Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The death of the west

Mark Steyn on how the West was lost:

Almost every issue facing the EU - from immigration rates to crippling state pension liabilities - has at its heart the same glaringly plain root cause: a huge lack of babies. I could understand a disinclination by sunny politicians to peddle doom and gloom were it not for the fact that, in all other areas of public policy, our rulers embrace doomsday scenarios at the drop of a hat. Most 20-year projections - on global warming, fuel resources, etc - are almost laughably speculative. They fail to take into account the most important factor of all - human inventiveness: "We can't feed the world!" they shriek. But we develop more efficient farming methods with nary a thought. "The oil will run out by the year 2000!" But we develop new extraction methods and find we've got enough oil for as long as we'll need it.

But human inventiveness depends on humans - and that's the one thing we really are running out of. When it comes to forecasting the future, the birth rate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2005, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2025 (or 2033, or 2041, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management, Systemic Racism and Gay Studies degrees). If that's not a political issue, what is? To cite only the most obviously affected corner of the realm, what's the long-term future of the Scottish National Party if there are no Scottish nationals?

When I've mentioned the birth dearth on previous occasions, pro-abortion correspondents have insisted it's due to other factors - the generally declining fertility rates that affect all materially prosperous societies, or the high taxes that make large families prohibitively expensive in materially prosperous societies. But this is a bit like arguing over which came first, the chicken or the egg - or, in this case, which came first, the lack of eggs or the scraggy old chicken-necked women desperate for one designer baby at the age of 48. How much of Europe's fertility woes derive from abortion is debatable. But what should be obvious is that the way the abortion issue is framed - as a Blairite issue of personal choice - is itself symptomatic of the broader crisis of the dying West.

Since 1945, a multiplicity of government interventions - state pensions, subsidised higher education, higher taxes to pay for everything - has so ruptured traditional patterns of inter-generational solidarity that in Europe a child is now an optional lifestyle accessory. By 2050, Estonia's population will have fallen by 52 per cent, Bulgaria's by 36 per cent, Italy's by 22 per cent. The hyper-rationalism of post-Christian Europe turns out to be wholly irrational: what's the point of creating a secular utopia if it's only for one generation?

Of course, Muslims are experiencing a population boom precisely because they don't buy into the politically correct hogwash that Europeans and Americans have been swallowing for much of the second-half of the twentieth century.


At 7:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"human inventiveness"

Well, one could also say that since the things he cites -- e.g. global warming -- really could be "doomsday scenarios", it would be foolish not to take action that would attack the cause, like reducing emissions of green house gases (which would also cut down on unhealthy pollution too), and instead wait around relying on "human inventiveness", whatever he means by that, which may or may not come up with something that would be of any or enough help.

Steyn is almost always a mixed bag.

At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"politically correct hogwash"

Such as?

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Adam Lawson said...

Such as?

How about the idea that it is more important for a woman to have a career than to have a family? Modern European - and American - women think that the main goal in life is to obtain a high-paying/high-powered job and if that means having few or no children then so be it. This is the reason why Europe will probably be an Islamic continent a century from now once the Christians have died out due to low birth rates.

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