IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Death of the West

An excerpt from Pat Buchanan’s book. Click here to buy a copy.

The West is dying. Collapsing birth rates in Europe and the U. S., coupled with population explosions in Africa, Asia and Latin America are set to cause cataclysmic shifts in world power, as unchecked immigration swamps and polarizes every Western society and nation. Drawing on U. N. population projections, recent U. S. census figures, and expert policy studies, prominent conservative Pat Buchanan takes a cold, hard look at the future decay of Europe and America and the decline of Western culture. In The Death of the West, Buchanan contends that the U. S. now harbors a “nation within a nation”, that Europe will be inundated by an Islamic-Arab-African invasion, and that most First World nations, including Japan, have begun slowly to vanish from the earth.


“Pat, we’re losing the country we grew up in.”Again and again in the endless campaign of 2000 I heard that lament from men and women across America. But what did they mean by it?Why should sadness or melancholy—as though one’s father were dying and there were nothing to be done—have crept into the hearts of Americans on the cusp of the “Second American Century”? Were these not, as Mr. Clinton constantly reminded us, the best of times in America, with the lowest unemployment and inflation in thirty years, crime rates falling, and incomes soaring? Are we not, as Madeleine Albright never ceased to boast, “the indispensable nation”? Was this not, as Mr. Bush trumpeted, our time “of unrivaled military power, economic promise, and cultural influence”? We had won the Cold War. Our ideas were winning all over the world. What were they talking about? What was their problem?

It is this: America has undergone a cultural and social revolution. We are not the same country that we were in 1970 or even 1980. We are not the same people. After the 2000 election, pollster William McInturf told the Washington Post: “We have two massive colliding forces. One is rural, Christian, religiously conservative. [The other] is socially tolerant, pro-choice, secular, living in New England and the Pacific Coast...”

Disraeli said Victorian England was “two nations,” rich and poor. Novelist John Dos Passos wrote after the trial and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, “All right, we are two nations.” As I listened to the Inaugural address, a line struck home. President Bush seemed to have heard what I had heard and found what I had found. “And sometimes,” he said, “our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country.”

While the awful events of September 11 created a national unity unseen since Pearl Harbor—behind President Bush and his resolve to punish the perpetrators of the massacres of 5,000 Americans—they also exposed a new divide. This chasm in our country is not one of income, ideology, or faith, but of ethnicity and loyalty. Suddenly, we awoke to the realization that among our millions of foreign-born, a third are here illegally, tens of thousands are loyal to regimes with which we could be at war, and some are trained terrorists sent here to murder Americans. For the first time since Andrew Jackson drove the British out of Louisiana in 1815, a foreign enemy is inside the gates, and the American people are at risk in their own country. In those days after September 11, many suddenly saw how the face of America had changed in their own lifetimes.

When Richard Nixon took his oath of office in 1969, there were 9 million foreign-born in the United States. When President Bush raised his hand, the number was nearing 30 million. Almost a million immigrants enter every year; half a million illegal aliens come in with them. The adjusted census of 2000 puts the number of illegals in the United States at 9 million. Northeastern University estimates 11 million, as many illegal aliens as there are people in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. There are more foreign-born in California—8.4 million—than people in New Jersey, more foreign-born in New York State than people in South Carolina. Even the Great Wave of immigration from 1890 to 1920 was nothing like this.

“America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming,” wrote Israel Zangwill, the Russian-Jewish playwright, in his famous 1908 play The Melting Pot. But the immigration tsunami rolling over America is not coming from “all the races of Europe.” The largest population transfer in history is coming from all the races of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and they are not “melting and reforming.”

In 1960, only sixteen million Americans did not trace their ancestors to Europe. Today, the number is eighty million. No nation has ever undergone so rapid and radical a transformation. At Portland State in 1998, Mr. Clinton rhapsodized to a cheering student audience about a day when Americans of European descent will be a minority.

Today, largely because of immigration, there is no majority race in Hawaii or Houston or New York City. Within five years there will be no majority race in our largest state, California. In a little more than fifty years there will be no majority race in the United States. No other nation in history has gone through demographic change of this magnitude in so short a time.

Correction: no nation in history has gone through a demographic change of this magnitude in so short a time, and remained the same nation. Mr. Clinton assured us that it will be a better America when we are all minorities and realize true “diversity.” Well, those students are going to find out, for they will spend their golden years in a Third World America.

Uncontrolled immigration threatens to deconstruct the nation we grew up in and convert America into a conglomeration of peoples with almost nothing in common—not history, heroes, language, culture, faith, or ancestors. Balkanization beckons. “The strongest tendency of the late [twentieth century],” writes Jacques Barzun in his history of the West, From Dawn to Decadence, “was Separatism....It affected all forms of unity....The ideal of Pluralism had disintegrated and Separatism took its place; as one partisan of the new goal put it, ‘Salad Bowl is better than melting pot.’” The great nations of Europe have begun to break apart. Writes Barzun:

If one surveyed the could see that the greatest political creation of the West, the nation-state, was stricken. In Great Britain the former kingdoms of Scotland and Wales won autonomous parliaments; in France the Bretons, Basques, and Alsatians cried out for regional power. Corsica wanted independence and a language of its own, Italy harbored a League that would cut off the North from the South, and Venice produced a small party wanting their city a separate state...

