[COMMENT: This is a long read, but accurate and worth the time. See reply by Jennifer Roback Morse The West is dying. And very few seem, so far, to care. However, with things coming out like Christianity Credited for West's Success, the tide will eventually turn. Reality has a way of asserting itself.
There will always be those who find the bed rock of the Hand of God, which
they know to be independent of anything the circumstances around them can touch.
God will keep asserting Himself into our lives so long as we are willing to risk
being truth-seekers and truth-tellers at any risk to ourselves. The prison
literature of the history is full of such experiences. And, when truth
wins, everybody wins. E. Fox]
BY MARK STEYN
Wall Street Journal Editorial Page
January 4, 2006
Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as
baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not
survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within
our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries.
There'll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as
Italy or the Netherlands--probably--just as in Istanbul there's still a
building called St. Sophia's Cathedral. But it's not a cathedral; it's
merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the
Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge
for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the
alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West.
One obstacle to doing that is that, in the typical election campaign in
your advanced industrial democracy, the political platforms of at least
one party in the United States and pretty much all parties in the rest
of the West are largely about what one would call the secondary impulses
of society--government health care, government day care (which Canada's
thinking of introducing), government paternity leave (which Britain's
just introduced). We've prioritized the secondary impulse over the
primary ones: national defense, family, faith and, most basic of all,
reproductive activity--"Go forth and multiply," because if you don't you
won't be able to afford all those secondary-impulse issues, like
Americans sometimes don't understand how far gone most of the rest of
the developed world is down this path: In the Canadian and most
Continental cabinets, the defense ministry is somewhere an ambitious
politician passes through on his way up to important jobs like the
health department. I don't think Don Rumsfeld would regard it as a
promotion if he were moved to Health and Human Services.
The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it
requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it. Post-Christian
hyperrationalism is, in the objective sense, a lot less rational than
Catholicism or Mormonism. Indeed, in its reliance on immigration to
ensure its future, the European Union has adopted a 21st-century
variation on the strategy of the Shakers, who were forbidden from
reproducing and thus could increase their numbers only by conversion.
The problem is that secondary-impulse societies mistake their weaknesses
for strengths--or, at any rate, virtues--and that's why they're proving
so feeble at dealing with a primal force like Islam.
Speaking of which, if we are at war--and half the American people and
significantly higher percentages in Britain, Canada and Europe don't
accept that proposition--then what exactly is the war about?
We know it's not really a "war on terror." Nor is it, at heart, a war
against Islam, or even "radical Islam." The Muslim faith, whatever its
merits for the believers, is a problematic business for the rest of us.
There are many trouble spots around the world, but as a general rule,
it's easy to make an educated guess at one of the participants: Muslims
vs. Jews in "Palestine," Muslims vs. Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs.
Christians in Africa, Muslims vs. Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs.
Russians in the Caucasus, Muslims vs. backpacking tourists in Bali. Like
the environmentalists, these guys think globally but act locally.
Yet while Islamism is the enemy, it's not what this thing's about.
Radical Islam is an opportunistic infection, like AIDS: It's not the HIV
that kills you, it's the pneumonia you get when your body's too weak to
fight it off. When the jihadists engage with the U.S. military, they
lose--as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. If this were like World War I
with those fellows in one trench and us in ours facing them over some
boggy piece of terrain, it would be over very quickly. Which the smarter
Islamists have figured out. They know they can never win on the
battlefield, but they figure there's an excellent chance they can drag
things out until Western civilization collapses in on itself and Islam
inherits by default.
That's what the war's about : our lack of civilizational confidence. As
a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: "Civilizations die from suicide,
not murder"--as can be seen throughout much of "the Western world" right
now. The progressive agenda--lavish social welfare, abortion,
secularism, multiculturalism--is collectively the real suicide bomb.
Take multiculturalism. The great thing about multiculturalism is that it
doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures--the capital of
Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is
feeling good about other cultures. It's fundamentally a fraud, and I
would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to
the idea that all cultures are equal don't want to live in anything but
an advanced Western society. Multiculturalism means your kid has to
learn some wretched native dirge for the school holiday concert instead
of getting to sing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or that your
holistic masseuse uses techniques developed from Native American
spirituality, but not that you or anyone you care about should have to
live in an African or Native American society. It's a quintessential
piece of progressive humbug.
