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Societies Losing Freedom and Dying as They Reject Childbearing, Warns British Rabbi

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Lord Jonathan Sacks says immigrants won’t help, as there will be no culture into which to be assimilated

The former chief rabbi of Great Britain has a stark warning for the continent of Europe: have more children or see your culture die.

Western civilization is on the brink of a collapse like that of ancient Rome because those of childbearing age are rejecting the responsibility of bringing up children, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said in an interview with The Telegraph:

He singled out falling birth-rates alongside the addiction to debt, the breakup of the family unit and a growing gap between the super-rich and the rest among a handful of major crises facing Britain and other European countries which neither governments nor the market seem able to solve.

But ultimately, he said, European society as we know it “will die” because of the demographic crisis.

Sacks, who became a member of the House of Lords in 2009, spoke to the British newspaper after receiving the 2016 Templeton Prize, the world’s largest annual award, for his work promoting religious understanding. In his Templeton address, he warned that societies had taken the trend towards outsourcing to new extremes by delegating responsibility even for moral decisions to companies or governments. Many increasingly “outsource” responsibility for picking up the pieces from failed relationships to the welfare state, for example.

But neither the market nor the state will be able solve the collapse of birth-rates throughout Europe, he asserted. Birth rates in all 28 EU countries are now below replacement rates, The Irish Times reported. And while immigration is filling empty spaces, the trend will not save Europe because immigrants will not assimilate, according to Sacks.

The Telegraph reported:

Although birth rates in Britain rose in the first decade of the new century—a trend fueled partly by immigration—they have since fallen back to similar levels to those seen in the early 1990s.

The most recent official figures show that just over 695,200 babies were born in England and Wales in 2014—21 per cent below the peak seen during the 1960s baby boom.

At the same time the population is becoming older, with the number of people over 75 rising by 89 per cent in a generation.

Last year the UK reached a major demographic milestone with the average age of its inhabitants passing 40 for the first time.

The Office for National Statistics pointed out that this would, however, be significantly higher were it not for high levels of immigration.

Sacks argued that the demographic change could be linked to a loss of religious faith in the West, which has long been associated with a high regard for the institution of the family.

“Contemporary historians … right now, have failed to find a single historical example of a society that became secularized and maintained its birth rate over subsequent centuries,” he argued.

He insisted that mass immigration would not provide a long-term solution to the demographic crisis because the UK is increasingly ill equipped to integrate new arrivals as it forgets its own national identity and history. That has to do, in part, with new technologies, he said.

“When a culture loses its memory it loses its identity and when a culture loses its identity there’s nothing left for people to integrate into,” Sacks explained.

The root of the problem, he said, is a global epidemic of diminishing attention spans in the age of social media. “People forget how Britain won its freedom—you know: Civil War; that extraordinary thinking through in the 17th century done by John Milton, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke,” he said.

He said that in the case of the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, when local populations in the Near East and the Maghreb rose up against dictators, fueled by social media, “people start Googling and using Facebook, tyrants are toppled and you think, that’s it, you press a button and Google will do the rest.”

“Yes, tyrants were deposed but what succeeded them was not freedom but anarchy,” he said. “And indeed terrible anarchy of a kind that we know basically from Hobbes after the wars of religion of Europe when he spoke about the stave of nature as being the war of every man against every man in which life is ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.’ [That] is a precise description of life in Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan or Somalia or Libya today. People think freedom is the default option, that it’s the default setting on your phone.”

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