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What everyone thinks the Russian Empire was like.

Tsarist Russia was this superstitious land of icons and cockroaches with Cossacks on thot patrol with nagaikas in hand – and it was absolutely horrific!” – Liberals, Marxists.

Tsarist Russia was this superstitious land of icons and cockroaches with Cossacks on thot patrol with nagaikas in hand – and it was absolutely great!” – Neoreactionaries.

Reality: It was in many respects socially liberal even by the standards of Western Europe.

Law

Yes, Stolypin’s neckties and all that. What Communist propagandists don’t like to mention as much is that just during the three years 1904-1907 some 4,500 Tsarist officials were murdered by what would today be classified as Far Left terrorist groups. In contrast, there were just 6,321 executions from 1825 to 1917. This is basically a rounding error by the standards of the Bolsheviks’ multicultural Coalition of the Fringes, including during their “progressive” Trotskyist phase that Western leftist academics and journalists love to laud so much. It doesn’t even compare unfavorably with the 16,000 or so executions in the US since 1700.

The Okhrana secret policy only numbered one thousand in 1900 in an empire of 150 million – it was a little baby relative to the Cheka. Exiles to Siberia essentially took the form of holidays that the “inmates” could cancel at will. Dzhugashvili (Stalin) “escaped” from Siberia around seven or nine times.

stalin-exile-1915

Stalin enjoying the Siberian sunshine.

All forms of corporal punishment were abolished in 1904, ahead of the UK and the US. Despite modern Russia’s 70 year legacy of official atheism, the irony is that Pussy Riot would have spent a maximum of three months in jail under blasphemy laws in the Russian Empire (had they gone to prison at all).

Really, if anything, the Russian Empire had become too progressive, too liberal, too humane for its own good. It was doomed by its own kindness and decency to aspiring Pol Pots. A few contemporary equivalents of free helicopter rides or just stronger enforcement of normal treason laws would have done so much good in 1917.

Social Progressivism

Access to higher education was actually more meritocratic in the late Empire than in contemporary Germany or France by a factor of 2-3x.

Women constituted about a third of Russia’s total numbers of university students, a far larger percentage than in any other European country – and Russia by 1913 had the largest number of university students in Europe (127,000 to 80,000 in Germany, around 40,000 in France and Austria each). Likewise, they constituted an absolute majority in grammar schools, many decades ahead most of the rest of Europe. In 1915, restrictions on co-ed education were dropped across a range of Russian universities by decision of the Tsar and his Council of Ministers.

womens-batallion-of-death-1917

British suffragettes? Russia raises you a Women’s Batallion of Death.

Multiculturalism

Fully half of the four mosques in Moscow were constructed under late Tsarism (including the biggest one that nationalist critics of Putin like to harp on about; he merely restored it). The other Moscow mosques include the historical Old Mosque (constructed in 1823), the Moscow Memorial Mosque (more of a war monument than a place of worship), and one that is part of a complex of religious buildings that also includes a Buddhist stuppa (so not really so much of a mosque as a political monument).

Of Saint-Petersburg’s three mosques, by far the most impressive, with capacity for 5,000 worshippers, was opened in 1913. One of them is actually more of a room than a mosque, being part of the Dagestan Cultural Center.

Culture

The Russian bobos and aristos of the late Empire loved their tattoes.

nicky-tattoo

Here’s Nicky’s.

Here’s a Russian conservative in 1909 lamenting Social Decline (TM) in the Vekhi:

The vast majority of our children enter university having lost their virginity. Who of us doesn’t know that in the senior classes of the gymnasiums there is hardly a boy to be a found who has yet to be acquainted with a maid, or a brothel

Even in France, which is associated in our minds with all sorts of sexual degeneracies, even there, in that land of the southern sun and frivolous literature, there isn’t this prevalence of “fast-ripening fruits” as in cold, northern Russia.

According to a survey of 967 students, of those who clarified their age at first sexual contact, 61% said not later than 17 years, and of them, 53 boys started it before 12 years, 152 – before 14 years.

This was reflected in the high culture of the late Empire: The Russian avant-garde, the first major penetration of post-modernism into traditional art.

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring causes a scandalous sensation in Paris, not in Moscow or Saint-Petersburg.

Scriabin, the consummate bohémienne.

Kandinsky.

The Shukhov Tower.

Malevich.

malevich-black-square

He painted his stupid black square in 1915.

Really at this point one can almost sympathize with Mayakovsky:

“Eat your pineapples. Chew your grouse. Your last day is coming. You bourgeois louse.”

It need also be hardly pointed put at this point that the extreme social liberalism – legalization of homosexuality, abortion – and SJWism – abolition of university extrance exams – of the 1920s didn’t come out of a complete void. To the contrary, all this enjoyed the approval of some significant percentage of the Russian intelligentsia.

Stalin of course reversed this, and not only made university exams competitive again but reintroduced tuition fees. After murdering some significant percentage of the professors, and blanketing the country in a stiffling ideological orthodoxy for decades ahead that annulled any meaningful freedom of speech and relegated Russia to the margins of global culture to this day.

Russian Empire 2017

What would Russian culture have been like without the Communist occupation?

Probably a great deal more liberal, actually.

That said, one has to make allowance for the fact that the liberal-leftist strain in Russian cultural life was balanced by liberal-conservative and even a certain conservative-libertarian trend.

For instance, gun rights were very strong in the Russian Empire, unlike in the Soviet Union and its successor the Russian Federation.

chelyabinsk-gun-shop

Fin de siècle Chelyabinsk gunshop – remove the Cyrillic, and it might as well be in the Wild West.

There were also no shortage of conservative and nationalist pundits, who under a normal 20th century trajectory might have developed into US-style conservative talk radio.