As people return their allegiance to the lands whence they came, transnational elites pull us in the opposite direction. The final surrender of national sovereignty to world government is now openly advocated. From Walter Cronkite to Strobe Talbott, from the World Federalist Association to the UN Millennium Summit, the chorus swells.

At Maastricht in 1991, fifteen European nations, including France, Italy, Germany, and Great Britain, decided to begin converting their free-trade zone into a political union and transferring their sovereign powers to a socialist superstate. In 2000, the president-elect of Mexico came here to propose a North American Union of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Though the erasure of our borders would mean the end of our nation, Vicente Fox was hailed in the U.S. media as a visionary, and President Clinton expressed his regret that he might not be around to see it happen: “I think over the long run, our countries will become more interdependent....It will be the way of the world....I regret that I won’t be around for a lot of it. But I think it’s a good thing.”

Nor is America immune to the forces of separatism. A sense that America, too, is pulling apart along the seams of ethnicity and race is spreading. Moreover, America has just undergone a cultural revolution, with a new elite now occupying the commanding heights. Through its capture of the institutions that shape and transmit ideas, opinions, beliefs, and values—TV, the arts, entertainment, education—this elite is creating a new people. Not only ethnically and racially, but culturally and morally, we are no longer one people or “one nation under God.”

Millions have begun to feel like strangers in their own land. They recoil from a popular culture that is saturated with raw sex and trumpets hedonistic values. They see old holidays disappear and old heroes degraded. They see the art and artifacts of a glorious past removed from their museums and replaced by the depressing, the ugly, the abstract, the anti-American. They watch as books they cherished disappear from the schools they attended, to be replaced by authors and titles they never heard of. The moral code that they were raised to live by has been overthrown. The culture they grew up with is dying inside the country they grew up in.

In half a lifetime, many Americans have seen their God dethroned, their heroes defiled, their culture polluted, their values assaulted, their country invaded, and themselves demonized as extremists and bigots for holding on to beliefs Americans have held for generations. “To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely,” said Burke. In too many ways America is no longer lovely. Though she remains a great country, many wonder if she is still a good country. Some feel that she is no longer their country. We did not leave America, they say, she left us. As Euripides wrote, “There is no greater sorrow on earth, than the loss of one’s native land.”

When Cornwallis’s army marched out of Yorktown, the fife and drums played “The World Turned Upside Down.” Now our world has been turned upside down. What was right and true yesterday is wrong and false today. What was immoral and shameful—promiscuity, abortion, euthanasia, suicide—has become progressive and praiseworthy. Nietzsche called it the transvaluation of all values; the old virtues become sins, and the old sins become virtues.

Every few years, a storm erupts when some public figure blurts out, “America is a Christian nation!” She was once, and a majority yet call themselves Christians. But our dominant culture should more accurately be called post-Christian, or anti-Christian, for the values it celebrates are the antithesis of what it used to mean to be a Christian.

“I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before me” was the the first commandment Moses brought down from Mount Sinai. But the new culture rejects the God of the Old Testament and burns its incense at the altars of the global economy. Kipling’s “Gods of the Market Place” have shouldered aside the God of the Gospels. Sex, fame, money, power—those are what our new America is all about.

We are two countries, two peoples. An older America is passing away, and a new America is coming into its own. The new Americans who grew up in the 1960s and the years since did not like the old America. They thought it a bigoted, reactionary, repressive, stodgy country. So they kicked the dust from their heels and set out to build a new America, and they have succeeded. To its acolytes the cultural revolution has been a glorious revolution. But to millions, they have replaced the good country we grew up in with a cultural wasteland and a moral sewer that are not worth living in and not worth fighting for—their country, not ours.

In the election of 2000, the political differences between the Beltway parties were inconsequential. Mr. Bush wanted a larger tax cut than Mr. Gore, who wanted to spend more for prescription drugs. Why then the bile and bitterness of the Florida recount? Writes Terry Teachout in his postelection assessment of a polarized America, “The rancorous intensity with which the Bush and Gore camps disputed the outcome of the 2000 election all too clearly reflected the magnitude of their culture differences, and it may be that the tone of that dispute will characterize American politics for the foreseeable future.” Exactly. The savagery of our politics reflects the depth of the moral divide that separates us as Americans. A hundred times in the campaign of 2000, a voter would come up and say that he or she believed in me and agreed with me, but could not vote for me. These people had to vote for Bush, because only Bush could keep Gore out of the White House, and, “We must stop Gore!” It was not that they disagreed with Clinton and Gore. They detested them. The cultural revolution has poisoned American politics, and we have not begun to see the worst of it.

