Here's a fascinating exchange between Will Wilkinson and Megan McArdle, pegged to this Kerry Howley piece, on whether people invested in the survival of their culture (and particularly of Western, liberal culture) should panic over plunging fertility rates. Obviously I'm in the camp that considers declining birth rates to be a serious problem for the liberal West, and so obviously I agree with Megan's point that "the most important core beliefs most people have are transmitted not through dialogue, but through inheritance," and its corollary that no matter how "immense" and "salient" the rewards of the "liberal market culture" that Will favors, it will be much harder to pass it on down through conversion than through child-rearing. That being said, culture certainly can be passed on through conversion - otherwise Christianity wouldn't have survived Goths and Franks and Vandals - and given that low fertility rates and open borders seem to be integral to the sort of culture that Will favors, I think he more or less has to take the position that he's taking. Like it or not, the aspects of liberal modernity that he approves of aren't going to passed on through inheritance fast enough to keep up with the changing population composition of the West, and especially Western Europe, so it's conversion or nothing.
Moreover, despite my skepticism about the viability of the sort of social order that he favors, I'm enough of a Fukuyaman that I won't be shocked if Will ends up vindicated.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.