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Irish Exceptionalism at an End?

December 7, 2006     Vol. 8 / No. 48

Irish Exceptionalism At an End?

Last month, I went on a short speaking tour of the Republic of Ireland (not the northern bit), the first time I had been to that country.  I spent a week there giving speeches at three Irish universities and visiting some of the sights of an island about the size of the state of Maine.  I went expecting friendly people, a still slightly traditional culture, and beautiful countryside, and my expectations were exceeded.

Ireland is perhaps 20 years behind the times, and given the nature of our times, that is a very good thing.

Although there has been a wave of immigration into Ireland in the last few years, the country’s populace is still largely whole and somewhat cohesive.  The shared culture, history, religious background, language, and race has perhaps created a warmer, more trusting nation, with tighter community bonds, when combined with the relative lack of avant garde influences.  The Catholic attitude of relationships first, with family and community ranked ahead of money-making or social climbing, is still relatively strong.

Sadly, progressive attitudes are fast transforming Irish life with their emphases on equality and career over family and community, not to mention faith.  Of course, these progressive attitudes have their advantages.   Ireland’s GDP has almost doubled in the past ten years, and the nation of 4.1 million people is now considered one of the richest on a per capita basis in the European Union.  Curiously, EU subsidies and foreign investment poured into historically Catholic Ireland right after she legalized contraception and divorce in the 1990s.  It has become common for Irishwomen to travel to Britain for abortions, which are still illegal in their homeland.  Ireland sold her soul, and now she is receiving her thirty pieces of silver.

So with greater personal freedom and much greater wealth, the Irish must be becoming happier, right?  Let’s see.  The experts agree that Ireland’s suicide rate has soared, even after adjusting for the former tendency of Irishmen to call suicides “accidents” because of the stigma of suicide.

In fact, the No. 1 killer of young men in Ireland today is suicide.  Is that a sign of a happy society?  Drug abuse is up, alcohol abuse is up (which is saying a lot for Ireland), violent crime is rising, the divorce rate has reached 25%, the illegitimacy rate has reached 31%, the abortion rate is over 10%, the birthrate has dropped below replacement level—-are these signs of a vigorous society headed toward greater happiness and fulfillment, or a society headed down the tubes fast?

When the indicators of social decay and unhappiness are all pointing in the wrong direction, and people aren’t having enough kids to keep their society going, it’s perfectly obvious that the society in question is going down to destruction even if GDP growth is up.  Obviously, a low birthrate alone is enough to destroy any society.  The days of large Irish Catholic families are over, and young people are literally killing themselves off at ever-higher rates.  “Twenty years ago an Irish family physician might have seen one patient every three years who would have died by suicide,” says the charity The Ireland Funds.  “Now, it is increasingly common for doctors to have two to three patients a year take their own lives.”

As St. Francis of Assisi said, if your possessions do not make you happy, what good are they?

And why has Irish GDP growth been so high recently?  The main reason is self-destructive: Female labor force participation in Ireland has skyrocketed.  The ideal of woman as wife and mother, creating a beautiful home that serves as refuge and social center, nurturing the next generation instead of leaving it to be raised by strangers, has given way to the woman-as-man model of feminism.  With married women now working outside the home, of course per capita GDP growth has soared.  What have plummeted are people’s well-being and the birthrate.

So Ireland’s economic growth won’t last.  Once female labor force participation is maxed out, GDP growth will slow.  And then comes slow death.  For a time, Ireland will be rich, as Britain, France, Germany, and Italy are.  With few children to support, a greater proportion of the population is economically productive and can keep that production for itself.  Yet when all those working-age people retire and there are relatively few young people to take their place, what then?

Ireland’s fertility rate was 3.5 children per woman in 1975, according to the United Nations Population Division.  Now it is 1.9, below the replacement rate of 2.1, and headed further down.  So today, 11% of the Irish population is 65 or over.  By 2050, it will be 26%.  Those 80 or over will go from 2.6% today to 7.6% in 2050.  At the same time, those between 15 and 24 will fall from 15% to 9.7% in 2050.  This is what environmentalists call unsustainable.  And Ireland, since the anti-family social revolution came later there than elsewhere in the West, is much better off than Britain and most of the Continent.

My largely student audiences, even their pro-life members, seemed particularly offended when I called feminism “the most socially destructive movement in modern times.”  I spoke at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth (near Dublin), Galway, and Cork, and this may have been the most controversial argument.  Yet the statement is irrefutable.

Every single society in the world that has adopted feminism is dying out.

They all have below-replacement birthrates, with no exceptions from Ireland to Italy, Sweden to Japan, Spain to the United States (ours is perhaps the least feminist of the feminist nations and hosts many fecund immigrants, yet our birthrate is 2.0).  It goes to basic primal truths: When most women in a society no longer view themselves primarily as mothers to provide the next generation, that society dies.  Female careerism kills.  All the feminist bloviation in the world can’t get around this biological fact. When something increases crime, it is socially destructive.  When something encourages able-bodied people to go on welfare, it is socially destructive.  Child abuse is socially destructive.  Yet what could be more socially destructive than something that literally eliminates that society?  That is what feminism is doing to all of Western Civilization.

I pointed out to the young women listening to me that the future of the world is not feminist.  Traditional, religious, father-headed families are the ones having the kids, on average, I noted.  Since a much large percentage of Muslim families than Christian or Jewish ones are devout and patriarchal, the world becomes more Islamic with every passing moment, especially since Islam is growing rapidly by conversions as well.  And the Muslim world is becoming more radical with every passing moment, too. Secularized people have the lowest birthrates.  Thirty-five years ago, the Western world had 30% of the Earth’s population and the Muslim world had 15%.  Today, each has about 20%.  Can you guess what the figures will be in 20 years?

Barren feminist societies shall not inherit the Earth, due to the simple fact that they are not producing heirs.

The Irish government has no intention of altering its current destructive, EU-mandated course.  This supposedly pro-life government has even greatly increased Ireland’s contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which works to kill off via population control the black, brown, and yellow peoples of the world as the white peoples kill themselves off voluntarily.  UNFPA also subsidizes Communist China’s long-running official forced abortion and sterilization campaign, yet the Irish government’s contribution to UNFPA has risen from 762,000 euro in 2000 to 3 million euro last year.

I enjoyed my time in Ireland greatly.  I love the people, the countryside, and the ruins.  I am sad to see a Catholic nation that survived centuries of English Protestant oppression head voluntarily down the path of suicide.  The day St. Patrick lit the Christian paschal fire atop the Hill of Slane as a challenge to the pagan Celtic establishment seems as far in the past spiritually as it is chronologically.  I pray she will return to her roots before it’s too late.

Joseph A. D'Agostino is Vice President for Communications at the Population Research Institute.

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