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The narcissistic fall of France Is the country really on the brink of civil war?

Protesters in Paris. (Photo by Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images)

Protesters in Paris. (Photo by Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images)


June 8, 2021   5 mins

“I look on every side and all I see is darkness.”

I use that quote from Pascal (Pensées, 229) because I am not setting out to assert positive truths nor to defend opinions. I see a situation which — as Pascal writes in his next sentence — “offers nothing but cause for doubt and anxiety”.

In asking me to give an opinion on the now celebrated “Letter of the Generals,” UnHerd‘s Will Lloyd rightly notes: “What seems most extraordinary about the furore that followed is that so few people questioned the premise of the letter — that France is on the point of collapse.”

This is indeed surprising. Why France? Why France rather than any other European country when the others seem to be in a more or less similar situation and sometimes worse off?

I might as well admit from the beginning that I have no solution to this mystery (even though I know France well and I am a Frenchman). I will try to avoid straying into confused notions of the “psychology of nations” kind; but it will be difficult.

From the point of view of Islamist terrorism, it is true that, for a time, France was especially targeted by Isis, the latter believing (not without reason) that France had attacked them by intervening in Syria and Iraq. But those days are behind us, and if one considers the last decades, we see that Great Britain, Spain, Belgium and, to a lesser extent, Germany have also suffered murderous terrorist attacks. What would be difficult, in fact, is to find a country in the world that has been spared Islamist violence.

Are crime and violence, whether or not linked to drugs, really wreaking more havoc in France than in other European countries? I have no idea, but it would surprise me a little; if this were the case, French journalists would not have failed to emphasise it.

There is in France a vague and widespread ambiance of self-flagellation — something that hangs in the air like a gas. Anyone visiting France and watching television cannot help being struck by the obsession of its presenters, journalists, economists, sociologists and assorted specialists: they spend the greater part of their time on air comparing France to other European countries, invariably, with the goal of belittling France.

In general, it is sufficient to point to Germany; but sometimes Germany does not have such a good record so they refer to Scandinavia, the Netherlands and, more rarely, Britain. Whatever the subject may be, it is of course always possible to discover a country that is superior to us; but such an extreme delight in masochism is surprising.

This is just a detail. By far a more important subject, since it is not only a symptom of decline but decline itself — decline in its very essence — is of course demography. Recently, politicians and commentators were disturbed to learn that the “synthetic index of fertility” (that is, the number of children per woman) has fallen in France to 1.8.1

Such a figure would be a dream come true for the countries of Southern Europe: for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece, where the rate is 1.3.2 It is worse still in Asia, in parts of the world that are as technologically advanced as they are far away but generally admired. The rate in Singapore and Taiwan is 1.2.

South Korea is only 1.1. This country risks losing a tenth of its population by 2050; if that continues it will only have one chance of survival: to annex North Korea, which is at 1.9. I’m joking, but only just.

With a rate of 1.4, the Japanese are almost muddling through, which is surprising, since the most amusing news on declining birth-rates typically comes from Japan. These news items are so crazy that I hesitate to repeat them (but the improbable is sometimes true):

  • Old men are apparently so numerous in Japan that they can no longer be housed, so they have to find a way of breaking the law to find lodgings in prison.
  • The Japanese government is reported to have to broadcast pornographic videos in primetime on public television, in order to stimulate the sexual appetites of Japanese couples. After all, screwing does end up producing a few children.

In France, it is clear that we have not quite sunk to his level, at least not entirely. The truth is that French obsession with the idea of decline is far from new. Jean-Jacques Rousseau asserts somewhere (or is it Voltaire? I’m too lazy to check; these authors are tedious to read. Anyway, it is one of the two), that sooner or later — “the thing is certain”: we will be enslaved by the Chinese.

France sometimes reminds me of one of those hypochondriac old men who never stops complaining about their health; the kind who are constantly saying that this time they really do have one foot in the grave. People usually respond sarcastically: “You watch, he’ll end up burying all of us.”

The United States of America seems, on the other hand, to have erected optimism into a principle of existence. One can doubt the soundness of this attitude. When Joe Biden claims that “America is once again ready to lead the world” (here again, I am too lazy to find the exact quotation; Biden is even more tedious than Voltaire), I immediately interpret this as:

  • America will not be long in embarking on a new war;
  • As always, she will wind up conducting herself like a piece of shit;
  • She will waste a lot of money, while reinforcing up the near-universal loathing of which she is the target; this will allow China to strengthen its position.

No, we are not really dealing with a “French suicide” — to evoke the title of Eric Zemmour’s book — but a Western suicide or rather a suicide of modernity, since Asian countries are not spared. What is specifically, authentically French is the awareness of this suicide. But if we consent to set aside for a moment the particular case of France (and really it would be wise to do so), the conclusion becomes crystal clear: the inevitable consequence of what we call progress (at all levels, economic, political, scientific, technological) is self-destruction.

By refusing all forms of immigration, Asian countries have opted for a simple suicide, without complications or disturbances. The countries of Southern Europe are in the same situation, although one wonders if they have consciously chosen it. Migrants do land in Italy, in Spain and in Greece — but they only pass through, without helping to sort out the demographic balance, although the women of these countries are often highly desirable. No, the migrants are drawn irresistibly to the biggest and fattest cheeses, the countries of Northern Europe.

I should mention in passing the Leftist/progressivist/humanist opinion: we are not dealing with a suicide but with a regeneration. Ethnic composition is, admittedly, being modified, but in the essentials everything else remains unchanged: our republic (or rather in Europe, mostly our monarchy) our culture, our values, our “Rule of Law,” all that stuff. I sometimes hear this opinion being defended (though more and more rarely).

The 45% of French people who believe, on the other hand, in impending civil war help to show (and it is almost sweet) that France remains a nation of braggarts.

It takes two to wage war. Are the French going to take up arms to defend their religion? They haven’t had any religion for quite some time; and in any case, their former religion is the sort where you offer your throat to the butcher’s blade.

Would it then be a war to defend their culture, their way of life, their system of values? What exactly are we talking about? And supposing it does exist, is it worth fighting for? Does our “civilisation” really still have something to be proud of?

Europe seems to me to be at a crossroads. Reading Pascal helps me a lot: but, like him, I see “nothing but cause for doubt and anxiety”.

 

Translated by Dr Louis Betty

© Michel Houellebecq c/o Agence Intertalent info@intertalent.fr

FOOTNOTES
  1. The United States and Russia are both at 1.8; China is at 1.7.
  2. These figures from 2019 come from an informational bulletin, Population et sociétés, published by the Institut National d’Études Démographiques; their data come in turn from a report published by the UN’s population division. This bulletin also engages in projections of countries’ populations by 2050. They are probably banking on a certain percentage of immigration, which would explain the differences with what follows from fertility rates. As such, the population of the United States increases significantly (that of France as well, though much less), whereas that of Russia and China decrease slowly; in 2050, the most populated country in the world should be, by a wide margin, India.

