In the decades and centuries to come, technological progress will slow to a crawl, as dysgenic reproduction patterns deplete the world’s remaining smart fractions (assuming that there are no abrupt discontinuities in humanity’s capacity for collective problem solving, such as genetic IQ augmentation or machine superintelligence). In the meantime, due to fertility preferences being heritable and ultra-competitive in a post-Malthusian world, populations will explode, as the world enters an epochal baby boom not long after 2100. This renewed demographic expansion will last until the world hits the carrying capacity of the late industrial economy, which will usher in the Age of Malthusian Industrialism.
As we have established, in the “business as normal” scenario – no singularity, no catastrophe – the world’s population will start to diverge from UN projections of leveling populations by the end of the century, as r-selected breeders come to constitute an increasing proportion after population. After reaching a minimum sometime between 2050 and 2100, the rate of world population growth will stabilize and then begin to incline back upwards. This will foreshadow the epochal baby boom that will start drive the world population to the carrying capacity of the industrial economy in the two or three centuries after 2100.
Source: Lyman Stone
This acceleration will be noticed first, and remain most pronounced – at least in relative terms – amongst already highly fertile tribes, such as the Amish, the Haredi Jews, and possibly the Mormons. They will become even more fertile and will see their numbers multiply fastest. However, their very low initial base precludes them from ever accounting for a substantial percentage of the world population, and this goes double for any of the marginal religious breeder sects.
World Jewry will be increasingly defined by high fecundity, religiosity, and the lack of superlative intellectual achievement. Due to their low fertility, high rates of assimilation, and declining rates of boil-off from the religious Jews, secular Jewry will be in terminal decline (thus fulfilling “True Torah” commenter Greasy William’s predictions on this blog). Other high IQ “service” minorities, such as the Kulin Brahmins, the Bombay Parsis, and the Tamil Nadu Brahmins, will also slide towards extinction.
However, in absolute terms, the Breeders’ Revenge will be most evident in the differential trajectories of the world’s great nations. Presumably, countries that for a variety of historical reasons are already seeing an accumulation of breeders – France, the Low Countries, the Anglo-Saxon world – will maintain or further expand their lead this century, as breeders go from being a marginal to a significant percentage of their population during this century. Ironically, the French may eventually return to their status as Europe’s single most populous ethnicity, which they enjoyed from Late Antiquity to the Napoleonic Wars, vying with the Great Russians for that position. This may be less evident in countries that transitioned later, such as Germany, Japan, Korea, and Eastern Europe, where breeders will merely go from a miniscule to a marginal share of the population. The effect will be smaller still in China, though its massive existing lead will still keep it top of the population charts along with India. While India’s population is slated to overtake China’s in the 2020’s, there is a chance that China could claw back its lead in the 22nd century by dint of its earlier demographic transition.
Still, these are all speculations; it would be nice to have more concrete data about how this would look like. Somebody should really do a GWAS for fertility preferences before the idiocracy takes over.
I pointed out in Superpower Demographics that increasing your TFR is basically a cheat code for massively augmenting your national power over a few generations:
“For instance, assume the Poles decided to become really stronk, and raised their TFR to 4 children per woman with immediate effect. They’d approach Russia’s current population by 2100. Poland’s historical security problems with respect to their western and eastern neighbors would be definitively solved.”
Well, in the world of the Breeders’ Revenge, this is sort of going to be happening by default, even if Poland is unlikely to be one of the countries to initially benefit, given its relatively late fertility transition.
Of course we can only speculate about the geopolitics of this future world.
Perhaps the “New Caesars” like God-Emperor Trump, Emperor Xi, Putler, Caesar Salvini, etc. will bring back the mega-empires.
Crazy pro-imperialist meme: “Death to Bacteria – Glory to Empire! Let parasites have nightmares about the German-Russian border!”
However, as I pointed out in A World of 1,000 Nations, the trend towards national fragmentation seems to be much stronger.
After all, it is the mega-empires that have been breaking apart for the past century.
However, a nationally fragmented world will also likely be a more globalist-cosmopolitan world, since small statelets will have much less scope to provide alternatives to global institutions or host an economic base capable of sustaining autarky.
In any case, I am not going to speculate at length on which of these two alternatives are likelier. I will save that for the book.
But FWIW, my instinct is that reality will hew closer to the first scenario. The current populist wave buffeting the world only barely conceals the more elementary fact that the world has become a great deal more globalized, liberal, and culturally homogenized over the past century, and especially since the end of the Cold War. There is no good reason for that macro-trend to come to a stop, and it shows no signs of doing so.
Still, so far as our scenario plays out, the precise geopolitical configurations are important mainly in terms of the precise conditions on which the next stage of the Breeders’ Revenge will play out – the return of the Malthusian meat-grinder. Once booming populations reach the carrying capacity of the modern industrial economy – of the individual statelets, the current nation-states, the mega-empires, and/or of the world system at large – the Idiocracy will start giving way to renewed Malthusian selection for thrift and intelligence. The Frito Effect will give way to a renewed Flynn Effect: “A few more centuries of the most intelligent and hard-working having more surviving grandchildren, and we will be back to where we are now today, capable of having a second stab at solving the intelligence problem but able to draw from a vastly bigger population for the task.”
If we are talking of nations or mega-empires with (largely) closed borders, then the first ones to experience a reversal of the dysgenic trend will be those that were first to reach their carrying capacity – and put their excess humanity to the grindstone of Social Darwinism, as opposed to overspilling it onto their neighbors. The first major civilizations to transition into breeder mode will be Europeans and White Americans, who still (mostly) have a considerable surfeit of land; global warming may augment their fortunes further, leaving Canada, Alaska, and Scandinavia open to extensive colonization. China has much less ecological headroom, but it will also lag in the fertility transition – Western Europe’s population may well level with it by the 22nd century. India’s situation is the most precarious, but it will also have a very late breeder transition, which will give it breathing room. Conversely, Russia – whose territory can probably support at least a billion people even today, and multiple billions with global warming – might also be come later to the breeder transition than most of the rest of Europe. Assuming Russia doesn’t coalesce into the general European space, it will be one of the last major regions of the world to maintain per capita land surpluses, allowing it to get rich off food exports. However, it might also mean that it will slide into idiocracy mode deeper and longer than civilizations that bump into the Malthusian limits before it does.
Conversely, a more globalist system with open borders – based on a multiplicity of weak small states, One World Government, or a combination of both – would involve the Malthusian transition taking place at more or less the same time everywhere.
One major lingering question is what precisely the global carrying capacity of the modern industrial economy would be, assuming a peak in technology in the next few decades. This will be addressed in the next post on the Age of Malthusian Industrialism.