...busting up my brains for the words

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I'm a fan of Mark Steyn's work. Whenever he guests on the Hugh Hewitt Show I do whatever is necessary to stop what I'm doing and just listen to the guy. He's not only extremely insightful in politics, he has a wonderful sense of humor and a true gift for clever wordplay.
One of Steyn's favorite topics is the suicide of civilization. Having read most of his columns on this subject, I can say that he's written what is probably the best and most well defined piece yet on the subject. Published in the Opinion Journal just the other day, it's entitled It's the demography, Stupid.The real reason the West is in danger of extinction.

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.
As I see it, Steyn's thesis can be summed up by saying that Progressivism is the doom of the West. I had a brief discussion of this subject with a Progressive friend of mine some months ago. My good friend argued that immigration will suffice as it has in the past to sustain our societies. But since we'd had that conversation a year ago, Europe witnessed widespread riots throughout France and parts of Germany and Belgium. These riots were conducted by Islamic youths who feel disenfranchised from their host countries.

I doubt these are the sort of immigrants my friend had in mind for keeping these societies flush.

So, what if Steyn is right? What do we do to save ourselves, Steyn doesn't offer any specifics. Should I grab the first available single Christian woman, propose marriage and then create a family of 4.8 children with her? While I could then smugly maintain that I have done my part to save the world, a lot of other folks would have to have the same plan of action in order to make it successful.
Steyn believes that our society worries too much about the unimportant things, stealing the time away from us to worry about the big problems that are truly worth worrying about. But how do we get such a set of worries in gear?

Reading this article is a good way to start.

UPDATE: Lileks offers his thoughts on Steyn's piece in his Screedblog.

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: Dafydd of Big Lizards blog has some interesting analysis as well, mostly toward dispelling the weight of Steyn's argument.

It is Mark Steyn's despair I reject. I have seen nothing to make me believe that the most powerful culture ever invented by humans, Western liberal democracy, having risen up and defeated the Moslem jihadists the first five hundred times, will simply roll over and die on the five hundred and first. And that is the crack in the marble that splinters the beautiful edifice of Mark Steyn's thesis: Western Civ will survive because we have been socially evolved as winners and survivors for millennia; we will prevail because we refuse, in the end, to accept any other result.

I think it's possible that Steyn is well aware of the dynamics Dafydd writes of. But the politically correct mindset requires that some very cold water be splashed into their sleepy faces.


  • At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Chief said…

    I posted on this same subject about a year ago in a post titled Can liberals live long enough to regain power, that looked not jus tat the demise of the west but an even more rapid demise of the left everywhere.

    I have managed to make 3 of my own little conservative (hopefully) offspring and encourage everyone to do the same.


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