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The West Cannibalizes Itself

Some 13 European thinkers issued an intellectual protest late last year against the assault on the Western heritage that has been raging on the Continent and in Britain for years. They called their 11-page document “The Paris Statement” and gave it a title: “A Europe We Can Believe In.” The Europe they believe in, write the 13 signatories (well-known in Europe, less so in America), is under threat of destruction from the forces of globalization, multiculturalism, and the EU managerial class, as well as growing anti-Christian prejudice.

“These lands are our home,” says the Statement, “we have no other. Home is a place where things are familiar, and where we are recognized, however far we have wandered. This is the real Europe, our precious and irreplaceable civilization.”  

This article appears in the March/April issue of The American Conservative.

The Statement has received a smattering of attention in the European media—broadcast television in Poland and the Netherlands; major newspapers in Germany, France, Spain, and Poland; national weekly magazines in Poland and Hungary; and opinion web sites in the UK, Switzerland, Belgium, and Spain. But mostly it is an intellectual statement written for and consumed largely by other intellectuals.

And of course the assault on the Western heritage from within is a potent phenomenon in Europe, fostered by nearly the entire elite structure of the civilization. Thus it isn’t clear what a few highly accomplished intellectuals, however eloquent or anguished, can do to stem the erosion of the civilizational identity. But we are witnessing the emergence of some powerful political currents within the general European population, manifest in increasingly populist voting patterns in France, Germany, Austria, and elsewhere. Hence the Paris Statement could become a significant intellectual underpinning for Europeans who are increasingly concerned about the direction of things in their homeland.  


The threat to Europe, says the Statement, comes from “a false understanding” of what Europe is and represents. This “false Europe” is the product of people who are “orphans by choice,” glorifying their vision “as the forerunner of a universal community that is neither universal nor a community.” Believing that history is on their side, these patrons of the false Europe have become “haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing.” The false Europe, says the statement, is “utopian and tyrannical.”

The true Europe, on the other hand, encompasses a number of fundamental elements—a body of law that applies to all yet is limited in its demands; a shared understanding of political and cultural traditions and a fealty to those traditions; an appreciation of the nation state as “the political form that joins peoplehood with sovereignty”; a shared regard for the role of the Classical tradition in shaping the Western mind; and an understanding of Christianity as the religious bulwark of the civilization.

Now, write the signatories, “all this is slipping away. As the patrons of the false Europe construct their faux Christendom of universal human rights, we are losing our home.”

In place of the old Europe comes a culture of “libertine hedonism.” Though the elites boast of unprecedented liberty, European life is “more and more comprehensively regulated” than ever before. Work relations, business decisions, educational qualifications, and news practices increasingly are regulated by managerial mandarins operating in darkened corners of the EU bureaucracy. “And Europe now seeks to tighten existing regulations on freedom of speech, an aboriginal European freedom—freedom of conscience made manifest.” The Paris Statement continues:

Political leaders who give voice to inconvenient truths about Islam and immigration are hauled before judges. Political correctness enforces strong taboos that deem challenges to the status quo beyond the pale. The false Europe does not really encourage a culture of freedom. It promotes a culture of market-driven homogeneity and politically enforced conformity.

The Statement decries the growing sensibility among Europe’s elites—and many recent arrivals from other lands—that immigrants shouldn’t be required to assimilate into the Western culture because the Western culture doesn’t represent anything particularly special. Says the Statement: “We are to affirm the very colonization of our homelands and the demise of our culture as Europe’s great twenty-first century glory—a collective act of self-sacrifice for the sake of some new global community of peace and prosperity that is being born”—but which, it could be added, will never become the reality envisioned by Europe’s self-deluded elites.

Indeed, some of the dire results of this experiment have become manifest. The signatories write, “Some of our countries have regions in which Muslims live with an informal autonomy from local laws, as if they were colonialists rather than fellow members of our nations.”


And the emergence of this false Europe is robbing the European societies of their self-respect and hence their cohesion and force. “Shorn of higher ideals and discouraged from expressing patriotic pride by multiculturalist ideology,” says the Statement, “our societies now have difficulty summoning the will to defend themselves.”

This is in part because of the indoctrination that has suffused European academic life, where “cultural repudiation” has become a cheap and easy way to demonstrate enlightenment and “spiritual election.” As a result, says the Statement, “our universities are now active agents of ongoing cultural destruction.”

If readers of the Statement get a sense that what ails Europe is most likely a terminal cultural pathology that ultimately will kill the patient, that would be a reasonable interpretation. It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Paris Statement is not much more than a cry in the cold, dark forests of history. And yet it’s worth pondering: when in history have we seen a civilization turn on itself with such savagery as we see in the West today? What civilizations of the past or present have repudiated themselves and their cultural foundations with such focused intent, then invited in masses of others who don’t share the heritage?

