Fernand Braudel, in his book “Grammaire des civilizations”, said that the West is formed by the “old Europe”, America is the “daughter of Europe” and Russia, “the other Europe”.
Between 1976 and 1991, the last sixteen years of the Soviet power and the first sixteen post-communist years (1992-2007), Russian births exceeded deaths by 11.4 million, while in the second period, the dead exceeded the births by 12.4 million. Then came Vladimir Putin and inverted the cycle, bringing the fertility rate close to replacement values.
“Russia’s birth rates are now outpacing European countries”, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted during his recent annual televised Q&A marathon. “The birth rate here is increasing at a rate that European countries don’t achieve today," Putin said. Unfortunately, Putin is right.
Childless life” and “only child syndrome” are the new Western models under study by the sociologists.
When we think about Italy, Germany, Spain and other European nations, we see a very good quality of life, holidays are always coming, war has been abolished, people are in good health and there are even “polyamory families”. What’s to worry about? The Western ego has been finally freed and it is now reigning as a brutal dictator.
“We others, civilizations, we now know that we are mortal”, wrote the French novelist Paul Valery. A nation is totally dependent on its demographics and can disappear or become radically different in case of a fertility collapse. It is what has been called the “white plague”.
That's what's happening in the West. And demography has immense consequences also for the security of Europe, since now many countries are refusing to invest in the military. In an aging country, the public resources go to retirement and welfare for old people.
The expression “white plague” was coined in 1976 by a great French historian, Pierre Chaunu, to explain that today the falling fertility rates have similar consequences to the “black plague”. For Chaunu, the declining birth rates are like war. Studying the Western European demographic statistics, Chaunu saw suddenly that during the 1950s there was a brutal demographic fall in the city of Berlin. It was not an accident, Chaunu wrote, but the symbol of a Europe that had chosen suicide.
Is Europe now watching its own agony? Are we witnessing the death of Western civilization, such as during the decline of the Roman Empire? And what form this European autumn will take? The violent tension or the slow dilution? The internal implosions or the barbaric invasions?
Many Western nations, including Spain, Germany, Portugal, Poland, Italy, South Korea and the Czech Republic, today have a birth rate between 1.0 and 1.3. Some of these are already marked by a violent reduction of theiw own population.
Many Western children are now growing up without brothers and sisters and a large proportion of men and women living in the most advanced nations will never have children and will die alone. “Childless life” and “only child syndrome” are the new Western models under study by the sociologists. Institutions and civilizations collapse more often from within than from outside. The West is light as the air and has the determination of mice. That is why it is paralized in front of Islamic terrorism.
De-population is not a model, except for periods of war, epidemic or natural disasters. But it has become a model in the rich, healthy, free, and safe Europe. What is going on?
Alexander Solzhenitsyn said that the First World War had killed the European spirit. He was probably right.