Wednesday, January 11, 2006

English icons while stocks last

A site called Icons ( is trying to identify icons of Englishness, as opposed to Britishness. It is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to "provide stimulating interactive ways of exploring different cultural landscapes." They want to stimulate debate about the value of various icons of Englishness.

The Guardian had an item in its newsblog on this subject ( which brought out the Englishness in its contributors, who offered various ideas for icons, and silly suggestions. My suggestion was for a Wedgewood plate of marmalade on toast.

Funnily enough, the same day I read an article in the New Criterion ( by Mark Steyn on the demographic impact of decreasing birth rates amongst Europeans on the one hand, and high birth rates amongst immigrant populations, especially Muslim ones on the other. The maths is pretty straightforward.
"Much of what we loosely call the western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most western European countries."
Not the geographical names, but the culture. Western culture is on the decline and will be gone within a century. The irony of coming across this article on the same day as I read about the English icons promotion, was not lost on me.

We had better bring together as many as possible while we still have them, because in a few generations, the people for whom they are icons will be no more than memories.

I am wondering whether European governments are actually considering demography seriously, or whether it'll be someone else's problem, by which time, of course, it'll be too late. France has taken measures favouring large families - you get tax breaks and cheap train fares, generous child support and a medal (!) and I think other European countries should follow suit.

Maybe what'll happen is that all the Europeans will have to move to one country, say France, and leave the rest of Europe to the 'immigrants' who'll be predominantly Muslim. It'll be like Israel all over again. Why choose France? Well, it has the nicest climate and most varied scenery so it gets my vote. We'll all become just Europeans as nitpicking about who is English, French, German, etc. will be totally pointless and the only indications that Europeans were ever distinct cultural entities will be icon exhibitions based on websites like 'Icons' in museums to which children will go to point and make jokes.

It's all rather sad really.

Still, I've done my bit with my 2 children, and I'm too old for more, so it's over to the young and fertile. Guys 'n' gals, we're counting on you for the survival of the Western World. Get breeding!



  1. Sarah - you are one of the few bloggers who seems to want to tke any notice of the demographic elephant in the drawing room.

    You my be interested in two posts, one on the Englih demographic.

    and one on the college friends of my generation who haven't had kids.

  2. Thank you, laban, I managed to find the first link, even though the link itself didn't work, but couldn't find the second. The link doesn't work and I couldn't find the blog.
    I was talking to a friend who reckons that Mark Steyn was being sensationalist and that in fact, the demographic balance will even out as Muslims become wealthier and have fewer children.

  3. In two parts


    The problem with the "become wealthier and have fewer children" idea, which I understand, is that most people choose their mates from their original area of origin, mates often chosen by their family (aka 'chain migration'). So you're not really developing a 'euro' culture.

    I've broken up the links again !


  4. What strikes me is that chain migration produces larger families in the UK than in the country of origin
    "The impact on society is magnified by the high birth rates of Bangladesh and Pakistan born women who, in 2001, had total fertility rates of 4.7 and 3.9 respectively, compared to the 2001 average of 1.63 for the UK as a whole. The fertility rate of India born women, at 2.3, is nearer the UK norm." (Migration Watch UK)
    Is this because they can afford more children?
    Lionel Shriver's article sent shivers down my spine and I must say, her last line "When Islamic fundamentalists accuse the west of being decadent, degenerate and debauched, you have to wonder if maybe they've got a point." is what I've been thinking for sometime. Europe's white population is imploding and couples are sitting back watching it happen from the comfort of their leather sofas in their tidy unencumbered homes or from the heights of some terribly interesting and self-fulfilling climb on a mountain.

  5. 1st generation migrants from conservative orthodox backgrounds tend to "breed" more...but if you see the second generation the number tapers of stats can be is another s not just that more people are coming's also that more people are large numbers are migrating overseas (some *cough cough* to Europe :p)

    The reality is no welfare state can exist with low borth rates high levels of outward emigration and not have a liberal immigration policy..again on the flip side fertility is not the issue if one were to include the number of abortions that happen in England as actual births..the figures would probably even out more...


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