Western civilisation facing "collapse like ancient Rome" - Lord Sacks
7 June 2016
Lord Sacks highlighted falling birth rates, family breakup and a loss of moral responsibility
Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi, has warned that Western civilisation is on the brink of collapse because of falling birth rates.
Lord Sacks highlighted family breakup and a loss of moral responsibility as fundamental threats to European society as we know it.
The Jewish spiritual leader did not mention abortion, however - a puzzling omission when nearly 200,000 unborn babies are aborted every year in the UK.
Birth rates and abortion
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Rabbi Sacks compared modern-day Western civilisation with that of ancient Rome, and warned that we face a similar collapse because of a societal attitude that does not want the responsibility of bringing up children.
The most recent official figures show that 751,958 babies were born in England, Scotland and Wales in 2014 - approximately 20 per cent below the peak seen during the 'baby boom' in the 1960s. In the same period there were 196,046 abortions.
At the same time the population is becoming older: the number of people over 75 has risen by 89% in a generation.
The cumulative effect is that last year the UK reached a major demographic milestone, with the average age of its inhabitants passing 40 for the first time. As the Office for National Statistics has observed, this would be even higher were it not for high levels of immigration.
And Rabbi Sacks believes that this growing demographic crisis means that European society as we know it "will die". He also warned that immigration is not a solution because of a "systemic failure" to integrate new arrivals into society.
Immigration not the solution?
"Europe is going to die because of this because Europe can only maintain its population by unprecedented levels of immigration," said the former Chief Rabbi.
"Now those could be integrated into Europe but they won’t be integrated into Europe because when a culture loses its memory it loses its identity and when a culture loses its identity there’s nothing left for people to integrate into."
Fall of the Roman Empire
The comparison to ancient Rome is most striking, as Lord Sacks argued that similarly falling birthrates had also been the hallmark of the last days of the Roman Empire.
He said there was "no question" that this poses a serious threat to the future of western civilisation:
"The contemporary historian of ancient Greece and ancient Rome saw their civilisations begin their decline and fall, both the Greeks and the Romans attributed it to falling birth rates because nobody wanted the responsibilities of bringing up children," he said.
"They were too focused on enjoying the present to make the sacrifices necessary to build the future ... all the historians of civilisation have told the same story."