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Monday, January 09, 2006

The End of Western Culture

The blogosphere is still buzzing about Mark Steyn's predictably excellent article in the Wall Street Journal last week. For those who haven't read it yet, here are a few excerpts:
"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."
Speaking of the so-called "War on Terror":"
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."
On the coming demographic changes:
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%. By 2050, there will be 100 million fewer Europeans"

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."
On the political implications of this change:
What will London--or Paris, or Amsterdam--be like in the mid-'30s? ...[The EU] will be well on its way to majority Muslim by 2035. ... Can a society become increasingly Islamic in its demographic character without becoming increasingly Islamic in its political character?

This ought to be the left's issue. ...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.
Steyn was also on the Hugh Hewitt show last week answering questions about his article. Here is the transcript.

And James Lileks was a guest on the Hugh Hewitt show as well discussing this article. Here is the transcript.

One of my questions that I am hoping that many of my visitors will weigh in on regards the impact that this change is going to have upon Christianity. How much has the rise of Western Culture relied upon Christianity? And what now?

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