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A Book Review… Europe Is Committing Suicide

September 11, 2017 Featured Today No Comments


Murray, Douglas. The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. 352 pp.

Given the widespread publicity accorded this volume by major print media, its principal thesis is well known. Douglas Murray, associate editor of the Spectator, argues in plain English, “Europe is committing suicide.”
Its leaders have betrayed their peoples by their failure to acknowledge the Islamic threat. “As a result, by the end of the lifespan of most people currently alive, Europe will not be Europe and the peoples of Europe will have lost the only place in the world they have to call home.”
That a state of cultural and political disorder exists within the Europe and the United States is widely acknowledged and hardly stands in need of Murray’s ample documentation, but his contribution is welcomed nevertheless for its forceful contentions. Western nations on both sides of the Atlantic are confronted by massive immigrations of alien peoples who refuse to assimilate within their adopted country and demand accommodation for the customs they bring.
The present volume may be considered the latest in a long line of authoritative texts running from Julian Benda’s La trahison des clercs (1927), Hilaire Belloc’s The Great Heresies (1938), F.A. von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944), and Pierre Manent’s Democracy Without Nations? The Fate of Self-Government in Europe (2007). There have been other calls to heed the threat; these are merely the best known. One could add a short treatise by Christopher Dawson that indirectly speaks to Murray’s topic, Tradition and Inheritance (1970).
Julian Benda makes the case that the most serious form of anarchy is the treason of the intellectuals. Benda uses the term “clerc” to designate, as a class, writers, men and women of learning, artists, moralists, and churchmen. It is the clercs in his sense and not the people who have repudiated the value of their inherited culture.
Pierre Manent, like Murray, is convinced that Europe is on the verge of self-destruction because its democratic nations have surrendered authority to the centralized European Union government in Brussels. “The EU’s political contrivances,” he writes, “have become more and more artificial. With each passing day they recede further from the natural desires and movements of their citizens’ souls.”
A nation, he holds, is the same people living in the same place, observing the same customs, and abiding by the same moral principles. In Manent’s judgment, Europe’s governing classes, without explicitly saying so, aspire to create a homogeneous and limitless human world.
In fact, given Europe’s present intellectual climate, what distinguishes Europeans from one another and from others cannot be evaluated or even publicly discussed. Manent speaks directly to this issue in another volume Eccentric Culture.
By 2015 it was evident that low birthrates in Germany among its native population and high birthrates among immigrants were undermining the culture of German society. It was also clear that the immigrants, mostly Muslims, were failing to integrate. This was true of Europe in general.
Murray writes, “The countries let them in but had no idea what attitude to take towards them once they came.” It took six decades of immigration, he claims, for political leaders of France, Germany, and Britain to state that immigrants should speak the language of the country to which they had migrated. It took until 2010 for Chancellor Merkel to insist that the laws of the land and the Basic Law of Germany must be observed by immigrants.
Murray is up to the minute with data supporting his contention that the elites are out of tune with the populace. He cites study made in February of this year by Chatham House, a London think tank that polled 10,000 people across ten European countries. It asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the proposition, “All further immigration from Muslim countries should be stopped.” An overwhelming majority agreed with the statement except in Britain where only 47 percent agreed.
He cites a recent study in Dundee, Scotland, where some of its pupils were asked to list words they associated with Muslims. Among the words volunteered by the children were “terrorists,” “scary,” and “9/11.” Soon Muslim women were brought into the classrooms to correct the children’s views. The children were told, for example, that 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam.
Another example of political disconnect is provided by the fact that on New Year’s Eve 2016, after almost a thousand automobiles had been set alight in France, the country’s interior minister described the night as having gone off “without any major incident.”
Murray provides dozens of examples of violence that are explained away by officials or not reported at all by a complicit press. He is particularly concerned about his native Sweden, given that demographic studies show ethnic Swedes becoming a minority in Sweden within the lifetime of most people currently alive.
Similar studies also reveal that even in Switzerland by the end of the century, 40 percent of the country’s 14-year-olds will be Muslim. One need not go on.
Murray is not oblivious to the source of Europe’s loss of self-confidence, which he attributes to its failure to acknowledge the Christian roots of its culture. He is at one with John Paul II, who in 2003 wrote, “While fully respecting the secular nature of the institutions, I wish once more to appeal to those drawing up the future European Constitutional Treaty so that it will include a reference to the religious and in particular the Christian heritage of Europe.” Murray is appalled that “intelligent and cultured people appear to see it as their duty not to acknowledge debt, not to shore up and protect the culture in which they have grown up, but rather to deny it, or assail it, or otherwise bring it low.”
“We may think badly of ourselves,” he says, “but we are willing to think exceptional well of absolutely everyone else.”
Murray finds that most branches of European Christianity have lost the confidence they need to proselytize and some even the faith to believe in their own message. The Church of Sweden, the Church of England, and the German Lutheran Church have become left-wing political entities, promoting diversity action and social welfare projects and calling for open borders. The message of religion is muted. Texts that once were preached as the revealed word of God are now proclaimed in a circumspect manner in order not to offend.
Finally, the question looms, in Murray’s words, “How long can a society survive once it has unmoored itself from its founding source and drive?”

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