Mark Steyn — Western Civilization Is Failing the Test

Posted By: 'Okie' | 10:12 am — 1/4/2006 | 2 Comments See comments below:

Following a link from The Anchoress last night I stumbled onto the latest The New Criterion piece from Mark Steyn reprinted in the Opinion Journal. It certainly wasn’t the best thing to read just before going to bed — I didn’t sleep very well after that.

Steyn is always a good, insightful read, but this time he takes the concept of not only the fall, but the utter destruction of Western Civilization and in a single, long essay, shows not only how it could happen in our lifetimes, but offers little in the way of hope that our generation’s leaders will have the will to prevent this from happening.

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.

My own generation (60s/70s) is going to have to shoulder the burden of responsibility for much of this. We bought into Zero Population Growth, Environmentalism and Multiculturalism as if they were the new enlightened religions that would replace our parents’ tired and worn out ones. Actually, we bought into anything that would feed our overwhelming narcissistic attitudes. In his piece, Steyn shows how all three of the above are contributing to Western Civilization’s destruction. On population growth rates between Muslim countries and European ones he writes:

(…) “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%. (…)

Europe by and large is a collection of social welfare states, many with cradle-to-grave health care, some with total guaranteed income, working or not. As Steyn states, you cannot sustain societies like these with diminishing populations, and Europe is hell-bent on replacing its lack of births with immigrants, mostly from Muslim countries, meaning that most of Europe is becoming Muslim by default. Which begs the question, what will England, France, Italy and Germany be like under Sharia law, which could, and probably will, happen in our lifetimes?

Nineteen seventy doesn’t seem that long ago. (…) 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%.
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.

As for U.S., our buy-in to the Zero Population myth has caused us to import labor too, but as Dennis Prager said on his show last week, at least our immigrants are bringing with them a Christian/Catholic culture, not so different from our own. Browner we may become, but the barbarities of the 7th Century are not threatening to dismantle our liberties, yet.

I emailed the link to this article to a center-left good friend of mine last night and he replied:

It’s crazy, we walk around thinking that history contains the upheavals but a religious war will be upon us in less than 100 years and the face of the earth is due for some drastic changes.

On his blog today, Hugh Hewitt puts the Steyn article in perspective in regards to the upcoming Supreme Court nomination hearings, and the circus of Democratic stars that we will have to endure.

Avoiding collapse or eclipse requires great seriousness. Which is why next week’s Senate hearing on Judge Alito will bring even more gloom, and not because Alito will be defeated. He won’t be. But we will be forced to watch, again, the performances of Senators Leahy, Biden, Kennedy, Durbin and Schumer –perhaps the five least serious senior Democrats. Can a country survive a sustained period of such knucklheadedness in high places? In an era such as this one? When the radical minority routinely abuses the obscure filibuster process so as to deny obviously and urgently necessary measures such as renewal of The Patriot Act?

So as I lay in bed last night, not sleeping all that much, I found that I was constantly asking myself, “What can this one ol’ Okie do to help stave off the collapse of Western Civilization?” Honestly, I don’t really know. It’s too late for me to aid in increasing the population, but not too late to pray, to vote for leaders that will do the hard things instead of just support massive societal give-aways, to encourage my son to believe in and support his country and once again, to pray. As Steyn says about this conflict between the Islamists and ourselves:

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.

So we pray: “Please God, give us the strength and the will to do the hard things — Deliver us from our enemies — Help us to save ourselves . . . from ourselves.” (db)

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