Then September 11 happened. And bizarrely the reaction of just about
every prominent Western leader was to visit a mosque: President Bush
did, the prince of Wales did, the prime minister of the United Kingdom
did, the prime minister of Canada did . . . The premier of Ontario
didn't, and so 20 Muslim community leaders had a big summit to denounce
him for failing to visit a mosque. I don't know why he didn't. Maybe
there was a big backlog, it was mosque drive time, prime ministers in
gridlock up and down the freeway trying to get to the Sword of the
Infidel-Slayer Mosque on Elm Street. But for whatever reason he couldn't
fit it into his hectic schedule. Ontario's citizenship minister did show
up at a mosque, but the imams took that as a great insult, like the
Queen sending Fergie to open the Commonwealth Games. So the premier of
Ontario had to hold a big meeting with the aggrieved imams to apologize
for not going to a mosque and, as the Toronto Star's reported it, "to
provide them with reassurance that the provincial government does not
see them as the enemy."
Anyway, the get-me-to-the-mosque-on-time fever died down, but it set the
tone for our general approach to these atrocities. The old definition of
a nanosecond was the gap between the traffic light changing in New York
and the first honk from a car behind. The new definition is the gap
between a terrorist bombing and the press release from an Islamic lobby
group warning of a backlash against Muslims. In most circumstances, it
would be considered appallingly bad taste to deflect attention from an
actual "hate crime" by scaremongering about a purely hypothetical one.
Needless to say, there is no campaign of Islamophobic hate crimes. If
anything, the West is awash in an epidemic of self-hate crimes. A
commenter on Tim Blair's Web site in Australia summed it up in a
note-perfect parody of a Guardian headline: "Muslim Community Leaders
Warn of Backlash from Tomorrow Morning's Terrorist Attack." Those
community leaders have the measure of us.
Radical Islam is what multiculturalism has been waiting for all along.
In "The Survival of Culture," I quoted the eminent British barrister
Helena Kennedy, Queen's Counsel. Shortly after September 11, Baroness
Kennedy argued on a BBC show that it was too easy to disparage "Islamic
fundamentalists." "We as Western liberals too often are fundamentalist
ourselves," she complained. "We don't look at our own fundamentalisms."
Well, said the interviewer, what exactly would those Western liberal
fundamentalisms be? "One of the things that we are too ready to insist
upon is that we are the tolerant people and that the intolerance is
something that belongs to other countries like Islam. And I'm not sure
Hmm. Lady Kennedy was arguing that our tolerance of our own tolerance is
making us intolerant of other people's intolerance, which is
intolerable. And, unlikely as it sounds, this has now become the
highest, most rarefied form of multiculturalism. So you're nice to gays
and the Inuit? Big deal. Anyone can be tolerant of fellows like that,
but tolerance of intolerance gives an even more intense frisson of
pleasure to the multiculti masochists. In other words, just as the AIDS
pandemic greatly facilitated societal surrender to the gay agenda, so
9/11 is greatly facilitating our surrender to the most extreme aspects
of the multicultural agenda.
For example, one day in 2004, a couple of Canadians returned home, to
Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto. They were the son
and widow of a fellow called Ahmed Said Khadr, who back on the
Pakistani-Afghan frontier was known as "al-Kanadi." Why? Because he was
the highest-ranking Canadian in al Qaeda--plenty of other Canucks in al
Qaeda, but he was the Numero Uno. In fact, one could argue that the
Khadr family is Canada's principal contribution to the war on terror.
Granted they're on the wrong side (if you'll forgive my being
judgmental) but no one can argue that they aren't in the thick of
things. One of Mr. Khadr's sons was captured in Afghanistan after
killing a U.S. Special Forces medic. Another was captured and held at
Guantanamo. A third blew himself up while killing a Canadian soldier in
Kabul. Pa Khadr himself died in an al Qaeda shootout with Pakistani
forces in early 2004. And they say we Canadians aren't doing our bit in
In the course of the fatal shootout of al-Kanadi, his youngest son was
paralyzed. And, not unreasonably, Junior didn't fancy a prison hospital
in Peshawar. So Mrs. Khadr and her boy returned to Toronto so he could
enjoy the benefits of Ontario government health care. "I'm Canadian, and
I'm not begging for my rights," declared the widow Khadr. "I'm demanding
As they always say, treason's hard to prove in court, but given the
circumstances of Mr. Khadr's death it seems clear that not only was he
providing "aid and comfort to the Queen's enemies" but that he was, in
fact, the Queen's enemy. The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light
Infantry, the Royal 22nd Regiment and other Canucks have been
participating in Afghanistan, on one side of the conflict, and the Khadr
family had been over there participating on the other side. Nonetheless,
the prime minister of Canada thought Boy Khadr's claims on the public
health system was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate his own deep
personal commitment to "diversity." Asked about the Khadrs' return to
Toronto, he said, "I believe that once you are a Canadian citizen, you
have the right to your own views and to disagree."
