A thought-provoking, lengthy piece by Mark Steyn that was originally published in the New Criterion but picked up by the Wall Street Journal. It’s a little over the top in a couple of places but he makes his point, and it’s one I tend to agree with. The entire piece is well worth reading.
According to Steyn all our hand wringing over most of our political sacred cows is much like worrying over just what to wear to dinner on the Titanic. All of our seemingly important cultural quarrels are in danger of running up against the monster iceberg of spreading Islamic fundamentalism brought about by, if nothing else, the disparity in birthrates between the cultural West and cultural Islam.
An excerpt on multiculturalism:

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. Take multiculturalism. The great thing about multiculturalism is that it doesn’t involve knowing anything about other cultures–the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It’s fundamentally a fraud, and I would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don’t want to live in anything but an advanced Western society. Multiculturalism means your kid has to learn some wretched native dirge for the school holiday concert instead of getting to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or that your holistic masseuse uses techniques developed from Native American spirituality, but not that you or anyone you care about should have to live in an African or Native American society. It’s a quintessential piece of progressive humbug.

And on the birthrate disparity and the unwillingness for people anywhere to give up benefits they view as rights:

What’s the better bet? A globalization that exports cheeseburgers and pop songs or a globalization that exports the fiercest aspects of its culture? When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2006, it’s hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 (or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management and Queer Studies degrees). And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they’re running out a lot faster than the oil is. “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%. In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: In the 2004 election, John Kerry won the 16 with the lowest birthrates; George W. Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest. By 2050, there will be 100 million fewer Europeans, 100 million more Americans–and mostly red-state Americans.

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. Is that likely? I don’t think so. If you look at European election results–most recently in Germany–it’s hard not to conclude that, while voters are unhappy with their political establishments, they’re unhappy mainly because they resent being asked to reconsider their government benefits and, no matter how unaffordable they may be a generation down the road, they have no intention of seriously reconsidering them. The Scottish executive recently backed down from a proposal to raise the retirement age of Scottish public workers. It’s presently 60, which is nice but unaffordable. But the reaction of the average Scots worker is that that’s somebody else’s problem. 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.


  1. And what was his point ?
    I truly didn’t get it
    Its stating the obvious vis multi-cult’ism
    As shite as people often think they are, West liberal democs are the best we slightly egalitarian primates have come up and of course people vote with boats and their feet to get to ’em;anyone with ‘alf a brain knows this.
    His point is floored as no one knows what the future will bring and anyone who says they do is an ‘eejit.
    We’ll muddle through, however defined or we won’t.
    Our seemingly hardwired rapacious greed, coupled with sexual selection and garnished with technology is a bit of a bugger too !
    BTW i still think that despite its naff title and the cheesy piccy your PPL is the best book written on evolutionary nutrition/perspectives.
    Again thanks to you and your Mrs for your efforts

  2. If it makes any difference I fought the cover “piccy’s” and the “naff title” tooth and toenail to no avail. What most people don’t know is that the publisher has full control over the cover. We’ve never had a cover on any of our books that I have liked. Cheers.

  3. Yessum.
    The funny thing is i was never able to re-concile what i perceived to be your senses of humour, arrogantly i’ll say not very quintess. American;meant as a big compliment, vis pithy little quips you’d throw in and the title and aforementioned title and piccy.
    Something seemed ‘wrong’
    All is clear.
    My ennui has abated !

  4. What bothers me about the Steyn’s piece is his characterization of the “progressive agenda: “lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism.” I consider myself a creature of the left, but I can’t recognize anything here I would call a “progressive agenda.” Steyn has merely collected a bunch of things he doesn’t like in a list and called it a name.
    The progressive agenda, if we could use such a term, would be about expanding social justice. It has nothing to do with multiculturalism or any of the other things on Steyn’s hit list. For instance, some on the left feel that multiculturalism is a way of assuring social justice, something with which I vociferously disagree. I have always felt that multiculturalism promotes intolerance by telling people that the most important thing about themselves is their membership in a group and that the most important thing about other people is exactly their otherness. It promotes feelings of victimization and turns justice into a zero sum game. Seen this way, multiculturalism runs counter to an agenda that promotes social justice. The fact that some in the left feel otherwise does not make multiculturalism part of any agenda. Similar arguments could be made about Steyn’s other pet peeves. I’m disappointed by Steyn’s rhetorical sloppiness and inellectual laziness.

  5. Ah, Charles, it’s good to hear from you. You have been quiescent for a while and I wondered if you were still a reader. I figured that if I posted on a Steyn piece it would bring you to the surface if you were still out there.
    As usual, you focused on a perceived slight to the left instead of the real meat of the article, which is that the rapid expansion of the Islamic population relative to ours (the West in general) thanks to the lax immigration laws and huge difference in birth rates will ultimately result in their having a majority. If what you are looking for is social justice, I don’t think you’re going to find it in a Mullah controlled government. I suspect you would long for the good old days of W.

  6. My take is that something is wrong with the country, something is really missing. I believe that the thing missing is the civic pride that Alexis DeToqueville found to be so important part of american life. This lack of civic pride is evidenced by the large decline of civic associations after the WWII generation.
    Because of the lack of civic pride, greed is running unchecked. We are facing epic levels of corruption in business and government. We spend more money teaching and the children learn less.
    Everything is measured in terms of what it will do for business measured in dollars. Very little is measured in terms of what good will be done in our communities.
    Yes, I am certain, that if we don’t find our way out of this scarcity of love for our community we will fail and grow weak. Your fears are real, Dr Eades but the cause is not, I think, Democrats vs Republicans.
    ps-the preview didnt highlight my link to the decline in civic associations, so just in case, here is the link.

  7. I agree with you. I don’t think it is a matter of Democrats verses Republicans; I think it goes much deeper that that.

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