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Save The West, Move To … Europe?

James Poulos floats an interesting idea: [1]

There is a strong case to be made that Europe’s native population faces irreversible decline. There’s also a strong case that America’s native population will never choose to leave its shores. But over the next several years, both those conclusions may have to be revised. As common problems afflicting the west come to diminish Americans’ sense of exceptionalism, and the extinction of millennia-old European culture looms, growing numbers in the U.S. may conclude that the only way to retain the essential character of the West is to relocate to Europe.

His claim is that given its dismal birth rate, Europe cannot maintain itself without immigration. It is very hard to integrate non-Western immigrants. Why not give Americans a shot? It wouldn’t be easy to integrate Americans either, but it would be much more so than Africans and Middle Easterners. More Poulos:

The decisive change, however, will have to happen in America. And here, it’s also not super difficult to picture. We already see the U.S. growing more and more similar to the rest of the world, including Europe, as the downsides of globalization set in and generations of citizens lose touch with the everyday experience of freedom balanced with piety that once defined so much of American life. We can readily envision our politics growing more unexceptional — more tribal, more grinding, more stagnant, more driven by patronage. Under circumstances like that, why not take a chance in a part of the west that seems strangely to offer more of an open frontier than the dead ends of America’s steady-state urban, suburban or rural realms?

Not every American will pose that question or act on it. But for those who can match a personal interest in doing so to a more cultural or ideological interest in helping “save” Europe from another traumatizing and turbulent break with its past, returning to the old world for the good of western civilization may hold a unique and powerful appeal.

Read the whole thing.  [1]

I’m one of those Americans to whom something like this would appeal. Probably not anymore, because I’m 50 years old, and have older children, two factors that would make such a move impracticable. But if I were single or married without children, and it was possible to make a living in Europe, I would definitely consider doing this. Here’s why.

Yes, it’s true that I love to take vacations to Europe. The food is something I love, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Aside from being delicious, the cuisines of European countries are expressions of deep and abiding traditions. I have a sacramental mentality, which means that I don’t sit down at a table in the Umbrian mountains and eat an antipasti platter of cured meats and experience them as merely delicious. I learn what I can about why cured meats, and cured meats in this particular style, came to be associated with this region, or this village, and what the cooking here says about the local culture and its traditions. I like to eat good local food and drink good local wine or beer. That’s one of life’s great pleasures.

More seriously, though, I feel at home in Europe in ways that I just don’t in America. To be clear, I am deeply American, certainly far more American than European. My point is that  European landscapes and culture speaks to parts of me that no place in the US can or does, because we are such a young country. Europe at its best is a refuge from the things I dislike the most about life in my own country.

I love old things, old buildings, old rites, and old places. This well-known passage from Russell Kirk speaks to me and for me:

I did not love cold harmony and perfect regularity of organization; what I sought was variety, mystery, tradition, the venerable, the awful. I despised sophisters and calculators; I was groping for faith, honor, and prescriptive loyalties. I would have given any number of neo-classical pediments for one poor battered gargoyle.

A friend of mine who has been active in conservative political causes for many years told me recently: “I’ve given up on saving America. I just want to try to save Christianity.” That too resonates with me. If I were younger, and had the opportunity to do so, I would want to go to Europe to fight, so to speak, to preserve the Church, the churches, and the traditions that made up the West.

Of course this is not really possible for me in most European places, or my children, because we are Orthodox Christians, and are not going to give that up, at all. Still, Europe is my mother — our mother — in ways that I find hard to articulate, but feel strongly. And I want to cherish her and to defend her (well, everything about her prior to 1789).  I don’t want Notre Dame de Paris to become either a mosque or a museum. There’s something in me that wants to resist by loving these things that we Christians in the West have been given, but have for far too long left uncherished.

No doubt about it, my heart is with the poor battered gargoyles. It is too late for me to do what Poulos suggests, but maybe there are younger American trads who would be open to such a thing, if European governments made it feasible for them. What do you think?

160 Comments (Open | Close)

160 Comments To "Save The West, Move To … Europe?"

#1 Comment By Stefan On November 12, 2017 @ 12:50 pm

Dear Godess no, please smite all those who seek to import their own societies’ socio-cultural and socio-political hangups into our continent, ours and ours alone, be they “haram this and kuffar that and holocaust is zionist fraud” muslims or “muh Western Kultur and muh IQ population studies” (American) conservatives.

