What People Mean When They Talk About Demography

In the aftermath of this election I’m hearing a lot of commentary on how the Republicans are doomed by demography.

I’m hearing this a lot, too. Of course, using the word “demography” in the context of the recent election  is just a way to avoid recognizing that the progress is unstoppable and that the sexual mores of unhinged fundamentalists are of no interest to the majority of this country’s population any longer.

If you are unhappy with today’s “demography” (a.k.a. the progressive secular turn this country has experienced), then brace yourself. In 10 years, today’s “demography” will look like a conservative’s dream come true.

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36 comments on “What People Mean When They Talk About Demography

  1. It would be good if America could become rather more like Australia in terms of demography. I really hadn’t grasped the extent of American religiosity until very recently, and it astounded me, much in the same way as I was astounded when I went to Oxford area and found the clothing and restaurants resembled Rhodesia in the 70s. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to assert that everything should be the same as what I’ve become used to, but there is nothing wrong with trying on a bit of flair. Religion is like stodgy porridge. It’s quite unnecessary to eat it.

    • I know exactly what you mean! For the most part, this exaggerated religiousness is nothing but hysteria. It is completely fake. I used to know somebody who was hugely religious and insanely judgmental of everybody not complying with her religious dogma. That same person would get immensely drunk, peel herself off the bar floor and pontificate about the importance of going to church three hours after the bars closed.

      • I’m not close enough to tell if it’s hysteria. What I do notice is compared to British crime dramas, Americans tend to make out that there is such a thing as real, palpable, evil — and not just psychological states.

        This assumption, that people are, at their baseline, nasty, appears to me to thread itself throughout American culture. For instance, see my conversation with cliff arroyo yesterday, where I was trying to get across the idea that men who are anxious to read women as highly emotional creatures will end up mis-reading any failure to confess all one’s emotions as signalling intent to willfully manipulate the other. Cliff constantly misread everything I’d written as if I were saying: “Yes, women are deceptive or manipulative.”

        This is the effect of the weight of religiosity on America. It has entered even secular life, to the point that neutrality is hard to understand. I’m not saying America is the only country with this problem. Australia also has it to an alarming degree, in its embrace of identity politics, which does not allow anyone to take a neutral position without seeming to harbor some evil intent or manipulative orientation.

        A truly secular view would dispense with the notion that we all have knowable but hidden motivations. Communication becomes hindered to the extreme when “demographic” or “identity” suffices to clue others in one “hidden motivations”, which do not actually exist, but are ascribed to one.

      • “What I do notice is compared to British crime dramas, Americans tend to make out that there is such a thing as real, palpable, evil — and not just psychological states.”

        – You are right. I was shocked when Bush Jr. kept mentioning his goal of battling “evil” and nobody thought he was insane for doing so. I think that people who seriously talk about “evil” are embarrassing themselves.

        “For instance, see my conversation with cliff arroyo yesterday”

        – That whole exchange was written in a way that made me feel people were arguing in a language I don’t know. I think this is where my cultural difference made the discussion inaccessible to me.

        “Communication becomes hindered to the extreme when “demographic” or “identity” suffices to clue others in one “hidden motivations”, which do not actually exist, but are ascribed to one.”

        – What I especially enjoy is when people try to reveal my “hidden” motivations to me. “The whole point of this blog is to express your opinions!” they declare to me triumphantly. I always said that this was what I was doing, yet they think they have revealed an important mystery. Another sentimental favorite is, “You are a feminist!” Erm, you think? What betrayed me? The fact that I mentioned that I’m a feminist maybe 1,000 times?

      • Well anything that departs from eating stodgy porridge for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is worthy of suspicion in the mind of those who believe that evil is knocking at their door, waiting to be let in.

        “I believe you ate bacon!! And eggs!! for breakfast! I noticed. You ought to be ashamed. Don’t you realize I’m only eating stodgy porridge. It’s a hell of a sacrifice for me.”

      • This is exactly what I’m saying! These religious fakes hate their own lives and use their fake religious outrage to bully everybody else into being as miserable as they are.

      • Got it. I’ve also seen it.

