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The Coming Battle for European Civilization

In the next weeks, months, and possibly years, I plan to write here and elsewhere about the European immigration crisis. Alongside global warming, and of course the possibility of nuclear war, it strikes me as the most critical issue for today’s West, one that can make reasonable people feel they have no future, that there is no point in having children, etc. Many good books dealing with different facets of the subject have been published. The intellectual debate about immigration, diversity, and multiculturalism in Europe is generally richer than in the United States, reflective of the fact that theirs is a genuine civilizational crisis, considerably more dire than ours.

Two books are especially outstanding: Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, published nine years ago, and Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe, which came out last year. Both are exemplars of subtle analysis, extensive research and reporting, and reasoned fair-minded argument. Both get to the essence of the problem of a weary and self-doubting secular civilization trying to accommodate a sudden and very large influx of people with a completely different sense of identity and often a theologically infused sense of the purpose and meanings of life. Both lay considerable blame on West European political leaders and academic and media elites who have a long record of hiding the nature of the problem from their publics and perhaps also from themselves.

Nine years ago, some in the American liberal establishment were at least willing to acknowledge that mass immigration in Europe could be a problem. Caldwell’s book was reviewed favorably [1] in the New York Times by Fouad Ajami, himself a Lebanese immigrant to America, who had left knowing, as he put it, “there would be no imams or mosques awaiting” in the New World, but who made the trip anyway. Ajami praised Caldwell’s book and mentioned that it had been written in the aftermath of a high-casualty London subway bombing. That event had woken at least some Britons to the fact that a great many second-generation immigrants had not the slightest interest in becoming British, though the radical imams who inspired their terror had few qualms about accepting the benefits of the European welfare system. Ajami provides this pithy summary of one of Caldwell’s themes: “For their part the new arrivals, timid at first, grew expansive in the claims they made…they had fled the fire, and the failure, of their ancestral lands, but they had brought the fire with them.”

Nine years later, Spectator editor Douglas Murray published a book in many ways as impressive as Caldwell’s but that includes recent developments that have brought the immigration issue nearer to full boil. These include Angela Merkel’s summoning of a million young Muslim migrants to Europe, the acceleration of Muslim terror attacks (which the European prestige press and centrist political class invariably claim “have nothing to do with Islam”), the mass sexual assaults in Cologne and other cities, the “grooming” or child rape gangs found in several British cities, the emergence of the anti-immigration populist parties in both Eastern and Western Europe, and the now-pervasive recognition that the immigration issue is paramount in Europe. But by then the Times had chosen sides decisively. Murray was dismissed [2] as a “tub-thumper” by a reviewer who ignored all of his actual arguments while ascribing to him “retro claims of ethnic religious community” and “fears of contamination”—none of which appear in Murray’s work in any form.


In short, the Times chose to go with a curt and dishonest description of a major book that covers enormous ground, ranging from Europe’s loss of Christian faith and the meaning it gave lives—including substantive and telling digressions about Europe’s contemporary art, philosophy, and academic culture—to the escalating assault on its freedoms (of speech most particularly) by Muslim immigrants. The last, of course, the acquiescence, is the largest and most interesting problem.

It’s perhaps beyond knowing what caused this large shift in the editorial line of the Times on European immigration, a shift manifested also in the paper’s incessant “news” coverage of the supposed “threat to European values” posed by the freely elected immigration-skeptic governments of Hungary and Poland. But it fortifies a new liberal American consensus that Europeans who worry that their home is being turned into something unrecognizable to them are little more than Nazis and bigots.

I don’t believe this for a moment. I believe that the European people’s desire that Europe remain home for them is the most natural and defensible of human political longings. I also believe that the elite globalist consensus, that China can be China and India can be India but Europe can be turned into a repository for anyone in the world who can get there, if it comes to full fruition, will destroy what has been one of mankind’s most fruitful and innovative civilizations. I, of course, say this with full cognizance of the dark points in Europe’s past, some of which have been very dark indeed.

I also believe, in ways perhaps analogous to what past American statesmen believed when Europe was threatened by Nazism and later communism, that America would not thrive in a world with a despotic or destroyed Europe. There are deep cultural reasons why we sent millions of men to fight in Europe during the last century, lavishly funded European postwar reconstruction, and consider our NATO allies to be cultural and political kin in ways we don’t feel about other nations. I am not optimistic by nature, and don’t believe success is inevitable or even likely. To prevail in the coming years, Europeans will have to elect governments that are able to say “no,” that are willing to distinguish between genuine refugees and economic or welfare-seeking migrants, that will deport some or all of the latter as they see fit, and that will institute measures that make immigrating illegally to Europe as unlikely as immigrating illegally to China (to take one example of a society that has no impulse to commit suicide).

The Europeans may yet succeed but the outcome is very much in doubt. On one hand, there are literally hundreds of millions in Africa and the Mideast and the Asian subcontinent who believe that their situations would be improved by moving to Europe and who increasingly have the means to set such plans in motion. They are enabled by a deeply entrenched European globalist elite that, out of a combination of guilt, civilizational weariness, and a genuine belief that borders are obsolete, wish to pose no serious obstacle to their entry. On the other side are burgeoning sentiments of the majority of the European people, who still have access to the tools of democracy and the ability to change their elites. Allied with them is a growing coterie of intellectuals, many of them formerly on the left, who realize that they don’t want their civilization to end after all.

As any reader of Caldwell’s and Murray’s books knows, this battle has deep and complex intellectual roots, profoundly linked to questions of belief, secularism, and the meaning of life. It will be fought in myriad ways—at the ballot box, in the media, sometimes in the streets. Unfortunately, it seems far from unlikely that it will eventually involve violence—that is, violence beyond what terrorists have already initiated.

It’s my hope as a journalist that I can add something to the American understanding of this battle by reading what I can of the European press, describing the main events and debates, quoting and linking liberally, and probably traveling to Europe as I’ve done previously to report on critical elections and events. In any case, that’s the plan.

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of Ex-Neocon: Dispatches From the Post-9/11 Ideological Wars.

63 Comments (Open | Close)

63 Comments To "The Coming Battle for European Civilization"

#1 Comment By Kurt Gayle On November 9, 2018 @ 2:10 pm

@ German_reader who says (Nov 9, 11:38 am): “@ Kurt Gayle–Ron Unz is somewhat problematic as well (his descent into nutcase antisemitism and open Holocaust denial has been painful to watch)…”

Ron Unz, who was Publisher of The American Conservative (2007-2011), is Jewish and was raised in a Yiddish-speaking household. He is a graduate of Harvard and Stanford and studied in between at Cambridge. Mr. Unz worked in the banking industry writing software for mortgage securities during his studies, and founded a company called Wall Street Analytics in Palo Alto, California. In 2006 his company was acquired by the ratings firm Moody’s.

Mr. Unz has been in the national news in recent weeks. On October 22nd, Unz wrote in Unz Review: “[A] trial began in Boston federal court for the current lawsuit in which a collection of Asian-American organizations are charging Harvard University with racial discrimination in its college admissions policies. The New York Times, our national newspaper of record, has been providing almost daily coverage to developments in the case, with the stories sometimes reaching the front page. Last Sunday, just before the legal proceedings began, the Times ran a major article explaining the general background of the controversy, and I was very pleased to see that my own past research was cited as an important factor sparking the lawsuit, with the reporter even including a direct link to my 26,000 word 2012 cover-story ‘ which had provided strong quantitative evidence of anti-Asian racial quotas’.”

Mr. Unz’s research shows that Ivy League admissions discrimination against qualified Asians and qualified non-Jewish whites was carried out simultaneously with a policy that discriminated in favor of the admission of less-qualified Jews.


Ron Unz’s first ground-breaking research on this topic was entitled “The Myth of American Meritocracy–How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?” and appeared in The American Conservative on Nov 28, 2012:


Mr. Unz has published research on the Holocaust and has written that there is “considerable evidence that the Holocaust is substantially fraudulent…”

In 2014 the Anti-Defamation League wrote about Ron Unz: “Though Unz does not appear to be an anti-Semite, he provides support to extreme anti-Israel ideologues.”

#2 Comment By Richard On November 9, 2018 @ 2:36 pm

“You can take the New Yorker out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of the new Yorker.”

#3 Comment By mrscracker On November 9, 2018 @ 4:26 pm

Scorched Earth says:

“Not to worry, my friend. Women in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia are still breeding like flies.”
If you look at the data, there are actually few nations now with high fertility rates.
And “breeding like flies” seems a very unfortunate way to speak of other human beings.

I don’t think many of us grasp the consequences of what might occur when you have a huge elderly population & fewer & fewer young people entering into the workforce.
The demographic problem isn’t about numbers but about age.
It may all balance out some day in the future but in the meantime if things continue this way it may be a rough ride.

