From a paper presented by Ben J.Wattenberg and Karl Zinsmeister at an American Enterprise Institute seminar earlier this month:

Does population -- its levels, its direction -- influence cultural potency? Of course it does. Population . . . influences power, economics and politics, and these factors clearly interlink with culture and values. Weak nations tend to emulate strong ones. Wealthy nations export goods and services that indirectly transmit values and culture. Consider only one example for the moment. Why do American movies and television programs dominate the global market?

Or to ask a different question: why don't Dutch movies and television programs dominate the global market? There is an economy of scale in many aspects of culture just as there is in military weaponry. Nations that are populous and wealthy enough to build aircraft carriers can also amortize the cost of a multitude of sitcoms, high- budget movies and traveling art exhibits. These products, already profitable or near break-even in a large domestic market, can be sold overseas at relatively low incremental cost. And when "Dallas" is on every week in Algeria, on balance the West (believe it or not) benefits.

We come to a final thought: democratic values are contagious. They have spread remarkably in the last two centuries. The democratic infection needs carriers. Who are the carriers? Powerful nations, in recent centuries the U.S., France, England and others. If these national carriers are weakened in the relative scheme of things -- by diminished demographic strength and its outward ripples -- is it possible that the spread of democratic values may be slowed? Or stopped? Or reversed?