What, pray tell, connects the recent Kenyan violence with 30 years of Afghan war, Gaza unrest, European colonialism and French revolution?
The answer is young men, lots and lots of young men. Researching the demographics of trouble areas past and present, a superfluous amount of young men are most always to be found. Throughout history, a major surplus of 15-29 year old men have led to unrest, coup d’Ã©tats, civil war, and terrorism.
Such is the theory of the YOUTH BULGE, by Gunnar Heinsohn. In my opinion, it is a brilliant new theory, one I wish I’d stumbled upon when I was chasing my Masters-degree at The Centre For The Study Of Democracy. My own essays always blamed poverty, ideology and religion. How pedestrian they seem now!
Far from boring you senseless with all the important details, it does not take much to realize that young men is a demographic pressure above and beyond any other of those ol’ pyramids we fooled around with in school.
Most men from the age 15-29 are weak in psychology, hot in blood, and lax on thinking. They are out to prove themselves, testing boundaries, seeking alternatives in making complete asses of themselves while actually believing the opposite is taking place. Nothing could be easier to manipulate and brainwash than a young man. Yes, I was once young forever too.
Young men may not necessarily be the cause of conflict, but they feed on it. Gunnar the German makes a strong case for it, with matching numbers. Usually, wars end because the birth rate drops – in other words, peace-talks begin when the warrior count is down. It has been calculated that risk of unrest grows when the percentage of young men from 15-29 climbs over 30% of the whole adult male population. As it is, for the sake of comparison, Finland is at 24%, with 1.7 children per woman. The Gaza Strip is 53% young men, with 5.9 kids per woman. Afghan women have, on average, 6.8 kids. I won’t even comment on Africa. [Once again: every single place on earth with trouble has a youth bulge.]
Did you ever wonder why many of the armed struggles never end, even though they constantly kill each other? Sure is a sad day in the history of mankind, when you learn that they don’t die fast enough. Or grow up fast enough.
Speaking on the behalf of young men, we always knew we weren’t clever. But I never realized we were this stupid.