Two views of the west's decline

The other declinist novel, “The Family Mandible” by Lionel Shriver, is, if anything more dystopic. The author covers a once illustrious family through the projected dismal decades from 2029 to 2047. Like the Muslim tide that overwhelms Francois’ France, the Brooklyn-based Mandibles are overwhelmed in an increasingly Latino-dominated America; due to their higher birthrate and an essentially “open border” policy, “Lats” as they call them, now dominate the political system. The president, Dante Alvarado, is himself an immigrant from Mexico, due to a constitutional amendment — initially pushed to place Arnold Schwarzenegger in the White House — that allows non-natives to assume the White House.

Some critics have lambasted author Shriver as being something of a Fox style right-wing revisionist while others have labeled Houellebecq as an “Islamophobe.”

But these books are far more nuanced than orthodox Muslims or progressives might assume. For one thing, neither book blames the newcomers for the crisis of their respective societies. The collapse, they suggest, is largely self-inflicted.

In the Mandibles’ America, the starting point lies in the loss of basic values such as thrift; chronic dependence on borrowing to a debased dollar and eventually the disastrous renunciation of our own international debts. Shriver describes her book in economic terms, chronicling “civil breakdown by degrees” as people’s savings and ability to earn money dissipates.