Mark Steyn’s wake-up call on the imminent disappearance of the West, published in The New Criterion a couple of weeks ago, makes it today to the Wall Street Journal. Warning: It’s not for the faint of heart. Mark’s message is that a civilization that loses confidence in itself and that prefers self-gratification to the all-important task of raising a future generation is headed for extinction–and fast. Here’s an excerpt:
“Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries. There’ll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands–probably–just as in Istanbul there’s still a building called St. Sophia’s Cathedral. But it’s not a cathedral; it’s merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West.”
“…While Islamism is the enemy, it’s not what this thing’s about. Radical Islam is an opportunistic infection, like AIDS: It’s not the HIV that kills you, it’s the pneumonia you get when your body’s too weak to fight it off. When the jihadists engage with the U.S. military, they lose–as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. If this were like World War I with those fellows in one trench and us in ours facing them over some boggy piece of terrain, it would be over very quickly. Which the smarter Islamists have figured out. They know they can never win on the battlefield, but they figure there’s an excellent chance they can drag things out until Western civilization collapses in on itself and Islam inherits by default.
“That’s what the war’s about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: “Civilizations die from suicide, not murder”–as can be seen throughout much of ‘the Western world’ right now. The progressive agenda–lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism–is collectively the real suicide bomb. Take multiculturalism. The great thing about multiculturalism is that it doesn’t involve knowing anything about other cultures–the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It’s fundamentally a fraud, and I would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don’t want to live in anything but an advanced Western society. Multiculturalism means your kid has to learn some wretched native dirge for the school holiday concert instead of getting to sing ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ or that your holistic masseuse uses techniques developed from Native American spirituality, but not that you or anyone you care about should have to live in an African or Native American society. It’s a quintessential piece of progressive humbug….
“The latter half of the decline and fall of great civilizations follows a familiar pattern: affluence, softness, decadence, extinction. You don’t notice yourself slipping through those stages because usually there’s a seductive pol on hand to provide the age with a sly, self-deluding slogan–like Bill Clinton’s ‘It’s about the future of all our children.’ We on the right spent the 1990s gleefully mocking Mr. Clinton’s tedious invocation, drizzled like syrup over everything from the Kosovo war to highway appropriations. But most of the rest of the West can’t even steal his lame bromides: A society that has no children has no future.”
As Mark points out, only two things at this 11th hour can save the West: a revival of religious faith and a renewed and self-sacrificing commitment to family life. That’s not an easy prescription.
And speaking of both faith and family, the families of those West Virginia miners whose hopes in the survival of their loved ones were cruelly raised and then let down by our self-congratulatory media, need all the spiritual help we can give them. Please think of them and their plight today.