THE DEMOGRAPHIC FATE OF intelligent SPECIES: 6/7. Can politicians do something? Will voters care to vote for lab-grown babies ordered and raised collectively by the state?

6/7. Can politicians do something? Will voters care to vote for lab-grown babies ordered and raised collectively by the state?

''What is to be done?'' pundits would ask, in good Leninist fashion. If humans don't bear/order babies for themselves and, economically and emotionally, suffer little for that, can they be persuaded to do it for a cause larger than their own petty lives? If persuasion doesn't work, can a democratic government - one "of the people, by the people, for the people" - do something that the people themselves don't want to? Should the government budget be used to buy collectively artificial-womb-born state-raised replacement humans, Kryptonian style? Would there be a radical reorganization of the human society along the eusocial beehive model, where the queen bee/state performs a centralized reproduction job for the whole colony? Will people vote for this novel use of their tax money? In case the plebeian majority, through democratic votes, consider their own needs more worthy than an abstract cause, can a pronatalist dictatorship be imposed forever, so that the community can survive its selfish members forever? If that is not possible, then are we doomed?
To inspire people to procreate, pronatalists have tried, with little success, God (not enough prolific Pope-lovers to lift Italian fertility back to replacement) and country (nationalism appeals more to those too old to reproduce). Given the increasingly global reach of low fertility, they could soon try humanity. Is humankind real and important enough to motivate humans where the Almighty and patriotism have failed? Will people care about their species to have more babies? The answer to these questions won't be known until someone engages real humans in the real world, informing them of the unintended consequences for humanity of their lifestyle. That may turn out to be easy, people do care and all they need is a gentle wake-up call. Reminded of what is really important in life, humans would flock to the bedroom and 40 weeks later their species' extinction problem would be fixed for good. If history is any guide, however, procreating for humanity is going to be a tough sale.
The odds are against the salesmen. Of all the previous doctrines urging people to live their life for an abstraction, not one has passed the test of time. The scripts were the same. According to a founding messiah, life is empty without working, breeding, killing, dying… for a sacred concept: the people, the class, the race, the faith… Apart from a few lunatics, however, the masses never believed strongly, if at all. Dedicating one's life to an abstract cause seems more descriptive of pre-programmed robots, not the animals of flesh and cravings that regular humans are. Life's worldly temptations are just too strong. Given enough time, history's utopian revolutions all ended up co-opted by a bureaucratic nomenklatura of petty, corrupted opportunists: Middle Age's sex-loving Popes, 20th century's obese communist apparatchiks... Those were not exactly the kind of transformed and better human beings who should emerge, in the vision of the first-hours idealists, to ensure the perpetuity of the whole enterprise. Rather unsurprisingly, most of the oddball idealists would themselves be quickly killed off in the settling down of their revolutions: France’s Jacobin leaders, Lenin’s associates other than Stalin… In this tradition, a dictatorship for fertility, if it was ever imposed, would not last very long, let alone forever and ever.
Given those precedents, a failure to save mankind should again signal people's chronic apathy towards abstract, imagined aggregate-level communities, not a lack of saving efforts. Changing people is a thankless business. While advocates of most causes are free to speak these days, their target audiences are equally free not to listen. If you are less attractive than, say, that hottie on the next channel, you’re at the mercy of the remote control. The species, so real and meaningful to some, may mean nothing to others. As everyone nowadays is considered equally human and has one same vote, the majority of humans might not think much of humanity, if at all. At best, it only exists as a hollow abstraction for most of its constituents, with much less appeal than their personal pursuits. Dictatorships of different colors all present society (code-word for the top dog's interests) as an end in itself, the highest to which all individual life must be subordinated. Yet in all nations, USSR or USSA, there are always exponentially more souls trying to milk the system than those who believe in that "ask not what your country can do for you..." marching song.
In going about their daily lives, fleshy people inadvertently create abstractions called Turkey/Chile/America/Nigeria/…, not the other way around. Only individual organisms are real and have rights, human/chimpanzee/beaver/wolf/... society being just a conceptual by-product of human/chimpanzee/beaver/wolf/... interactions. Society is a natural association created and recreated constantly and spontaneously through the interactions of same-species animals following their drives. The collaborative living mode, which offers an improved chance of organism survival, is naturally selected and perpetuated exactly because it serves the selfish individual well. At the end of the day, there might be no humanity, only humans.
Even if public interest, and birthrate along with it, could be raised for a while, there would always be the test of time. To maintain this 200.000-year-old species around forever, you will have to find ways to keep people enthusiastic in, say, four million years. The first step to that, of course, is to make sure that your sweetheart won't dump you in four years. Suppose that she agrees to give you four beautiful babies, how can you two guarantee that these tiny creatures will, in their days, have enough too? And what about the children of the children of their children, if some will still be born at all?  The brats you will forgo a lot to raise may, when they become full-right humans, just favor those other activities and ax your favorite species anyway. Their time will come and time can make your save-humanity efforts pointless. Even if you are a species-loving mega-billionaire who can order and raise 1000 children, you can't force your children to sincerely share your love. If humanity disappears, we have only the humans to blame.
If people don't care, nobody can stop their species (and it’s theirs too, Vladimir Ilyich!) from vanishing. Even in a futuristic scenario of state-purchased-and-raised new citizens being conceived in farms of artificial wombs, the final decision on how many to have collectively would still rest with the tax-paying public. Besides the obvious ethical concerns, as few foster children are shining success stories, do existing humans want to spend precious budget resources on such pooled purchase? No matter how rich our society becomes compared to our ancestors', at the current moment we will always feel a chronic lack of money. The gigantic budget deficits and mountains of debt currently piled up by the richest economies on Earth all point to a simple conclusion: money is never enough for humans. Don't pin too much hope, therefore, on that babies-procuring referendum. One dollar spent on sustaining the abstract species means one dollar less for my real needs, which are the only things that matter to me, the average human voter might easily argue.
Ultimately, political leaders can’t decide these matters, for they are just our employees. Democratic government is only a purchasing cooperative through which we pool resources to buy public goods: clean streets, safe neighborhoods, well-lighted cities, peaceful borders… Glory-seeking politicians are then hired, on a competitive basis, to run the institution. Despite their often-abused operational discretion, vote-crazy elected officials know that they can be replaced: war heroes Churchill and Bush 41 were fired right after their military triumphs. As the faceless masses, not those pretentious pols, decide ultimately what ''We'' want, you have a real-world history of right-wingers building the nanny state and leftists scaling it down. Smart leaders have consistently proved themselves to be good followers.
Poll-obsessed politicians, therefore, can’t be counted on to fight the birth dearth. Though aware that low fertility raises the median age, today's democratically-elected leaders are concentrating most policy efforts on the healthcare and pension reforms that accommodate, not combat the cause of, the new aging reality. Where it exists, promoting more child-bearing is a tiny government program compared to the giant Social Security, whose aim is to feed the coming tsunami of Boomer retirees. Current politics looks centuries away from the pronatalist consensus that prevailed until World War II, with its funny vocabulary of ''selfish women'', ''superior interests of the nation'', ''foreign hordes''… Politicians of such sensibilities, fortunately, are now outcasts. Understanding the voters' right to decide for themselves, the comrades who really make policy, for their part, prefer to go with, not against, the flow of the people.

(Next) 7/7. Intelligent species across the Universe blindly bloom and die, like wildflowers in the cosmic desert, being just brainier wild nature?

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