The trick in this line of work is not to be right too soon. A couple of years back, I wrote a bestselling hate crime. Don’t worry, I’m not in plug mode; indeed, I shall eschew even mentioning the book’s title. But its general thesis is that the jig is up for much if not most of the Western world. “Alarmist,” pronounced Maclean’s, reflecting the general consensus of polite society here and in Europe.
Polite society has spent the years since playing catch-up. So if you don’t want your fin du civilisation analysis from a frothing right-wing loon you can now get it from the house-trained chaps at the New York Times:
“Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism . . . ‘The Europe that protects’ is a slogan of the European Union.”
Protects from what? Right now, Europe mostly needs protection from itself, and its worst inclinations:
“With low growth, low birth rates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle.”
The Times hits all the Steynian themes, including the Continent as defence-welfare queen:
“Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella.”
Absolved from having to pay for their own defence, Continentals, like Canadians, beat their swords into welfare cheques, and erected vast cradle-to-grave social entitlements. Even under the U.S. security umbrella, they proved unsustainable. Why? Because Europeans stopped breeding. And, even with unprecedented levels of immigration, they’ve been unable to halt population decline. Again, that was mere Steynian alarmism a year or two back. Now it’s received wisdom. Here’s Time magazine:
“Germany is shrinking—fast. New figures released on May 17 show the birth rate in Europe’s biggest economy has plummeted to a historic low.”
That’s true. Time doesn’t really provide much in the way of historical perspective, but, for the purposes of comparison, in 1964 West Germany alone produced 1.35 million new babies; in 2009, a united Germany managed less than half that—651,000 births. In 1964, Germany was undergoing its postwar economic boom. In the mood for a reprise? On the depleted manpower of 2010, that ain’t gonna happen.
And these days, remember, Germany has to support a continent. It’s the economic powerhouse that’s supposed to be rescuing the euro and preventing the five soi-disant PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain) from having the Big Bad Wolf of reality blow their house of straw to smithereens. Dream on. “Germany’s working-age population is likely to decrease 30 per cent over the next few decades,” says Steffen Kröhnert of the Berlin Institute for Population Development. “Rural areas will see a massive population decline and some villages will simply disappear—Germany will become a weak economic power in the future.”
Pages: 1 2