That's the wonderful thing about multiculturalism: You can choose which
side of the war you want to fight on. When the draft card arrives, just
tick "home team" or "enemy," according to taste. The Canadian prime
minister is a typical late-stage Western politician: He could have said,
well, these are contemptible people and I know many of us are disgusted
at the idea of our tax dollars being used to provide health care for a
man whose Canadian citizenship is no more than a flag of convenience,
but unfortunately that's the law and, while we can try to tighten it, it
looks like this lowlife's got away with it. Instead, his reflex instinct
was to proclaim this as a wholehearted demonstration of the virtues of
the multicultural state. Like many enlightened Western leaders, the
Canadian prime minister will be congratulating himself on his boundless
tolerance even as the forces of intolerance consume him.
That, by the way, is the one point of similarity between the jihad and
conventional terrorist movements like the IRA or ETA. Terror groups
persist because of a lack of confidence on the part of their targets:
The IRA, for example, calculated correctly that the British had the
capability to smash them totally but not the will. So they knew that
while they could never win militarily, they also could never be
defeated. The Islamists have figured similarly. The only difference is
that most terrorist wars are highly localized. We now have the first
truly global terrorist insurgency because the Islamists view the whole
world the way the IRA view the bogs of Fermanagh: They want it, and
they've calculated that our entire civilization lacks the will to see
We spend a lot of time at The New Criterion attacking the elites, and
we're right to do so. The commanding heights of the culture have behaved
disgracefully for the last several decades. But if it were just a
problem with the elites, it wouldn't be that serious: The mob could rise
up and hang 'em from lampposts--a scenario that's not unlikely in
certain Continental countries. But the problem now goes way beyond the
ruling establishment. The annexation by government of most of the key
responsibilities of life--child-raising, taking care of your elderly
parents--has profoundly changed the relationship between the citizen and
the state. At some point--I would say socialized health care is a good
marker--you cross a line, and it's very hard then to persuade a
citizenry enjoying that much government largesse to cross back. In
National Review recently, I took issue with that line Gerald Ford always
uses to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences: "A government
big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away
everything you have." Actually, you run into trouble long before that
point: A government big enough to give you everything you want still
isn't big enough to get you to give anything back. That's what the
French and German political classes are discovering.
Go back to that list of local conflicts I mentioned. The jihad has held
out a long time against very tough enemies. If you're not shy about
taking on the Israelis, the Russians, the Indians and the Nigerians, why
wouldn't you fancy your chances against the Belgians and Danes and New
So the jihadists are for the most part doing no more than giving us a
prod in the rear as we sleepwalk to the cliff. When I say "sleepwalk,"
it's not because we're a blasť culture. On the contrary, one of the
clearest signs of our decline is the way we expend so much energy
worrying about the wrong things. If you've read Jared Diamond's
bestselling book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,"
you'll know it goes into a lot of detail about Easter Island going belly
up because they chopped down all their trees. Apparently that's why
they're not a G-8 member or on the U.N. Security Council. Same with the
Greenlanders and the Mayans and Diamond's other curious choices of
"societies." Indeed, as the author sees it, pretty much every society
collapses because it chops down its trees.
Poor old Diamond can't see the forest because of his obsession with the
trees. (Russia's collapsing even as it's undergoing reforestation.) One
way "societies choose to fail or succeed" is by choosing what to worry
about. The Western world has delivered more wealth and more comfort to
more of its citizens than any other civilization in history, and in
return we've developed a great cult of worrying. You know the classics
of the genre: In 1968, in his bestselling book "The Population Bomb,"
the eminent scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s the world
will undergo famines--hundreds of millions of people are going to starve
to death." In 1972, in their landmark study "The Limits to Growth," the
Club of Rome announced that the world would run out of gold by 1981, of
mercury by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and
copper, lead and gas by 1993.
