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Europe Is Dying

Over the weekend, I finished reading the British journalist Douglas Murray’s book The Strange Death Of Europe. [1] I cannot recommend it strongly enough. It’s a book about mass immigration, but more than that, it’s about the suicide of European civilization.

I’ll write more about it below, but first, let me share some fresh news about this terrible subject. It comes from the blog of the Italian Vatican journalist Sandro Magister. [2] The article has not yet been translated into English, so I’ve run it through Google Translate to give the gist. Excerpts (in machine-translated English):

The fall in the Italian birth rate has reached its lowest level ever in 2017. In a country of 60.5 million inhabitants, just 458,151 children were born last year, and even less, about 440 thousand, are the new births predicted for 2018 — just over 7 per 1,000 inhabitants, 30 per cent under the median of the European Union, which is already the region of the world with the lowest birth rate.

If you consider the fertility rate – or “total fertility rate” – which ensures zero growth, that is, the equal exchange of the population, is 2.1 children per woman, then observe that the Italian figure has been dramatically under that for decades. In 2017 it sank to 1.32, with several regions even more prone to births, and with Sardinia even settled at 1.06.

These are already numbers that attest an inexorable march towards the extinction of a people.

Magister said the news about marriage is even more concerning. The number of first marriages and “religious marriages” (marriages conducted under the auspices of the Church) is in freefall. First marriages declined 7.3 percent in a single year (from 2016 to 2017), and the number of church marriages plunged by 10.5 percent in that same time period.

This matters because of the fertility rate. Magister quotes the (secularist) demographer Roberto Volpi explaining the significance of these facts:

“The reason why this retreat of religious marriage is even more worrying than all the rest, is easy to see. Even today, 70 percent of births take place in Italy within marriage, but it is marriage with a religious rite that ensures much more births than marriage with a civil ceremony. The latter is in fact above all the marriage to which divorcees, widowers and mixed couples of Italians and foreigners resort, unlike the religious marriage which remains by far the favorite of single and unmarried, of a younger age and with a higher inclination towards children. “

To make it crystal clear: religious people have more babies. Foreigners and Italians seeking second marriages usually only marry in a civil ceremony. Those Italians who are in their fertile years, and who want to have children, usually marry in the Church. The fact that Church weddings are dropping off so precipitously signals an intensification of the demographic nightmare for Italy.

Volpi goes on to say: “Weddings tell us how healthy of sick we are. Currently we are at a nearly terminal stage. It would not be bad if the Church understood this and made a move.”

Magister says that the recent Synod On The Family busied itself by arguing over communion for the divorced and remarried, and the definition of marriage. Comments Magister:

This dispute has left the field wide open for an attack by the adversaries of true marriage. As in the famous saying of Livy: “Dum Romae consulitur, Saguntum expugnatur”. While they busy themselves talking in Rome, the enemy takes the city.

Another sign of civilizational suicide, this one from the UK [3]: a government-funded LGBT charity called MORF is sending out breast binders to teenage girls in unmarked packages, so their parents won’t know. More:

But when our reporter told a helpline adviser she was just 13 he had no qualms about discussing her chest size and even suggested that while wearing the binder she should avoid too much exertion during PE lessons.

MORF is based at the Manchester headquarters of the LGBT Foundation which has received close to £1.2 million from the Department of Health and a £500,000 grant from The Big Lottery Fund.

The mother whose 14-year-old daughter received the chest binder from MORF, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I only found out they had sent her the binder because I opened a package that was addressed to her.

‘I hid it so she wouldn’t find it. But she had previously been sent one without me knowing and had already started wearing it. Then I realised that it was because of the binder that she had stopped exercising and was having trouble breathing.’

Campaigners concerned about the increase in girls claiming they are transgender say an alarming number are wearing chest binders.

Vulnerable youngsters can get instructions on how to use binders from transgender YouTube stars who make demonstration videos, which are often accompanied by adverts for breast-flattening devices costing as little as £4.

If you follow the Twitter account of 4thWaveNow [4] — and you should — you will be kept up with the horrifying march of transgender ideology through the UK. British elites — government, academia, BBC, et al. — are bound and determined to destroy the possibility of a future, any way they can. Even by exterminating fertility by demolishing the social environment within which the next generations can be formed.

