"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Western Europe At The Barricades

At a recent conference in Switzerland student representatives asked, how could the Muslim population gain traction so quickly in Western Europe? It is a simple and direct question that could easily be addressed with reference to the disparity between Christian and Muslim birthrates and immigration patterns.

But numbers do not tell the whole story, nor do these numbers reveal very much about European attitudes. There are philosophic underpinngs that reveal more than any statistical analysis can provide.

The first of these is multi-culturalism, an attitude which suggests each culture should be treated on its own terms without regard to universal considerations. For example, female deformation in the form of cliterdectomy is not wrong; it is simply the manifestation of a different culture.

The second, and arguably the view that represents the most significant shift in European attitudes, is secular humanism, a turning away from the spiritual to the temporal. European churches are now ostensibly museums, not places of worship. The moral teachings of Christianity have been largely interred replaced by relativism or “new age” phenomenology, such as pantheistic environmentalism.

The third shift in attitude might be characterized as extreme liberalism. In this case the virtues of liberalism such as tolerance have been perverted into an unwillingness to discriminate. Right and wrong are seen as archaic concepts belonging to the ash heap of history. What counts is openness, a strange form of egalitarianism in which all opinions have equal value if rendered earnestly.

The fourth attitudinal consideration is transnationalism. A project to reduce or eliminate the national heritage of European states through continental harmonization has had the unintended effect of making citizens rudderless, of losing an identity and deracinating patriotism. Do the bureaucrats in Brussels represent the will of the European people? And can a continental parliament rely on consent of the governed or even care about those governed? Answers beg the questions.

Last is the loss of confidence. The retreat of apostolic teaching has resulted in an absence of authority. Catholicism is in retreat, not only as a religion but as a voice of moral conviction.

On the other side of the west European ledger is Islam, a fanatical faith with an obsessive desire for control and conversion. Using the freedoms conferred by western European states, Muslims employ strong conviction and physical intimidation to promote their faith. Their mosques are not merely centers for religious observance, but political centers for subversion. Any attempt to interfere with these activities is deemed an affront, a violation of liberal precepts.

As a consequence, the governments seem powerless, unable to interfere. Scholars are intimidated if they don’t share interfaith egalitarianism and religious figures dare not criticize, fearful of being charged with bigotry.

The march to dominance therefore appears inexorable unless the western European societies can regain their traditions and recapture the convictions that led to Christianity’s dominance in the first place. You cannot defeat an implacable adversary with verbal pabulum.

Western Europe needs to assert its traditions and liberties, but, more importantly, it should insist that its basic ideas are imbibed by all citizens. Isolated cultural pockets removed from the prevailing positions of the host societies will not do. Liberalism should ensure freedom, but not the freedom to destroy.

Moreover, western European governments should demand reciprocity with Muslim states. The freedom Muslims enjoy in Europe should not be a freedom denied to minority communities in Muslim states, which is presently the case throughout the Islamic world.

European Muslims sense that Europe is in a defensive mode as the present dominant attitudes suggest. Hence there is the leap for a final solution, caliphates throughout the continent. It is widely believed that the vacuum of a soulless Europe will be filled by an Islam of determined will and fanaticism.

There cannot be any doubt at this point what is at stake. The issue is one of civilizational survival. The antidote to the march of Islam is reChrististianizing Europe through a Great Awakening. Is there a contemporary Wilberforce eager to lead this struggle? Is history on the side of fanaticism? Can the war of ideas be engaged by series exemplars of Christian doctrine? And has attitudinal drift emasculated Western Europe from the brave and defiant heart that is needed?

Herbert London is president of Hudson Institute and professor emeritus of New York University. He is the author of Decade of Denial (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001). London maintains a website, www.herblondon.org.

11 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

No to all your questions, I fear, Dr. London.

The immediate threat is not a European caliphate, but states-within-states. It is hoped at least that the Euros will resist the establishment of sharia within Muslim communities. That is the first goal for those Muslims (likely a majority) who view Islam as not just a religion but a politics as well.

Creeping EUism (the papers today say that the European elites will once again try to shove an EU constitution down their people's throats) is evicerating perhaps Europe's last although likely impotent defense, that of cultural identity.

But even though European nations are considering it as a test for citizenship, it is more a sentimentality than a dynamic at this point.

It is strange, though, that even though the nations of the Enlightenment and the Reformation, that's to say northern Europe, took the lead in the last 500 years, it's the backward old Catholic nations, (Spain, Portugal, Italy, eastern Europe) that are least in crisis.

James Elliott said...

Dr. London does know that The Song of Roland is apocryphal, right?

It's the politest way I can think of to respond to head-scratching banalities like, "The march to dominance therefore appears inexorable unless the western European societies can regain their traditions and recapture the convictions that led to Christianity’s dominance in the first place."

Oh for Charlemagne and Frederick Barbarossa, eh?

James Elliott said...

Am I the only one who read the title of this post and started humming, "Can you hear the people sing?/Singing the song of angry men./It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again..."

James Elliott said...

