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Europe’s Future Is in the Past

As the European Coal and Steel Community of Jean Monnet evolved into the EU, we were told a “United States of Europe” was at hand, modeled on the USA. And other countries and continents will inevitably follow Europe’s example. There will be a North American Union of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and a Latin America Union of the Mercosur trade partnership.

In an essay, “The E.U. Experiment Has Failed,” Bruce Thornton of Hoover Institution makes the case that the verdict is in, the dream is dead, the EU is unraveling, One Europe is finished.

Consider, first, economics. In 2013, Europe grew by 1 percent compared to the U.S.’s 2.2 percent. In December, unemployment in Europe was 11.4 percent. In the U.S., 5.6 percent. Americans are alarmed by the lowest labor force participation rate since Reagan, 62.7 percent. In Europe, in 2013, it was 57.5 percent.

Europeans may wail over German-imposed “austerity,” but the government share of Europe’s GDP has gone from 45 percent in 2008 to 49 percent today. In Greece, it is 59 percent.

Most critical is the demographic crisis. For a nation to survive, its women must produce on average 2.1 children. Europe has not seen that high a fertility rate in 40 years. Today, it is down to 1.6 children. Europeans are an aging, shrinking, disappearing, dying race.

And the places of Europe’s unborn are being filled by growing “concentrations of unassimilated and disaffected Muslim immigrants, segregated in neighborhoods like the banlieues of Paris or the satellite ‘dish cities’ of Amsterdam.

Shut out from labor markets, plied with generous social welfare payments and allowed to cultivate beliefs and cultural practices inimical to democracy, many of these immigrants despise their new homes, and find the religious commitment and certainty of radical Islam an attractive alternative.

“Some turn to terrorism,” like the French-Algerian brothers who carried out the slaughter at the magazine Charlie Hebdo. “Such violence,” writes Thornton, “along with cultural practices like honor killings, forced marriages and polygamy … are stoking a political backlash against Muslims.”


Populist parties are surging—the U.K. Independence Party in Britain, the National Front in France, and now the “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident,” PEGIDA, in Germany, These parties will soon be strong enough to enter governments, impose restrictions on immigration and demand assimilation.

Then the cultural conflicts may turn violent.

A fundamental question has troubled European unification since the Treaty of Rome in 1957, writes Thornton: “What comprises the collective beliefs of and values that can form the foundations of a genuine European-wide community? What is it that all Europeans believe?

Europe and its nations were forged in the matrix of ideas, ideals, and beliefs of Christianity, which gives divine sanction to notions like human rights, the sanctity of the individual, political freedom and equality. Today across Europe Christian belief is a shadow of its former self.

Fewer and fewer Europeans regularly go to Church. … It is common for many European cathedrals to have more tourists during a service than parishioners. … This process of secularization — already well advanced in 1887 when Nietzsche famously said, ‘God is no more than a faded word today, not even a concept’ — is nearly complete today, leaving Europe without its historical principle of unity.

Political religions—communism, fascism, Nazism—are substitute gods that failed. “Nor has secular social democracy … provided people with a transcendent principle that justifies sacrifice for the greater good, or even gives people a reason to reproduce. A shared commitment to leisure, a short workweek, and a generous social safety net is nothing worth killing or dying for.”

And who will die for Donetsk, Luhansk or Crimea? Pacifism beckons. Every major European nation in NATO—Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland—will see defense spending in 2015 below 2 percent of GDP.

The idea of One Europe has depended on “the denigration of patriotism and national pride,” writes Thornton, “Yet all peoples are the products of a particular culture, language, mores, traditions, histories, landscapes. … That sense of belonging to a community defined by a shared identity cannot be created by a single currency.”

Christianity gave Europe its faith, identity, purpose, and will to conquer and convert the world. Christianity created Europe. And the death of Christianity leaves the continent with no unifying principle save a watery commitment to democracy and La Dolce Vita.

From Marine Le Pen’s France to Putin’s Russia, nationalism and patriotism are surging across Europe because peoples, deprived of or disbelieving in the old faith, want a new faith to give meaning, purpose, vitality to their lives, something to live for, fight for, die for.

Countless millions of Muslims have found in their old faith their new faith. And the descendants of fallen-away European Christians of the 19th and 20th centuries are finding their new faith in old tribal and national identities.