Back to Douglas Murray’s book. As an American, I have generally followed the immigration debate in Europe, so much of what Murray reports is not news to me. But to see it all brought together in one place has the effect of a hard slap across the face. What was news to me was learning how long European elites of both left and right have been lying to their peoples about immigration, often pretending that they were about to get serious about stopping it. They never have. The only thing that has brought the truth out has been the Internet, which undermines the power of the traditional media gatekeepers.

In his book, Murray — an openly gay atheist who describes himself as a “cultural Christian” — puzzles at length over why Europe has a suicide wish. Why do European peoples — especially the elites — hate themselves so much? Murray writes: “We look like a people who have lost the desire to inspire because we have nothing to inspire anyone with.”

More:

For some years now I have been especially struck by numerous accounts I have heard first hand and also read from people who have chosen to convert to Islam. Partly these stories are striking because they are so similar. They are almost always some variant of a story nearly any young person could tell. They generally go something like this: “I had reached a certain age [usually their twenties or early thirties] and I was in a nightclub and I was drunk and I just thought, ‘Life must be about more than this.'” Almost nothing else in our culture says, “But of course there is.” In the absence of such a voice young people search, and they discover Islam.

The fact that they choose Islam is a story in itself. Why do these young men and women (very often women) not reach out and find Christianity? Partly it is because most branches of European Christianity have lost the confidence to proselytise or even believe in their own message. For the Church of Sweden, the Church of England the German Lutheran Church and many other branches of European Christianity, the message of the religion has become a form of left-wing politics, diversity action and social welfare projects.

Pope Francis last week told a Vatican conference called to decide how to handle churches and religious buildings abandoned because of Europe’s collapse of faith, “Don’t worry, be happy.”  [5]

More:

The search for meaning is not new. What is new is that almost nothing in modern European culture applies itself to offering an answer. Nothing says, “Here is an inheritance of thought and culture and philosophy and religions which has nurtured people for thousands of years and may well fulfill you too.” Instead, a voice at best says, “Find your meaning where you will.” At worst the nihilist’s creed can be heard: “Yours is a meaningless existence in a meaningless universe.” Any person who believes such a creed is liable to achieve literally nothing. Societies in which that is the case are likewise liable to achieve nothing. While nihilism may be understandable in some individuals, as a societal creed it is fatal.

It is fatal in part because there is no reason to bring children into a meaningless world. It is true that fertility rates are declining worldwide, even in countries that are more religious. But Europe got there first, and has cast off the possibility of recovery. I love Europe desperately, and grieve to see this happening.

If you think America is immune to this sickness unto death, you’re fooling yourself. Ben Shapiro writes: [6]

America is experiencing a crisis of meaning. And we are filling our need for meaning with whatever we have at our disposal: drugs, ethnic solidarity, political mobbing. The problem here isn’t capitalism and its supposed excesses, or classical liberalism and its atomization of individuals. The problem here is that while we have a bevy of centrifugal forces operating on us, we have very few centripetal forces bringing us together.

Those forces used to be obvious: church, family, local community. We shared certain basic Judeo-Christian values: a belief in responsible individual decision-making, caring for our neighbor on a social level, cherishing our heritage of individual rights while also performing individual duties in the name of virtue.

All of this gave us meaning and purpose. But now those values have been torn asunder. For decades, those on the political Left have critiqued the social structures that used to bind us. Church, rather than acting as a unifying force, was portrayed as a theocratic oppressor; family, rather than acting as a protector of children and a bulwark for women, was treated as a patriarchally tyrannical institution; local communities, rather than being seen as a source of innovation and social support, were seen as torture chambers of parochialism. The institutions were razed; we were freed of them by proclaiming our victimhood at their hands.

All that was left was rubble.

He’s correct about that, but why is it that so much of supposedly conservative Red America — even more than parts of godless Blue America — is caught up in the spiral of self-destruction? Where is Shapiro’s critique of globalized capitalism, which has been championed for decades by the political Right as a savior? Where is Shapiro’s judgment on religious institutions of the Right and the Left who have preached a sham gospel of middle-class success and sanctified social work? Yes, the Left is greatly at fault here, but the Right’s hands are far from clean.

The Left and the Right will fight over who’s to blame for the calamity that is overtaking us. Dum Romae consulitur, Saguntum expugnatur.

Sooner or later, faithful Christians will find their way to some form of the Benedict Option [7], or they will go down with the ship. Very hard times are coming, and coming fast.

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119 Comments To "Europe Is Dying"

#1 Comment By Erdrick On December 4, 2018 @ 10:58 am

Ampersand III’s post was borderline gibberish. I guess it’s a look into the mind of an incel. Marriage and family as torture porn? Ok, bud, whatever you say. Maybe it’s a good thing that some people don’t want children. Natural Selection in action.

#2 Comment By Nick On December 4, 2018 @ 11:51 am

I wish your website contained a way to view all comments on an individual screen.

#3 Comment By Gertrude On December 4, 2018 @ 12:17 pm

My perspective is simply this: Around the world, birth rates decline in correlation with women’s education levels, regardless of the local religion, culture, or civilizational character. There are few if any exceptions. Societies can choose to have widespread high birthrates, or they can choose to educate their population, but they can’t sustain both for long. With the advancement of education comes a host of other civilizational changes that cause great angst, but they are simply part of a broad unbroken history of cultural change almost everywhere.

Today’s Italy is special and unique, but many Italys have existed before, each special and unique. It wasn’t death when they changed, it was just… change. To imagine that the Italy that exists today is too special and unique to change strikes me as very odd and pretty obviously an emotional reaction on the part of people who are afraid and unhappy about the fact that their preferred religion and/or race isn’t likely to be privileged in future.

I can understand in an intellectual sense that this fear and unhappiness is real, but from my perspective, that’s something y’all need to work through on your own. Maybe the BenOp can help people do that. Christianity is no different from Italy – it has changed before and will again.

#4 Comment By JonF On December 4, 2018 @ 12:20 pm

C.L.H. Daniel’s, we all things to please ourselves but I would hesitate to call all such actions immoral. Only when we step on others to attain our ends, it when pleasant habits become addictions are we treating on morally fraught territory.
In Social Security my attitude is that each generation us paying it forward, which is usually considered a morally acceptable practice.

#5 Comment By JonF On December 4, 2018 @ 12:36 pm

Thomas Hobbes, the answer will almost certainly be… a mega-plague or a mega-war. All we’ve done is put things on hold for a while. As I’ve said here before the Sphinx is not smiling her toithsome grin at us because we’ve solved her riddle

#6 Comment By Matthew On December 4, 2018 @ 1:29 pm

I’ve known a lot of people in the none, agnostic, atheist, and in general non-standard areas of the population over the years, and there are a lot of people who simply won’t give Christianity the time of day, period. This is often true even to the point of amusing contradiction. Years ago at a meditation center, one of the teachers–a lapsed Catholic–was talking about how it never made sense to her to have a bunch of liturgical mumbo-jumbo in a foreign language. The meditation center was Tibetan Buddhist–Tibetan Buddhism is the most spectacularly full of ritual and ceremony of any branch of Buddhism. Much of it is also in foreign languages–Tibetan, Pali, or Sanskrit. She said this, by the way, totally unironically.

[NFR: Yes, I’ve seen it too. Westerners who will smile idiotically at anything a non-Western religion claims, but will go ballistic at whatever Christianity says. It’s very strange. — RD]

As a practicing Buddhist for well over 40 years, perhaps I can shed some light on the subject.

During these more than 40 years, I have never been asked—not once—to suspend my capacity for critical thinking, or reject any kind of scientific discovery or scientific evidence in order to continue my religious belief and practice.

I can accept that Jesus was an extraordinary teacher who generated tremendous awe and devotion from his disciples, but I could never believe the scientifically-impossible, supernatural elements that have been handed down about his existence.

So the folks who “won’t give Christianity the time of day,” probably have an issue with virgin births, and raising and rising from the dead, the water into wine, the feeding of the multitudes, etc. (I’m willing to accept some of the faith healing, as even today, the mind-body connection can be quite powerful).

Nicholas Kristof in the NYT has interviewed some Christian leaders about this (that there’s much about Christianity that he likes, but he can’t accept the metaphysical elements).

Hope this helps.

#7 Comment By Ampersand III On December 4, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

“I don’t know what to tell you…you are abnormal.”

I’ve certainly been called worse. Tell me, do you think that “normal” people outnumber “abnormal” ones? Before, it was easier to silence any cultural dissent, and make us feel isolated and minimal. But things are open and connected, now. It seems to me that many people–on both sides–no longer wish to keep their father’s world intact. With so many women running away from tradition, with so many men deciding that the conventional life-path isn’t worth it, with so many people perfectly okay with gay people and letting in all sorts of non-white immigrants…we may not be a majority, but we’re at least a healthy plurality, I’d think.

