There’s so many questions like this. We rarely talk about any of them. Instead, we’re told repeatedly to avert our gaze from the obvious and turn instead to CNN’s latest fixation. Whether it’s a Chinese flu virus, or George Floyd, or some forgettable border dispute in eastern Ukraine. These are the issues they tell us we must care about. But they’re wrong. These are not the most important issues, they’re just news stories The only remarkable thing about them is our willingness to believe they’re more important than, say, Americans living outdoors on the sidewalk, or whether or not our own children get married. There’s something a little scary about watching this happen. It’s like an entire population transfixed by issues that ultimately don’t really matter.
How is that going to work out? Well, over time, probably not very well. Reality always reasserts itself. Twitter can ban all the thought criminals at once, but in the end Twitter is not in charge of the future Nature is in charge of the future. If you want your country to continue, you have to answer nature’s imperatives, which are the basics: Do you have enough water? Do you have a reliable food supply? Can you defend yourself from invaders? What are you using for energy? How are you producing things and keeping warm? Those are the essential questions that any civilization must ask those and one other: how many people do you want living in your country?
The size of your population matters very much. The size determines a nation’s character. It often determines its fate. Yet we don’t talk much about the size of our population. We probably should. The United States is growing faster than most Americans understand. If you were born in 1969, and some of us were, you arrived in a country with a little over 200 million people in it. There are now 334 million people in it. That’s an awful lot of new people in an awfully short time. How many people is that exactly? Well, it’s nearly twice the population of the entire western United States. That’s 13 states, including California. That is massive and incredibly rapid demographic growth, and it’s accelerating.
Immigration is now at the highest level ever recorded in American history. So is the number of foreign-born already living here. Over just the last year, roughly two million people from the Third World came across our borders illegally. All of them arrived with the blessing of the White House. It makes you wonder what sort of economy Joe Biden imagines we’re going to have going forward. Domestic manufacturing is in steep decline, automation is replacing many of the low-skilled jobs that still remain. So what are these millions of new people going to be doing for work 20 years from now? They can’t all be Nancy Pelosi’s housekeepers. They can’t all bus tables at the French Laundry in Napa. And not all of them will, thank God. In spite of the Democratic Party’s best efforts to import a permanent serf class to serve its donors, some of these immigrants will rise higher than Nancy Pelosi expects they will. Some will fight their way to the top of our society with the usual combination of inborn talent and grit, and honestly, bless them for that. No one invited them here. We didn’t want them to come, but we will be sincerely glad when they succeed.
And yet a country is more than the success of a handful of people, inspiring as that always is to watch. Sheer numbers matter, too. Even if every single person who snuck across our southern border this year goes on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, it would still be worth worrying about the effects that mass immigration have on our total population numbers. So the question is, how many people is too many?
In Washington, you will never hear that question. More bodies in a country mean more power for the people who run it. Big nations need big governments. Politicians always want more people to rule, so the incentive for unrestrained population growth is baked right into the system.
That’s bad news for the rest of us. First, and most obviously, big governments don’t treat their citizens very well. Yes, that’s a Reagan-era talking point. It’s also true. The larger a bureaucracy becomes, the more impersonal it gets. Past a certain size, organizations of any kind lose their regard for people. As they get bigger, they get blunter, more soulless and cruel. The people in charge no longer care what you think. They don’t have to worry about how their policies will affect you or your family. And that’s the inevitable product of population growth. If you had five children, you would bathe them all in love and attention. If you had five thousand children, you wouldn’t know their names.
So, in case you’re wondering why our leaders no longer seem especially interested in your health or happiness or prosperity, that’s the reason. They don’t have to be interested. Our population is too big. Why should your opinion matter? You’re one of many. Previous generations of Americans didn’t live in a country like this, and they would be stunned by the attitudes that are so common now – attitudes we take for granted. Arresting people for walking through the U.S. Capitol building? “How is that a crime?” 19th century Americans would wonder. For most of our history, Americans believed they owned the Capitol. They thought it was theirs because they assumed this was their country. Political leaders told them that it was. After the 1904 presidential election, Teddy Roosevelt greeted voters in person on the lawn of the White House. It was his home. He lived there, but it belonged to them.
Attitudes like that are long gone. They’re the victim of population growth. The Athenians invented democratic government, but at its peak, Athens only had about 8,000 voters. So past a certain scale, democracy can’t function very well. The concept of the citizen becomes too abstract. You see it in the way our leaders talk. Politicians barely mention individuals anymore. Instead, they yammer on about voting blocks, which are now called “communities”: The immigrant community. The trans community. The Latino community. The Black community. You hear these terms constantly, but they are nonsensical. They don’t mean anything. For example, there are about 47 million Black people in the United States. That’s a community? No, it’s not. By definition, 47 million people cannot be a community, no matter what color the people within it are. How could it be a community? They don’t even know each other? What you’re looking at is not a community, but 47 million individuals, each created by God as unique, each with opinions and interests and preference and goals that aren’t quite the same as anybody else’s. In other words, they’re human beings. People who run big countries tend to forget that.
When you’re in charge of hundreds of millions of people, you cannot help but to dehumanize them. Not that our leaders have ever had a problem with dehumanizing people. In fact, they’re strongly for it. A year and a half ago, some idiot kid from Harvard wrote a book demanding that the United States open its borders to an additional 700 million new immigrants from around the world. If we did that, he argued in the book, we’d have a population of a billion people and that might raise our GDP. Wall Street would be thrilled. Also, of course, would be more diverse with more interesting restaurants. Want Sierra Leonean goat barbecue delivered to your pod at 3 a.m.? With the billion people living here, you could get that done.
