takes seriously and is important for her. She can be competitive there, if you will. With four, nope. Whether you value yourself as entrepreneur, passionate programmer, artist, reader of books, gamer, whatever, you are more or less ok with one-two childs. With four/three, you have to forget about that other identity of yours. Forever.
Have you ever derived confidence or was praised for being good at something or achieving something? One more child may mean good bye to all that.
Moreover, 1970 had poor people too. There was less gap between poor and rich, but it existed. Poor people still exist. Taking about past families as of 1960-1970 usa affluent upper middle class were historical norm is weird. I have noticed tendency to take richest parts of society as the norm, ignoring majority of population for most historical periods.
Imo, a lot of effort and money into childrasing is consequence of widening gap between classes of people. If the difference between bad school and good school did not meant so much for future life, the good school districts would not be so expensive. That is zero sum competition and it does not matter how many incomes you have. You simply need more then competitors.
It may still hold if public policy transfers income from families with children. This could range from mercantilistic suppression of exchange rates that favors exporters to the detriment of households to public spending for the retired. France has worked to develop policy that is targeted at raising the fertility rate with some success.
This evidence seems to directly contradict your view that women spend less time at home because they are bored and made unhappy by it. Furthermore, the evidence I've given above, that women in developed countries all have fewer children than they say they want suggests there is a systemic oppression of women here.
Your point of view discounts taking care of children. You assume people would be unhappy doing it, or people who do it are inferior. This is a sexist opinion that devalues child raising and domestic labor.
Especially when there are children in the mix, then shorter shift makes organizing things easier - for husband too. One of you two has to go to care for children and when women cant leave sooner, husband has to. If you have no career, just a dead end job you dont like all that much, going sooner is attractive. It just so happen to be completely different situation then having nothing productive to do whole day.
> Furthermore, the evidence I've given above, that women in developed countries all have fewer children than they say they want suggests there is a systemic oppression of women here.
Having one more child would in practice means complete stop of any meaningful work and career or whatever it is that they wish to do with their time. Not just having to come sooner then full time shift, but end of the game. These people are choosing to have less children. I both have less cars and less dogs then I consider optimal, but in both cases there is practical reason why I made that trade off. It is same thing with children.
> Your point of view discounts taking care of children. You assume people would be unhappy doing it, or people who do it are inferior.
And yes, they are considered inferior by large groups of society. Be it religious people or people who value money a lot. You may talk about how awesome domestic labor is, but that is just words. Women, who actually did it in the past, were actually considered lesser. And the very fact that they did childrasing was (and still is in fundamentalist subcultures) used as argument for why they should be ruled over by somebody else.
The hell, being "naturally caring" is still talked about as opposite of both intelligent and able to learn tech - every single time topic of women comes out.
A) Be unaffected
I'm not saying there is a fixed amount of work, I'm making a supply and demand argument to argue that the cost of labor will fall when the supply increases. Thus, I think my analysis isn't committing this fallacy, but if be happy to consider your reasoning if you care to explain.
Care to provide a source? We have kindergartens that accept children as young as 1.5 y.o, older kids (3+) typically stay at kindergarten for 8 hours a day.
Nuclear families were already under pressure in by the 1920's due to the impacts of World War One which resulted in a surplus of women and internal displacement that broke up many nuclear families. This was compounded by the family code of 1918 which liberalized divorce and resulted in many men abandoning their families. A 1926 Atlantic archive summarizes illustrates the impact:
With the breakup of the nuclear family as an economic unit many women and children entered a workforce that was ill-equipped to receive them depressing factory wages. The shift of labor from child rearing to the production of consumer goods resulted in an increase in the besprizorniki, or the "unattended".
The most complete works on the subject are by Wendy Z. Goldman including The "Withering Away" and the Resurrection of the Soviet Family, 1917-1936 and Women, the State and Revolution Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917–1936. Copies of the second can be found online and a quote on page 76 summarizes the cycle.
The decrease in children's homes and daycare centers inadvertently increased the numbers of besprizorniki as the needs of women and the needs of children formed the tight, alternating links of a vicious circle. Without daycare, many single mothers were unable to search for work, and without work, they were unable to support their children, who in turn ran away from impoverished homes to join the besprizorniki on the streets. The large numbers of besprizorniki then forced the state to divert scarce resources from daycare centers to children's homes, increasing the hardships of both employed and unemployed mothers, and ultimately increasing the numbers of besprizorniki.
