I find it quite ironic that we are informed that the world is being suffocated under the weight of eight to ten billion humans in this world. The biggest populations seem to be in China, India and the African continent, most of those people being desperately poor. If we listened to the Climate Crisis Fanatics, we would be tempted to recommend re-opening Auschwitz and the gas chambers! The idea is absolutely unacceptable and repugnant to a Christian in the same way that we oppose abortion and euthanasia.
Those of us who are of a national-populist bent are worried about some “great replacement”. We are talking about mass immigration of refugees, mostly from Islamic countries and escaping tyranny. It is possible that terrorists find a way into the western world by this means. At least that is what the media tells us. I read this article by someone I esteem for his Romantic worldview – The Children of Men. Its author, Michael Martin, evokes the film that appeared in 2006. The full film is not available on YouTube, so you will need to buy the DVD or find it on something like Netflix. The theme is the sudden onset of total human infertility and the consequences, until a miracle happens at the end of the film with a woman becoming pregnant and having a child. In the meantime, there is the harrowing view of women hankering after children to such an extent that they would treat dolls as their babies!
Unlike the film, it seems to be happening gradually, either because couples don’t want children or are medically infertile. The biggest barrier to large families of six to eight children is economic with current financial expectations. Whatever, retirements and deaths exceed the birth rates in the west. Who will support the retired majority as we baby-boomers arrive at that age and there are fewer people working and paying into state and private pension funds?
Many things are to blame, like the banalising of sex and the high failure rate of marriages (including my own!). We have consumerism in the place of hard work and thrift. My 95-year old neighbour, a farm girl, was still washing her clothes in the lavoir in the 1980’s! Fortunately, she has a washing machine at home now. Who would like to go back to the life of peasants and factory workers in Victorian times? Perhaps it is a wet dream to oligarchs like Klaus Schwab and Bill Gates… I write with a high degree of sarcasm as I enjoy food to eat, a clean house to live in, heat and electricity and things like my car and computers both for work and leisure. We don’t have the right to virtue-signal and be hypocrites.
Pope John Paul II called our ways a Culture of Death. As I see signs of the encroaching dystopia of AI, trans-humanism and what would amount to an ideological revival of Nazism, I wonder if it would not be preferable to live in an Islamic world – like Christians living in Algeria and Morocco. We have many nationalists and traditionalists expressing their fear about the Great Replacement. Perhaps an Islamic culture could flourish out of the ashes of our secularised Christian culture. I have always been inspired by Fr Charles de Foucault, the solitary monk in the desert who was martyred by Islamic zealots. Perhaps this is our future and vocation as Christians of an Underground Church, perhaps preferable to the dystopias portrayed in fiction by Orwell and Huxley. Perhaps…
People become very angry with this present polarising of the world between Russia and China on one side and the USA, the UK and Europe on the other. That makes for radical politics and terrorism. Radical Muslims like cutting throats too! It leaves little optimism for humanity and the idea of living and dying to leave a legacy (financial, cultural, anything) to future generations.
We don’t have the right to give up. My own marriage was childless, probably because of some medical condition of infertility, unless I was being lied to. That is entirely possible, but now irrelevant. The response is nihilism and despair or seeing things in a new and different way. I often mention the book Nobility of Spirit by the Dutch philosopher Rob Riemen. He emphasises the quality of culture, not merely civilisation. I quote a brief review of this book:
In the pages of this slim, powerful book Rob Riemen argues with passion that “nobility of spirit” is the quintessence of a civilized world. It is, as Thomas Mann believed, the sole corrective for human history. Without nobility of spirit, culture vanishes. Yet in the early twenty-first century, a time when human dignity and freedom are imperiled, the concept of nobility of spirit is scarcely considered.
Riemen insists that if we hope to move beyond the war on terror and create a life-affirming culture, we must address timeless but neglected questions: What is a good society? Why art? Why culture? What is the responsibility of intellectuals? Why anti-Americanism? Why nihilism? Why the cult of death of fundamentalists? In a series of three essays, the author identifies nobility of spirit in the life and work of Baruch Spinoza and of Thomas Mann; explores the quest for the good society in our own time; and addresses the pursuit of truth and freedom that engaged figures as disparate as Socrates and Leone Ginzburg, a Jewish Italian intellectual murdered by Nazis.
“The forces now aligned against humanistic values are manifold,” observes George Steiner in the foreword to the book. In this imaginative and compelling volume, Riemen addresses these forces and speaks to every reader who believes in the power of classical ideas to restore Western civilization’s highest values.
If I can do something to contribute towards a new Renaissance, a new Christian Humanism, then perhaps my vocation to be a Catholic (generic meaning of the word) priest will have been fulfilled. There are going to be momentous changes in our world and our civilisational claims will be challenged. As our populations diminish, masses of people from the more populated parts of the world will come and replace us. Sometimes, their intent will be hostile, sometimes benevolent. Most will go to the cities where they will find housing and work (or social benefits). We can speculate as much as we want, but the sheer complexity of everything will make anticipation very difficult. Will they colonise us and reduce us to slavery in revenge for the way British and French imperialism treated them?
For those of my generation, the best is to find a way of earning a living remotely, especially by computer and internet (for as long as those last). Live in the country. Learn farming and permaculture. Prepare for that return to a former age where populations were also sparse because of infant mortality and disease. If we are priests, parish life is over. There is no longer that rooting in village life. People in villages are nice and friendly enough, but they are generally uncultured and, for them, the Church is finished. Mass, whether traditional or modern, would be as alien to them as classical music or the far side of the moon!
I am both pessimistic and optimistic. People will once again be attracted by beauty, truth and goodness – and to the God who is the source of these transcendentals. Christ’s message of love and kindness will once again shine above tyrannical ideologies, cruelty, hatred and evil.
I think we may very well be heading back to the village, as John Michael Greer has been observing for some time (what he calls a stage in “de-industrialization”). But I think that would be a good thing. From the family to the village/parish–this may be a saner way to spread the Gospel. The administrative state that is all of the institutional churches long ago lost touch with that fact.
Oh, and I was talking about the book version of Children of Men, which has a religious dimension more foregrounded than what I remember in the film.
Welcome to my little blog, and I hope you find this article and others interesting. I don’t have your farming skills and depend on the internet to earn my living (technical French to English translation). That enables me to live in the country and go on extended boat passages. Also see my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBt2evHlE6Q1tvbkdceT5NQ/videos. I should read the “Children of Men” book to grasp the philosophical dimension.