Ten years ago this coming weekend - October 16th 2006 - my book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It hit the bookstores and shortly thereafter the bestseller lists. This paragraph from early in the Prologue lays out the thesis:
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 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 known as Hagia Sophia, or 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.
That's just for starters. And, unlike the ecochondriacs' obsession with rising sea levels, this isn't something that might possibly conceivably hypothetically threaten the Maldive Islands circa the year 2500; the process is already well advanced as we speak. With respect to Francis Fukuyama, it's not the end of history, it's the end of the world - as we know it.
The clever chaps at The Economist called it "alarmist", as did Tarek Fatah in my own magazine, Maclean's. The Economist is as complacently globalist as ever, but Mr Fatah has since somewhat revised his view:
Steyn was right and I was wrong.
He's, er, not wrong about that. America Alone did not get everything right. But, if you'd read it more attentively than The Economist did, Europe's 2016 summer of terror would not have surprised you. Many influential persons did, in fact, read the book, including President George W Bush, Democrat vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar, British Brexiteer Michael Gove, etc. But evidently Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel and many others did not - and so here we are, a decade later. All this week we'll be marking the tenth anniversary by running a few excerpts from the book. Let's start today with some more from that Prologue:
It's the end of the world - as we know it. Does that make me sound as nuts as Al Gore and the rest of the eco-doom set? It's true the end of the world's nighness isn't something you'd want to set your watch by.
Indeed. After running through some of the more apocalyptic predictions of Sixties and Seventies environmentalists, I concede:
None of these things occurred. Contrary to the doom-mongers, millions didn't starve and the oil and gas and gold didn't run out, and, though the NHL now has hockey franchises in Anaheim and Tampa Bay, ambitious kids are still unable to spend their winters knocking a puck around the frozen Everglades. But that doesn't mean nothing much went on during the last third of the 20th century. Here's what did happen between 1970 and 2000:
In that period, the developed world declined from just under 30 per cent of the global population to just over 20 per cent, and the Muslim nations increased from about 15 per cent to 20 per cent.
Is that fact less significant to the future of the world than the fate of some tree or the endangered sloth hanging from it? In 1970, very few non-Muslims outside the Indian sub-continent gave much thought to Islam. Even the Palestinian situation was seen within the framework of a more or less conventional ethnic nationalist problem. Yet today it's Islam-a-go-go: almost every geopolitical crisis takes place on what Samuel Huntington, in The Clash Of Civilizations, calls "the boundary looping across Eurasia and Africa that separates Muslims from non-Muslims." That looping boundary is never not in the news. One week, it's a bomb in Bali. The next, some beheadings in southern Thailand. Next, an insurrection in an obscure resource-rich Muslim republic in the Russian Federation. And then Madrid, and London, and suddenly that looping, loopy boundary has penetrated into the very heart of the west. In little more than a generation.
1970 doesn't seem that long ago. If you're in your fifties or sixties, as 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 lay-out of your car, the shape of your kitchen appliances, the brand names of the stuff in the fridge – isn't significantly different. And yet that world is utterly altered. Just to recap those bald statistics: In 1970, the developed nations had twice as big a share of the global population as the Muslim world: 30 per cent to 15 per cent. By 2000, they were at parity: each had about 20 per cent.
And by 2020...?
Well, by 2020, it will be impossible to compare statistics between "the Muslim world" and the west - because Islam is currently responsible for most population growth in English, French and German cities, and the principal supplier of immigrants to Canada, and already 25 per cent of the population of the European Union's capital city, Brussels. Ten years ago, my line about mediation between Islam and the "host community" being the "principal political dynamic" in western Europe also struck many as "alarmist", but after this last summer in Germany and France and Sweden it's inarguable:
September 11th 2001 was not "the day everything changed", but the day that revealed how much had already changed. On September 10th, how many journalists had the Council of American-Islamic Relations or the Canadian Islamic Congress or the Muslim Council of Britain in their rolodexes? If you'd said that whether something does or does not cause offence to Muslims would be the early 21st century's principal political dynamic in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, most folks would have thought you were crazy. Yet on that Tuesday morning the top of the iceberg bobbed up and toppled the Twin Towers.