From the article:
>In XIX. century the trend of having a single child took hold among protestants of the historical regions of Novohrad, Hont, Malohont and Gemer.
>it seems that if you had multiple kids back then you've got criticized and laughed at by your friends and neighbors.
In a hypothetical world, this decision should not be a woman's decision only. Why don't we have this problem with men?
>>> I don't really know how to solve this problem other than force women to choose between careers and children as they currently do.
Force men to make the same decision?! Why only women have to choose?
The main idea I'm getting at is that the world is dynamic and unpredictable. Today's advantage might be tomorrow's disadvantage and vice versa.
- widespread easy access to contraception
- low early life mortality
- massive agricultural automation and machinery
- pervasive educational opportunities
As far as I can tell, this trend is global in every modern urban setting, some are just further along.
But it also puts high price tag on children.
I think western society causes (or promotes?) a bit of hyper-individualism which makes cohabitation really difficult. We also have much easier access to alcohol, drugs, and gambling - aka “family destroyers”.
And it simultaneously used to be that women were severely disadvantage in workplace making a men practical necessity - no matter what the relationship looks like. That is not people solving problems for family sake.
True story. My grandparents were separated for the final 30 years of their lives, after all their children left the house. But they never divorced.
Consider the implications though: each farm may become more efficient, but that increases the food supply, lowering the food price. Then you add in a shrinking population, lowering demand, lowering the price further.
Sure, for the right price you could hire labor for your farm, but then you'd lose money on every sale. It's not lack of labor so much as lack of labor at prices you can afford.
And this is happening today. A friend of mine is from a large farm family in southern Kentucky. Grain prices are getting so low because of high yields that even with the best technology on hand they can barely make a profit. This is great for consumers (cheap food) but short term fluctuations put smaller farming operations at serious risk.
So to answer your initial question of why there was so much agriculture to begin with: it was required to feed the population.
I was wondering if there might have been some specific "invention", unique to that era, triggering a spike in general farm efficiency, and I think I might have found it .
Around 1800 should have been the time where European agriculture became kinda "industrialized", with people putting some actual scientific effort into figuring out what makes crops grow and in what order to best grow them.
> And this is happening today. A friend of mine is from a large farm family in southern Kentucky. Grain prices are getting so low because of high yields that even with the best technology on hand they can barely make a profit.
I wonder how much of that problem is due to, by now, unrealistic "profit expectations", for industrialized agriculture? Heck, as idealistic as it may sound, maybe the problem is that we expect to make "money" of something as essential as food in the very first place?
Could farmers be self-sustainable, if they didn't have to worry about scaling up to support "commercial interests"?
The point being that any non-locally-produced food was basically a luxury item even decades after the period in question.
Today a family farm there is about 1200 acres. That's 1/7 the rural density. The economic catchment for the town no longer has enough customers to support the businesses it once did...and that all happened before Amazon and UPS and Walmart thirty miles away and Costco up in Minneapolis and cars got faster and safer and roads got better.
"Sexual abstinence brought in the familiar zoo of weird behaviors, ranging from coitus interruptus to having sex with animals."
A interesting historical parallel is early Australia. Due to more men than women being shipped as convicts to Australia (something like 50:1), many women in Australia were rather reluctant to get married. Why get married and be under the power of your husband when you could live “in sin” and move on if your defacto husband was not up to scratch.
Well, sure, but what about the second-order effects? Will we see a mass emigration of Chinese men to countries where they have more to offer than local men? Will we see an effort by the Chinese government to attract foreign women to the country? Will those men head off into the hills to eat barbecue, fire their AKs and forment revolution with their bros?
There are not many large countries with a female surplus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_sex_ratio - well Brazil and Canada I guess.
Interestingly there is even a page for China https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chinese_administrative...
There is a theory that the historically extreme anti-homosexual culture of Australia was a blowback from this time .
1. I should say this has changed a great deal in the last few decades (we just passed a referendum/plebiscite on legalising SSM), but I am old enough to remember that to be called a “poofter” was the worst insult any man could receive.
