Why is Europe losing the will to breed? | The Irish Times

Despite Europe’s wonderful heritage, the continent is losing faith in itself, and birth rates have collapsed

Source: Why is Europe losing the will to breed? | The Irish Times

Sobering statistics and commentary from the Irish Times. But at least the fact that a piece like this is published at all gives hope that the mainstream is starting to wake up to the magnitude of the crisis!

What greater sign could there be that our civilisation is dying than the fact that the majority of Europeans have insufficient zest in life to replace themselves? Civilisation can struggle on even in difficult circumstances, but it can hardly survive without people…

European civilisation has given the world many cherished values, freedoms and institutions, including the classical legacy of Greece and Rome; the rule of law; separation of church and state; modern science; individual freedom; a fabulous heritage of music, painting, sculpture and architecture; and more.

But despite this wonderful heritage, Europe is losing faith in itself, and birth rates have collapsed…

Some people comfort themselves with the thought that Europe can overcome its demographic problems through the large-scale absorption of immigrants. This is a naive attitude. When birth rates fall to about 1.5, even large scale immigration will not hold the population steady over time. Also, European values are not universal and there is no necessary reason to expect that other civilisations will adopt these values simply because they come to Europe to partake of the technical and commercial fruits of western civilisation.

Apart from the social pressures that depress birth rates, our civilisation is also under internal assault from postmodern intellectual elites and their acolytes in the mass media, who enthusiastically embrace moral and cultural relativism, multiculturalism and political correctness and attack our values and weaken our will. We must repulse these attacks, regain our confidence and boost birth rates back up to replacement rates.

Studies have shown that people who have little hope for the future choose not to reproduce. Unfortunately, that results in a shrinking population which, in turn, reduces prospects for the future – a vicious feedback loop that will continue unless or until something happens to jar Europe (and the European diaspora, because the problem is not limited to Europe itself) out of its downward spiral.

I hope that the appearance of an article such as this one in a mainstream Irish publication is an indication that the pendulum is starting to swing back, however tentatively!

Patrick, Bishop and Missionary of Ireland, 461 | For All the Saints

Source: Patrick, Bishop and Missionary of Ireland, 461 | For All the Saints

Despite the “pop-culture” association of St. Patrick’s Day with leprechauns and green beer, this is actually the feast-day of a very impressive and influential saint of the early Church: Saint Patrick (Patricius) was a Briton who became the missionary to and evangelist (and ultimately, Bishop) of Ireland, which in turn ultimately led to the amazing flowering of faith and culture which was early Christian Ireland – and the salvation of the Classical inheritance of Western Europe, during and following the period often known (somewhat incorrectly and misleadingly) as the “Dark Ages.”

The Strength of St. Patrick – Crisis Magazine

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“To learn of the many missionaries and martyrs of the Church who have gone abroad throughout hostile nations is to be moved by the hardships unceasingly endured, and the intensity of heroic virtue constantly displayed, to accomplish the work of God. Even so, I cannot help but esteem the labors of St. Patrick as among the greatest of those who have traveled far and wide for the discipleship of Christ.”

Source: The Strength of St. Patrick – Crisis Magazine

“On this day, we look to find the strength of St. Patrick in ourselves—that is, in our bishops and priests, in our religious and laity—to articulate the challenge of faith in the midst of difficult, even impossible, odds. In this age of ours, who would dare to go before senators and judges, declaring in the likeness of the saint: “Some put their trust in nations and some in avarice for every earthly thing; but we in the Lord our God”? Whether berated with the din of laughter, or caught in the clamor of scorn, it is our special task to give to the world this expression of the serenity and hope of Christian fortitude: a power that is never irrational, never violent, but also never afraid. And if it is thought by some to have diminished, or even gone wholly out of the Church, I stridently assert that in some persons its example remains unbroken…

“Although it is undoubtedly true that each and every one of the Church’s saints display a faith and virtue which is for all the ages of the world, I would especially believe that St. Patrick—though he lived some sixteen centuries past—is truly a saint for our times.”

Ireland and national identity – Reply to the Irish ambassador | MelaniePhillips.com

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“Pondering the complexities that occur when national aspirations and identities come into conflict with each other, I wrote of Irish nationalism that ‘the claim to unite Ireland is tenuous since Ireland itself has a tenuous claim to nationhood, having seceded from Britain as the Irish Free State only in 1922. Britain, by contrast, is an authentic unitary nation.'” – Melanie Phillips

Source: My reply to the Irish ambassador | MelaniePhillips.com

An interesting take on a challenging issue, in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day! There are few who would dispute that Ireland has always (at least since the beginning of recorded history) had a unique, distinctive, and self-conscious culture and self-identity. Indeed, Ms Phillips notes that she understands and appreciates “the strong attachment felt by the people of Ireland to their country. Nothing I wrote was intended to denigrate that, nor to diminish Irish history, culture or traditions. I was instead looking at what lies behind specific claims of nationalism and national identity.”

And as a student of history, especially medieval history, who spent a semester studying ancient and medieval Irish history and archaeology in Ireland itself (University College, Galway), I must affirm that Ms Phillips’ assertion that, prior to the Anglo-Norman invasion(s) of c. 1169-71 and subsequent dominance of Ireland by England, Ireland was “divided between chieftains and petty kingdoms,” and that “although historical records are inconclusive and there is much mythology around this subject, it was never ruled by a single king as one self-consciously unified polity” is, in fact, historically and factually accurate.

There was, it is true, a “High King” through much of this period, but the office was nominal and much in dispute. Indeed, the Anglo-Normans were invited into Ireland to help in one of the wars for power and territory between rival Irish factions, and the Irish “national epic,” the Táin Bó Cúailnge (the “Cattle Raid of Cooley”), was entirely about a semi-mythical conflict between two of the Irish kingdoms, Ulster and Connacht. So the veracity of her statement is difficult, if not impossible, to challenge.

The problem is that once one starts down this road, one can easily find oneself on a slippery slope. Germany, for example, was prior to the creation of the Deutsche Kaiserreich in 1871 a loose confederation of of 26 constituent territories, including four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five or six duchies, seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, and one imperial territory. Yet I doubt that too many people would attempt to assert that Germany’s claim to national identity was “tenuous”!

I shall not attempt to pass judgment on this issue, just highlight it as an example of the challenges of navigating between various claims to national, cultural, and ethnic identity, self-determination, and self-expression – issues which seem likely to increase rather than decrease in prominence, in the years ahead. As a historian, and not only of medieval history, I am all too acutely aware of the way in which the pendulum swings back and forth between periods of greater unification and centralization, and of greater fragmentation and emphasis on local self-expression and distinctiveness.

I suspect that we are near or at the top of the swing, with respect to greater central power and authority, and are beginning to see the shift toward local and national (perhaps even regional) expression, as opposed to internationalism and globalism. But there are powerful forces in play on the side of centralization, both governmental and corporate, and the process does not seem likely to be simple, tidy, or without conflict!

As the old saying goes, we are living in “interesting times”!