Today I present yet another reading into the thought of a staunch Western intellectual. Reading Western thought carries special significance that goes beyond writings or analyses by outside critics. It belies the western values, ethics and principles long preached to us, confirming our disillusionment with the West.
I review today ideas included in the 2001 book “The Death of the West” by columnist, intellectual, and politician Patrick Joseph Buchanan, a pillar among American intellectuals. The book addresses the facts about European and American communities.
Pat Buchanan was born in 1938, and served as special consultant to US Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerarld Ford and Ronald Regan. He is an illustrious columnist, and has launched three major TV shows with NBC and CNN. He has to his name many books, including Day of Reckoning, State of Emergency, Where the Right went Wrong, The Great Betrayal, and the two bestsellers: A Republic not An Empire, and Right from the Beginning.
I believe everyone should read Buchanan’s The Death of the West which predicts the looming, dual demise of the West, comprised by ethical death brought by the downfall of traditional education, and family and ethical values; also demographic biological death resulting from the steady decline in population growth, which inevitably leads to natural death.
Official records, Buchanan writes, indicate western populations in decline as birth rates drop and numbers of elderly rise. The only way to invigorate a young work force, he writes, is to bring in increasing numbers of immigrants, or to increase the birth rate through a counter civilisational revolution that would restore religious and moral values.
The author warns that the looming death is horrifying because it is a self-inflicted, incurable, deadly ill not created by any outside factors; it is more lethal than the Black Death that devoured a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century. This new death kills only the young, turning the West, and especially Europe, into a continent of elderly persons.
Buchanan asserts that his outlook springs not out of speculation, expectations or possibilities, but from a reality revealed by shocking figures. Recent statistics, he says, indicate that the fertility rate in Europe has dropped to one child per woman, whereas a minimum of two children per woman is needed to compensate for deaths, let alone to increase the number of the population. The current fertility rate, he writes, means that Europe’s population of 728 million in 2000 will shrink to 207 million by the end of the 21st century. Yet, he warns, while Europe is dying of low birth rates, the Third World in India, China, Latin America and the Islamic World is witnessing an unprecedented population boom of 80 million births per year. By 2050, their number will reach 4 billion; the nightmare of the West would materialise and Europe would simply belong to them, he writes.
Buchanan lists figures which he describes as frightful. Germany’s population stands to drop from 82 million to 59 million, with over-65s making up more than a third of the population. Italy’s population would drop from 57 million to 41 million, the elderly making some 40 per cent of them. Spain’s population would drop by 25 per cent, and Russia’s human force would fall from 147 million to 114 million. In Japan, birth rates would drop by 50 per cent compared to 1950, and the population would fall from 127 million to 104 million.
The author asks: why have Europeans refrained from having children, recklessly succumbing to their fate of population shrinkage and ultimate disappearance? The answer lies in the new culture that has overtaken the West, bringing on its heels moral death that yields biological death. That new culture has destroyed the basic value of the family, the nuclear cell of the community. Religious norms which had upheld the family declined. These norms had constituted an impenetrable barrier against the catastrophic fads of contraception, abortion and extramarital sexual relations, let alone same sex relations.
Again, Buchanan gives the statistics that support his views:
The number of abortions in the US went up from 6000 cases in 1966 to 600,000 cases in 1976 following legalisation of abortion as a woman’s constitutional right. In 1986, abortion reached 1.5 million cases.
The rate of children born outside marriage stands at 25 per cent of all American children, one third of whom live in homes where one parent is absent.
The proportion of suicidal American adolescents is three times more than in 1960.
Drug addicts, to say nothing of abusers, in the US stand at 6 million.
Statistics show a huge decline in the numbers of American young men and women who wish to get married. This should come as no surprise in a society that endorses full sexual freedom, and allows extramarital sexual relations without any legitimate or legal binding, only with the consent of both parties. And why not? The man fears a wife would take over half his wealth in case of divorce, and the woman accepts to live with a man without marriage.
Homosexuality is yet another unprecedentedly fullfledged story, with same-sex marriage laws in place.
According to Mr Buchanan, these statistics reveal a decadent society and dying civilisation. Such a nation cannot be free, he writes; there can be no freedom without virtue, and no virtue without faith. Religion and faith are not superfluous, he insists, they are basic for the preservation of human life, the creation so honoured by the Creator.
This is “The Death of the West”. Should the East heed the lesson?
2 September 2022