The Chinese civilization is experiencing a renaissance of self-consciousness to go with China’s growing economic and military might. The Magian culture of the Middle East, while struggling with internal and external threats and challenges, is fiercely protective of its lands and cultural identity. A willingness to fight and die for them is widespread throughout those lands. Hindu nationalism is on the rise in India. President Vladimir Putin’s popularity in Russia is due in part to his devotion to his country’s Orthodox identity and its cultural narrative dating back to the Tsars.

Only in the West is there any perceived need to produce a document such as the Paris Statement, a call for the kind of cultural devotion and civilizational identity that are natural and well established in all the other civilizations of the world today.

Still, there is a populist backlash brewing in the West against this false Europe. The Statement acknowledges this with some ambivalence. “We have reservations,” it says, adding that Europe “needs to draw upon the deep wisdom of her traditions rather than relying on simplistic slogans and divisive emotional appeals.”  At the same time, it suggests that “this new political phenomenon” could be “a healthy rebellion against the tranny of the false Europe, which labels as ‘anti-Democratic’ any threat to its monopoly on moral legitimacy.”

After all, says the Statement, this new populism challenges “the dictatorship of the status quo” and the “fanaticism of the centre.” The Statement concludes: “It is a sign that even in the midst of our degraded and impoverished political culture, the historical agency of the European peoples can be reborn.”

Can it? That is the fundamental question hovering over Europe in these times, and it presages probably years of political conflict, maybe even major civic unrest. The Paris Statement—signed by heralded intellectuals from France, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Norway, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium—goes a long way toward setting the terms of that conflict from the perspective of those who would protect and save the homeland of Europe.  

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington, D.C. journalist and publishing executive, is editor of The American Conservative. His latest book is President McKinley: Architect of the American Century.

67 Comments (Open | Close)

67 Comments To "The West Cannibalizes Itself"

#1 Comment By catbird On March 31, 2018 @ 10:16 pm

Michael Kenny, why would a US-written right wing document stress how the US and Europe are fundamentally different and how the US is responsible for Europe’s problems. It makes much more sense that representatives of a country that wants the US out of Europe would organize such a statement.

#2 Comment By Michael Pearce On April 1, 2018 @ 11:24 am

Alex Ingrum:

You iddntify the fundamental problem with the liberal position in your solution. You suggest it is about education. You siggest we sipmly educate them about the value of our ideals and they will come along.

The trouble is the people in question will not listen to our educational attempts. They reject our beliefs and ideals. And, truth be told, they seek to destroy them.

There exists, then, an irreconcilable difference in world view. See Malmo, Sweden. See the banlieus in Paris and France. See so many cities in Europe. You can’t make a group of people assimilate who are unwilling, at least under the values westerners hold.

Mere education is not the answer because most Islamiscts will not listen.

#3 Comment By Question On April 1, 2018 @ 11:33 am

Some of the commenters here have asked what a “true Europe” is. I cannot answer that as I am an American. What I see going on in my country is a steady attempt by the left wing to discredit the constitution as if it were the problem preventing freedom, rather than the solution which preserves it.
The left wishes to establish a dogma driven leftist theocracy in which thought and speech are policed. The dogma places historical sins of a century(s) ago over the reality of the present. Atoning for historical sins is more important than law, reality, prosperity or justice. Politics is driven by identity and membership in the sacred victim group is akin to sainthood.
In this theocracy, equal outcomes are mandated which will assure the lowest common denominator in every aspect of human endeavor from Univerisities to scientific research to ditch digging. Roads cannot be paved until it is established that the road paving will benefit the sacred minorities.
Practical considerations such as potholes and accidents are not considerations.
Crime is an entitlement and the state systematically penalizes law abiding citizens with an evermore byzantine legal system that assures the citizen will somehow be in violation of something. Logic, Rationality and pragmatism are unworthy criteria for any thought process or project or process, large or small.
The population must be punished for their historical sins from centuries ago and accept the punishments heaped upon them.
Any institution that teaches contrary, especially religious organizations, must be silenced, persecuted and delegitimized. All hail the new leftist vision which is so much differenct than the prior leftist vision in Venezuela, Cambodia, China and the old Soviet Union. OK so 100 million or so died, but it is not like it was a genocide against minorities.

#4 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On April 1, 2018 @ 11:52 am

Ethnic and religious chauvinism and nationalism almost always lead to persecution of ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. See Tibetans and Uighurs in China, Muslims and Christians in India, LGBT people in Russia. Alex Ingrum

All over the “Islamic world,” religious, ethnic and sexual minorities are not just being persecuted but exterminated – see Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians in Pakistan, Hindus and Buddhists in Bangladesh, Yazidi in Syria and Iraq, Copts in Egypt etc.

