By Matthew Clark
British television presenter Neil Oliver is an archeologist, Historian, and author. He is a proud Scot, who also proclaims to be a proud Britain, although in the last few years he has not been proud of the British government! Oliver now has his own current affairs show on the GB television network. He often editorializes his own opinions on current affairs, usually in 10 minute, or greater, monologues expressing his disdain for the upper hierarchy of both his own nation, and that of the world. As the COVID era has progressed the Scotsman observations have transformed from a man bewildered at the unfathomable actions, and policies, of the globes regulators, to that of outrage at the knowingly malevolent designs of those same individuals. Repeatedly Oliver has tried to inspire his audiences by proclaiming if they just say no to these lawmakers machinations, refuse to go along with the official narrative, the injustice will be stopped in it's tracks.
It is good advice, not just for Scots and their fellow United Kingdom citizens, yet for the worlds people as well. Nevertheless despite the wise counselling the response has been meagre. In Canada Truckers, with large support from an appreciative public, have put the Trudeau/Singh government back on their heels. Protestors in New Zealand, colourfully adopting Maori combative postures, started the process which lead to the resignation of the very authoritarian Miss Ardern! Still, overall, when one considers the transgressions of the COVID autocrats, and that those same oligarchs now appear to be mobilizing their country's military forces into a Third World War, the opposition has been less than impressive.
An uncomfortable truth might be that many of the public do not believe there is anything amiss with official policy(s). Others just do seem to care. Uncertainty is also evident, with opinion polls indicating that citizens are unhappy with the present situation(s) in their country, yet are unsure who, or what, is the solution.
Neil Oliver himself might have hit upon the answer. In a late March 2023 television episode he observed that Scotland, the United Kingdom, and the Western World seemed to be internally exhausted. People in these nations know change is necessary to stop the present decay in everyday life, but are unable to perform that change themselves. Instead they look for it to be imposed upon them by outsiders, "Barbarians At The Gate," who still have the energy to enact positive change. Oliver further opinioned that civilizations usually destroy themselves before any invader applies the coup d'etat. He then questioned whether the exhaustion so prevalent throughout the Western World, and parts of the Orient, was due to the low birth rate, which results in an aged population?
The Scotsman thesis that empires usually weaken themselves fatally before any foreign foe terminates their existence, is a widely accepted view among many, if not most, historians. Famously Edward Gibbon, author of "The History of the Decline, and Fall of the Roman Empire," waxed poetic on the self inflicted injuries the Roman rulers performed on their subjects. Sir John Glubb, in his articulate 1976 essay, "The Fate of Empires and the Struggle for Survival," instructed with impressive detail, how empires not only self destruct, but the pattern for each of these dynasties extinction is remarkably similar. So Neil Oliver appears to be on solid ground when stating that civilizations destroy themselves.
What of the falling birth rate leading to exhaustion?
As an example let us look at Canada, where the Trudeau/Singh alliance government imposed perhaps the most strident (harshest) mandates (outside of Communist China) of anywhere on the globe.
According to Newgeography.com in 2020 the Territory of Nunavut, located in Canada's artic north, had the nations highest birth rate at 2.7 births for every child bearing women. This is .5 above replacement levels. Among Canadian provinces Saskatchewan had the highest rate of births at 1.7. Next door to Saskatchewan Manitoba had a rate 0f 1.6, francophone Quebec had 1.5, Ontario, the largest province by population registered a rate of 1.3. British Columbia, on the west coast, had the lowest birth rate at 1.1.
These numbers are the latest in a long trend downward. According to the statistical organization MACROTREND, in 1950 Canada had a rate of 3.5 children per child bearing women. In 1960 that number had jumped to 3.8. By 1970 the rate had lowered to 2.3. In 1990 it was 1.6, far below replacement levels. From the year 2000 to 2019 the birth rate numbers had stayed stable, more or less, at 1.5. The 2020 results indicate a renewal of the downward trend.
This pattern has resulted in an aging population. According to Statscan ( a Canadian federal government institution) the average age of Canadians is 41.7 years. Newfoundland/Labrador has the oldest population at 45.3 years, while Nunavut has the lowest at 29.3 years. Albertans average 38.1 years of age, Quebecers 43.1, with Ontarians marginally younger than their fellow Central Canadians at 40.4 years old.
Such numbers are cause for concern, as older people tend to be an economic drain on their nation, while younger folks are generally more productive. As well younger individuals tend not to have all the political assumptions, and presumptions, of their elders. Therefore the status quo is challenged more in a jurisdiction with a younger population. Compare the vitality of the high youth populace Middle East, where Iranian students regularly challenge the harsh authoritarian rule of their political masters, to the stale meagre opposition offered against governments in Europe. It is telling that the citizenry of France have staged massive national protests over the Macron governments pension reform measures, while ignoring it's aggressive, destructive, foreign policy ventures, enacted mostly against former colonial African states.
Canada has tried to instill youthful vigour into the population by importing people. A million immigrants arrived in the country during 2022, if federal government figures are to be believed. Unfortunately immigration is such a tightly controlled government measure, practiced through overly generous largesse (free health care, in many cases free accommodation, cost of living provided, etc.) that economic, and political regeneration, from this sector of the country's inhabitants, has become non-existent.
As well the tendency of Canada's newcomers to leave the nation for other foreign jurisdictions, is high. Therefore any hope that the answer to the country's demographic, and economic, challenges, lies in immigration, is unfounded.
The increase in the the average age of Canadians, combined with how meekly the bulk of the public accepted the government imposed mandates, supports Oliver's thesis that the low birth rate has lead to an exhaustion in society. Nevertheless this fact is contradicted by the enthusiasm, and exuberance, of the 'Freedom Convoy' (Truckers) and it's supporters. However brief, the Protestors imposed their will on the Canadian political body. With the arrival of the Truckers in the capital city of Ottawa, Federal government pressures on provincial bodies to make COVID vaccines mandatory, suddenly ceased. Soon mask mandates, and lockdowns, were dropped. Over time a discernible mood has shifted against mandates, amongst the Canadian public.
So, using Canada as a template, it is possible to answer Neil Oliver's hypothesis in this fashion. There are certainly signs that Western Civilization is suffering from internal exhaustion. Nevertheless the case has not become terminal just yet. There is still hope that with an aware, aroused public, and a determined, character driven leadership, Canada can revitalize it's culture. If sensitive, meek Canada can re-invigorate itself, than so can a more robust Western World!