Michel Houellebecq is a French author of novels, poems and essays. His latest book is Serotonin. 


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Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
3 years ago

Speaking of declining birthrates, i’m surprised Hungary’s example is omitted. Having had one of the lowest birthrates in Europe, they reversed the trend with a string of generous, well thought-out family policies, so the birth are steadily on the rise since their implementation. It is entirely possible to reach & maintain replacement-level birthrates without thirdworld mass-immigration, all it takes is good governing.

Last edited 3 years ago by Johannes Kreisler
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago

Quite so – good government. However, this will mean trampling on the ludicrous shibboleths of the “me too” crowd, so “feminist” that any attempt to promote family life – do you remember the old phrase “motherhood and apple pie”? – is regarded as criminal.

John Mack
John Mack
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

The resistence to family promoting subsidies and support in the USA comes from the Republican opposition to government subsidies except for certain corporations in certain industry. On a day by day level resistence to molre birth comes from: the enormously expensive US health care industry and the high cost of birth; inability of so many young to find housing without roommates; low wages touted as a key economic expansion factor; an expebnive private daycare industry; the fetish of pputting work above family (hours spent at work).

Paul Marks
Paul Marks
3 years ago
Reply to  John Mack

Democrats tend to be more supportive of subsidising corporations than Republicans are (although both parties are guilty). As for babies – Democrats tend to be keen on either preventing their conception, or killing babies (with abortion) after they are conceived.

Jennifer Britton
Jennifer Britton
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Marks

A few comments about your post, Mr Marks:

Donald Trump claimed he gave corporations the “biggest tax cut in history.” The last I heard, Trump is a Republican. So it’s GOPers who work the hardest to subsidize corporations.

How many children die from the effects or poverty (lack of medical care, appropriate nutrition, lack of good quality child care, stable housing, lack of safe and healthy living environment, abuse, etc.)?

What effects do corporate tax breaks have on the funding of low income health care?

For many years the GOP has blamed poor people, many of whom don’t have access to healthcare and contraception, for having children who end up on welfare, needing school breakfasts and lunches, needing subsidized healthcare. Now that the poor have greater access to contraception and are having fewer children, the GOP is suddenly all about getting rid of access to birth control. The poor are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Democrats are not “keen” on contraception …. they are, however, keen on making contraception as part of overall healthcare available to help people plan their families, which planning helps people take care of the children they have and helps women prevent health issues that come from having pregnancies that are too close together, which saps the health of mothers and in the long run reduces nutrients available to fetuses.

People would likely have more children if their governments were more supportive of families and children. Since 1999, we have had 4 major recessions (dot com (1999), 9/11 (2001), housing bust (2008), and Covid pandemic (2020). People no sooner recover from one disaster than another hits. Hope is not an exhaustible commodity unlike hypocrisy and dishonesty.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

The social care question comes into this too. In the old days families, mostly the women, used to take care of their elderly family members. This, and childcare, have both been outsourced to the state and to strangers, so that women can work and pay tax and be ‘self fulfilled’. I’m not sure they’re any happier though. It seems to me that either way women still get the ‘caring’ jobs which are unpaid/low paid and involve wiping arses and brain numbing tedium – but are also absolutely the most essential amazing life affirming role you could have. Society needs to value it far more. Parents, families, societies are the bedrock of humanity itself and no amount of post modern feminist handwringing changes that. As someone who was a militant feminist in my youth it feels strange for me to admit the conservatives were loosely right (in Principle rather than specifics as I will never agree with them on a lot of it) but the older I get the more I see it.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Rather an off target attack, do you mean women who think they should not be subject to sexual assault by men in the workplace?

Hungary’s population policies are not proving very successful, I’ve replied to Johanness Kreisler.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago

On the downside though, the rest of the west will hate your government and attack you for this sort of ‘self serving’ activity. Stop with this nonsense of helping ordinary people to have decent lives! Get with the program! Diversity not normality!

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

The rest of the Western political / media classes, sure. We can live with that. They are loud but thankfully don’t amount to much more than a noisy, obnoxious minority.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

An alarming number of people have forgotten that a democratically elected government’s main job – indeed their only one – is to look after their country and its people.
Nothing else.
See a fetishisation of everything NGO and supra-national by the majority. Or the over-villification of Israel

Last edited 3 years ago by A Spetzari
Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Interesting. I put this point to my children not long ago (they are in their thirties) and they were horrified. They most certainly did NOT think the main job of the government was to look after it’s own people. They regarded that view as tantamount to fascism. The government has as much duty, according to them, to look after the whole world, it’s climate, refugees, to end wars, and look after all the wretched of the earth.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

Failure of parenting?

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 years ago

Ha ha, quite possibly. They did not get that point of view from me, however. I blame the universities.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

You don’t get out of it that easily. University should come too in like to affect basic world views

Lucille Dunn
Lucille Dunn
3 years ago

What does your second sentence mean?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Lucille Dunn

What I intended to say was University comes too late in life to change basic world views

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago

Hmm not sure, when I went to uni in the early 90s I was kind of a blank sheet of paper and uni turned me into a ranting militant Marxist feminist. Basically because my decent upbringing and worldly ignorance were easy pickings for a narrative of oppressors and oppressed and that anything bad that happens to you is purely because of Western patriarchal systems of dominance are designed (deliberately and malevolently by white men) to make those things happen. It explains everything and it’s very seductive. It is like a cult.

yp54797wxn
yp54797wxn
2 years ago

If only that were true.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

It’s not unknown for sons and daughters to rebel against their parents’ views.They do tend to pick up a lot of dross from universities though. Once they hit 40, hopefully they will have become a bit wiser.

mchulme
mchulme
3 years ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Let’s hope so Eleanor … as a mother of 2 educated and empowered young women I have to say it is disheartening to see how little impact – at least in the surface anyway – upbringing/parents have on young adults now as the font of all knowledge (life experience) seems to be solely obtained from the internet, social media and their friends who in reality have as limited life experience as they do.