Moreover, there are always cycles of social liberalism and social conservatism. To take the example of the US, you had liberalism in the 1920s, conservatism in the 1950s, liberalism in the 1970s, conservatism in the 1980s, liberalism again now – Russia was evidently in a liberal phase during the waning years of the Empire and the 1920s, but this doesn’t mean it would have stayed that way indefinitely. A moderate correction would have been expected by analogy with any other country on a normal development trajectory.

One would also have to account for there being less American influence – Russian (and European) culture would itself have been far stronger, not having undergone a ruinous World War and the stiffling effects of the twin totalitarianisms of Nazism and Stalinism. For that matter, Nazism itself is a significant – if not altogether crucial – component in Europe’s guilt complex, that would have been exceedingly unlikely to arise in the absence of the Red Menace in the early 1930s.

So overall, it doesn’t seem unlikely that Russia would have been in the European mainstream in terms of social attitudes – but that that same European mainstream would be far less “cucked” than it is today.

One undoubtedly negative aspect of the Russian Empire (from a conservative/traditionalist viewpoint) would have been the likely absence of a propiska system regulating internal migration within a surviving Russian Empire, so we can expect there to have been far more Central Asian immigrants to the Russian heartlands – especially since Russia would have been far wealthier without central planning (though their percentage of the population would have been diluted by the Russification of Belorussia and most of Ukraine, as well as a ~30% larger total ethnic Slavic population).

However, it’s not very clear that even this “silver lining” from the Soviet period is of any value. The Putin regime has in recent years made it increasingly clear that it sees Russia’s future in tight integration with Central Asia; just the other day, a Kremlin-linked think-tank released a report advocating an increase in pro-immigration propaganda and the introduction of administrative liability for politicians and bureaucrats who “feed false numbers to the media about immigrants” and “mention ethnic crime.”

So in all likelihood Russia will end up getting the worst of both worlds anyway.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Feminism, History, Liberalism, Tsarist Russia 
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navalny-2018

Instead of speculating about what Navalny’s program involves, let’s just look at his website: https://2018.navalny.com/platform/

I summarize the main points and provide some brief comments on each of them:

A Satisfactory Life for All, and Not Riches for the 0.1%

  • Oligarchs that live on reselling oil and resources should pay a windfall tax (as in the UK in 1997).
  • Massively reduce bureaucracy
  • Individual entrepreneurs with small incomes should be freed from taxes, regulations, and accounting requirements.
  • Minimum wage of 25,000 rubles per month. [~$400]
  • Removing construction regulations will hugely decrease housing prices. Subsidize mortgage rates.

This mostly sounds good, since Russia does genuinely have too much bureaucracy and regulations, but Navalny is having his own work out for him. Russia is now 40th in the World Bank’s Ease of Business rankings, sharply up from 112th in 2013 (the first full year of Putin’s third term).

A high minimum wage is a great idea both out of economic justice concerns and to disincentivize low skilled labor migration. Russia’s current minimum wage is entirely symbolic.

The UK’s Windfall Tax produced £4.5, almost pocket change by national standards, so this is probably just a way to legitimize past illegal privatizations under the mask of populism.

Time to Fight Corruption, and Not to Make Peace with Thievery

  • Bureacrats should live in accordance with their salaries. If there’s a mismatch, either they explain it, or they answer it in court.
  • Anti-corruption processes should be public and transparency, not hushed away like with Serdyukov and Vasilieva. [The Defense Minister dismissed for corruption]
  • Transparency in state corporations.
  • If MSM publishes facts about a bureaucrat’s corruption, he should refute them or give up his post and be prosecuted.
  • Uncovering the end owners of all companies that provide goods and services to the state and to state companies.

Navalny claims that even his detractors recognize him as the leading anti-corruption expert in Russia, which gives him the qualifications necessary to root it out.

I agree that if anything will improve under Navalny, it will likely be corruption.

However, there are good reasons doubt it will be the revolutionary change he promises for two reasons. Russia is “naturally” corrupt, like most of the rest of South/Eastern Europe; places like Italy and Hungary remain considerably more “corrupt” than the countries of “core Europe” despite decades of institutional convergence under the EU. This goes back to millennial factors revolving around culture and possibly selection for beyond-kin altruism in core Europe, that didn’t operate so much outside it.

Second, Navalny is not going to be able to pick his cadres from scratch. He will have to draw heavily from the ranks of the liberal elites, and they are only less corrupt than the people currently in power to the extent of their own distance from the feeding trough. Whenever they did have access to power, the likes of Kasyanov, Belykh, Ponamarev, etc., proved adept at translating it into wealth for themselves.

Time to Trust People, and Not to Decide Everything in Moscow

  • All but the smallest decisions are made in Moscow… All of Russia should develop, not just Moscow.
  • More taxes should be kept in local budgets, instead of going to Moscow
  • Local administrations should receive more rights and resources for solving the problems of people “on the ground.”

This is just a mix of things that have already been done and unworkable populism.

Moscow is central to Russia, and is much more developed, primarily because it has by far Russia’s highest concentration of human capital – not because it concentrates resources (it is a massive net donor).

Second, responsibility for education and healthcare has long been largely under the purview of local authorities. In fact, Navalny’s demand that the federal government should be responsible for not only guarding the borders and maintaining order, but also “building roads and hospitals,” would be a move towards centralization. I.e., his rhetoric is not even internally consistent.

Perhaps Navalny means decentralization more in a political sense. This will be a disaster, since Russia has no substantive experience of local self-government devoted to the commonweal. This is a product of Anglo civilization that it spent centuries developing and that has no chance of working in Russia. When local bigwigs acquire too much autonomy, as in the 1990s, corruption and nepotism increase, if anything.

