Apocalypse, Book Reviews, Charles, Life Advice, Political Economy, Science, Social Behavior
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The Children of Men (P. D. James)

A constant complaint of today’s Right is that our civilization has been ruined politically and spiritually by decades of Left dominance. But we pay less mind to the physical destruction of our bodies taking place at the same time. The damage is inarguable: witness the gross obesity, the precipitous drops in male testosterone and sperm count, and the huge reductions in women giving birth. The causes are many, if hard to pin down, including distorted foods, widespread use of persistent plastics and endocrine disruptors, and the disaster of chemical birth control. The Children of Men, written by the late P. D. James in 1991, is a good springboard for analyzing this physical devastation, and thinking about what can be done.

The novel is the story of Theodore Faron, a middle-aged Oxford academic with a divorced wife, a dead child, and no relevant accomplishments to his name. He lives in the rapidly declining England of 2021, a country literally on the way out, because the last child born on earth had been born in 1995, the result of unexplained, and unfixable, universal male infertility. Faron’s only claim to fame is that he is first cousin, and sometime confidant, to Xan Lyppiat, the Warden of England—that is, the dictator of England.

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The Warden rules a society with no future and no hope. He has no grand plans and he offers no great dreams. He only became dictator, really, because he saw that he was more competent than everyone else, and someone had to maintain order as England vanished from history (it is implied that the rest of Europe has descended into anarchy). Lyppiat’s basic strategy is to manage the decline, through administering a mostly benign expertocracy. His government offers a variety of palliative measures to ease England’s transition to a land without men. Lyppiat thus offers “freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom from boredom,” of which the first is the most important, for “the other freedoms are pointless without freedom from fear.” His primary tool for this is to provide as much comfort and security as possible, while maximizing the pleasure of the aging populace. At the same time, the government organizes and encourages mass suicides.

Not too much happens in this book; a good deal of it is an exploration of the human psyche, why men and women do what they do. The story revolves around Faron’s recruitment into a small, hapless group of malcontents, the Five Fishes. They oppose, not so much the Warden’s rule, but what they regard as immoralities in his administration, such as the suicides, which are in fact largely coerced. In itself, such opposition would be a matter of no importance to the Warden, other than that for a tyrant it is always handy to have some minor opposition, in order to justify exercises of one’s own tyranny (hence our own Brawndo Tyranny’s obsession with the Electoral Justice Protest). However, what makes the Fishes important is that one of the group becomes pregnant, apparently the only pregnant woman in the world. Such a prize is, for the Warden, of infinite value, because scientifically analyzing her and her child may lead to a solution, a way to save England and the world.

Faron is gradually drawn into the orbit of the Fishes, as they try to escape the Warden’s tightening net. What happens is well-drawn and reasonably interesting. But the plot of the book doesn’t really matter, although it’s worth noting that the 2007 movie version, famous for director Alfonso Cuarón’s (partly faked) long shots, not only mutates the plot into near-complete unrecognizability, but completely strips much of the James’s thematic focus. The filmmaker aimed to subvert the book, to instead serve up propaganda demanding open borders and the active dissolution of England’s culture in the corrosive solvent of alien invaders (something the English have indeed all-too-eagerly managed to achieve in the past fifteen years). No surprise, the movie also entirely strips the book of its many Christian threads, starting with concealing the origin of the title, which comes from Psalm 90, “Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, return, ye children of men.” It is not that James’s book is right-leaning; it is that it accurately reflects the likely reality of an imagined situation, and all reflections of reality are Right, giving the book a vaguely right-of-center feel, no doubt offensive to Cuarón. Don’t bother with the movie.

What is perhaps most interesting about the book is its prescience, and not just about our own, slower-motion, population crash. (In some of the saddest scenes of the book, women treat cats and dolls as real children, desperate to satisfy their natural maternal instincts. This seems odd, until we realize we’re not that different, with our odious and stupid bumper stickers such as “Doggie Mama.”) James also foretold the overwhelming desire of the declining West for “health and safety” at any price, something not nearly as evident in 1991 as now. True believers in the Wuhan Plague, accurately named Covid freaks, would feel right at home in the Warden’s England, shrieking “trust the experts!” and demanding that those who undermined their desperate and pathetic need to feel comforted and safe be sent to penal colonies. James accurately predicted that many childless middle-aged women, “notoriously unstable,” would act insane and hysterical in any crisis to which emotivism and safety seemed to offer a solution. She also saw how seemingly unrelated social deteriorations feed off each other. “During the mid-1990s the recognized churches, particularly the Church of England, moved from the theology of sin and redemption to a less uncompromising doctrine: corporate social responsibility coupled with a sentimental humanism.” Um, yeah.

