December 10, 2004

The "Natalist Movement" Explained:

David Brooks' NYT column on "natalism" left me scratching my head: "It's strange that having enough babies to keep the species going needs its own name. What's next? 'Breathingism?'"

The term "natalist" goes back at least to 19th Century France, where the government was correctly worried that the low birth rate of the French was going to put them at a disadvantage on the battlefield against the more fecund Germans. The French government has implemented "pro-natalist" policies ever since. But, obviously, there is virtually nothing in the way of an organized natalist "Movement" in the U.S., as there was in 3rd Republic France. Instead, there is a lot of lower-case movement around the country as people call up moving vans and move to places they hope are better suited for what they want out of life. And it turns out that feelings about having babies are one of the more important sorting mechanisms for where people live and how they vote.

A reader explains:

David Brooks comes up with the word for two reasons: publicity and Internet searching.

People may well forget that you identified the relationship first. Especially since you noticed the white aspect of it. But Brooks has labeled it.

You identified a phenomenon. Brooks identified a "movement". "Movements" get press.

Expect Time or Newsweek to talk about the "natalist movement" if your meme has legs (leggy memes, hmmm).

Since Brooks is the one who identified it and gave it a name, however, he is likely to be the one who gets the press when someone performs a Lexis/Nexis or Internet search on "natalism". I can just see him jockeying for position at an editorial meeting, trying to get play for "The New Natalist Movement", and a front-page byline for himself.

As we both know, Brooks is twisting the truth a bit. There is no natalist movement. There is no natalist organization. There is no natalist consciousness. Some folks just like to make babies. That fact, however, is a commonplace, and commonplaces don't sell papers. "The New Natalist Movement" does, however. And David Brooks is the Faith Popcorn of the movement. He will get the credit as the one who first spotted "the movement" in the wild. In his paper will get credit for cracking the story first.

You are not quite old enough, but I remember "The Movement", which to most outsiders was a bunch of college kids smoking dope, dropping out, doing acid, and screwing like bunnies. The guy who labeled it "The Movement" probably got a fair amount of press and bylines.

Hell, if Morris Dees tried to drum up money to get rid of a handful of redneck cranks living in the sticks of Idaho, he wouldn't have gotten a dime. He gets millions, though, for haranguing folks about "The Militia Movement" and "The White Identity Movement".

To satisfy your curiosity, do a search right now for "natalist" on Google. Track the word each day for the next month. See how many times "Brooks" appears in conjunction with "natalist". See how many times "Sailer" appears in conjunction with "natalist". The results would be interesting.

In my corporate career, I was a good marketing researcher but a lousy marketer. Obviously, nothing much has changed.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

No comments: