I lived in Europe for four years in the 1960s while serving with the U.S. Army Security Agency in Germany. Since then, I have returned multiple times and have watched the Europe I once knew change in ways that would have been unimaginable just a decade ago.
Today, I am posting a commentary by Italian Journalist Giulio Meotti who writes: “Sadly, the ‘death of Europe’ is drawing nearer, is becoming more visible and is more frequently discussed by popular writers.”
Why is this happening? What can be done to save the traditional cultures of nations like Germany, France, and Italy in the face of an unprecedented deluge of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, most of whom don’t comprehend or embrace Western European values and ideals of enlightenment, religious freedom, and independent thought?
Meotti raises those questions and provides some answers from a variety of sources, including European writers, religious leaders, and politicians. They quite rightly worry about the death of European culture in the face of the growing invasion of millions of impoverished and uneducated people from backwater nations. They fear that two thousand years of Judeo-Christian European culture and traditions will be obliterated by a population of migrants who are multiplying many times faster than their European hosts and who don’t share the same values. Are these concerns warranted?
Or are they only the lamentations of white Europeans who fear those who are different from themselves? The questions Meotti and other Europeans raise should concern Americans. After all, European ideals and principles are undeniably the foundation of our own Judeo-Christian political and cultural traditions. And no matter how often we hear some people talk about the “browning” of America and Europe, race is not the issue. What is, are our time-honored and long-established values of individualism, independent thought, political self-determination, religious freedom, and cultural cohesion.
Sharia law? No thank you, our system of jurisprudence is based on English Common Law, not on the adherence to the unyielding dogma of Islam which has a long history of eradicating or marginalizing other religions and replacing secular principles of governance with a religion still mired in the 7th century. Read on.
Europe is facing an existential challenge of unprecedented proportions, a downward spiral in which Europeans seem to be slowly dying out by failing to reproduce. It appears that Europe has also lost all confidence in the hard-won values of The Enlightenment, such as personal freedoms, reason, and science replacing superstition and the separation of church and state. These are critical if Europe truly wishes to survive.
Consider the following:
- In Western Germany, 42% of children under the age of six now come from a migrant background, according to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, as reported by Die Welt.
- An investigation published in July by the weekly L’Express showed that in France, “between 2000 and 2016, the number of children with at least one foreign parent increased from 15 to 24 percent.”
According to Catholic Bishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Cameroon: “If you look through history, where the Christian Church slept, got diverted away from the Gospel, Islam took the advantage and came in. This is what we see in Europe, that the Church is sleeping, and Islam is creeping in. Europe is being Islamized, and it will affect Africa.”
The late historian Walter Laqueur, who, for his far-sighted prognosis about Europe’s crisis, has been called “the indispensable pessimist,” wrote that if current trends continue, a hundred years from now Europe’s population “will be only a fraction of what it is today, and in two hundred years, some countries may have disappeared.”
Laqueur was one of the first to understand that the current deadlock in which the continent finds itself goes far beyond economics. The point is that the days of European strength are over. Because of low birth rates, Europe is dramatically shrinking.
Sadly, the “death of Europe” is drawing nearer, is becoming more visible and is more frequently discussed by popular writers.
“At a time when literature is increasingly marginalized in public life, Michel Houellebecq offers a striking reminder that novelists can provide insights about society that pundits and experts miss,” the New York Times wrote about arguably the most important French author. Houellebecq “speaks” through his best-selling novels, such as Submission, as well as his public lectures. The last conference that Houellebecq attended in Brussels — on the occasion of the Oswald Spengler Prize, commemorating the author of The Decline of the West — was dedicated to that topic.
“To sum up,” Houellebecq said, “the Western world as a whole is committing suicide.”
Why has Europe become so obsessed about its own declining demography and surging fertile immigration from Africa?
According to Ross Douthat, writing in The New York Times, “Western-supported population control efforts in the developing world” are “creeping back into the discussion” for three reasons:
“Because African birthrates haven’t slowed as fast as Western experts once expected, because European demographics are following Macron’s Law toward the grave and because European leaders are no longer nearly so optimistic about assimilating immigrants as even a few short years ago.”
Douthat is referring to two speeches by the French president, Emmanuel Macron. In 2017, Macron called Africa’s problems “civilizational” and lamented that they “have seven or eight children per woman.” In a second speech at the Gates Foundation last week, Macron said: “Show me the woman who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight or nine children. You can’t.”
The question Macron implicitly raised is: How can Europe manage its own educated people with their low birth rates while confronting massive African and Middle Eastern fertility and immigration? It seems that Europe is in a demographic struggle with the rest of the world, and can only lose.
These are critical questions if Europe truly wishes to survive. The distinguished historian Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote:
“Judged by the great historical determinants of civilizational power — fuel, energy, education, demography, political stability, and military power — Europe is waning. It is spending a mere 1.4% of its collective GDP on defense… And with a fertility rate of less than 1.6%, Europe is slowly shrinking and aging — hence the short-sighted immigration policy of Angela Merkel who sees immigration also as a solution to the demography crisis and a shortcut to low-cost labor.”
However, as Walter Laqueur wrote, “even if Europe’s decline is irreversible, there is no reason that it should become a collapse.”
How does one avoid that collapse?
At a recent European meeting, Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, who heads the anti-immigration League party, said:
“I’ve heard colleagues say that we need immigration because the population of Europe is getting older, but I have a completely different viewpoint… I believe that I’m in government to see that our young people have the number of children that they used to a few years ago and not to transplant the best of Africa’s youth to Europe. Maybe in Luxembourg, they need to do this, but in Italy, we need to help people have more children, rather than bring in modern-day slaves (from Africa) to replace the children we’re not having. I prefer to keep Italy for the Italians and start to make children again.”
Salvini sees a bleak future for Italy. Under stable conditions, he says, Italy’s population could collapse, reaching just over 16 million inhabitants compared to 59 million today. This disturbing projection emerged this year at Italy’s annual “Festival of Statistics and Demography,” where University of Rome professor Matteo Rizzolli said:
“Because this happens in a hundred years, even if we will be 8 million fewer in 20 years, if we keep on acting as we do, it will do nothing to promote the birth rate.”
Europe’s establishment is therefore perfectly divided between the so-called “Europeists,” who believe that new migrants are necessary to stop the EU’s demographic collapse, and the “Euroskeptics” who want to overcome it on their own.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, for instance, has called on Europeans to stop the “demographic decline” by investing more in traditional families. Meanwhile, Italian Catholic Archbishop Gian Carlo Perego has said:
“The challenge for Italy is to reconcile a country that is dying with young people who come from elsewhere, to begin a new history. If we close our door to migrants, we will disappear.”
Salvini proposed yet another idea in an interview with The Times:
“A country which does not create children is destined to die…We have created a ministry of the family to work on fertility, nurseries, on a fiscal system which takes large families into account. At the end of this mandate, the government will be measured on the number of newborns more than on its public debt.”
At stake, Salvini said, is Italy’s “tradition, our story, our identity” — the left is using the fertility crisis as an “excuse” to “import immigrants.”
Europe’s decline and transformation can also be seen in France. According to new statistics released by the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, Mohammed and several other traditional Muslim names now top the list of most popular baby names in the French department of Seine-Saint-Denis (1.5 million residents).
It is noteworthy that two journalists with the mainstream newspaper Le Monde, Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme, have just published a book entitled Inch’allah: Islamization à visage découvert (“If Allah Wills: The Exposed Face of Islamization”), an investigation of the “Islamization” of the Seine-Saint-Denis area.
Mass unvetted immigration to Europe has done it more harm than good, according to Walter Laqueur. “Uncontrolled immigration is not the only reason for the decline of Europe. But taken together with the continent’s other misfortunes, it has led to a profound crisis; a miracle might be needed to extract Europe from these predicaments.”
Both Matteo Salvini and Michel Houellebecq have pointed out that the drama of an aging and tired Europe is not a partisan or electoral issue; it is a civilizational one. This issue will also decide the future of the European Union, which the open-borders policy might wipe out.
Time is running out. As Houellebecq said in a speech at the Frank Schirrmacher Prize:
“The advance of Islam is just beginning, because demography is on its side and because Europe, which has stopped having children, has entered a process of suicide. And it is not a slow suicide. Once you have arrived at a birth rate of 1.3 or 1.4, then, in reality, things go very fast.”
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.