Our own population collapse is not as binary and immediately catastrophic as zero children being born, but it is no less catastrophic for that. I have already written on this, about the root cause of our collective disastrous choice to stop having adequate numbers of children, to be found in the ur-source of all that has destroyed the West, the autonomic individualism exalted by the so-called Enlightenment—the worship of self. Rather than repeat myself, though you should read my earlier thoughts if you have not yet done so (as should Elon Musk, who has taken to this topic recently), what I want to explore today is other physical destructions visited upon the men and women of the West.

As with much truth today, most of these are forbidden topics, to a greater or lesser extent, because they threaten the regime’s control. They are commonly enough discussed on the further Right, and sometimes on the further Left, but regime media and the Lords of Tech ban mention of most of these topics. Anybody who opines on them is designated a “conspiracy theorist” pushing “misinformation,” and those revolting and dumb labels are used to both justify ignoring any facts presented and to warrant directly harming those who dare to speak. Of course, as with so many of our regime’s strategies, this strategy is no longer working, because smart people have realized for some time now that those labels are a signpost pointing toward truth. Our enemies are still trying hard, though, and will until the waters of history close over their heads.

Let’s start, appropriately enough, with fertility-related matters. It is increasingly clear that one of the worst things that ever happened to the West was the advent of widespread chemical birth control. Any future well-run society will have to sharply limit the availability of such drugs, and more importantly, aggressively stigmatize their use. The first order consequence of such birth control was to, in a perfect storm of stupid, to make it easy to avoid having children, exactly at the time we were falsely indoctrinated there were too many children, and also at the precise moment that the poison of the Left, exalting emancipation of unchosen bonds above all, started flowing full force into the body politic. Women were therefore praised, rather than censured as they should have been, for using chemical birth control. This began the population crash we see around the globe. The second order consequences were also terrible. Women were propagandized by harpies such as Betty Friedan into joining the work force, by convincing women they could be fulfilled by working outside the home, at BS jobs with no social value, and that children were a dishonorable burden that could and should be easily avoided. In this manner, right order and balance between the sexes, and between the generations, was upended. Another consequence was to encourage sexual license, a corrosive force in any society, leading to fracture, anomie, and more disorder, and which additionally led to, in America alone, sixty million murdered babies so far. Because after all, what use is sexual license if you can’t also easily dodge the consequences of your freely-chosen actions?

Equally bad are the mental effects of continual hormonal modification of the natural state of huge numbers of women. As I say, most of these matters cannot be studied without career-ending consequences, but it is quite evident that chemical birth control has distorted women. How could it be otherwise? Tricking the bodies of hundreds of millions of women into thinking they are continuously pregnant must alter their perception and behavior. No doubt at least part of the hyper-feminization of our society, endless untrammeled focus on safety, comfort, and agreeableness, comes from making women’s brains think, subconsciously and continuously, that they are about to bring a child into the world, whom they must protect. Other pieces of deleterious hormonal effects sometimes surface, as in studies that show that women are more attracted to feminized men while using chemical birth control, and many other ills are also traceable to chemical birth control, including depression and suicide. But curbing maternity is crucial to enslaving women into the Left’s projects, so we may not speak of these matters.

It’s not just women; we have also been granted a catastrophic simultaneous drop in male potency. There is no dispute that, globally, men’s sperm count has declined fifty percent in past decades, and what sperm they do produce are less healthy. Similarly, testosterone levels have been dropping for years; young men are, on all measures, far less masculine than men just a few decades ago. This is obvious to the casual observer, though hard to quantify. It is, however, extremely desirable to our rulers, who for ideological and control reasons strongly desire that the population be as feminized as possible. Men with high testosterone have always caused trouble for tyrants. All these problems specific to men further reduce overall fertility, and that’s not even getting into the mounting evidence that the Wuhan Plague “vaccine” forced on much of our population has had long-term negative fertility effects on men. What caused all these problems for men? Nobody seems to want to look into that very closely.