In the hours after that awful morning of September 11, Americans did come together again—in grief and sorrow over our terrible losses, in admiration and awe of the heroic firemen who ran into the World Trade Center as others ran out to safety, in our rage and resolution to do justice to those who did this to our countrymen. But by October, that unity had begun to fade. It will not long survive our first victories in the war on terror, anymore than the first President Bush’s 90-percent support survived his victory in Desert Storm. For our divisions are rooted in our deepest beliefs, and upon those beliefs Americans are almost as divided as we were when General Beauregard gave the order to fire on Fort Sumter.

Once again, we are seceding from one another; only this time, it is a secession of the heart.

In one of the more controversial addresses of the twentieth century, I told the 1992 Republican National Convention at Houston:

My friends, this election is about more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe, it is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall one day be as was the Cold War itself. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton and Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side. And, so, we have to come home—and stand beside him.

The words ignited a firestorm that blazed on through 1992 and has not yet burnt itself out. My words were called divisive and hateful. They were not. They were divisive and truthful. Let others judge, after eight years, whether I spoke the truth about Bill and Hillary Clinton.

But Mr. Clinton was rescued from certain impeachment because he personified the other side of that culture war, and his removal would have imperiled the gains of a decade. That not a single Democrat voted to convict Mr. Clinton testifies to the success of the revolution in overthrowing the old moral order and its objective standards of truth, morality, and justice. To the new elite, what advances the revolution is moral, and what threatens it is immoral. Between Senate Democrats and the O.J. jury there is a moral equivalence: truth, justice, and morality triumphed in both cases, because our side won and our man got off.

The Bolshevik Revolution that began with the storming of the Winter Palace in 1917 died with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The dream of its true believers was to create a new socialist man. But police terror, the camps of the Gulag, and seventy years of indoctrinating children in hatred of the West and the moral superiority of Marx and Lenin did not work. Communism was The God That Failed. When the mighty structure built on a foundation of lies came crashing down, the peoples of Eastern Europe and Russia threw the statues of Stalin and Lenin and the books of Marx and Engels onto the landfill of history without looking back.

But where Lenin’s revolution failed, the one that erupted on the campuses in the sixties succeeded. It put down roots in society, and it created a new America. By 2000, the adversary culture of the sixties had become our dominant culture, its victory conceded when the political base camp of traditionalism raised a white flag in Philadelphia. On the moral and social issues—the fight for the sanctity of human life and the return of God to the public square of this land we used to call “God’s Country”—the Republican party raised its gloves and pleaded, “No mas.”

In The Death of the West I hope to describe this revolution—what it stands for, where it came from, how it went about dethroning our God, vandalizing our temples, altering our beliefs, and capturing the young, and what its triumph portends. For this revolution is not unique to us; it has captured all the nations of the West. A civilization, a culture, a faith, and a moral order rooted in that faith are passing away and are being replaced by a new civilization, culture, faith, and moral order.

But the title of this book is The Death of the West. And though our culture war has divided us, and mass immigration risks the balkanization of America, a graver, more immediate, crisis is at hand.

The West is dying. Its nations have ceased to reproduce, and their populations have stopped growing and begun to shrink. Not since the Black Death carried off a third of Europe in the fourteenth century has there been a graver threat to the survival of Western civilization. Today, in seventeen European countries, there are more burials than births, more coffins than cradles. The countries are Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Russia. Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox—all the Christian faiths are represented in the great death march of the West.

The new hedonism seems unable to give people a reason to go on living. Its earliest fruits appear to be poisonous. Will this new “liberating” culture that our young have so enthusiastically embraced prove the deadliest carcinogen of them all? And if the West is in the grip of a “culture of death,” as the pope contends and the statistics seem to show, is Western civilization about to follow Lenin’s empire to the same inglorious end?

A century ago, Gustave Le Bon wrote in his classic The Crowd:

The real cause of the great upheavals which precede changes of civilisations, such as the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Arabian Empire, is a profound modification in the ideas of the peoples....The memorable events of history are the visible effects of the invisible changes of human thought....The present epoch is one of these critical moments in which the thought of mankind is undergoing a process of transformation.

Le Bon was speaking of his own time, the end of the nineteenth century, but what he wrote is truer of ours.

For it is this cultural revolution that has led to just such a “profound modification in the ideas” of peoples. And those ideas have made Western elites apparently indifferent to the death of their civilization. They do not seem to care if the end of the West comes by depopulation, by a surrender of nationhood, or by drowning in waves of Third World immigration. Now that all the Western empires are gone, Western Man, relieved of his duty to civilize and Christianize mankind, reveling in luxury in our age of self-indulgence, seems to have lost his will to live and reconciled himself to his impending death. Are we in the twilight of the West? Is the Death of the West irreversible? Let us review the pathologist’s report.

Posted with permission from St. Martin’s Press

Copyright © 2003 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.