Mark- I think we’re largely on the same page (“Yeah, it’s called ‘The Corner’ dimwit” — The Couch), and I’m glad to hear you clarify your differences with Buchanan. As I can’t find much to disagree with in the bulk of your response, I’ll leave it alone. But at the end you say my sentence about political will is “largely self-refuting.” I don’t think so. I think we agree that political will is a big part of the equation. This is my problem with the demography is destiny approach to many of these questions. I agree that demography can be destiny, but it needn’t be. Why even Vatican City has a destiny of sorts and it has basically had a TFR of zero for quite a long time now.
Only 1 in 22 passengers on space ship earth are Americans (someone check my math!). But we certainly punch above our demographic weight in terms of our influence, measured in economic, cultural or political terms. We are more in control over our destiny than the Sri Lankans [or whichever poor-but-reproductively-surging nation you prefer] are of theirs.
I surely agree that extra manpower has its uses and consequences at home and abroad, but political will and culture are not merely the result of numerical “success.” I’m in your camp that healthy cultures and confident polities need to be fruitful. But the links are complicated. Indeed, I’ve always objected to the reductionism of Buchanan’s demographic analysis. He often makes it sound like it’s better to have an expanding population in a dirt-poor and fractured country than to have a fairly stable or slightly declining population in a prosperous and peaceful country. In short, I think the tracks of culture and demography are related and often intertwine, but they are different tracks. I’m with you that Europe’s lack of will — “lack of civilizational confidence” is a better phrase, I think — is a huge challenge which contributes to its gloomy demographic prospects. That is what I was getting at in that self-refuting sentence.