Review: America Alone
I tend to be skeptical about disaster scenarios based on statistical reasoning. Firstly, I'm old enough to remember when the fashionable disasters were the Next Ice Age, one-square-meter-per-person overpopulation, and famine deaths in the billions - the latter set to arrive without fail in 1980. Fashion disaster accessories included exhaustion of natural resources and the extinction of blondes by the year 2000.
Secondly, I've actually studied statistics and believe me there is nothing like it to give you a healthy appreciation of the old saw "Figures don't lie - but liars can figure."
So it takes a fairly simple and straightforward set of figures to impress me. Now try these on for size:
*The most popular boy's name in the cities of Amsterdam and Malmo (Sweden), Belgium, and the fifth most popular in the United Kingdom, is Mohammed.
*The Muslim population of Rotterdam is 40%.
* No European country is breeding at "replacement rate" - the rate at which a population stays stable (2.1 births per couple). The country with the highest fertility rate in Europe is Albania at 2.03.
(Check the CIA World Factbook https://cia.gov/cia//publications/factbook/rankorder/2127rank.html)
That figure I cited, 1.38, is the average fertility rate for Europe as a whole. Mediterranean Europe is worse off: Greece 1.34, Spain and Italy 1.28, below what demographers call the "lowest low" 1.3, below which no society has ever recovered.
However, the Muslim fertility rate in Europe is three times higher.
Mark Steyn has written a book around these figures, which are established facts you can ignore if you choose, but cannot deny. He has also given his interpretation of what they mean for the future, which you can argue with if you like, but you really ought to give him a hearing.
Fortunately for those of us whose eyes glaze over at statistical tables, he does this with immense wit and style. The guy's a punster! And for those who admire well-done sarcasm, he's your man.
What Steyn says the most important factors that affect the future of Western Civilization are:
1) Demographic decline
2) The unsustainability of the advanced Western social-democratic state
3) Civilizational exhaustion
1) is impossible to argue with, 2) is difficult to argue with, and 3) everybody argues about.
The demographics and economics are what they are. Reduced to the simplest model: Two couples each have one child. These two children marry and have one child. As the doting grandparents age and expect to be taken care of, you have two adults supporting one child - and four seniors. Writ large, this is the social welfare state in a condition of negative population growth.
Obviously, you need more taxpayers and caregivers and the only source is immigration. Europe has relied on immigration from Islamic countries for some time now, and they are out-breeding the native Europeans. A lot.
European countries have historically been not very good at assimilating foreign populations, and that's assuming that they want to be assimilated. As a great many incidents Steyn cites make clear, this assumption is problematic at best. The Muslim population of Europe is resisting assimilation, and the European countries don't have the will to insist on it. And why should they assimilate? In the fullness of time, Europe is going to be theirs. Then who is going to be doing the assimilating?
Civilizational exhaustion is a value judgement that a lot of people are going to argue about. "Responsible family planning" is how a friend described European birth rates. True - but irrelevant if you're the only ones being responsible.
What come through in Steyn's side-splittingly funny prose, is the conclusion that Europe is lost. Perhaps not entirely, the collapse of the first few countries may serve as a wake-up call to the rest to rally and preserve a somewhat diminished Europe. And Steyn, like myself, does not think that the Eastern Europeans have struggled to regain their independence and sovereignty just to lose it again.
Now if this doesn't alarm the Europhiles among you (it doesn't alarm Timothy Garton Ashe, he thinks it's a fine idea) and you're about to write me off as a xenophobic, racist American imperialist, then consider this. The US birth rate is quite healthy at just around replacement rate - but the Red States are far outbreeding the Blue States. There's going to be a Republican majority that'll be impossible to beat by and by. Now are you scared?
Steyn avoids facile explanations for the difference in birth rates. Conservatives would like to believe it has something to do with religion, but the religious Italians are being outbred by the secular Swedes.
He does think is has to do with the easy living in European welfare states causing self-absorbtion, immaturity and a crisis of confidence. Though I find this an attractive explanation, it doesn't explain why a country like Saudi Arabia, where virtually the entire native population is on some kind of welfare, has such a robust birth rate (4.0).
He also avoids the simplistic, bloodthirsty suggestions of the "rubble doesn't trouble" crowd. The choices he outlines are:
1) Submit to Islam
2) Destroy Islam
3) Reform Islam
The first two are our choice, the third is theirs - if they have the incentive.
If you think the first two look crappy and the third nearly impossible, I agree. Do you see a fourth? Many European and American intellectuals do. It amounts to "Blame the Jews" and "Blame America".
He makes some suggestions on how to go about encouraging Islam to reform which are worth a look at, but at bottom they amount to:
1) Recognize that our civilization is under attack - and that we could lose
2) Stop committing civilizational suicide by subsidizing our enemies and stand up for ourselves
And if you don't buy any of this, read the book anyway - it's funny.
Nota: I have used figures from the CIA Factbook which differ slightly in some cases from the ones Steyn cites, but not enough to affect the points made.