        Also what I was implying before, about the commonly held view that women are emotional and manipulative, this whole assumption makes communication seem to be redundant. Of course, the key word here is “seem”. If women externalize their minds, via the medium of emotion, one always knows what she is feeling. She’s an open book. First she’s crying, now she’s acting hysterical in another way, now she’s belly-aching about the other thing she belly-aches about. No need to ask her what she’s thinking, as it’s written all over her. That is, unless she is deliberately withholding something in a way that isn’t true to her emotional nature. Well, it’s true to her manipulative nature, but not to her emotional nature — that is, true to her evil side, but not to her good side, which is where she allows herself to be read like a book. She’s holding something back, probably acting “like a man”, and this necessitates that one attempt communication with her for the first time.

        But communication on neutral premises is impossible for a religious mind-set. One must find out what has corrupted her true female emotionalism, giving the impression that she’s holding something back.

        One must find the hidden, nefarious motivation she is harboring.

        This search for something evil is called “communication” by religious folk and secular folk tainted with religiosity.

      • “Cliff constantly misread everything I’d written as if I were saying: “Yes, women are deceptive or manipulative”

        But women _are_ deceptive and manipulative. So are men, for that matter. We are a deceptive and manipulative species and no gender/sex has a monopoly or clearer access to truth or morality.

        “men who are anxious to read women as highly emotional creatures will end up mis-reading any failure to confess all one’s emotions as signalling intent to willfully manipulate the other”

        I should probably go back and reread what you wrote sober. Because if that’s what you were trying to say it totally wasn’t clear. I understand that point as you make it now and would tend to agree (with some reservations).

        You could also make the argument that women who are anxious to read men as emotionally stunted will misread failure to clearly signal out every passing internal state as emotional retardation. I will add that IME men expreience lots of emotions and, quelle surprise, they clearly signal lots of them in ways that most women totally fail to read or respond to in a constructive fashion (and which other men mostly do read and respond to correctly).

        Now, generally, I’m the last person in the world to talk about gender/sex differences in absolute terms (no, really, stop laughing damnit). I know people who would find it hilarious that I’m now arguing _for_ the existence of innate gender/sex differences. But after years of reality hitting me over my unwilling head I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that there are distributional differences between men and women in lots of aspects of behavior that cannot be palmed off on culture. Not everything of course (culture is freaking huge in determing the expression of personality including gender/sex aspects of personality) and, yes, of course, there are lots of exceptions on both sides but there are even larger trends that it takes a great deal of focused effort to ignore and …. I’ve chosen to stop ignoring them and find things (and people’s behavior) make much more sense that way.

      • “But women _are_ deceptive and manipulative. So are men, for that matter. We are a deceptive and manipulative species and no gender/sex has a monopoly or clearer access to truth or morality.”

        – I agree.

        “You could also make the argument that women who are anxious to read men as emotionally stunted will misread failure to clearly signal out every passing internal state as emotional retardation. ”

        – Women choose to promote the narrative of men as emotionally stunted to compensate for lack of achievement and power in their own lives. This is the traditional separation of the public and private spheres.

        ” But after years of reality hitting me over my unwilling head I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that there are distributional differences between men and women in lots of aspects of behavior that cannot be palmed off on culture. ”

        – No, there aren’t. :-)

      • cliff arroyo said …. “But after years of reality hitting me over my unwilling head I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that there are distributional differences between men and women in lots of aspects of behavior that cannot be palmed off on culture. Not everything of course (culture is freaking huge in determing the expression of personality including gender/sex aspects of personality) and, yes, of course, there are lots of exceptions on both sides but there are even larger trends that it takes a great deal of focused effort to ignore and …. I’ve chosen to stop ignoring them and find things (and people’s behavior) make much more sense that way.”

        That’s a weird conclusion. After many years, I’ve concluded the opposite, and I find that things and people’s behavior makes much more sense when I don’t essentialise.

      • “That’s a weird conclusion. After many years, I’ve concluded the opposite, and I find that things and people’s behavior makes much more sense when I don’t essentialise.”

        – Same here. It is very seductive to try and simplify reality by reducing it to the gender binary. But it never works. The people I know who have bought into the gender binary and guide themselves by the Men Are From Mars type of books have miserable personal and professional lives. So why would anybody follow their example and rob oneself of chances to succeed in life for the sake of an illusion of simplicity?

      • I’m easily able to tell which view is superior — the gender binary one or the gender-complexity one — by noticing how people talk to me. If they address me as gender was a mystery that still had to be dissected, I think they are on a lower level than I on this issue, because I already have a very successful twelve-year relationship based on equality.

