Spengler at Asia Times is looking at the portents from Iran and sees a collapse coming. And as per usual he uses his favorite metric. Whores. The man is obsessed. I can, however, appreciate his obsession.
Until very recently, an oil-price windfall gave the Iranian state ample resources to pursue its agenda at home and abroad. How, then, should we explain an eruption of social pathologies in Iran such as drug addiction and prostitution, on a scale much worse than anything observed in the West? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it appears that Islamic theocracy promotes rather than represses social decay.That is a very dangerous position. Many think that the Austrian Corporal started WW2 in Europe based on a similar estimate of Germany's future. Spengler estimates:
Iran is dying. The collapse of Iran's birth rate during the past 20 years is the fastest recorded in any country, ever. Demographers have sought in vain to explain Iran's population implosion through family planning policies, or through social factors such as the rise of female literacy.
But quantifiable factors do not explain the sudden collapse of fertility. It seems that a spiritual decay has overcome Iran, despite best efforts of a totalitarian theocracy. Popular morale has deteriorated much faster than in the "decadent" West against which the Khomeini revolution was directed.
"Iran is dying for a fight," I wrote in 2007 (Please see Why Iran is dying for a fight, November 13, 2007.) in the literal sense that its decline is so visible that some of its leaders think that they have nothing to lose.
Their efforts to isolate Iran from the cultural degradation of the American "great Satan" have produced social pathologies worse than those in any Western country. With oil at barely one-fifth of its 2008 peak price, they will run out of money some time in late 2009 or early 2010. Game theory would predict that Iran's leaders will gamble on a strategic long shot. That is not a comforting thought for Iran's neighbors.Now let us get to the good parts. The cultural indicators.
First, prostitution has become a career of choice among educated Iranian women. On February 3, the Austrian daily Der Standard published the results of two investigations conducted by the Tehran police, suppressed by the Iranian media. And what about poor women? Iran is exporting them.
"More than 90% of Tehran's prostitutes have passed the university entrance exam, according to the results of one study, and more than 30% of them are registered at a university or studying," reports Der Standard. "The study was assigned to the Tehran Police Department and the Ministry of Health, and when the results were tabulated in early January no local newspaper dared to so much as mention them."
The Austrian newspaper added, "Eighty percent of the Tehran sex workers maintained that they pursue this career voluntarily and temporarily. The educated ones are waiting for better jobs.
There is an extensive trade in poor Iranian women who are trafficked to the Gulf states in huge numbers, as well as to Europe and Japan. "A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women," I wrote in a 2006 study of Iranian prostitution, Jihads and whores.Spengler goes on to discuss the whore situation further, opiate addiction rates in the working population (an astounding 5%), and the fact that the fertility rate in Iran is at 1.9 and falling - well below replacement rates.
Prostitution as a response to poverty and abuse is one thing, but the results of this new study reflect something quite different. The educated women of Tehran choose prostitution in pursuit of upward mobility, as a way of sharing in the oil-based potlatch that made Tehran the world's hottest real estate market during 2006 and 2007.
A country is beaten when it sells its women, but it is damned when its women sell themselves. The popular image of the Iranian sex trade portrays tearful teenagers abused and cast out by impoverished parents. Such victims doubtless abound, but the majority of Tehran's prostitutes are educated women seeking affluence.
One other thing to consider is that oil money has been used to buy peace in Iran (and instability elsewhere) and that money is running out. It is more than evident that Iran has run out of hope well before it has run out of extractable oil.
In an article by ajacksonian that I posted here in January of 2007 called Oil Outlook the future of the oil industry in Iran was examined as well as the demographic time bomb and other instabilities. His projection (without knowledge of the current oil bust) was that Iran could be in serious trouble by 2010 and by 2019 it would cease to exist as we know it. So he bracketed Iran's collapse between those two dates.
The fall in the oil markets is making the earlier dates more likely. One thing for sure. We do live in interesting times.
Cross Posted at Classical Values