Will the 21st Century Be a Horror Show of Epic Proportions?
In 2006, Mark Steyn reached two conclusions from his study of anemic Western demographics in his book America Alone. The post World War II global order led by the United States is literally dying, and the future belongs to Islam.
David Goldman, Spengler at Asia Times Online, dismisses those contentions as bogus. “The fastest demographic decline ever registered in recorded history is taking place today in Muslim countries.” World fertility fell from 4.5 to 2.5 children per woman over the past half-century, but “two or three times faster” in Islamic nations. Moreover, the severity of this drop is exacerbated by the “lapsed time” in which it is occurring. Europe spent two centuries descending to its present demographic nadir. Islamic societies are “attempting it [collapsed fertility] in twenty.”
But, this rush towards demographic oblivion is still cause for alarm. It “makes radical Islam more dangerous” because of “Spengler’s Universal Law #1 - A man or a nation at the brink of death does not have a rational self-interest.” As Islamic societies choose de-population, their rational calculus changes. The radicals’ boast that “you love life and we love death” is revealing in this regard. Radical Islamists have chosen to die fighting, rather than watch their societies self-terminate. As Goldman quips, “the flip side of suicide by infertility is jihad.” And, he marshals statistics, history, and philosophy to offer chilling predictions and disturbing recommendations.
Goldman draws on mounds of data to diagnose the Islamic world’s ills, and he dismisses Steyn’s thesis with the qualification of poverty. Old people are an existential threat to Islamic nations because they possess a fraction of Europe’s $30,000 GDP per capita circa 2009. The Middle East’s elderly “rely on their children to care for them.” But today’s bulge of young people will find that neither wealth nor descendants will exist to support them in their old age. The first signs of looming ruin are already apparent in states suffering drastic demographic drop-offs such as Iran (six children per woman), Turkey (five) and Egypt (four).
President Ahmadinejad started sounding the alarm back in 2006. His pronouncements have ranged from factual assertions that Iran faces “a tidal wave of elderly” to outlandish claims that Iran’s low birthrate is the result of a Western conspiracy. Yet, his anxiety is not misplaced.