Minority populations in any society have faced the twin problems of expulsion and absorption by the majority population. On the one hand, they need to play an important enough role to be needed by the majority, but not become a threat. On the other hand, they need to maintain enough separation between themselves and the majority in order to keep their people from fully assimilating and disappearing. Assimilation in America, for example, has erased much of late 19th century immigration.
The Amish are a popular example used by people interested in demography as well as human behavior. Beginning in the early 18th century, these mostly German Anabaptists began moving from southwestern Germany to Pennsylvania. They were rural people, so they settled into rural parts of the colony as farmers. They setup their unique communities and exist to this day as a unique and separate minority. Amish in America number about four hundred thousand.
A theory for why this tiny minority that lives outside modernity has managed to survive is that they have become more Amish over time. That is, the traits that make them Amish have become more intense in the population. This has been a natural counter to the increasing pressure of the modern world, which seeks to homogenize everything to death. As the tentacles of cosmopolitan globalist get stronger, this defense mechanism of the Amish has grown stronger as well.
The theory works something like this. Let’s assume a range of Amishness that runs from one to ten. One is the least Amish and ten is the most Amish. In the early years, the average Amishness of the group was around five. Some people were attracted to the community for reasons other than the rural, separatist lifestyle. Others were extremely attracted to the whole package that defines the Amish community. Let’s assume a normal distribution of Amishness in the community.
Over time, the people closer to the low end of the scale would peel off for one reason or another, deciding to leave the community. The sorts that were just in it for religious reasons would find a community of people who shared their beliefs, but also engaged in the modern world. Every generation, the people lacking the Amish trait would be tempted to leave the community. In time, the average Amishness would increase as the low score left and the high score multiplied.
This is not just a cultural issue. There is a biological component. Just as height is a function of genes, personality traits are also rooted in our genes. This unique sense of belonging was most likely part of this people before they embraced their particular religion in the Reformation. Inside the group, the more intensely Amish will be more fertile, while the rest will be less productive. Every generation, the most Amish of the Amish would outnumber the least Amish, increasing over all Amishness.
That’s the very shorthand version of what is called boiling off. Something similar has probably been happening with ultra-orthodox Jews. Those Jews with the traits that are selected for by the cult rise in status, get married to a female inside the cult and have lots of children. Those lacking these traits, are not only less desirable, but less interested in wearing fur hats in summer. They will be less likely to marry a member of the cult and reproduce. They may leave and take their genes with them.
These populations of ultra-orthodox Jews have developed a natural barrier between themselves and the host society. Anyone who has had dealings with the ultra-orthodox knows they are like space aliens. In fact, they are like extremely obnoxious space aliens, who seem to oblivious to their surroundings. Their hostility to outsiders is so intense and instinctive, it presents a barrier between them and everyone else. Even other Jews, maybe especially other Jews, find them impossible to tolerate.
This raises the question as to whether some form of this has played out in the more secular Jewish community. Ethnocentrism most certainly has biological roots, growing out of endogamy, the habit of marrying within the group. This was true of Ashkenazim for a long time until they reached America. In the 20th century, these Jews were faced with a set of conditions for which they had no natural defense. That is, they faced no strong hostility from the majority society.
Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, the Ashkenazim could marry outside the group and participate in all aspects of society. The result being lots of the less Jewish members simply blending into the surrounding population. First, they lost their connection to the faith and then they lost their connection to the identity. Lots of Americans have a Jewish grandparent or great grandparent, but have no connection to Judaism or Jewish identity. That was lost in the past.
Unlike the Amish or ultra-orthodox, over all fertility among Jews has plummeted, so the highly ethnocentric are not producing children faster than Jews are defecting. The overall size of the Jewish community has declined of late and current fertility numbers suggests a sharp drop in this century. Still, if the highly ethnocentric marry within the group, the result over time could be an increase in ethnocentrism. Those with strong Jewish identity will be the those with extreme ethnocentrism.
Of course, without the more secular and assimilated Jews around to police the ranks for excessive expressions of ethnocentrism, the hyper-Jews begin to dominate. That could be why the modern media age seems to be festooned with Jews like Michelle Goldberg and Ben Shapiro. There are no moderate Jews around to muzzle these people or at least moderate them. From the perspective of outsiders, these extreme voices of ethnocentrism become the voice of the entire Jewish community.
This raises another angle. As America becomes majority-minority, the same sorts of pressures will shape white populations. Southern whites, for example, will probably become more Southern. Those with a strong sense of community will marry others with the same traits and have lots of kids. The Southern whites, who wish to live as urbanite bugmen, will head off to urban areas to die. This will repeat in all regions and over time, the regional culture will become more intense.
That’s not the only possibility, of course, but it is good reminder that numbers are not all that matters in demographics. The Amish have survived in a hostile world by becoming more intensely Amish. Jews have survived all over the world through endogamy and ethnocentrism. Cultural and spiritual intensity, like fanaticism, are force multipliers. They allow small groups to punch well about their numbers, even less intelligent people like the gypsies.
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