Their persecution dwarfs anything that Putin is doing to LGBT people in Russia or Modi is doing to Christians in India yet for these “progressives” in the West, it is verboten to criticize Islam.

Perhaps Alex Ingrum can illuminate us about why he is careful not to mention the Perfect Religion in his enumeration of persecutions going on all over the world?

#5 Comment By Kurt Gayle On April 1, 2018 @ 12:29 pm

Dear “mf”:

Having accused TAC Editor Robert W. Merry of being either “fundamentally ignorant of European history, or not ignorant but truly malevolent”, you say that “European Continent is a blood soaked grave pit, filled to the brim by centuries of relentless and remorseless warfare, much of it inspired by religious divisions within Christianity.”

What, “mf,” does “warfare…inspired by religious divisions within Christianity” have to do with wars in Europe since at least 1700?

I’ll keep it simple: “Wikipedia: European Wars of Religion”: “The European wars of religion, also known as the wars of the Reformation (and Counter-Reformation) or Reformation wars, were a series of religious wars waged in Central, Western and Northern Europe from 1522 to around 1700 following the onset of the Protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation in Europe. Most conflicts ended with the Peace of Westphalia (1648) [although] some wars of Reformation persisted to around 1700.”

Indeed, “mf,” haven’t all of the wars in Europe in the past 300 years – including the most destructive wars in European history, those of the 20th century — occurred completely apart from any context of “religious divisions within Christianity”?

Far be from me, “mf,” to accuse you – as you accused Robert Merry — of being either “fundamentally ignorant of European history, or not ignorant but truly malevolent.”

However, I would venture to say that you seem confused about some important, basic issues of modern European history.

#6 Comment By Winston On April 1, 2018 @ 12:51 pm

Happy there is a voice standing up for western civilization. The ‘false europeans’ or mainstream muliticulturalists are far too dismissive of the value of cultural traditions. A culture conductive to stability and prosperity is perhaps the West’s greatest asset from which all of our achievements are indebted. It is a loathsome view that our culture is in no way more valuable than any other. Each new generation stands on the shoulders of one before. Those who think we can so easily replace what millennia of cultural evolution have created are as arrogant as they are ignorant.

#7 Comment By Kurt Gayle On April 1, 2018 @ 1:09 pm

p.s. “mf”:

You say: “The purpose of all the droning about the superior [European] culture…is to reignite the warfare in the interest of ever present sociopaths.”

Suppose, just suppose, “mf,” that some of us – some of us who are not notably “sociopaths” – talk about a “superior [European] culture,” because we think it is superior?

J.S. Bach – St. Matthew Passion – “Erbarme dich” — Julia Hamari:

#8 Comment By Verano On April 1, 2018 @ 5:34 pm

Hard times create strong men, they create good times, that creates soft men, that creates hard times. Let’s hope we mark this history like our ancestors did.

No love of whites ain’t anti black or anything else btw

#9 Comment By Verano On April 1, 2018 @ 5:37 pm

And forget about the Bach for a second. The music of swords, the artistry of those…

#10 Comment By David Weeks On April 1, 2018 @ 9:09 pm

They’ve earned it. What worries me is the rising tide of progressive “got it” bravo sierra in this country. (America)

Political correctness is only as strong as one’s inability, or unwillingness, to learn.

Stupidity is progressive, and progressivism is stupid. See, a vicious circle!

Words are not real, actions are. All of this is fixable with the adoption of spiritual living, freedom and simple competence. In other word: Americanism.

#11 Comment By Balconesfault On April 2, 2018 @ 3:59 am

“an understanding of Christianity as the religious bulwark of the civilization”

Love the choice of the photo of the Acropolis to illustrate this point!

#12 Comment By Alex Ingrum On April 2, 2018 @ 12:31 pm

Janwaar Bibi:
Please get a grip. Of course, religious minorities, women, and LBGT people are greatly oppressed in many Muslim countries. I was never denying that. Mr Merry specifically brought up China, India, and Russia as models of ethnically proud civilizations, so I was bringing up the counterpoint that minorities are often the victims of chauvinistic ethno-nationalist countries.

Islamic societies are absolutely NOT a role model for Europe. They are mostly theocratic, sexist, homophobic, intolerant of religious minorities, and obscurantist in their approach to science. and Could anything be more obvious? Europe has given us the Enlightenment and constitutional democracy, its true universal legacies.

You clearly have a bone to pick with Islam – please don’t drag me into it.

#13 Comment By Alex Ingrum On April 2, 2018 @ 12:52 pm

Michael Pearce:
I do believe that educations works. In the long term, it is the only solution that works.