#4 Comment By Trimalchio On November 9, 2018 @ 4:35 pm

The problem with articles like this is that they’re nothing to do with objective analysis — they’re simply propaganda for a certain domestic AMERICAN set of policies.

And Nude Beaches!! OMG!!!

#5 Comment By Bill Smith On November 9, 2018 @ 8:40 pm

For a good non-Marxian overview of Western Civilization I recommend Kenneth Clark’s documentary series.


Western culture is based on:
1. Roman comprehension of Law
2. Greek perception of Truth
3. Christian Ethics

If the new immigrants of Europe cannot acculturate then Western culture will end unless they are cut off. If they will not acculturate we should consider why not.

#6 Comment By Kurt Gayle On November 10, 2018 @ 1:53 pm

mrscracker (Nov 9, 4:26 pm) quotes “Scorched Earth,” who says:
“Not to worry, my friend. Women in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia are still breeding like flies’.”

To which mrscracker says: “If you look at the data, there are actually few nations now with high fertility rates.”

Of the 20 countries in the world with the highest fertility rates in 2016, 18 of those 20 countries are African countries. In first place Niger has an average of 6.62 children per woman and in 20th place Cameroon has an average of 4.7. The only non-African countries in the top 20 are Afghanistan (10th place) and Timor-Leste (15th place).


#7 Comment By Mad Max On November 11, 2018 @ 9:12 am

I think the term “battle” in the title is an understatement.

History is about to repeat itself in Europe.

#8 Comment By Scott McConnell On November 11, 2018 @ 9:41 am

Many good and thoughtful comments. I’d just say that for those wondering, I do plan to go to Europe as much as I can, starting next spring, and would be happy to meet with TAC readers there interested in this subject, as time and logistics permit. Write me at [7]

#9 Comment By mrscracker On November 11, 2018 @ 10:51 am

Kurt Gayle,
Thanks for the data link.
My son works in demographics and he said the replacement rate varies depending on the location.
Switzerland has increased its population with less than two births per woman because so many Swiss now live longer lives. Of course eventually those statistics will alter.
Poor families in places like Niger have much less chance of seeing their children grow up. So the replacement rate needed is higher.
Several years ago we were blessed to have a group of musicians from Niger perform at a concert sponsored by a local nonprofit. It absolutely amazing music. And they literally played for hours. I had to leave before the end of the concert so my son could get enough sleep for school the next day. African music is really wonderful.

#10 Comment By nemo On November 11, 2018 @ 2:25 pm


#11 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On November 11, 2018 @ 3:47 pm

Of the 20 countries in the world with the highest fertility rates in 2016, 18 of those 20 countries are African countries. In first place Niger has an average of 6.62 children per woman and in 20th place Cameroon has an average of 4.7. The only non-African countries in the top 20 are Afghanistan (10th place) and Timor-Leste (15th place

Over 90% of the world’s countries today have a lower fertility rate than the world average in 1960. Three quarters of the world’s countries, including every Latin-American state, all but three Middle East countries and a handful of African ones, currently have lower fertility than the *United States* in 1960. The US fertility rate in 1960 was at a historic peak, but even still: depending on what you consider “few” and “high fertility rates”, and judging by historical standards, Mrs Cracker’s comment was correct.

#12 Comment By Mark B. On November 11, 2018 @ 5:37 pm

@ Petrus

Sorry to hear about your bad experience in my hometown. The Osdorp district in Amsterdam is a notorious Muslim (ghetto) district, where there are many many problems with second and third generation Muslim youth (mainly Moroccan). It actually is the worst district you could have chosen to stay during your visit. I hope if you ever return, you have a better experience in an other part of the city.

#13 Comment By Kurt Gayle On November 11, 2018 @ 8:52 pm

@ Hector_St_Clare: Yes, mrscracker is correct, but so is Scorched Earth (see my post of Nov 10, 1:53 p.m.).

In support of what mrscracker said: The World Bank (2014): “There were more than 7 billion people on earth in 2013. While this is the highest number ever, the population growth rate has been steadily declining, in part due to declining fertility rates…If you’re looking for fertility data, a good place to start is total fertility rate (TFR), which is the average number of children born to each woman. In 1960, women worldwide had an average of 5 children. The rate has since halved, and in 2012, women had an average of 2.5 children across all regions.”