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago
Reply to  mchulme

And yet the world is in thrall to Greta Thunberg.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

Hardly…she’s the spawn of The Grinch and a bit of a kook.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Hear hear… actually far worse!!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

I think you have that the wrong way round. According to my children (in whom I have much faith), young people are the most conformist members of society.
What appears to you as rebellion against parents is them conforming to the expectations of their peers who are in turn fed their views on everything from fashion to music to politics by the “influencers” who have been designated in the ether as diviners of cool.
Challenge their views in a calm logical fashion and they will go from confused, to uncomfortable to bereft like a toddler separated from their comforter

mchulme
mchulme
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

You are 100% correct here and in your initial comment ! The prescient issue is today’s generation (your children and mine) have zero comprehension of the past and nor do they want to because if they did bother to take the time to understand the past, the present would be contextual. Instead they reject out of hand anything that precedes their notion of ‘the perfect world’ when in fact they don’t realize they are marching steadily but surely over the cliff. It is easy to throw buzz words around in support of your own argument … it is a lot harder to fully understand the multifaceted aspects of any given issue from multiple perspective. Hence why ‘cancel culture’ and the like is the default option currently as it’s the quick and dirty solution to every problem of the vacuous !

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago

I don’t think you have children; that, or you know something I don’t. Mine never listen to me. They even ‘discover’ and buy books rather than pull the same ones from my overloaded bookshelves.

Last edited 3 years ago by Colin Elliott
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Oh but I do have children. They are little to the right of Genghis Khan.

J A Thompson
J A Thompson
3 years ago

Thank God for that! There would appear to be some children with sense; well done!

Leon Wivlow
Leon Wivlow
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

As a life long conservative/Conservative, I think your definition of what the government should do is incorrect. ‘Look after it’s own people’ is surely a socialist ideal A government should provide the country’s defence – I believe in personal responsibility and am happy to look after myself. Given the Government’s ability to c**k up any given task, I would rather rely on my own capabilities.

John Mack
John Mack
3 years ago
Reply to  Leon Wivlow

and be ruled by corporations.

Leon Wivlow
Leon Wivlow
3 years ago
Reply to  John Mack

Why would that be so? I can choose which corporations I buy from.

John Mack
John Mack
3 years ago
Reply to  Leon Wivlow

Only due to govt intervention. Can tyou choose a rival to Facebook?

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  John Mack

Sure. Don’t need a Facebook, so far never have..

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Leon Wivlow

A navy that actually offers a free ride to intruders is interesting. How long before we have special planes to fetch them from France or even their country of origin? Plenty of nice hotels here for them to stay-nothing is too much trouble. Always think of others (countries ) before yourself seems to be the government’s motto.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

I suppose it might be prudent to look after one’s environment. Environment in the broader sense.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

Sad that you and so many other people actually believe the obsessive global warming cult

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

That is, no one.if you spread your concern so thin. It’s non existent.

Al M
Al M
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

Here’s what to do: disinherit them, telling them that their well-being should not be your primary concern. To really get the point home, pick a cause THEY are passionate about as your new benefactor.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Al M

Send me the video of that conversation 🙂

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

Scary

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

nor the over praise of Israel. Being Israel neutral might be a good thing.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Since the 1950’s the idea has been accepted that we in the west are responsible for world peace-a UN version of the world .World without borders , so protecting your own borders is wrong-though only people can come here , but we can’t replace them by moving to Africa for example..

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Hungary is probably the future. The left in European countries, with some exceptions, is in free fall. The nationalists in European countries, with some exceptions, are on the rise. I think Labour will be the next to disappear ( I don’t mean to be not electable which is where we are now, but to disappear to < 10%).

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

Nationalism was such a success in Europe in the first half of the 20th century!

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

I think you are confusing nationalism with imperialism, which is understandable given it is in fact deliberately confused by our elites. Nationalism, civic or blood or both, merely states that this group people are the people who native to this State. This is their state, They claim no other State and hope nobody claims theirs. Except for cases where nationalisms clash internally ( i.e northern Ireland) this is a relatively benign state of affairs. Nearly all European post war states were nationalistic, and based on historical national and ethnic boundaries. The ones that were’t ( Yugoslavia and East Germany) either fell apart or rejoined their co-ethnics
The Nazis were imperialists. They believed they had not just the right to Germany but to Poland and Russia, and most of Eastern Europe.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

The Hungarian birth rate has hovered around 1.5 since 2016, which is still far below replacement, if an increase from the twenty-year period beforehand (lowest low was 1.23 in 2011).
Still, Hungary has never returned to the Communist-era norm of birth rates at or around replacement; indeed it hasn’t reached an average of 2 children per woman since the 1970s.

Last edited 3 years ago by Basil Chamberlain
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago

Personally I think a managed reduction of human population is a good thing. Going back to the level of the 60s and 70s would sort out the climate change stuff too. When I was growing up in there’s that’s what I thought we were trying to do, we were told that having loads kids (especially out of wedlock) was bad – and it was both a feminist and environmentalist stance.

Brynjar Johansson
Brynjar Johansson
3 years ago

Whilst this solution is marginally better than importing half the third world to work as cheap labour, it is still a ponzi scheme.

Population growth can’t continue indefinitely, whether native or via immigration. A big population serves no purpose – it neither required for gdp/capita growth or military security. In fact, more people lowers quality of life in general.

We conquered the worlds worst diseases, invented AI & put a man on the moon. It’s hardly beyond the wit of the West to handle a slowly declining population.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago

1.5 is exponential decline, just slower than 1.23. A big population does increase the market size and ability of a country to defend itself, despite what you said. Demographics is destiny.
The best thing would be demographic stasis, but moderate increases are not a bad thing either.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago

In 1900 the pop Europe was approx 400 million , Africa 100 million. Our pop has stayed the same . Pre-industrial societies did not grow much either. Why is it necessary for pop to increase?. Most old people aren’t frail & living in nursing homes.The model they are working on , bring in other people doesn’t work anyway-they will get old & even young have on average more health problems & cost more ( in benefits etc) than the home population.

christian.wolmar
christian.wolmar
3 years ago

What a boring bunch of tedious and random generalisations put lazily together by someone taking the piss. If I had the energy, I could pull apart most of the arguments, though they are difficult to discern. Hardly an impressive example of the supposedly great French intellectual tradition, and I write as a French-speaking Fraoncophile. Pah

Ellie K
Ellie K
3 years ago

Agreed. I wasn’t impressed.

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
3 years ago

 “Having had one of the lowest birthrates in Europe, they reversed the trend with a string of generous, well thought-out family policies, so the birth are steadily on the rise since their implementation.”
Sadly Conservative governments in the UK don’t do well thought-out family policies because they cost money and to be honest they don’t really like doing much at all apart from being in charge.

julian rose
julian rose
3 years ago

It´s funny how people in general see birthrate declining as something not good, even dangerous to the survival of the nations. It´s quite the opposite, a decline in birthrate is the only event that can save the planet from self destruction. It´s us human beings who are tremendously dangerous to other species and to the environment. Less people is and allways will be the best option. A smaller world, say like in 1960, would bring instant relief worldwide. And apparently it´s coming, at last.

