Monday, October 16, 2006

America, Alone?

Today is a day I have been looking forward to for some time. It is the day that Mark Steyn's new book, America Alone: the End of the World As We Know It (Amazon link here), becomes available in bookstores. I have not read it yet (I will pick up my copy today), but press accounts and Mr. Steyn's own interviews indicate that the book is an apocalyptic foretelling of what is about to happen to Western Europe, and thus potentially to all of Western society.

Mr. Steyn believes that Western Europe has already signed its own civilizational suicide note. The welfare state, economic decline (itself intimately related to the welfare state), and the civilizational self-loathing cultivated by modern multiculturalism have made Europeans unwilling to reproduce. But empty spaces tend to fill up, particularly when they come with such generous cash benefits, and so Europe will be populated, only not by Europeans but by non-Europeans from the collapsing civilizations around it. And these immigrants, in his view, will be mostly Muslim, and they will bring Muslim civilization with them. Europe, within a few decades, will be Islamic territory.

Mr. Steyn has been singing this calamitous tune for several years – since at least shortly after September 11. So is he Cassandra or are the enthusiasts of the ongoing European dream-building project (fun for kids, too!) Pollyannas? His predictions seem so catastrophic, and yet the observations he makes about life in modern Europe seem so strikingly informative. He claims, for instance, that appeals by politicians to do things “for the children” (which Mrs. Clinton has picked up so enthusiastically from her husband’s greatest-hits catalogue) are much rarer in Europe then in the U.S., because children do not interest Europeans. (Elisabeth Rosenthal has a hauntingly vivid portrayal in The International Herald Tribune of what life in Genoa, Italy without children already looks like.) But so much of this conversation is crippled by the lack of available data, and of the natural tendency of the media to overplay trouble when it occurs. Mr. Steyn, among very many others, cites trends in Europe in which Muslim youths apparently are a much larger proportion of new births than they are of the overall population, which in combination with rapid levels of immigration will mean Muslim majorities far sooner than people think, and yet many societies are reluctant to even keep this kind of data. And yet some others (go here for a terrific example) claim that if one actually looks at the limited data and exist in that historical precedent, the European-caliphate prediction is nonsense.

This matters because if the pessimists are right, it does not follow that Europe will go quietly into the night. Rather, Europeans may believe the pessimistic forecast and alter their voting patterns accordingly. It is equally possible that “native Europeans” (to alter a phrase from the American lexicon of political correctness) maybe begin to vote for harshly anti-immigrant parties, which in Europe are often closely mixed with classic fascist strains of thought. Sometimes – France or Austria– this linkage is obvious, and sometimes, as in Denmark, it does not appear to exist. There has been a harsh taboo against nationalist politics in Europe since the end of the war, for obvious historical reasons, but that taboo has been breaking down in the last 15 years. Since the reaction of EU defeats has only made the anger worse by, for example, sanctioning the people of Austria for voting several years ago for the nationalist Freedom Party (led then by the Nazi sympathizer Jörg Haider), one can easily imagine Europe becoming far more nationalistic in the very near future, even if the demographic scare stories are overblown. Fear of them, combined with anger at EU indifference and even hostility to cultural preservation, may make things worse, long before they get better. As I wrote a year ago in the post linked above, “more likely is that continuing immigration will steadily erode the cohesiveness of European societies and the moderation of their politics.” Whether it takes the peaceful form of the Danish and Dutch assertion of their own cultural primacy to the newcomers among them (Holland now makes all immigrants watch a videotape before arrival in which they see, among other things, men kissing and topless women on the beach), or whether it takes a more dangerous direction of the Jean-Marie Le Pen type is a very open question.

