“Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” by the United Nations General Assembly, United Nations, http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html, 9 December 1948.
“Where Have All the Children Gone?,” by Pavel Kohout, Tech Central Station, http://techcentralstation.com/012705D.html, 27 January 2005 (from The Corner).
Note: This post morphed into something unexpected as I was writing it. In its final form, it uses a TCS article on pension reform to attack misuses of the term “genocide.” While I generally agree with the article, one poorly worded sentence undermines its credibility and cheapens history. This post also criticizes the United Nations for helping cheapen true genocides. — Daniel
Second Note: Zen Pundit ways in with his thoughts on the Auschwitz remembrances. As always, he is very worth reading. He has a different take on some examples I use, but our feel is the same. His third sentence sums everything up: The best possible tribute to the victims of Nazi genocide would not be ceremonies or pious incantations of memory but for the world to actually try to stop the next one.
The U. N. defines genocide as
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
* (a) Killing members of the group;
* (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
* (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
* (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
* (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
In that context..
The question of why fertility has been falling so dramatically in continental Europe has been food for thought for both demographers and economists. The answer must be looked for in several important factors, which, to further complicate matters, do not simply add up in their impact. Nevertheless, it can be said with a fair amount of certainty that the existence of pay-as-you-go pension systems has had a very negative impact on birth rate. The National Report on Family published by the Czech Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in August 2004 says:
“In terms of intergenerational solidarity, the importance of the child as an investment for material support in old age has been limited by the social security and pension insurance system, which has eliminated people’s immediate dependence on children. The importance of the child’s role in relation to its parents has transferred to the emotional sphere, which reduced the direct material indispensability of children in a family, while also allowing for them being replaced with certain substitutes bringing emotional satisfaction.”
When a modern young European has to choose between setting up a family of his own and a comfortable life without children, he is very likely to pick the latter option — unless he belongs to a social class which regards children chiefly as a source of social benefits. A high amount of taxation combined with ill-functioning labor and housing markets is a truly genocidal mix. That is the case of Italy, but also Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Its impact cannot be corrected by all sorts of government subsidies paid out to young families. On the contrary, under certain circumstances the benefits for families may even lead to a drop in birth rate.
Clearly pension reform is important. And poorly designed public institutions may negatively affective the birth rate. But to call it “genocidal” cheapens the term. The murderous government of Sudan has been called genocical, when its not, just as Monty Python’s Black Knight Milosevic was, when he was not. The most eggregious case of this is the so-called Armenian Genocide, where oriental incompetence and multicultural adoption laws are compared to the Holocaust.
There are real genocides. The Shoah was on. And there are real autogenocides, like Pol Pot’s nightmare in Cambodia. One Free Korea and NK Zone have been documenting the crimes of the DPRK, which may be an autogenocide.
But let’s save the meaning of words. Social Security is not genocidal. Not even this is.