Mark Steyn and the Death of the West

Jason Holliston at Columbia Gorge Dispatch links to the excellent but chilling Mark Steyn piece, "It's the Demography, Stupid". Steyn argues:
As fertility shrivels, societies get older--and Japan and much of Europe are set to get older than any functioning societies have ever been. And we know what comes after old age. These countries are going out of business--unless they can find the will to change their ways. Is that likely? I don't think so. ...

Also via Jason,Lileks weighs in:
The telling line in Steyn's piece quotes that fine Gaul Jean-Francois Revel: "Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself." I’ve read a lot of Revel; a great man and a profound, clear thinker. Lucky for him, he is old, and will not see his fears made manifest. Guilt is a problem, but it’s not the entire enchilada. It’s guilt married to a peculiar belief that Western Civilization is unique only in its sins. The only thing Western Civ really gave the world was slavery, imperialism, war, and capitalism; the fact that we have eliminated or diminished or abbreviated those sins is due not to anything inherent in Western Civ but some overarching, free-floating Enlightenment unmoored from the cultures that produced it. The world began in 1968, and owes nothing to what came before; if we wish to combat the regrettable enthusiasms of some other cultures whose animus appears religious, we should deconsecrate the cathedrals in order to set an example and light the way. Religion is the enemy to the transnational progressives, because religion holds up laws and codes and rules the wise burghers of Belgium cannot amend.

Lileks worries about those who "see threats and perils everywhere except where there are, you know, threats and perils." ShrinkWrapped relates an exchange with a commenter who also has an interesting sense of proportion:
Last week I posted Liberalism's Alter Nation, not one of my finest efforts but it did trigger an interesting exchange with Gary Farber who posts at Amygdala, a very interesting , often entertaining blog where he writes about science fiction (at least part of the time) which gains him significant points in my estimation. Among his comments on the post were two that I think are exceptionally revealing and underlined the most profound cause of the disconnect between the right and left in this country today.

In his first comment on my post Gary said:

The threat of Islamic terrorism is, in context, comparatively trivial, and no justification whatever to give up the liberty our country holds sacred.

Except at the extremes of left and right, it seems to me that this is the key breaking point in our discourse. If Gary is correct in saying that al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism present a "comparatively trivial" threat, it logically follows that one would be much less concerned about such issues as media bias, the left's conscious and unconscious assault on our war efforts, "whistle blowers" outing the NSA surveillance program, and a whole host of other disputed problems. On the other hand, if you believe, as I do, that Islamic terror represents an existential threat to the West, then the leaks about the NSA program in the New York Times and Washington Post become a major issue of treasonous behavior from the media conjoined with opportunistic and suicidal behavior by the left side of the political divide.

It is impossible to overstate the significance of this fundamental disagreement on basic assumptions.

However, Shrink holds out hope for an ongoing conversation, and some follow-up comments by Gary provide encouragement. Go to the link to read the rest of Shrink's post, and (in the comments) Gary's clarification of his own position.

Meanwhile, Big Lizards posts a rebuttal by Dafydd, countering some of Steyn's more pessimistic projections:
The essay is brilliant, persuasively argued, and displays the passion Steyn has for Western Civ. Fortunately, it suffers from one terrible flaw that spoils everything: it is a classic example of discredited static analysis. ...

Meanwhile, Steyn has a more upbeat piece in the print edition of National Review (issue date December 31, 2005) called "The Defeaticrats." (HT: NYC LiberalHawks) You've got to get the print issue, or else be a subscriber to read it online; but I'll leave you with this quote: "The tragedy is that, on so-called “liberal” terms, this is a war Democrats ought to be gung-ho for..."

Exactly so. As many of us have been saying all along.