Two views of West’s decline

Two views of West’s decline, by Joel Kotkin. Two dystopian novels. France:

“Submission” by the incendiary French writer Michel Houellebecq, traces the life of a rather dissolute French literature professor as he confronts a rapidly Islamifying France. The main character, Francois, drinks heavily, sleeps with his students and focuses on the writing of the now obscure French writer, J.K. Huysmans. Detached from politics, he watches as his native country divides between Muslims and the traditional French right led by the National Front’s Marine Le Pen.

Ultimately, fear of Le Pen leads the French left into an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, handing power over to an attractive, clever Islamist politician. With all teaching posts requiring conversion to Islam, Francois in the end “submits” to Allah. Francois motives for conversion merge opportunism and attraction, including to the notion that, in an Islamic society, high prestige people like himself get to choose not only one wife, but several, including those barely past puberty.


“The Family Mandible” by Lionel Shriver, is, if anything more dystopic. The author covers a once illustrious family through the projected dismal decades from 2029 to 2047. Like the Muslim tide that overwhelms Francois’ France, the Brooklyn-based Mandibles are overwhelmed in an increasingly Latino-dominated America; due to their higher birthrate and an essentially “open border” policy, “Lats” as they call them, now dominate the political system. The president, Dante Alvarado, is himself an immigrant from Mexico, due to a constitutional amendment — initially pushed to place Arnold Schwarzenegger in the White House — that allows non-natives to assume the White House.

Some comments:

[N]either book blames the newcomers for the crisis of their respective societies. The collapse, they suggest, is largely self-inflicted.

In the Mandibles’ America, the starting point lies in the loss of basic values such as thrift; chronic dependence on borrowing to a debased dollar and eventually the disastrous renunciation of our own international debts. Shriver describes her book in economic terms, chronicling “civil breakdown by degrees” as people’s savings and ability to earn money dissipates. …

The decline insolvency also parallels a decline in national identity. By 2047, Shriver notes, the Fourth of July is decidedly out of fashion.“In hipper cities like New York the holiday,” Shriver notes, “had become an embarrassment.”

Tim Andrews comments about “The Family Mandible”:

Read it last week; a thoroughly soul-crushingly depressing book because of just how plausible the dystopia presented is…