Allow me to also note that this sort of racially tinged demographic alarmism is profoundly atheaistic because it ignores how existince, in this case western civilization, is an expedient means for moving to a state that lies beyond it. We white people (are we really going to pretend that’s not who this is about?) are needed not to return Europe to anything white per se, rather we are needed to birth Europe’s transracial future reflecting its transracial origins.

#2 Comment By Ken T On November 12, 2017 @ 10:51 pm

mike and mrscracker:

You are both talking about the existence of a fantasy world – a world that had ceased to exist (if it ever did really exist) a couple of generations before you or I or anyone else writing here was born. Whatever you want to believe about “motives” – the simple fact is that the welfare state came into being because before it, children, senior citizens, and other poor people were literally being left to starve to death. The plain and simple fact is that voluntary charity has never come close to providing for all who needed it. I very much doubt that you can find any point in history when that was not true.

mrscracker, you ask: And what contributed to the weakening of the family,church, and community to begin with?

Well, that’s a good (though ultimately irrelevant) question. It goes right back to a thread from a week or so ago, when Rod asked the same thing. As several of us pointed out then you have to go back at least as far as WWI to even start looking for that answer, and the roots go back much, much further than that. The short, one word answer is “modernity”. The complete sum total of late Industrial Age life that changed the basic unit of human life from a family group acting as a unit to each person being an individual cog in the industrial machine.

And I say the question is irrelevant to this discussion unless you are arguing for total Social Darwinist “survival of the fittest” in which the poor are left to die. Because, as I said above, that pre-industrial family-based culture was never able to care for all of its members. The state is the only entity big enough to do that.

#3 Comment By mrscracker On November 13, 2017 @ 7:03 am

KenT,
Thank you so much for your comments but I still think we need to consider motive and additionally look for a money trail. The state and industry have their own interests.
Turning us all into compliant consumers and cogs in the workforce seems to be an end goal.
I see many examples among my friends of families within faith communities who take care of their own. I can look back in my own family history and see likewise under very difficult circumstances. Even quite recently.
It’s a fallen world and individually we certainly can fail each other. But when the state fails, it fails worse I think. And in a bigger way.

#4 Comment By Ken T On November 13, 2017 @ 10:05 am

mrscracker:

If you and I each had the power to create our own personal Utopias, and set them side by side, I suspect that there would be far more similarities than differences. I would LOVE to live in a world in which families took care of their own, and neighbors stepped in to help whenever a problem was bigger than what the family could manage themselves. And so on. But I know from my own personal experience growing up that such a world does not exist. In real life, families do NOT take care of their own. And neighbors and churches do NOT step in to help. That was just as true in the 1950s as it is today. I just barely survived my childhood, I know that many others in situations only slightly worse did not. I don’t much care if a politician does the right thing for the wrong motives, I just care if the right thing gets done.

#5 Comment By JonF On November 13, 2017 @ 12:57 pm

Re: as I said above, that pre-industrial family-based culture was never able to care for all of its members. The state is the only entity big enough to do that.

For a large chunk of the history of western Christendom the Church performed that function. But this was not a case of voluntary individual charity as we see church charities today: the Church was a quasi governmental entity with either the power to compel tithes or else a claim on state revenues. By turning the Church into churches plural the reformation ultimately destroyed the medieval welfare state which in turn forced secular rulers to fumble with creating a governmental welfare state (e.g., Elizabeth I’s Poor Laws). The welfare state is much older than the 20th century and it can be traced all the way back to ancient Rome.

#6 Comment By mrscracker On November 13, 2017 @ 8:17 pm

Ken,
That’s a shame about your childhood experience.
I’m truly very sorry to hear that.
I’d agree that a public social safety net can be a good thing. But I don’t believe it should become a lifestyle.
Most families and faith communities do help each other and continue to do that today. Perhaps you already know of examples but if not, I’d really recommend visiting a church, synagogue, or community center near you and seeing what they do. God bless!

