Sunday, February 20, 2005

The End of the West

The epic film Ben Hur is known for its raw portrayal of human emotion. It is a tale of vengeance and forgiveness, love and seething hate. Millions have watched this movie for these themes which have resonated throughout human history. Today, there is another, more important, lesson we can learn from Ben Hur.

The Roman tribunal Messala is infatuated with Rome. He tells Judah Ben Hur that Rome is the future.

Turns out he was wrong.

At it's height, the Roman Empire was untouchable. Messala forgot that the only constant in this world is change. For Rome and for the Western world, this too shall pass.

I'm not playing the doomer here. The end of the world is not at hand. We are, however, in a transitional period in history. All signs point to a dying and declining West and a future that is anything but set in stone.

There are many reasons why the end is near for the West. First and foremost, she is not reproducing. Fears of over-population, coupled with a cultural acceptance of birth control have led to birth rates that do not even reach replacement level. In Europe, only Albanians reproduce at a rate to maintain current population. In America, without immigration, the national population would decline year after year.

These are not signs of a vibrant people. It gets worse. Cradle-to-the-grave governmental service in European countries will lead to bankruptcy. In Germany, unemployment rates are at their highest levels since World War II. The situation will only be exacerbated as tax rates must sky-rocket to provide for social programs.

Like Rome, we have forgotten how we became great. Only through hard work and sacrifice does one accomplish anything. Today we possess an entitlement mentality: "I want what I want. I want it right now and I deserve it regardless of what I do". This attitude is beyond self-destructive.

I could go on, but my point is not to damn the West. If she wishes to avoid the fate of Messala's Rome, there are things to be done.

The current trend on birth rates must be reversed. Easier said than done, but a necessity nonetheless. Never has a country weened itself into domination. An old population recycled old ideas and does not change the world. The future of a country lies in its youth, and if it has no youth, well, you do the math.

Social spending must be curbed. If democracies continue to hand out money to anyone and everyone who needs it, what reason should the rest of society work for it? Add this to an aging and retiring population and the strain on tomorrow's worker will be too much to take. Current economic policy will only lead to devastation.

Lastly, we need to re-focus culturally. Today's Westerners practice an "if it feels good, do it" mentality. Ignoring the morality angle, this is extremely dangerous. A responsible citizen practices restraint. Science has given us sex without consequences, but marriages still fall apart at a staggering rate. This is detrimental to our children's welfare--the few that we have--and is the start of a vicious cycle. It's time to reverse that cycle.

If this advice is not heeded, the West--as we know it--will cease to be. This doesn't mean the end of the world. The destruction of the Roman Empire empire led to the Renaissance. A bright new future may await us, but it may also hold wars and famine. It is difficult to see.

If we wish to fiddle while Rome burns, we will be forced to deal with whatever hand the future deals us. The other option is to--armed with history--hang on to what we have been given.

The choice is yours.


Loyal Achates said...

Been reading Pat Buchanan, eh?

I don't think the West needs to increase its birth rate - we need to reduce the birth rate in Third World countries. Low birthrate = prosperity, and vice versa. That means cracking down on religious groups which decry the use of condoms and other methods of birth control, while making those methods readily available to all who want them, everywhere in the world.

As for social spending, you can't blame the people of Europe for demanding a richer, better life when one is possible. Unlike many Americans, they seem to have woken up to the fact that they live in wealthy countries, so why work themsleves to death? Why always worry about being #1? And yet, their deficit levels are nothing like ours.

I don't think the West is on its way out, I think capitalism is, whether we like it or not. The only question is, 50 years from now, whether we'll be living under democratic socialism or tyranny.

Apollo Kioku said...

True, Pat Buchanan did write about the subject, but he is not the only person who has predicted the decline of Western Society. Just look at some of the media sprouting in developing countries (Ousmane Sembene for example). The West itself is not on its way out, but I belive that Western ideologies are. The world is getting smaller at an alarming rate, and I don't know what to expect for the future, especially in regard to something as dynamic as culture. Only time will tell.