      • Bloggerclarissa:

        “But women _are_ deceptive and manipulative. So are men, for that matter. We are a deceptive and manipulative species and no gender/sex has a monopoly or clearer access to truth or morality.”

        – I agree.

        ——–

        I don’t see it, and this could be a cultural difference, or related to who I hang out with. In any case, it’s not the Australian cultural norm for women to be deceptive or manipulative. Not at all. I’m trying to scan my memory for an impression of an Australian women I’ve encountered who fits this model, but I come up empty.

      • “it’s not the Australian cultural norm for women to be deceptive or manipulative”

        I’ll freely admit that I don’t know enough about Australian culture to say anything sensible. Bits and pieces is all I know and not enough to get anything like a comprehensive picture.

        There is Nelli Melba, the epitome of a prima donna in all its most negative aspects (trivial on stage one-upmanship, petty rivalries and crass commericalism (“sing ‘em muck!”) on the other hand Joan Sutherland was the mirror opposite a supremely good natured colleague who did her (amazing!) thing superbly with minimal displays of ego.

        There is the idea that Australia as a society was shaped by the settler/frontier experience which would tend to minimize sex/gender differences in the interests of not starving to death (modern exaggerated sex differences are the province of surplus and prosperity), but again, all I have are disconnnected bits and pieces and, to be honest, not much interest – I’m far less interested in Australia than Central/Eastern Europe where I currently live.

        Now that I think of it, I’m wondering if a cross between Priscilla Herdmaan, Queen of Cell Block H (about an American prisoner in a special trans prison in Australia) would work. Pure Genius!!!!!

  2. How will this country look like a conservative’s dream come true in 10 years? To me, it looks like it is becoming more secular (relative to its recent past, obviously not relative to the rest of the world), less white, and more gay-friendly.

    As to “evil”, well, if anybody is in a position to know that evil is a real, palpable thing, it’s George W. Bush. I mean, the man worked with Dick Cheney for 8 years!

      • “You meant that the current demography is more conservative than what we’ll have 10 years from now.”

        – Exactly! Time is on our side. So all the conservatives who are shocked that the majority chose Obama should prepare to getting even more shocked in near future. :-)

    • What I was trying to say that we will become so much more progressive than secular in 10 years that conservatives will look back with longing at today’s demographic that still gave 48% to somebody like Romney. With this kind of candidate, they will be lucky to get 25% in 10 years.

      “To me, it looks like it is becoming more secular (relative to its recent past, obviously not relative to the rest of the world), less white, and more gay-friendly.”

      – Of course! In 10 years, young people will not even understand why anybody could have anything against gay marriage.

      “As to “evil”, well, if anybody is in a position to know that evil is a real, palpable thing, it’s George W. Bush. I mean, the man worked with Dick Cheney for 8 years!”

      – Great point! :-)

      • White women voted for romney 55-44.In ten years 65% may vote for republicans.As minority population country will become more polarised

  3. Pingback: He shouted out “Who killed the Iraqis?” when after all it was you and me § Unqualified Offerings

  4. On religion: Like most things, extremism in either direction (religious observance or secularism) tends to be ultimately destructive.

    The best functionng societies have some level of widespread religious observance. But religion, as they say, is like fire – a dangerous servant and a terrible master.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the most destructive religious observance is grounded in literalism. There are many ways to interpret holy texts. I think that the best way (in general) is to interpret them as metaphors that aren’t to be taken too ltierally (God talking to humans in a way they can understand).

    The really destructive religious trends in the world today (extreme evangelical christianity and any and all varieties of political Islam) insist on interpreting holy texts as literally as possible which leads to stagnation and backwardness.

    As a firm agnostic I think that the religious right in the US and political Islam…. everywhere are moral and societal dead ends. On the other hand, the aggressively non-religious societies of western europe seem hopelessly nihilistic and doomed. They can’t even reproduce anymore, how pathetic is that? At the individual level failure to reproduce is neutral and can even be a positive (in maximising fulfillment during the life of the individual), at the societal level it’s slow motion suicide and creates a vacuum that will usually not be filled in a benign way.

    • I’d be more interested if you took time to address the actual points I was making about, for example, how it is impossible to be viewed as taking a neutral stance when nefarious motives are read into your every action.

      One does not have to be overtly religious to have incorporated a great deal of metaphysics into one’s way of thinking. Metaphysics means ideas concerning “good versus evil”, the idea that different entities, eg. men and women, have different “natures”, and the assumption that there are certain actions that are inherently the opposite of pathetic.