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
3 years ago

What’s so bad about declining birth rates if you have exponential technological development? Unmanned factories making stuff to share around a small population who live in big houses and have lots of land on the cheap sounds like Utopia to me. I thought we became wealthier through productivity, which was total stuff divided by number of people, and ramping up the numerator by increasing the divisor while certain resources – like land – are constants seems a bit stupid to me.
Sure, it’d take big time robotics and AI to support this in the longer term but they’re around the corner.

Last edited 3 years ago by Phil Mac
Alan Osband
Alan Osband
3 years ago

Higher birth rate among indigenous (white ) people must be influenced by availability of affordable housing suitable for larger families .
And the huge welfare bill consequent on mass migration from poor countries depends on taxation of those who pay tax and therefore those tax payers have less to spend on housing and extra children .

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

In the USA, we are spending BILLIONS on immigration while Biden/Pelosi/Schumer promise us higher taxes. They say people making under $400K won’t get taxed, but if they increase corporate taxes that gets translated into higher prices of everything for everybody. An average of $75K will be spent on every Afghani immigrant family minimally; $6 BILLION is being appropriated. Joe Biden just let in 13,000 Haitians and there are hundreds of thousands already in country that are using welfare benefits. One of the reasons we left NYC was the disproportionate number of immigrants in the city, many not paying taxes, whilst citizens are taxed to high heaven via local & state taxes PLUS federal taxes. NYC is not a city for an American to live in anymore unless you are happy to give your income to the state to fund newcomers. It’s not a good way to live.

Last edited 2 years ago by Cathy Carron
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Except it hasn’t been notably successful!

Extract from World Population Review 2021.

“According to current projections, Hungary’s population is expected to continue declining for the remainder of the century and end up at 6.87 million people by the end of 2099. Hungary’s population as of 2020 is 9.66 million.

Hungary’s population has been decreasing at a rate between 0.23% and 0.30% in the past five years. From 2019 to 2020, the population decreased by 0.25% or about 24,000 people. Hungary’s fertility rate is the primary cause of the population shrinking at only 1.49 births per woman. This has caused not only the population to shrink, but also the median age to increase to 43.3 years.

Despite the government’s efforts, the population decline shows no signs of slowing down”

If we actually want the population of the world to decrease, which right wing commentators usually argue for, then obviously it has to reduce in more and more individual countries. This will have transitional effects of higher retirement ages etc , but unless we want population to grow inevitably, it is necessary to manage these effects. Population growth is dramatically declining as women become better educated, more children survive their early years etc. (A good news story, which, naturally, the entire political spectrum involved in fighting our culture wars with their various doom-laden narratives, has no interest in).

This process of course started with the more ‘advanced’ nations although, yes there are cultural differences, and it is true that the usually admired East Asian countries have the lowest birth rate of all. Although also some of the highest population densities, so perhaps that is no bad thing.

Having governments try and micro-manage this process, rather than individuals making their own family planning choices, is open to all sorts of unintentended consequences and is in any case hardly conservative, and as we see in China’s case actively sinister. Also, the way children are brought up, hopefully in stable and loving families, is more important than the absolute birth rate.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Jon LM
Jon LM
3 years ago

The true insanity about the ‘demographic argument’, sadly echoed here by Houellebecq, is that immigrants are portrayed as simply fungible replacements for the native population. (Birth rates declining? No matter, just import people to make up the difference!’)

But this ignores the basic reality that immigrants (especially those from Arabic Muslim cultures) are *different from*, and indeed in many cases hostile to, the native population. If you have a Muslim majority in France, it will be a Muslim country, simple as that. Europeans need to wake up before it’s too late.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

Short of mass deportations – mainly with regard to those who subscribe to a particular so-called ‘religion’ – it is already too late.

Last edited 3 years ago by Fraser Bailey
Jon LM
Jon LM
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I would advise against becoming too despondent. The history of the future is yet unwritten.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

Tell that to the wildlife of this country. In the few decades I’ve lived where i live, I have seen the disappearance of many animals and birds which were once common.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

That’s what they probably said on the morning of Tuesday the 29th May, 1453 in Constantinople.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

”The Religion of peace ?”,Where I used to Cinema in streatham,they turned into killing field, 3 seriously wounded…I Muslim fanatic shot eventually..

Last edited 3 years ago by Robin Lambert
Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

I think he’s well aware of this (he wrote an entire novel on the subject — “Submission”).

Jon LM
Jon LM
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

I’ve read Submission as it happens (great book btw; one of the few genuinely engrossing fiction novels I’ve read in the past decade), which is why I find the following passage from the above article even more bizarre:

“By refusing all forms of immigration, Asian countries have opted for a simple suicide, without complications or disturbances. The countries of Southern Europe are in the same situation, although one wonders if they have consciously chosen it. Migrants do land in Italy, in Spain and in Greece — but they only pass through, *without helping to sort out the demographic balance*, although the women of these countries are often highly desirable.” (emphasis mine)

John Mack
John Mack
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

The premise of “Submission” is that the Frenchh, including moderate Moslims, were too concerned with their comforts to bother to vote. Thus the extremist Muslim party won, If the broad French people had bothered to vote the Islamicisy govt would not have taken over.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Mack
M L
M L
3 years ago
Reply to  John Mack

No. The premise of “Submission” is that it might actually be better for the protagonist, whom the author clearly imagined himself to be, if a Muslim party took over. French apathy and altruistic punishment are backdrop for the thought experiment: In what ways could this shift be good for a man, should he go along with it?

Last edited 3 years ago by M L
Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

I wonder whether the female population are that keen on having the demographic balance sorted out in this way?

Ellie K
Ellie K
3 years ago
Reply to  Niobe Hunter

I would guess NOT. I would not be.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

I think you’re not taking it literally enough. Migrants pairing up with local women would indeed help sort out the demographic balance, without passing comment on any of the other consequences.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

1.3 is in fact demographic disaster. It takes two generations to fully notice the effect however, and by then you would need two generations of of 2.6 to recover from accelerating population decreases.

Jon LM
Jon LM
3 years ago

Is it more or less of a ‘demographic disaster’ to be faced with

a) a declining population

or

b) a declining population combined with a growing foreign/alien population inside your borders, who will change your country irrevocably if they get control?

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

Who is doubting that?
However you wouldn’t need the latter if you had no demographic collapse. I wasn’t arguing for immigration to make up the difference.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

It’s too late now.

John Hewlett
John Hewlett
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

I really don’t get the birth rate argument. An ecologically sustainable population for UK is reckoned to be around 40M. A long term, say 75 years, national strategy towards that end would be very attractive to millions of voters. Imagine the suburbs of London being green fields again and property developers and investors having to work for a living. Automated production in goods and agriculture. Highly skilled workforce with jobs for the less able. Magic!

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
3 years ago
Reply to  John Hewlett

Reckoned by who? It’s always worth remembering in these discussions, that these projections about what is or is not possible, healthy, or going to happen, tends to come from academics in the social sciences, most of whom have very much left-wing views, and a general anti-technological progress bias. They also produce extremely unpredictable and low reliability models, which frequently have been leading us astray especially in the last year. I would take anything with regards to what is or is not sustainable demographics with an enormous pinch of salt

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

I suspect that the Muslim community in France has a much higher birth rate than the non-muslim population though it’s probably impossible to verify. One of the problems for the non-muslim French is that their government allows, possibly even encourages, immigrants from North Africa, and any children they may have that are born in France are automatically given French nationality. Hence France is likely to become a muslim nation, governed by muslims, within the next 30 years or so
The British woke up to this in the early 80s and put a stop to the automatic right to to UK nationality simply as a result of the place of birth.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago

jus soli is not true in France, except for double jus soli, i.e. born in france to someone born in France. It has not been true since 1994.

Last edited 3 years ago by Franz Von Peppercorn
Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

Somewhat optimistic 1 million+ illegals & 8,800 in dinghys 7 1,300 we know about in 2021..UK social services cant cope & Woke MPs include ”Pleb” andrew mitchell,Thereason may Tories, with £2 trillion + debts want to impoverish UK Taxpayers more..

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

Ask Arch destroyer george Soros, A loony Billionaire who wants to overrum the West Social Services,sounds like he’s already succeeded in Kent, they are overrun by Unaccompanied Children 7illegals..

Ellie K
Ellie K
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

Yes. And after wreaking disaster in one part of the world, he has now shifted gears. The newest Soros think tank partners with the surviving Koch brother and Iran. Look up Quincy Institute.

Simon Coulthard
Simon Coulthard
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

This is a straw man argument – I’ve never heard any policy maker say immigration is done to balance out our declining birth rate

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon LM

We created our better life through a combination of chance, innovation, individual rights, freedoms, industriousness and conquest. Who is to say that the next few hundred years won’t be dominated by those who cuckood the West and returned us to a pre-enlightenment state of religious fanaticism, savagery, and control which has perhaps been more usual in human history!

hardtruths
hardtruths
3 years ago

This is a bit silly, really. Another of those catastrophist fantasies where the writer extrapolates a real or imagined trend way beyond any plausible extreme and claims we face an emergency, invariably one that demands the alarmist’s personal agenda is imposed on the nation. Climate alarmism and the covid panic are the most obvious current cases.
Contrary to Houllebecq’s assertion that: “by refusing all forms of immigration, Asian countries have opted for a simple suicide”, the most likely result of a period of declining population, provided the disaster of mass immigration can be avoided, is that eventually births will climb again.
The real emergency for western nations is not pop decline, but mass immigration – something that fosters division and rapidly makes irrreversible cultural and racial changes. The true death of a nation.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  hardtruths

I think you are supposed to read it with a heavy dose of irony. Or at least I do. Given the impossibility of fighting against the tides of history, a resigned ennui seems to be his pose.
The only book of his I read years ago was Atomised. I distinctly remember not entirely relevant mentions of quantum mechanics spread throughout the book.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
John Mack
John Mack
3 years ago

His book Elementary Particles (possibly called Atomized somewhere else) gets quantum physics right, and quantum physics is essential to its premeise: that a scientist finds a way to eliminate human males and for females to give birth without males, and only to females.This male free world produces a more equitable and free and peaceful and environmentally healthy world. Again, under the plot he is attaking narcissism, especially aggresive narcissicism. That narcissiism is also the problem, in his view, with militant Islam and passive narcissism is the problem with the moodern west.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  John Mack

Interesting you state he gets the quantum mechanics right, which is great, and then go on to a tangent about biology. Given molecular processes in biology rarely make use of or display quantum effects beyond the standard electrostatic effects of electron orbitals this was a premise that to me, on a scientific level, rather farfetched if not downright ‘woo’.
In addition, quite apart from that, this particular author does seem to have an aire of bohemian narcissicism about him in spite of his diagnoses of society. As proof I proffer the following facts, to wit: his being a deadbeat, absent father to his only son Etienne (he claims he had little to do with his son because he was ‘depressed’) and a man with so little self-regard that he was begging people for money to fund his self-assessed talents as late as 34. This being a year or two before he was famous. All of which I suppose is part of his ironic pose. As a consequence these screeds feel akin to an essay on mounting criminality in society penned by Ian Brady.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Simon Newman
Simon Newman
3 years ago
Reply to  hardtruths

Yes, the Asian countries without mass immigration almost certainly won’t just disappear. Most of our populations are poorly adapted to the current environment, but some groups like Mormons have above-replacement fertility. Eventually these groups come to dominate the population – until the environment changes again.

N Millington
N Millington
3 years ago
Reply to  hardtruths

Absolute bunkem.

Remind me again the national dish of England right now?

crawfordwright
crawfordwright
3 years ago
Reply to  N Millington

A scotch egg

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  crawfordwright

Irish stew, with Welsh rarebit to follow.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  crawfordwright

Nope she’s in Holyrood…. Its Fish & Chips ….

hardtruths
hardtruths
3 years ago
Reply to  N Millington

That’s right, easier access to unhealthy takeaway and restaurant food surely more than makes up for the irreversible loss of our racial and cultural relative homogeneity and consequent relative unity, the end of our rights of free speech and free association in order to accommodate the suppression of “racism”, the added security theatre and state policing and control we need to address the islamist presence, all the economic and social costs of mass immigration overwhelmingly born by sections of society you undoubtedly think of as “deplorables” and “awful bigots” and care nothing for.

rrostrom
rrostrom
3 years ago
Reply to  hardtruths

“…eventually births will climb again.”
How do you know this?
Present conditions – the level of personal wealth and urbanization, easy birth control, ubiquitous electronic entertainment, high life expectancy, negligible infant and child mortality, globalized culture (K-pop, telenovelas, anime, basketball) – are unprecedented.
No one can say what the cultural effects of these conditions will be in the long term.
So far, there is no case of any modern society experiencing a significant sustained increase in fertility.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  rrostrom

As Pte Fraser says ”We’re All doomedddddddddddddd”

hardtruths
hardtruths
3 years ago
Reply to  rrostrom

Nobody can “know” anything.about the future, but the likelihood is that as population decline becomes a problem, and assuming the disastrous “solution” of mass immigration is avoided, measures and incentives will be put in place to promote fertility. Why do you assume this would be impossible?
Alongside that, the groups in society that maintain higher fertility rates will increase as a proportion of the population,and there will likely be cultural shifts as a result both of that and of the general recognition that raising more children is a desirable thing to do..
The idea that a society will just wither away to nothing is pretty implausible.
So far, there is no case of any modern society experiencing a significant sustained increase in fertility.
Most modern societies have only become modern very recently, and fertility rates below replacement is very much a thing of the current lifespan – in the UK we were above 2.1 in 1970. We’ll see how societies respond over the next few decades.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

its presenters, journalists, economists, sociologists and assorted specialists…spend the greater part of their time on air comparing France to other European countries, invariably, with the goal of belittling France.