None of these things happened. In fact, quite the opposite is happening.
We're pretty much awash in resources, but we're running out of
people--the one truly indispensable resource, without which none of the
others matter. Russia's the most obvious example: it's the largest
country on earth, it's full of natural resources, and yet it's
dying--its population is falling calamitously.
The default mode of our elites is that anything that happens--from
terrorism to tsunamis--can be understood only as deriving from the
perniciousness of Western civilization. As Jean-Francois Revel wrote,
"Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does
will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."
And even though none of the prognostications of the eco-doom
blockbusters of the 1970s came to pass, all that means is that 30 years
on, the end of the world has to be rescheduled. The amended estimated
time of arrival is now 2032. That's to say, in 2002, the United Nations
Global Environmental Outlook predicted "the destruction of 70 percent of
the natural world in thirty years, mass extinction of species. . . .
More than half the world will be afflicted by water shortages, with 95
percent of people in the Middle East with severe problems . . . 25
percent of all species of mammals and 10 percent of birds will be
extinct . . ."
Etc., etc., for 450 pages. Or to cut to the chase, as the Guardian
headlined it, "Unless We Change Our Ways, The World Faces Disaster."
Well, here's my prediction for 2032: unless we change our ways the world
faces a future . . . where the environment will look pretty darn good.
If you're a tree or a rock, you'll be living in clover. It's the
Italians and the Swedes who'll be facing extinction and the loss of
their natural habitat.
There will be no environmental doomsday. Oil, carbon dioxide emissions,
deforestation: none of these things is worth worrying about. What's
worrying is that we spend so much time worrying about things that aren't
worth worrying about that we don't worry about the things we should be
worrying about. For 30 years, we've had endless wake-up calls for things
that aren't worth waking up for. But for the very real, remorseless
shifts in our society--the ones truly jeopardizing our future--we're
sound asleep. The world is changing dramatically right now, and
hysterical experts twitter about a hypothetical decrease in the
Antarctic krill that might conceivably possibly happen so far down the
road there are unlikely to be any Italian or Japanese enviro-worriers
left alive to be devastated by it.
In a globalized economy, the environmentalists want us to worry about
First World capitalism imposing its ways on bucolic, pastoral, primitive
Third World backwaters. Yet, insofar as "globalization" is a threat, the
real danger is precisely the opposite--that the peculiarities of the
backwaters can leap instantly to the First World. Pigs are valued assets
and sleep in the living room in rural China--and next thing you know an
unknown respiratory disease is killing people in Toronto, just because
someone got on a plane. That's the way to look at Islamism: We fret
about McDonald's and Disney, but the big globalization success story is
the way the Saudis have taken what was 80 years ago a severe but obscure
and unimportant strain of Islam practiced by Bedouins of no fixed abode
and successfully exported it to the heart of Copenhagen, Rotterdam,
Manchester, Buffalo . . .
What's the better bet? A globalization that exports cheeseburgers and
pop songs or a globalization that exports the fiercest aspects of its
culture? When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the
nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in
2006, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026
(or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger
Management and Queer Studies degrees). And the hard data on babies
around the Western world is that they're running out a lot faster than
the oil is. "Replacement" fertility rate--i.e., the number you need for
merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any
smaller--is 2.1 babies per woman. Some countries are well above that:
the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan
6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?
Scroll way down to the bottom of the Hot One Hundred top breeders and
you'll eventually find the United States, hovering just at replacement
rate with 2.07 births per woman. Ireland is 1.87, New Zealand 1.79,
Australia 1.76. But Canada's fertility rate is down to 1.5, well below
replacement rate; Germany and Austria are at 1.3, the brink of the death
spiral; Russia and Italy are at 1.2; Spain 1.1, about half replacement
rate. That's to say, Spain's population is halving every generation. By
2050, Italy's population will have fallen by 22%, Bulgaria's by 36%,
Estonia's by 52%. In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue
states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: In the 2004
election, John Kerry won the 16 with the lowest birthrates; George W.
Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest. By 2050, there will be
100 million fewer Europeans, 100 million more Americans--and mostly
As fertility shrivels, societies get older--and Japan and much of Europe
are set to get older than any functioning societies have ever been. And
we know what comes after old age. These countries are going out of
business--unless they can find the will to change their ways. Is that
likely? I don't think so. If you look at European election results--most
recently in Germany--it's hard not to conclude that, while voters are
unhappy with their political establishments, they're unhappy mainly
because they resent being asked to reconsider their government benefits
and, no matter how unaffordable they may be a generation down the road,
they have no intention of seriously reconsidering them. The Scottish
executive recently backed down from a proposal to raise the retirement
age of Scottish public workers. It's presently 60, which is nice but
unaffordable. But the reaction of the average Scots worker is that
that's somebody else's problem. The average German worker now puts in
22% fewer hours per year than his American counterpart, and no
politician who wishes to remain electorally viable will propose closing
the gap in any meaningful way.
This isn't a deep-rooted cultural difference between the Old World and
the New. It dates back all the way to, oh, the 1970s. If one wanted to
allocate blame, one could argue that it's a product of the U.S. military
presence, the American security guarantee that liberated European
budgets: instead of having to spend money on guns, they could
concentrate on butter, and buttering up the voters. If Washington's
problem with Europe is that these are not serious allies, well, whose
fault is that? Who, in the years after the Second World War, created
NATO as a postmodern military alliance? The "free world," as the
Americans called it, was a free ride for everyone else. And having been
absolved from the primal responsibilities of nationhood, it's hardly
surprising that European nations have little wish to reshoulder them. In
essence, the lavish levels of public health care on the Continent are
subsidized by the American taxpayer. And this long-term softening of
large sections of the West makes them ill-suited to resisting a primal
force like Islam.
There is no "population bomb." There never was. Birthrates are declining
all over the world--eventually every couple on the planet may decide to
opt for the Western yuppie model of one designer baby at the age of 39.
But demographics is a game of last man standing. The groups that succumb
to demographic apathy last will have a huge advantage. Even in 1968 Paul
Ehrlich and his ilk should have understood that their so-called
population explosion was really a massive population adjustment. Of the
increase in global population between 1970 and 2000, the developed world
accounted for under 9% of it, while the Muslim world accounted for 26%.
Between 1970 and 2000, the developed world declined from just under 30%
of the world's population to just over 20%, the Muslim nations increased
from about 15% to 20%.
Nineteen seventy doesn't seem that long ago. If you're the age many of
the chaps running the Western world today are wont to be, your pants are
narrower than they were back then and your hair's less groovy, but the
landscape of your life--the look of your house, the layout of your car,
the shape of your kitchen appliances, the brand names of the stuff in
the fridge--isn't significantly different. Aside from the Internet and
the cell phone and the CD, everything in your world seems pretty much
the same but slightly modified.
And yet the world is utterly altered. Just to recap those bald
statistics: In 1970, the developed world had twice as big a share of the
global population as the Muslim world: 30% to 15%. By 2000, they were
the same: each had about 20%.
And by 2020?
So the world's people are a lot more Islamic than they were back then
and a lot less "Western." Europe is significantly more Islamic, having
taken in during that period some 20 million Muslims (officially)--or the
equivalents of the populations of four European Union countries
(Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and Estonia). Islam is the fastest-growing
religion in the West: In the U.K., more Muslims than Christians attend
religious services each week.
Can these trends continue for another 30 years without having
consequences? Europe by the end of this century will be a continent
after the neutron bomb: The grand buildings will still be standing, but
the people who built them will be gone. We are living through a
remarkable period: the self-extinction of the races who, for good or
ill, shaped the modern world.
What will Europe be like at the end of this process? Who knows? On the
one hand, there's something to be said for the notion that America will
find an Islamified Europe more straightforward to deal with than M.
Chirac, Herr Schroeder & Co. On the other hand, given Europe's track
record, getting there could be very bloody. But either way this is the
real battlefield. The al Qaeda nutters can never find enough suicidal
pilots to fly enough planes into enough skyscrapers to topple America.
But unlike us, the Islamists think long-term, and, given their
demographic advantage in Europe and the tone of the emerging Muslim
lobby groups there, much of what they're flying planes into buildings
for they're likely to wind up with just by waiting a few more years. The
skyscrapers will be theirs; why knock 'em over?
The latter half of the decline and fall of great civilizations follows a
familiar pattern: affluence, softness, decadence, extinction. You don't
notice yourself slipping through those stages because usually there's a
seductive pol on hand to provide the age with a sly, self-deluding
slogan--like Bill Clinton's "It's about the future of all our children."
