want many children of their own, thernquestion of whether “the Germans arerndying out” (the subtitle of a Giinter Grassrnnovel) will remain pertinent.rnFrench intellectuals and politiciansrnhave been grappling with a sense of demographicrndecline for much longer:rnSince the Revolution, France’s populationrnhas grown more slowly than that ofrnits neighbors (though it is now higherrnthan Germany’s) and her relative powerrnhas been shrinking as a result. Pro-natalistrnpolicies have a long pedigree, andrneven specialized debates between demographersrnattract public attention. Virtuallyrnall major parties value an idea ofrnFrench culture linked to the nation’srnpast, and it is not surprising that Francernwas the first countr}’ to generate a heftyrnprotest part)’ against Third World immigration.rnWhether this kind of nationalrnself-consciousness will actually help thernFrench navigate the demographic shoalsrnahead is, of course, another matter.rnIn England, the political class seemedrnready to overlook the fact that it was playingrnhost to a growing, unassimilatedrnMuslim population until 1989, whenrnSalman Rushdie’s novel The SatanicrnVerses earned the author a fatwa, orrndeath sentence, from Muslim clerics. Inrnthe weeks that followed. Englishmenrnwere forced to acknowledge that therernwere hundreds of thousands of peoplernliving in their midst who favored puttingrnan author to death for writing a book.rnTeitelbaimi and Winter go right to thernheart of the issue, asking, “Is Islamic beliefrncompatible with citizenship in arnWestern country?” They give no answerrnbut remind readers that, when EnochrnPowell raised a similar question 30 yearsrnago, he was kicked out of the Tory leadership:rnThe issue was simply too chargedrnfor a poliHcal class operating within veryrnfixed, unspoken assumptions about thernproper boundaries of political debate.rnWhile distancing themselves from Powell,rnTeitelbaum and Winter admit thatrnthe question he put forward was entirelyrnlegitimate.rnWhen the authors pass to the East,rnthey find so few restraining barriers onrndemographic debate as to make one ruerntheir absence. In the states of the formerrnYugoslavia, all contending factions keeprntrack of the relative demographic weightrnand fertility rates of their rivals. Similarly,rndisparities in birth rates between Russiansrnand non-Slavs are ever on the Russianrnmind. In the Soviet era, plannersrnfaced the vexing problem of developingrnfamily policies to encourage Russianrnmothers to have more children whilernlowering the much higher fertility ratesrnin Muslim regions. This (perhaps impossible)rntask ended with the collapse ofrnthe Soviet Union. Still, Russia’s presentrnsituation cannot but breed despair. AleksandrrnSolzhenitsyn himself wrote eightrnyears ago, “Everyone knows our deathsrnsurpass our births, and we shall disappearrnfrom the earth.” It is an arresting formulation,rnput forth by a man who has neverrnshrunk from speaking the truth as he seesrnit. Those trends, of course, have onlyrnworsened since then.rnTurning to the United States, the authorsrnprovide a lucid and concise discussionrnof the failure of immigration reformrnto take hold. They quote an “open borders”rnadvocate, the late economist JulianrnSimon, who acknowledged that, if thernAmerican people had their preference,rnthe highly restrictionist immigrationrnlaws enacted in the 1920’s would neverrnhave been fully lifted. But America’srnchoices in this realm are not governed byrnthe general will. On the right, the dominantrnideological tendency is what the authorsrnlabel “conservative libertarianism”rnand “cornucopianism”: roughly speaking,rnthe more people —producers, consumers,rnwhatever—the better. (Similarly,rnthe cultural nationalism at the core ofrnall the major European conservative partiesrnis comparatively weak.) On the left,rncivil libertarianism and the civil rightsrnlobbies drive the agenda; the UnitedrnStates has no democratic socialist heritagernto speak of and thus no major institutionsrninclined to stress the negative impactrnof immigration on working-classrnwages and living standards. Congressmen,rnmeanwhile, pay more attention tornthe highly motivated five percent—oftenrnthose mobilized by ethnic or businessrnlobbies — and retreat from immigrationrnreform as soon as pressure is applied tornthem. Thus far, movement towardrngreater restriction has emerged only inrnthe aftermath of populist and grassrootsrninsurgencies, such as that which provokedrnCalifornia’s Proposition 187.rnIn Canada, where ethnic divisions arerngeographically rooted and officially sanctionedrnthrough linguistic policy, the politicalrnsystem is skating on the edge ofrnbreakdown. In 1993, the mainstreamrnconservative party suffered virtual electoralrncollapse, induced at least partiallyrnby its failure to persuade voters it had anyrnplan to deal effectively with either Quebecoisrnseparatism or immigration — arnwarning, perhaps, that ethnic issues canrnretaliate with startling suddenness uponrnconservative establishments regarded asrntoo accommodating by the electorate.rnTeitelbaum and Winter make no policyrnrecommendations beyond expressingrnthe hope that decisions regarding immigration,rnasylum, birth control, and natalityrnpolicies will be based on knowledgernrather than emotion. They do, however,rnbring home the point that these issuesrnwill remain at the center of Western politicalrnlife for a long time to come. In thernshort and medium term, economic progressrnin poorer Southern countries will increasernmigration pressures rather than diminishrnthem, since people raised to arnslightly higher standard of living knowrnmore of the outside world, have greaterrnaccess to transportation, and have morernmoney to pay smugglers than they hadrnformerly. Low fertility rates throughoutrnthe West ensure that even modest ratesrnof immigration will cause noticeablernshifts in the demographic balance, andrninevitably many Westerners will come tornfeel that their national identity is threatened.rnAs for potential panaceas, the authorsrnnote that no government has hadrnany success in raising its country’s birthrnrate. To this somber prognosis, the authorsrnappend a warning: Politicians whornseek “partisan” advantage in speakingrnabout the powerful forces of demographyrnare “playing with fire.”rnOf course, not everyone will heed thisrnadvice: California Democratic Partyrnstate chairman Art Torres, for example,rnboasts that, because of demographicrnchanges. Proposition 187 is “the last gasprnof white America in California.” (Thernrecent appearance of triumphalist Latinornrhetoric illustrates this book’s centralrnthemes; failure to analyze or even mentionrnit may be its most significant lapse.)rnNor will the Russian nationalist Zhirinovskyrn—who has vowed to sire childrenrnin every department where his party hasrna headquarters — likely avoid partisanrnposturing with regard to the demographicrnquestion. So the counsel of cautionrnand restraint is really intended for thernleaders of the mainstream parties of Europe,rnCanada, and the United States.rnBut if these issues are as vital as Teitelbaumrnand Winter maintain, it is hard tornsee how politicians can fail to addressrnthem without sacrificing their own politicalrnrelevance.rnScott McConnell writes from New York.rnAPRIL 1999/31rnrnrn