Here in the U.S., I have many Muslim neighbors and co-workers from the Middle East and South Asia. They are highly educated, professional, and model citizens – some of the nicest, most generous, and most hospitable people I know. Many are second generation immigrants whose parents came in the 1960s and 1970s to pursue the American dream. Many are also recent immigrants.

Because they are educated, they have freed their thinking from the close-minded and prejudicial mindset that pervades many of their co-religionists in their home countries. In Europe, by contrast, most of the Muslim immigrants are poor and working class, so they cling to their religion and to their patriarchal worldview more strongly.

It’s unfortunate that the European countries that were not responsible for centuries of brutal colonialism in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, namely Germany and Greece, are now bearing the brunt of the refugee and immigrant crisis.

The U.S., after having devastated Afghanistan and Iraq, causing the domino effect in Syria, Libya, and other countries, is barely having to deal with the refugee crisis it created.

#14 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On April 2, 2018 @ 7:21 pm

Here in the U.S., I have many Muslim neighbors and co-workers from the Middle East and South Asia. They are highly educated, professional, and model citizens – some of the nicest, most generous, and most hospitable people I know.

Out of 56 Islamic countries, all but 2 or 3 discriminate blatantly against non-Muslims in their laws. In Pakistan for example, the constitution forbids non-Muslims from becoming President or Prime Minister. All non-Muslims are officially classified as “dhimmis”, a derogatory term for non-Muslims who agree to live in “subjugation” under Islamic law. In Saudi Arabia, the death benefit for a Hindu or Buddhist is 1/16 that for a Muslim man (for a Jew or Christian, it is 1/2). In Iran, gays and Baha’ii are being killed with impunity. In Egypt, Coptic Christians have to get permission from the President to build a church; Muslims just need permission from local authorities. In Syria and Iraq, ISIS is still selling Yazidi girls as sex-slaves. Even in “moderate” Malaysia, it is almost impossible for Muslims to convert to another religion; conversion to Islam is promoted by the government.

Can you name any US Islamic organization that is calling attention to the barbaric treatment of non-Muslims in just about every Muslim country and agitating to change this? I can name many Jewish organization calling attention to the treatment of Arabs in Israel but I do not know one Muslim organization agitating for non-Muslim rights. Do you?

The test of a people is how they behave when they are in the majority and have absolute power over you, not what they do when they are 1% of the population. If things don’t change, you or your kids will find this out first-hand. I just hope I am around to see it, if it does happen.

#15 Comment By TR On April 2, 2018 @ 8:28 pm

Well, except for Roger Scruton, they are not exactly household names, at they?

I can’t think of a time when Western Culture wasn’t being trashed by Westerners–maybe that’s part of its strength.

Meanwhile, heavily endowed museums still stage exhibitions of the old masters and academic books without political angles are still published by the scores on all the great figures of the West. Many of those figures, by the way, were on the Western Pope’s Index until recently,

Chill out.

#16 Comment By JonF On April 2, 2018 @ 9:36 pm

Re: It’s unfortunate that the European countries that were not responsible for centuries of brutal colonialism in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia,

“Centuries”? Well, the European powers going all the way back to the Portuguese capture of Ceuta at the beginning of the 15th century did take control of some coastal forts and offshore islands, but outright colonial control did not begin in Africa or the Middle East until the 19th century was well underway (the French took control of parts of Algeria in 1830). Things do date a bit farther back in India, where the collapse of the Mughal Empire created an opening for the various European trading companies to expand their influence ending with the British in a dominant (but not omnipotent) position by the end of the 18th century.

#17 Comment By Historian On April 6, 2018 @ 3:52 am

Mr Goodman,

Re: your clueless claim that “by any reasonable account, Europe remains dominated by white, anglo Christian interests. Virtually every one of these countries (UK, Germany, France, Italy, etc) have conservative parties that are mono-theistic and almost uniformly Christian. Even outside of that, virtually all the other major competing parties pledge similar fealty or at least show great deference and respect for White anglo Christian beliefs.”

So just where was–and is–the “respect” (to say nothing of “deference”) for the 1000s of “white anglo” girls–yes CHILDREN–in such UK cities as Rotherham, Rochdale, Telford, Bristol, etc ad nauseum when the authorities, police, city councils, social workers, party leaders, legal professionals etc. in such towns for DECADES deliberately chose to enable heinous (and incidentally illegal) crimes of sex trafficking, gang rape, false imprisonment–even intimidation murders–committed against “white anglo” CHILDREN almost entirely by ADULT males of foreign origin or descent (in your terms ‘non-white’ and ‘non-anglo’ men) because, as some of those authorities now admit, they were, and clearly still are, too afraid of being accused of “racism” or “Islamophobia” to actually prosecute ADULT males of foreign origin or descent–largely Muslim by upbringing–even when they commit heinous crimes against CHILDREN?