#7 Comment By Ella On November 14, 2017 @ 3:55 am

I am considering moving to Greece. We would be poor (at least in American standards) but my husband is Greek and has a position at the university waiting for him. It is such a hard decision. We are Orthodox Christians and it would be to move closer to a land where faith is more vibrant and that has such richness of history and treasures. However, the country is battling secular ideas like everywhere else. Greece has already taken a major fall and because it has been given so much it’s fall will be fall worse than the fall of America. We are at a crossroads in this decision…..

#8 Comment By mike On November 14, 2017 @ 1:06 pm

KenT and JonF –
Again, the approach seems to be a classic marxist one:
Identify flaws and imperfections within a civilsed society. Then use those as justification to wreck civilisation and replace it with a nightmare dystopia of complete darkness and terror.
Anyone who says the State can take care of the needs of individuals better than traditional natural institutions – family, parish, local community and fraternal organisations – is either a marxist thug (“truth is whatever serves the needs of the State”) or has never come within ten miles of a history book.
Statists have spent most of the past century proving beyond any doubt that they are brilliant at starving people, but not especially talented at feeding them.
Even the communist regimes – out of desperation – in a rare (compelled) surrender to reality, allowed free-market food production. (As they well knew themselves, the one thing that overcomes fear of a bloodthirsty psychopathic tyranny is desperate hunger.)
In the Soviet Union (and still in Cuba), something like 90% of food was produced on small private plots – kitchen gardens – which farm families were permitted to control.
Currently, even in the the Horror State North Korea, a low-level free-market in food production is tolerated because there is no other alternative.
The State in itself is utterly incapable of producing. It taxes (steals) and redistributes (bribes). And under the State’s relentless plunder, the productive class steadily shrinks.
We eventually descend not just into material poverty, but into complete social and spiritual desolation.

#9 Comment By Robert Thomas On November 15, 2017 @ 5:13 am

I’m an American who lives in Germany as a permanent resident. I’ve been here for almost 10 years now. And I find the idea of Americans somehow “saving” Europe is at best strange, and at worst laughable and pathetic.
As far as I can tell, we are talking about the crew of a ship that has run aground and is thoroughly wrecked through their own blind negligence, narcissim and egotism (oops, sorry, I mean “through their exceptional powers of individualism and self-sufficiency”) looking to jump ship and come onto another in order to “save it”.
And what are they seeking to “save” and otherwise perpetuate? The myth of the white “Christian” colonial European as Weltmeister? The myth that only the white European-American (where most everything is measured in terms of money, status and profit) can save the world? What will you bring us? A vision of a society that forces the downtrodden and down-and-out to fend for themselves? Or perhaps Judicial expertise and social justice? Or the glories of selfishness and the profit-motive? Better yet the benefits of free-market health insurance?
The myth that Europe, with its problems, can be saved by Americans who have, sadly, crashed and burned their own craft, their ship (if you will) run aground, wrecked on the rocky shoals of capitalism and self-interest, guided by Americans who, in their arrogance, have set themselves afire in a conflagration that is the result of years of self-destructive Ayn Rand-inspired (who wrote books for teenagers!) idiotic self-serving “philosophies,” most especially those of exceptionalism, capitalism, individualism and the virtues of selfishness. (How remarkably Christian!)
Unbelievable.
No, thank you, please stay home and deal with you own mess and please please please don’t bring your “new ideas” to Europe. The old ideas here are doing rather well (especially in comparison to the “new” American ones from the past 20-30 years) and these long-held traditional ideas will see us out quite well, I think.
We wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors.

#10 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On November 16, 2017 @ 9:56 am

Mike,

Um, no. Private plots produced 25% of food in the Soviet Union, not 90%:

[2]

They produced 10% of meat production, 38% of vegetables and 64% of fruit in Czechoslovakia:

[3]

Productivity per unit land in Poland was almost equal between state and private farms:

[4]

I’ve seen a scholarly reference that productivity of state farms relative to private ones was higher in East Germany and similar in Hungary (probably the two best run communist states).

It’s true that overall family farm productivity did outstrip the state controlled farms, but it wasn’t true in every case nor to the same degree you contend.

In any case, ‘the state has killed more people than the family’ is obviously not true when you look closely as statistics across cultures and across time. Start with rates of domestic violence, for example.

Robert Thomas,

Speaking just for myself, I don’t want to save Europe, I’d like to be part of it.