Birthrates in Western Europe have dipped so low that they threaten to shrink the populations and undermine the European equivalents of Social Security. Europe's Great and Good are increasingly looking to massive immigration by young Third Worlders to maintain the current proportion of workers to pensioners. As reported in VDARE earlier, the French Minister of the Interior is proposing the European Union admit 75 million immigrants. [/eu.htm] A recent United Nations report asserts that to maintain the same ratio of retirees to workers as at present, over the next 50 years Italy would have to take in 113 million immigrants - and Germany 182 million! [http://www.un.org/esa/population/migration.htm]
But is it wise to bet the continent on one radical and permanent change without individual nations first experimenting with other options? The decline in birthrates in Europe certainly deserves a serious response. But it is by no means clear what it should be - nor that it should be the same for each country. Logically, each country should experiment. Just as centralized control of economic innovation fails, so does centralized control of political innovations.
However, flooding the historic nations of Europe with vast numbers of Third Worlders appeals to Europe's leftist-centrist ruling class because it wants to swamp native patriots who currently resist its transnational ambitions. The appeal of transnationalism to ambitious European apparatchiks: fewer democratic checks on their power. In a republic where everyone speaks the same language, citizens can effectively monitor the government's performance. In a multilingual polity with an activist state such as the E.U., however, it becomes impractical to follow what is going on. Thus, power flows to a multilingual elite. Hence the hysterical response by the European ruling class when the people of Austria threw out a cozily corrupt regime and democratically replaced it with a new government favoring cutbacks in immigration.
Republican nations turn into polyglot empires. It happened to Rome. It's happening to Europe today. And to America tomorrow?
Some possible responses that individual European nations could consider:
1. Let the population decline.
Americans are always yammering about how we "need our space." Thus new houses in America are 50% bigger than three decades ago, and there is twice as much retail space per capita. Well, there are a lot of Europeans who would like to live large too. Some European countries like France are not terribly crowded. But others like Greece and the Lowland states are packed.
And birthrates are remarkably unpredictable. Once the lebensraum per capita reached a level closer to America's, Europeans might start having more children again.
How could these smaller cohorts of young workers pay for Baby Boomers' retirements? Well, the same UN report also noted in passing, "In most cases, the potential support ratios could be maintained at current levels by increasing the upper limit of the working-age population to roughly 75 years of age." So, being overrun by Third Worlders is hardly an economic necessity. Over the next half-century, health care breakthroughs and less need for physical labor might well extend the average European's productive years by another decade.
But even with a more moderate increase in the retirement age, Europeans could generate far more wealth per worker. All they'd have to do is get off their duffs.
Their unemployment rate is typically 4 to 10 percentage points higher than America's. Also, Europeans work far fewer hours than we do. They enjoy 5 or 6-week government-mandated vacations. And many are not allowed to work more than 35 or 37 hours per week. In the Mediterranean, many government and unionized workers literally sleep through their official jobs so they can work all evening in their family's tax-evading gray market firm. In Scandinavia, absenteeism is rampant. Furthermore, internal migration is limited. For instance, although booming Northern Italian firms are desperate for workers, the government subsidizes Southern Italians to stay where they are in thumb-twiddling make-work jobs.
On those increasingly rare occasions when Europeans do show up for work, many are enormously productive. They tend to be mature, intelligent, and well educated. In a surprising number of Europeans, the welfare state has yet to fully grind down a traditional work ethic that contrasts rather favorably with America's get-rich-quick ethic. Britain was "the sick man of Europe" until Margaret Thatcher unleashed its productivity. Equally brave leaders could do the same for the rest of Europe.
2. Take in more foreigners, but choose them carefully
Europe is currently filling up with illegal immigrants and "asylum"-seekers. The general lack of internal border controls within the European Union means that any weak link in the E.U.'s external border lets in floods of outsiders who then spread throughout the E.U. Italy, with its long coastline and its incompetent and corruptible civil service, has become the prime gateway for illegal immigrants. But many move on quickly since Italy is less of a sucker for hard luck stories than the Northern welfare states.
With control of their borders, individual states could pursue more rational. more selective immigration policies. They could then choose to admit only those immigrants most culturally compatible or likely to pay the most in taxes relative to what they consume in government handouts. By being more selective, Canada has brought in on the whole a more productive and assimilable type of immigrant than most of the European states. (It's set the numbers too high, but that's another matter.) The Europeans have acquired large numbers of poorly educated Moslems, who huddle in sullen and resentful enclaves. Trust me, admitting even more Islamic peasants isn't going to jumpstart Europe's economies.
Many European citizens naturally feel that if they need immigrants, why not first try to bring back their overseas relatives? The Mediterranean countries, with their huge diasporas, might well consider instituting a Law of Return modeled on Israel's. Many Italian immigrants, for example, ended up in ramshackle South American republics like Argentina, which still have high birth rates. Although life in Argentina is improving, a lot of 3rd generation Italians in the slums of Buenos Aires just might be tempted to move to their ancestral homeland.
3. Have more babies.
The ultimate test of any civilization is: is it self-reproducing? Or does it contain a fatal flaw condemning it to extinction? It would be a terrible irony if the West's great heritage of individualism inevitably destroys Western Civilization by leading to self-indulgence so great that people can't be bothered to have enough children to carry on their lineage. At this point, the best that Western Europe can say in its own defense is that it has not yet begun to fight. Here are some ways to not go gentle into that not-so-good night.
* Crack down on street crime and/or encourage the growth of suburbs and gated communities. Europeans tend to live in urban apartments and traditionally let their kids play on the streets. This worked fine until the recent crime wave. Now, lots of Europeans figure that if they want kids, and don't want them mugged, they'd better buy a suburban home far from the bad elements. The U.S. has already gone through this transformation, which is why the extraordinary increase in the murderousness of African Americans during the crack epidemic of 1985 to 1995 had so little tangible impact on whites. Europe lags the U.S. by a few decades in crime-proofing itself.
* Give huge tax incentives to couples who have babies. Offer larger breaks to mothers who have children in their twenties rather than their thirties.
* Start a campaign telling citizens it's their patriotic duty to have more kids. Most Europeans are probably too self-destructively sophisticated to respond to this, but the Greeks might, since the Turks give them somebody to hate and fear.
* Start affirmative action for mothers, just like many nations offer favoritism to veterans. Offer mothers a G.I. bill guaranteeing them free education and retraining.
* (This is radical). Cut way back on retirement subsidies. Tell young people that they'll have to rely far more on their on their children to support them in their old age. Impossible? Well, that's how the entire human race did it until Bismarck invented government pensions.
Experiment with different social systems. For example, the Swedes are committing race suicide more slowly than many other European nations. Perhaps lavishly funded feminism works. Or try the opposite tack. Outlaw abortion. Cut back on female employment by getting rid of most of the government pink-collar jobs.
Hell, try legalizing polygamy. Just try something.
It's your survival that's at stake.
August 8, 2000