And one of Europe’s biggest problems, which I’ve never seen anyone comment on, is that in some of these countries single immigrant groups dominate the overall immigrant profile. Very many of the immigrants in Holland are Moroccan, very many of the immigrants in Germany are Turkish, very many of the immigrants in France are from North and West Africa. This is in stark contrast to New York or Los Angeles (and in fairness, to London) where the variety is much greater. This means that it is harder for any particular group to feel either uniquely discriminated against or uniquely empowered by their numbers. It is well known in the economic literature on ethnic conflict that societies with very small minorities (think China) have relatively little ethnic conflict (and in China where it exists, it is mostly a function of concentration of groups, as in the Uighur west or in Tibet). But it is also generally true that societies with many ethnic groups, in other words an extraordinarily high level of diversity, also tend to have less conflict. It is those societies in the middle, where a small number of groups makes up a large minority of people, that conflict tends to be the greatest. Economic freedom, which makes it easier for the minority and the majority to be bound together cooperatively, alleviates this problem, but many European societies are noticeably short of economic freedom at this point.

And so Mr. Steyn is probably excessively pessimistic when he argues that Europe will collapse in a heap of sharia, but is probably right that bitter times lie ahead. If he does so (I don’t know yet), he is wrong to treat Europe as an undifferentiated mass, because some societies – Denmark, Holland, perhaps even Germany – have recognized the problem earlier while others – Belgium, France, and Spain – have not. But given his genius with the language (he is the single wittiest political writer on the scene today) and the seriousness of the issues he raises, anyone who cares about the West would be well-advised to read the book.

8 Comments:

Blogger Knucklehead said...

Evan,

Thank you for this post and the links. It will take some time to get through it all.

I picked up America Alone and find it very troubling and I've only read a few pages. In fact I'll probably loan it out rather that reading it right now - I'm just not up to melancholy or pessimism right now.

I'm looking forward to returning to finish the extensive reading assignment you've given. The article wondering why Islam in Europe should be any different than Catholicism in North America is rather lame though - at least as far as I've read. Catholicism never tried to bring its own law into the new world. It pretty much always accepted seperation of church and state, and US Catholicism in particular has always been rather testy with Rome. There really is little comparison between RC in North America and Islam in Europe.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Hi!

"The article wondering why Islam in Europe should be any different than Catholicism in North America is rather lame though - at least as far as I've read. Catholicism never tried to bring its own law into the new world. It pretty much always accepted seperation of church and state, and US Catholicism in particular has always been rather testy with Rome. There really is little comparison between RC in North America and Islam in Europe."

In the United States, I'm not at all sure about that. The reception of Irish Catholics _was_ profoundly hostile.

http://onepearsallandhisbooks.blogspot.com/2005/06/quirky-revisionisms.html

Certainly the example of Québec suggests that the Church, while perhaps accepting the separation of church and state, wanted to be on top. The story of French Canadian clericonationalist irredentism isn't as widely known as it should be. Certainly the history of Roman Catholicism in Spain, Italy, Poland, France or even Ireland in the 20th century hasn't been strongly associated with liberal democratic values.

Anyway. If you want to compare Roman Catholicism in 19th century North America with Islam in 21st century Europe, the former is clearly ahead. At that time, the Roman Catholic Church was an institution two milennia old, with an elaborated bureaucratic structure that had survived numerous state and popular challenges to its authority, in the context of a highly religious North American society. There are no comparable bureaucratic structures in Europe. More to the point, Europe and its Muslims are far more irreligious than North America and its Roman Catholics back then.

As I wrote, European Muslims are, at worst, as fervent as contemporary American Christians; in France, they're significantly less. In the French case, high levels of irreligiosity, 20% rates of intermarriage, and the rapid language shift from heritage languages to French don't exactly suggest Eurabia's imminence.

As for immigrants in Italy and especially Spain, they're far more likely to be of Latin American or post-Communist European background than they are to be Muslim. In Spain, for instance, the percentage of immigrants of Muslim stock has fallen from 50% in the mid-1990s (Moroccan, mainly) to something in the area of 10-15%.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Knucklehead said...

