The Corner

The Last of the Caucasians?

Mark (Steyn) — I may be more in your camp than I was when I was pulling demography duty for Ben Wattenberg (he and Pat Buchanan would butt heads on these issues with some regularity), but I can’t quite fully buy into the gloominess of Buchanan’s analysis. Yes, dropping fertility rates in the advanced and white nations (not synonymous terms, despite what Buchanan sometimes suggests) are worrisome particularly given the fecundity of certain problematic regions. But are Caucasians really going the way of the Mohicans?

It’s been a long time since I read The Last of the Mohicans, but I don’t recall the tribe dying out because of its wealth and success. Fertility rates in the West, as you know, go down with rising prosperity and consumer choice which, again, I’m pretty sure wasn’t the cause of the Mohicans’ undoing.

I would have let the line be, except Buchanan pushes it even further, writing:

By 2050, a fourth of all the people of Eastern Europe will have vanished. Ukraine will lose one-third of its population. Russia, 150 million at the breakup of the Soviet Union, 142 million today, will be down to 108 million. Such losses dwarf what Hitler and Stalin together did to these countries…

Now you can make the case that the victims of Stalin and Hitler went the way of the Mohicans, or at least that was the intent behind the slaughter. But how can you compare that to children never born? And I’m not talking about the unborn in the pro-life sense, I’m talking about humans never conceived. There is an enormous category error at work in such comparisons, not merely logically, but morally. Rounding up and murdering people is not the same thing as deviations in projected fertility rates. One is industrialized genocide, the other is a stream of numbers churned out of a calculator.

There are other problems with this approach as well. While I agree with you on some of the immigration questions, particularly as they relate to Europe, I don’t think Buchanan is entirely right (he’s not entirely wrong, either) when he suggests that a shrinking proportion of population means losing control of your destiny. Indeed, controlling your destiny (assuming you have the political will to do so) is more possible today than it was when comparatively tiny British isles dictated not only their own destiny but the destiny of much of the globe.

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