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In 2013 I wrote an essay arguing that academic psychologists under-appreciate conservative values. This seems in the spirit of Robin's project. Note that my opinion piece was written pre-Trump. Later I was told that my arguments hadn't "aged well." https://www.bu.edu/bostonia/fall13/conservative/

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Not trying to be facile, but isn’t this like asking which should get more credit, the sense of hunger or the sense of satiety?

The same conservative instincts that opposed civilizational decline also opposed civilizational ascent. The flip side, too—the progressive instincts that advocated civilizational ascent also advocated civilizational decline.

What’s the set of political instincts that advocated ascent and opposed decline?

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Also, I fear that you are being a bit vague when you say "our civilization". If we accept your predictions they suggest that sub-groups which favor higher birth rates will come to dominate. But whether you see that as bad or something to be avoided seems like it depends alot on how that happens.

I mean, if a pre-Christian ancient Roman was told about the future course of history should they be sad? Sure, relative to their POV an obscure very weird religious cult gained dominance and many aspects of their civilization have been abandoned. OTOH a great deal of respect is paid both to their history, writing etc etc and languages and social structures which can be traced back to them dominate the world.

Whether they should be sad depends alot on what aspects of their civilization they valued. If it was Roman gods and slavery sure. If it was the idea of teeming cities full of wonders from across the world no.

Isn't the same true here?

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Even if I accept your predictions about the future why should I recalibrate my respect?

True, people often shift to respecting the winner in a conflict but that tells me what people do not what they should do. And even if I want to do what people generally do, they usually don't recalibrate their respect until after power has shifted in a different direction.

I mean if you're an ancient Roman hanging out in 0AD and a time traveler tells you that in several hundred years Constantinople will become the capital and the eastern Empire will be stronger that's not a good reason for you to recalibrate respect now.

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I've been reading the Evans Early American Collection in my free time, and a substantial fraction of it consists of sermons from colonial and early America. The overall tenor of these sermons was a surprise to me: their message was one of practical longtermism, and their words were, in my opinion, prophetic. For example, the very first text in the collection was a 1799 sermon by Abiel Abbot on the biblical text, "I will make of thee a great nation." In it, he describes the preconditions for national liberty, glory, and happiness, and argues that religion secures those prerequisites. He pointed to civilizations in history which lost their moral rectitude, and therefore suffered decline and bondage. Suppose there are two civilizations, Civ A and Civ B. In Civ A, everyone gathers once a week to hear such a message. In Civ B, people instead spend the time by sleeping in, going shopping, smoking weed, or watching TV. Which civilization would you bet on to decline and be displaced, Civ A or Civ B?

(The text is available here: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=evans;cc=evans;view=text;idno=N26372.0001.001;rgn=div1;node=N26372.0001.001:2)

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In the far future, the attempts to boost the number of fit, intelligent, beautiful citizens that we decry now in horrified tones won't be judged harshly. They won't be judged at all, since nobody will remember them then.

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Robin notes that high fertility cultures also have traditional gendered division of labor, This division allows women to do high quality, and high quantity, child-rearing. A reversion to those traditional values would increase fertility. But another method is to *reduce* the gendered division of labor, and start encouraging and rewarding men for parenting behavior.

Rationale for this: women want to be mothers, but not when they must also have full time jobs; not when childcare and housework is the second shift. If male partners contributed to half the housework and half the childcare (or more during the periods of pregnancy and nursing), women would be wiling to have more children.

What is the evidence that women want to be have 2+ children (if they had support)? (a) opinion polls asking women how many children they want under what circumstances (b) Upper middle class women often have 2+ children (c) women undergo onerous fertility treatments in order to be mothers.

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Sorry, getting to this late. Large sweeping historical narratives became extremely out of fashion from the late 1960s to maybe the mid 2000s. The prior work has basically been lost or forgotten. Much of that was subjective and unscientific, but Carroll Quigley’s “Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis” (1961) is an exception. It came out of the political science course he taught at Georgetown. He had developed the best attempt at technical definitions of what is a civilization, and of how they form, grow, and decline. I would recommend the first 5 chapters in which he lays his way of thinking, and chapter 10, his analysis of Western civilization (through 1961).

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There's one possible Darwinist future scenario that I haven't heard anyone mention: A group-level survival pressure that stringently selects for women who wants to be fully 'maternal' in the most culturally regressive sense of the word. This type will naturally outcompete the modern progressive competitive individualistic types who view maternity as a net disadvantage and therefore shun, delay, or otherwise de-optimize their entanglement with it.

