Amazing opinion piece.
Definitely worth reading this whole from WSJ
It's the Demography, Stupid
The real reason the West is in danger of extinction.
BY MARK STEYN
Wednesday, January 4, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
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.
One obstacle to doing that is that, in the typical election campaign in your advanced industrial democracy, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much all parties in the rest of the West are largely about what one would call the secondary impulses of society--government health care, government day care (which Canada's thinking of introducing), government paternity leave (which Britain's just introduced). We've prioritized the secondary impulse over the primary ones: national defense, family, faith and, most basic of all, reproductive activity--"Go forth and multiply," because if you don't you won't be able to afford all those secondary-impulse issues, like cradle-to-grave welfare.
Americans sometimes don't understand how far gone most of the rest of the developed world is down this path: In the Canadian and most Continental cabinets, the defense ministry is somewhere an ambitious politician passes through on his way up to important jobs like the health department. I don't think Don Rumsfeld would regard it as a promotion if he were moved to Health and Human Services.
The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it. Post-Christian hyperrationalism is, in the objective sense, a lot less rational than Catholicism or Mormonism. Indeed, in its reliance on immigration to ensure its future, the European Union has adopted a 21st-century variation on the strategy of the Shakers, who were forbidden from reproducing and thus could increase their numbers only by conversion. The problem is that secondary-impulse societies mistake their weaknesses for strengths--or, at any rate, virtues--and that's why they're proving so feeble at dealing with a primal force like Islam.
Speaking of which, if we are at war--and half the American people and significantly higher percentages in Britain, Canada and Europe don't accept that proposition--then what exactly is the war about?
We know it's not really a "war on terror." Nor is it, at heart, a war against Islam, or even "radical Islam." The Muslim faith, whatever its merits for the believers, is a problematic business for the rest of us. There are many trouble spots around the world, but as a general rule, it's easy to make an educated guess at one of the participants: Muslims vs. Jews in "Palestine," Muslims vs. Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs. Christians in Africa, Muslims vs. Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs. Russians in the Caucasus, Muslims vs. backpacking tourists in Bali. Like the environmentalists, these guys think globally but act locally.
Yet while Islamism is the enemy, it's not what this thing's about. Radical Islam is an opportunistic infection, like AIDS: It's not the HIV that kills you, it's the pneumonia you get when your body's too weak to fight it off. When the jihadists engage with the U.S. military, they lose--as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. If this were like World War I with those fellows in one trench and us in ours facing them over some boggy piece of terrain, it would be over very quickly. Which the smarter Islamists have figured out. 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.
... click link for rest of article
This was an amazing article. I (I know my opinion won't count for much because I'm a noob, but still) recommend everyone read this thought provoking piece of journalism.
hmm... an interesting piece of literature. My advice is to be wary of the elegant prose and look to the core of his argument. I find that I agree in some places, disagree in others. I agree on his point about Islam and Western "tolerance." I think his point about population is blatantly false. Indeed, the opposite could not be more true. Overpopulation is the issue; not underpopulation.
"There will be no environmental doomsday. Oil, carbon dioxide emissions, deforestation: none of these things is worth worrying about. What's worrying is that we spend so much time worrying about things that aren't worth worrying about that we don't worry about the things we should be worrying about. For 30 years, we've had endless wake-up calls for things that aren't worth waking up for. But for the very real, remorseless shifts in our society--the ones truly jeopardizing our future--we're sound asleep. The world is changing dramatically right now, and hysterical experts twitter about a hypothetical decrease in the Antarctic krill that might conceivably possibly happen so far down the road there are unlikely to be any Italian or Japanese enviro-worriers left alive to be devastated by it."
hmm. problematic paragraph in my opinion. Governments should be concerned with the whole issue. Environmentalist policies have a place in government; to deny that is to over-simplify the situation. He is only trading one good for another. Heres a prediction. Lets say we follow his advice. In 2032, we'll be reading his article on the depletion of resources in the world. (if you've read through the article, this will make more sense). Look at the whole picture. Shifting our focus wont accomplish near as much.
His point about the 2.01 babies per woman. His western, developed case studies have one thing in common. Economic recession. Studies show that during recessions in developed countries, the birth rate is dramatically lower. But I see his point about the relative numbers.
"The average German worker now puts in 22% fewer hours per year than his American counterpart, and no politician who wishes to remain electorally viable will propose closing the gap in any meaningful way."
True, but Germany is more efficient/productive per worker than the US. Aha! Pay attention to the deliberate mis-use of statistics here, ladies and gents.
"Aside from the Internet and the cell phone and the CD, everything in your world seems pretty much the same but slightly modified."
yeah, cuz the internet doesnt have a HUGE HUGE HUGE affect on the world today. /sarcasm
It occurs to me that this writer seems to forget that at one point in European history, almost all of Southern Europe was under Muslim control. Stuff changes. Its cyclical. This is why we study history.