Randy,

The fact that there was a great deal of hostility toward Roman Catholics who immigrated to North America (or at least to the US) is not relevant to the point that author seemed to be trying to make (at least as far as I can tell. The author seems to be making the claim that Europeans need not worry about their Islamic immigrants insisting upon imposing Sharia in their communities (and, presumably, eventially throughout Europe) because Roman Catholics who emmigrated to the US changed their religion (or, perhaps, their dogma) to fit their new nation and changing times.

What she essentially seems to be saying is that we have an example of a religious group (Roman Catholics) immigrating in large numbers to a place where their religion was significantly different (and unwelcome) and yet did not attempt to... what exactly?

For one thing the animosities toward RCs was not entirely one of "religion". It was at least partially the "papist" thing which while having strong religious components was also very politically loaded. The animosity of British protestant sects to RC was largely a political matter with a whole lot of religious costuming.

But that aside there is just nothing within Christianity as a whole or the RC version of it that equates closely with Islamic sharia. Clearly the Pope and the RC heirarchy wielded enormous political power throughout Europe once upon a time. We had variations on the Holy Roman Empire theme for centuries. But I have never seen anything, in all my reading about US and North American history, that even hints at any insistence by RC immigrants that the US impose RC doctrine, dogma, or "law" throughout the nation or continent and add it to the "Holy Empire".

The author's premise is false. Looking at RC immigration to North America tells us little or nothing about Islamic immigration to Europe.

All that said I must now mention that I have not yet returned to finish reading that piece. I only got through the comparison to RC part. Like I said, that seemed downright lame to me. There are more contrasts than comparisons.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Knucklehead said...

Randy,

I hadn't stopped and noticed the name (Randy) of the author of France, its Muslims, and the Future. I presume you are one and the same "Randy".

I am now reading further into your extensive article. Above I mentioned why I find the RC in US argument completely irrelevant to Muslims in France topic.

Continuing on in your article I don't find it particularly convincing. I have no way to judge if you are being careless or disingenuos. What I'll do is grab and quote some of the things that bother me as I read your piece.

For one thing there is the matter of how many Muslims there are in France. You tell us in one paragraph:

Rafie Boustani and Philippe Fargues’ 1990 The Atlas of the Arab World cites a population of two million Arabs in France circa 1989, reflecting the author’s definition of an Arab as someone connected to an Arab "language and historical conscience" (106). The 1982 French census identifies 796 thousand Arabs as being of Algerian origin, 431 thousand as being of Moroccan origin, 189 thousand as being of Tunisian origin, and another hundred thousand or so coming from another six Arab countries (Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Mauritania, Syria). The difference between the two could be explained by a rate of population growth of 3.5% growth per annum between 1982 and 1990.

So, in 1982 the census said 1.5m and in 1990 a book said 2m which you explain by a 3.5% per annum growth rate. I'll take your word on the math. Has there been no census since 1982? No matter, you've provided a 3.5%/yr growth in the French Muslim population. We'll hang on to that for a moment.

Next we have...

Figures of eight million French Muslims are regularly tossed around, based, it seems, on panicked fears of high Muslim immigration and a high Muslim birth rate. These figures are vastly overestimated, though. Figures on religious affiliation and ethnic background aren’t kept by the French government, as part of a long-standing reaction against the misuse of those figures by Vichy to deport immigrant Jews to the concentration camps. The suggestions of The Economist that there are a bit over four million French Muslims seem to be more sensible and generally accepted. This amounts to roughly 7% of the French population--a significant number, to be sure, but not an overwhelming majority.

Yet when I look at the Economist article you linked the first (and only) mention of the populations numbers I find is:

Many French people feel deeply uncomfortable about defiant, assertive Islam. France, after all, is home to Europe's biggest Muslim population (outside Turkey): some 5m, next to 3m in Germany and 1.5m in Britain.

Five million is 25% more than four million. 4m is roughly 6.6% and 5m is roughly 8.3%, respectively, of the population of France. These are not differences that necessarily wreck the argument you make but they are not insignificant. Was this a matter of carelessness on your part or, ummm..., rhetorical license?

The BBC, BTW, put the number at Muslim population: Five to six million (8-9.6%) as of 2004 (link).

