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Has Mark Steyn got the wrong end of the demographic stick?

Mark Steyn is one of those writers on the “right” who, I suspect, are admired by the sort of folk who read this blog. He is very funny: some of his takedowns on movies and politics have got me laughing out loud. (P.J. O’Rourke remains the Emperor and tends to be less pessimistic and is more libertarian). I mostly supported Steyn’s take on the case for overthrowing Saddam – although I get the impression that he has gone rather quiet due to the mess of the subsequent Coalition occupation of that tortured country. More recently, Steyn has pushed the following thesis: Europe is headed for an Islamist takeover because Those People are, to use the late Orianna Fallaci’s charming expression, “breeding like rats”, and that in 20 years’ time, they’ll be beheading criminals in Birmingham, forcing women to cover up on the Cote’ D’Azur, and they’ll be no more boozing in the Munich Oktoberfest. We are, as Private Frazer would say in Dad’s Army, the old British sitcom, all doomed. No wonder a certain kind of American who tends to despise those “commie Europeans”, is lapping it up.

Steyn bases his thesis on demography. It is both the core but also the main weakness of his book. The problem I have with all such predictions is that the variables have a nasty habit of changing. Even a small change in the birth rate can have a huge impact on the subsequent growth rate of a population set. It is a bit like the law of compound interest. Even a small increase in cost of borrowing money or the yield on a stock can, over 10 years, make a big difference to a mutual fund or the size of your mortgage. Population growth statistics and predictions are like that. Remember the doomongering population scientist Paul Ehrlich? He bet that, by around now, the world’s population would have expanded so fast that we would be starving to death. As the late Julian L. Simon pointed out at the time, Ehrlich’s prediction was hooey. Erhlich overlooked a rather universal trait: as people get richer and no longer have to rely on big families to support parents in their dotage, birth rates fall. It seems to happen pretty much everywhere, including in those countries with very different religious and cultural traditions.

This makes me wonder a bit about whether Steyn is over-egging the point. Demographics is clearly a vital issue, not least in explaining why European growth rates might remain sluggish in the decades ahead. But I cannot help but wonder that Steyn is making the sort of bold extrapolations on population that he would be the first to mock if it was, say, the latest prediction about global warming. Conservatives like Steyn are usually skeptics about Big Predictions, so it seems a bit odd that he has taken up the demographic prediction game with such enthusiasm.

I do not think Steyn is a racist, although in a rather overheated review of his latest book, Johann Hari comes close to making that charge, although even Hari admits that Steyn makes some important points about the follies of multiculturalism and agrees that there is a serious problem with Islamic fundamentalism. But I think Hari does make the important point of questioning whether Steyn has let his own pessimism get the better of him.

60 comments to Has Mark Steyn got the wrong end of the demographic stick?

  • Millie Woods

    In my opinion the wrong end of the stick view is the belief that one needs an ever-increasing population to support economic growth. Surely the recent development of China’s and India’s economies illustrates that this is quite wrong.
    Immigration is a positive when the immigrant population is productive. When as is the case in Europe with much of the immigration from Islamic sources it ends up as the importation of welfare cases, it is counter productive.
    Furthermore, I have noticed in my very unscientific survey of the young families around me that the preference seems to be for a minimum of three children not two as it was in my day. So I think Mark Steyn is worrying needlessly about demographic Armageddon.

  • Balfegor

    Erhlich overlooked a rather universal trait: as people get richer and no longer have to rely on big families to support parents in their dotage, birth rates fall.

    This is actually the problem faced in Japan and Korea, where you have one grandchild and his/her spouse supporting potentially four parents and eight grandparents and the odd great-grandparent. And yet birth rates have not risen appreciably (at least in the last 10 years). The impression I get is that large numbers of young people — both men and women — want to marry, but just can’t find a way to do so. The government, at least in Japan, has been trying for years to think up ways to reverse this trend, but their efforts so far seem to have failed.

    In my opinion the wrong end of the stick view is the belief that one needs an ever-increasing population to support economic growth. Surely the recent development of China’s and India’s economies illustrates that this is quite wrong.

    I’m not sure they demonstrate that. In general, I think the reason that you might be able to sustain economic growth without increasing population would be that you can get increasing returns on labour by investing in capital goods, like robots (this is what Korea and Japan are doing, after all).

    In the case of India and China, what seems to be happening is that an increasing proportion of their vast populations is being moved from low-productivity activities (like farming) into higher-productivity manufacturing and services activities.

  • John J. Coupal

    Britons seem to be missing Steyn’s main point. The egalitarian desire to let all who want to enter, enter, is fine if the enterers accept multiculturism.

    However, the Muslims entering Britain want to have your culture and their culture. Separate cultures, and definitely not equal. Their culture is by far, superior. According to them. Egalitarianism isn’t in the Muslim playbook.

    The declining domestic birth rates show no logical reason to increase. Muslim birth rates have every logical reason to remain high. After all, the passive-aggressive invasion of Britain by Arabia is proceeding apace.

  • Jack Olson

    The European Commission’s 2006 report on the European Social Model predicts that by 2030 expenses to care for old people will rise by about two percent of GDP in the largest European economies, Germany, France, the UK and Italy. Longer extrapolations are of course less reliable, but the same report forecasts that transfers to the old will rise by another two percent of GDP in these countries by 2050.

    It makes sense that countries with larger proportions of old people in their population will spend more of their national income to care for them. That’s especially true in republics where old people are the most dependable voters. Many more of the old will be childless and hence more dependent on the state for care.

    But, if the largest economies in Europe will be spending more of their income to care for old people, what will they be spending less on? The rise in transfers to the old will exceed what most of them already spend on defense so even reducing military spending to zero wouldn’t cover the projected rise in transfers. Lower capital spending must eventually mean lower economic growth. If the EU economy grows much faster than expected that could solve the problem but the EU economies have already fallen behind the goals set in Lisbon a few years ago.

    The only solution I can think of is a much higher retirement age. That will be a bitter pill for today’s workers, who are already taxed heavily to pay for the previous generation’s retirement. Are they now to work until age 70 after having paid for the previous generation to leave work at 55?

  • Paul Marks

    Mark Steyn did not “go quiet” – he got forced out of British newspapers.

    He has written a lot stuff (in American newspapers and on line) about the mistakes made in Iraq – and he wrote about as the mistakes were made (not just afterwards). Basically he wanted a “strong horse” line (to quote from Bin Laden) and the Bush Administration tried a “weak horse” line – a policy of being “sensitive” which meant, in the end, that the American military has had to use a lot more force than it would have done had it been allowed to be strong from the start.

    For example, Steyn visited many of the dangerious parts of Iraq before they became dangerious (at least he says he was not in danger) – the locals (according to him) were waiting to see if the Americans were people to be feared (and therefore did not touch him), but when they decided that they were not people to be feared…….. In my early years I knew someone who had served in Iraq (between the World Wars and during World War II) and it was also his opinion that the locals (whilst a large minority of them were sadistic, in that they took great pleasure in mutilating and killing other people – mostly other locals, and not to be trusted) did not tend to be fanatically brave (although a few were) – if they feared someone most would not try anything.

    Actually Steyn is a libertarian in many ways – sometimes he seems as angry at the idea of the ban on cheese made from unpasteurized milk as he is about the danger of Islamic take over. And (of course) he opposes the growing Welfare State programs (although he is not above claiming, at times, that things like Social Security and Medicare might be sustainable if people had more babies – he knows most people favour these programs so, at times, he tries to make use of that).

    He is also rather in love with European culture (for example French films where people discuss their relationships – the sort of stuff that sends me to sleep). He is also concerned with high quality food and wine (things, that due to my social background, I do not understand).

    But he is a social conservative. Not in a censorship way – but in the sense that he supports, traditional culture, the family, religion (and so on).

    People make a mistake with the name “Steyn”, it is not Jewish in the case of Mark Steyn (although, of course, many Jews are social conservatives – to judge Jews on the basis of Hollywood Jews is a mistake), it is Flemish.

    Many of the Flemish people are social conservatives, and it is not just a question of Mark Steyn having a Flemish name – he spent his childhood summers in a small town in Flanders (a town that is now falling to the Muslims and where some Flemish people have been killed by them).

    The Flemish are denounced (by their enemies) for being “pro Nazi” (as so many of them hated the governent of Belgium), but they had a better record than almost anyone else of hiding Jews during World War II

    At the risk of a “cultural sterotype” the Flemish (what the English used to call “the Flemings”) are a stubborn people – quick to take the unfashionable point of view, and the best way of (for example) to make them say a certain word is to tell them that they may not say it.

    The Flemish know a lot about nonracial demographic conflict. They have been in conflict with the French speakers (racially no different from them) for centuries.

    Normally the French speakers controlled the government (and most other things) in what is now Belgium in – so dislike of the “the power of the elite” is not something he just gets from being a conservative in Canada or the United States – it is something his family would have hated long before they set foot in North America (hatred of the elite did not mean hatred of high culture – if anything the Flemish loved it more than the people who, in their eyes, controlled everything).

