Saturday, October 08, 2005

We're Not Having Kids

A year or so back I wrote about the number of my liberal college friends who have by strange chance ended up in leafy, monocultural parts of the world.

I've been meaning for ages to write another one, about the number of intelligent, competent women of my generation who are childless (and by now will never have children). It distressed me to think that the many admirable qualities of these women would never be passed on to another generation, but would die with them.

Someone called Lionel Shriver has written it for me in the Guardian's book reviews. She writes with tremendous insight and honesty.

To be almost ridiculously sweeping: baby boomers and their offspring have shifted emphasis from the communal to the individual, from the future to the present, from virtue to personal satisfaction. Increasingly secular, we pledge allegiance to lower-case gods of our private devising. We are less concerned with leading a good life than the good life. We are less likely than our predecessors to ask ourselves whether we serve a greater social purpose; we are more likely to ask if we are happy. We shun values such as self-sacrifice and duty as the pitfalls of suckers. We give little thought to the perpetuation of lineage, culture or nation; we take our heritage for granted. We are ahistorical. We measure the value of our lives within the brackets of our own births and deaths, and don't especially care what happens once we're dead. As we age - oh, so reluctantly! - we are apt to look back on our pasts and ask not 'Did I serve family, God and country?' but 'Did I ever get to Cuba, or run a marathon? Did I take up landscape painting? Was I fat?' We will assess the success of our lives in accordance not with whether they were righteous, but with whether they were interesting and fun.

This is of course the other side of demographic change. It's not just high levels of immigration that cause 19% of English babies to be born to mothers who were born abroad. My forty and fifty-ish childless friends are of the age to become grandparents. The missing English babies are the offspring of the children that my generation never had.

Ms Shriver's article is lengthy, but read the whole thing.

Guessedworker has a long and interesting post on the article at Majority Rights, from whom I pinched the link. (Ignore the conspiracy mongers in the comments. It would actually be less scary if there WAS some liberal leftist conspiracy to destroy the Native Brits. What's really scary is that they don't really know what they're doing, although 7/7 probably woke one or two people in government up. For years the left have used immigration as a weapon in the war against the existing Brit culture - it's just starting to occur to them that the incomers might have ideas and agendas of their own).

UPDATE - Ms Shriver returns to the theme in this Sunday Times interview.

“Yes, there is something deeply wrong about this notion of living your life purely for its own sake. You could have one generation (without children) that has a wonderful time, going out to restaurants and holidays in France. Then the human race disappears.”

But of course that won't happen. Instead there will be people around who are not at all like Ms Shriver. It appears the feminist Western career woman indeed contains the (unfertilized) seeds of her own destruction. And ours.

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