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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Only Michael Jordan Has A Chance Winning a 4 on 1 game

The WSJ published a long essay written by Mark Steyn who sees a likely demise of Europe due to the demographics of Muslim and European populations. It is a "must read". Steyn explains:

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.

He lays out the data:

"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.

Mike Taylor disputes Steyn's thesis that this data reflects an inevitable trend:

Does this essay by Steyn not fall victim to the same mistakes attributed to Thomas Malthus?

(At the risk of sounding didactic, Thomas Malthus was a 19th Century economist/philosopher that predicted that the population would eventually outstrip its ability to feed itself... leading to inevitable mass famine... and that inevitability would come sooner rather than later. According to Malthus, our grandparents should have been struggling to find enough calories and you and I should be fighting each other over scraps of bread.)

I have no doubt that Steyn's current population trends are accurately reported. But it is a common mistake to convert short-term trends into long-term predictions.

At one point in the 1950's we Americans were paving a lot of roads in this country and creating an interstate highway system. We were pouring concrete over the countryside at an impressive rate. If we had taken that short-term trend out to its "logical" conclusion we would would not have much grass left to walk on today... the United States would be covered in asphalt.

But Wyoming is still largely unpaved.

Just as Malthus was wrong in predicting famine and environmentalists were wrong in predicting an earth covered with roads rather than forests Steyn is LIKELY to be wrong in predicting a Muslim takeover of society for two reasons.

There is a regression to the mean for most things in life, and that's certainly true in large-scale phenomena. The birth rate among Muslims is likely to fluctuate in the future. Further, Muslims are likely to intermarry among non-Muslims producing less Muslim offspring.

Secondly, Steyn assumes that Muslims will always retain their philosophical rigidity, bringing with them the Sharia law they practiced in their home countries. Is it not more logical to assume that Muslim attitudes will moderate over time as they are exposed to Western culture?

In the future, Muslim men may find that a wife working outside the home is an economic benefit that will over-ride what is said in the Koran. Muslim men may find that their local imam is "full of it" when he calls for jihad. Especially if it conflicts with a skiing trip to Gstaad.

Is it not more difficult to completely dominate and control women if those women have the right to vote?

Is it not more logical to assume that moderation is more likely?

I disagree.

I find Steyn's predictions quite logical.

For one, there is segregation of Muslims in Western culture (meaning Old European culture and society). They are not through voluntary and societal means being inculcated into Western values. Second, Western values look like hypocritical mouthings by fools in Old Europe. The arthritic leaders create no indication of pulse. Third, and most important, there is no Western culture in Europe. That was the main point of Steyn's article. Old Europe is merely, as Rush refers to Florida, "God's waiting room". There is no Christian culture or values to adopt, no free market entrepreneurialism to pursue and little rugged individualism that all people can relate to as in the United States.

So I see no method to create Westerners out of the large and growing immigrant population in Europe. We should recognize the effect of values on people. Right now the value system that contains a moral law is Sharia in Europe. So the Muslims are provided no alternative.

Certainly, within the confines of Europe, Muslim population may drop. But only through reduction of the welfare state and mass deportations. Neither is likely given the European stomach for a free market---remember the recent EU Constitution vote? Numbers and motivation matter in war. The Europeans may not want war but they are smack dab in the middle of one ---want it or not. Like our liberal Democrats (save Suda and Lieberman), Europeans either want to ignore the facts and take the ostrich approach or look out for themselves by draining the continent of wealth and resources (human resources, that is--look at the brain drain to the US).

History (from the 600s to the present) has shown the Muslim world's rigidity of thought. Today, even when Muslim men marry Western women, they revert to dogma upon a return to their countries (see Phyliss Chesler's experience as a Afghan captive after moving to her Muslim husband's home). And that is the point! Europe is Arabia North.

Mike, I am no adherent to Malthusian economics. But, it is a population game in this war. And there is no evidence of a will to win by one of the players.

Mike responds:

So I'm not sure what you mean by "There is no Christian culture or values to adopt...".

What I would argue is that there are enough Christian/Western values in Europe that people find attractive and would want to keep. E.g., womens' suffrage.

As for the lack of entrepreneurial spirit in Old Europe, I don't think that Muslim countries lack entrepreneurial spirit, I think they bring that with them.

I would also take issue with your assumption that Muslim populations could drop "only through reduction of the welfare state and mass deportations". The classes are not static, even if a welfare state slows down upward mobility.

Eventually the welfare state will bankrupt itself and Muslims currently on the dole will face real economic alternatives. Some of them will become middle class European citizens. This transformation will not be as fast as it would be in the United States, but it has to happen. Like the ex-Soviet Union is doing right now... The welfare state can not be supported ad infinitum. It will get ugly, but change will come.

I also take exception to your view that Islamic (or sharia) law is intransigent. It may be intransigent in Muslim countries because religion is the state.

Of course Muslim men revert to sharia practices with their Western wives when they return home, sharia law is the government in many Muslim countries and a Western woman gives up her Western rights living under Muslim government. Sad, but true.

My point is that women won't give up their rights if they remain in Europe. And I don't think they will vote themselves out of their rights if they remain in Europe, no matter how big the Muslim population gets.

I might also propose that what Bush has started in Iraq, giving women the right to vote, is a concept that will revolutionize Islamic societies in the Middle East. That could be as big a social force as anything that is happening in Europe.

Once the economy starts favoring two-income households there will be no stopping the adoption of more "Western values"...

Finally, how would one go about "winning" a population war?

My final comment:

By scoring.

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