Lukewarm Water

Nick Land raises the question of whether there is actually a solution to the  demographic problem, if there is an economic requirement for women to enter the  workforce in significant numbers.

I am not so pessimistic, that taking women out of the workforce is necessarily such an economic sacrifice. But it is a good point to raise, all the same. The biggest danger that the neoreactionary project faces in this theory-building phase is lack of realism, brought on by wishful thinking or the imagined needs of propaganda. We have to find the right answers to questions, and most importantly to the difficult questions, and not dodge them like mere politicians. Economic impact of removing women from the workforce has to go on the risk register, and not be waved away.

First statement of the problem: A country that puts most women in the workforce has 60%-100% greater gross production than one that takes them out. The latter will not be able to compete economically and will fail as a result.

First reply: China has twice the population of the EU. The EU has twice the population of the USA. The USA has twice the population of Japan. etc. None of the smaller countries appears in danger of being outcompeted and eliminated in the short term due to lower  number of workers. In the longer term, what matters is productivity growth, which is not so obviously affected, and population growth, which is in the favour of the patriarchal rather than the progressive side.

Second statement of the problem: There is a difference between a country with a population of a hundred million, 90% of them economically productive, and one with a population of a hundred and eighty million, 50% of them economically productive. They each have 90 million productive workers, but the latter has 80 million more consumers to produce for.

Second reply: again in the long run that one-off increase can be more than compensated for by productivity growth. Beyond that, as I have argued previously, patriarchy has a large positive effect on the economic productivity of men. Also, as discussed in the comments at Outside In, a large portion of the potential total production of women can be recovered by  allowing a very small number of exceptional women into economic activity.

Third statement of the problem: By taking the most productive women into the workforce and therefore out of the household, you are producing an IQ-shredder—a dysgenic system which takes the most desirable genes out of the gene pool.

Third reply: The situation described is not the true IQ-shredder; a real IQ-shredder is a magnet city which takes the most able men and women out of a catchment area and traps them in a space where none of them reproduce. It is the existing countries which suffer from that effect most, and patriarchy is a solution, in that it provides the exceptional men with high-quality, if not equally exceptional, women, who would be able to actually breed with them rather than leaving them as bachelors or DINKYs

Fourth statement of the problem: those true IQ-shredders will still exist in the world: if high-IQ women cannot work to their satisfaction at home, they will exit.

I think that fourth statement is the real problem, but only part of it. I am not worried that a country of patriarchal men and domesticated women will be outcompeted by a feminist country of herbivorous men and government-office women. I am concerned about the social practicalities of re-imposing patriarchal sex roles in a Western country, even in the imagined wider context of a reaction. Large-scale exit of ambitious women is only one form that social resistance to that development might take.

Over time, I think society could develop in that direction. After all, the current arrangement is not the result of letting women do what they want, but of heavy ideological, memetic and  legal-administrative pressure to get women into work. But even absent that, there is the micro- competitive effect that one-income families are competing for status with two-income families, with the working women active in justifying their choices in the public eye. It might work, but it’s hard to be really confident.

[Possibly Relevant: Arnold Kling on trends ]


4 thoughts on “Lukewarm Water

  1. One potential advantage of patriarchy: the untapped female work force is insurance against downside risk. The patriarchal economy is robust because it can pull women into working during emergencies (such as war). This potential advantage has its own risk, however. It is a potential avenue for the destruction of the patriarchal economy. Both because it normalizes female participation in the economy which may be hard to completely undo once the emergency is over and because it provides a temptation to fuzz on the definition of emergency to get an economic boost (the demographic dividend).

    The problem is structures that don’t incentivize long term thinking,


    • @Lesser Bull

      The question of insurance is an interesting one, but really completely separate. The logic of competition is to maximise efficiency, but the most efficient structures can come at the cost of reduced resilience.

      The most obvious examples of this are long, just-in-time supply chains, which leave a production facility at risk of disruption, but it is reasonable to categorize using putting all available labour in an economy to routine use as similar. Of course, even (or especially) with sexual equality, modern economies do have considerable reservoirs of unused labour available, so it’s questionable whether this is a real problem.

      On the general point, the theory would suggest that resilience would itself have a market value, in the form of insurance or premium-priced guaranteed-delivery contracts. In practice, given the existing systems of law and contract, it seems that extreme tail risk is not supplied in the market due to a “market for lemons” problem: An investor may wish for insurance against some kind of extreme collapse (a major war, for instance), and be prepared to pay for it. But he has to (a) find a vendor that he can be confident will be able to pay in the extreme circumstances in question, and (b) have confidence that he will be able to enforce his claim against the vendor in those circumstances. Since extreme events have incalculable effects on the systems of enforcement themselves, (b) seem to me to be insoluble. We are firmly in @nntaleb territory here, of course.


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