1. South Australia (now a state) was the first country in the world to allow women to vote (in the 1890s) although from memory New Zealand was the first “country" to allow women to vote - I should mention that NZ was as much as country at the time as South Australia (all were British dominions).
As to the facts, it does not look to me like Slovakia had particularly low fertility.
See e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Slovakia
"Half of all women born before 1930 had three or more children compared to one-third of Czech women of the same birth cohorts": https://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol19/25/19-25....
As to the narrative, I've never heard of a society breeding itself into prosperity. In 2005, the 10 countries with the highest fertility in the world were: Niger, Mali, Somalia, Chad, Burundi, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, East Timor, and Angola.
Bottom 10 on that list were: Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia, Malta, Portugal, South Korea, Singapore, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Hong Kong, and Macau. A somewhat mixed record of success, to be sure, but would any of them want to trade places with any country in the top 10?
He speaks of ONE part of Slovakia, and ONE community/religious group in that. And even that, in the past, not now. Those demographic numbers are, as such, irrelevant.
>As to the narrative, I've never heard of a society breeding itself into prosperity.
You'd be surprised. The reason the list doesn't look impressive is that fertility is one factor, and those countries lack the others (and have few hopes of getting it). Instead look at China, India, and the like for better examples.
Plus, it's reversing cause and effect, as countries with major growth tend to decrease in fertility rates.
That would be China, which for most of its phase of economic hyper growth had a rather brutally enforced low fertility policy?
They didn't have an economic boost while suffering from the effects of sub-replacement/low fertility rates. Instead they've developed a huge population that was enough to fuel a huge growth, so much so that they had to slow it down.
America, UK, Germany, Japan - most modern nations had reasonably normal to high birth rates over the last few hundred years.
This is completely false.
In North America in particular, the entire economic strategy was built on large scale immigration.
Most nations become rich by 'adding bodies' into a functioning economy - and by nothing else.
---> Why do you think that the US and Canada are so keen on immigration? And why economists want Japan to have immigration? <----
Canada's population 100 years ago was a fraction of what it it is today - do you think it would be 'as rich' with just a few million people? Perhaps on a per-capita basis, but then probably not.
WORKERS = GDP.
So long as they are integrated into a working economy.
I do not like this approach to growth but it's how many nations do it.
Of course - 'adding bodies' into a dysfunctional economy, or where there are no means for those new bodies to add economic activity ... will be bad. Hence - China, India, Africa.
I think we should find better ways to achieve growth - but 'body count' is still the number ONE way that entities around the world try to do it.
Canadian city mayors are all clamouring for more bodies = more tax base = more power.
High fertility rates usually mean:
- People are having more children to provide manual labor.
- People are getting together with each other because they don't have as many distractions from the modern world.
- People haven't been taught safe sex or don't have access to protection.
- The culture of a region hasn't caught up with the times.
High immigration usually means:
- The nation is a desirable place to move to.
- Successful immigrants to that nation are bringing valuable and useful skills.
I agree with your point that adding more people strengthens the economy when most of those people are contributing to the GDP (and weaken the economy if they consume more than they produce), but I am bothered by your absolutisms ("This is completely false" | "Most nations become rich by 'adding bodies' [...] and nothing else"). High immigration is a symptom of an already strong economy, and high fertility is often a symptom of a developing economy.
They aren't behind the times (as long at "times" doesn't mean promiscuous sex and drinking), not uneducated, don't more kids for manual labor. And I'm sure they know about birth control. But many of them have a lot of kids.
My grandmother had 11 children, and educated them all quite ably.
First - breeding is far more preferable than immigration because there are myriads of cultural aspects that newcomers will not ever fathom as most adult immigrants will never fully integrate into a new society. In Canada - significant numbers of newcomers will never even achieve basic French/English comprehension skills - even if it's only 5%, they cannot participate in the economy and it crushes 'productivity' numbers for that cohort. Even in 'successful' immigration countries like Canada - rates of unemployment are higher, wages are lower, and rates of criminality are higher for immigrants than for natural born citizens (not including Aboriginals).
