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Anderson November 16, 2010 Final Paper Much of Europe s history has been engulfed by war and intolerance. Only in the last 60 years has Europe seen its longest period of peace. The economic and political dependency between European nations has been a major factor in creating this period of peace. With their unique brand of welfare state capitalism, Western Europe has grown exponentially beyond what it was 60 years ago. People now have universal healthcare, free education, low cost housing, and many other welfare benefits. Other factors in this era of peace are their strong emphases on tolerance and multiculturalism. Western Europe is now a common destination for many immigrants from the Eastern parts of the world. Unfortunately, with all of these blessings, a secret curse is emerging. It is becoming painfully obvious that the European welfare state cannot be sustained under the current system, especially given that the birthrate of Western Europe has fallen drastically and the number of people benefiting from European welfare is far outnumbering the number of people paying into it. European society is beginning to implode and it could very well do so within the next century if nothing is done to correct their problems. I believe that Mark Steyn s article is closer to the real picture of Europe s future. According to him, Western Europe is currently on the brink of extinction. Based on the current trends of social issues, such as immigration and political goals
Everly 2 of Europeans in general, most European nations will be little more than designations of real estate. The main reason for Europe s potential extinction is that Western politics have begun to prioritize what is known as secondary impulses of society and it is beginning to suffer the consequences (10 Steyn). A civilization s primary impulses should be those most crucial to its survival, such as national defense, family, faith, and reproductive activity (10 Steyn). Western Europe, especially, has forgotten about these basic necessities and begun to focus solely on the cradle-to-grave welfare programs they have come to know and love so much. Italy s nominee for justice minister of the EU, Rocco Buttiglione, made this statement about Europe and its religious condition that is, unfortunately, proving to be true in regard to these primary and secondary impulses. He said, If we ignore our pasts and try to create a Godless society where things like money or ambition or property are worshiped, then the society loses it is a battle we are fighting at the current time (4 Knox). Europe has done exactly what Buttiglione warned against and now finds itself locked in a battle for its own survival. The decline of religion in Europe can be directly tied to almost every problem occurring on the continent today. The economy is beginning to fail, because Europeans focus only on the material pleasures of the here and now and have no desire to invest in the future. This has resulted in an extremely low birthrate, which is making Europe more dependant upon immigration to maintain a stable population of any kind. The current secularist worldview in Europe, which is the source of their welfare programs, Progressive agenda, and so-called multiculturalism, is the true culprit behind Europe s extinction. This multiculturalism is primarily what Radical Islam
Everly 3 has been waiting for all along (12 Steyn). The climate of tolerance that has been adopted has the potential to be a suicide blow, because they cannot philosophically allow themselves to insist upon cultural assimilation from the Muslims. Europe now relies on immigration for its economic survival and Islamic fundamentalists are doing their best to take advantage of that need and claim Europe for themselves. Unfortunately, without a higher reproductive rate, which is heavily influenced by the other primary impulses, it is also becoming difficult for Europe to finance its social programs. The root of the problem is the post-Christian hyperrationalist nature of European society, because it discourages the religious society birth rate that is required to sustain the social-democratic state (10 Steyn). Followers of radical and fundamentalist Islam are taking advantage of this and other social issues in the hope that they will one day inherit Europe after its western democratic states collapse on themselves. Steven Hill makes the argument that a population decline does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with an economic decline. He attempts to prove this statement by pointing out the fact that Europe was among the fastest-growing economies in the world, despite population declines, until the economic collapse of 2008. He also provides examples like China and Japan and their booming economies in the face of an aging population. Hill s examples my directly disprove that capitalism has never flourished except when accompanied by population growth, but they don t disprove the fact that a capitalist society cannot be sustained in light of population decline (344 Hill). An aging society will always result in an economic
Everly 4 decline and Europe is a prime example of this. Even China is starting to see an economic slow down in the face of its low birthrates. However, Hill does make a correct assessment that with fewer younger workers to pay the health and pension bills of an elderly retired population they present a looming fiscal burden (344 Hill). He goes on to say that with fewer workers to tax, revenue may be insufficient to continue to pay for the generous European workfare state (344 Hill). It is with his last statement that he has disproved his own premise that economic growth does not depend on population growth, especially for a European workfare state economy. A society fails when it runs out of resources and Europe is beginning to run out of their most valuable resource - people. The birthrates of the Western world have fallen and are falling dramatically. The current replacement birthrate required to maintain a stable population is 2.1 babies per woman and nearly all of Western European countries are failing to reach that number, while Islamic nations remain at the top of the global fertility charts. Countries like Somalia and Afghanistan have birthrates around 6.8 while western countries like Germany and Spain have birth rates that are only half the replacement rate. This is the primary indicator that European society is growing old and will soon die. Since 1970, world population percentages between the developed world and the Islamic world have nearly inverted. The developed world used to account for almost 30% of the planet s population, whereas the Islamic world used to account for 15%. Now the developed world only makes up 20% and the Islamic world has risen to 20%. If these trends
Everly 5 continue, we could see the self-extinction of the races who, for good or ill, shaped the modern world (16 Steyn). Europe is also facing political dilemmas due to the general liberal European ideology. It is being faced with the question of how integrate Islamic immigrants into European society without conforming European society to Islamic culture. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the European multicultural attitude of tolerance cannot be sustained when it is matched against the rapid increase of fundamentalist Muslim immigrants. Fundamentalist Islam is successfully importing its culture into the center of European society by taking advantage of its politically correct, multicultural ideology. One of two things is possible, according to Bassam Tibi, a Muslim professor at a German university, either Islam gets Europeanized, or Europe gets Islamized (32 Bawer). It all depends on how European liberalism confronts the dilemma between its values and the integration of Islamic culture. They simply don t know how to address the problem without violating their multicultural code of tolerance. It is difficult for them to confront the fact that the cult of tolerance [may not] prevail once the biggest demographic in [their] society is cheerfully intolerant (18 Steyn). In addition to these social and political problems, Europe is beginning to encounter economic problems as well. It is becoming apparent that the big government welfare states of the West cannot be sustained, particularly given the falling birthrates and the rising number of immigrants who wish to benefit from the West. The European people are suffering from a severe entitlement syndrome, because of the numerous welfare programs provided to them by the State. Western
Everly 6 nations are realizing that a government big enough to give you everything you want still isn t big enough to get you to give anything back and that is a very expensive truth (13 Steyn). Even those who idolize the European way of life agree that these issues (falling birth rates, rising immigration, and a growing welfare state) are a threat to Europe s survival. With fewer babies being born, there are fewer young workers to replace the old and generate the wealth it takes to sustain the lavish programs enjoyed by European citizens. The diminishing dependence ratio of workers to retirees is an explicit indicator that the elderly are about to become a financial burden on the populations of their respective countries, since there are fewer workers to finance the bills and pensions of the retired population. Additionally, the rising immigration rates will undoubtedly bring about further cultural clashes if efforts to integrated are not accelerated (341 Hill). Since the end of WWII, Europe has been digging itself into a financial grave. The lower birth rates and higher life expectancies are proving to the world that the social welfare model of government that is used all over the EU is too expensive to be indefinitely sustained. The only solution to this problem is for governments to begin increasing the amount of work output by raising the retirement age, increasing the number of work hours, raising taxes, and beginning to take back the generous welfare benefits they have been extending to their citizens for so many years. As governments in the EU attempt to do this, they are encountering many riots and protests and realizing that their large governments will never be large enough to reclaim the rights they have extended to their populations. That is to