Since the fear seems to be that a multitudinous wave of dirty, dirty Muslims with their heathen ways will drown Europe like Monty Python's Chinese Communist Conspiracy, and since certain other folks here seem to agree, perhaps the only solution is to encourage Christian Europe in their unclean, promiscuous sexual practices?

Perverse? Maybe? Profane? Perhaps. Flippant? Most definitely. But then, that's what Dr. London's posts on this matter seem to deserve, since only rarely do they lack the whiff of overblown hysteria. Someone should let Dr. London know that post-modern lazy multiculturalism is so very 1980s and not really en vogue among us libertinous liberals anymore.

tbmbuzz said...

Mr. Elliott’s attempts at sophisticated ridicule here fall flat with a resounding thud, coming off more as the banal flippancy he so decries. “Post-modern lazy multiculturalism”? Eh, what’s that? Is “libertinous” even a word? Was the intent “libertine” or “libidinous” instead? What breathtaking chutzpah to claim that multiculturalism (and its succubus - moral relativism) is not a central, integral part of liberalism, or to use Tom Van Dyke’s more accurate term – modernist leftism! The concept of a clash of civilizations may be anathema to culturally “aware” liberals, but this head-in-the-sand problem of theirs has nothing to do with the historic reality of 1500 years of conflict between Islam and non-Islam. Dr. London may be a bit unrealistic in his call for a return to old-style Christianity in Europe, but his instincts are dead on target. Europe has become rudderless after a century of terrible war and the collapse of its colonial empires and subsequent migration of the “center” of civilization elsewhere. The solution to Europe’s problem is to return to an awareness of its unique and great tradition, of which Christianity is an integral part, and meld this tradition into the modern world of the future. Furthermore, Europe needs to develop a greater appreciation of its cultural greatness. Europe is not only the continent of great leaders such as Charlemagne and Barbarossa who forged their society by the sword, as Mr. Elliott simplistically implies. It is also the continent that produced Mozart, Goethe, DaVinci, Voltaire, Newton, thousands of other great people who have left a positive, indelible mark on mankind, unlike the perversion governing the past 1000 years of Islamic “civilization”. Modernist leftists insist that the West must not only adjust to and accommodate every ticky tack culture that demands its day in the sun, but must also subsume its principles and traditions to these demonstrably inferior cultures. In the specific case of Islam, it is Islam that needs to break out of its primitive roots. Islam in its current militant form (admittedly practiced by a minority of Muslims, but it seems to be growing increasingly dominant) is simply incompatible with the space faring modern world of the future. It must adjust and alter itself. Whether this happens violently or not is Islam’s choice.

S. T. Karnick said...

Excellent analysis, tbmbuzz. Europe is like the rich kid who has contempt for his father's business, which gave him the wealth he chooses to squander on fleeting pleasures. When the money's gone, he'll be brutalized by robbers, but it will be too late for him to do anything but try to start over from scratch.

There is a story about this, called the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I hope that Europe can duplicate its happy ending, but I suspect that things will be just as in the original tale: it is going to take a good deal of humilation before that happens, if at all.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yeah, STK, but there's no Father to run back to. Nietzsche killed Him.

Kathy Hutchins said...

Is “libertinous” even a word? Was the intent “libertine” or “libidinous” instead?

I believe the portmanteau of libertine and libidinous should be "libertidinous." And if it's not a word, it bally well should be. I could use it at least three times a week for years.

Matt Huisman said...

Europe has become rudderless after a century of terrible war and the collapse of its colonial empires and subsequent migration of the “center” of civilization elsewhere.

I was just reading a Shaw play in which he says as much. The terror of war had finally become real to the whole population. Once they became aware that war had lost all restraint, it became morally impossible to deny anyone a ‘good time’. As the good folks at Burger King say, “Have it your way.” (Of course, BK, like Europe, is barely still in business.)

Should anyone be surprised that this (anti-)morality persists despite the fact that the initial condition for its justification, unrestrained terrror, has disappeared?

Europe now sits fully exposed, unable to assert anything positive with confidence. They seem a sort of anti-civilization, with only the power to reject the assertions of others.

James Elliott said...

"What breathtaking chutzpah to claim that multiculturalism (and its succubus - moral relativism) is not a central, integral part of liberalism, or to use Tom Van Dyke’s more accurate term – modernist leftism!"

Sigh. It is such simplistic misinterpretations of both multiculturalism and moral relativism that I deride as lazy - there was a time when they enjoyed a certain limelight among the dogmatic and self-satisfied modern left, but those fellows and their shallow readings are confined to the fringes, where they rightly belong.

Let me put it this way: The definition of multiculturalism the right uses is about as accurate as if I chose to portray a discussion of Christian first principles as it related to politics as an intent to impose a theocracy. It's hyperbolic, lazy, and inaccurate.

Multiculturalism and moral relativism, as I have pointed out here ad nauseaum, are primarily methods of promoting doubt against certainty in one's own actions and evaluations. They encourage us to ask "why."

Tom Van Dyke said...

More like "why not?"