December 02, 2012

'Late-Modern Exhaustion' and Our Falling Birthrate

Writing in The New York Times, Ross Douthat posits that cultural forces help explain America's falling birthrate.
The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion—a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.

Such decadence need not be permanent, but neither can it be undone by political willpower alone. It can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.

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