Less and less does multiculturalism look like the wave of the future.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. [1] Copyright 2015 Creators.com.

14 Comments (Open | Close)

14 Comments To "Europe’s Future Is in the Past"

#1 Comment By Selvar On March 13, 2015 @ 2:06 am

Liberal and social democracy offers people freedom at the cost of inherent, socially sanctioned, transcendent meaning.

Authoritarian and totalitarian ideologies of all stripes offer inherent, socially sanctioned, transcendent meaning at the cost of personal freedom.

I have faith and hope that the first will triumph over the second, but I admit I could be wrong.

#2 Comment By Nil On March 13, 2015 @ 3:10 am

Keep grasping at those last desperate straws, Pat.

#3 Comment By Leo H On March 13, 2015 @ 3:33 am

Yes, Selvar, you’re probably wrong because the second “type” of society actually has population growth and the first “type” of society commits suicide. Your faith and hope is, alas, useless. No value judgement, here, just the facts.

#4 Comment By Selvar On March 13, 2015 @ 3:54 pm

@Leo H

Is a birth rate of above 2.1 really impossible for the first type of society to achieve? Maybe it is, but I am not ready to give up hope just yet. There is evidence that birth rates begin to rise again after a certain point of economic development.


In any case, I am glad to have the opportunity to live out my life in the first type of society. In the long run, after all, we are all dead.

#5 Comment By hooly On March 13, 2015 @ 4:23 pm


That ‘Old Europe’ may come back to haunt the world again. The euro will implode soon and the EU itself will go. The last time Europeans put their faith in nation, culture, blood & soil, they gave the world not one, but two, World Wars, and before that, the Napoleonic and Thirty Years Wars, etc, etc … so let’s hope this dark past doesn’t come back and bite the present in the ass, because next time Europeans go crazy again and start a World War, the rest of the world (namely America, China, Russia, India and Israel) will not be so patient with your so-called Christian Continent, … and let’s just say the population reduction measures that will have to be taken on Europe will make the present baby crisis look like a baby boom.

#6 Comment By Winston On March 14, 2015 @ 1:43 am

Europe cannot go to a past that does not exist in present. Problem with Europe is that they need to become a melting pot. As America has demonstrated, this takes time. Remember how Chinese were treated in past? How things have changed today!

Also while the anti-immigrant parties sound Islamophobic their main beef is against African immigrants and Eastern Europeans! Leader should have told people that when they expanded EU, migrants would come from there!

#7 Comment By Leo H On March 15, 2015 @ 8:47 am

Well,Selvar, the evidence is pretty clear that even the people having children in the first type of society are devout Muslims, Christians, etc. So the birth rate in Britain, for example, is transforming Britain. So, no, the second type of society you describe has never survived and will never survive. Your decision to prefer the second society is fine and ,yes, you will die and leave no legacy. Hooly, I have no idea what you are talking about. China , India and Israel have never been at war in Europe. They have enough enemies around themselves. The potential Europe described by Pat is an open ally of Russia! So it’s America that’s going to fight to keep Europe decadent> Doubt it.

#8 Comment By The Anti-Gnostic On March 15, 2015 @ 1:04 pm


The next European wars will be civil, and there’s a good chance they’ll end with Muslims commandeering leaky boats headed in the other direction. Hopefully we have the good sense to stay out of it, unless you’re prepared to see the US’s Glorious Democrat Rainbow Warrior Army bases under siege from French, German and Italian partisans.

#9 Comment By Christian Schmemann On March 16, 2015 @ 9:46 am

Mr. Buchanan,

At some level, most of us are reading tea leaves. But, there is a case to be made that Christianity is in the beginnings of a comeback in western Europe, even in France of all places.

The secular capitalist ideology, lack of transcendence that comes from rejection of religion, utter incompetence of secular governance, and the rise of ISIS are posing challenges to secularism that it is not equipped to handle.

I very much think that there will soon be a return to Catholicism and Lutheranism in western Europe (probably with a good dose of Eastern Orthodoxy). And Americans will be stunned to see that civil rights will continue to be respected, which will only serve to expose the moral decay and spiritual decadence of American Fundie Protestantism.


