The Long View 2007-09-24: Danilevsky; Demographics; The Syrian Desert; Cumbey

Nikolay Yakovlevich DanilevskyPublic Domain,

Nikolay Yakovlevich Danilevsky

Public Domain,

As John points out here, it probably shouldn’t have been surprising that Russia would eventually revert to her historic pattern of Church-State relations, but the twentieth century had some rather dramatic events that obscured that pattern for a time.

And “eventually” can sometimes be a very long time. Along these lines, we can probably expect China to do something similar, with a gradual return to historic patterns as the intensity of the Communist revolution and the personality cult of Mao fade from memory,

Danilevsky; Demographics; The Syrian Desert; Cumbey

Regarding the future of Russia, fans of Oswald Spengler will recall that The Decline of the West more or less adopted Nikolay Yakovlevich Danilevsky's panslavic view that Russia is a generically religious and specifically Orthodox civilization. Spengler predicted that Russia would eventually shake off the Westernizing pseudomorphosis that began with Peter the Great and culminated with the Bolshevik regime. For most of the 20th century, this seemed a very odd notion; but then, as we see the New York Times of September 23, the 20th century has been over for some time:

Nearly two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the return of religion to public life, localities in Russia are increasingly decreeing that to receive a proper public school education, children should be steeped in the ways of the Russian Orthodox Church, including its traditions, liturgy and historic figures....The dispute came to a head recently when 10 prominent Russian scientists, including two Nobel laureates, sent a letter to President Vladimir V. Putin, protesting what they termed the "growing clericalization" of Russian society. In addition to criticizing religious teachings in public schools, the scientists attacked church efforts to obtain recognition of degrees in theology, and the presence of Russian Orthodox chaplains in the military.

Two points for old Oswald, maybe, but there is also this:

Russia has always had a culture to which state action is integral, in a way that Americans in particular may find hard to understand. So, maybe it's well and proper that a religious revival should be organized through the local departments of education. At this distance, though, the phenomenon seems less spontaneous than, say, the charismatic movement that we find in much of the rest of the world. Maybe we just have a case here of education bureaucrats who have read Spengler and Danilevsky and turned their reading into an agenda.

* * *

Speaking of agendas, Edward Hugh at the invaluable Demography Matters has an analysis of the implications of Romania's far-below-replacement level fertility for the economic future of that country. I don't believe the term "implosion" occurs, but the piece suggests that, as with most of the rest of the developed world, the current demographic trends in that country cannot continue. It is awkward to prescribe public policies to change those trends in the case of Romania, however, because the former Communist government tried to increase the fertility rate practically at gunpoint. Hugh therefore offers this disclaimer:

Now perhaps it isn't necessary to say this, but those of us here on this blog who advocate pro-natalist policies along the Swedish or French pattern would obviously wish to completely disocciate ourselves from the type of coercive pronatalism advocated by Ceaucescu and his ilk. What we ARE arguing for is a collective effort on the part of the whole of society (organised via the state) to transfer resources to those women who would like to have children. This is a policy to support choice, but knowing that our collective interest as societies lies in the direction of doing this.

The problem is that, no, the pro-natalists who want to increase the birthrate are not supporting choice, anymore than the population-control lobby that coined the slogan "choice" was supporting choice in anything but an Orwellian sense. Both camps are pushing for outcomes, not for the protection of civil liberties. Coercion is a bad idea on several counts, but the pro-natalists will probably not succeed if they agree to play in the anti-natalists' ball park.

* * *

Does anyone actually know what the Israelis blew up in the Syrian desert? Here's a good rumor for you:

Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem...Evidence that North Korean personnel were at the site is said to have been shared with President George W Bush over the summer. A senior American source said the administration sought proof of nuclear-related activities before giving the attack its blessing.

Axis of Evil, anyone?

As an exercise in Alternative History, let us imagine what our options would be if the Baathist regime in Iraq had been given certified WMD-free by Hans Blix and still existed today. We may reasonably conclude that we do not live in the worst possible timeline.

* * *

Mark Steyn is to blame for making me follow demography news. Here's another item from yesterday's New York Times: this one explodes the "fertile yuppie" illusion in a gentrified Berlin neighborhood. Yes, there are many baby carriages to be seen, the piece explains, but that's because so many young people live there. They are actually having children at below the replacement level. The item goes on to discuss what the German government is doing to get the numbers up:

The federal government will spend another 4 billion euros as part of a 12 billion euro program including city and state money to build day care centers in 2008 through 2013. Officials expect to add 500,000 slots to a total of 750,000, filling a dire need. “That would mean one day care spot for every third child under 3 years old. Today there is one for every 10 children,“ said Iris Bethge, a spokeswoman for the ministry.

I don't want to be a spoil sport, but I suspect that day-care centers, government funded or otherwise, are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

* * *

Here's a happy find: a blog by my favorite millenarian, Constance Cumbey. Many years ago, when I first became interested in millennial studies, I came across her copiously researched indictments of the New Age Movement. The Antichrist has yet to announce himself, as she seemed to expect hourly in the 1980s, but she may rightly point out that fringe notions of those days, such as the sacralization of the biosphere and the Gnostic view of the life of Jesus, have now become mainstream. In a sense, what she does is conspiracy-theory research, but the evidence usually consists of the damnedest things that non-profits put in their press releases.

Remember: the Hidden Masters are as clueless as the rest of us.

Copyright © 2007 by John J. Reilly

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