We have trash like this too. They’re called “lefties”.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Or Oiks from the Ancient Greek ‘Oikophobia’ = hatred of one’s home(land).

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I thought they were called the BBC. or maybe, the people from the Guardian.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago

Is there a difference?

David Brown
David Brown
3 years ago

Mr Redman did say, ‘They’re called “lefties”.’

Margie Murphy
Margie Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Absolutely.

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Although there is stuff to learn from Germany (adult consumption index of 122 vs UK 113)
And Netherlands, Scandinavia and East Asian tigers.

Although remained types refuse to look at policy positions of East Asian tigers.

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago

“By refusing all forms of immigration, Asian countries have opted for a simple suicide, without complications or disturbances.”

In a hundred years, Japan will still be full of Japanese, Korea will still be full of Koreans.
Europe, including France, will be full of Africans (North and sub-saharan).
I think the Asians are in the better situation.

Last edited 3 years ago by Sidney Falco
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

Sounds like wisdom, to me.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

This essay employs many words but does not really contribute anything interesting/new to the debate – a surprising cop-out from Michel Houellebeq who imagined in his “Submission” a France taken over by the RoP.
So far as I can see, the French are the first to take a line about this clear development in European life. (The Danes have closed ranks against mass immigration but that is not quite the same as identifying why anything less is suicide.)
Banning the burqa, insisting that French is a secular state, the generals’ letter expressing alarm about a divided society and a quite possible coming civil war: these three developments go further than any pusillanimous other European country (inc. the UK) has done to date.

Robbie PPC
Robbie PPC
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Banning the burqa is counterproductive. The more burqas you see on your streets, the more plainly you will see the expanding presence of the problem and the more likely you will be to address it and fight back.

rj5555366
rj5555366
3 years ago

“Migrants do land in Italy, in Spain and in Greece — but they only pass through…” really? I’ll have to tell my in laws they imagined getting mugged by Moroccans in Barcelona

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  rj5555366

Doesn’t mean they weren’t just passing through – just needed to do a little mugging on the side – gotta to pay the fare to Calais or wherever after all

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  rj5555366

He’s factually wrong too. A good number of illegal migrants do stay in Spain. And, at least, with regard to certain countries such as China, often as part of organised crime rackets that run sweatshops and sell cheap tat to tourists on the street. Or have hairdresses/cafeterias/corner shops that are paying the requisite protection money.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  rj5555366

Sorry , but you are wrong. Spain has high levels of immigration, but from the ‘hispanosphere’. I’ve had direct experience of Moroccans in Spain, but they are ‘guest workers’ not immigrants. I witnessed spectacular Spanish hypocrisy when the Italians turned away a boat of Africans some time ago, and Spain showily ‘accepted’ them; I looked up African immigration. Italy hundred’s of thousands, Spain……………… nil. Stunned.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  rj5555366

Side note, but since you mentioned it.
Barcelona has to be one of the worst cities in the world for this. I genuinely do not know anyone who has been there and not been a victim, and I happen to know a lot of people who have been (both as visitors and to work/live). No other place I can think of comes close.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

The problem is the police don’t care, partly due to the populist Podemos mayor who sort of made the local police turn a blind eye, partly because the police have given up enforcing the laws. Which in any case are ridiculously lenient for property worth less that 400 euros and merely regarded as a ‘hurtado’ rather than a ‘robo’.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  rj5555366

Bangladeshis in Rome, lobbying for mosques, blocked the road to the Colosseum. Literally thousands of men.

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
3 years ago

I’d mistakenly thought that the “intelligentsia’s” hatred of their home country was confined to the UK and the USA. Oddly satisfying to see that it affects other cultures as well.

Nigel H
Nigel H
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

There must be a great research possibility into why this is the case.
Maybe the intelligentsia are annoyed that people without their “superior academic skills” are succeeding, when they aren’t.

Bill Ballner
Bill Ballner
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel H

Houellebecq is not part of the traditional French intelligentsia. He went to agricultural school and worked later as a computer tech for the French National Assembly. Part of the shock that accompanied his rise to prominence in the late 90s was his status as an outsider.

ml holton
ml holton
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill Ballner

… nonetheless, he’s part of the chattering class now …

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
3 years ago

All the countries of the West should be fighting for the same thing: freedom of thought, speech and deed.
Our crowning cultural achievement is the recognition of the moral autonomy of the individual within a properly observed, collectively agreed social framework that maximises the individual’s potential for developing toward the goal of moral autonomy without damaging the interests of his or her fellow citizens.
Where that is under threat you will get conflict. I am glad, in a way, that conflict is more visible in France. Here it is mostly buried. It is there nonetheless.

It would be very nice if civil wars could be avoided, but one thing all European peoples seem to have is an appetite for spilling blood when it comes right down to the wire.

Last edited 3 years ago by Kremlington Swan
Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

So, how are we to defend our crowning cultural achievement?

crawfordwright
crawfordwright
3 years ago

We abandoned it in the face of a not very deadly virus. Was it worth saving?

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago

I’m much more interested in defending ethnic Europeans than abstract Liberal whiggish ideals.

neil.mack
neil.mack
3 years ago

What would be difficult, in fact, is to find a country in the world that has been spared Islamist violence.

Except countries that won’t allow islamics to settle.
Are these facts connected?

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
3 years ago
Reply to  neil.mack

Yes.

Robbie PPC
Robbie PPC
3 years ago

The importation into the Western world of scores of millions of people whose religion explicitly commits them to its destruction is an act of suicidal stupidity unmatched in recorded history.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

I have a hunch that average fertility rates will eventually increase across Europe since the people who are currently reproducing will be those who believe in bringing children into the world, and other things being equal, they are likely to bring up their own children with similar attitudes.
In general, present trends rarely continue. Nobody expected the postwar Baby Boom, after a period of low fertility in the 1930s (below replacement in the UK, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and even sometimes in France).
On a separate note, this may well be my last post on UnHerd since I’m probably not going to become a paying member. May I say that I appreciate the opportunity to have a civilised discussion on these boards? If I miss you all enough, I may change my mind about paying…

Richard Burgess
Richard Burgess
3 years ago

My grandmother used to say, ‘Nothing for nothing and very little for sixpence.’ There must be a cost associated with producing UnHerd. I pay my Licence Fee and listen to Beeb presenters whose only superlative is ‘incredible’ and only complain most of the time. I greatly enjoy the varied discussions on UnHerd.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
3 years ago

Great post. I too am facing the choice of becoming a paying member of UnHerd or of no longer taking part in discussions. Like you, I am undecided about which to choose. Will I stoically remain silent , unpaying, or will I be lured by the siren song of other contributors and decide to throw in my “pennyworth” , after having crossed the palms of UnHerd.com with silver – or rather, with 95p p.w. – in order to continue posting comments? ΔΕΝ ΞΕΡΩ, , as we say in Greek.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
3 years ago

I should have separated those two words more clearly:
ΔΕΝ ΞΕΡΩ.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Vale Basil.

