By Hilary White

Mark SteynLONDON, January 5, 2006 ( -Â Internationally syndicated conservative columnist, Mark Steyn, can usually be relied upon for wry, witty and forthright observations about the state of the western world untainted by the strictures of political correction. For his 2006 opening salvo, however, Steyn has issued a dire warning about the demographic suicide of the West.

Writing in the UK magazine, the New Criterion, Steyn’s piece, titled, “It’s the Demography, Stupid; The real reason the West is in danger of extinction,” points to the rapidly collapsing birth rate in Europe, Canada and the “westernized” parts of Asia and the abandonment of traditional Judeo/Christian moral, and juridical, norms as the beginning of the end of what is usually called, Western Civilization.

“Much of what we loosely call the Western world,” Steyn writes, “will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes… The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West.”

“Europe by the end of this century,” he writes, “will be a continent after the neutron bomb: The grand buildings will still be standing, but the people who built them will be gone. We are living through a remarkable period: the self-extinction of the races who, for good or ill, shaped the modern world.”

Steyn says that the obsession of western governments with what he calls the “secondary impulses” of cradle-to-grave welfare, government health care, nationalized day care, and “rights” such as abortion, over the primary responsibilities of government such as “national defence, family, faith and, most basic of all, reproductive activity,” has created an irreversible slide to a catastrophic social breakdown.

“The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it…” Steyn says. “The problem is that secondary-impulse societies mistake their weaknesses for strengths—or, at any rate, virtues—and that’s why they’re proving so feeble at dealing with a primal force like Islam.”

Pointing to the collapsing birth rate and high rates of abortion, Steyn predicts that what is now being called the “post-Christian” west will be taken over by the more fecund, socially confident and fundamentally dissimilar Islamic culture that is currently encroaching upon it.

“And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they’re running out a lot faster than the oil is…the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan 6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?”

What is being called the “War on Terror,” Steyn writes, is not in fact a war against “Islamism,” but between the ancient Judeo-Christian worldview, the legal and philosophical edifice built up since the end of the Roman Empire and before, and modern post-Christian secularist “hyperrationalism.”

“That’s what the war’s about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: ‘Civilizations die from suicide, not murder’—as can be seen throughout much of ‘the Western world’ right now. The progressive agenda—lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism—is collectively the real suicide bomb.”

Read Steyn’s piece in the Wall Street Journal: