How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too)

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Press: Blackstone Audio, Inc.; Unabridged edition (September 20, 2011)
ISBN:9781455111718
Author Name:Goldman, David P.; Weiner, Tom;
Language:English

Content

Original, stunning, and provocative, How Civilizations Die shows the power of religion to save--or doom--a society and why, if we stick to our principles, we will emerge as leader of another American century.Past and present civilizations fail for many reasons, but the number one predictor of a civilization's survival is its sense of religion--or lack thereof. 
So argues First Things columnist David Goldman in How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too).
The strength of a civilization's religion affects its purpose, its fertility rate, and ultimately, its fate, says Goldman--who then argues that, contrary to popular belief, Islamic countries are in the last throes of death while Christian America is in a position to flourish.
Goldman goes on to say that America must embrace our exceptionalism and stop trying to save Muslim countries that are determined to destroy themselves.

About the Author

DAVID GOLDMAN is a columnist for First Things magazine as well as an economist and author. 
He is also a columnist for Asia Times Online and writes under the name ''Spengler.'' Prior to First Things and Asia Times Online, he was the global head of credit strategy for Credit Suisse, the global head of fixed income research at Bank of America, and a columnist for Forbes.
In addition to his journalism and financial work, he is a regular on The Kudlow Report and has also been on Glenn Beck Radio.
He lives in New York City.

Tags

Books on CD,Nonfiction,Religion & Spirituality,Religious Studies,Sociology,History,World,Religious,Religion, Politics & State



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Comment

 
 

Comment List (Total:13)

