Brett Stevens notes that the birthrate of Europeans (and that of the more elite sectors of the American population) has fallen below replacement and he blames Modernity itself.
Modernity is killing us. As Plato intuited, the problem with bad systems is not solely that they are inept, but that this ineptitude shapes people. It causes people to despair. They then die out, much as Western Europeans are in Europe and North America. Why strive if life is fundamentally empty, miserable, and filled with neurotic worry?
Just as with animals, when we are in a good environment, we thrive; when we are confined, hopeless, cornered, despairing, miserable, or in pain, we will ourselves to death. Western European people worldwide have been living in a state of constant hopelessness since the end of WW1, but our doubt about life itself goes much deeper.
Modernity arose with the French Revolution. Away went the little villages ruled by gentle lords, the customs and culture, and the sense of purpose and faith in life itself that quelled our existential suffering. Before the Revolution, we knew we were doing the right thing if we lived according to our tradition.
After the Revolution, in came bureaucracy. Cities replaced the towns. Mass culture and mass mobilization replaced intelligent leadership. There was constant infighting, from the politics of elections to the churn among companies trying to decide who would control large swathes of the economy.
Our once-intelligent society had become shocking dumb. Not only did the stupid but obedient thrive in the age of managerial control, because every manager loves a low-risk worker even if that worker is not particularly good at anything, but all public opinions had to pander to a crowd with the collective intelligence of the audience for an amusement park.
Spread by social coercion, this stupidity quickly absorbed every institution in the West so that they got dumb together. Government got dumb at the same rate that the church, art scene, schools, professionals, corporations, and non-profits did. We kept pace as we rushed into the abyss.
By the time 1968 came around, ready for the coup de grÃ¢ce, the West had given up on itself for three generations. They had nothing to believe in because modern life was really not all that much fun. Sure, it was prosperous, but everyone spent their time in mindless unnecessary jobs, maintaining glitchy gadgets, babysitting third world or low caste labor, dealing with government and our crazy fellow citizens, filing paperwork, and otherwise being forced into confronting the tedious, ugly, and faith-crushing every day.
This delighted the Left, who are fundamentally neurotics that are motivated by a desire to destroy everything beautiful, good, and true because they do not detect those things in themselves. Solipsism, it turns out, is a form of neurosis where we mistake ourselves for the source of reality itself, when we are really only mirrors.
Our modern world makes us hate life. We spend way too much time working in jobs that are jails, then must live in ugly cities where most people are neurotic or otherwise low-grade mentally disturbed, and participate in a process of life that is designed to humble, humiliate, bore, and subjugate all of us. No wonder people are not reproducing.