Then you tell us:

If this minority population grew for the next 50 years at a rate of 2% per annum (a high rate, and one that doesn’t seem to be supported by signs of an ongoing demographic transition), while the remainder of the population shrunk at a rate of 0.5% per annum (also a high rate of decrease, and one that doesn’t seem likely to be achieved for a while given generally high French fertility rates), at the end of this 50 year period the total French population would have shrunk by 9%, and France’s Muslim population would amount to roughly one-fifth of the total.

You've established above that between '82 and '90 the growth rate was 3.5%/yr. Now you want to calculate the next 50 years at 2%/yr. That's a big drop. Has the growth rate for French Muslims dropped? According to your translation of the INSEE article you linked:

As in 1990, foreigners living in France in 1999 have on average three children. The Spanish and Italians have fewer children than Frenchwoman, and Africans remain the most fertile. The older the immigration, the closer the behaviour of the foreigners is close to that of Frenchwomen. Like the French, the foreigners become mothers later than before. The schedule of births of Algerians and Moroccans, already close to that of Frenchwomen, has changed little. That of Tunisians approaches that of Frenchwomen.

Well, between '90 and '99 "foreign women" averaged 3 births to French women's 2. That sounds like a 50% higher birthrate to me. It also seems steady rather than dropping (as of '99). And Spanish and Italian "foreign women" were lower than the French women's average which would suggest that the "other" types of foreigner women made up the difference. "Africans" being the highest.

You later go on to make a case that French Muslims have widely divergent ethnic backgrounds and are losing their ability to speak arabic which you seem to suggest dilutes there "Muslimness" or something.

Two points and I'll stop.

First, the claim isn't that France/Europe is drowning in any particular ethnicity of Muslims. The claim is that Europe is drowning in Muslims who are beginning to demand they live under Islamic law - sharia. This seems to be independent of ethnicity and a characteristic of Islam.

Second, while Arabic is the language of the holy texts of Islam it has little to do with the spread of Islam and sharia. Arabic is not the language of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh...

I have not read enough of Steyn's book to "defend" his claims. He is not the only one making such claims. The demographic argument made is that not only are the Muslim segments of European populations growing faster (making more babies per woman) but that it is YOUNGER than the "native" populations. Ethnic European women are having fewer babies AND becoming fewer in number for childbearing years.

Oops, sorry, not yet ready to stop. When I hit this bit I started to think you are being intentionally disingenuous:

Statistics on intermarriage and minority groups generally are difficult to find in France, partly because of the ban on the collection of information on religious affiliation and ethnic background in the French census after the Second World War.

I think that's at least the second time you mentioned this restriction regarding data collection about ethnicity and religion. It makes sense and I don't dispute there is such a ban. Yet you make some assumptions that cannot hold water given the restriction.

The authors of Sixty Million French claim, on page 301, that half of immigrant men marry non-immigrant women, and that one-quarter of immigrant women marry non-immigrant men, for a total intermarriage rate of roughly 40%.

Your implication here (based on your assertions below) is that "immigrant" and "non-immigrant" is the same as "Muslim" and "ethnic French". That is not at all the case. It is far more likely that "non-immigrant" means nothing more than "born in France".

You seem to be suggesting that 40% of Muslim women in France are marrying non-muslim French men. I'll bet the proverbial dollar to a donut that nothing of the sort is the case.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Knucklehead said...

I apolgize for hijacking Evan's comment section here but the demographic point is not as Randy presents it.

The Muslim percentage of the French population is somewhere between 7% (Randy's claim) and 8-10% (Economist and BBC). That is the overall population for all age groups. The % of the population within child bearing years is weighted more heavily to the Muslim portion. And they have a higher fertility rate which means that skew grows more quickly than the overall percentage.

The French Muslims are making young people increasingly faster (proportionaly) than the ethnic French. This remains true even if the ethnic French fertility rate stablilizes and the Muslim French rate declines somewhat. The ethic French population is aging more rapidly and, therefore, passing beyond childbearing years while the Muslim French population is much younger and will produce children proportionally more rapidly.