#10 Comment By Delirium On March 16, 2015 @ 2:23 pm

In the future lies a disconnected mass of consumers locked in the padded room of individualism by the protectors of Everybody’s Liberties(tm).
There is no way back to values, because they forgot how those look like.

#11 Comment By Selvar On March 16, 2015 @ 10:31 pm

@Leo H

I think demographics and birth rates are very important factors when analyzing the future of a nation, but I don’t buy into the “demography is destiny” claim. The argument goes that, If liberals, by their very nature, have below replacement rate birthrates, and traditionalists, by their very nature, have above replacement rate birth rates, than traditionalists will eventually beat out liberals.

The problem with this dynamic, as I see it, is that we have had hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution, and yet liberals are still around. So either the traits associated with traditionalism (religiosity etc…) just aren’t very heritable, or liberals have found some way to keep themselves in the gene pool, despite their depressed birth rates.

Furthermore, your claim that a liberal society cannot survive assumes that all groups wield equal influence over social institutions. If liberals are fewer in number, but have an easier time projecting cultural, political, and economic power, than a liberal society can survive. If anything, traditionalists are simply enabling the liberal society, by keeping it demographically afloat, while failing to gain any real power for themselves.

On the other hand, the New Atheist claim that religion will eventually disappear as humanity advances is laughable in the face of demographic reality.

I honestly don’t know what the future of the West holds. There are allot of angles to all of this.

#12 Comment By Jeremy On March 17, 2015 @ 12:40 pm

Is Mr. Buchanan aware that Catholics are being persecuted in the Donetsk People’s Republic?

#13 Comment By EJ On September 8, 2015 @ 8:40 am

@ Selvar
There’s a problem with your argument. You assume that liberals back then are similar to liberals today but the thing is that liberals 500 years ago obviously weren’t as anti-child as liberals today. Martin Luther for example could be considered a liberal for challenging the Catholic Church (although I don’t regard him as one) but it should be noted that Luther condemned contraception, something that many liberals today worship as if it was something sacred. Luther and his wife, Katharina von Bora, had 6 kids.
Now, the reason why traditionalists will win demographically has a lot to do with time. Back then, whether you were a liberal or a traditionalist, you still had lots of children simply because you needed children to take care of you in your old age as well as to help the family out. Not so much today and that’s what gives traditionalists today the advantage. Even if they have the money to retire comfortably, traditionalists today have children not because of practical incentives but because they believe children are a blessing to God or something of that sort.
It should also be noted that the widespread availability of contraception has made it possible to for liberals to pursue their “childfree” lifestyles.
Lastly, regarding your comment about how traditionalists fail to gain power because liberals control society better is also problematic since traditionalists have actually gained power as a result of demography. It should be noted that Israel was founded by secular Zionists, that Turkey’s founder was a secularist who instituted a secularism similar to that of the French and that the Christian fundamentalism in the US was a tiny minority. Today, Orthodox Jews are considered as kingmakers in Israeli politics, an Islamist is president of Turkey and the Christian conservatives in America have increased their influence on the Republican party. Even in “secular” Europe, traditionalists are finally becoming more assertive. The increasing influence of right-wing parties in the politics of their countries show this. It is my belief that, in time, conservative politicians and parties will start rallying the traditionalist vote by challenging socially liberal policies like abortion. I have never believed in the notion that Europe became secular and liberal. I believe the traditionalists simply stayed silent. Even the rise of the Christian film genre shows that people are starting to make films in response to the liberal nature of films and TV shows. All this shows that traditionalists are increasing their power slowly but surely.

#14 Comment By Stefan patejak On November 30, 2017 @ 7:36 pm

Between 1914 and 1945 Europe destroyed itself in two disastrous wars, accompanied by a decline into barbarism. (And do not blame it all on the Germans. Both sides used poison gas in World War I and both bombed civilians in World War II. Anyway, the Germans are as European as anybody else.) That is as much a part of European history as the renaissance. They grew out of previous European culture. 1914 was largely the work of conservative aristocrats, using nationalism to whip up the masses. Christianity did nothing to stop or ameliorate it. Science actually made it worse. Where is this renewed confidence supposed to come from? You might as well try rebuilding the Habsburg empire.