Ed Driscoll

It's The Demography, Mullah!

In her latest blog post, Cathy Seipp writes that she’s not very happy when readers cut and paste her entire articles and reprint them on their blogs–and I can second that emotion:

If you don’t protect your right to something you’ll lose it, and if writers allow their work to be reprinted for free all over the blogosphere, publishers will begin to wonder why they should bother to pay reprint fees. It’s a real problem, so don’t steal my work like that. If you’re using your blog as a sort of online scrapbook of interesting newspaper clippings, then please close it to the general public, so you’re not actually republishing these things.

Something tells me though, that Mark Steyn must be feeling pretty amused right now after having the gist of his benchmark “It’s the Demography, Stupid” article quoted by an Al Qaeda-linked Islamic leader living in Norway.

Here’s Steyn, from December:

What’s the better bet? A globalization that exports cheeseburgers and pop songs or a globalization that exports the fiercest aspects of its culture? When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2006, it’s hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 (or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management and Queer Studies degrees). And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they’re running out a lot faster than the oil is. “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.

As fertility shrivels, societies get older–and Japan and much of Europe are set to get older than any functioning societies have ever been. And we know what comes after old age. These countries are going out of business–unless they can find the will to change their ways. Is that likely? I don’t think so. If you look at European election results–most recently in Germany–it’s hard not to conclude that, while voters are unhappy with their political establishments, they’re unhappy mainly because they resent being asked to reconsider their government benefits and, no matter how unaffordable they may be a generation down the road, they have no intention of seriously reconsidering them. The Scottish executive recently backed down from a proposal to raise the retirement age of Scottish public workers. It’s presently 60, which is nice but unaffordable. But the reaction of the average Scots worker is that that’s somebody else’s problem. The average German worker now puts in 22% fewer hours per year than his American counterpart, and no politician who wishes to remain electorally viable will propose closing the gap in any meaningful way.

This isn’t a deep-rooted cultural difference between the Old World and the New. It dates back all the way to, oh, the 1970s. If one wanted to allocate blame, one could argue that it’s a product of the U.S. military presence, the American security guarantee that liberated European budgets: instead of having to spend money on guns, they could concentrate on butter, and buttering up the voters. If Washington’s problem with Europe is that these are not serious allies, well, whose fault is that? Who, in the years after the Second World War, created NATO as a postmodern military alliance? The “free world,” as the Americans called it, was a free ride for everyone else. And having been absolved from the primal responsibilities of nationhood, it’s hardly surprising that European nations have little wish to reshoulder them. In essence, the lavish levels of public health care on the Continent are subsidized by the American taxpayer. And this long-term softening of large sections of the West makes them ill-suited to resisting a primal force like Islam.

There is no “population bomb.” There never was. Birthrates are declining all over the world–eventually every couple on the planet may decide to opt for the Western yuppie model of one designer baby at the age of 39. But demographics is a game of last man standing. The groups that succumb to demographic apathy last will have a huge advantage. Even in 1968 Paul Ehrlich and his ilk should have understood that their so-called population explosion was really a massive population adjustment. Of the increase in global population between 1970 and 2000, the developed world accounted for under 9% of it, while the Muslim world accounted for 26%. Between 1970 and 2000, the developed world declined from just under 30% of the world’s population to just over 20%, the Muslim nations increased from about 15% to 20%.

Nineteen seventy doesn’t seem that long ago. If you’re the age many of the chaps running the Western world today are wont to be, your pants are narrower than they were back then and your hair’s less groovy, but the landscape of your life–the look of your house, the layout of your car, the shape of your kitchen appliances, the brand names of the stuff in the fridge–isn’t significantly different. Aside from the Internet and the cell phone and the CD, everything in your world seems pretty much the same but slightly modified.

And yet the world is utterly altered. Just to recap those bald statistics: In 1970, the developed world had twice as big a share of the global population as the Muslim world: 30% to 15%. By 2000, they were the same: each had about 20%.

And by 2020?

So the world’s people are a lot more Islamic than they were back then and a lot less “Western.” Europe is significantly more Islamic, having taken in during that period some 20 million Muslims (officially)–or the equivalents of the populations of four European Union countries (Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and Estonia). Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the West: In the U.K., more Muslims than Christians attend religious services each week.

* * *

Best-case scenario? The Continent winds up as Vienna with Swedish tax rates.

Worst-case scenario: Sharia, circa 2040; semi-Sharia, a lot sooner–and we’re already seeing a drift in that direction.

And here’s Mullah Krekar, this week:

Norway