    Although, of course, knowing Quebec over a period where the French speakers have been hitting the English speakers with various laws and, thereby, pushing them out (and yet Steyn clearly still loves aspects of Quebec French culture), only to face the threat of new ethnic groups themselves, would not lead to Mark Steyn being any less senstitive to ethnic conflict. Nor would knowing the absurd modern Toronto (in Ontario) where the powers-that-be think they can win over the Muslims with “our excellent social services” and “multiculturalism”.

    When Mark Steyn says he could not care less what skin colour people are, he is concerned about about a cultural struggle, I believe him – one thing the people of Flanders do not tend to be accused of is being liars.

    Steyn’s argument is that libertarianism (or any other political doctrine) can not prosper in a culture that it is violently hostile to it, and if the Muslims are the ones having the babies and they interpret Islam in the way they seem to…….. Basically we must either convert them to our point of view (which is a matter of basic culture – not just politics)- or have lots of babies ourselves (or both).

    I did not support him on the Iraq war. To me it seemed folly to try and expand Western culture overseas when it was collapsing at home.

    Whereas Steyn (for example in his book “America Alone”) wonders why America has not extended its system of “limited and decentralized” government to other nations – as the British spread many of their ideas and practices in the 19th century.

    Yet this is the same Mark Steyn who accepts that the system of “limited and decentralized” government has been collapsing in the United States since at least 1930’s.

    Also I see problems with trying to roll back government at home (which Steyn does support) and war overseas – Steyn denies there is any contradiction (and I am sure, that in his mind, there honestly is no contradiction).

    None of the above should be taken to mean that I would support running away from Iraq and Afghanistan – once such wars have started than have to be won (if they can be).

    But I do not have the Mark Steyn attitude that even if the West is in trouble (indeed because it is in trouble) we should march out for one last glorious moring (even if by evening the ground is saturated with our own blood) – basically convert the rival culture to our point of view (on basic matters) or die trying. Although Steyn would reply that the Emperor Honorious did not save the Roman world by his approach of sitting in Ravenna feeding his chickens.

    I suppose Mark Steyn would denounce me as a do nothing depressive – and he may be right.

  • Bill

    Im afraid Steyn is right on the Iraqis and wanting someone to come in and actually fight and show strength. Once we went “nice” they saw through it immediately.

    An old war horse told me he didnt see us “in the fight”. He said as long as there was one B-52 sitting idle on the runway, we were not in it to win. Until a complete pack of
    “the Dogs of War” were unleashed then the cause would be lost.

    Plus the demographics thing is looking very ominous…its looking like the buttons you see around with “Enoch was Right” have been born out.

    I dont see the West having a will to fight for their lives any longer. The Left have completely de-nutted most of the West with their usual multi-culti nonsense and pathos of appeasement failure.

  • Michiganny

    North America and Europe have very divergent demographic patterns. To lump those patterns together and then predict catastrophe in the West is not persuasive.

    Also, once there are no longer enough white votes for the race industry in the UK, it will fade, just as it has here in the States. It is a matter of time for a majority that is tired of it to build. Once that gets represented in a Parliamentary majority, it will be lights out. And that will happen long before anybody loses his head in Birmingham.

    I also think we play to cultural stereotypes when we think Muslims will win out because they are strong and “infidels” are weak. You can argue with me, but you cannot with Housman:

    …We pledge in peace by farm and town
    The Queen they served in war,
    And fire the beacons up and down
    The land they perished for.
    “God save the queen” we living sing,
    From height to height ’tis heard;
    And with the rest your voices ring,
    Lads of the Fifty-third.
    Oh, God will save her, fear you not:
    Be you the men you’ve been,
    Get you the sons your fathers got,
    And God will save the Queen.

  • John

    Johann Hari = Ellsworth Toohey.


  • Jonathan,

    Good point, well made. But could there nevertheless be something in Steyn’s argument if Islamo-communist culture tends to prevent its members increasing in prosperity?

  • Freeman

    Jack Olsen is concerned about the cost of looking after the aged by 2030. Maybe it will not be such a problem, regardless of some adverse demographics.

    At a cumulative growth rate of 3% p.a. the GDP will approximately double by 2030. So, even if total care costs are (say) 10% of the then GDP, that will still leave 180% of today’s GDP for other expenditure. Looks pretty good to me, or can anyone see a flaw?

  • Has Mark Steyn got the wrong end of the demographic stick?

    Yes. Rates of population growth in many of the countries of origin for Muslim migrants in Europe are now below replacement (e.g. Tunisia – 0.99; Morocco – 1.55; Algeria – 1.22). That is a good reason to think that the rate of population growth for immigrants from those countries will soon stabilise. Steyn’s argument relies on the premiss that these rates will remain high for approx. 50 years to come. That’s just silly; especially since increasing numbers of Muslim women will gain an education, and the quickest way to reduce population growth is to educate women.

    (educating women, as Hari points out, would certainly reduce population growth and probably de-radicalise Islamism. Steyn, tellingly, appears uninterested in supporting the education of Muslim women. )

  • Re Iraq, Steyn has been easily the worst major pundit.

  • Do you not think 3% is a little optimistic for the long-term trend for growth in real GDP? We didn’t manage it in the twentieth century, when cheap, convenient energy was abundant.

    Then again, GDP isn’t the be all and end all. In some ways, GDP per capita is more interesting. And more interesting still is the division of GDP between productive activities and government expenditure. I am not optimistic about the trends of any of these.

    If we had to care for 1.7 million dementia sufferers (as is forecast), not to mention all the other ills of an extended old-age, not only will GDP-growth be further restrained, but 10% might look like a modest share. I’d be more optimistic about the possibility of medical progress significantly reducing the numbers suffering from those illnesses, though, in the absence of other changes, that will further extend our unproductive lives, simply delaying the onset of yet more degenerative diseases.

    I cannot see that there is any escaping the necessity for many people to work well beyond their 65th year, and not just to their 68th year (or 60th in the case of many public servants) as the Government hopes blindly will be sufficient. That should be good news, not bad. Our attitude to living and working longer shows how lazy many rich Westerners have got.

  • Simon

    Steyn’s argument relies on the premiss that these rates will remain high for approx. 50 years to come

    No it doesn’t. It relies on the premise that the rates of Muslim growth in Europe will simply remain higher than those of the other people there. Which is considerably less silly.

    Steyn, tellingly, appears uninterested in supporting the education of Muslim women.

    He quite clearly states in his book that one of the key ways the west can encourage the reform of Islam is to support women’s rights. I would imagine that the right to an education would be right up there, although possibly slightly below the right to not be killed by your own brothers.

  • Nick M

    Education is the only real solution to muslim women not being killed by their brothers.

  • JB

    Paul Ehrlich made some pretty disastrous predictions about population growth in the 60’s. Steyn may be making the same kinds of mistakes when he makes these predictions based on current demographics and birth rates in Europe.

  • Arty

    I do not think Steyn is a racist, although in a rather overheated review of his latest book, Johann Hari comes close to making that charge

    Why don’t you come out and say it Johnathan, Steyn’s a racist. What kind of man won’t call somebody out on something but points it out that somebody else has?

  • What kind of man won’t call somebody out on something but points it out that somebody else has?

    That would be the kind of man who does not think Steyn is a racist (as witnessed by the remark “I do not think Steyn is a racist”) but also feels it germane to point out that opinions clearly vary.

  • In many cases, we cannot know the future, but we can at least know that it is unknowable.

    There is probably no major country on Earth today whose present demographic characteristics could have been accurately predicted from the demographic trends it was exhibiting 50 years ago. This shows the foolishness of trying to predict the condition of major countries 50 years from now based on the demographic trends of today.

    Today, the EU’s population is 450 million. Of these, 17 million (less than 4%) are Muslim. The highest proportion is in France (5 million Muslims out of 60 million total, or about 8%). Regardless of birth rates, such small minorities cannot become majorities in a couple of decades. It’s biologically impossible.

    Islamic imperialism is a huge threat for other reasons, but Steyn’s “Europe is doomed to Islamization by demographics” thesis is nonsense. Oktoberfest, Morris dances, and the French beaches are safe from Shari’ah for the forseeable future.

  • guy herbert

    Infidel753 is right. Morris dancing alone is a counterexample to most grand theories of social change.

    First, an anecdote that illustrates how the idea of swamping by fast-breeding minorities breaks down in practice: that assimilation, in an open society, is quicker.

    I know a girl from West London of Bangladeshi parentage, whom I have no reason to believe is exceptional. She is not very well educated. Her father is much older than her mother and her mother speaks very little English despite having lived here for 20 years. My friend, weirdly in her standard English accent, refers to Bangladesh as “my country” though she scarcely speaks that language and has been there rarely.

    The scene is set for a Steynian Eurabia theorist to assume that my friend and her younger brother are the Islamists under the bed, brought up in an attavistic culture that they will pass on to their (implicitly many) children. Not in the least. Their parents’ background is scarcely comprehensible to them. When towards the end of last year her mother went on the Haj, I had to explain what it was about and what was involved.

