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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Death of Europe

Bicultural Europe is doomed
by Mark Steyn

15 November, 2005

Three years ago -December 2002 - I was asked to take part in a symposium on Europe and began with the observation: "I find it easier to be optimistic about the futures of Iraq and Pakistan than, say, Holland or Denmark."

At the time, this was taken as confirmation of my descent into insanity. I can't see why. Compare, for example, the Iraqi and the European constitutions: which would you say reflected a shrewder grasp of the realities on the ground?

Or take last week's attacks in Jordan by a quartet of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's finest suicide bombers. The day after the carnage, Jordanians took to the streets in their thousands to shout "Death to Zarqawi!" and "Burn in hell, Zarqawi!" King Abdullah denounced terrorism as "sick" and called for a "global fight" against it. "These people are insane," he said of the husband-and-wife couple dispatched to blow up a wedding reception.

For purposes of comparison, consider the Madrid bombing from March last year. The day after that, Spaniards also took to the streets, for their feebly tasteful vigil. Instead of righteous anger, they were "united in sorrow" - i.e. enervated in passivity. Instead of wishing death on the perpetrators, the preferred slogan was "Basta!" - "Enough!" - which was directed less at the killers than at Aznar and Bush. Instead of a leader who calls for a "global fight", they elected a government pledged to withdraw from any meaningful role in the global fight.

My point in that symposium was a simple one: whatever their problems, most Islamic countries have the advantage of beginning any evolution into free states from the starting point of relative societal cohesion. By contrast, most European nations face the trickier task of trying to hold on to their freedom at a time of increasing societal incoherence.

True, America and Australia grew the institutions of their democracy with relatively homogeneous populations, and then evolved into successful "multicultural" societies. But that's not what's happening in Europe right now. If you want to know what a multicultural society looks like, read the names of America's dead on September 11: Arestegui, Bolourchi, Carstanjen, Droz, Elseth, Foti, Gronlund, Hannafin, Iskyan, Kuge, Laychak, Mojica, Nguyen, Ong, Pappalardo, Quigley, Retic, Shuyin, Tarrou, Vamsikrishna, Warchola, Yuguang, Zarba. Black, white, Hispanic, Arab, Indian, Chinese - in a word, American.

Whether or not one believes in "celebrating diversity", that's a lot of diversity to celebrate. But the Continent isn't multicultural so much as bicultural. There are ageing native populations, and young Muslim populations, and that's it: "two solitudes", as they say in my beloved Quebec. If there's three, four or more cultures, you can all hold hands and sing We are the World. But if there's just two - you and the other - that's generally more fractious. Bicultural societies are among the least stable in the world, especially once it's no longer quite clear who is the majority and who is the minority - a situation that much of Europe is fast approaching, as you can see by visiting any French, Austrian, Belgian or Dutch maternity ward.

Take Fiji - not a comparison France would be flattered by, though until 1987 the Fijians enjoyed a century of peaceful stable constitutional evolution the French were never able to muster. At any rate, Fiji comprises native Fijians and ethnic Indians brought in as indentured workers by the British. If memory serves, 46.2 per cent are Fijians and 48.6 per cent are Indo-Fijians; 50-50, give or take, with no intermarrying. In 1987, the first Indian-majority government came to power. A month later, Col Sitiveni Rabuka staged the first of his two coups, resulting in the Queen's removal as head of state and Fiji being expelled from the Commonwealth.

Is it that difficult to sketch a similar situation for France? Even in relatively peaceful bicultural societies, politics becomes tribal: loyalists vs nationalists in Northern Ireland, separatists vs federalists in Quebec. Picture a French election circa 2020, 2025: the Islamic Republican Coalition wins the most seats in the National Assembly. The Chiraquiste crowd give a fatalistic shrug and Mr de Villepin starts including crowd-pleasing suras from the Koran at his poetry recitals. But would Mr Le Pen or (by then) his daughter take it so well? Or would the temptation to be France's Col Rabuka prove too much?

