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. Copyright 2015 Creators.com.