“…but have you really not seen any positive marital relationships where each person trusts the other and helps them be something better than they would be on their own?”

I’ve literally never looked at a marriage and thought, “I want that.” It’s either looked horrible or extremely unsatisfying. And please don’t blame me on divorce; my parents have been married for fifty years.

“Ampersand III’s post was borderline gibberish. I guess it’s a look into the mind of an incel.”

MGTOW, actually. I thought this would be one of the few places where men wouldn’t be vilified, but there you go. Please don’t rely on the MSM, learn the difference between MGTOWs, incels, MRAs, and PUAs. Men’s collective reaction is a major factor in all this. And if they ever invent a male birth-control pill, things will really get crazy…

#8 Comment By DanJ On December 4, 2018 @ 2:21 pm

China has abandoned her one-child policy and is encouraging families to have more children. Turns out they dont want them. Total fertility rate for China now 1,24%. Liaoning province has lowest rate in the world at 0,55%.

South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore at about the Chinese average.

Theocratic Iran is shrinking with 1,7%. Turkey goes for status quo with 2,1%.

Eastern Europe is at about Italian levels of reproduction.

Sub-Saharan Africa still has lots of children, and the poor countries in Asia and the Americas.

All over the world the story is the same for the last 50 years. As wealth increases, people have fewer kids. That is the grand picture.

Of course there are smaller trends and fluctuations. And you can point at anecdotal evidence where some Europeans don’t have kids because of this hot-button ideological issue or the next. But it’s still not significant. Money is no.1, not religion or ideology.

#9 Comment By Nelson On December 4, 2018 @ 2:46 pm

Europe aside, is it too much to ask for better pro-family polices in our own country? I’m talking cheap healthcare and housing along with fewer hours spent at work/ commuting so you can spend more time on family and community. It’s a simple list. Is it too much to ask for?

#10 Comment By Erdrick On December 4, 2018 @ 3:48 pm

Ampersand III says:
December 4, 2018 at 1:31 pm

MGTOW, actually. I thought this would be one of the few places where men wouldn’t be vilified, but there you go. Please don’t rely on the MSM, learn the difference between MGTOWs, incels, MRAs, and PUAs. Men’s collective reaction is a major factor in all this. And if they ever invent a male birth-control pill, things will really get crazy…

Why bother learning the difference, they’re just several different species of loser. There are many, many young men out there who have overwhelmingly positive experiences with women, marriage, and families- myself and many of my friends included- who find what you have written to be utterly alien. The secret is to be a self-confident man who looks for a genuine relationship with a like-minded woman rather than focusing on superficial or material things, then working together to build a family. The I becomes a We, and you work as a team. I wouldn’t trade my marriage and family for anything, especially not the bitter, lonely craziness you’re espousing.

I’m certainly not saying you should marry or have children. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t assume that every man feels about it the way you do. Maybe you’re not cut out for being married or raising children. I am, and so are many other men. Sure, there are crazy, pathetic, and evil women out there. There are also crazy, pathetic, and evil men. I try to avoid both. Therefore, I want nothing to do with the beta male pity party groups you’ve listed.

#11 Comment By Erdrick On December 4, 2018 @ 4:26 pm

Upon reflection, my last comment was a bit too harsh. I do have sympathy for men who for one reason or another have found themselves in a bad or abusive relationship, and I shouldn’t call the groups as a whole “losers”. I can understand how men who have suffered as a result of relationships would wind up cynical and bitter. But I think it is wrongheaded and misguided to attack the general concepts of marriage and family. They are sources of joy and meaning for a great many men, myself included. Seeing them characterized as torture is so outlandish to me that I have trouble restraining my scorn.

#12 Comment By Ted On December 4, 2018 @ 5:58 pm

Matthew: “Nicholas Kristof in the NYT has interviewed some Christian leaders about this (that there’s much about Christianity that he likes, but he can’t accept the metaphysical elements).”

What Kristof can’t accept in Christianity is the miraculous, not the metaphysical. There’s a difference.

#13 Comment By RATMDC On December 4, 2018 @ 8:10 pm

CLH, there isn’t any evidence that the childfree mostly regret their choices (in fact, the reverse is by far the norm), and doesn’t selfishness require harming someone else? The idea that each generation needs to get larger in order to pay for the previous generations is a pyramid scheme, and surely you know that those inevitably collapse, right?

