The future in numbers?


In an article published on May 2nd, Patrick Buchanan expounded on a recent study by the Augusta, Georgia based National Policy Institute. His article, “The Way Our World Ends,” evokes T.S. Elliot, “this is the way the world ends/ not with a bang but a whimper,” to talk about the changing demographics of humans on our planet.

Using information from the US Census, as well as other sources, the National Policy Institute predicts that by the year 2060, as a percentage of the world’s inhabitants, the population identified as “white” will drop to 9.76 percent, down from its highest point of 27.98% in 1950. The title of the study is “Global White Population to Plummet.”

On its website,, the organization says that it devotes special attention “to colleges and universities because we recognize they are the primary spawning ground for the ideas and policies that attack Western culture.” Education and knowledge, it appears, poses a direct threat to their world view.

The very need to quantify humanity, to break people down into numbers that can be understood and talked about it simple terms, betrays the anxiety and even fear of these people. The NPI believes, and doesn’t hesitate to say, that the shrinking white population and increase in African, Asian, Arabic and Hispanic populations is a catastrophe. Taking these huge, almost abstract numbers and using them to make sweeping statements to breed hatred is almost childish, perhaps, after a second look (if not on the first). It is a manifestation of that lump they feel in the pits of their stomachs, the repressed knowledge that they are wrong.

The National Policy Institute reports that between 2010 and 2060 the Indian subcontinent will gain 1.2 billion people, while numbers of whites of European descent will continue to decline. There are similar statements about China, South East Asia, Africa and Mexico/ South America. “These groups and their governments will be looking for elbow room and the diminished presence of whites in Europe and especially in the relatively wide open spaces North America will provide such an opportunity.” They see these global changes in only one way – a gain for “them” is a loss for “us.” By “us,” of course, they mean the current white majority in America.

They fear the loss of privilege and completely fail to recognize that the growing populations and strengthening economies of Asia and other places is not, by any means, unequivocally a bad thing. Buchanan’s closing line shows the paranoia of these people. “Hopefully, the peoples of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, who are about to inherit the earth as we pass away, will treat us better than our ancestors treated them in the five centuries that Western Man ruled the world.”

This paranoia does not, I believe, reflect reality. Here in Minnesota, we see, although slowly at times, the emergence of new communities and new identities, groups of people from different places and different cultures setting aside past conflicts and coming together. Am I being naïve? Are the NPI and its constituents fear mongers? Perhaps both. It is up to us to decide, for nothing about the future is inevitable.