David Sedgwick asks whether the time is ripe to radically rethink a dominant model of society in which moderate rather than excessive population increase holds sway.
According to a recent article in the Financial Times, Europe will soon need 1.3 billion migrants from largely African countries for the continent to survive the worrying (they say) trend that is its declining birth-rate over the next number of decades. In common with many other global entities, the grand old newspaper has done its sums and come up with a piece of ‘logic’ that could not get any more paradoxical:
In order for Europe to ‘survive’ it must first become Africa …
There’s not enough people shriek the globalists. Europe is dying. How will an ageing population be sustained in its fragility and incontinence? There’s only one solution: ship in billions of Africans.
Invariably, the calculations of institutions such as the FT are based upon some fairly shaky presumptions, not least of which is ignorance of the fact that in common with their European counterparts, Africans also happen to grow old. The question then arises: what happens when the 1.3 billion have joined the ranks of the old and infirm themselves? That’s an awfully lot of potential OAPs.
Ship in a few billion more Africans? And when there are no more people left in Africa?
No problem reply the FT: African fertility rates will see us right. In other words, Europe’s population which currently stands at 750 million could, with a little help from Africa, double, treble or even quadruple over the next decades. Problem solved.
Like the infamous Ponzi scheme upon which it shares a worrying number of characteristics, this globalist ‘ship ‘em in’ solution is nothing more than a scam, a ‘solution’ replete with so many flaws only the wilfully blind (or an FT writer) could fail to spot them.
And in the best tradition of get-rich-quick schemes, the longer it is allowed to go on unchecked the greater the crash awaiting at the end. Investors losing their life savings however will be nothing compared to the crash that will follow should we choose to take the FT’s save Europe advice.
With automation forecast to play an ever-increasing role in the economies of the future – less ‘hands’ performing more roles – perhaps the time is actually ripe to radically rethink a dominant model of society in which moderate rather than excessive population increase holds sway, or more prudently still, a model that tips the continent into negative equity.
Rather than making it a numbers game – where the name of the game is simply to increase and keep on increasing – a much more nuanced approach is arguably required, one where the aim of the game is not to arrive at population 10 billion in the shortest possible time.
On the contrary, the objective ought surely to be how to manage the planet’s current 7.5 billion inhabitants. After all, when the foundations are shaking, it is only the most reckless of builders who will keep piling brick upon brick upon brick, a solution rooted in the short rather than long term. Sometimes it is necessary to check the foundations, and, if necessary, to start over again. Less can indeed be more.
Propelled by the selfish gene, world population grew at an alarming rate throughout the last century and continues to do so. The history of humanity has undoubtedly been one of reproduction. That Europe has, after many centuries of exponential growth, finally bucked the trend should not cause undue concern. Recalibration is an eminently rational response whether you are in the business of building houses or populations.
But what about all those old people? The cries of the alarmists are always the same. What about them? As a growing number of more enlightened businesses and enterprises are proving older people have much to contribute to society – if only given a chance. Improvements in health and social care mean that reaching the age of 60 or 70 may no longer automatically mean a person becomes unproductive upon reaching those milestones.
And yet in a (western European) culture where youth is lionised, unproductive is exactly what many older people become – often against their wishes. Surely the time is right for the establishment of new paradigms which do not consign the elderly to the rubbish heap, but rather views this population as a potentially valuable asset.
On a more prosaic note it could be that the time has simply arrived for people to take responsibility for their own lives, and even to plan for their futures. Radical as it might sound, rather than living for today, perhaps young people ought to be encouraged to start thinking a little more about tomorrow and how they will provide for themselves post-career. Lifelong, obligatory pension plans would be just one measure that could help to correct a worrying trend in which the balance of responsibility has been increasingly assumed by the state rather than the individual. This imbalance needs to be corrected.
Of course Europe needs to think and plan for its future, but in doing so it should not be seduced into accepting quick-fix solutions, especially ones that involve artificial inflation of its demographics. Shipping Africans and Asians into Europe en masse and hoping ‘everything will be ok’ is no solution at all. If Europe is indeed in the middle of a demographic time-bomb, the answer lies not in Ponzi schemes, but rather in the formulation of a coherent, sustainable model of population sensitive to social as well as economic factors.
Besides, what gives Europe the right to keep plundering the assets of a continent chronically short in terms of infrastructure and resources? A perpetual African diaspora can only lead the continent to one place: instability. In order to flourish Africa (and Asia) will need to retain the doctors, builders and teachers of tomorrow thereby ceasing a brain-drain which retards economic and social development.
Such radical measures would require a major shift in thinking, a shift that must become less Euro-centric and much more holistic in outlook. Instead of asking what Africa can do for us, Europe ought to be asking what it can do for Africa. It could start by addressing the assumption that Africans should naturally supply the labour required to keep ageing western Europeans in the state of luxury they have become accustomed to.
Is this really the future Europe envisions for itself – overcrowded capital cities stuffed to bursting point with 20 million inhabitants? Paris, Rome and Madrid transformed into Mogadishu, Addis Ababa and Khartoum? While there are certainly some ideologically driven individuals who would relish such a scenario, there are many others who value their culture and heritage and reckon it is worth the effort to retain it.
And we haven’t even started on the environmental impact. Consider, for example, the implications on pollution or the effect on rubbish generation. Where would billions more people even live? Slums, presumably. The ghettoisation of Europe would surely begin, if it hasn’t already.
Firmly in the grip of Ponzi mania, it would not be surprising if the cavalier FT simply suggested building millions more houses in yet to be built mega-cities which could accommodate this population explosion. More people, more houses, more cities – a never-ending cycle of development eroding the delicate balance between urban and rural right up until the moment the scheme implodes, as it invariably must.
If Europe wishes to retain any semblance of its identity as a place that would be recognisable to the generations who have lived within and helped shaped its benign, equable character, it must not be seduced by the snake-oil offered by the FT and friends. Winners in Ponzi schemes are few and far between, losers numerous.
For in the words of Oscar Wilde, while The Financial Times and their ilk appear to know the price of everything, the newspaper, so it would seem, knows the value of nothing.