Furthermore the claim seems to be that the Muslim populations throughout Europe are increasingly radicalized in generations after the initial immigrant generations. It isn't so much the original immigrant Muslim moms and dads who are moving toward demanding sharia but, rather, their grandchildren.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Hi!

"I hadn't stopped and noticed the name (Randy) of the author of France, its Muslims, and the Future. I presume you are one and the same "Randy"."

Yep, this is me.

"I am now reading further into your extensive article. Above I mentioned why I find the RC in US argument completely irrelevant to Muslims in France topic."

Completely irrelevant? I'll be the first to agree with you that the analogy isn't spot on--my thoughts on religion have evolved over time. That said, I also think that the comparison is relevant. The Roman Catholic Church has had, for most of its history, a tendentious relationship with liberal democratic values. This isn't so much the case in most of the United States, where the Church has been riven by ethnic tensions (between French Canadians and Irish in New England in the belle epoque, say) and locked in contests with hostile majorities. Thinking of Canadian history, however, where the institutional Church regularly threw its weight behind conservative factions and causes (opposing the entry of Jewish refugees into Canada, for instance, and supporting the Duplessis era in Québec), if proportions were different I suspect that there would have been issues. Note that the American Roman Catholic Church did go through a controversial period thanks to the perception of a heresy of "Americanism" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americanism_(heresy)).

Islam as a religion might well be more militant, but Islam in Europe lacks the effective bureaucatic hierarchy that Roman Catholicism enjoyed. A fragmented faith isn't necessarily very dynamic.

"Continuing on in your article I don't find it particularly convincing. I have no way to judge if you are being careless or disingenuos."

Disingenuous, certainly not. I've no particular stake in the conclusion that I came to. Had my research revealed a different conclusion I would have gone with that conclusion. Careless? Well, keep in mind that it was something I was trying to pull together while I was completing essays for grad school. Were I to rewrite it I'd use better data sources.

What I'll do is grab and quote some of the things that bother me as I read your piece.

For one thing there is the matter of how many Muslims there are in France. You tell us in one paragraph:

"So, in 1982 the census said 1.5m and in 1990 a book said 2m which you explain by a 3.5% per annum growth rate. I'll take your word on the math. Has there been no census since 1982?"

I'm doubtful of the validity of the census in regards to French muslims, owing to the large number of native-born French who disappear into the statistics and the lack of any questions on religious affiliation.

As to the present numbers, Michèle Tribalat estimated 3.8 million "possible Muslims" in France in 1999 (http://www.lexpress.fr/info/societe/dossier/mosquees/dossier.asp?ida=41563), while the French Ministry of the Interior suggested that there were 4.1 million in 2000, and Philippe Boursier de Carbon suggested in March 2004 (http://perso.orange.fr/xdep/boursier04.html) that in that year there were 5 million people of "Maghrebin, African, and Turkish origin" living in France.

"Five million is 25% more than four million. 4m is roughly 6.6% and 5m is roughly 8.3%, respectively, of the population of France. These are not differences that necessarily wreck the argument you make but they are not insignificant. Was this a matter of carelessness on your part or, ummm..., rhetorical license?"

Carelessness, not lies. I should have used other sources--see above. There does seem to be a consensus that there are a minimum of four and a maximum of five million people of "Muslim" stock, broadly defined, living in France.

"You've established above that between '82 and '90 the growth rate was 3.5%/yr. Now you want to calculate the next 50 years at 2%/yr. That's a big drop. Has the growth rate for French Muslims dropped?"

Fertility rates have dropped, yes. To a considerable extent, French Muslim population growth rates are the product of both very high TFRs in the first generation of immigrants and the relative youth of French Muslim women who become mothers.

"Well, between '90 and '99 "foreign women" averaged 3 births to French women's 2. That sounds like a 50% higher birthrate to me. It also seems steady rather than dropping (as of '99)."

