24 June 2007

Last Days of Europe--Before the Deluge

It is Europe’s doom that Walter Laqueur explores and explains in this succinct and clearly written book. He does not say anything that others have not said before him, but he says it better and with a greater tolerance of nuance than some other works on this vitally important subject.

There are three threats to Europe’s future. The first comes from demographic decline. Europeans are simply not reproducing, for reasons that are unclear. They seem to care more about the ozone layer and carbon emissions than they do about the continuation of their own societies. Or perhaps bringing up children interferes with what they conceive to be the real business of life: taking lengthy annual holidays in exotic locations and other such pleasures.

The second threat comes from the presence of a sizable and growing immigrant population, a large part of which is not necessarily interested in integration. As the population ages, the need for immigrant labor increases, and among the main sources of such labor are North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. When I recently drove to Antwerp from the South of France, I thought I had arrived in Casablanca. There are parts of Brussels where the police are enjoined not to be seen eating or drinking during Ramadan. Similar accommodations are occurring all over Europe: in the Central Library in Birmingham, for example, I found a women-only table occupied exclusively by young Muslims dressed in the hijab. (They were the lucky ones, members of liberal households that allowed them out on their own.)

The third threat comes from the existence of the welfare state and the welfare-state mentality. A system of entitlements has been created that, however economically counterproductive, is politically difficult to dismantle: once privileges are granted, they assume the metaphysical status of immemorial and fundamental rights. The right of French train drivers to retire on full pension at the age of 50 is probably more important to them than the right of free speech—especially that of those who think that retirement at such an age is preposterous. While Europe mortgages its future to pay for such extravagances—the French public debt doubled in ten years under the supposedly conservative Chirac—other areas of the world forge an unbeatable combination of high-tech and cheap labor. The European political class, more than ever dissociated from its electorate, has hardly woken up to the challenge.

All this Laqueur lays out with exemplary clarity. He sees Europe, once the home of a dynamic civilization that energized the rest of the world, declining into a kind of genteel theme park—if it’s lucky. The future might be grimmer than this, of course: there might be a real struggle for power once the immigrants and their descendents become numerically strong enough to take on the increasingly geriatric native population.

While the intelligentsia of Europe chooses to wallow in anti-Americanism, and worries itself over a non-existent climate crisis, the genuine death of Europe is occurring from within.

The 21st century--if not saved by a fractured singularity--appears to be setting itself up for even more wanton bloodletting than the 20th. The difference is that in Europe, there is not enough blood to be let, without bleeding her dry.

The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent, Walter Laqueur, Thomas Dunne Books, 256 pages Review by Theodore Dalrymple. More at link above.

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Blogger Roko said...

This is interesting stuff, and I think that it poses genuine questions for a fair and free society, questions like: "what do we do if people use their right to unlimited children to promote very nasty memes?"

Perhaps you might re-phrase this problem as a way to hack a society. There are two key weaknesses that are exploited: (1) you can have as many children as you like (2) you are allowed to use any and all tactics to brainwash said children. Clearly one of these "security holes" need to be plugged, but they are both very touchy subjects.

I don't think Europe is done for, but it worries me that this issue doesn't even make the news here. What worries me most is that *to even raise this issue gets you branded as a racist*.

I hear that America has a similar problem with, say, Mormons. What (if anything) is being done about this? Is it even being debated seriously?

Monday, 25 June, 2007  
Blogger Roko said...

Actually one useful distinction that the UK government seems to be making is that between culture and values.

Immigrant communities are, in the new scheme of things, supposed to adopt British Values, but they can (and indeed are encouraged to) keep their own culture. Where cultural traditions conflict with British values, the British values are supposed to take precedence.

There is also a big push on the UK for integration - that is the idea that people of different races should be encouraged to intermarry and mingle together.

These developments are steps in the right direction, and I hope to see more of them.

Monday, 25 June, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

It is well and good to push for integration. But if the newcomers feel it is their destiny to supplant the old order, there will likely be very little integration.

The US has no problems on the scale of Europe's 3 problems discussed by Laqueur. Europe's population implosion combined with the Islamic population explosion is a monstrous problem without equal anywhere except Russia.

It is up to Europeans themselves whether all of this will be the end of Europe. I sincerely hope you are right.

Monday, 25 June, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only 'push for integration' I've noticed in the UK is the push to integrate Islam into every aspect of British culture. Mass Islamic integration without integration has been a suicidal policy on the part of successive British government and I suspect we'll see the first city imposing Sharia law here within a decade.

Muslims are now such a large voting block that every major political party is willing to bend over when they demand special treatment. As their birth rates greatly exceed those of non-feral natives (i.e. everyone other than the chav welfare scum), that is only going to get worse. No democratic government in the UK is going to tell Muslims they have to integrate or go home.

Tuesday, 26 June, 2007  

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