We can, however, make a start in identifying the causes, by turning to the next topic on our list of shame, the food supply. Food is necessarily directly tied to our epidemic of obesity, and obesity, among many other harms, is part of men’s decreasing sperm and testosterone. To be sure, the obesity epidemic is also tied to the Left doctrine of placing no limits on oneself and disallowing stigma, resulting in Big Gulps, huge hamburgers, and “king-size” Snickers bars, but it seems clear there is more than free choice to our overeating problem. Are seed oils, unnaturally produced by industrial chemical processes, part of the cause? The endocrine-disruptor herbicide atrazine, which drenches crops and lawns across the country? Are genetically-modified crops hiding some set of deleterious effects yet to become evident, or deliberately concealed? Are persistent plastics and chemicals (so-called PFAS chemicals, including Teflon) part of the cause of obesity, or of the drops in sperm count and fertility, or other problems? I don’t know, but I know these things, and many others, can’t be good for us—or rather, they must have costs, as well as benefits, but only the latter are permitted topics.

On the other hand, it’s also true that modern techniques and technologies have allowed the world to eat adequately, the result of the Green Revolution started by Norman Borlaug, discussed in Charles Mann’s The Wizard and the Prophet, which correctly points out that techno-optimists, Wizards, have always been right, and anti-human criers of doom, Prophets, have always been wrong—with respect to food production, at least. It is obvious that we cannot disallow all large-scale, industrially-influenced farming. Sri Lanka’s recent collapse as a direct result of refusing to allow artificial fertilizers, in order to achieve “green” goals to curry favor with elites in the West, is proof of that. As with all uses of technology to fulfil the actual, legitimate needs of mankind (as opposed to our wants, which should be controlled through law and stigma), the trick is placing the correct limits. I think my own position has changed to favor more limits, though each case is different. Intense factory farming of animals, so people can have enormous amounts of meat to stuff their fat faces with, should be completely forbidden, for example. But GMO crops, or some of them, may well make sense, as do most artificial fertilizers. Using atrazine everywhere? Probably not. We should also keep in mind that much of the food grown in America goes to create unnecessary factors of obesity, such as high-fructose corn syrup, or to the evil boondoggle of ethanol as fuel, and that one-half of all food grown is simply wasted. We could accept lower yields, with fewer pesticides and smaller-scale farms, if the market were restructured to eliminate these unneeded demands and heedless waste.

That restructuring, and addressing all these problems, will ultimately be a function of government. Not the current regime, to be sure, but rather its replacement. We should reject out of hand that the so-called free market (to the limited extent it is actually free), the idol of the age, should be permitted to decide any of these matters. For decades, many on the Right have resisted that plastics, or pesticides, or seed oils, or GMO foods, or anything people choose to buy, might be deleterious to our health. After all, if allegedly free enterprise gave us these things, and people chose to use and consume them, who were we to judge? The system would fix any problems by itself, we were told, if we kept government out of the way (leaving aside that government was corruptly involved at every step). It was therefore easy for right-leaning people to overlook looming disasters, especially when the same people most exercised about them were the same people who made repeatedly falsified predictions about matters such as global warming, and who used rants from silly movie stars combined with histrionic emotivism as their primary techniques for addressing problems. But on many matters, they were correct, and the Right, or at least the Reaganite Right, what has now devolved into the catamite Right, of the Heritage Foundation, David French, and other malicious clowns, was wrong. The strong arm of a government with limited ends, but unlimited means, will ultimately have to take action, both to directly address problems, and to change the culture to encourage choices rightly ordered, rather than disordered.

What can each of do right now, though, while we still suffer under the Brawndo Tyranny? As we see in the recent Dutch protests, or the Canadian protests, or our own Electoral Justice Protest, the regimes ruling the West will use any violence necessary to protect themselves. (On the other hand, Sri Lanka may offer a salutary counter-example.) And because our regime has made a devil’s bargain with corporate America to line their pockets as long as corporate America advances the filthy goals of the Left, the corporate interests that profit from our physical destruction are untouchable (until, some day soon, the reckoning). Therefore, the best we can do in the short term is take individual action to protect ourselves against, and reverse, physical damage.

Each of those actions should address the causes and possible causes of damage. No artificial birth control. No obesity—which means self-control, exercise, and also to the extent possible, growing some of one’s own food. We should avoid processed foods—meaning not only foods with seed oils, but any with significant admixtures of dubious ingredients. (The term “processed” is used to blur distinctions among processes. Canning is a process, but not necessarily deleterious to food quality, and obviously highly useful for preservation. But the addition of chemical flavorings, excessive salt, sugar, and fats, is what should be avoided—by all ages, but particularly by the young.) For men, weightlifting to raise testosterone. We should reduce our use of plastic, especially to the extent plastics are in contact with your food (we have recently switched to glass and metal containers for leftovers). And so forth.

