George Bernard Shaw predicts falling birth rates

(Hat-tip to Aaron Renn)

The day is coming when great nations will find their numbers dwindling from census to census; when the six roomed villa will rise in price above the family mansion; when the viciously reckless poor and the stupidly pious rich will delay the extinction of the race only by degrading it; whilst the boldly prudent, the thriftily selfish and ambitious, the imaginative and poetic, the lovers of money and solid comfort, the worshippers of success, art, and of love, will all oppose to the Force of Life the device of sterility.” - George Bernard Shaw, “Man and Superman”

This quote has some amazing insights. I’d be curious which ones stand out to you all?


He certainly forsaw the likes of Musk and the other end of the spectrum, still having multiple babies. I like how he described the self-imposed sterilizers. He described them in a way that carves out exceptions for Musk.

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I’ve read this a bunch of times and it isn’t quite sinking in.

Is he saying that all the aforementioned persons will oppose fertility in favor of sterility? I think that’s what he’s saying, but I’m not sure.

I think he’s saying that the people in question will set the device of sterility in opposition to the force of life. By “device of sterility” I don’t take him to mean a device like a smartphone or a gramophone, just that men will devise sterility and set it in opposition to the force of life, which I assume is the reproductive instinct attached to the sex drive, or something similar.

That’s my best guess.


Yes. That’s what he’s saying.

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I find the motivations for sterility apt, but I’m also fascinated by the way he describes the two groups who degrade sex, while still procreating.

The “viciously reckless poor” and the stupidly pious rich.

I wonder if he imagined the sorts of technological degradation of reproduction we have with the likes of Musk.

I wonder if he simply meant poor people having “too many” kids on the other side.

I had no idea that Musk had used IVF. I thought he had done things the old-fashioned way. A quick search disabused me of this.

It seems a bit funny to me that more billionaires haven’t taken the path of Musk: Lots of children from multiple mothers, with or without IVF or other technologies. It seems to me that reproduction is the logical end of materialistic Darwinistic atheism (to the extent that it’s has one), but maybe nobody can be roused to really believe in that either.