50% higher, yes. This compares to the difference between Mexican-American and non-Latin white American TFRs in the United States (http://thedragonstales.blogspot.com/2006/01/birth-rates-among-immigrants-in.html). This sort of difference will result in incremental change over time--the fact that German Turks have a TFR of 1.9 children per woman (http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,414520,00.html) while ethnically German women have a TFR of 1.3 ensures that German Turks will have a younger age profile, and that the share of German Turks in the total German population will rise. This does not signal an imminent Turkicization of Germany, no more than the other fertility differentials ensure a Mexicanization of the United States or an Maghrebinization of France.

"And Spanish and Italian "foreign women" were lower than the French women's average which would suggest that the "other" types of foreigner women made up the difference. "Africans" being the highest.

"First, the claim isn't that France/Europe is drowning in any particular ethnicity of Muslims. The claim is that Europe is drowning in Muslims who are beginning to demand they live under Islamic law - sharia. This seems to be independent of ethnicity and a characteristic of Islam."

The Eurabia argument makes two separate assumptions.

1. Muslims will end up forming a majority of the European population soon enough.

2. Muslims all uniformly adhere to Islamism.

Hence, the argument that Europe will become an Islamist-run continent.

I'm reasonably satisfied that the first condition isn't going to come to pass, in France or elsewhere. In the Netherlands, for instance, according to a generous assumption, by 2050 10% of the population would be Muslim background (as opposed to ~6% now) (http://emmering.blogspot.com/2005/03/graphs-r-us.html). The second condition, well, I'll discuss my critique below.

"Second, while Arabic is the language of the holy texts of Islam it has little to do with the spread of Islam and sharia. Arabic is not the language of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh..."

Quite true. What we're seeing is the formation in France of a French-language Islam, on the rough model of a formation a century earlier of an English-language Judaism in the United States. The young generation of French Muslims, lacking fluency in the languages of their parents and grandparents, are increasingly relating to their religion through the language of the country that they live in, when they relate to their religion at all.

"I have not read enough of Steyn's book to "defend" his claims. He is not the only one making such claims. The demographic argument made is that not only are the Muslim segments of European populations growing faster (making more babies per woman) but that it is YOUNGER than the "native" populations. Ethnic European women are having fewer babies AND becoming fewer in number for childbearing years."

Younger, granted. Note that I didn't deny that the relative shares of populations would shift, or that there wouldn't be problems of integration. There will be a shift, and there are already problems of integration. The shift just isn't as big as Steyn and others suggest: European women (well, northwestern European women) give birth to more children than stereotypes suggest, immigrant flows to Europe are increasingly non-Muslim, Muslim fertility rates are falling or static at not especially higher levels, and especially in France, there's a growing amount of Muslim assimilation into the wider population.

"I think that's at least the second time you mentioned this restriction regarding data collection about ethnicity and religion. It makes sense and I don't dispute there is such a ban. Yet you make some assumptions that cannot hold water given the restriction."

Actually, I quite agree. At the time, I had no idea where I could find this data. That was the only relevant data point I could find, and I wasn't happy about that.

"You seem to be suggesting that 40% of Muslim women in France are marrying non-muslim French men. I'll bet the proverbial dollar to a donut that nothing of the sort is the case."

Actually (http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3226,36-709613@51-706775@45-1,0.html), Emmannuel Todd suggest an intermarriage rate of 25%. My translation:

"The kids of the banlieues of African or Maghrebin origin are not at all in the same place aas the Pakistani kids of England or the Turkish kids of Germany. In France, the rate of mixed marriages at the beginning of the 1990s was around 25% for the daughters of Algerians, whereas they were around 1% for the daughters of Turks and practically nonexistent for the daughters fo Pakistanis."

It's worth noting that according to some INSEE data I've seen, the high intermarriage rate of Maghrebins with non-Muslims isn't copied by Turks. This makes sense, given the cultural proximity of Maghrebins to the French.

