January 8, 2006

Revealing reaction...

There's been lots of people commenting on Mark Steyn's piece on the decline of Europe and its ongoing demographic collapse. But Scott Chaffin pointed out one reaction that seems really weird, from Thomas PM Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map:

...Wow! Somebody get a lynching party together. We better hang some of them dark-skinned pagans before they start screwing our women! You there–start having some babies for Der Fatherland!...

I think Barnett is one of the smartest guys around, with a lot of good thoughts. He's right many things, especially on how the world works as a whole, and where it's going. But he's a liberal.

He's not a ranting left-winger, and he's a supporter of the WoT, which is why this comment seems odd. (Well actually it is literally insane; it doesn't even vaguely connect with what Steyn is writing.) But it's also very revealing, just because there aren't a lot of liberals supporting the war, and no others (that I know of) supporting it as part of a thought-out plan for transforming the world for the better. Barnett's spent a couple of decades as a thinker on military matters and foreign affairs. His perspective is especially valuable to a conservative like myself, because there aren't many liberals thinking clearly about, well... anything.

But I've been watching him for a while now, and it seems to me that, because he's a liberal, there are certain places he just can't go. In particular, he looks at nations exactly like liberals look at a community of individuals. To liberals, it is forbidden to say or think that people of some groups or ethnicities are more able than other people, either culturally or genetically. You mustn't say, or think, that individuals from certain minority groups are not doing as well as others because they lack a culture that values education and hard work and family values, or even more verboten, because their IQ scores are lower. Any differences must be attributed to outside forces.

Barnett views nations and major ethnic groups the same way. For instance he puts a lot of emphasis on the flows of information that characterize those parts of the world that are flourishing (The Functioning Core, in his lingo. The poor and dysfunctional parts of the globe are The Gap). But Barnett always assumes that if a country is opened up to those "flows," and if certain other problems are solved, then that place will tend to flourish just like the others, and move into the Core. He never suggests that some group might fail to prosper despite advantages because their culture is dysfunctional.

(Actually some of the world's worst violence occurs where one ethnic group within a country works harder and smarter and gets rich, and arouses other groups to punitive violence. Think Nigeria, or Sri Lanka, or "Palestine." Think Jews in many lands. And, leaving aside the question of actual genetics, it is clear that some cultures have deep-rooted traits in their 'genes" that lead to success or failure. Just look at the different fates of former British colonies and former French or Spanish colonies...)

But Barnett never goes there. And especially, he can't go where Steyn is leading, to the conclusion that Europe is circling the drain. Barnett's writings always assume that the EU is roughly equivalent to the US, and that they could be equal partners in the world's affairs if only they wanted to, if only we did a better job of drawing them in.

Barnett's hysterical reaction (...Those frickin' Muslims are breeding like rabbits and infiltrating us like crazy. Europe will be lost within a short historical timeframe. Hell, it may be too far gone already. Like Corn, Steyn pushes for an aggressive sort of re-education campaign, where, apparently, we outdo the House of Saud in brainwashing...) is exactly like the reaction you would get if you suggested that certain minority groups are not represented at elite colleges in sufficient numbers because they are lazier or less intelligent than others. Screams of racism. Virulent attacks on you, and accusations that you are advocating euthanasia or "ethnic cleansing" or "white supremacy," even if you never mentioned those things.

Steyn's point is not that Muslims are breeding too much, but that Europeans are NOT breeding. Spain's birthrate is such that its population is going to halve every generation! That's a fact. And Steyn never mentions any "re-education campaign," or suggests any sort of remedy. That's purely Barnett's fantasy. And I think these are fantasies invented because seriously considering or debating these questions would endanger his liberal worldview...He literally can't go there.

Posted by John Weidner at January 8, 2006 10:16 AM
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