Resurrection of the West - January 7, 2002
"The Death of the West" is perhaps one of the most valuable and thought-provoking works to date from former presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan.
According to Buchanan's thesis, two forces that are destined to bring about the demise of Western civilization by the midpoint of this century are hard at work. The first force is the demographic trend in Western industrialized nations. The second is the sorry state of their moral fabric. Buchanan correctly observes that this kind of combination is a formula for national and cultural suicide.
In regard to the first force, Buchanan notes that women in Western nations are not having enough babies to sustain the population. In fact, the reverse is occurring. Many nations are in the process of disappearing. In contrast, populations in most Third World nations are on the rise.
The book provides sufficient evidence about birthrates in industrialized nations, and those in immigrant and Third World populations, to significantly startle most readers. This is especially true for those who have seldom given any thought to this type of statistical information or its ramifications.
Buchanan uses U.N. estimates to buttress his argument. The estimates project huge declines in the population sizes of Italy, Germany, Britain, Russia and Japan. Unless some dramatic change takes place, economic growth will be maintained in these countries only through immigration.
Buchanan sees most elites in the West as opposing genuine assimilation. This is because they hold as hallowed the doctrine of "multiculturalism." Such attitudes are correctly attributed to Marxist influence.
The second force leading to the death of the West involves the onslaught that has taken place upon the moral underpinnings. Buchanan describes how the Judeo-Christian worldview has been pummeled from all sides. The sanctity of human life has been one of the greatest casualties.
This explains why concern for kangaroo rats, spotted owls, whales and salmon now exceeds that of human beings. And why the family, which has been diluted and redefined, possesses a mere fraction of its former stability and strength.
Still, there are two aspects of the book that could possibly stifle the message and hurt the messenger. The first has to do with the pessimistic tone of the book, and the second with an over-emphasis on ethnicity.
The demographic crisis in the U.S. has less to do with the ethnicity of those entering the country than it has to do with the issues of legality and assimilation.
America will not remain a sovereign nation if the rule of law and security of the borders are not re-established. The positive thing about the approach to immigration we used to have, the melting pot, was that new citizens, no matter where they came from, willingly took on and embraced the unique American creed, language, culture and worldview.
Then somehow assimilation became a dirty word. It was swallowed up in a tide of pseudo-intellectualism. Bilingual education, political indoctrination and welfare benefits became a standard part of the new immigrant's welcoming package.
But even with the efforts on the part of some to suppress assimilation, Asians, Cubans, East Indians and others became sterling examples of acclimation to American culture.
At the turn of the 19th century, many Americans viewed immigrants from Ireland as a threat to the nation's culture. Proposals were put forth mid-century to limit immigration, especially for Catholics. Groups like Jews, Italians and other Europeans were viewed with great suspicion. These groups were successful anyway and ultimately integrated into the American way of life.
Buchanan also assumes that current trends in birthrates and immigration are going to continue unchanged for 50 years or longer. This discounts the potential effects of war, famine, drought, disease and economic transition. History often demonstrates that the unforeseen can play havoc with a predicted outcome.
As brilliant as Patrick J. Buchanan is, he seems to have a way of self-limiting the scope of his audience. His important and much-needed commentary all too often gives his enemy the ammo with which to shoot him.
"The Death of the West" contains some truly important ideas for our times. Buy it, read it and let the dialogue begin. It's critical that, as Americans, we analyze what has happened in our own country and determine what improvements need to be made in order to ensure that our future remains bright.