Economic Development, Not Political Isolation

  • Russia should use its unique location between Europe and Asia to become a respectable partner for everyone.
  • The hundreds of billions thrown away on the wars in Syria and Ukraine, and on helping far-off countries, are better spent on improving life at home.
  • Our country would profit from moving politically and economically closer to European countries.
  • Visa regime with Central Asia and the South Caucasus. Labor migrants should come on work visas, and not in an uncontrollable flood, like today.
  • Russia should be the leading country of Europe and Asia, expanding its influence through economic might and cultural expansion, including worldwide support for the Russian language.

Navalny has been consistently strong on immigration, much more so than Putin, if less so than Trump. That said, he does not clarify his stance on illegals currently in Russia, nor even on precisely how many work visas he intends to give out to Uzbeks and Tajiks, nor details on how those long borders would be secured. Nonetheless, apart from his record on corruption, the immigration question is Navalny’s other major ace against Putin, especially now that the recent terrorist attacks in Saint-Petersburg and Astrakhan have brought it out into the limelight.

Navalny’s foreign policy is a trainwreck that will unilaterally any influence Russia still has over Ukraine and rule out the reunification of the Russian nation, the largest divided nation on the planet, most likely forever. This should be read in conjunction with his public statements on holding a second referendum on Crimea’s status. Even though the pro-unification side will undoubtedly win under a fair vote, this will still functionally be a retreat from the Russian government’s position that the incorporation of Crimea is a fait accompli and non-negotiable. With Donbass unilaterally surrendered to the tender mercies of the anti-Russian regime in Kiev, the status of the peninsula will become a leverage point against Russia by a vengeful Ukraine, and possibly even by the West as a whole, if Navalny’s hoped for “reset” with Europe and the US doesn’t pan out.

Navalny’s comments on global economic and soft power are populist nonsense that a quick glance at Russia’s share of global GDP should instantly dispel.

Justice for All, or Impunity for Siloviks

  • Justice reform. Courts must be respected and truly independent.
  • The police should be trusted, not feared; service there should be prestigious and well compensated.
  • Siloviks should be stripped of excessive authority, which allow them to enact levies upon entrepreneurs.

All well and good, though short on details, which we absolutely need to know if we are to assess whether the rate of improvement under Navalny is likely to be higher than under Putin.

For instance, according to the World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys, the percentage of Russian firms expected to give gifts in meetings with tax officials fell from 55% in 2002 to 7% by 2012, which hardly hints at soaring silovik banditry that he implies is happening under Putin.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Alexei Navalny, Liberalism, Nationalism, Russia 
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Masha Gessen, the androgynous Tsarnaev sympathizer who shares her children with three mothers and five fathers (or something like that, not that I actually keep track), and stalwart enemy of the bloody Putin regime(TM), writes in the NYT:

It is cheese that Russians write home about when they go abroad. “It’s my first time in Europe after all that’s happened,” the journalist and filmmaker Inna Denisova, a critic of the annexation of Crimea, wrote on her Facebook page in February. “And it’s exceedingly emotional. And of course it’s not seeing the historic churches and museums that has made me so emotional — it’s seeing cheese at the supermarket. My little Gorgonzola. My little mozzarella. My little Gruyère, chèvre and Brie. I held them all in my arms — I didn’t even want to share them with the shopping cart — and headed for the cash register.” There, Ms. Denisova wrote, she started crying. She ended her post with a sort of manifesto of Europeanness and a question: “Je suis Charlie et je suis fromage. I want my normal life back — can it be that it’s gone forever?”

What will those poor Russians possibly do without their little Gorgonzola and their little Gruyère?

I cri evrytiem. ((((

These are the same class of people who pay for subscriptions to Snob magazine. In my observations, European cheese is a favorite obsession of theirs. They are far more insufferable than the high flyers who plop down for multiple bottles of Dom Pérignon. At least with the latter one doesn’t usually have to suffer pretensions to sophistication.

With enemies like these, Putin needs no friends.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Class Warfare, Liberalism, Russia 
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IG4kceZBWA

Western liberals, their puppets, and the Arab Spring in a nutshell (and I do mean nut).

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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Here’s a sampling of recent headlines from the country that loves to lecture others on freedom of speech and rule of law.

Racist Tube rant woman Jacqueline Woodhouse jailed: A London Underground passenger has been jailed for 21 weeks after she admitted hurling racist abuse at fellow passengers.BBC

Girl gang who kicked woman in the head while yelling ‘kill the white slag’ freed after judge hears ‘they weren’t used to drinking because they’re Muslims’.Daily Mail

Police misused powers during royal wedding, protesters claim. (AK: on preemptive arrests of republicans)The Independent

The hijab has liberated me from society’s expectations of women: Wearing the hijab doesn’t have to be about religious dedication. For me, it is political, feminist and empowering. (AK: What’s worse than a feminist, and a radical Islamist? A feminist Islamist)The Guardian

No 10 guide to changing nappies and baby talk: New parents will be given government advice on changing nappies, breastfeeding and “baby talk” under a multi-million pound initiative to support family life.The Telegraph

UK economy’s fall into recession deeper than expected: Contraction of 0.3%, coupled with more bad news from the eurozone, increases pressure on government to intervene to boost economic growth.The Guardian

Is there any reason, any reason whatsoever, for other countries to listen to Britain on absolutely anything? Flee as quickly as you can possibly can! :shock:

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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Apart from a few (typically loser) countries with national fat fetishes, men do not want to fuck fat girls. Or even see them. Most certainly, they do not want to feed the bizarre princess complexes typical of Anglo femdom.