    I daresay that there are quite a lot of children of that other dangerously fast-breeding minority, the Catholics, who are muddled or entirely ignorant about the function of the host. Those in the UK and US who are afraid of the numbers of Catholics don’t care, but no-one is listening to them.

    Even if you assume that belief systems are monolithic and directly inherited (which maybe they can be in a largely segregated state) ‘outbreeding’ doesn’t follow neat curves because people get to change their own lives and accomodate to changing circumstances even within ghettoes. It has been a trope of Loyalist propaganda in Northern Ireland for years that the ‘danger’ is the Catholics will outnumber the Protestants sometime soon. That particular sometime is as elastic as doomsday, despite the Irish Catholic population being pretty numerous to begin with, and segregation remaining severe.

    Which leads to the second point: As indicated by my NI Loyalist example, “THEY are outbreeding US” ought to be the point at which rational people switch off and spit. It is pure tribalism – volkisch rather than racist, since it precedes the vauger and less perniciously adaptible concept of race. It evaluates individual people as threatening merely because they form part of a group defined by inheritance: ‘they” threaten “our” existence by their genetic continuation. “THEY are outbreedng US” is an incitement to massacre and mass-rape.

  • This makes me thankful to be in the United States. If I’m going to be taken over by a foreign culture, I’d certainly rather it be liberal Mexican than conservative Muslim.

    Nick Kasoff
    The Thug Report

  • R C Dean

    Steyn isn’t a racist. Islam isn’t a race.

    Personally, I depise Communists and their Marxist fellow-travellers. Does that make me a racist?

  • jon

    I have to say that even if the demographic prediction comes to pass, the social dynamic is likely to change. Will Muslims in Europe not become more European? I don’t see how some of them cannot. Will they intermarry non-Muslims? I don’t see how some of them cannot. Will there be an increase in tolerance? I don’t see how some of them cannot. The underlying thought behind the pushers of the demographic data is that “us” and “them” are different, which ignores the role of individuals in their societies. What Europe can do to not become an Islamic realm is get away from state solutions to social issues and pursue policies that give individuals greater control over their own lives. The rights of individuals can overcome at-home Islamism and may even be able to work against high taxes and other affronts to liberty. It’s worth a try.

  • Midwesterner

    Regardless of birth rates, such small minorities cannot become majorities in a couple of decades. It’s biologically impossible.

    Infidel 753, you sound like you think Islam is a race. My aunts were living on Borneo from the late ’40s until the ’90s in the up-country jungle among the Dayaks. According to wikipedia:

    Over the last two centuries, some Dayaks were converted to Islam,

    Note the passive role of the Dayaks in the conversion practice. That is not a miss-speak. That article doesn’t express the smallest fraction of the process. It involves every carrot and stick in the book, and an effective use of legal manipulations. Note the distribution of religions on this map. Note that there are no non-muslim areas left in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) except for a very small, up-country Hindu enclave.

    Also, when looking at it, compare the areas marked “Modernist Islam” with the areas marked “Traditional Islam”. My understanding is that the “Modernist Islam” areas were mostly converted since Indonesia gained independence from the Dutch about the time my aunts arrived. At the time they moved to Borneo, to my recollection of their descriptions, there were few if any Muslims away from the coastal areas in Kalimantan. It was a very rapid process and my aunts were there throughout most of it. It accelerated rapidly as it progressed. Also, understand that the Dayaks they lived among were not in the least timid or passive. They are legendary for their violence and determination. But they were no match. Christianity made little influence, Islam conquered.

    You also need to remember that if Turkey enters the EU, that is 72,000,000 more Muslims voter.

    While 20 years may be too short, I wouldn’t wager a lot on it and certainly it will be a very different place by then. In each voting district in which they reach a plurality you can expect a substantial acceleration in the conversion in that district. That district’s demographics will heavily skew the larger district they are a part of. Once people of European ancestry begin to convert in any numbers, the process may go very fast.

  • Jack Olson

    Freeman, if I understand you, you discount the importance of a higher fraction of GDP going to care for old people in the Europe of the future on the ground that economic growth should increase by enough to make this easily affordable. That doesn’t answer my question, though, which was that if the share of national income going to care for old people goes up, the share going to other purposes must come down. Then, what type of spending will shrink, at least relatively, in the future? With a smaller proportion of children in the population, will it be education and child care? Capital investment? Research and development?

    And, what will be the attitude of the taxpayer-voter asked to bear this increasing burden, to pay more of his earnings to a government which spends more of it on somebody else and less of it on him?

  • Freeman

    As an example of changing demographics, consider the Lebanon. Fifty years ago it was a majority Christian country, a Mediterranian playground like the south of France but with a longer season, and it had a thriving American University. But now?

  • P.J. O’Rourke a libertarian?

    Sorry, that’s the best laugh I’ve had all day. I’m more of a libertarian than he is — and I’m a conservative.

    Large government = lousy
    Small government = not optimal, but better than the alternative, which is
    No government = lousy beyond words.

    O’Rourke believes in small government (which, sorry to tell you, is a conservative and not a libertarian position).

    Just because our viewpoints and philosophies occasionally overlap, it does not make us the same.

  • Mustafa K

    If we have a continuum from no government to total state control on the x-axis and plotted the desirability of that quantity of government on the y-axis then where would the the optimal point lie?

    Optimal of course mean “best possible”, not the ideal.

    I mean, it’s gotta be somewhere. Elementary Calculus and all that. And don’t bring in the imaginary axis because I’m not going to discuss complex-analysis at this stage on a Sunday.

  • Scandinavian Dissident

    The whole matter of Islam in Europe is very complicated, but if I may address a few points:

    Since Islam is not a race it is indeed possible for them to recruit by conversion. More to the point a lot of the converts are European women who have married Muslim men. In short they can marry natives, but the result is most often not a mixed couple, but a born Muslim and a convert.

    It may be impossible for Muslims in Europe to grow from 20 to 100 million in 17 years or 20 or 30, if they do it through breeding alone. That is an important reservation, the Muslim population can grow much faster if they are allowed to bring in spouses from abroad, if they can make converts, and if immigration continues or picks up speed.

    For left wing parties it will be tempting to bring in more immigrants who are sure to vote the right way, we’re seeing some of this in Belgium where they brag that “immigrants have saved democracy.”

    The idea that Islam will be watered out in Europe is a nice one, the only problem is that the current generation is more fanatical than the previous one. Indeed the children of the relatively secular first wave have become extremely religious themselves. They can’t maintain it this forever, but do they have to?

    Additionally Johann Hari appears to be a typically religiously illiterate Atheist, when he talks about how the bible also have violent passages, in short drawing a comparison between Islam and Christianity. He also says “superstition is flexible,” but barring claims of truth there’s one big difference between superstition and religion, and that is precisely the inflexible nature of religions.

    A religion, particularly one where a great emphasis is placed on Holy Books, and the opinions of past scholars, cannot change its basic nature. For instance it’s not possible to have Catholicism decree that pre-marital sex is a sacrament, or even acceptable, in short a religion cannot alter its own basic nature.

    It is an undisputed fact that Mohammed was a military leader, that he led raids on caravans, that he conquered large territories. As a result a lot of the Koran deals with warfare and the issues of warfare, a lot of the sayings of Mohammed deals with warfare and the issues thereof.

    The Caliphs that followed Mohammed in the formative centuries of Islam were all conquerors, and Islam expanded massively. It was under such circumstances that the Koran was assembled, and all alternate versions burned. Likewise by sheer necessity a lot of early Islamic tradition deals with war, how to deal with conquered natives, and how to prevent people from leaving Islam.

    What I’ve just said is not some extremist propaganda, it is literally undisputed fact, you can look up the early history of Islam wherever you want and see that the first couple of centuries was a spree of conquest unrivalled before the Mongols.

    The people that treat all religions as being interchangeable do so because deep down they think “Well it’s all hooey anyway, guy in the sky, prophets, come on it’s all the same!” Since they know what it’s all about they never feel any need to investigate further, nor do they feel any need to take the beliefs of the believers seriously. Likewise since they think they are all the same they might honestly view a Southern Baptist as being equally dangerous as an Islamic fanatic.

    Early Christianity, right from the start, had to deal with a world where the government, and the people around them, were pagans that could crush them. As a result Christianity contains as a part of its core message teachings about how Christians can adjust to life in a state that has laws that go entirely contrary to Christian belief. They have such teachings due to sheer necessity, there’d be no Christianity without them.

    A fanatical Christian, a Christian who would gladly die for his beliefs, can live peacefully in a state that sacrifices to pagan gods, that has sacred temple prostitution, that permits and encourages what to him are obscenities. Moreover the Christian can do this and remain a good Christian, as long as he himself abstains from the thing Christianity abhors.

    The Jews have similar rules due to things like the Babylonian exile, they to can live in a state that promotes things they consider obscene, as long as they are excused from participating in them.

