More on Demographic Collapse
If we eliminate all external causes for population collapse, what is left is people's own reproductive choices. The reason people stop replacing themselves is, I would argue, cultural.
What, basically, persuades people not to have babies even when they have the political, social and economic stability to do so? Among the eras and nations where this phenomenon occurs or occurred one basic characteristic stands out: the loss of a transcendent future. What I mean by "transcendent" is some ideal or love or hope or faith that rises above the interests of the self, the practicalities of expected income, the security of predictable outcomes, and the lifetime of the individual. What I mean by "future" is that it is an ideal, love, hope, or faith that extends beyond the present and is not satisfied with an instantaneous and eternal reward in the now.
The interesting thing about the article is that he puts the problem into historical perspective:
For hundreds of years historians have wondered what happened to the Roman Empire in its last days. They agree that there was a demographic collapse in its urban Italian heartland. They noted that Romans themselves became outnumbered in their own country -- while remaining as a shrinking elite, the "domini" (the root of the "dons" of Spain and the Mafia) that became a feudal aristocracy in the middle ages.
I actually didn't know this, but it's not really all that surprising. The Romans became a very urbanized society, after all; urban environments are conducive to horizontal memetic transfer, and this tend to dampen birthrates. Still, it's very interesting that what's happening now has happened before.
Now, if you remember my previous post on scenarios by which the global demographic collapse will come to an end, you'll recall that one of them was 'triumph of the traditionalists', in which traditional religious subcultures grow and eventually form the majority of society. Note that that isn't what happened to the Romans: there weren't any pagans left, instead their old religion was replaced entirely by a foreign import, the mutated version of Judaism we call Christianity. That opens up an interesting possibility, which is that the West will become colonized by a new (or at present, small) religion. The two candidates tht come to mind are Mormonism and Scientology, though I'd put my money on Mormonism (Scientology doesn't encourage high birthrates, and tends to be a very destructive influence in people's lives; in memetic terms, it's more of a parasite than a symbiote.)
So imagine a future where Mormons are the mainstream....