We on the right spent the 1990s gleefully mocking Mr. Clinton's tedious
invocation, drizzled like syrup over everything from the Kosovo war to
highway appropriations. But most of the rest of the West can't even
steal his lame bromides: A society that has no children has no future.
Permanence is the illusion of every age. In 1913, no one thought the
Russian, Austrian, German and Turkish empires would be gone within half
a decade. Seventy years on, all those fellows who dismissed Reagan as an
"amiable dunce" (in Clark Clifford's phrase) assured us the Soviet Union
was likewise here to stay. The CIA analysts' position was that East
Germany was the ninth biggest economic power in the world. In 1987 there
was no rash of experts predicting the imminent fall of the Berlin Wall,
the Warsaw Pact and the USSR itself.
Yet, even by the minimal standards of these wretched precedents,
so-called post-Christian civilizations--as a prominent EU official
described his continent to me--are more prone than traditional societies
to mistake the present tense for a permanent feature. Religious cultures
have a much greater sense of both past and future, as we did a century
ago, when we spoke of death as joining "the great majority" in "the
unseen world." But if secularism's starting point is that this is all
there is, it's no surprise that, consciously or not, they invest the
here and now with far greater powers of endurance than it's ever had.
The idea that progressive Euro-welfarism is the permanent resting place
of human development was always foolish; we now know that it's
To avoid collapse, European nations will need to take in immigrants at a
rate no stable society has ever attempted. The CIA is predicting the EU
will collapse by 2020. Given that the CIA's got pretty much everything
wrong for half a century, that would suggest the EU is a shoo-in to be
the colossus of the new millennium. But even a flop spook is right twice
a generation. If anything, the date of EU collapse is rather a cautious
estimate. It seems more likely that within the next couple of European
election cycles, the internal contradictions of the EU will manifest
themselves in the usual way, and that by 2010 we'll be watching burning
buildings, street riots and assassinations on American network news
every night. Even if they avoid that, the idea of a childless Europe
ever rivaling America militarily or economically is laughable. Sometime
this century there will be 500 million Americans, and what's left in
Europe will either be very old or very Muslim. Japan faces the same
problem: Its population is already in absolute decline, the first gentle
slope of a death spiral it will be unlikely ever to climb out of. Will
Japan be an economic powerhouse if it's populated by Koreans and
Filipinos? Very possibly. Will Germany if it's populated by Algerians?
That's a trickier proposition.
Best-case scenario? The Continent winds up as Vienna with Swedish tax rates.
Worst-case scenario: Sharia, circa 2040; semi-Sharia, a lot sooner--and
we're already seeing a drift in that direction.
In July 2003, speaking to the U.S. Congress, Tony Blair remarked: "As
Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible but, in
fact, it is transient. The question is: What do you leave behind?"
Excellent question. Britannia will never again wield the unrivalled
power she enjoyed at her imperial apogee, but the Britannic inheritance
endures, to one degree or another, in many of the key regional players
in the world today--Australia, India, South Africa--and in dozens of
island statelets from the Caribbean to the Pacific. If China ever takes
its place as an advanced nation, it will be because the People's
Republic learns more from British Hong Kong than Hong Kong learns from
the Little Red Book. And of course the dominant power of our time
derives its political character from 18th-century British subjects who
took English ideas a little further than the mother country was willing
A decade and a half after victory in the Cold War and end-of-history
triumphalism, the "what do you leave behind?" question is more urgent
than most of us expected. "The West," as a concept, is dead, and the
West, as a matter of demographic fact, is dying.
What will London--or Paris, or Amsterdam--be like in the mid-'30s? If
European politicians make no serious attempt this decade to wean the
populace off their unsustainable 35-hour weeks, retirement at 60, etc.,
then to keep the present level of pensions and health benefits the EU
will need to import so many workers from North Africa and the Middle
East that it will be well on its way to majority Muslim by 2035. As
things stand, Muslims are already the primary source of population
growth in English cities. Can a society become increasingly Islamic in
its demographic character without becoming increasingly Islamic in its
This ought to be the left's issue. I'm a conservative--I'm not entirely
on board with the Islamist program when it comes to beheading sodomites
and so on, but I agree Britney Spears dresses like a slut: I'm with
Mullah Omar on that one. Why then, if your big thing is feminism or
abortion or gay marriage, are you so certain that the cult of tolerance
will prevail once the biggest demographic in your society is cheerfully
intolerant? Who, after all, are going to be the first victims of the
West's collapsed birthrates? Even if one were to take the optimistic
view that Europe will be able to resist the creeping imposition of
Sharia currently engulfing Nigeria, it remains the case that the Muslim
world is not notable for setting much store by "a woman's right to
choose," in any sense.
