Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: Twilight of the West
Posted on 06/02/2012 10:32:15 AM PDT by neverdem
The Eurovision Song Contest doesnt get a lot of attention in the United States, but on the Continent its long been seen as the perfect Euro-metaphor. Years before the euro came along, it was the prototype pan-European institution, and predicated on the same assumptions. Eurovision took the national cultures that produced Mozart, Vivaldi, and Debussy, and in return gave us Boom-Bang-a-Bang (winner, 1969), Ding-Ding-a-Dong (winner, 1975), and Diggi-Loo-Diggi-Ley (winner, 1984). The euro took the mark, the lira, and the franc, and merged them to create the Boom-Bang-a-Bang of currencies.
How will it all end? One recalls the 1990 Eurovision finals in Zagreb: Yugoslavia is very much like an orchestra, cooed the hostess, Helga Vlahović. The string section and the wood section all sit together. Shortly thereafter, the wood section began ethnically cleansing the dressing rooms, while the string section rampaged through the brass section pillaging their instruments and severing their genitals. Indeed, the charming Miss Vlahović herself was forced into a sudden career shift and spent the next few years as Croatian TVs head of war information programming...
I was sad to learn that Helga Vlahović died a few weeks ago, but her central metaphor all those years ago wasnt wrong. Any functioning society is like an orchestra. When the parts dont fit together, its always the other fellow whos out of tune. So the Greeks will blame the Germans, and vice versa. But the developed world is all playing the same recessional. In the world after Western prosperity, we will work till were older and we will start younger and we will despise those who thought they could defy not just the rules of economic gravity but the basic human life cycle.
Well, they got fooled again!
Beautiful Steyn piece. Yes, the world will be different. But work keeps you young—that may be the upside.
We are doomed.....
American morons who were stupid enough to think they could defy not just the rules of economic gravity but the basic human life cycle, and truth and reality as well, are going to be singing a different tune and beating a different drum when they get what they've been demanding--or stupid enough to vote for--and reality comes crashing down!
My Mother is still working at 72, as a Director of Nursing. She is well covered for her retirement, but enjoys the vitality of work. A customer of mine was laid off and fought off depression, not because she couldn’t afford to retire, but because she didn’t WANT TO! She’s 76.
Of course not. Why should it?
...but on the Continent its long been seen as the perfect Euro-metaphor.
Wrong. It's generally regarded as a laughable freak show. Steyn should stop constructing such silly strawmen. But then, his target audience doesn't know the difference... (Emperor Steyn is quite without clothes at times.)
So, getting past all that, is the actual meat of the column true or not?
Look around you. The late-20th-century Western lifestyle isnt going to be around much longer. In a few years time, our children will look at old TV commercials showing retirees dancing, golfing, cruising away their sixties and seventies, and wonder what alternative universe that came from. In turn, their children will be amazed to discover that in the early 21st century the Western world thought it entirely normal that vast swathes of the citizenry should while away their youth enjoying what, a mere hundred years earlier, would have been the leisurely varsity of the younger son of a Mitteleuropean Grand Duke.
I say with no ill will that this is Steyn riding his demographics hobby horse again. It sounds plausible. But then, there have always been some significant ups and downs in populations (not only in Europe but elsewhere as well). True, some cultures vanish in the mist of time. But others persevere against all perceived odds. My guess: Those that rose to the top and are currently on (or close to) the top will do OK in the long run.
This part was what caught my interest the most-—
Thats to say, the unsustainable bubble is not student debt or subprime mortgages or anything else. The bubble is us, and the assumptions of entitlement. Too many citizens of advanced Western democracies live a life they have not earned, and are not willing to earn.
Indeed, much of our present fiscal woe derives from two phases of human existence that are entirely the invention of the modern world. Once upon a time, you were a kid till you were 13 or so; then you worked; then you died. That bit between childhood and death has been chewed away at both ends.
We invented something called adolescence that now extends not merely through the teenage years but through a desultory half decade of Whatever Studies at Complacency U up till youre 26 and no longer eligible for coverage on your parents health-insurance policy.
At the other end of the spectrum, we introduced something called retirement that, in the space of two generations, has led to the presumption that able-bodied citizens are entitled to spend the last couple of decades, or one-third of their adult lives, as a long holiday weekend.
Mark Steyn ping.
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Thanks for the ping neverdem.
Yes, unlike the high art of Dancing with the Starlets and Americans Idle (20,000+ posts on this forum.)
I wish FR had a thumbs up button.
Can’t argue with you (or Steyn) there! The entitlement culture is clearly unsustainable. So it will crash sooner or later. Politicians just weasel around to make sure it doesn’t happen during their term in office (making the coming crash just so much worse).
The masses tend to gravitate to the bizarre for cheap thrills. Panem et circenses. And so it shall continue, in perpetuity. Amen.
“this is Steyn riding his demographics hobby horse again.”
Demographics isn’t a hobby horse. It’s pretty much just numbers.
Brings to mind one of the original Star Trek episodes from long ago. The Enterprise has taken on some kind of advanced alien robotic machine called “M-5”, which has the power to destroy the starship. Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy are debating what to do, and of course Spock suggests reason and logic. To which McCoy replies, “It’s a machine, Spock - you can’t argue with a machine!”
And that’s how it goes with demographics, too. Just numbers, as cold as a machine. You can’t really argue with ‘em...
Steyn - like Pat Buchanan - is right on this one. The West’s “numbers” are on the downside of the graph, while the “non-West’s” numbers are on the rise.
How would you suggest they be “turned around”?
We need another killer app.
I said hobby horse because Steyn certainly writes a lot on this topic.
But I agree - demographics are math/numbers. But what they’re not, is long term linear extrapolation. At least that is the opinion I’m trying to bring across. I beleive that at some point the current trend of Western birth decline will change again.
How will the current trend be turned around? - In the old fashioned way! ;-)
Coming soon to a country near you.