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“Size matters”? The declining population of Poland within a European context

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Poland – A few days ago, media outlets reported that Poland’s population, despite the considerable resources committed by its government, continues to decline. Since 2020, the country’s population has shrunk by 115,000 and its birth rate is as weak as it was 17 years ago. Whilst political opponents of the Polish conservative government have been quick to use these numbers to criticise the latter’s pro-birth and anti-abortion policies, what does all this actually mean?

Firstly, that Poland is no better off in this respect than other EU countries in 2020, such as Germany and France, who also recorded a decline in births. The explanation for this decline is quite simple: a medical pandemic coupled with a lockdown of the population, overcrowded hospitals, school closures and the fears of the disastrous consequences that lockdown will have for the economy are all reasons to believe that it is not the best moment for one to have children – be it in Poland, France or Germany. But the problem is more deep-rooted for the whole of the Western world has been suffering from rampant demographic decline for many decades.

The reasons behind this decline are many: the fall in religious faith, hedonistic attitudes, radical need for personal development, trivialisation of abortion, extremist feminism, the results of the unending propaganda surrounding climate change, the assault on masculinity, the disappearance of marriage as an institution, the “necessity” of both partners to work, the effects of the cult of “eternal youth”, etc…But all these reasons are only superficial symptoms of a more deep-rooted reality:

All civilizations, once they have reached their ultimate point, enter into a phase of progressive demographic decline.

From the past, we can see many such examples: the Egyptians (start of the Rameside period to the 13th century BC), the Chinese (end of the period of “Warring States” to the 3rd century BC), the Romans (1st century BC); the Sassanid Empire (6th century AD) or the Islamic world (10th century AD).

If we are to consider that civilizations are, by analogy, living entities, then sooner or later, they are all destined to fall and as the vitality of a civilization diminishes, its will to transmit its ancestral traditions to its children peters out. Indeed, why would a person ignore, disregards or even hates his own past (and thanks to schools, university and politically correct media outlets, these individuals grow larger and larger in number) want to pass down its cultural traditions to his descendants? Or even wish to have any children?

During a conference some years back, I had a conversation with a German lady where she practically begrudged me being a father, asserting that since “Europeans” had committed such atrocities in their past, it was a form of colonialism and selfishness for them to want to reproduce instead of adopting African or Asian children or, better still, not to have any children at all in order to “fight for climate neutrality”. When an entire society starts to think along those lines – and let’s bear in mind that a good amount of people actually do, and not just in Germany – its civilization starts to decline and, one day, ceases to exist. But this result is not just for the lack of children but also the loss of love for one’s own history and traditions.

All that remains after is an anonymous mass of people that think only of their own material interests and share no cultural links.

So why have Poland and other Eastern European countries been particularly hit by this demographic and cultural decline? Does this mean that Eastern Europeans are even less inclined to survive than Western Europeans? It would be a mistake for on the one hand, it should be bore in mind that the demographic decline of Eastern Europe is not only due to its birth-rate but also the simple fact that many Eastern Europeans head to the other side of the continent to work hard for many years, only returning home much later if at all. On the other hand, the countries of the Eastern Europe are distinguished by the large homogeneity of their populations, whilst those of Western Europe are more and more populated by people from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Islamic World.

It is well-known that these newcomers have many more children that the “indigenous” population and this is not only true of the first generation but their descendants maintain this higher birth-rate. This is the main difference between Eastern and Western Europe: the more a nation has a homogeneous and “European” population, the less children it now produces whilst the more “multicultural” a nation is, the more children it will produce. It is not for nothing that France and England have respectively high birth-rates and that countries in the East and South-East of the Old Continent suffer from lower demographics.

Of course, the question now is what will be the effects of this progressive decline? Does a weak population automatically mean that it will be dominated by those with higher numbers? Not necessarily or, at least, not immediately as history can testify when the Spanish conquered the Americas in the 16th century or when the British and French started to colonise large parts of Africa and Asia in the 19th century. In both these cases, the Europeans were far fewer in number than the indigenous populations but they had a big advantage in that, contrary to now, Europe had an enormous technological advantage. Other declining societies, such as the Japanese, have taken a similar path in investing massively in technology to maintain their living standards and political influence instead of using mass immigration. But other aspects must also be taken into account.

Europeans had previously been convinced of their “raison d’être” in this world and thus had strong and coherent societies that underpinned expansion and development. Today, a large part of Europe, still traumatised by the horrors of the 2nd World War, has renounced not just all forms of expansionism or physical violence, but also to defend its very survival, preferring instead to buy short-term peace and security with money instead of respect – and thus sacrificing future generations.

Of course, the demographic pressure that Europe is under, both from outside and inside its borders, is a result of the “culture of the host society” policy, in place over many decades, that has been drastically intensified by Merkel’s government. This policy has resulted in the population of indigenous Europeans to dramatically fall whilst the numbers of newcomers has continued to rise so sharply that immigrants and their descendants now represent the majority of the population of many Western European, notably amongst the youth. Given the obvious absence of this population to culturally assimilate into Western culture, this means that in the long-term, it will be more and more difficult to expect any sort of solidarity between the inhabitants of the Old Continent, for solidarity is generally founded on a certain number of common cultural elements such as history, language, religion, patriotism, folklore, regional and/or national characteristics or a very specific view of what constitutes an individual or a family.

These forms of common identity have more or less disappeared today and in many countries, such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, it has created tribalized societies, yet the most fragmented of societies will continue to survive as long as the economy remains stable and external demographic pressures are restrained. However, once internal conflicts start to erupt as a result of dwindling wealth and external borders are no longer being defended, that society will inevitably lead to disaster. And that is exactly what is happening at the moment.

In conclusion, it is therefore it might well be better for a European nation to have a dwindling, but homogenous and cohesive, population than a growing multicultural population that tears itself apart from within.

Translated from French by the Visegrád Post