Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

The Last Days of Europe

Posted by Jerry on June 21, 2007

Here’s an article reviewing the book The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent by Walter Laqueur. The book is about the decline of the great old European civilization. Unfortunately, judging from this review (and I may be wrong on this), it did not seem like the author of the book highlighted the major root cause of this decline, which is the abandonment of its Enlightenment roots in rational philosophy in exchange for everything from racist multiculturalism, socialism, collectivism, environmentalism, to cultural relativism.

The article briefly reviews three causes for the current disturbing trend in Europe. In my opinion, these causes actually occur later in the chain of causes leading to Europe’s descent into insignificance, with the root cause being laid down in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the philosophies of Hegel, Kant, Marx, and their progenies.

There are three threats to Europe’s future. The first comes from demographic decline. Europeans are simply not reproducing, for reasons that are unclear. They seem to care more about the ozone layer and carbon emissions than they do about the continuation of their own societies. Or perhaps bringing up children interferes with what they conceive to be the real business of life: taking lengthy annual holidays in exotic locations and other such pleasures.

I find this issue of demographic decline as strange–at the least–to be viewed as a cause of the decline of European civilization–unless, of course, we are speaking specifically about the *racial* classification of the general population. I don’t understand the need to lament the low number of racially white people unless we are giving the matter of biological race some kind of metaphysical importance, greater than the matter of European ideals, for example. In fact, raising the issue of race in a discussion of declining civilization almost echoes the kind of racism that the Nazis were concerned with when they decried the perceived adulteration and decline of the Aryan-German race.

Are we properly concerned with civilization as a matter of social and cultures norms, ideas, and philosophies, or as a matter of biological and physiological traits–like how many blue-eyed, blond-haired people do we have? I believe it is hardly lamentable that the number of whites are declining because–perhaps–there are more interracial offsprings from racially mixed romantic unions. It is more disturbing when whites (or whoever else) concede their rational and moral principles (that formed the bedrock of early European civilization–including the tradition of classical liberalism) in order to accommodate and respect the diversity and cultural relativism of new immigrants.

The second threat comes from the presence of a sizable and growing immigrant population, a large part of which is not necessarily interested in integration.

An immigrant population not interested in integration does pose a threat; a greater and more pernicious threat, however, is posed when the immigrant population decides not to integrate but disintegrate the host culture and penetrate the culture’s mores forcefully with their own fundamentalist ideologies. This is what the immigrant muslim communities in many of the European host nations are engaged in–they demand acquiescence and even certain practices from the host culture in accordance with their Islamic notions of morality.  

The third threat comes from the existence of the welfare state and the welfare-state mentality. A system of entitlements has been created that, however economically counterproductive, is politically difficult to dismantle: once privileges are granted, they assume the metaphysical status of immemorial and fundamental rights. The right of French train drivers to retire on full pension at the age of 50 is probably more important to them than the right of free speech.

This threat of welfare socialism, of course, takes its root in the anti-capitalist philosophies of the previous couple centuries despite the repeated and total defeat of this ideology in the arena of practical reality. 

While Europe mortgages its future to pay for such extravagances—the French public debt doubled in ten years under the supposedly conservative Chirac.

Europe, once the home of a dynamic civilization that energized the rest of the world, declining into a kind of genteel theme park—if it’s lucky.

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2 Responses to “The Last Days of Europe”

  1. Libertarian said

    The three reasons for Europe’s decline are probably all correct. As you point out, abandoning enlightenment principles undercuts Europe’s dynamism. Allowing immigration of people who are overtly hostile toward the European enterprise sets the stage for future destructive violence on a large scale.

    But demographic decline of the population that birthed the European enterprise opens the door wide to the destructive immigration described above. There is nothing Nazi-like about pointing that out. In fact it is key to the whole corrosive process.

    Libertarians do not need to be naive about demographics, in order to see themselves as non-racists. It is always better to face facts openly, when sincerely attempting to make the best of a bad situation.

  2. Ergo said

    Libertarian,

    My intent was to point out that singling out demographic (racial) decline as a stand-alone cause among three causes for the decline of European civilization is arbitrary and confuses issues.

    Focusing purely on the racial aspect informs us of nothing beyond a purely statistical trend of the prevalence of phyiological traits. Ideas–and thereby civilizatons–are not exclusive to nor are an attribute of physiological traits.

    I am an Indian with dark skin and black hair. But my race or physiology gives you no information about the kind of ideas I hold–though you may be able to make some educated speculations given my race. I would say that I hold the ideals underlying the American civilization more dearly than many (most?) blond-haired American boys do–and some may find that surprising.

    In a discussion of the decline of ideas in a culture, I find it strange (at the least) to give such metaphysical importance to physiological characteristics such that it counts as one of only three causes for the decline of said ideas. As I pointed out, the reduction in the number of whites might simply indicate the Europeans are interbreeding more across races; it does not indicate that the englightenment ideas are dying away with the reduced number of white people. In fact, it is more persuasive to believe that most whites in Europe simply don’t hold the enlightenment principles at all in the first place–so regardless of their statistical number, we are not capturing an accurate view of the ideological situation.

    Moreover, to *lament* the decline of a demographic group who possess certain physiological traits purely because for that reason (and not for higher reasons like the ideas held by such groups) does indeed smack of racism. It is similar to what the Nazis were preoccupied with–a biological furtherance of what they regarded as superior physiological traits.

    To illustrate, I’d much rather prefer non-native-born people in America accept the American ideological principles and refer to themselves as “American” than a bunch of native-born Americans who care less or remain ignorant about its principles and end up joining the enemy’s army when America goes to war (like that John fellow from California who joined the Taliban army. He was white and blond–and you can be sure that I’d never lament the loss of a million such Johns purely because of his caucasian race.)

    In my article titled “Self Identity,” I have explicitly argued against given metaphysical importance to accidental characteristics of one’s birth, like race, nationality, religion of birth, family, etc.

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