October 20, 2006
Sept. 11, 2001, was not “the day everything changed,” but the day that revealed how much had already changed. On Sept. 10, how many journalists had the Council of American-Islamic Relations or the Canadian Islamic Congress or the Muslim Council of Britain in their Rolodexes? If you’d said that whether something does or does not cause offence to Muslims would be the early 21st century’s principal political dynamic in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, most folks would have thought you were crazy. Yet on that Tuesday morning the top of the iceberg bobbed up and toppled the Twin Towers.
This is about the seven-eighths below the surface — the larger forces at play in the developed world that have left Europe too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia and that call into question the future of much of the rest of the world. The key factors are: demographic decline; the unsustainability of the social democratic state; and civilizational exhaustion.
Let’s start with demography, because everything does:
If your school has 200 guys and you’re playing a school with 2,000 pupils, it doesn’t mean your baseball team is definitely going to lose but it certainly gives the other fellows a big starting advantage. Likewise, if you want to launch a revolution, it’s not very likely if you’ve only got seven revolutionaries. And they’re all over 80. But, if you’ve got two million and seven revolutionaries and they’re all under 30 you’re in business.
For example, I wonder how many pontificators on the “Middle East peace process” ever run this number:
The median age in the Gaza Strip is 15.8 years.
Once you know that, all the rest is details. If you were a “moderate Palestinian” leader, would you want to try to persuade a nation — or pseudo-nation — of unemployed poorly educated teenage boys raised in a UN-supervised European-funded death cult to see sense? Any analysis of the “Palestinian problem” that doesn’t take into account the most important determinant on the ground is a waste of time.
Likewise, the salient feature of Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia is that they’re running out of babies. What’s happening in the developed world is one of the fastest demographic evolutions in history: most of us have seen a gazillion heartwarming ethnic comedies — My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its ilk — in which some uptight WASPy type starts dating a gal from a vast loving fecund Mediterranean family, so abundantly endowed with sisters and cousins and uncles that you can barely get in the room. It is, in fact, the inversion of the truth. Greece has a fertility rate hovering just below 1.3 births per couple, which is what demographers call the point of “lowest-low” fertility from which no human society has ever recovered. And Greece’s fertility is the healthiest in Mediterranean Europe: Italy has a fertility rate of 1.2, Spain 1.1. Insofar as any citizens of the developed world have “big” families these days, it’s the anglo democracies: America’s fertility rate is 2.1, New Zealand a little below. Hollywood should be making My Big Fat Uptight Protestant Wedding in which some sad Greek only child marries into a big heartwarming New Zealand family where the spouse actually has a sibling.
As I say, this isn’t a projection: it’s happening now. There’s no need to extrapolate, and if you do it gets a little freaky, but, just for fun, here goes: by 2050, 60 per cent of Italians will have no brothers, no sisters, no cousins, no aunts, no uncles. The big Italian family, with papa pouring the vino and mama spooning out the pasta down an endless table of grandparents and nieces and nephews, will be gone, no more, dead as the dinosaurs. As Noel Coward once remarked in another context, “Funiculi, funicula, funic yourself.” By mid-century, Italians will have no choice in the matter.
Experts talk about root causes. But demography is the most basic root of all. A people that won’t multiply can’t go forth or go anywhere. Those who do will shape the age we live in.
Demographic decline and the unsustainability of the social democratic state are closely related. In America, politicians upset about the federal deficit like to complain that we’re piling up debts our children and grandchildren will have to pay off. But in Europe the unaffordable entitlements are in even worse shape: there are no kids or grandkids to stick it to.
You might formulate it like this:
Age + Welfare = Disaster for you;
Youth + Will = Disaster for whoever gets in your way.
By “will,” I mean the metaphorical spine of a culture. Africa, to take another example, also has plenty of young people, but it’s riddled with AIDS and, for the most part, Africans don’t think of themselves as Africans: as we saw in Rwanda, their primary identity is tribal, and most tribes have no global ambitions. Islam, however, has serious global ambitions, and it forms the primal, core identity of most of its adherents — in the Middle East, South Asia and elsewhere.
Islam has youth and will, Europe has age and welfare.
The rest of this very long but brilliant article can be read here.