FYI the 'civilized' people who have all discovered 'contraception' are literally dying out within just a few generations. The only way those communities can exist is by bringing in immigrants who 'haven't been taught safe sex or behind the times'.
Issues of 'personal choice and freedom' aside - the issue of birth control is having effects upon civilization like nothing we've even before.
Add this to places like Africa, wherein we now can feed and clothe vast quantities of people, and wherein having quantities of children outside of established families / employment is normative leading to population explosions in poverty.
These are wild times. Westerners should have a little bit more children, everyone else a few less, and things would work out just a little bit better, tensions would be lower, productivity would be better.
gdp is headcount times productivity. seems like you forgot productivity in your equation.
The population of Japan at this point was larger than that of the UK (by 10%), metropolitan France (same), Italy (by 30%), the Ottoman Empire (by 30%), Spain (more than 2x).
Going back one more century, to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_populatio... we see Japan in _6th_ place, after the Qing empire, Maratha Empire, British Empire, French Republic, Russian Empire.
Of course in both cases Japan was not a huge part of total world population. It was about 2.5% in 1900 and about 3% in 1800. But that didn't matter when most of the world population wasn't trying to be a world power at all (e.g. they were Chinese peasants). And Japan was more or less comparable to the other major world powers of the time in terms of population.
Now productivity is, of course, important: There's a reason the Dutch East Indies were not considered a serious power in 1900 and Japan was. And we can talk about correlation vs causation (e.g. higher productivity might have been enabling more population growth, leading to high-productivity societies becoming more populous). But just in terms of raw numbers, Japan was in fact one of the most populous countries in the world in the 19th century.
I agree with your overall point that just adding bodies is not enough. But the premise of the grandparent post was that what works is adding bodied to a _functioning_ economy, which is where the productivity assumption comes in. If you add bodies as fast as you can without hurting your productivity (too much, at least), that's the path to economic success at least in the 19th and early 20th century.
The point is primary, that fertility statistics for whole Slovakia are useless here, because Slovakia is mostly Catholic. And they used to have big families, valued big families and having no or only one child would be a shame and sad for Catholic women. Author does not claim that Slovakia had low fertility, he claims that protestants were different and had culture of small families. So the stats you dug out are irrelevant.
Given he specifically talks about a handful of places and contrasts with other regions where people had more children, and has a first hand account, shouldn't you be the one to dig up more info?
Unless you think he completely made up the whole thing? Hopefully it's not that.
A second or third hand account of his great-grandmother leaving her farm, but he says he did NOT understand the reasons for leaving from the family account.
> shouldn't you be the one to dig up more info?
You know, when part of the theory being espoused is literally that the region got depopulated because protestant Slovaks had a particular penchant for sex with farm animals, I rather think that the proponent of the theory has to meet a bigger burden of proof than what's in evidence here.
> Unless you think he completely made up the whole thing? Hopefully it's not that.
"completely made up" is a strong word, and OP cites a source. However, reading (part of) that source, I get the strong impression that both interviewer and interviewee were fitting anecdotes into a preconceived narrative. There is a lot of speculation and gazing at headstones, and little mention of trying to get at the underlying numbers: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=sk&tl=en&u=h...
It's his great-grandmother and his family. I imagine he would know a thing or two about the culture, history and customs. Besides the particular story of the great-grandmother seems to just be a side story and background used to introduce the topic.
> protestant Slovaks had a particular penchant for sex with farm animals
Seems like that was misread. There were rumors of that happening because there was a cultural element encouraging having fewer children, so abstinence and various rituals around it became popular. I don't think reproductive and sex rituals are uncommon and strange. And we didn't invent strange sex stuff because internet is around. People were raunchy and sex obsessed before as well. I don't think that needs rigorous sources.
> both interviewer and interviewee were fitting anecdotes into a preconceived narrative.
It seems they still have more information and experience to draw from than an average HN'er here.
If you just want to say, "I personally dislike that culture or ritual or theory", that's a fine thing. I can say I dislike spaghetti and like hamburgers more as well. But if you're trying to convince others that the presented story is wrong, then either a personal account would work (you live there, heard the stories, experience them), or even better if you have decent sources. Your source didn't quite do it and it's silly to ask the author or others to go dig more sources to prove their case.
My reading of OP is that he does not claim to have understood these until he read the source. And neither he nor his sources seem to have any grasp of the underlying economics. The underlying narrative of a prosperous society that collapsed because nobody was available to work the fields is extremely dubious. OP mentions that there is 30% unemployment in the region. Why can't they STILL get anyone to work the fields (Not to mention the massive productivity improvements that agriculture has gone through)?
> I don't think reproductive and sex rituals are uncommon and strange. [...] I don't think that needs rigorous sources.
I don't think these are uncommon at all (especially the premarital sex on which the interview frowns so much)... which is precisely why I doubt their causal link to the observed depopulation.
> It seems they still have more information and experience to draw from than an average HN'er here.
If they do, why don't they share that information, instead of talking about sex with farm animals and premarital relations? Even through the language barrier of the translation, the moral panic is evident.
> If you just want to say, "I personally dislike that culture or ritual or theory"
I do dislike the theory. It's a rancid mix of natalism and moral panic.
I do NOT dislike the culture. It's the OP and his sources who are claiming that Protestant Slovaks sheep shagged themselves to extinction. My baseline is that everybody has traditions, rituals, and the occasional dysfunction, so any contention that a particular set of these led to disaster needs to be backed by data, not anecdotes.
Small community may thrive. Community that was absorbed by different culture, no matter how large, is no longer yours.
Genetics seems to play a key role in the development of culture and social structure. If you move 1M Mexicans in Tokyo, their offspring will not act like Japanese people do, regardless of the environment. They would exhibit different behavioral and voting patterns.
Large groups of people carry characteristic sets of genes which drive behavioral patterns, as well as culture which also drives behavioral patterns. On a large scale, the differences between Japanese and Mexicans are driven by cultural and genetic differences.
The degree, balance, and nature of those differences is complex and up for debate, of course. But to state that Japanese and Mexicans have no distinguishing behavior-driving genes at all even in the slightest degree is basically the left-wing version of young-Earth creationism.
As far as I can tell (again, in my relative ignorance), the assertion that "genetics seems to play a key role in the development of culture and social structure" is just as foolish and unsupported as the claim that you dismissed.
Would it not be completey bizarre if there were zero differences in the one most complex organ we do not understand?
Would you argue that no group of people are taller? Or could run faster? Or perhaps have varying levels of visual acuity? What would cause such differences to suddenly just completely stop because it's related to the brain?
Meanwhile, there are lots of different genetic groups making up America, even within a race - the American definition of "white" is extremely genetically diverse and contains lots of backgrounds that have formed separate identities in Europe, and you don't see a lot of cultural separation on those lines. You see cultural separation on visible lines like actual skin color, language, recency of immigration, etc. But all of that is more easily explained by humans making conscious choices to associate with certain people we think are like ourselves, not genetics.
Tendency towards aggression, as your paper shows, is an individual characteristic, and something that can be overridden in either direction by social norms. (Even within a fairly homogenous genetic group, there's a huge amount of individual variation in aggressiveness.) I'm certainly happy to concede that genetics matters a lot at the individual level, but it's a large leap to find that it matters at the cultural level. If you introduce one million people without (or with) this gene slowly into a culture of people with (or without) this gene, letting them assimilate, letting them have children and raise them within the existing culture and intermarry, would we expect a chance in cultural norms for people with this genetic background? Possibly, but I certainly wouldn't expect one.
How about this: Turkheimer and Nisbett, two giants of the field, addressing the question head-on in an invited piece for a magazine last year:
[x]Various studies have found the heritability of IQ to be between 0.7 and 0.8 in adults and 0.45 in childhood in the United States. It may seem reasonable to expect that genetic influences on traits like IQ should become less important as one gains experiences with age. However, that the opposite occurs is well documented. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ#estimates
Yes, and I assumed this was obvious. I did say "expect", after all. But a large-N experiment where each child is in the "isolated" condition is totally different from a large-N experiment where a large population is transplanted.
> Migratory waves are not made of 1 infant with no parents.
Whether immigrant communities preserve culture etc is not in question. I'm only refuting the point that there is a large genetic component, and your argument here effectively concedes that.
Nick Land's ideas at least marginally relevant to the OP as far as I can tell.