Just as important is to make all our own decisions, rejecting the gale-force propaganda to which we are all constantly exposed. We should obviously reject out of hand any advice that processed or chemically-altered foods are superior to natural foods, those to which we have been inculcated an aversion, such as lard, meat, and eggs. We should understand that modest quantities of red meat and natural fats are undoubtedly excellent for us. We should seek out sources of reliable information on the internet, avoiding any “scientific” offerings from regime media and the government, all of which should be assumed to be partial or complete lies. Sure, if you do that, you have to parse the information, rejecting the trolls and the crazies, but making up his own mind based on a range of information is what every citizen was expected to do, once upon a time (really, up until Woodrow Wilson and World War I, but that’s another story).

Some may respond that doing these things is too expensive. But, in almost all cases, this is false. What most people mean when they say that is that making changes is too inconvenient, or too difficult. It is harder to cook than to open a packet of chips. It is harder to wash up the glass containers than to throw out the plastic ones. We frequently hear that eating healthy is more expensive than eating junk and fast food, but on a moment’s reflection, that’s an obvious lie. People just prefer junk and fast food. It’s easier to Netflix and chill than do pull-ups. Discipline is always harder than pleasure; this is not news.

You’ve probably noticed that the physical harms I’ve talked about are only a subset of those we could discuss. For example, as I recently wrote about, our government refuses to do anything effective about opiate and other hard drug use, which has killed a million Americans in recent years. The regime now positively encourages marijuana use, supposedly a mild drug, even though there is much evidence (including use by mass shooters) that marijuana often triggers psychosis, and it definitely enervates. Our masters also encourage the use of pornography, resulting in sexual dysfunction, and have created the insane tranny epidemic. None of these are random events; all of these encouraged practices tend to the same deliberate ends—secondarily profit, but primarily the weakening of the population so it is easier to control. In short, all these physical destructions visited upon us are tools of the regime to make it easier to force us into living in the pod. You should resist.

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  1. Ron Dodson says

    “…and all reflections of reality are Right”

    Bravo. This is most assuredly True.

  2. Marcus says

    Charles, I hope this helps as it looks like an auto-fill:

    “Normal Borlaug” is his name, so it is Norman Borlaug, instead.

  3. Charles—thanks for the post.

    You are wrong to dissuade from watching Cuarón’s movie adaptation of Children of Men, which while apparently much different than the book still strikes the heart viscerally of an ever near world of hopeless pleasure chasing and infertility. Watching of this movie by normies—especially libs and progs— is more critical than ever.

    Also, regarding the obesity epidemic, you did not mention America’s automobile obsession, which surely plays nearly as big as role as dietary causes. If you ever follow up on these thoughts, it would be apt to mention that the development pattern of the built environment change to have people increasingly achieve their daily transportation needs by physical activity walking, biking, etc., a la strongtowns.org

    • Charles Haywood says

      Perhaps. It has been fifteen years since I saw the movie, I suppose. Reasonable points about the automobile, although that does not change that the automobile is merely another challenge to be overcome by discipline.

  4. Carlos Danger says

    Excellent review of an excellent book. I read The Children of Men when it was first published and I was still living in Japan. PD James had always been a favorite author of mine and I was surprised to see her write such a different sort of book from her police procedurals. But the book impressed me. I remember it still.

    A couple of thoughts stimulated by your review.

    “We can . . . make a start in identifying the causes . . .”

    We humans struggle so much with cause and effect. Causal inference is so important in science today — epidemiology, climate science, evolution — but few people seem to know much about it. The work of Judea Pearl helps, but it can be difficult to get through. Too bad.

    “making up his own mind based on a range of information is what every citizen was expected to do, once upon a time”

    Dealing with uncertainty and risk also seems to tax most of us. We always think there is an answer out there if we just look hard enough and process enough data. But there are no answers. There can’t be. No one can predict the future. We have to make our way a cautious step at a time.

    Lots of other lessons in this book too. I’ll have to reread it. Thanks for prodding me to do so with this review.

  5. Anon says

    In case you hadn’t heard: the Heritage Foundation has actually been getting less useless recently. Last October, the disastrous Kay Cole James was replaced as president by Kevin Roberts, who has been focusing more on education, immigration, and cultural issues. They are still weak-sauce, but no longer actively traitorous.

  6. Raymond Haydock says

    The remarkable Scottish Edwardian anti-eugenicist physician Dr Halliday Sutherland. Website (link below) by his descendant Dr Mark Halliday Sutherland, author of Exterminating Poverty: the true story of the eugenic plan to get rid of the poor and the Scottish doctor who fought against it.” https://hallidaysutherland.com/

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