8 March 2016

Review: "The Death of the West" by Patrick J. Buchanan

'The Death of the West' is without a doubt Pat Buchanan's magnum opus. Though now more than a decade old, it re-emerges with great relevancy in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis and rising tensions in the Middle-East.
The title is to be understood literally: declining birth rates and mass immigration in the US and Europe threaten to overwhelm native populations and extinguish their cultural identity. Different to earlier waves of immigration, the author argues, these people often don't share our Western values and their allegiances lie with countries we could be at war with. And as societies in Europe grow older, the European welfare-state can only be sustained through mass immigration, for many Europeans not only stopped reproducing, but revel in their demise, by celebrating being childless and having double income.

Buchanan identifies Socialism as the root cause of the Western decline. As he astutely observes how, come 1989, world-wide Communism has failed and why, he further branches out into the tenets of its successor and how it managed to prevail where the progenitor didn't – by changing the culture from within. He goes into great detail how Globalism, Secularism, Feminism, and Gay Rights Activism often hide behind reason and just cause, but show ill-intent towards their dissenters; dehumanising them by calling them bigots, sexists, racists, or homophobes and thus avoiding the debate. What follows is a well-argued, harsh critique of the Mexican government's economic reliance on illegal immigration and a bold defence of the nation-state concept as a necessity in preserving the cultural identity of the United States. In his refusal of amnesty for illegal immigrants for example, he relentlessly makes the case for deportation, by arguing that if rule of law is ignored and pardon given, the weight of immigration laws – however strict they may be – is nullified.
The division and sense of separatism the author sees infecting the United States is evident throughout the political discourse. There is a deep understanding and acknowledgment in Buchanan's writing for the violent history of the West, but as he keenly retorts, this is true for all nations, revealing the gut-wrenching truth, that the West didn't start slavery, it was the West that ended it. And while he is a big proponent of the Civil Rights Act, he sees no obligation for the US to make any further payments to minority interest groups, because he sees them as the great dividers, who out of self-interest will never be satisfied with any form of reparation. And when the state keeps on giving, why should they be?
He then goes on to dismantle the cultural Marxist myth of equality, by arguing that there are no equals, only equal opportunity. But then taints the relevant Thomas Jefferson quote, which would have perfectly stood on its own, by needlessly pointing out the Founding Father's rejection of homosexuality.
With grand vigour he argues for the socially conservative case; even going so far as putting blame on conservatives who surrendered the culture war and retreated solely to economics (read: Neocons), only for the libertarian element of the right to grow stronger. Whatever you may think about the man, it takes guts to slaughter the holy cow of free market capitalism as a right-winger.

As is to be expected by Buchanan, Christianity repeatedly sneaks its way into his argumentation and it is here where the book is at its weakest. While it may be true that a traditionalist, faith-based society produces higher birth rates, a return to faith cannot be a goal unto itself, but must come from conviction. Pure pragmatism does not suffice, when it comes to people's acceptance of a divine creator. However, I also understand that it is not in the author's purview to make the case for Christ. As a stout unbeliever and Cultural Catholic, I therefore have to reject his battle-cry for a return to Christian predominance in Western society. From my European Classical Liberal perspective though, I at least have to commend the author for being open about some of his statist views, which befits someone who accepts God as an ultimate authority; something I always found to be contradictive to the libertarian-leaning wing of the right – and a pitfall Buchanan wisely avoids.

With 'The Death of the West', Patrick J. Buchanan delivers an excellent read, that may make your blood boil, but is so well-researched and written with such finesse and historical prowess, that you will be hard-pressed not to find something to agree with. While I do disagree with many of his assertions, I also found a lot of respectable opinions, the least of which made me understand his brand of conservatism better. And lest those of us, whose parents fled communist regimes to find a better life in the West, forget, why they did so in the first place, this book makes a strong case for why we ought to preserve the West from those who seek to destroy it.

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