A French novel has changed my mind on an expensive piece of entitlement largesse championed by Tony Abbott. Mr Abbott was right and I was badly wrong, along with all conservative commentators. I have also been wrong about opposing the increasing amounts of taxpayer money paid and promised for child care. The reason is simple: we pay it, and a lot more of it, or we die. Bear with me.
“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,” came to mind when reading: “If you control the children, you control the future.” The first is the familiar Party slogan in Nineteen Eighty-Four. The second is a description of the Muslim Brotherhood’s motivation in Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission (2015). I was struck by the parallel, and it didn’t end there.
I was not familiar with Houellebecq’s work before reading Submission. For those like me, Douglas Murray provides an excellent review of Submission and some of the author’s earlier works, together with a little about the man, in the November, 2015, edition of Quadrant. Murray recounts that Houellebecq was the target of legal proceedings for having one of his characters in Platform (2001), whose girlfriend had been killed on a tourist beach by jihadists, express hatred for Islam and Muslims. He speculates that this may have been one of the reasons Houellebecq decided to live in Ireland. Whatever the truth of that, it says something sinister about where we are heading when a novelist is held to legal account for the expressed feelings of one of his characters. Perhaps the local Thought Police suspected he was venting his own secret Islamophobic thoughts?
It is decades since I first read 1984. But it is hard to forget the interrogation of Winston Smith by (Thought Police operative) O’Brien: “The summit of human happiness resides in the most absolute submission.” Sorry, wrong book, wrong person. That is Roger Rediger (Secretary of Universities) in Submission persuading protagonist François (a literature professor) that Islam is the way to go.
Here’s O’Brien. “You know the Party slogan: Freedom is Slavery. Has it occurred to you that it is reversible? Slavery is freedom. Alone – free – the human being is always defeated. It must be so, because every human is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make complete submission, utter submission [to the Party] then he is all-powerful and immortal.”
The costs of not succumbing in Oceania in 1984 and in post-Islamic France in 2022 are a little different, it is true. In Oceania it means Room 101 and one’s worst fears, which in Winston’s case is having his face eaten by rats. In France it means François not regaining a teaching position at the now Islamic University of Paris-Sorbonne, living dissolutely on a pension, and losing the possibility of acquiring three young submissive wives. Both succumb. O’Brien and Rediger are persuasive in their different ways.
The disturbing quality of Houellebecq’s novel is the seemingly seamless way French society as a whole succumbs, and is transformed, once the Muslims under leader Ben Abbes take power with the help of the centre-right and the socialist parties – intent, as they are, on keeping Marine Le Pen’s National Front at bay. Women’s bare legs disappear as does their gender-mixed social activities and their employment.
The key to the success of the Party in Oceania in 1984 and the Muslims in France in 2022 lies in population management. In Oceania the vast proletariat is kept diverted and compliant. In France, Muslim women are kept subservient to men. Even before being influenced by Rediger, François noted the advantages of patriarchy: “…it worked, whereas now there aren’t enough children, so we are finished.” The ‘we’ here is clearly European civilisation.
The fertility rate in the EU is around 1.6 children per woman, well less than the 2.1 required to hold the population steady. However, according to Pew Research published in 2011, Muslim fertility in Europe is 2.2. Other figures that I have seen put the fertility gap somewhat higher; but the Pew-reported gap is enough to convert a situation where the more fertile 10% of child bearing women in a population become more than a third after three generations. Bear in mind too that the more recent waves of Muslim migrants are likely to have higher fertility rates than longer-term Muslim residents.
Rediger is unequivocal: “Liberal individualism triumphed as long as it undermined intermediate structures such as nations, corporations, castes, but when it attacked the ultimate social structure, the family, and thus the birth rate, it signed its own death warrant. Muslim dominance was a foregone conclusion.” And this he sees being world domination: “If India and China had preserved their traditional civilisations…they might have eluded the grasp of Islam. But from the moment they let themselves be contaminated by Western values, they too, were doomed.”
Now this, or close to it, has been said before by Mark Steyn and others, but somehow through the fictional character of Rediger (as with O’Brien) it takes on the mantle of inevitability. I can’t see a flaw in Rediger’s arguments and neither can François. From submission to God’s Koranic will, from which comes the canonical submission of women, comes Muslim children and inevitable dominance over relatively non-procreating non-Muslims.
Is there an answer? Well, if there is it lies in France, perversely enough. France has extremely generous paid maternity leave and child-minding provisions. Its fertility rate at a little over 2 is materially better than the rest of Europe — not enough, of course, but not as bad as some. The fertility rate of non-Muslims in France is still somewhere below 2 (it’s hard to find an exact figure). And Muslim immigration, presided over by the conniving political elite, greatly compounds the problem for all Western nations.
Western societies cannot turn the clock back. We are stuck with a materialistic, secular, society of working women within which children are expensive in time and in money. The only possible answer — that I can think of — is to provide sufficient financial support to working women to significantly offset their costs costs of having children. This means doing more than in France because that is patently not enough. Abbott-like measures would be a modest start – here, in Europe and in America. And there should be additional incentives, as in France, for working women to have more than two children. We have to use the very wealth that Western societies create to subsidise the procreation of children who will grow up to honour and sustain Western values.
And, to be clear, for obvious reasons, the target has to be working women. Forget any complaint about disadvantaging stay-at-home mums. Tough! Our civilisation’s very survival is at stake. By the way, this has nothing to do with whether Muslim regimes would be moderate or extreme, good or bad. Their religious baggage would make them inferior to our Judeo-Christian-cum-secular regimes; even with their many flaws, not least of which, as Rediger explained, is a progressive subverting of the centrality of traditional family life.