My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A provocative but fascinating book. The author explains how civilizations die–not because of environmental disaster or wars, but because they lose the will to continue living. This is demonstrated in their lack of a willingness to produce a future generation, which is to say, demographics. His evidence of demographic decline in Japan and countries throughout Europe appears very strong.
The author thinks the USA and Israel are two societies that will resist the trend towards self-elimination. Some readers will find this optimism to be misplaced, as recent figures show that the economic downturn in the USA has led to below-replacement TFR. Also, the fastest growing section of population in Israel is Orthodox Jews, many of whom do not work, pay taxes, or serve in the military.
Goldman argues that this is also the case in many Islamic countries, and points to the low TFR (total fertility rate) in countries like Iran and Turkey. His convincingly argues that leaders there are aware of this problem.
Civilizations die because they can no longer produce answers and sustain an identity. Goldman sees this happening both in Islam’s encounter with modernity, as well as the failed nationalism of various European states.
Of particular interest to me were his historical sections on the depopulation of the Roman and Greek regions, and his proposal for Augustinian realism in reference to foreign policy.