The same factors that are destroying Europe are at work in the United States, but their downfall can once again be our opportunity to arise.
From the Atlantic to the former Soviet empire’s borders, from North Cape to the Mediterranean, the past half-century’s political order is ending. The outward signs are unmistakable. The U.S. establishment views them as problems manageable by redoubled U.S. efforts to preserve something like the status quo.
But the Old Europe of the past half-century was unsustainable, and its problems transcend day-to-day political choices, much less foreign policy. Its ruling class, adrift on events, lacks a civilizational anchor. At best, American statesmanship can lessen the consequences to ourselves of Europe’s decay—above all, by not imitating it. The former Soviet empire’s European domains, whose people long for a long-lost Europe, are in a different category.
Dramatic events divert our attention from the roots that make Old Europe’s problems intractable. In short, countries such as France, Germany, Italy, even Great Britain, that we had imagined to be fixtures of nature, are ceasing to command allegiance for collective action of the peoples who live within their borders. For practical purposes, they are ceasing to exist.
Symptoms of a Lost Will to Live
Muslim subcultures spread like ink-spills within them. Germany reports mass rapes by Muslims, as less forthright countries hide them. Razor wire spreads from Scandinavia to the Balkans. Paris and Brussels lock down as police scurry about the continent without answers to terrorism. Most of the Eurozone’s economies live on money borrowed from central bank printing presses as young people seek their future elsewhere.
As bureaucratic elites of what had been the Left and Right coalesce to defend their privileged positions, “Grand Coalitions” become Europe’s political model and issue declarations no one believes. Meanwhile, peoples turn to various kinds of political revolt—but mostly to despondency.
The factors that are moving Old Europe to the verge of non-existence have been all too clear for a long time. Demographic trends, too few young workers, too many old or on welfare; the double whammy of bureaucratically hidebound economies that reduce opportunities for the young are dooming Europe’s economies. All this has been acknowledged and decried for more than a generation. Nevertheless, these trends continue to intensify because they are so deeply rooted.
Nor is it news that Europe’s birth dearth—at current rates, Europe’s active-age population will drop by half within this century—matches ominously the Muslim world’s desire to migrate northward, or that European peoples lack the moral capacity forcibly to shut their borders or to affirm their way of life within them. This always guaranteed that millions of Muslims would arrive as migrants to fill the physical and moral spaces Europeans leave vacant.
Terrorism clinched the case against Europe’s political order. It showed Europeans that losing their way of life would be neither gentle nor gradual. When, in the face of attack by the Muslim world’s violent vanguard, Europe’s ruling class showed its incapacity to provide the elemental sense of safety, it forfeited whatever remained of the people’s faith that it could ensure the future could be more or less like the past. Now all know that it won’t be.
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