As for the environment, having one fewer child is by far the most substantial thing one can do to lower one’s carbon footprint. Everything you also mentioned is important, but that doesn’t mean you should doubt anyone’s sincerity in a situation like this.

Consider also the desire to spare one’s hypothetical child(ren) the experience of living through what’s likely to come. I’m not even referring (necessarily) to the environment here; I’m referring to the real-world equivalent of the possibility (however slight) that one’s child(ren) could have a bad afterlife. There’s no guarantee at all that life will have more positives than negatives, not even close.

People mostly have children due to their (the parents’) own desires. Isn’t that often (no, absolutely not always!) selfish?

On top of all that, are you unaware of just how many kids are neglected and/or abused? A horribly large proportion of people most definitely regret having children.

#14 Comment By Mark B. On December 5, 2018 @ 9:54 am

If fertily rates and marriage numbers in a population are indicators of a dying culture, than South-Korea and Japan (both ehtnically and culturally homogeneous nations) are dying faster than Europe (at least in my country the Netherlands).

What they do share however: neo-liberalism, rogue capitalism / shareholder feudalism and a culture where the Market has infiltrated peoples identities and lives. AGFA (Apple-Google-Facebook-Amazon)is the new culture. Bad for kids in many many ways.

#15 Comment By JeffK On December 5, 2018 @ 10:05 am

“Sure, there are crazy, pathetic, and evil women out there.” – Yes there are.

Now for some humor to lighten things up.

The Hot/Crazy matrix for women.
[8]

As an attempt to not be biased I watched the Hot/Crazy matrix for men. It’s pretty much a rip-off of the crazy women matrix. But it’s included none the less.

#16 Comment By JeffK On December 5, 2018 @ 10:47 am

I was off my game a bit. I should have also linked to Women, by Jamey Johnson, in my post showing the hot/crazy matrix (assuming it passes the moderators).

Enjoy.

#17 Comment By JonF On December 5, 2018 @ 10:55 am

Matthew, as I mentioned on another thread I’ve been researching Japanese Buddhism (for a writing project not a faith quest) lately, and there’s a huge amount superstition and outright magical thinking in popular Buddhism. And some very complex and challenging, but also scientifically questionable, ancient Indian metaphysics bound up with the core doctrines of the religion. My take is that Western Buddhism very often dumps all that overboard, or treats some of it as worthwhile ritual but not really “true”, creating in effect a sort of Moral Therapeutic Buddhism. You’re welcome to explain where I’m wrong of course, but for sure we don’t often see the Dawkins sort of skeptic going after the doctrines of Nirvana or samadhi or skandha “atoms” as they do the Trinity or the Incarnation.

#18 Comment By Mark VA On December 5, 2018 @ 5:24 pm

Europe is not dead yet.

The EU elites that have caused so much suffering among ordinary Europeans, and spread their misery abroad, are being pushed out. From Austria, Germany, Italy, and finally but magnificently, to France, with the Visegrad countries offering support, the European people are finding their voice:

[9]

I believe all right thinking Europeans should put on their yellow vests and rebuild the continent, so it becomes a warm home, with children, and not an ice cold bureaucratic institution;

The irony is truly amazing – just a few days ago, Marcon gave a public lecture to Trump on the “evils of nationalism”. How times have changed, in the blink of an eye – from this, to water cannon on the people, in the exact same spot:

[10]

#19 Comment By Bo Grimes On December 19, 2018 @ 5:53 pm

It’s been a decade since Mark Steyn’s “America Alone,” same thesis, same data. Since 2015, I have been dismayed by how much Conservatism has been rehashing–as if it were new–the debates of the 90s. None of this is new. It is my conviction that 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2008 put it all on the back burner where it remained slowing simmering until it has now reached the boiling point again. Last year I had to drastically downsize my library by 1000s of books, but I had among them many dozens related to the early days of the Culture Wars.

At that time many conservatives were sounding the alarm, about everything from immigration, birth rates, education and the academy, the media and Hollywood, the deep state, etc. I could easily list 2 dozen books in the last year that are essentially restatements of 2 dozen in any given year between 1990-2000.

Will we wake up and do something this time or just keep writing Jeremiads and gnashing our teeth? We need a plan of action, not mournful laments.