Sadly the Reform Club only allow smoking outside, so I will have to think of something else.

Rather like you I am somewhat undecided, but will have to see how things develop before parting with the princely sum of 95p per week!

In conclusion may I say what a great pleasure it has been to discuss all sorts of esoteric topics with you over the past year and more.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

In the US throughout the 20th century and now well into the 21st, one observes high fertility among recent immigrants which drops off rapidly with succeeding generations. I suspect that will also happen elsewhere.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

hopefully for the Planets Sake, despite Disparging Comments on other blogs, i think Malthus WAS Correct?..

Geoffrey Wilson
Geoffrey Wilson
3 years ago

I too felt conflicted when asked to pay, and after reflection decided to join. Decent journalism needs an income, and google-type income based on clicks and advertising is rapidly and clearly losing quality. So I choose to pay to a forum which has given me some good quality stuff, including this article. My comment on Houllebecq is that he is too pessimistic (French?). I expect those wanting to preserve and enhance Enlightenment values a la Pinker will find a way to express those majority views quite soon. We will win, in a nice way.

Christiane Dauphinais
Christiane Dauphinais
3 years ago

Thank you “non-member” readers for your contribution. You will be missed starting tomorrow. The comments corner will never be the same without you.
As Mark Bridgeford wrote on June 3rd:

What it will mean is that it will be increasingly financially beneficial to UnHerd to publish articles appealing to the majority view of those who comment. So the mission statement about being different from the herd will probably be compromised and content will be more reflective of the UnHerd herd’s views.” 

The diversity of opinions – which I value – will be less and as a result, Unheard will be less interesting. I’m considering cancelling both my membership and my subscription.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago

Sounds like an appropriate moment for me to bow out! Thanks all for the entertainment and interest. Now we have to literally pay to be Herd on UnHerd I’ll leave you to it.
Oh, and being a lefty snowflake, I get too upset by the racism expressed here that seems to becoming more and more prominent. I don’t need that in my life.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Cheer up Mark, you’re still here and it hasn’t happened!
A year ago you told us this:

“I have an autoimmune disorder resulting in pulmonary/cardio damage. I’m 53, two teenage kids. Life expectancy? 15 to 20 years if I’m lucky with increased disability. Maybe a better outcome with a lung transplant. If I catch Covid? Odds not good at me making it to Spring. Forgive me for having a ‘terror attack’. I want to see my kids grow up, if at all possible”.

Anyway, all the very best, it’s been fun you must admit.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 years ago

I’ve always had this impression that the French are amazing at saying very poetic-sounding things that have little to no actual meaning in them. Mr Houllebecq seems to support this hypothesis.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

What like “Vive le Québec libre” for example?

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago

Like this? ‘their former religion is the sort where you offer your throat to the butcher’s blade.’ Does he mean the Revolution? Or Catholicism? Or the attempted extirpation of the Huguenots? The actual extirpation of the Cathars? Napoleon’s reintroduction of Slavery? Give us a clue, Michel. Perhaps, it’s all of them, et al, a national pathology.

Robert Pay
Robert Pay
3 years ago

The whole English-speaking world’s cultural elites dislike their countries and much of their population. The UK, with its state broadcaster desperate to be as woke as US media, omits stories, slavishly follows the US – “e.g. peaceful protests” or in its misreporting or suppression of stories. Most sinister is the changing of the meaning of language – notably racist. In the US, this is now done in real time to support “narratives”.
I always thought France could be an escape hatch…

Last edited 3 years ago by Robert Pay
Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pay

It is an escape hatch compared to the anglosphere

J. Hale
J. Hale
3 years ago

“Would it then be a war to defend their culture, their way of life, their system of values? What exactly are we talking about? And supposing it does exist, is it worth fighting for? Does our “civilization” really still have something to be proud of?”
I recall a quote by an Islamic Radical in the months after 9/11. He viewed an Islamic takeover of Europe as far easier than defeating the U.S. because he noted that “Europe believes in nothing.”

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  J. Hale

No people, wally, has to justify its existence. It’s required by Nature for peoples to reject aggressors against their home and to secure their existence by any and all means.
Clear, wally?

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

It is human nature, and a product of evolution, for relation groups to fight for their own existence. You know perfectly well that the survival of the native kind is not some liberalistic value. Why are you pretending to misunderstand?

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago

I don’t think France is alone in the pessimism. I read once (like the author, I’m too lazy to check but it might have been in Paxman’s “The English”) that the English were fretting about national demise even at the height of Empire. Maybe we just think too much. Maybe America thinks too little. Let’s all try and avoid war though. On that we should all agree!

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Fighting and dying is better than doing nothing and dying.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

That depends. Everybody dies, sooner or later, so the question is whether you like fighting or would rather do something else. I’m reminded of Eddie Izzard’s ‘Cake or Death’ routine.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

To try to avoid war is a noble ambition, but unfortunately, history proves over and over again that it only takes one ‘side’ to make it a vain one.

John Mack
John Mack
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

OK, avoid aggresive, non-defensive wars, or as George Bush put it, pre-emptive wars.

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago

In the final moment, when Heidegger’s Being-towards-death takes hold, it is blood and kin one fights for. The French, like all of us white-skinned tribes, will have to fight against all the forces ranged against our ethnic and racial survival and continuity.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Japanese authorities broadcasting porn in attempt to get people in mood.

‘In France, it is clear that we have not quite sunk to his level, at least not entirely.’

As an adolescent my abiding memory of French TV in the 80s was that even the primetime deoderant ads weren’t exactly shy of showing lady parts, and the post 9 o’clock watershed stuff was mana from heaven for a shy young English boy bought up on the BBC.

I always found myself intellectually stimulated by the almost requisite carnal shenanigans put it that way.

Haven’t been back for years, but is it all buttoned up and staid nowadays then?

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

The use of the shower is now ubiquitous, and men no longer urinate on the side of the road.

The Lavatories have improved enormously, but the dreaded Bidet still remains to fascinate young Englishmen. The woman now shave their armpits and rarely smoke.

The driving has improved, but they still slaughter twice as many we do on the roads.Finally horse meat is now hard to come by, have they given up eating horses?

Last edited 3 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

If horse meat is hard to come by is it because of the demise of the deux chevaux?

