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 survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most western European countries.
What will Europe be like at the end of this process? Who knows? On the one hand, there’s something to be said for the notion that America will find an Islamified Europe more straightforward to deal with than Monsieur Chirac, Herr Schröder, and Co. On the other hand, given Europe’s track record, getting there could be very bloody. But either way this is the real battlefield. The al Qaeda nutters can never find enough suicidal pilots to fly enough planes into enough skyscrapers to topple America. But, unlike us, the Islamists think long-term, and, given their demographic advantage in Europe and the tone of the emerging Muslim lobby groups there, much of what they’re flying planes into buildings for they’re likely to wind up with just by waiting a few more years. The skyscrapers will be theirs; why knock ’em over? - Mark Steyn, writing in The New Criterion
I take my title from the racialist or traditionalist conservative, Lawrence Auster, with whose arguments I disagree on various levels. Auster thinks the west needs to wall itself off from Islam, while I think any such measures, if ever necessary as they might become, cannot be but short-term tactics. In the long run, the proven success of the western combination of free markets, democracy, and all the spiritual or intellectual precursors for western progress over the last five hundered years, must be made available to non-western peoples, allowing them either to assimilate to western culture and the demands of global markets, or to create viable hybrids between western and non-western traditions. Only if such exchange is allowed to flourish can we have any hope of mediating future global conflicts. Many think such ideas the foolhardy product of unrealistic and vain neocons. But I think the alternatives in our nuclear-tipped world are ultimately more unrealistic if survival is our basic goal.
Nonetheless, Auster raises important questions about the propensity of supposedly conservative writers like Steyn seemingly giving up on Europe and all it means to our own North American culture.
Central to the present Steyn article is the recognition that the achilles heel of the heretofore successful western tradition (not that this infirmity is today by any means an exclusively western problem) is the present fertility decline, especially notable in Europe, a decline that does indeed put in question the future reproduction of western culture tout court. At the least, it portends a yet much hotter cultural war over the role of the welfare state and the family in western societies and their ability to maintain themselves in the face of the need for large-scale immigration to work for the child-poor westerners now accustomed to highly consuming lifestyles. And Europe has a very poor track record of assimilating or integrating immigrants, many of whom produce unemployed children who are, presumably, in need of further immigrants to do the work that allows the welfare dole to be paid. Not surprisingly, many immigrants and their children seem to have contempt for the very welfare state multiculturalism that western elites cling to as the solution to their inability to represent themselves as a working community one would want to join and defend.
In this situation, do we have a right to expect more from writers like Steyn, by way of specific ideas about how Europe can save itself from welfarism and economic and demographic decline? Is it good enough to write despairing articles saying it's time to write-off Europe? Do we not owe Europeans, not only recognition of their great problems, but also a spirit of willingness to help them save themselves, if they emerge from present crises willing to throw off the current elites and the insanity of the bureaucratic monoliths they are presently building? Finally, can we North Americans hope to maintain our culture without the trans-Atlantic ties that have always been integral to who we are?