      • “how it is impossible to be viewed as taking a neutral stance when nefarious motives are read into your every action”

        Well America was founded by puritans (not exactly, but close enough for government work). That mindset has infiltrated most every subculture within America.

        The argument could be made (not sure if I’ll make it, just point out that it exists) that when nefarious motives are assumed then people are more likely to want to signal good intentions by going out of their way to treat others fairly. When the assumption is that everyone has good motives it’s much easier for sociopaths to wreak all kinds of destruction.

      • The assumption is that people have bad motives unless they signal good ones — and even then, what does a signal mean, if you are evil at core? This does not prevent the existence of sociopaths. Rather, it is a breeding ground for them. After all, why be normal when one’s behavior is always under suspicion?

      • Well America was founded by puritans (not exactly, but close enough for government work).

        Not really … at least, not to any greater extent than we were founded (i.e., settled, colonized) by Catholics (Maryland), Dutchmen (New York, New Jersey, Delaware), Spanish missionaries (Florida), British soldiers, debtors, criminals and fortune-seekers (Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia), Quakers, along with Amish and Mennonites from Germany (Pennsylvania), Baptists, Anabaptists and other dissenters the Puritans refused to tolerate (Rhode Island), Swedes (Delaware again).

        The Puritans formed the Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut colonies, not the entirety of European settlement in North America, or even the entirety of the British colonies that eventually became the USA. We think of the Puritans as our forefathers, but they’re just one of many such groups.

    • “On the other hand, the aggressively non-religious societies of western europe seem hopelessly nihilistic and doomed. They can’t even reproduce anymore, how pathetic is that?”

      – The actual reproduction rates of any given ethnic group mean nothing in terms of how resilient its culture will prove to be. The Roman Empire has been dead forever, yet its culture remains alive. All of my diplomas are written in Latin, the dead language of a long-gone society. This is why I think the actual birth rates are irrelevant. The Western civilization’s greatness is such that even if the planet gets populated by aliens tomorrow, our culture and our achievements will remain.

      • My views about Western civilization” are totally different. As you know, my civilization was all but totally wrecked. It was, at any rate, emotionally inhabitable. So, I tried to look at it in the opposite way. What could be an advantage in this? An advantage of a wreck is always the wilderness. The more something is wrecked, the more the wilderness opens up. This is an aspect of experience I find extremely enjoyable. It’s much better than perpetuating the same thing over and over.

  5. “After all, why be normal when one’s behavior is always under suspicion?”

    Au contraire, ma cherie amour, I remember a job I had some years ago that required me to handle and account for fairly substantial sums of money (for the time). I was distressed that I wasn’t monitored nearly enough. After a few unannounced spot checks they decided I was “disgustingly honest” and didn’t really monitor me much while I wanted to be checked as often as possible (to catch honest math mistakes I might make as much as anything else).

    In theory I could have taken them for a lot of money had I been so inclined, but my ‘trust-no-one’ socialization actually worked against that and made the idea of stealing (just a little, they’d never miss it (and they wouldn’t)) completely repellent to me.

    Individualized unescapable feelings of guilt are a precious gift for any society so blessed.

    • “Individualized unescapable feelings of guilt are a precious gift for any society so blessed.”

      I’m glad that works for you. Or something. The opposite works for me. I don’t require heavy monitoring, least of all micro-managing, and take pride in my work to the extent that it is not interfered with.

  6. Despite these demographics considerations, Repubenrons got the majority in the House.

    In this election, people did not reject the GVOP (Grand Very Outdated Party), they reject instead some racist and women-hating faggotry around Romney, so they find Obama less bad as a lame duck President than Romney with his racist women-hating faggots.

  7. Re: low birth rates in “most-developed” countries:
    There are at least three factors involved. First, the monetary and time commitments per child have increased greatly, so family sizes decrease. Better to put two children through college than eight children through high school. Second, when women’s status increases and women’s monetary contribution increases, childbearing is seen as an interruption in dual-job couples’ incomes. Third, elder support has shifted from the children to the elders’ own savings or social security.

    • And the most important factor: women in developed countries now have better things to do with their lives than go around constantly pregnant or breast-feeding. And that is a wonderful thing. This planet is not in any danger of human extinction because of low birth rates. If anything, the opposite is true.

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