I watched that big abortion rally in Washington in 2004, where Ashley
Judd and Gloria Steinem were cheered by women waving "Keep your Bush off
my bush" placards, and I thought it was the equivalent of a White
Russian tea party in 1917. By prioritizing a "woman's right to choose,"
Western women are delivering their societies into the hands of fellows
far more patriarchal than a 1950s sitcom dad. If any of those women
marching for their "reproductive rights" still have babies, they might
like to ponder demographic realities: A little girl born today will be
unlikely, at the age of 40, to be free to prance around demonstrations
in Eurabian Paris or Amsterdam chanting "Hands off my bush!"
Just before the 2004 election, that eminent political analyst Cameron
Diaz appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to explain what was at stake:
"Women have so much to lose. I mean, we could lose the right to our
bodies. . . . If you think that rape should be legal, then don't vote.
But if you think that you have a right to your body," she advised
Oprah's viewers, "then you should vote."
Poor Cameron. A couple of weeks later, the scary people won. She lost
all rights to her body. Unlike Alec Baldwin, she couldn't even move to
France. Her body was grounded in Terminal D.
But, after framing the 2004 presidential election as a referendum on the
right to rape, Miss Diaz might be interested to know that men enjoy that
right under many Islamic legal codes around the world. In his book "The
Empty Cradle," Philip Longman asks: "So where will the children of the
future come from? Increasingly they will come from people who are at
odds with the modern world. Such a trend, if sustained, could drive
human culture off its current market-driven, individualistic, modernist
course, gradually creating an anti-market culture dominated by
fundamentalism--a new Dark Ages."
Bottom line for Cameron Diaz: There are worse things than John Ashcroft
Mr. Longman's point is well taken. The refined antennae of Western
liberals mean that whenever one raises the question of whether there
will be any Italians living in the geographical zone marked as Italy a
generation or three hence, they cry, "Racism!" To fret about what
proportion of the population is "white" is grotesque and inappropriate.
But it's not about race, it's about culture. If 100% of your population
believes in liberal pluralist democracy, it doesn't matter whether 70%
of them are "white" or only 5% are. But if one part of your population
believes in liberal pluralist democracy and the other doesn't, then it
becomes a matter of great importance whether the part that does is 90%
of the population or only 60%, 50%, 45%.
Since the president unveiled the so-called Bush Doctrine--the plan to
promote liberty throughout the Arab world--innumerable "progressives"
have routinely asserted that there's no evidence Muslims want liberty
and, indeed, that Islam is incompatible with democracy. If that's true,
it's a problem not for the Middle East today but for Europe the day
after tomorrow. According to a poll taken in 2004, over 60% of British
Muslims want to live under Shariah--in the United Kingdom. If a
population "at odds with the modern world" is the fastest-breeding group
on the planet--if there are more Muslim nations, more fundamentalist
Muslims within those nations, more and more Muslims within non-Muslim
nations, and more and more Muslims represented in more and more
transnational institutions--how safe a bet is the survival of the
"What do you leave behind?" asked Tony Blair. There will only be very
few and very old ethnic Germans and French and Italians by the midpoint
of this century. What will they leave behind? Territories that happen to
bear their names and keep up some of the old buildings? Or will the
dying European races understand that the only legacy that matters is
whether the peoples who will live in those lands after them are
reconciled to pluralist, liberal democracy? It's the demography, stupid.
And, if they can't muster the will to change course, then "What do you
leave behind?" is the only question that matters.
--Mr. Steyn is a syndicated columnist and theater critic for The New
Criterion, in whose January issue this article appears.
by Jennifer Roback Morse
January 9, 2006
Mark Steyn's analysis of "The Real Reason the West is in Danger of
Extinction" is completely correct in his important recent article, "It's
the Demography, Stupid." But behind the problem of the West's below
replacement fertility levels, lies the problem of sex. Babies come from
sex. The modern view of sex has created the demographic collapse of the
West, and the human void into which Islamic fertility is rapidly flooding.
Sex is an organic reality, with two natural purposes written on the
human body. The first is procreation. The second is not so obvious but
equally important. Sex builds up and solidifies the relationship between
the members of the couple. We know now that sexual activity
physiologically creates a bond between the partners.