As noted, the kid’s a moron. But in Washington, here’s the interesting part. No one laughed at him. Quite a few ostensibly smart people agreed with his thesis, including some prominent Republicans who turned out to be as dumb and reckless as he is. Apparently, none of them has ever spent time in a crowded country. Anyone who has, knows how deranged it is to want a billion people here in the United States. Mass population growth makes life worse for pretty much everybody. That’s the main problem with crowded countries. They’re hard to live in. They’re loud and dirty and chaotic. There is no privacy. There is no open space. There are never enough resources to go around, so the culture tends to become hyper-competitive and clannish.
Crowding is bad for people. It’s anti-human. In a famous series of experiments in the late 1940s, a researcher called John Calhoun forced a group of Norway rats to live in highly overcrowded pens, and almost immediately the rats changed. They became aggressive. Then they became psychotic. Ultimately, they died. People aren’t so different from that. They need room. That’s why our ancestors came to America in the first place because there was room here. You know who still understands this? Rich people understand this. Ask anyone who’s been around the world and knows what the options are. Ask, “If you left the United States. Where would you move?” And no one’s going to tell you Lagos or Mexico City or even Singapore. If they’re being honest, they’ll tell you New Zealand or Alpine Switzerland. Those are low-density places. They don’t have a lot of other people in them. Why do billionaires buy huge boats? Same reason the ocean isn’t crowded. There’s no one else there. Uncrowded is good. Yellowstone is beautiful because it’s empty. You don’t have to be rich to understand this. It’s all pretty obvious, really. Only in a moment like this, when the people with the loudest megaphone speaking exclusively in lies, would we need to be reminded of it.
Bigger is not always better, in fact, most of the time it is worse. Have you driven around your country recently? You may have noticed there are fewer and fewer beautiful things in America. You’re not imagining that. It’s real. Dollar Stores are everywhere. The question is why is this happening? Well, the people in charge have no taste. That’s part of it. They acquire, but they can’t discern. For some reason, we put private equity firms in charge of the nation’s esthetics. Accountants are doing our exterior design. That’s a terrible idea, obviously, but it’s not the core problem. The core problem is that bigness is inherently ugly. There’s never been a beautiful skyscraper. Every single one of them is an atrocity. The fact that people still pretend otherwise tells you how conditioned we have become to disregard our own nature and our own natural longings.
Would you rather wake up in a $ 30 million condo in the top floor of an office tower, or in a log cabin in a pine forest woodstove glowing as the snow falls? That’s a rhetorical question. Obviously, no sane person would choose the condo. And yet we’re told the condo is better. That’s why it costs more because the building is bigger. But how exactly does it scale in advantage? How is that appealing? It’s not. In fact, its scale is the problem. Massive size is a threat, no matter what it is, always. In our bones, we understand this. Anything huge is inherently terrifying to us. Children run from big things.
If there’s an upside to the last two years of the COVID insanity and there may be, it’s that many Americans seem to be remembering what they long for. Look where they’re moving. Almost always, it’s to someplace smaller: L.A. to Austin, New York to Burlington, Seattle to Boise, Chicago to Naples. So it’s the reverse of any other internal migration we’ve ever seen.
Americans are moving from the cities to the farms, or at least to the outer suburbs. They want more nature, more human contact, more trees, more quiet, and it’s hard to believe they’ll ever stop wanting these things. Because they’re natural. They’re the things we all want. At some point down the road, you can imagine young people setting out for the all but abandoned interior of our continent. Some of them may figure out that a depopulated Finnish settler town on the banks of Lake Superior may be a better place to live and raise children than some sterile commuter parking lot 20 miles from a crumbling metroplex. They could figure that out. People aren’t that stupid. They’ve just been misled.
Economic forces are going to drive this, by the way, as they always do. For decades, our leaders have ignored the essentials – our food, our energy, our water – in favor of boutique nonsense that improves nobody’s life. Pregnant flight suits, ladies and gentlemen. These people are ridiculous, and we’re about to see the results of their long-standing negligence. Energy prices, for example, probably aren’t going down. How high are they going to go? Nobody knows. But at some point, it will become very obvious that it makes more sense to buy your staples nearby than it does to order them online from a warehouse across the continent. So the rising cost of transportation is likely to be permanent.
The world we live in, in other words, cannot last. And that’s not necessarily a tragedy. There’s nothing wrong with setting down roots somewhere that’s smaller. It’s not a bad thing to know the man at the grocery store or the ladies at the post office. It’s pretty nice, actually. It might even be an improvement over Midtown, Manhattan, believe it or not. Healthy societies are not at all like the one we are living in now. They’re not impersonal. They don’t exist to maintain empires. They exist to serve the human beings who live within them. They elevate their citizens. They don’t degrade them. Now, obviously, that’s the opposite of the system we currently have.
The good news is the system we currently have cannot last. It’s too perverse. It’s too disconnected from the natural world. So it will end. And as it does, and as we think about how we want to live going forward, it’s worth remembering that other people, in the end, are all that matters. Your relationships are the sum of your life. Those relationships start with your family. They move outward in concentric circles. They include your friends, your neighbors and the people you work beside. This is your actual community. The human beings, you know personally, the ones you love, the ones you take responsibility for, and that can never be a very big group.
This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson’s opening commentary on the January 4, 2022, edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”