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I consider myself a liberal in the spirit of John Stuart Mill, and a conservative in the spirit of Edmund Burke. And I don't see any real conflict there. Somehow we've let this whole thing get out of control.

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Allow me to propose the opposite, the best of our civilization came from progressives not conservatives (real progressives not left or socialist). We can go as back as Galileo, or even further, conservatives with their “stop” history, oppose discovery. Where we would be if the “galileos” of our history had been silenced for ever by conservatives. And if you want to talk about facts and numbers, there is a clear relation between crime decrease and legal abortion. All species have some form of abortion as a natural selection when newborns affect the survival of the group. But the most destructive tendency of conservatives think is war, I think wars are the single most destructive thing for civilizations , especially when there are for “no gain” objective, just war. History is very revealing on the link of unnecessary wars and civilization decline, this is history 101. Just think for a moment if we had not allow conservatives get us in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and so on. Think for second how many more people would be alive, how many less homeless veterans we would see in the streets today, yes homeless are mostly mentally affected veterans. It is hardly mentioned the long term effect of a of generation coming back from war who never reconnect with civilization, how does that affect our culture?. Why do we keep making veterans for absolutely no gain. Where would Vietnam be if we had no war, very much how Vietnam is today, but the US is a very different country, our civilization went a notches down with wars with absolutely no gain, just to maintain a false sense of security that our civilizations need the war to preserve, when really is the opposite. It is technology and the contribution of progressives what realy made us powerful and influential, not wars. That is why our culture is so economically and therefore culturally dominant when we see the images of wars even in religious wars and the men wearing Nike shoes, baseball caps and tea shirts with dominós Pizza logos.

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"Be careful what you wish for." We know the conservative policies that will boost fertility: Ban women from education, ban women from the workforce, ban modern medicine so that more infants die from disease. Just look at Afghanistan. It works.

I will not credit these conservatives because I do not for a moment believe that "maximize human population" captures the essence of what we as a society should be striving for. I WILL credit conservatives for a lot, but not any of these ideas.

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Never mind trying to predict civilisation’s decline. Instead, try to stop it.

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“ But it should be easier to evaluate the effect of past conservative instincts on past historical changes that it is to evaluate the future consequences of conservative instincts today on our future world. So if you are willing to make educated guesses on that latter topic, you should be willing to such guesses on the former topic as well.‘

I loved the essay and found it thought provoking. I object only to this last paragraph, where you seem to imply that if past attempts to stand athwart history and yell “Stop” would have been suboptimal that doing so now also would be. IMO this is an incorrect assumption.

I say this because - admittedly with no “proof” and not having done your proposed project - up until *approximately* 1970 (admittedly you could make the case of the date being as early as 1929) if conservatives had been more successful on economic issues, then the U.S. - the single greatest country on earth and driver of the world’s fortunes since at least 1945 - and the world would be worse off, but since somewhere in the range of 1929-1970 the world would be better off.

Similarly, for the U.S. had conservatives been more influential prior to about 1995 on so-called “cultural” issues, the U.S. - given my classical liberal-based values - would be worse off on fairness and equality of opportunity (and ultimately economic well being), but that since somewhere between then and 2009 it would be clearly (to me) net better off.

On the economic issues, I know that objectively what I write above is pretty close to correct. On the cultural ones, there is of course no “correct” answer, but I state with reasonably high confidence that about 70%+ of even moderately-informed Americans would agree with me.

The point of all of the above is that timing of such influences and counterfactual matters hugely. Hence while I think there would indeed be high value in the historical project(s) Hanson propose(s), it does not follow at all that past would be prologue here.

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You're totally neglecting the effect of genes on fertility. If there is 5% of the population that has 50% higher fertility in modern society, based on heritable genetic reasons, then eventually the descendants of that 5% will naturally come to dominate the population and drive population growth, without any need for peculiar nontech cultures. And because the descendants of that 5% are in a tech culture, they will wield far more military and economic power than the descendants of nontech cultures, which means the expansion of the nontech cultures will hit a wall of resource constraints, only whatever resources the tech culture sees fit to gift them.

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You talk about a hypothetical "if they had been more influential". But in our actual history, conservatives have failed to prevent our culture from drifting that far. How much credit should we give to those that failed? There are other cultures that were more conservative than western culture, and they typically failed in confrontation with the west. Should we credit them?

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