"The French Muslims are making young people increasingly faster (proportionaly) than the ethnic French. This remains true even if the ethnic French fertility rate stablilizes and the Muslim French rate declines somewhat. The ethic French population is aging more rapidly and, therefore, passing beyond childbearing years while the Muslim French population is much younger and will produce children proportionally more rapidly. "

I agree. Boursier de Carbon, linked above, my translation, starting from a baseline assumption of five million Muslims in 2004:

"By 2030, assuming stable fertility rates (which according to INSEE stopped falling at the beginning of the 1990s) and migration rates, this population and its descendants could approch 9.6 million people (15% of the total metropolitan population). It could then produce nearly 200 000 births (30% of births in the metropole) and even reach 245 000 births in 2040 to produce 39% of births in the metropole. This population would include in 2030 nearly 2.6 million young people below 15 years of age (a quarter of the youths of this age in the metropole). It would thus include nearly 6.6 million adults (13% of the adult population fo the metropole) [. . .] This signifies that certain parts of French territory would be very largely populated by these people and their descendants."

Boursier de Carbon's estimate seems to be at the high end of things. Observing that fertility rates will remain stable through to the 2030s is a dubious assumption, as are his assumptions about sustain immigration rates. The proportion of Muslim origin will grow significantly, to be sure. It won't reach majority levels. Frankly, I'd be somewhat surprised if the proportion of French of Muslim background exceeded 20% of the total.

"Furthermore the claim seems to be that the Muslim populations throughout Europe are increasingly radicalized in generations after the initial immigrant generations. It isn't so much the original immigrant Muslim moms and dads who are moving toward demanding sharia but, rather, their grandchildren."

This is a dubious claim, at least in the context of a France where the younger generations of Muslims are native-born, more likely to speak French as their mother language than their are to speak any heritage languages, less religious, and about as likely to marry across religious boundaries as American Jews in the mid-20th century. The situations in Germany, Britain, and the Netherlands may be different, owing to the higher degrees of endogamy among Muslim populations in those countries. It may be: The distinction between traditionalist and Islamist is important.

Are there shariac maniacs? Certainly. In the case of France, so much of a high proportion of such people but rather because there's such a large pool of potential candidates.

1:31 AM  
Blogger Evan said...

Islam as a religion might well be more militant, but Islam in Europe lacks the effective bureaucatic hierarchy that Roman Catholicism enjoyed. A fragmented faith isn't necessarily very dynamic.

I think that it might be the opposite. A fragmented faith is one where religious entrepreneurs are freer to try new tactics. If some of them are those designed to appeal to young men, who everywhere tend toward rebelliousness and violence, more's the worse. The Catholic Church, in contrast, is more of a religious command economy. I have written more about modeling jihadist ideology as a business or industry back in the early days of this blog, here and here.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Evan:

I think that it might be the opposite. A fragmented faith is one where religious entrepreneurs are freer to try new tactics. If some of them are those designed to appeal to young men, who everywhere tend toward rebelliousness and violence, more's the worse. The Catholic Church, in contrast, is more of a religious command economy. I have written more about modeling jihadist ideology as a business or industry back in the early days of this blog, here and here.

I'll take a look at these posts. Thanks!

One point, though, something that quite possibly fits well with your thesis. The evidence from Iran and the Algerian insurgency suggests to me that, in the long run, the types of tactics that involve recruiting young men for violent Islamism don't work in the long run in bolstering Islam's strength. When there's compulsion in religion, as soon as choice becomes available it's the religion that collapses.

There are obvious differences with the situations facing different Muslim communities in Europe--the dynamics of being minorities, say--but, at least in cases where individual assimilation into the broader national culture is possible, there are also strong similarities. If you actually have the choice between being a relatively hedonistic western European who just happens to have a Muslim cultural inheritance and being trapped in a restrictive community verging on totalitarianism, what would most people choose? This goes particularly for people in groups (women, non-heterosexuals) who'd not fair well in these latter perversions of community.

2:58 PM  

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