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

I don’t believe so, but it’s not part of a plot to boost birthrates, I think was his gist. It’s just the French being themselves.

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
3 years ago

I was watching a documentary on arte about Mollenbeek, Brussels. Immigrants came to Belgium and established good lives for their children. These third generation kids are questioning their teachers with questions they cannot answer, even if they became Ph.D. level experts, about the Palestine/Israel question. Children have watched something on Satellite tv from the Middle East and they want answers. They don’t get them and sink into hate and depression. The teachers cannot teach, because the focus is forever on social issues.
so I blame the media, and I blame the kids. Kids need to sort out other kids with their focus. They need to enjoy learning and not just try out their ideological depression/hostility ideologies in schools. They need to be in Europe and contribute to their communities. Be here now, be positive, give back from later abundance. They should not focus on negative news and propaganda.

Last edited 3 years ago by Alex Delszsen
John Riordan
John Riordan
3 years ago

“Would it then be a war to defend their culture, their way of life, their system of values? What exactly are we talking about? And supposing it does exist, is it worth fighting for? Does our “civilisation” really still have something to be proud of?”

Great article, but this paragraph reveals the weakness of the conclusion, by passing too briefly over this question. France is not alone here in talking about a general attack on the shared assumptions that give rise to national identity, and while the author is correct to point out the diffuseness of the concepts in question and the certain failure that will come from trying to define them in a public debate, the fact is that they nonetheless exist. The UK and USA are having a similar crisis of self-confidence here, and all sides of the political divide are presently having great fun at the expense of the side that typically supports conservative values and doesn’t like change.

Here’s the problem though: if change is coming, the people that think they support it are no more capable of producing desirable outcomes than the unfashionable voices are of trying to stop the change from happening at all. The point about the values of our civilisation is that although we may be incapable of collectively agreeing with what they are, we nonetheless are very capable of agreeing with when the unwritten principles involved are transgressed: a good example is any form of Islamist extremism based upon the feral and preposterous expectation that Westerners must obey Islamic blasphemy laws. In this sense then, Western values are a bit like whatever is deemed not to be pornography: hard to define in principle yet very easy to identify in specific examples.

It’s still a good question though: will we defend our own values if and when it really comes down to it? So far, the signs are not good, but then again so far, more people are waking up to the fact that governments and elites are no longer connected to the values in question. How this plays out is anyone’s guess.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Riordan
Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
3 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Good post. I believe that, at a more visceral level, many Westerners do not like to see signs of “separation”, such as the niqab, because they represent an intrusive presence which is alien to our common values of openness and equality, where you are expected to show your face and women have equal rights with men and can dress however thery like. Politicians, needing the votes of these communities, ignore the risk to the wider community cohesion, and critcs of the niqab are labelled “Islamophobes”.
Recently, I was shopping in a store in the town centre and a man walked in accompanied by a figure which was entirely shrouded in a black covering, with not even the hands or feet showing. It was an intimidating sight. Who could want to treat a fellow human being like that, like a “thing”?

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
3 years ago

No, we are not really dealing with a “French suicide” — to evoke the title of Eric Zemmour’s book — but a Western suicide or rather a suicide of modernity, since Asian countries are not spared. What is specifically, authentically French is the awareness of this suicide.”
Well yes, that’s the major difference. Most northern European nations are intent on going gently into that good night; anyone can see that France is different. The 1961 Paris Massacre would have been pretty much unimaginable in any other Western European country, including even authoritarian regimes like Portugal & Spain. If France decides to have a civil war, she’ll have a civil war.

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Newman

How else does one overthrow a regime hostile to the native’s very life, and intent on mulatto-ising everything away for the benefit of itself and an Other.

Jeff Mason
Jeff Mason
3 years ago

The irony of this article is the author insists that immigration does not negate western values like the rule of law. This is oftentimes true if the immigrant comes from a culture of shared values or is immigrating to escape religious or political tyranny. However, when the prime motivation is financial, they gladly bring familiar (and oftentimes negative) aspects of their culture with them. Would the author accept sharia law, religious police, extra taxes on ‘non-Muslims, or female genital mutilation just to slow a declining birth rate? France, like every other country, needs to consciously pick and choose who they let in. I am not suggesting any kind of racial or religious litmus test but rather a cultural one; a test of real tolerance and the acceptance of liberal, western ideals.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
3 years ago

Bit of ostriching going on here , I fear.
I have no idea what the actual death rate to Islamic terrorism is in France compared to the rest of Europe, but it does seem that they have a more serious and on going problem with direct attacks on the police and gendarmerie, which has no equivalent elsewhere except possibly Sweden. There are also more direct attacks on Christian worshippers and places of worship, and , of course, a very high incidence of antiSemitic violence and defacement.
Near where I lived until quite recently, in the Loire valley, the central government converted a Manor House from a residential home for disabled children into a de-radicalisation centre for young people from the banlieux. Of course everyone was assured that this would be totally without risk to the local population who were not that keen on this transformation.
It lasted for about three months before one of the ‘students’ was discovered to already be on the watch list for active terrorism. The centre was closed ( probably just as well, since it was literally in the same village as a nuclear power station).
None of my French friends believe that the fire in Notre Dame was some strange unexplained accident. Why should they? Two other cathedrals have gone up in flames in the past four years.
of course, we will catch up.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

‘In general, it is sufficient to point to Germany; but sometimes Germany does not have such a good record so they refer to Scandinavia, the Netherlands and, more rarely, Britain.’

You can go off someone you know 😉

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 years ago

It seems only yesterday that the commentariat were panicking about overpopulation and calculating how many trillion of people would sink the world by what date.
Declining birthrate should be good news, especially since AI is set to take most people’s jobs in fifty years. One of the only jobs that will be needed to employ strictly human skills will be caring for the elderly, so all we need to do is arrange Universal Basic Income and we will be home and dry.

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

Who is “we”?

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

Ah yes, that is an awkward question!

Simon Giora
Simon Giora
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

I agree, declining birth rates are good news, but while it’s declining in some places it’s increasing rapidly in others. Africa’s population will double by 2050, possibly triple by 2100. The standard of living there will not catch up with the West by 2050 or 2100. Many millions of economic migrants will attempt to enter Europe. Given potential climate change effects by 2050 it is likely many more millions will attempt to enter Europe claiming to be refugees.
With AI and increased automation Europe won’t need them – we don’t even need them now.
“Fortress” Europe will have no option but to build higher walls.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Giora

I’m afraid that you will be proved right.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Giora

Climate Change is A Taxing nonsense, meaningless pap peddled by Social & Psychological Scientist as per sAGE ,IPCC ,..Al Bore is pleased by his Millions, but forecast of 7,000 polar bears by 2020,is a lie there are 30,000…

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago