Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann
Via The Observer, Kenan Malik's review:
Europe, 2020. The Islamists have stormed to power across the continent. Every French woman is forced to be veiled. Holland's gay clubs have been relocated to San Francisco.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
Kaufmann is sceptical of the idea that Europe will soon become a Muslim continent. He accepts that Muslims are predominantly young, have a higher fertility rate, are more devout than other groups and rarely marry out. But while Muslim fertility rates may be relatively high, they are plummeting. In Britain, for instance, the fertility rates of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis have fallen from almost 10 children per couple to under three in 40 years. The drop is partly the result of fertility rates falling in immigrants' home countries, and partly the result of assimilation to local norms. By 2030, the fertility rates of European Muslims are expected to resemble those of the majority population. By the start of the next century, he expects around a fifth of Europeans to be Muslim.
But there is a kicker in his argument. The real problem is an "emerging 'culture war' between fundamentalists of all faiths and those who back the secular status quo" in which Islamists, Christian fundamentalists and orthodox Jews join forces to establish a "new era of religious politics" and "an unprecedented European desecularisation". Since "fertility differences based on theology do not fade like those based on ethnicity", fundamentalist victory is assured. For Kaufmann, Europe appears doomed because fundamentalists of every kind are multiplying far more than their liberal cousins while secularists are failing even to replace their numbers. Is this any more plausible than the arguments of the fantasists of Eurabia?
Kaufmann recognises this distinction between peoples and values. His Europe will be convulsed not by a clash of civilisations between the west and Islam but by a war of values between secularists and fundamentalists.
Nevertheless, he still makes his argument on the terrain of demography. And therein lies the problem. Secularism and fundamentalism are not ideas stitched into people's DNA. They are, like all values, absorbed, accepted, rejected. A generation ago, there were strong secular movements in Muslim communities and fundamentalism was a marginal force. Today secularism is much weaker, and Islamism much stronger. This shift has been propelled not by demographic changes but by political developments.
Whether or not the religious will triumph, no one can say. What is certain is that if they do, it will not be because secularists have been out-bred, but because they have been out-thought. The real challenge they face is not in bed but in the public square.