Is it fair that obesity lowers a young woman’s social status far, far more than a man’s? Of course not. Proof:

A few further observations that can be made on this topic:

* Is it an accident that the two major countries – the US and Russia – with the highest divorce rates are where chicks are substantially fatter than dudes? It is after all hard to keep the attraction simmering through more and more layers of blubber. A typical scenario appears to be:

  1. Chick gets fat
  2. Dude loses sexual interest
  3. Chick initiates divorce (and payoff!)
  4. Becomes a columnist at Jezebel railing against the patriarchy.

* In fairness to Russian chicks, they at least wait until their 30′s to “bloom” into their full womanhood, while in Anglo world its pretty much constant inflation from birth.

* There are probably many other social issues that can at least partially be explained by this. Say, Black crime rates (which remain about twice higher than those of whites even after being adjusted for IQ). Surely part of this has something to do with quite understandable frustration stemming from 40% of all Black chicks being obese, i.e. twice the rate of whites. Meanwhile, surely the high rate of White-Asian intermarriage, and pop terms like “yellow fever“, has something to do with with US Asian chicks being the only part of American womanhood who can be relied upon to look after their bodies.

* There is a bizarre obsession with anorexia at the same time as the obesity crisis spirals out of control. Regardless of the fact that “anorexics” are infinitely more attractive than fatsos and have only become a rarity fairly recently in historical terms. However, since it actually takes discipline to maintain your body in that attractive form, the lazy fatsos who want a free lunch, who want to have their cake and eat it too (both literally and metaphorically), issue hysterical screeds against anorexia as part of their campaign against red-blooded men.

Sorry Katya but you are fat, and your “PLUS Size Plus” magazine is disgusting propaganda.

Note in particular the statistical skulduggery in the odious propaganda poster above. The argument that models now weigh 23% less than the average woman as opposed to 8% less in 1990, which is supposed to imply widespread anorexia in the fashion industry, assumes that said average woman has remained static in the intervening two decades. That is not of course the case. In 1990, there wasn’t a single US state with an obesity rate of greater than 15%; today, there is not a single one with an obesity rate of LESS than 20%. As such, it’s entirely possible that the average model today is actually heavier than she was 20 years ago as the average woman has developed a much larger “frame”. The problem is with the latter, not the former.

In conclusion, as I’ve rigorously demonstrated above, fat women are loathsome to look at (compare the two pictures) and cause many social problems. And contrary to the feminists, betaboys and sundry enablers who bastardize the English language to appease the Land Whale Lobby (“voluptuous”, “curvy”, “big boned”, “big framed”) and claim that “personality is what really matters”, normal dudes DO NOT prefer sass over fatass.

When fat women are forced to confront this fact they tend to retreat into some bizarre combination of denial, blame games, and self-aggrandizement via feminism and fat acceptance liberation movement. And they have a host of paid-up enablers rationalizing their delusions. What they really need is a good swat on the ass.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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Steyn, MarkAmerica Alone: The End of the World as we Know It (2006)
Category: Islam; Eurabia; humor; Rating: 3/5
Summary: The future belongs to Islam (M. Steyn)

It crept up on the West silently. Even as post-historical white Europeans were busy puffing on their weed, hugging trees and chanting Kumbaya in a happy circle, in the dark recesses of their post-industrial civilization – from Britain’s wrecked mill towns to the gray apartment blocks of Malmö, a dark force was bedding, breeding and brooding on history’s return to the mighty continent. They were the Muslims.

*ominous drumbeat*

Slow and surely, they used the lobbying methods of gay rights and feminist organizations to spread their baneful influence to the heights of political power. Sharia enforced at the point of a gun became the law of the land in the grim banlieues of Paris and the gray apartment blocks of Londonistan. They became centers of global jihadist networks that intertwined modern technology, ancient hatreds and Western moral relativism to strike severe blows at its quailing hosts, the apathetic, limp-wristed citizenries presided over by disconnected Eurocrats who were too terrified to do anything but appease. All heroic dissenters, like Mark Steyn, who tried to warn Europe of its mortal peril, were ungratefully cut off by political correctness laws – where the Islamists did not cut off their heads for real, that is.

Some Europeans realized what was happening. Some “reverted” to the Islamofascist wave of the future, making their peace with the new world. The enterprising and quick-witted emigrated to the US of A, one of the world’s few remaining citadels of freedom and prosperity. Most accepted their fate passively – aging, deprived of their pensions through state bankruptcies, forced to pay jizya to their new masters who cut their beards, took away their beer and covered up their women. Though a few bands of neo-Nazi “patriots” tried to stem the Islamic tide, they were outnumbered and crushed in the ensuing civil wars.

*soundtrack*

The world retreated into a new Dark Age of nuclear-armed tinpot dictatorships, transnational terrorists equipped with the latest technology, a totalitarian China, a re-primitivized Russia of nuclearized anarchy fought over by the Chinese Army, brutal Muslim warlords and the dispossessed remnants of its original denizens, and a civil war-torn Europe alternating between fascist black and Islamist green. The barbarian of chaos and destruction leaves only a single, tattered Stars and Stripes fluttering on the winds of time, for now America stands alone as the last bastion of enlightenment amidst the stifling darkness that threatens to engulf it too.

That is, more or less, the main thesis of Mark Steyn’s book and much of his other work. His major argument behind the Eurabia theory can be summed up by three points:

  • Loss of precious bodily fluidsEurope’s demographic decline. While Islam is confident and expanding, Europe is in a demographic death spiral. Most countries on the Mediterranean rim and central Europe have total fertility rates below 1.3 children per woman, the “lowest-low fertility from which no human society in history has ever recovered”. While Westerners worry about trees and overpopulation, Muslims are copulating, settling and opening up new fronts in the global jihad. Though it is true that Muslim fertility is also falling, demography is a game of last man standing: it will be of little consolation to dispossessed secular Europeans if fertility rates fall below replacement levels by 2100 in minaret-stacked Eurabia.
  • Stupid limp-wristed leftardsthe unsustainability of the social-democratic state. Though aging is not necessarily a death knell for a society (it increases savings, for instance), it is unworkable in a social-democratic society – “demography is an existential crisis for the developed world, because the twentieth-century social democratic state was built on a careless model that requires a constantly growing population to sustain it”. Hence, “Islam has youth and will, Europe has age and welfare”. This wil lead to fiscal bankruptcy and enervation. Even non-Muslim immigration is no solution because even discounting the morality of robbing the developing world of its doctors and engineers, why on Earth would young professionals in booming economies emigrate to graying, tax-burdened Europe when their own countries are becoming so much better?
  • Lolzcivilizational exhaustion. The last point is one in the style of “fall of the Roman Empire” / “decline of the West” / biological-spiritual / passionarity theories. As government annexes all the “responsibilities of adulthood” (health, childcare, elderly care), it has “effectively severed its citizens from humanity’s primal instincts, not least the survival instinct”. Meanwhile, the correlation of forces between the West and the rest is moving in unfavorable directions. Whereas once Europe exported people all over the world, it is now fast becoming a colony of Dar al-Islam. Terrorists talk by cell phone, plot murder on notebooks and travel by airplace. Starving countries have nukes. New enemies like al-Qarda are “transnational, globalized, locally franchised, extensively outsourced. He laments that though the US is a superpower, it is – and is perceived to be – too spiritually feeble to use its power – a benign hegemon, sugardaddy to limp-wristed European socialism and a global object of hatred despite its best efforts – be it for its moral decadence (Islamist complaint) or its consumerism and opposition to environmentalism (European complaint). Though the Islamists are far less advanced, in the words of Maulana Inyadulah, “Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death!” And Steyn believes such will will triumph over matter.

On the other hand, there are important caveats and rebuttals to add to each of these points, which Steyn either neglects or glosses over.

Is European Fertility doomed?

While south / central Europe’s demographic decline is real and will present a major challenge to the fiscal sustainability of its pension and social welfare systems in the decades to come (especially since the cheap energy that previously drove growth will be a thing of the past), it should be noted that in recent years there has been a generalized increase in fertility throughout Europe – compared to the figures he quotes to the latest data, there were increases in Canada (1.5 to 1.6), Europe (1.4 to 1.5), Russia (1.1 to 1.5), and the US remained at the same level (2.1); only Japan decreased (1.3 to 1.2). I doubt how we could claim that it is precisely 1.3 children that constitute the “lowest-low” level from which there is no recovery. Intuitively, society MUST recover because it is precisely the social milieu that has few children will become extinct; social conservatives will inherit the Earth (see the classic article The Return of Patriarchy).

Furthermore, smaller cohorts tend to have better employment prospects (fewer new people chasing jobs) and can therefore marry earlier and have more children and the recent spurt in European fertility may be a symptom of this. On the other hand, special circumstances – the a) soaring tax requirements of an aging population accustomed to social democracy and b) the cessation of growth due to increasing global competition for depleting energy resources may well mean that Europe never will pull out of its demographic death spiral. Maybe.

Steyn gets Russia totally wrong

“’The sick man of Europe’, with falling life expectancy, riddled with HIV and tuberculosis and heart disease, its infrastructure crumbling, its borders unenforceable, and its wily kleptocracy draining its wealth Westward”. The population is supposed to fall to 130mn in 2015 and 50-60mn by 2100, driven by a death spiral of abortion, AIDS (0.25mn-0.75mn deaths per year to soon materialize) – leading to Islamification, wars with loose nukes, its “empty resource rich eastern hinterland” taken over by China, etc.

As I’ve pointed out in many previous articles (see Through the Looking Glass at Russia’s Demography), these are all either a) real factors, but whose significance is vastly overstated, or b) not significant at all.

Re-abortion. Doesn’t matter. What matters is the total fertility rate. Abortion was the predominant method of birth control in the Soviet Union and that didn’t prevent it from maintaining near-replacement level fertility levels. And in any case it is now falling in prevalence.

Re-population. Unrealistic. Linear extrapolation of current trends. Yadda yadda. See my predictions at Faces of the Future. Note that since as of 2009 the population was at 142mn, it will now have to drop by 12mn over the next 6 years to fulfill the 130mn people by 2015 forecast – patently risible considering that the population is now basically stable and that even during the worst years of the post-Soviet demographic crunch the decline never exceeded 1mn per year.

Re-AIDS apocalypse. Assumes the spread will follow a sexual, sub-Saharan pattern of transmission, whereas in reality a) it remains confined to the (small) injecting drug-user subpopulation and b) the number of pregnant HIV-positive women peaked in 2002 and has since plateaued. The multi-million death AIDS apocalypse has failed to materialize despite predictions it would be in full swing sometime by now.

Re-Islamification. Again unrealistic given that the two largest Muslim ethnic groups – the Tatars and Bashkirs – have TFR’s that are nearly equal to those of ethnic Russians, and even all the Caucasian Muslim population TFR’s have fallen below replacement levels (with the sole exception of Chechnya). The prospect of a Eurasian Caliphate remains a dream to Wahhabis and a nightmare to Steyn, nothing more or less.

Possibly his most stupid idea – proposing that Russia marries off its surplus women to China’s surplus men. Idiotic because Russia’s population imbalance only becomes statistically insignificant after 40! Speaking of which, he also prophesies China’s collapse because of the popular theory it will “get old before it gets rich”. China is quite capable of getting rich before getting old simply because of the sheer momentum of its economic convergence, as argued in this Goldman Sachs paper.

How many Muslim are there and how fast are they increasing?

Apart from positing low, continuing European fertility rates – which is entirely possible, but far from set in stone – the Eurabia Theory also relies on four other assumptions: a) there are hordes of Muslims in the EU, b) they have very high fertility rates, c) they will continue to have very high fertility rates and d) Europeans will not limit Muslim immigration.

First, there aren’t that many Muslims in the EU. Most estimates put them at around 15m-20mn of the EU’s 450mn+ population, including a maximum 6mn (10%) in France. So starting from such a low base you will need prodigious fertility rates AND immigration to make Europe morph into Eurabia any time soon. There is little evidence of either:

In Austria, for example, Muslim women had a total fertility rate… of 3.1 children per woman in 1981, well above the 1.7 average for the majority Roman Catholic women. By 2001, the rate for Catholics had fallen to 1.3, but the Muslim rate had fallen to 2.3—leaving a difference of just one child per woman between Muslims and non-Muslims.

…West Germany recruited a large number of workers from Turkey beginning in the 1960s, giving Germany one of Western Europe’s largest Muslim populations. In 1970, Turkish women living in West Germany had more than two more children than German women. By 1996, the difference between these two groups had fallen to one child.

Recent trends in the Netherlands tell a similar story [figure shows TFR for native Dutch women remaining at 1.5-1.7 during 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005; while falling substantially for Moroccon-born women (4.9, 3.4, 3.2, 2.9) and Turkish-born women (3.2, 2.5, 2.2, 1.9)].

Though Muslim birth rates are higher than indicated by their TFR because of their different age structure from indigenous populations (they are typically younger with more people in their reproductive ages), this will gradually wear off.

True, some Muslims may be uncounted. Steyn notes that in France “around 30% are said to be Muslim” amongst those under 20 years old [my emphasis - who says?], including 45% in the major cities. And it is certainly suspicious that amongst the continental West European nations it is those that have the densest Muslim concentrations also have particularly high fertility rates (e.g. France, the Netherlands). This is one of the more convincing point to be made in favor of Eurabia.

Are Muslims a monolithic bloc opposed to Western liberalism?

Steyn is not helpful by constantly expressing alarm how Mohammed is becoming the most popular name in several European cities: as the name of the Prophet, it is by far the most popular Muslim boy’s name, whereas there’s a thicker cluster of top names amongst Europeans. Which brings us to another point: Steyn’s proclivity towards Orientalizing the Muslims by treating them as a monolithic group opposed to the West. This is probably not justified:

Moreover, the myth of Eurabia implies the existence of a united Islam, a bloc capable of collective and potentially dangerous action. The truth is that there are no powerful Muslim political movements in Europe, either continentwide or at the national level, and the divisions that separate Muslims worldwide, most obviously between Sunnis and Shiites, are apparent in Europe as well. Each major nation in Europe has drawn Muslim immigrants from distinct regions of the Islamic world, often former colonies, with different traditions and outlooks. A British Muslim from Pakistan would struggle to communicate with a French Muslim from Algeria. A second-generation Muslim from Turkey living in Germany will have little in common with a newly arrived Moroccan across the border in Belgium. Sharp differences exist even within national frontiers. In Germany, more than one in 10 Muslims are Alawites, who aren’t even recognized as coreligionists by the more orthodox.

In areas of personal morality, attitudes vary markedly, too. One recent Gallup poll found that more than 30 percent of French Muslims were ready to accept homosexuality, compared with zero in Britain. Almost half of French Muslims believed sex between unmarried people was morally acceptable, compared with 27 percent of German Muslims. [The relatively liberality of French Muslims is encouraging, considering that France is destined to become the most "Islamized" country in Western Europe] And violent zealotry is for the tiny minority: polls repeatedly reaffirm that Muslims overwhelmingly disapprove of terrorism. In some countries, the mood is broadly secular. “The majority of Muslims in France are, in fact, decoupled from their religion. They just blend into an amorphous mass of brown or black people,” says Ali Allawi, the former Iraqi defense minister and author of the The Crisis of Islamic Civilization. Jochen Hippler, a German political scientist at the University of Duisburg-Essen, says he has had young Turks come up to him to ask what Islam is all about. “They have lost any connection with the religion of their parents and grandparents,” he says. A recent government survey showed that 40 percent of Iranians living in Germany identified themselves as having no religion, as did 23 percent of North Africans. In the Netherlands, the proportion of Muslims who regularly attend the mosque—27 percent—is lower than the proportion of Protestants who go to church.

This is a very important point, btw. First, no country that I know of hosts a major Islamist party in Western Europe. Their influence is limited to marginal movements like “Respect” in Britain, which is in any case officially hardline-socialist. Though Steyn evidently considers their (relative) lack of education and unemployment a source of strength, this concept eludes the more logical mind.

Second, though it is true Muslims identify to a much greater with their religion than, say, Anglicans, their levels of “patriotism” are usually no lower than, and sometimes higher, than those of their countrymen.

What explains European Muslim terrorists?

Why do so many terrorists come from Muslim Europe? See the text quoted above. Their ethnic ties with their home countries were severed. Their young feel rejected by their host countries, deprived of opportunities by the prevalence of employment discrimination.

Unemployment among people of French origin is 9.2%. Among those of foreign origin, the figure is 14% – even after adjusting for educational qualifications.

Understandably, some may turn to radical Islam as a palliative to their despair, an object of belief in an atomized society, and their dream of redemption. Steyn adamantly refuses to consider things from the viewpoint of 20-something Parisian Muslims (apart from the advantages / free time offered by social welfare, which he hates): ebbing ethnic ties to Algeria / Morocco / etc; social anomie; disillusionment with French society – he is better educated than his immigrant parents, but is denied opportunities by employment discrimination / the anti-small business attitudes of the French elites; living in a cramped apartment in a rough suburb; watching co-religionists get threatened and blown up by Western bombs in far-away corners of the world for standing up for their dignity (as they perceive it); reading too much Koran mixed with those fools like Nietzsche, Baudrillard, etc (many terrorists are surprisingly well-educated); etc. Note also that many Europeans have rather low opinions of Muslims (and don’t forget that Europe is a continent infected with political correctness, so the true figures for Britain, France, etc, will like be higher):

So is it really surprising that sizable portions of European Muslims would be willing to voice support for terrorism against their host nation (around 15% in the case of Britain)? And is it really surprising that of those, a small fraction will be willing to go through with it? In any case this combination of social, economic and psychological factors explains Islamic terrorism far better than Steyn’s facile attribution of it to their backwardness and hatred of the West in his attempts to justify Western imperialism.

A Caveat

That said, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a limp-wristed multiculti filled with idealistic admiration for the Muslim communities of Europe. Many of them are crime-ridden, the young are poorly-educated and don’t compensate with the discipline expected of them in traditional Muslim nations. And there are certainly (far too many) anecdotes of women getting terrorized and indigenous inhabitants getting roughed up in these neighborhoods. This is not as big a problem in the US, where a) there is no generous welfare system – so immigrants HAVE to assimilate, get a job, etc, and b) greater selectivity over whom to allow to emigrate to its shores. That said, there’s no need to replace the limp-wristed mutliculti leftard myths with bigoted ultra-right-wing myths.

What about the hordes of Muslim immigrants?

Furthermore, Muslim fertility is falling rapidly since many Islamic nations are currently undergoing a “demographic transition”. Here is a typical sample of TFR’s across the Islamic world: Indonesia (2.3), Pakistan (3.6), Bangladesh (2.8), Egypt (2.7), Iran (1.7), Turkey (2.2), Morocco (2.5), Algeria (1.8), Saudi Arabia (3.8), Tunisia (1.7). This is much reduced from prevailing rates two decades ago and not in fact much different from fertility rates in Europe during the 1950′s-1960′s miracle economy years. Indeed some countries in the Maghreb (the main source of immigrants to France) and Iran – that ultimate symbol of scary Islamist autocracy, already have below replacement level fertility.

This means that population pressure is gradually subsiding in the Muslim world – most importantly, in Turkey and North Africa – the closest regions to Europe. Their own economies, gradually shifting from the Malthusian / agricultural to the capital-accumulative / industrial, will be able to soak up increasing shares of indigenous labor. People only ever want to emigrate if their country is impoverished and unstable (as was Turkey, North Africa during the 1960′s – and when Europe needed labor for intensive industrial development); these conditions are fading away, and so are emigrants. Europe as a whole is moving in a conservative, anti-immigration direction.

Islam is weak and unsure

Contrary to Steyn’s assertions that Islam is a strong, expanding power, it is nothing of the sort. It is a set of cultural traditions that have been thrown into a profound existential crisis by contact with the West. Many Muslims are uneasy towards it; some managed to assimilate with it; a few have drawn on the wellspring of general ressentiment against the West, marrying one aspect of the West – its advanced technics, with an imagined Islamic past of unadulterated virtue and piety (e.g. bin Laden). Yet this is no panacea, as Iran perhaps proves. From Spengler’s Sex, Drugs and Islam (the Asia Times columnist Spengler, that is):

Until very recently, an oil-price windfall gave the Iranian state ample resources to pursue its agenda at home and abroad. How, then, should we explain an eruption of social pathologies in Iran such as drug addiction and prostitution, on a scale much worse than anything observed in the West? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it appears that Islamic theocracy promotes rather than represses social decay.

Iran is dying. The collapse of Iran’s birth rate during the past 20 years is the fastest recorded in any country, ever. Demographers have sought in vain to explain Iran’s population implosion through family planning policies, or through social factors such as the rise of female literacy. But quantifiable factors do not explain the sudden collapse of fertility. It seems that a spiritual decay has overcome Iran, despite best efforts of a totalitarian theocracy. Popular morale has deteriorated much faster than in the “decadent” West against which the Khomeini revolution was directed.

PS. Rather off-topic, but there’s also support for my thesis that Iran is going to unleash a spurt of aggressive rhetoric – and perhaps more – against the West within the decade, culminating in some kind of revolution or dying down of fervor, and rebuilding of bridges.

Their efforts to isolate Iran from the cultural degradation of the American “great Satan” have produced social pathologies worse than those in any Western country. With oil at barely one-fifth of its 2008 peak price, they will run out of money some time in late 2009 or early 2010. Game theory would predict that Iran’s leaders will gamble on a strategic long shot. That is not a comforting thought for Iran’s neighbors. [This explains the power shifts underway since the mid-2000's - and accelerated in 2009 - from the clerical oligarchy to the forces of the IRCG represented by Ahmadinejad].

… As in the decline of communism, what follows on the breakdown of a state ideology is likely to be nihilism. Iran is a dying country, and it is very difficult to have a rational dialogue with a nation all of whose available choices terminate in oblivion.

Back on topic. He rather overdoes Iran’s problems, of course. Though a TFR of 1.7 is low, it is relatively high compared to Europe and may furthermore be a temporary factor due to a) fertility postponement or b) over-saturation of the job market and housing problems (well-known as political / election problems in Iran). That said, this does illustrate the point. Nor is it limited to Iran. From Ed Luttwak’s classical The Middle of Nowhere:

Yet even the most thinly qualified of middle east experts must know that Islam, as with any other civilisation, comprehends the sum total of human life, and that unlike some others it promises superiority in all things for its believers, so that the scientific and technological and cultural backwardness of the lands of Islam generates a constantly renewed sense of humiliation and of civilisational defeat. That fully explains the ubiquity of Muslim violence…

… We devote far too much attention to the middle east, a mostly stagnant region where almost nothing is created in science or the arts—excluding Israel, per capita patent production of countries in the middle east is one fifth that of sub-Saharan Africa. The people of the middle east (only about five per cent of the world’s population) are remarkably unproductive, with a high proportion not in the labor force at all. Not many of us would care to work if we were citizens of Abu Dhabi, with lots of oil money for very few citizens. But Saudi Arabia’s 27m inhabitants also live largely off the oil revenues that trickle down to them, leaving most of the work to foreign technicians and laborers: even with high oil prices, Saudi Arabia’s annual per capita income, at $14,000, is only about half that of oil-free Israel.

Saudi Arabia has a good excuse, for it was a land of oasis hand-farmers and Bedouin pastoralists who cannot be expected to become captains of industry in a mere 50 years. Much more striking is the oil parasitism of once much more accomplished Iran. It exports only 2.5m barrels a day as compared to Saudi Arabia’s 8m, yet oil still accounts for 80 per cent of Iran’s exports because its agriculture and industry have become so unproductive.

The middle east was once the world’s most advanced region, but these days its biggest industries are extravagant consumption and the venting of resentment. According to the UN’s 2004 Arab human development report, the region boasts the second lowest adult literacy rate in the world (after sub-Saharan Africa) at just 63 per cent [another damning statistics from that report: more books are translated into Spanish every year than have been translated into Arabic - ever]. Its dependence on oil means that manufactured goods account for just 17 per cent of exports, compared to a global average of 78 per cent. Moreover, despite its oil wealth, the entire middle east generated under 4 per cent of global GDP in 2006—less than Germany.

So yeah. For all Ahmadinjad’s rather distasteful comments about Israel, etc, etc, neocons painting Iran as the next Nazi Germany are either very cynical or stark raving mad. And so is Steyn with his alarmism – in fact, he himself acknowledges this by quoting Mahathir Mohamad’s pessimistic remarks on Islam’s backwardness re-science and technology.

Why Muslims should fear Europeans

Europe is the original black continent. It may well become so again, and there’s little doubt who their first targets will be. Steyn criticizes Europeans for their limp-wristedness, but I doubt a generation or so of cheap energy-fueled prosperity and gay pride parades have extirpated their traditional “burn the neighboring village” proclivities. The fate of liberal democracy is uncertain in nations increasingly burdened by aging workforces, declining access to cheap energy, forced deindustrialization, etc – especially ones like Germany where it was imposed from outside.

And then there’s climate change. For all the mockery Steyn has for tree-hugging, he does not realize the central part the carrying capacity of the land – which depends on a myriad of factors like technology, energy availability, climate, sustainable practices, etc – has always played in human demography. Values are secondary. Antarctica will never support more people than the limp-wristed Netherlands, even if it’s exclusively populated by right-wing hardasses like Steyn himself. (Well, not unless it melts anyway, which Steyn is certainly indifferent to – so perhaps not the best example).

And unlike Europe, the Islamic world is very much beyond sustainability – which makes its population explosion a crippling burden, not a strength. Even today, the Middle East is the world’s only region that cannot provide for its own food subsistence; it imports billions of tons of “virtual water” from other countries to bridge the gap. Though countries like Saudi Arabia will manage to continue doing this thanks to their oil endowments, this is not the case for nations like Syria, Pakistan or Yemen (he latter is in a particularly bad bind – it has both rapidly falling water tables, plummeting agricultural production and population soaring even faster than in neighboring Saudi Arabia). Countries like these may sink into destitution, famine and extremism, spurring mass refugee movements. An increasingly conservative (or perhaps by then fascist) Europe may not let them in, or keep them in segregated ghettos. Though this will be an unjust (though no doubt justified by propaganda) arrangement, they will be powerless to do anything about it except isolated, futile acts of terrorism.

Quite simply I have a very pessimistic view of Muslim prospects for the next century. A religion that has been the least successful in reconciling itself to modernity. Polarized between spiritual anomie and sentimental rejection of the West. In perpetual conflict with all other civilizations. Some of its states have valuable resources, but not the modern weapons to defend them. Other states are well beyond the carrying capacity of their territories, and lack the resources to sustain this unsustainable state affairs far into a future of limits to growth. Most are ruled by cynical elites paying lip-service to the West, while crushing and buying off the extremist elements – who are themselves hopeless at changing anything for the better.

Concluding remarks

Despite my many disagreements with it, I ended up giving it a 3/5. First, it really is a very humorous and readable book – even if occasionally embarrassingly ignorant on certain matters. And his constant jokes re-France; social democracy; the virtues of asperity and manliness; etc, got tiring. I like guns and I do think many modern-day social systems are overgrown and that continental European countries throw up too many regulatory barriers for small businesses, but this does not mean that a robust system of preventative-focused public healthcare or time-limited unemployment benefits is a bad idea. He constantly quotes anecdotes about the ridiculous failings of the European welfare states, but you could easily find as many anecdotes about medical horror stories in the US (e.g. outrageous fines for minor procedures).

The other reason is that I agree with him that political correctness has gone too far in the West and ironically his book is a symptom of that – you can’t discuss “Eurabia” in a serious way at “respectable” venues, hence the proliferation of alarmist literature like this (yet which may contain kernels of truth) – which should be read with an open mind yet treated with a pinch of salt.

(Republished from Sublime Oblivion by permission of author or representative)
 
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Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.