Everly 7 say, that the people of Europe feel so entitled to their welfare benefits, that they protest every time the government tries to make cuts. It has often been said that the U.S. can see its potential future by observing Western Europe. Perhaps it is not an entirely accurate picture of America s future, but it is a possible picture, nonetheless. There are a variety of lessons, both positive and negative, that the U.S. can learn by looking at Europe s progress. More numerous are the negative things America can learn from Europe. It is important for the U.S. to maintain a social climate that encourages the creation and development of the family. America must examine the characteristics of European society that are directly tied to their declining birthrates, which are the source of a great many problems, both present and future, in Europe. Perhaps the most characteristic of European society that is most responsible is its lack of a religious foundation. When comparing birthrates between more religious nations, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc., and non-religious ones, such as EU nations, it is painfully obvious that the religious societies have the higher birthrates. Primarily Islamic nations have rates that are at least triple the replacement rate and other nations with a stronger religious foundation, like the U.S. and India, have birthrates that hover around the replacement rate. Upon observation, one can see that there is a direct correlation between the fall of Christianity in Europe and the widespread fall in birthrate as well. For example, throughout Scandinavia, the decline of the church has been matched by a drop in the number of marriages (3 Knox). Although children are still born outside of wedlock, it goes without saying that there
Everly 8 is less incentive to have children if there are fewer stable environments in which to raise them. With the loss of religion, Europeans have lost the desire, and perhaps the ability, to look to and invest in the future. Religious cultures have a much greater sense of both past and future (17 Steyn). Through observing this crisis, the U.S. can learn that we must maintain our [harsh] American capitalism , because it is a more sustainable system (1 Erlanger). This is true, because it in turn encourages initiative, responsibility, and innovation, which leads to less dependency upon government, more stability in social structures, and new ways to generate wealth and solve problems. Europe has adopted a purely materialistic, secularist worldview that has caused them to lose their desire to invest in anything other than the present. Naturally, a society that places more value on material things and instant gratification, rather than on people and morality, is not going to be as concerned about investing in their future. Having a core belief in a Creator results in a greater appreciation for the value of human life and gives purpose to human activity. When Europe began to lose its Christianity after WWII, its decay began. Since WWII, Christianity, and religion in general, has steadily declined and now most churches are nearly empty or have aging and dying congregations. Now Europe is encountering a lethal triple threat that has time and time again proven to be the fall of many civilizations. They are threatened by a new kind of dangerous fundamentalism, a severe economic crisis, and possible extinction in the coming years. When Christian faith departed, it had taken with it a sense of ultimate meaning and purpose and left the Continent vulnerable to conquest (34 Bawer).
Everly 9 The U.S. must be cautious as it moves forward, to preserve the religious foundations upon which it was built. By looking at Europe, we can see that a decline in religion results in the general decline of society. Karl Marx once said that religion is the opiate of the masses , but Europe s experience seems to be proving that it is the sustainer of the masses. If Europe does not find a practical way of combating these crucial problems it is facing, it may not survive this century. Of course people will still live in Europe, but the Europe of centuries past may only be a distant memory. European nations will only be designations of real estate. The ethnic Europeans will be gone. With a faltering economy, a drastically declining birthrate, and a significant rise in immigrants who do not want to integrate, Europe is facing possible extinction. The U.S. must learn from Europe s example of what not to do. It must learn that the key to survival is to value, maintain, and defend the cultural and moral characteristics that have defined and made it great in the past. Europe has illustrated the result of the welfare system and that it works for a while, but it cannot be sustained when no one will give up what is necessary to preserve it. These problems are magnified when there aren t even enough people to solve the problems for the future. The declining birthrates in Europe have proven to be a crippling blow to their future. Not enough workers, means not enough people to pay into the funds that provide everyone with their welfare benefits. The declining birthrates are a symptom of the spiritual vacuum that has been created by Europe s secular post-modern worldview. With no religion to provide people with meaning beyond this lifetime, there is no incentive to produce for and invest in the future. The U.S. must maintain its harsh
Everly 10 capitalism and must continue to encourage religious and social growth among its people or it could suffer the same problems, and eventually the same fate, as Europe is facing today.
Everly 11 Works Cited Bawer, Bruce. While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West From WIthin. New York: Broadway, 2006. Print. Erlanger, Steven. "Europeans Fear Crisis Threatens Liberal Benefits." New York Times. New York Times, 22 May 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/world/europe/23europe.html?_r=1&pagew anted=print>. Hill, Steven. Europe's Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age. Berkeley: University of California, 2010. Print. Knox, Noelle. "Religion Takes A Back Seat In Western Europe." USA Today: World. USA Today, 10 Aug. 2005. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-08-10-europe-religioncover_x.htm>. Steyn, Mark. "It's The Demography Stupid." The New Criterion (January 2006): 10-19. Print.
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