Crap... gotta go to class. More from me later on this.
wow aikido, i applaud you sincerely for actually reading that long crap and analyzing it.
I find internet opinions to be severely misleading. Only trust CNN ...and the daily show with jon stewart...
Same here. I can't believe you've read that long article and then started writing your opinion on the matter. Although I'm quite sure that all you wish to achieve is to get your opinion across.
well, I didnt get quite all the way through yet. But, yeah, its kind of an interesting article. It doesnt have to be from CNN to be interesting; as long as I keep aware of the bias/facts, then I'm fine.
mmm, and do you think its weird/wrong for me to post my opinion on the article here...? I thought that was the point. Read it, you might learn something. Or maybe not.
to be honest, I think this article is right up your alley nataku (you conservative little bastard : P )
gotta go to a meeting; ill finish my take later.
Well, on those points I'm going to have to disagree with you, Aikido. Honestly, I thought that 90% of what he said was correct. What he was saying is that we get into the hype of doomsday stories and miss how the world is changing. 50 years ago it was global cooling, now its global warming. The environment is something that we should care about, but we really can't change, because no matter how eco-conscious one country is, another country will just pick up the slack for them. And the problem he was talking about WAS underpopulation. Most developed countries, when they gain affluence and become more secular, become more selfish. Its all about me. Why should I have kids and raise a family, I just want to have fun, becomes the mantra, and so the population decreases. From what I have read, Germans are no more efficient than any other country, its just a stereotype.
What he was talking about in advancements is that there has been no big difference between the concrete things, the essentials of life, just a wider dissemination of information, most of which is false or useless. And if I remember my European history right(I'm probably wrong, since modern european history is not my major field of interest), the only parts of Europe that were Muslim was southern Spain till 1492, and Greece and Yugoslavia till the mid 1800's. But what he says is really true and scary at the same time in my opinion, because if Europeans aren't reproducing, and are bulking up their population with people that tend to hate Western thought and civilization, we could be in a real pickle.
P.S. - I'm one of those crazy conservatives too, Aikido, heh heh.
It's from the Wall Street Journal. It's a little higher caliber than your typical CNN stuff. ;)
I do think that the EU has serious problems with one their aging population and bloated social programs. Things must adapt in order to continue.
As for the efficiency. I completely disagree with you. Germany is far from letting go of its socialist traditions. We see American investors more often than their own people buying into Germany businesses. While as a whole they may be productive they don't have the capitalist tendencies that Americans gravitate towards.
Not to mention the french... Only in France will the hookers go on strike. Shesshhh...
I think he really hit the nail on the head suggesting that the two this we strive for as westerners multiculturalism and universal health care are utopian visions. There needs to be a certain level of conformity and a return to the melting people belief.
Of course, theres always living under Sharia law...
@Jakko: a few things. As for the overpopulation issue, you and I have a slight misunderstanding going on. From a GLOBAL standpoint, the world is overpopulated and continuing to become more and more overpopulated. From a RACIAL standpoint, the number of caucasians/Judeo-Christians is growing at a slower rate than the Islamic traditions. However, the writer does not want to appear THAT xenophobic, so he's bent the facts there slightly. So, were both right, in a sense, but I'm sure of these facts
"50 years ago it was global cooling, now its global warming. The environment is something that we should care about, but we really can't change, because no matter how eco-conscious one country is, another country will just pick up the slack for them."
yeah, global warming/cooling isnt really a phenonmenon thats a big deal. as it happens, it also has NOTHING to do with what were talking about. Were talkin about the depletion of natural resources. In an environmental-style mercantilism, we really should try to sustain our resources. I dont believe that its true that other countries will "pick up the slack." THere is not an environmental equilibrium in that sense.
as for the Germans, I'm sorry, but it is a fact that they are more efficient than US workers. Note the use of efficiency as an economic term. It doesnt mean that they have a higher output, necessarily. And I am quite sure of this (im taking macro theory right now, im practically inundated in the stuff).
as for the Muslim-Europe connection, you're mostly right. It went a little bit farther north than that, but I grant that my example was a bit of a hyperbole.
EDIT: Well, I finished the article. Interesting. I think his point is excellent, and a worthy consideration. I think his bias is irritating. He turns the blame on liberals, and tries to shift the blame AWAY from the powers that be. The fact is that we have a conservative president in office; and have for years. I dont see his "wonderful plans" doing us any good. Indeed, all I see is the opposite. A GROWING hatred of the writer's so-called "modern world" is the overriding legacy that the President's plans are leaving. But despite this political jab, his point has a great deal of merit. I wonder if anything can be done about this. I dont think that a population boom is the right answer (as he seems to think it is). That will spawn a plethora of other problems that will be even trickier to unravel. Trading one issue for another is no good. I need to think about this some more.