Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Peter Thiel Reviews Ross Douhat at First Things

Thiel has reviewed a couple of other books for First Things, I learned.  I didn't expect many gay libertarians to be writing for that site, but they do work hard at getting interesting cultural takes that traditional Christians of many stripes might like.  Back to the Future  reminds me of how thoughtful and flat out smart Peter Thiel is.  I generally like Douhat, though I think he's a bit of a squish when it comes to flat-out intellectual conflict.  Still, writing for the New York Times can put one in the habit of trimming your sails too often, I'll warrant.  I imagine I would do the same thing myself.  Thiel is approving of Douhat's thorough look at major cultural trends ion his new book The Decadent Society:
How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success
, and what they might mean.
Sterility (one of four problems Douhat focuses on) is not immediately obvious outside of a few places like San Francisco. In public debates, low birth rates are treated as a matter of personal preference. If they mean anything more, it is as a drag on future economic performance—hence an argument for immigration. Douthat goes beyond economistic abstractions to point out that missing kids weaken a society’s connection to the future. He thus explains a key current in “populist” skepticism of the elite consensus: “[Immigration] replaces some of the missing workers but exacerbates intergenerational alienation and native-immigrant friction because it heightens precisely the anxieties about inheritance and loss that below-replacement fertility is heightening already.” Douthat does not ignore racism, but he focuses on the dynamics that explain our unique moment instead of inveighing against an age-old evil.
That's worth reading a couple of times, both for Douhat's thought and for Thiel's.

1 comment:

stevo said...

That people accept the notion that immigration is a good way to mitigate low birth rates shows how rootless we have become. Great post.