This book is about the seven-eighths below the surface – the larger forces at play in the developed world that have left Europe too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia and call into question the future of much of the rest of the world. The key factors are:
i) Demographic decline;
ii) The unsustainability of the social democratic state;
iii) Civilizational exhaustion.
Let's start with demography, because everything does.
Just so. My argument was straightforward. The western world is going out of business because it's given up having babies. The 20th century welfare state, with its hitherto unknown concepts such as spending a third of your adult lifetime in "retirement", is premised on the basis that there will be enough new citizens to support the old. But there won't be - so Europe decided to import the babies it couldn't be bothered having itself. Ten years ago, one of the first interviews I did was with Paul Gigot, editor of The Wall Street Journal, on his TV show "The Journal Editorial Report":
STEYN: Seventeen European countries have what demographers call lowest-low fertility, from which no society has ever recovered. That means they are basically not having enough babies.
And the way Europe is set up, they have these unsustainable social programs and welfare. And they imported the babies that they didn't have. They imported them essentially from the North Africa and the Middle East.
So we're seeing one of the fastest population transformations in history, whereby an aging ethnic European population is being replaced by a Muslim population. And the Muslims understand that, in fact, Europe, as they see it, is the colony now.
GIGOT: Is there any way that Europe can avoid being Islamacized in this way?
STEYN: Well, I think, to be honest, some of the Eastern European nations didn't throw off communism in order simply to throw their lot in with the doomed French and Belgians and Dutch 15 years later. And I think Poland and Hungary and so forth, will be determined not to go down the same path that the West Europeans have.
That observation has been borne by the different reactions to the "refugee" "crisis" by, say, Germany and Sweden on the one hand and Poland and Hungary on the other.
GIGOT: Is the problem only demographics or is it somehow broader, a kind of lack of intellectual confidence, cultural confidence... I remember during the Cold War, there was a strain of pessimism about whether the West would prevail in that conflict. James Burnham, the great strategist, wrote about the suicide of the West.
And some people, as late as the late 1980s, were still saying we're going to lose the Cold War. Yet we won that because the West had a great — demonstrated a lot of resilience, democratic resilience.
Why is this conflict, in your view, different?
STEYN: Well, I think we understood then, anyone who meet Czechs or Hungarians or Poles or any of these people on the other side of the Iran Curtain during the Cold War, understood that they actually had no dog in the fight. They weren't interested. They weren't interested in conquering the world.
And I think it is different now. I think the average Muslim does, in some basic sense, when he immigrates to the Netherlands, when he immigrates to the United Kingdom, when he immigrates to Canada or Michigan, wants eventually to live in a Muslim society in those places. And he expects effectively — I am not saying he wants to fly planes into buildings or any of that nonsense — but his expectation is that the host society will assimilate with him rather than the other way around.
And that's a profound challenge in a way that communism wasn't.
When America Alone came out all those years ago, another early interview was by the indefatigable Michelle Malkin for her then new Hot Air website. It stands up pretty well a decade later. Click below for Part One:
As you can see from the above video, time has beaten the hell out of me this last decade, although not Michelle - and not my thesis. This is the biggest story of our time, and, ten years on, the west's leaders still can't talk about it, not to their own peoples, not honestly. And they're increasingly disinclined (as Angela Merkel fumed to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg) to let you talk about it. Yet, for all the "human rights" complaints, and death threats from halfwits, and subtler rejections from old friends who feel I'm no longer quite respectable, I'm glad I brought up the subject. And it's well past time for others to speak out.
If you haven't read America Alone during its first ten years, well, you're missing a treat. It's still in print in hardback and paperback, and personally autographed copies are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore.