Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Demographic Theory of War | Gunnar Heinsohn's Youth Bulge Options

Today approximately 44 percent of the world’s 7.2 billion people are under 24 years old - and 26 percent are under 14. A staggering 82 percent live in less developed regions of the world – primarily sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Currently, the global median age is 29.2 years, a sharp contrast to Europe, for example, where the median age is 41. Of the 20 states with the lowest median ages worldwide, 18 are in sub-Saharan Africa. The UN predicts that the median age will rise to 42 years by the century’s end, and with it the world’s population will increase to 10.9 billion people. Developing and least developed countries have the highest fertility rates and many are expected to triple in population by 2100. The populations of Burkina Faso, Malawi, Niger, Mali, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia are predicted to increase by 500%. In these countries demographic pressure is already responsible for food scarcity, water scarcity, malnutrition, and disease. 

The Youth Bulge Theory attempts to explain and to predict social conflict, migration, conquest and war, and was first introduced by the CIA in 1995 (The Demographic Backdrop to Ethnic Conflict: A Geographic Overview). Youth bulge specifically refers to a disproportionate percentage of a state population being between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. But the main point of the Youth Bulge Theory is that an excess in especially young adult male population predictably leads to social unrest, war and terrorism, as the third and fourth sons that find no prestigious positions in their existing societies rationalize their impetus to compete by religion or political ideology. 

In his study Söhne und Weltmacht (Sons and World Power: Terror in the Rise and Fall of Nations; 2003) German genocide expert Gunnar Heinsohn investigated family size in various societies in relation to the frequency of violent conflict since 1500 A.D. He concluded, that the presence of large numbers of young men in nations that have experienced population explosions — all searching for respect, work, sex and meaning — tend to turn into violent countries and become involved in wars. Heinsohn’s demographic materialism is not concerned with the absolute size of populations, but rather with the share of teenagers and young men. If the population under the age of 20 becomes 40% or more compared to the total, society is facing a youth bulge. Serious problems start when families begin to produce three, four or more sons.  Faced with limited resources, the surplus sons' competition for power and prestige does only leave six options: #1 Violent Crime, #2 Civil War, #3 Revolution, #4 Emigration, #5 Genocide, and #6 War of Conquest or Colonization.  
This is a man's world:
Somali surplus sons warming up for option #2.
Youth bulge can be seen as one factor among many in explaining social unrest and uprisings in society. But Heinsohn essentially claims that most historical periods of social unrest are lacking external triggers (such as rapid climatic changes or other catastrophic changes of the environment). Even most genocides can be readily explained as a result of a built-up youth bulge, including European colonialism, 20th-century fascism, the rise of Communism during the Cold War, the Arab Spring, and ongoing conflicts such as in Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic or in Mali. Since more than a decade Heinsohn keeps warning Western politicians about the too many angry young men outside the Euro-American world today — above all, too many Muslim young men in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. He considers them one of the principal threats to the West in the first quarter of the 21st century, and illustrates this also in the recent examples of Afghanistan and Iraq: Since 1950, Iraqi fathers of all ethnic and religious groups have sired, on the average, three to four sons. They produced a youth bulge. Saddam Hussein canalized this youth bulge in the options #4 to #6 (genocide, war of conquest, numerous Iraqis went into exile). Following Saddam's removal from power the competition for positions of power was transformed into a civil war (option #2) that is being driven by a massive wave of sons. It may not be easy to recognize the current violence as a civil war, because the Americans and their allies are fighting on one of the sides. But the fact that this was a civil war would become clear through its continuation once the US at her allies withdraw. The same phenomenon could be seen — according to Heinsohn in Afghanistan (see video clip HERE) where the enormous surplus of sons could never be absorbed, in spite of the recruitment of large numbers of police and military personnel. War would therefore inevitably continue in one way or another even after the withdrawal of Western troops.