    Early Islam lacks this, the only comparative period was the exile in Medina, but even that was merely a prelude to a centuries long period of glorious conquest. Indeed the conquests began in the time of Mohammed himself. Islam has never needed to have lots of rules about living peacefully as a minority.

    This is also undisputed, and you can verify it wherever you please.

    Right now I’m usually told “But I know lots of Muslims, and they are nice well adjusted people.”

    It’s true Muslims are some of the friendliest kindest people you might meet, but I’ve also met many kind and friendly radical socialists, and somehow I feel that circumstances might change if their ideology got to have power.

    If you doubt this ask your radical socialist friends (if you have any) “Do you think that it’d be good if this country turned radical socialist?” The answer will probably be yes.

    Likewise ask your Muslim friends, if you have any, “Do you think this country should be part of the Umma, the Muslim world, and governed according to Muslim law?”

    The second objection is “Well of course they want that, any sincere believer of a proselytizing religion wants it to be the one religion!”

    The problem is that this means that either they think Sharia law would be a good thing, or they are too afraid to say speak out and say something against it. Either way that doesn’t bode well for their will, or ability, to resist the fanatics in their community.

    Think about it for a while, if all you want is a quiet life, and to get along with your community, would you want to pick a fight with a group of fanatics? Or would you just go along with them for the sake of peace?

    In short the only way to truly integrate Muslims would be to secularize them so much that the only difference between Muslims and Christians is that Muslims don’t go to Mosque on Fridays, while Christians don’t go to Church on Sundays. This of course is the nightmare for any true believer, one they will try very hard to prevent.

    (You could of course convert them to a different religion, I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t consider them interchangeable).

    To make the matter even harder you have to deal with the fact that people like to live next to people that are like them. In short you get ghettos, or ethnic neighbourhoods, where everything can be done in the language of the Old Country, and where anyone who doesn’t show up for Friday mosque can be leaned on.

    Then there’s the fact that integration is a two way street, you have to want to integrate, and the people you’re living among have to let you integrate. Many, or not most, European nations are tribal, Nation States, and being part of that Nation is important. A Pakistani or an African will never be considered a regular Joe, or Luigi, even second and third generation will look foreign.

    (You may argue that France for instance has integrated previous minorities, like Poles and Jews, consider this though: In most European countries if a Pole or a Jew lost the accent, dress as a native, and moved like a native he could “pass”.)

    Europe does have a booby price though, if you do work hard, if you value education, well then you can become valued citizens of sorts even if you’re never quite a native. That brings me to my last issue.

    Lack of incentives, what incentive do immigrants have to integrate? In some countries it was “work or starve” as well as “learn the language or get only shit jobs,” which gave you one heck of an incentive to join the workforce and learn to speak the language. In a welfare state it’s “work or go on the dole,” and “learn the language, or we’ll have to send you on a course to do so.

    I remain an optimist though, but I’m deeply worried about Europe, I don’t see a Muslim take over, but I do see serious trouble in the future for a wide variety of reasons.

    P.S. Kim du Toit and other sane atheists, please don’t be offended by my statements about “religiously illiterate” people. I know many atheists can see a difference between apples and oranges, but some have a tendency to make elementary mistakes of the type I mention.

  • Paul Marks

    Some libertarians (“anarcho-capitalists”) believe that the nonaggression principle is best served by no government. But some libertarians (historically the majority) believe that this is inpractical “utopian” – and support government that is restricted to combating aggression, “the minimal state” (the anarch-capitalists claim that it is this that is “utopian” as governments, once they exist, tend to grow in size and scope).

    F.A. Hayek claimed that the minimal state could not be clearly defined (which is mistaken – see above) and said that what he supported “the limited state” could be clearly defined – but never defined it in any clear way (this is much like Hayek’s position on determinism versus agency-free will, where Hayek claims [for example in the “Constitution of Liberty”] that morality is consistent with determinism but not with agency – he had a habit of getting philosophical matters the wrong way round).

    However, it is true that P.J. O”R. has never formally signed on for even the minimal state version of libertarianism (although he has sometimes said “us” when talking of libertarians). So I suppose he might be satisfied with a “small” (or “limited”) state – as long as that meant government was a lot smaller (in size and scope) that it is now. Indeed this is as close to a clear definition of the “small state” as we are likely to get – a government that is much smaller in size and scope than what we have now.

    On Mark Steyn:

    Almost (but not quite) needless to say, it is quite false to claim that he does not support Muslim women getting educated. Indeed his project (unlike Ann Coulter who wants to convert Muslims to Christianity, although Steyn has no objection to that and wishes that leading people in the West had such cultural confidence – rather than, for example, even leading mainstream churchmen being “post Christian”) is to support reformers in Islam – to try and change the culture.

    Steyn also understands that the fertility rate in some Muslim countries has fallen. His argument is that the Muslims are much younger – so the time lag problem means that Muslims will still take over Europe long before any fall in fertility makes a vital difference to the relative numbers.

    I seem to be one of the few people on this thread who has actually read Mark Steyn’s writings. And as the posting was on the book “America Alone” I find this sitution odd.

    The book is not long, and it has been out for almost a year now – so why are people commenting when they have only read reviews, not the book itself?

    I found this in academic life. Academics would often comment about writers, indeed books, when they clearly had not read them.

    I used to test the academics who were in the habit of doing this by asking them for specific references. Perhaps this was one reason that they hated me.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    In my opinion the wrong end of the stick view is the belief that one needs an ever-increasing population to support economic growth.

    Millie, that is a good point. Even so, high population growth tends to correlate with high economic growth, dynamism, inventiveness, etc. I am not which how the cause-effect process goes. A lot depends on why people are not having big families. If they are not having them because their retirement income changes, that is one thing. If birthrates fall because of secularism, or whatever, that may tell us something else about the route that a society is heading on.

    The only solution I can think of is a much higher retirement age. That will be a bitter pill for today’s workers, who are already taxed heavily to pay for the previous generation’s retirement. Are they now to work until age 70 after having paid for the previous generation to leave work at 55?

    Jack, we are headed on that route already. The UK government plans to raise the state retirement age to at least 68 by the next 20 years. Expect 70 to be that age by say, 2040.

    Good point, well made. But could there nevertheless be something in Steyn’s argument if Islamo-communist culture tends to prevent its members increasing in prosperity

    Bruno, thanks. As to your question: maybe. Cultural/religious issues clearly do have a bearing on how enterprising and creative a society is. I am not a fan of the “Protestant Work Ethic” thesis but will admit that there is something in it. Societies that embrace change, uphold trust, straight dealing, respect women, and so forth, tend to prosper. David Landes, in his excellent Weath and Poverty of Nations, argues that the Islamic world suffers economically because of the subservient treatment of women. He argues that one of the features of the Industrial Revolution was the creation of a mass market for work for women in factories and later, offices. This is something that has not yet touched most of the Muslim world.

    Steyn, tellingly, appears uninterested in supporting the education of Muslim women.

    How do you know that? I have read quite a lot of comments by Steyn on this issue.

    Why don’t you come out and say it Johnathan, Steyn’s a racist. What kind of man won’t call somebody out on something but points it out that somebody else has?

    Because I don’t think he is, but clearly Hari has a different view, as Perry pointed out. As you probably know, I am not shy to call people out on issues like race when I think I am justified. See my previous post about Mercer, the MP who’s comments were on the borderline.

    No, I think Steyn is a good egg and, as others have pointed out, Islam is a religion, a set of beliefs, and not a race, which is about qualities over which a person has no control. But I try to avoid making mass generalisations about any religious/non-religious group, and Steyn seems to do so as well, but he does, in this book, make a lot of sweeping statements about population trends, etc.

    One final point. Steyn, and a lot of other writers who bemoan the growth of Muslim populations in the west, tend to be rather shy about what, if anything, can be “done about it”, beyond trying to limit immigration from Muslim lands (I think there is a case for doing this if only to give the assimilation process a chance to kick in). But they rarely say anything else. The “solutions” they may have tend to be unsaid, perhaps because the “solutions” might appal. Does Steyn, for instance, favour banning Muslim weddings, forcing women to have no more than one kid, deporting millions of Muslims from this country even if they have passports?
    The answer to all these questions would be no. But I think that these folks need to be a bit braver and say what, if anything, can be done, assuming their diagnosis is correct.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Mark Steyn did not “go quiet” – he got forced out of British newspapers.

    I know. His departure from the Telegraph – he was a chum of its then-owner, Conrad Black – was a loss.

    I have read some of his web-based material and he has not written as much about the Iraq situation, as far as I can tell, as say, 2 years ago.

  • guy herbert


    Infidel 753, you sound like you think Islam is a race.

    I don’t think he does. (Not sure when my delayed comment appeared.) He is suggesting, as I am, that the apostles of demographic destruction of the West do treat it as such. Once you start talking about the comparative demography of human groups other than as a matter of descriptive sociology, let alone as if they were distinct species, then I suggest you are well down the tribal path.

  • Large government = lousy
    Small government = not optimal, but better than the alternative, which is
    No government = lousy beyond words.

    And that is pretty much my position as well. Although some anarchists are libertarians, not all libertarians are anarchists. A government about 20-25% the size of the current US or UK ones would work just fine for me, thanks.

    Libertarian ≠ Anarchist

  • Midwesterner


    His specific statement that I am addressing is:

    small minorities cannot become majorities in a couple of decades. It’s biologically impossible.

    Islam is not biological. To throw out the entire idea of demographic trends in the spread of Islam is silly, not to mention dangerous. Looking at predictions of birthrates of immigrants and then declaring (correctly) the effect is heavily overstated, does not mean all demographic analysis is hooey. The vast majority of Muslims are non-Arabs. Think on that before you find too much comfort in flawed birthrate projections.

    My point was and is that ‘breeding’ is a small part of demographic changes when Islam is concerned. Many people, apparently you included, persist in equating Islam with Christianity. Sue, here at March 10, 11:57PM touched on a very important and underestimated point, and Scandinavian Dissident at March 11, 7:46PM in this thread explained in much greater detail what I am talking about.

  • sonya

    I think that demos are very clear and favor Steyn. A small change will not overcome the problem Europe is headed for today. You are playing with “wishful thinking” not logic or reason.

    A more reasoned arguement would offer facts to support a change in birth rates in Europe. Let’s say open market economics that rewards individual labor. Or maybe a change in beliefs. Neither is likely anytime soon.

    No, Steyn correctly shows a main effect and you are foolishly clingling to optimist beliefs that are faith based. Your “conservative” beliefs need to be updated with facts.

  • Cultural/religious issues clearly do have a bearing on how enterprising and creative a society is.

    I was thinking of cultural more than religious factors. There have been plenty of wealthy Moslem nations in history.

    I used the term Islamo-communism deliberately to distinguish from both the generality of Islam, and the misnomer “Islamo-fascism”. Fascism was a creed of racial exclusiveness. Communism was inclusive (indeed, actively apostolic). They were both collectivist, authoritarian and put creed above people. Their devotees were racked by hatred of certain other groups who they blamed for the problems that they really brought on themselves. In my view, for these reasons (and for its origins in socialism) fascism belongs with communism on the political left (anarchism, not fascism, being the far right). And the beliefs of those who are often mis-termed Islamic fundamentalists or Islamo-fascists belong with them. But as others have pointed out, Islam is not a race and is not exclusive of races (in fact, positively proselytising), which is why they should be bracketed more closely with the communists than the fascists. And as they are often hostile to (or jealous of) the personal accumulation of wealth and promote a communitarian view of property and society, with a strongly ascetic tinge that one is entitled only to what one needs, not one wants, the connection seems all the stronger (and more distant from fascism). That is why I think Islamo-communism is as good a term as you can get for this particular flavour of Islam, and that is why I think members of that group are likely to remain trapped in poverty (I am assuming that there is no need to make the case that socialism tends to be impoverishing). Whether that then leads to demographic consequences is another matter….

    On the question of the protestant work ethic, I am more with Rothbard than Weber, but still more inclined to believe that both attributed too much significance to one particular creed. After all, Rothbard himself showed that other belief systems (e.g. Taoism, and some Greeks and Romans) were philosophical progenitors of the classical liberal view. And we shouldn’t forget the role of Rothbard’s own religion (by birth), which provided many of the great classical liberal thinkers of the twentieth century. The danger of generalising about the relationship between social/economic and religious beliefs, though, has been illustrated by the history of the Jews, from their scapegoating for royal debts in the middle-ages to the changing German attitude (political, academic and popular) to them in the century before WWII. Some beliefs may have demanded more strongly than others that individuals subsume their own interests beneath the interests of the group, but what matters ultimately is the extent to which people have asserted their individuality, and such independence of mind is not closed to anyone of any background.

  • Johntathan Pearce

    Sonya, I am not “clinging” to anything, and certainly not “faith-based” (I am an atheist, btw). I am a skeptic about doomongering predictions of population trends, just as I am a skeptic on global warming and various other versions of “we are all doomed” variety.

    The truth is, that the pessimists have had a lousy track record and Steyn, normally such a witty and skeptical writer, has fallen into the same trap as the Greens. He has seen a trend over say, 10 years, and built a very big theory on the back of it.

    I am not buying it, and it has nothing to do with my “faith-based optimism”, whatever that is supposed to mean.

  • I don’t know if Steyn’s predictions are accurate. But as an American who has been visiting Europe since the late 1950s (lived there on several occasions), I have seen an extraordinary change over the decades. The Islamic presence is immensely greater. Perhaps it’s not so easy to see when it’s all around you. Since Islam does not countenance the separation of church and state, I would be more than a little concerned.

    As for the gentleman who wrote the following: “(educating women, as Hari points out, would certainly reduce population growth and probably de-radicalise Islamism. Steyn, tellingly, appears uninterested in supporting the education of Muslim women. )” … I don’t know where he gets evidence of that. I would assume Steyn to be a complete supporter of the education of Muslim women.

  • james wilson

    Steyn is underestimating the decline. This is not only a question of increased wealth and alleged education. Populations in despair do not have children, and this is not merely a modern phenomena by any means. The European despair will increase as it moves from morbid acceptance to outright fear. The birthrate will be a race to the bottom. Add emigration to that equation. Will the Europeans still left fill the boxcars as quietly as the Jews once did? It would seem so. And the Islamist will be the scorpion crossing the stream on the back of the turtle. Good riddance to all.


    I have sent the following e-mail to THE NEW STATESMAN regarding their sneering “review” of “America Alone.”


    Was your review of “America Alone” some kind of parody? Why else bring in the fact that Mark Steyn once worked as a “disc jockey” other than to make an ad hominem attack — to dismiss in advance anything he had to say? I once worked as a “disc jockey,” and I wish I could write and think like Mark Steyn, our most gifted political columnist (not to mention his wonderful writings on music and culture). I managed to go to university and get an advanced degree. So there.

    And why bring into the discussion the “demonic” Ann Coulter, who says words we are no longer allowed to say. I cannot think why you would want to dismiss such a hilarious political satirist (but that is another story).

    Admittedly, the weakness of the book if the last chapter where Steyn gives his answers to the problem. Bringing democracy to the Arab world is not the answer, although it is better than surrender or global war. So the book is not perfect. Who has the answer? At this early stage, no one wants to see the implications of the problem, and ignoring the problem only makes it worse. Steyn is important because he sees the problem at a time when “political correctness” tells us to avert our eyes.

    Amazingly, even our “news” media will leave out of a story the perpetrator’s name: then, you can be reasonably sure it is “Mohammed” or some such. Was the act terrorism? No one will investigate, and no one apparently wants to know. We don’t want to do anything that can be accused of “racism,” which I guess means that Islam is equivalent to a race.

    It doesn’t matter if three years ago Osama bin Laden was recruiting Bosnians, since they are “blue eyed” Muslims who look European and can pass security more easily. So early terrorist incidents go down as ordinary crime and disappear from the papers. The teenage kid in Salt Lake City who shot up the mall (and mall-goers) was portrayed like something out of Columbine. I half expectded the media to blame the whole thing on violent video games. Anything but the truth. He was given a hero’s Muslim funeral in Bosnia.

    What about you? Are you going to wait until there are IED’s in Britain to admit that there is a problem? For decades, through immigration, you have been taking a viper (unassimilable minorities) to you bosom. We Americans have our own cultural troubles with immigration, but at least the Mexicans are Christians, not Muslims.

    I am somewhat confused. The review dismisses Steyn’s book as fiction (I must admit that I am one of those readers who help it “slither” up THE NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list), but the review never really points out what, exactly, in Steyn’s book is “untrue.” The criticism of Steyn’s book seems to be that the demographic crunch will not come until much later, 50 years or so; I guess we have nothing to worry about. Let our grandchildren worry about it? What’s that? We had no children, so we cannot have any grandchildren to worry about it? Sounds to me like the “uneducated” Steyn has a point, at least if you care about the survival of the West.

    But maybe you think that we can come back in 100 years and find a peaceful Islamic world. What makes you think that it will be an idealized and tolerant “Andalusia,” rather than a global Taliban state?

    And should we dismiss our worries because the Muslims are bound to assimilate and have a lower birthrate in the future? All the energy seems to be on the other side (especially the suicide bombers). The majority of the “moderate” Muslims either tacitly agree or are afraid to speak out against it. Read Bin Laden’s speeches to get the “straight” Islam without the Western chasers.

    And why should we believe that Muslims will have a lower birthrate as they become more prosperous? Where in Islam does it allow birth control? Isn’t this likely to be considered interfering with God’s will? What in Islam allows a reinterpretation or ignoring of the Koran’s strictures? What is the Koranic position on abortion? How will Musllims justify having small families, especially when some Imams have picked up on Christians’ falling birthrates as a way to create an Islamic society by outbreeding the infidels? Won’t there be idealogical and religous pressure within Muslim communities to keep birthrates high until Sharia is proclaimed (only within Muslim communities, at first)?

    In my experience the “moderate” Muslim is a myth. Yes, there are Muslims who live “moderate” lives, but there are no “moderate” Muslims. To be “moderate,” a Muslim would have to deny articles of his faith, either silently or overtly. If he questions the Koran overtly, he is subject to being branded and apostate, a potentially fatal act. If he shys away from the Koran silently, he is subject to being branded as less than a good Muslim, which could lead to ostracism in his community.

    Read the Koran and the Hadith. The problem is that the Koran cannot be changed, since it is an Earthly version of golden tablets that exist in Heaven containing the actual words of God in the original language (Arabic).

    Mohammed is a model to be emulated in all things, the Muslim’s ideal man. Well, it is true that he married (and later deflowered) a nine-year-old. It is true that he had a poetess killed because she wrote mocking verses about him. It is also true that he killed hundreds of Jews, both at the Khaybar oasis for loot and a whole tribe of Jews who crossed him (and were subjected to mass beheading as a result). And it is true that the Koran warns Muslims that no true Muslim can be a friend to a Christian or a Jew. And that he had a series of “convenient” revelations when he needed them. And there is a doctrine in the Koran that provides that one may lie to an infidel, as long as the truth is told to a Muslim brother.

    Do not sit around hoping for a Muslim Reformation, because Bin Laden is it. He has called Muslims back to the Koran and the Hadith and the Sunnah. This is bad news for us, because to them, we — Jews, black Christians, and White Christians — are all just infidels, deserving of only death or dhimmitude.

    It is obvious which you have chosen. Here in the West, we stand at the pinnacle of technology, but as Lenin said, every revolution is the kicking in of a rotten door. Our society is “rotten,” as your “traison des clercs” book review shows. No wonder we have to depend upon a mere former “disc jockey” to defend us.


    Joseph F. McNulty, Jr.
    314 South Eugene Street
    Greensboro, NC 27401

  • MarkE

    A few commentators have pointed out that Islam is not confined to biological growth; it could grow faster than the birth rate of adherents by also winning converts, which is true. It could equally grow more slowly than the birth rate of Muslims suggests, as it loses converts.

    At present the fashion in teenage rebellion in Muslim areas seems to be fundamentalism, but there is no guarantee that will last. We could see the attractions of Western society driving a wedge between teenage Muslims and their parents and priests. This would be more reliable if we could show more self confidence in our own culture.

    If I were better looking, more charming and less married I might be willing to try seducing a few Muslim teenage girls into certain western standards of behaviour and away from their imams, despite the risks to life and limb.

  • Saul Wall

    Mid said “Infidel 753, you sound like you think Islam is a race.”

    Guy said “I don’t think he does.

    Maybe not but a lot of people, both Islamic and western Islamophiles do and I have seen some argue specifically that it is based on a “distinct population” definition of race. What they do not seem to realize is that this would make apostates, infidels and kaffirs of all sorts a race as well and make Islam a racial supremicist ideology by definition. They might want to bring that idea back to committee.

    It wise to note that Islamic demographics are not only based on biology (despite the belief in the idea that one can be “born” a Muslim). When pols are conducted showing how many second generation Muslim immigrants are more conservative than their parrents we need to ask:

    Is this a majority of the second generation?
    If not is the number of religious second generation immigrants larger than the number of apostates and closet apostates?
    Is the number of Islamic second generation immigrants still larger than those of Europeans when apostates and secularists are subtracted from the immigrant birth rates and those of non Muslim imigrants?
    Lastly, as the post mentions, we need to ask how do both birth rates and adherence rates change over time? Demographic information is hard enough to get from the present and the past let alone the future.

  • Paul Marks

    First Johnathon Pearce (it is his post after all):

    I do not know whether Steyn has written less on Iraq in the last couple of years. I know he has written on the subject, but I have not measured how much he has written and compared this to how much he used to write – so I will accept what you say as the truth (I can do no other without casting doubt on your good faith).


    Mark Steyn agrees that Islam can grow by conversion – historically it did as many nonMuslims living under Islamic rule wished to stop paying the special taxes and being hit with the various nasty laws (and outbreaks of violence) – “Islamic tolerance” being (apart from certain places in certain periods) largely Western “liberal” wishful thinking.

    Steyn points out that there are various reasons why people in the West might convert to Islam or at least dress in a Muslim way to “pass for Muslim” (a habit in certain parts of France for women who believe it will reduce the chance of shouted abuse or rape).

    He even points out that the grand daughter of Herbert Asquith (the Prime Minister who led Britain into the war that destroyed the Caliphate) has become a Muslim (in her case out of conviction) and has designed an Islamic garden for Prince Charles.

    As for people converting out of Islam. This is difficult as all but one of the schools of Islamic law hold that this is punishable by death.

    Of course in the West people who convert from Islam might be protected by the non Muslim governments (if the government has the will to protect them) – but this conversion depends on having something to convert to.

    According to Steyn converting to decadence would seem to be dead end (literally a dead end – if not death by drugs or sexual illness, then at least a high chance of childless old age). And conversion to Christianity.seems unlikely when (again according to Steyn) most Churches (outside the United States) are “post Christian” not interested in gaining converts for Christ – but, rather, in demanding more government Welfare State spending instead.

    Of course technology may alter matters. For example, bio technology (not just cloneing but other things) may mean that large numbers of humans (or post humans) are created without the traditional conservative methods of fathers, mothers and families.

    I suspect that Steyn would be horrified by this, but there is a certain charm in thinking of a future O.B.L. type shaking his fist (on seeing the wreak of his terrorist base) and shouting “damn you Rogue Trooper – curse the day you were ever cloned”.

    However, this is not likely to happen just yet.

    Guy Herbert:

    Tribes are normally not races Guy. And much of human history has been dominated by struggles between tribes and non racial ethnic groups (contrary to Karl Marx who thought it was dominated by conflict between economic classes).

    Even in England there have been such struggles. Alfred the Great may have embraced his defeated Viking enemy as a brother – but this did not prevent future conflicts between the English and the Norse. And Alfred the Great may have held the Britons (the Welsh and Cornish or whatever one wishes to call them) as equals under God – but that did not prevent his grandson Athelstan turning on them and (for example) driving them from Exeter (where they had lived for centuries before the mixing of various tribes had created the English). Of course some Britons and Norse became English by adopting the language, the customs, and (most importantly) the beliefs – but then ethnic conflict is often not a racial conflict (as already stated).

    Of course, for example, the conflict between the Flemish and the French speakers in Belgium had nothing to do with race.

    However, I agree that some things, such as libertarianism , can transcend ethnic conflict (indeed the smaller the government the less important it is who controls it). But this depends on no poweful ethnic group being defined by a political ideology – and Islam is (amongst other things) a political ideology, far more than Christianity is.

  • David B. Wildgoose

    To give another example, a Muslim takeover of a European country has already happened. The Albanian Muslim birth-rate in Kosovo was officially the highest in the World at an average of 8.4 children for every woman. And so a handful of Albanian immigrants managed in a period of just 70 years to outbreed the native Serbians (averaging around 2 children per woman) into a tiny minority.

    They then started a violent terrorist secessionist movement that incredibly was supported by NATO and other European countries.

    For Kosovo, historic heart of Serbia, think Wessex.

    If we don’t call a halt on the current massive influx of unassimilated Muslims and instead start integrating those already here then that is our future.

  • t-o-m

    I disagree with most of the conclusions above. I haven’t read Steyn’s book and don’t intend to (although I consider myself a conservative)…

    Here are the points I wanted to make.

    1. Fertility rates are declining in most countries in the world, including many Muslim countries (for example see http://www.escwa.org.lb/popin/main/new/4.xls ). Just go to http://www.un.org and do a search on fertility rates.

    2. It’s hard to predict population growth in any particular country. I think it tends to be cyclical.
    I mean who thought 20 years ago that Ireland’s population would now have one of the highest growth rates in Europe (not that long ago Ireland’s population was declining).

    3. Not all immigrants to Europe are Muslim… What about immigrants from Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia… there are even Christian minorities from the Middle East who are immigrating to Europe.

    4. I think historical references (e.g. Muslim expansion during the time of the Ottoman empire) cannot be used to make predictions on the future.
    There are just too many “variables” (that affect people’s personal values and their belief systems) at present that were simply non-existent during the Middle Ages — especially how secular, free, open, egalitarian, and technologically-advanced Western societies are.

    5. Muslims are not as cohensive and single-minded as some people think. They don’t all want to transform the countries they live into Saudi Arabia or Iran (if these countries are to represent the future of what awaits Europe).

    I suspect that eventually the religious/social system will come undone (to an extent) in Saudi Arabia and Iran…

    I came across this documentary on YouTube from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about the gay rights movement in Iran: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAzMuHyg8Eg&NR
    It was actually very surprising because it debunked some myths about what we normally see about Islamic societies–that is, that all Muslims are devoutly religious. It did confirm, however, how cruel/repressive Islamic regimes are.

    Lastly I am not dismissing all the comments made previously, but at the same time I don’t think that Islam is as powerful a force as many people here make it out to be.

  • 5. Muslims are not as cohensive and single-minded as some people think. They don’t all want to transform the countries they live into Saudi Arabia or Iran (if these countries are to represent the future of what awaits Europe).

    Yes, and not everyone wants a loft extension, but if they came home one day and found people putting it in swiftly and at no cost or inconvenience to them, how many would stop the work?

  • Paul Marks


    If you had read “America Alone” (or indeed my own comment above) you would know that Steyn understands that the fertility rate in some Muslim countries is comming down.

    However, (as has already been pointed out) as the population is much younger this decline in fertility (even if it was in all Muslim countries – which it is not) will not help. It is the time lag problem – sometimes known as “last man standing”.

    Also there is the question of which Muslims are doing most of the breeding – I rather doubt it is the Gay activists you mention. No doubt some Gay activists have children – but pius Muslims will tend to have rather more.

    As for Gay Rights – I fully support homosexual acts being legal (they do not violate the nonagression principle). However, Islamic law does not support this – so the Gay Rights Movement in Iran is sooner or later going to get into serious trouble.

    I would love to see the Iranian regime overturned. But I rather doubt that the Gay Rights Movement is going to defeat them in battle. Although this is not impossible – after all the Spartans, the Theban “Sacred Band” and so on.

    “We will follow a nonviolent path of resistance”.

    Then they will kill you, all of you. I assure you that such action would not bother the Iranian regime in the least.

    And remember the Shia regime of Iran is much more flexible than strict (Wahhabi) Sunnis like O.B.L. or the Taliban.

    One point that is often made is that in theory (although, not so far, in practice) Shia Islam might be less difficult to live with – as the Shia tradition places more weight on the interpretation of the sacred writings, and less on the literal meaning of the words.

    It is a pity that many moderate Shia (in various parts of the world) have been radicalized by Iranian oil money. Just as it is a pity that many moderate Sunni (or rather their children) have been radicalized by Saudi propaganda and “education” financed by their oil money.

    Many Muslims in Europe (including Britain) are being taught a version of Islam that has far more in common with doctrines taught in Saudi Arabia than it has with the Islam practiced in the places in the world where their parents came from (sadly these places are being radicalized to).

    An Islamic “reformation” seems to be under way, but one far closer to what Calvin and co would understand by reformation than what modern Western “liberals” understand by the term.

  • What happens to moderated comments on here? I posted a reply a couple of days ago, which, to my mind, didn’t seem to have anything particularly dangerous in it. When I submitted the comment, I got the page back that said it had been held for moderation (in effect – I can’t remember the exact words). Haven’t heard or seen anything more of it. It has disappeared into the ether.

    [Editors note: there were so many comments flagged by the moderation system (which is a bot) that yours got pushed on to page two of the comments list that we see and so got missed by the dazed editor… its is up now]

  • t-o-m

    I think some of my comments were misunderstood a little…

    I guess what I find kind of frustrating is the “defeatist” attitutude that Muslim takeover of Europe is inevitable. I also find annoying some of the propaganda that you sometimes read in the newspapers saying that “future belongs to Islam” or that “Islam is the fastest growing religion” or some other BS… well, in Canada apparently Wicca is the fastest growing religion (but then again any religion that starts with small number of follwers can appear as fast growing).

    In the example previously I wanted to say that in repressive societies people do not just accept social order, and the repressive character of such regimes, in my opinion, is unsustainable–such regimes are bound for an eventual overthrow/change and I don’t mean by a small minority (as given in the example previously) but by the younger generation who who probably want to lead more normal lives…

    In my opinion, Saudi Arabia “lives” on borrowed time. And yes I also think it is the source of much of the problems with radical Islam… To put it simply, if it wasn’t for oil money, they would not have the money to spread religious propaganda, import huge number of workers for jobs Saudis don’t want to do or don’t know how to do, and finance huge their welfare state (which also results in very high fertility rates). Their regime and social order cannot be sustained (population pressure or depletion of oil reserves will force them to change). The less the world and West relies on oil the better…

    The point I’m trying to make is that when such regimes as Saudi Arabia or Iran are forced to change, then they can no longer import radical ideology.

    I also think that (radical) Islam has taken place of what cults were back in the 60’s or the 70’s– you know about Jonestown? I think there will always be a segment in our society (right now this applies some Muslim youth and some converts) which can be easily swayed to follow radical ideology. I mean there must be some comfort to be given a set of “rules” in how to live your life without the need for questioning, introspection, or generally thinking (now why are there so many Muslim coversions in prisons?). I guess this must be what submission means.

    I know I strayed somewhat… I just wanted to give a slightly different perspective. I also wish people were more assertive, and not simply accept what they think is inevitable.

  • Paul Marks


    Sadly the Royals in Saudi (or some of them anyway – it is a big family) are the moderates – at least in the local context.

    If the House of Saud ever gets overturned it is likely to be replaced with real moon bat types.

    That is the real reason (rather than Bush family House of Saud links) why the United States supports “our friend Saudi Arabia” – even though (in reality) it is not a friend at all.

    It is the old story of supporting the bad for fear of the worse.

    Of course people like Mark Steyn reject that policy root-and-branch, but they do not seem very influential right now.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    t-o-m, your comments are precisely the sort of skeptical, rational point that one hears too little. I also agree with you about defeatism. There seems to be a lot of it around and it tends to feed on itself. I find the most outraged comments I provoke are when I make an “optimistic” comment rather than pander to the “we are all doomed” version. The latter is an easy cop-out, a way to get an easy round of applause.

    By all means, fellow commenters, let’s be realistic about the dangers out there, but let’s not give the impression that libertarian bloggers are all miserable bastards, either.

  • I’m sure this point has already been made, but the reason your counter to Steyn may not be as legitimate as you think is that it is based on the assumption that Muslim immigrants in Europe will adapt European or Western lifestyles and more importantly upward mobility (particularly where women are concerned.). Do Muslim women that immigrate to Europe have the freedom to be professionals (I know they have the legal freedom, but do they have the cultural or social freedom). Women in the workforce is the single biggest reason for the population slow down in the west. This has an added effect of heterosexual relationships being more equal between the sexes. In America, we have what we call DINKS (Dual Income, no Kids). These are professional couples with no real interest in having kids, or at least having kids down the road. All this leads to fewer households with more than even one kid, and people having kids at a much later time. In Europe, do the Muslim immigrants that Steyn is referring to adopt this fairly western idea of women’s rights and relationships? I think Steyn is saying they do not. And that is the rub.

  • t-o-m

    Actually I think my arguments to counter Steyn are legitimate. Let me expand… it’s true that there are many Muslim immigrants in Europe who probably will never be able to adapt to the Western idea of women’s rights and relationships. However, I think it probably has to do with the fact that many of these Muslim immigrants are from rural, stauchly conservative backward regions in their own countries. And how do they get into Europe–I’m assuming it’s probably as asylum seekers, through “familiy reunification”, or illegally. So what happened with the accepting more liberal, more highly educated / trained immigrants to offset creating a permanent underclass that becomes a threat?

    I live in Vancouver, western Canada. Muslims in my city are a very small minority. Immigrants from China, India (mainly Sikhs), Phillipines, Korea make up a significant proportion of the total population. I would say that most of the communities are fitting in pretty well socially and economically (although it doesn’t mean there aren’t problems). There is also a relatively large Iranian community, many of whom are probably either Muslim or Bahai. But I practically never see the Iranian women here wearing any headscarves–they are very Western in the way they dress for example. There is also a successful Ismaili community which was profiled in a business magazine ( http://www.bcbusinessmagazine.com/ismailiJuly06.htm ) I also know quite well some Muslims from Lebanon and Turkish part of Cyprus who are also pretty successful and have professional jobs and do not fit the traditional Muslim streotype. There are some traditional Muslims here as well (mainly from Somalia, and probably some from the Middle East), but they seem to be a very small minority in comparison to other immigrant communities. So I don’t think the issue is necessarily that Muslims cannot adapt to western way of life. I think the problem in Europe is that European countries have not been selective enough as to the type of people they’re letting in and they probably allowed too many people who had very poor prospects to fit in to begin with (Canada is not perfect in this regard either but I suspect is doing a better job at least in the region where I live).

    I think the reason that there is a population slowdown in Europe (as well as other countries) probably has to do a lot with economics. Having children is expensive and in our society I think it’s almost presented as a burden.

    Let me give you an example…. there was a baby boom in Poland during the 80’s and the country had a relatively good growth rate. Through all the economic changes, the unemployment rate is now 15 % ( it was 20% not too long ago). At the same time the fertility rate tanked and is now among the lowest in Europe. Poland is actually pretty conservative country and having family/children is considered quite important. The reason people are having so few children is because there are high expecations but not enough stable empoyment opportunities to “finance” having children. I think this issue mirrors the situation in other places in the former communist countries. However, I think that economics does play a significant role in western Europe too as to whether people choose to have children.

    So yes, women in the workforce may be the reason for population growth slowdown in the West, but it’s probably because they have to, since now it’s almost impossible to sustain a family on a single income.

    I think the population growth rates are so high in developing countries, including Muslim countries, because of the status of women, lack of education, lack of birth control, pressure from their society / religion, etc. However, having children in developing countries can also be seen as “insurance” for the aging parents. Most of these countries have non-existent or poorly developed support for the elderly. It’s no surpise then to see three-generational homes and extended families. I think this type of approach is brought along with some Muslim immigrants to Europe especially if these immigrants come from poor, rural, and conservative villages from Morroco or Pakistan.

  • Paul Marks

    I have a relative in B.C. and Bruno is correct – there is no sign of Islamic take over there.

    However, who said that there was?

    As for Europe. Immigrants, or rather the children of immigrants, take up the superficial aspects of the culture – such as playing Association Football, or wearing jeans.

    But in terms of beliefs the children of immigrants tend to be more “Islamic” than there parents were. In that they tend to take up the interpretations of Islam favoured by the enemies of the West.

    This is only natural. For the immigrants Islam was often just part of their local culture, but the children are not really part of the culture of (say) Bangladesh, so for them Islam is an ideology (and they seek after pure forms).

    Of course even “back home” in countries like Bangladesh Islam is undergoing a come back and a reformation.

    Many Muslim countries are far more Islamic than they were say back in the 1960’s.

    The two things are linked.

    The West has lost self confidence as a culture.

    So both Muslims born here and Muslims in traditionally Muslim lands sense its weakness and emptyness and turn to Islam (harsh forms of Islam) for meaning.

    This is what J.P. might call “being a miserable bastard”, however the truth is often horrible.

    The first step to changing a situation is to stop denying its existance.

    Nor is this entirely confined to Europe.

    Even in the United States there are signs of Islamic thinking amongst the Muslim population. For example, the taxi drivers ar Minneapolis airport who refused to carry people who either had booze with them (not people who had been drinking – people who had a bottle unopened) or who had pet dogs – not dirty dogs, but any dog (dogs being unclean in Islam).

    This was not one of Steyn’s examples (nor was the recent case where various Islamic relgious officials were not allowed on a aircraft because they expressed support, in Arabic, for terrorism and an Arabic speaker overheard them – they responded by threatening to bring suit against the airline).

    However, Steyn does give such examples as American sports teams dropping names like the “Crusaders” (in order to curry favour with Muslims), but the Muslims nameing their sports teams with the Islamic names (Swords of God, Holy War, and so on).

    The contrast between the West and Islam is the contrast between a culture full of weakness, decay and self doubt and a culture full of the lust for domination.

    Lots of aircraft and tanks do not really matter – if the will is weak and the mind full of self doubt.

  • Paul Marks

    My apologies. I meant t-o-m not Bruno.

  • Johnathan

    So both Muslims born here and Muslims in traditionally Muslim lands sense its weakness and emptyness and turn to Islam (harsh forms of Islam) for meaning.

    That may be true at the moment, but as you have already pointed out Paul, these things move in cycles. It is a bit like the current trend of young American kids being more “conservative” and religious than their Baby Boom moms and dads. As we know, Paul, our generation rebelled by supporting Maggie, supporting capitalism and sticking it to the Soviets; the previous generation was more leftwing, and so on. So with young Muslim kids living in Bradford, Birmingham or Leicester, it may be that radical islam is the way to assert oneself, but will this be the case in 20 or 30 years time?

    I am not denying the problems you and Steyn talk about, but I think these arguments can cut in two directions. That is why I am a skeptic on the “we are all gonna be taken over” thesis as much as I am a skeptic on other fashionable doom-messages from the left and right.

  • vis tapacifica

    I personally do not draw sustenence from the Mark Steyns of this world – eloquent – even brilliant, at times – but savage at heart.

    My basic objection to him comes from his ongoing incitement against Muslims, and for his supporting the “War” in Iraq.

    (I always want to say “War WITH Iraq”, but that isn’t what’s happening, is it? It has, however, conveniently become the “frontline” on the “War on Terror” – which is preposterous of course – you can’t make “War” on a tactic…)

    Even today President Bush stated “the reason” for invading Iraq: to “remove Saddam Hussein from power.”

    But that’s different from the original “reason”, given back in 2002.

    Back then “the reason” was that the U.S. needed to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had WMDs (which he did NOT have, by the way) – and not just conventional WMD’s, either. Saddam Hussein had a secret nuclear weapons program AND the unmanned drones with which to deliver his nuclear or chemical or biological weapons to the Eastern seaboard of the U.S.

    Of course not one word of it was true – the Downing Street memos are quite clear: the Bush administration had nothing concrete with which to invade Iraq, even up to three months prior to doing so – Bush himself, at the last moment, even suggested repainting a 3rd party’s plane with U.N. colors and positioning it so that Saddam would be drawn to shoot at it, finally giving the U.S. a “real” reason to invade.

    So, the fact that Mark Steyn supported the invasion of a sovereign country (and not one which supported terrorists, either – Saddam killed Islamic fundamentalists faster and more frequently – by a long shot – than George W. Bush ever even dreamed of doing ) on flimsy – even invented – evidence – which a lot of people were aware WAS flimsy (and invented, if you’d have asked Joe Wilson), by the way, either relegates him to the longer list of “those fooled” by fabricated evidence (“yellow cake from Niger” indeed) or places him on a much more sinister – if shorter – list of those (especially those in the media) who were echoing precisely what the White House wanted them to say in order to justify invading Iraq.

    Now if Mark Steyn was simply duped (like a vast majority of Americans) into believing that Saddam was far more dangerous than he actually was (Colin Powell and Condi Rice both stated that Saddam was “contained” and “posed no danger”, pre 9/11.)
    that is one thing.

    But if Mark Steyn was given secret information, from someone “in-the-know”, about the true nature of the invasion of Iraq: (ala the Project for a New American Century) – Step One of the eventual annexation of the entire Muslim Middle East – regardless of the ramifications of a possible – and probable bloody backlash, against Israel and the West, by Islamicists recruited to al Qaeda-like franchises world wideand yet called for that invasion anyway, then Mark Steyn is a scoundrel – and a devious scoundrel – of the highest order.

  • Steyn was writing about the Iraq war at least a year-and-a-half before it started. A year or so into the war, he was starting columns with lines like “I feel like I’ve said all this before” and “This is getting repetitive” and he was even quoting his own earlier columns. He does still write about it regularly, but not as much as he did, no. He mentions from time to time that his essential argument hasn’t changed, and he has, of course, published a compilation of the earlier columns on the subject, making them easily available and making it even more pointless to keep rewriting them for papers. Why keep writing the same thing again and again? This seems like a very odd criticism.

    Steyn frequently addresses the issue of Ehrlich’s predictions, and makes this very simple point: unlike Ehrlich, he is not extrapolating. His arguments are based on the number of babies already born: if you look at the numbers born in 2005, you know roughly how many 25-year-olds there’ll be in 2030 — regardless of anything that might happen to birth-rates in 2010.

    He also specifically makes the point that no-one needs a majority to be culturally dominant. Look at Scotland: its politics, though democratic, are completely skewed by the population centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh, saddling the entire nation with a political culture that is somewhat alien to most of its towns. I don’t think I’m suggesting anything absurd if I say that London wields a greater influence over British politics than the mere weight of its population might suggest. And look at crime: when a gang of teenagers stab a man to death for asking them to stop throwing stones at the cars in his street, what is the result: that the law-abiding residents win out over the thugs simply by dint of outnumbering them, or that the majority end up cowed and afraid in their own homes?

    In short, what use is it for the infidels to outnumber the Islamists when half of the infidels are geriatric and most of them shy away from violence and the Islamists are all in their mid-twenties and willing to die for the cause of killing infidels?

    Look at the Danish cartoons. Not one British paper would publish a single one of them. Yet those who protested against them were not even close to a majority.

  • I regret not having come across this posting when it was written two years ago. The comparison to compounding interest is apt and inapt in different ways. For our purposes here, money doesn’t have an age distribution, while human beings do. Women, especially, become physically incapable of bearing children at mid-life, while all money can bring in interest when lent. Children require some years to reach even minimal sexual maturity and fertility, while money interest can be compounded continuously. Money does not grow weary of bearing interest, it is not willful, and it does not grow accustomed to a certain standard of living. It will never turn on one and say, “No, I can’t bear the thought of bearing any more interest.”

    Compounding interest and human fertility are comparable, however, in that “it takes money to make money,” and it takes young, healthy women to have children. To put it delicately, for some decades, men in the liberal democracies and other developed countries made many deposits, but too few of them were made in interest-bearing accounts. Those missed opportunities are now lost. Those who have had too few children find themselves with too few young adults to make up the losses. Moreover, I understand that in various countries, such young adults as do exist are likewise reproducing at rates insufficient even to replace themselves. Meanwhile, the neighbors have been busy and variously remain so.

    Very likely, some situations may still be saved. Alarmism seems more likely to bring matters around than does the complacency that brought us into our present condition.