The Corner

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Fuel for the Fire


One of the names buzzing around the blogosphere in recent months has been Gunnar Heinsohn, a demographer from Bremen. His latest appearance is here in a Weekly Standard report by Clark Whelton. Heinsohn adds to the arguments fizzingly advanced by Mark Steyn in “America Alone,” arguing that the “youth bulge” of Islamic countries is likely to fuel an Islamist war against the West for the next generation or so. The figures he quotes, like those in Mark’s book, are grim. So is there hope? David Coleman, the distinguished Oxford demographer, argues that there is in a lecture he gave to Hudson two weeks ago. He points out that some countries like Germany and Eastern Europe are in serious demographic decline but others such as the U.K. and Ireland are not (though uncontrolled immigration, there as here, creates more problems than it solves.) Listen to Coleman here.

Heinsohn offers some optimism too, though for the U.S. and what he calls “the Anglo-world” rather than for Europe (where he sees conflict and a local version of “white flight”.) He concludes tentatively that, first, the Islamic “youth bulge” will spend itself in the next few decades and, second that: “An alliance of India with the Anglo-World may be all we need to safely travel the bumpy road ahead.” Okay, now what interests me is the different levels of discussion of this. Mark’s book has ensured this has moved up the agenda in the U.S. But I see little evidence that British politicians are seriously facing this. Feeble discussions of “Britishness” and nervous criticisms of multiculturalism are now just about tolerated. But the consequences of Britain and Ireland opting out of the “Anglo-World” and into a demographically imploding and conflict-ridden EU are never raised. The implications of even discussing them are simply too uncomfortable. If Toynbee was right and civilizations die by suicide rather than murder, then their preferred method would seem to be taking an overdose of sleeping pills while lying in a warm bath.