  •     I saw David interviewed re his demographics but this book does so much more. Historical base of State and Theology I found so educational and memory stirring I could not put the...
  •     David P. Goldman is a brilliant and incredibly insightful man, so it would be nearly impossible for this book to not be worthwhile. That said, I'm about 2/3 of the way through, and it's not everything I had hoped for. In it, Goldman hits many of the themes common to his Spengler column - demography, philosophy, theology - and he is as incisive as ever when discussing them. Civilizations die from a lack of will to live; Islam is unable to cope with modernity, and its birthrates have plummeted as a result; Europe was never able to shake its pagan blood and soil self-worship and, having finally exhausted itself of the mass casualties of total war, has elected to ride its wealth into relatively comfortable oblivion; and so on. These are compelling ideas that to me ring true, I just wish Goldman were more expansive about them. He is pretty thorough in showing the demographic decline of Islam and Europe, almost to the point of repetition, but I found myself wanting more in the areas of philosophy, theology, and sociology. Tell me more about Europe's pagan consciousness and how it exploded in the 30 Years War. Explain to me what it was about the Grecian and Roman mindsets that led to their own demographic declines. I suppose it would help to read Franz Rosenzweig, who seems to justifiably be Goldman's guiding light, but sadly my early 20th century literary German is a little rusty.
  •     Must readng for all who care about America and all civilization, for that matter.
  •     A bit repetitive but it does present information that is not commonly appreciated and may help build a better understanding of the world and its future.
  •     The book introduced me to the dangers of declining birth rates and aging populations, and I found this aspect very interesting.
  •     Prompt delivery, book as advertised.
  •     ....And when they do books like this will be proof to the world who was not only there on the sidelines cheering on the downfall but also was boasting about accelerating it in...
  •     David P. Goldman, aka Asia Times Online's 'Spengler' columinst, is the single most insightful writer in America today. Goldman's new book 'How Civilizations Die' is an absolute gem as he dispenses with conventional wisdom and gives the reader unique geopolitical insight in a cultural and historical tour de force.Goldman may as well be the originator of the phrase "Demographics is Destiny" because he has argued for years (and in this book) that demographics can go a long way into explaining nations' economic and cultural rise and fall. But then what explains demographics? In the introductory part of the book, Goldman explores why people in the developed world choose to have children and why they don't. His answer seems to be that having children is often an act of religious faith, or at least an article of faith in the future. Those developed societies (read: Europe) that fail to reproduce at replacement rate have lost faith. Not surprisingly, only two developed countries, Jewish Israel, and Judeo-Christian America, currently have birth rates above the 2.1 replacement rate.The next part of Goldman's book takes the reader deep in the heart of Islam and explores how and why Islam is literally convulsing before our eyes despite its religious facade. Who knew that the world had never before seen a drop in birthrates as it sees in Iran today? Who knew that Turkey too faces a demographic crisis in the near future and that native Kurds might soon outnumber native Turks in Turkey? The reader will be shocked as Goldman goes through the numbers and explains the cultural and economic consequences of an Islamic world on the brink.The second part of the book titled 'Theopolitics' takes the reader through history and examines cultures that failed: Prehistoric Greek civilization, Hellenistic civilizations and ancient Rome. Goldman then explains why Islam is soon to be the fourth failed civilization. The focus then shifts to Europe as Goldman explains how a once great continent no longer has a desire to live. This leads into a discussion of my favorite part of the book, a chapter titled 'How Christianity Failed in Europe.' I had always wondered how it was possible that the formerly most powerful nations, who fought for centuries under the nominal faith of Christendom could be so lacking in faith today. As Goldman explains, while the European nations were nominally Christian, they really practiced a form of paganism in that they worshipped themselves. And this was their downfall. In an awesome intellectual journey, Goldman takes the reader through the first Thirty Years' War in Europe (1618-1648) and discusses how that war eventually led to the modern nation state, the death of Christianity in Europe, and eventually the horrors of the second thirty year war in Europe (1914-1945).The final part of the book explains why America is different and how modern Judeo-based Christianity has survived only in America. By examining America's religious roots Goldman contrasts living America with dying Europe and shows why America will thrive, but also why its uniqueness cannot necessarily be transferred to other nations. This of course has foreign policy consequences for us today as we seek to export American democracy (can't be done, Goldman argues). Goldman concludes by offering his foreign policy advice based on 'The Morality of Self Interest' which should be required reading for our policymakers.Goldman is quite literally a polymath. The former head of Fixed Income Research (ie. smartest guy at the firm) at Bank of America, Goldman is a master of not only geopolitics and history, but also of high finance and macroeconomics. The breadth of his knowledge is breathtaking and combined with the writer's fine sense of humor makes for a gem of a book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough - simply an intellectual tour de force!
  •     good book. well written.
  •     What a treasure I found in this book! Lots of clear thinking, good analysis, and helpful statistics--all showing the truth of what makes civilizations great: the blessings of...
  •     Goldman is better known as "Spengler," writing for years in the South China Daily Post.Clear sighted, Clear spoken, and right.
  •     The most important development of the twenty-first century is likely to be the great extinction of peoples and cultures. Like Greece and Rome, Europe has lost faith in itself; though incomparably richer than the peasants who built the Cathedrals, the denizens of what used to be Christendom spend only on themselves, with no thought for the morrow. They have failed to attend to the most elementary task of a successful civilization: raising children. In no European country is the birthrate at replacement level. As David P. Goldman, Spengler of Asia Times Online, tells it, not only is the old world dying, it has reached the demographic point of no return.The title of Goldman's book is How Civilizations Die, but the addendum, And Why Islam is Dying Too, may be more important. For there is almost no awareness that the Muslim world is following in the footsteps of western civilization. Indeed, a popular narrative among those who seek to revive Europe has it that Muslims will soon rule the continent. But while European Christianity eventually lost the fight with modernity, Islam has fared worse.Iran proves illustrative. "An educated twenty-five year old Iranian woman today probably grew up in a family of six or seven children, but will bear only one child." As of 2010, Iran's fertility rate stands at 1.7 children per woman. Decadence has enveloped the nation; drug use is rampant, and a sizable portion of the women work willingly as prostitutes. Paradoxically, this makes the Islamic world more dangerous, at least in the short term: "For in their despair, radical Muslims who can already taste the ruin of their culture believe that they have nothing to lose."Of considerable interest was Goldman's account of the Thirty Years War, which ravaged Germany in the 17th Century. The German population declined "from 21 million to perhaps 13 million, mostly due to starvation." Ostensibly, the war was fought to decide whether the German people would become Protestant or remain Catholic. But there was considerably more afoot: Protestant armies were bankrolled by Cardinal Richelieu and Father Joseph du Tremblay, two French clergymen who had no trouble putting State ahead of Church. Their plan was to gain hegemony over Spain by bankrupting her. It worked. The senseless slaughter continued long past the point when battles decided anything--as in the American Civil War after Vicksburg. As Goldman tells it, nationalism was never fully subordinated by the Church; this failure, which first manifested itself under Richelieu, would haunt Europe until the middle of the twentieth-century.Goldman finds two exceptions to the ennui that will lead so many nations to destruction in the coming century. The first, Israel, is well established; even secular Jews who live in Israel have children, and the ultra-Orthodox have large families--eight or nine children on average. His second example, America, is less convincing. True, religious Americans have proven less susceptible to the siren song of modernity. This has given the country a birthrate which remains at replacement level: 2.1 children per woman. Although he offers reasons for American demographic exceptionalism, I am forced to charge Spengler with too much optimism.He is on firmer ground when he notes that: "America's demographic momentum offers a generation's grace period." Yet what evidence is there that we will do anything but fritter it away? For that is the approach America has taken with her debt problem, one that is not altogether different from its demographic dilemma. A nation does not run up too much debt for the same reason it raises children: it believes in its future. Presently, America lacks the political will to bequeath a worthy culture to its progeny. The demographic data tell a slightly different story--for now.
  •     "How Civilizations Die" is a little dated, but the analysis and principles presented in this book remain relevant.

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