Women connect to their sex partners, and to their children, due to a
hormone called oxytocin. Women secrete this hormone during orgasm, and
while breast feeding. Oxytocin creates a response of "attach and
connect." It promotes attachment between a mother and her newborn
infant, so that she will enjoy taking care of the helpless infant's
needs. Oxytocin promotes her connection with her sex partner, who after
all, may become the father of her child. All this is nature's way of
keeping the woman bonded to her child and to her child's father.
These natural purposes build the community of the family. Procreation
brings new life into the family. Because sex supports the relationship
between the parents, it helps them work together long enough to raise
their children to adulthood. The fact that sex is fun is along for the
ride. The fun is nature's way of getting us to keep the species going.
But the modern world has completely lost sight of the social purposes of
sex. We now regard sex as a private recreational activity, with no moral
or social significance. Unlimited sexual activity without a live baby
resulting is the quintessential modern entitlement.
I call this modern view, consumer sex. Sex is a consumer good and our
sex partners are objects that please us more or less well. When I am
speaking at college campuses, and feeling particularly mischievous, I
call it Wal-Mart sex. (I myself have no problem with Wal-Mart, but I can
always count on finding Wal-Mart haters on college campuses.) The modern
sexual ethos provides us with large amounts of low-cost sex, without
ever taking into account the spill-over costs associated with our behavior.
I submit that this view of sex is at the root of the West's demographic
death spiral. Sex is naturally a force for sociability. Consumer sex
inverts the whole natural order of sexuality. Instead of drawing us out
of ourselves and into relationship with others, we turn sex inward, on
ourselves and our own individual pleasure. The natural purposes of sex,
both procreation and spousal unity, have become strictly optional. We
think we are entitled to have sex with someone we're not married to, or
not even in a relationship with. And we have created a conspiracy of
silence around the sad fact that no one really wants to be on the
receiving end of this "use and be used" culture.
Demographic collapse is hardly surprising. Many commentators have
observed that children have become a commodity, an extra line on the
accomplished woman's resume. Few have noticed the short, direct line
from sex as a commodity, to sex partner as commodity, to babies as
Without permanent bonds between parents, having babies is a risky
business. Marriage is the healthiest, most reliable environment in which
to bring children from helpless infancy to productive adulthood. But our
society has become indifferent as to whether parents are married or not.
We are even on the verge of becoming indifferent as to whether children
have two parents of the opposite sex or of the same sex. Hardly a
cultural environment conducive to having a higher than replacement level
So, as I said, Mark Steyn's article is correct in every particular. But
I didn't rush to the computer to compose another op-ed column, as
well-argued articles often inspire me to do. This time, I reached for
the Flash Cards. That's right. A grown woman, with a doctorate in
economics, I reached for the Flash Cards.
I was one of those career women who thought I was being sensible to
postpone childbearing until I had tenure. I have had only one "live
birth," as the demographers would say. In that sense, I am part of the
problem of the well-educated, high-income women who can't bring
themselves to replace themselves.
But I was blessed with adoption. And, Divine Providence, acting through
San Diego County Child Protective Services, has placed two school-aged
foster children in my care. I didn't bring them into the world, but I
have at least temporary responsibility for them. Mark Steyn inspired me
to make sure that these two little rascals learn enough math to take
care of themselves when they grow up. Goodness knows, no one else is
likely to do that for them. Not their birth parents, the County's
agencies or the public schools.
What women do and want will be decisive in determining whether the West
survives the demographic clash with Islam. If intelligent, educated
women believe children are an unacceptable distraction from their
careers, we won't have many kids. If women regard flash cards as beneath
their dignity, educating the next generation will be left to hired help.
If women think raising a child alone is less trouble than dealing with a
pesky man, we'll have a lot of stressed out single mothers and poorly
So, stay at home moms, don't let anyone tell you that you are wasting
your talents. Without your contribution of a healthy, functioning next
generation, all the strength of the U.S. military won't be enough to
protect us from the primal force of Islam that believes in itself enough
to replace itself. Your actions show that you believe in your
civilization enough to invest in its future.
--Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the founder and chief visionary of
Your Coach for the Culture Wars, a business devoted to supporting
organizations that want to preserve their core values and achieve
prosperity by taking a stand in the Culture Wars.
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