And the Fijian scenario - a succession of bloodless coups - is the optimistic one. After all, the differences between Fijian natives and Indians are as nothing compared with those between the French and les beurs. I love the way those naysayers predicting doom and gloom in Baghdad scoff that Iraq's a totally artificial entity and that, without some Saddamite strongman, Kurds, Sunnis and Shias can't co-exist in the same state. Oh, really? If Iraq's an entirely artificial entity, what do you call a state split between gay drugged-up red-light whatever's-your-bag Dutchmen and anti-gay anti-whoring anti-everything-you-dig Muslims? If Kurdistan doesn't belong in Iraq, does Pornostan belong in the Islamic Republic of Holland?

In a democratic age, you can't buck demography - except through civil war. The Yugoslavs figured that out. In the 30 years before the meltdown, Bosnian Serbs had declined from 43 per cent to 31 per cent of the population, while Bosnian Muslims had increased from 26 per cent to 44 per cent.

So Europe's present biculturalism makes disaster a certainty. One way to avoid it would be to go genuinely multicultural, to broaden the Continent's sources of immigration beyond the Muslim world. But a talented ambitious Chinese or Indian or Chilean has zero reason to emigrate to France, unless he is consumed by a perverse fantasy of living in a segregated society that artificially constrains his economic opportunities yet imposes confiscatory taxation on him in order to support an ancien regime of indolent geriatrics.

France faces tough choices and, unlike Baghdad, in Paris you can't even talk about them honestly. As Jean-Claude Dassier, director-general of the French news station LCI, told a broadcasters' conference in Amsterdam, he has been playing down the riots on the following grounds: "Politics in France is heading to the Right and I don't want Right-wing politicians back in second or even first place because we showed burning cars on television."

Oh, well. You can understand why the Quai d'Orsay is relaxed about Iran becoming the second Muslim nuclear power. As things stand, France is on course to be the third. You heard it here first. You probably won't hear it on Mr Dassier's station at all.


By the way, is a British publication, and Mark Steyn isn't American--he's Canadian.

Mark Noonan's comments on Steyn's opinion piece, while inexcusably politically incorrect (I was never a fan of the PC-Nazi crowd anyways. I believe in calling a spade a spade.) is right on the money:

We could call the Europeans spineless, but that would be an insult ot invertebrates. I can only put it down to too many of the best and bravest having been killed in two world wars (it stands to reason that most of the 30 million odd dead were those who were willing to fight for a cause) coupled with decades of multiculturalist socialism. God almighty, have mercy on the Europeans and give them some courage to fight for survival.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking at France's issue from the world stage we should be worried. Everybody should be worried. India and China will be number #1 and #2 economic powers and perhaps even military powers in the world within the next 30-40 years, and in that order too.

India is a "sleeping giant" as the US was and was called 60 years ago. And China will the biggest very soon.

This will be the world unless Europe irons out their EU problems. The US will be going back to sleep soon and as a hated giant too. The sleeping king's scepter will be at risk because China is...well, China. Their commitment to liberty and human thought has been paltry. After 6000 years of civilization they still don't understand civil. Western civilization got it from the get go and have spent the past 3000 years trying to figure it out and expand it.

The Indians get it now, but it is a country where 10% of the population is Muslim. That equals 100 million people. Many of them are fundamentalist. Remember the only difference between India and Pakistan or Bangladesh is a border, except the latter two have Muslim majorities. Imagine the trickle-down benefits of their new economy over the next half-century. If Muslims fundamentalists are united among all fronts now, also imagine how many Bin Ladens may come from that population when it is culturally ingrained and benefitting from big banking, big realestate development, big retailers, big technology, big medicine, and every other big business.

Europe is going to have to politically and economically help counter this might. If the other half of the world has learned to hate western powers in the past 300 years, but didn't have the power to do anything about it, then imagine how much we will hate them when they do? And what reasons will they be able to provide for us to hate them? Perhaps the use of a nuclear weapon will give us that reason. Russia merely made a suggestion 43 years ago.

France is a mild microcosm of the possibilities.

That is bleak. Perhaps instead we'll all shake hands in the boardroom then head out to the local greens for tee time and beer. Awesome!

6:41 PM  

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