“Europe” is dead. That is, the culture that was the mixture of Grecco-Roman, Germanic, and Christian cultures is dead. This is the culture that gave the world the ideas of freedom, liberty, and equality. It is dead, because it sowed the seeds of its own destruction with the Enlightenment. There are two sides to the Enlightenment – faith in the perfectibility of humankind (as seen in the writings of Montesquieu and Smith) and profound doubt in our perfectibility (as seen in the writings of Voltaire and Rousseau). For decades, the side of the Enlightenment that had faith in humanity looked like it had succeeded. Faith in the inevitability of human progress towards perfection successfully replaced Christian (and, to a lesser extent, Jewish) faith in God among most intellectuals. Thus, faith in one absolute goal had replaced another. There was something as equally unchanging about faith in human progress as there was about faith in an unchanging supreme being. Like most cultural assumptions, this faith in human progress trickled down from the educated bourgeoisie to the lower bourgeoisie, and, eventually, to the working class. Thus, once again, Europeans had a shared culture with freedom, liberty, and equality being assumed parts of human progress towards perfection.
But the First World War changed that. The slaughterhouse that was the war proved to most intellectuals that humans were definitely not progressing towards perfection. This was a fundamental break in Western Civilization. The people of 1919 have more in common with us than they did with the people of 1913. The few intellectuals (outside the Catholic Church) who still believed in the inevitability of human progress had to abandon that ideal after the next war with the unimaginable cataclysm of the Holocaust. As during the Enlightenment, the ideas of the intellectuals trickled down to the rest of society creating, once again, a common intellectual outlook. The result, today, is that fewer than 20 per cent of European Christians identify themselves as strongly religious. Thus, the two sources of faith, one religious and the other secular, were removed from European culture. As it turns out, faith is what supported “Europe.”
Without Christian or Jewish faith and without faith in the perfectibility of humans, what was left? People could have faith in governments or political parties, but those are not constant. People could have faith in themselves, but, since individuals grow and change over time, this too was not constant. People could believe in some form of Existentialism, but this ends up believing in nothingness or simply believing in oneself. Either way, this is not permanent.
It turns out then that what held “Europe” together was faith in something permanent or absolute; whether it was God or progress is immaterial. “Europe” is dying because it has lost faith.
Now, faith is not always the best idea. Unfortunately, one group still maintains faith. Radical Moslems (and the overwhelming majority of Moslems who tacitly accept their views) have an apocalyptic faith in the restoration of the Caliphate. One day, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East will be reunited in the empire created by the Prophet in the 7th century. In this Moslem utopia, there is no room for freedom, liberty, and equality. These are seen by Moslem intellectuals as a Western (read, “European”) disease that has led to immorality. Likewise, the Western concept of progress is seen by these men to be equally immoral.
Today, “Europe” has no answer to this assault on freedom, liberty, equality, and progress. Instead, with nothing to believe in themselves, with no faith, they are caving in to the faith of the Moslems. They have no response, because any positive response would be, in their minds, culturally insensitive. Everybody has a right to their views, because nobody is wrong (except those who hold to the outmoded ideas of the Enlightenment or the Judeo-Christian culture that has been the bedrock of “Europe”). Just how far today’s European intelligentsia has been willing to divorce themselves from their own past is seen in the monstrosity known as the EU Constitution. So as not to offend the Moslems and agnostics, the story of Europe contained in the Constitution deliberately and maliciously excluded Christianity as an influence on the creation of “Europe.” The Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent statements that Britain must make room for sharia law (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7237863.stm) that treats non-Muslims, dhimmi, as second-class citizens and women as chattel is just the latest, egregious example of cultural suicide. More disturbing, from my point of view, is the Dutch Catholic charity, Vastenaktie, calling Lent the “Christian Ramadan” in an effort to reach Dutch youth (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/02/12/wlent112.xml). This goes beyond relativism to degraded pandering. The best book on this suicidal tendency of cultural relativism in Europe is the book by Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within.
Thus, “Europe” is dead – a hopeless muddle of cultural and intellectual relativism. The radical Moslems and their legions of supporters will establish the Caliphate, because most Europeans have no faith to stop them. The Moslems have faith in the creation of their utopia and the Europeans are passively accepting it, because they have nothing worth fighting for. Culturally (and, for that matter, demographically) the Europeans are passively wasting away under this Moslem onslaught.
Why should we worry in the US? Like it or not, we are a European culture. America was founded by students of the Enlightenment. Indeed, the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution are the greatest achievements of Enlightenment thought and practice. Moreso than France in 1789, the US proved that the ideas of the Enlightenment were not simply theoretical, but could be put into practice. We should worry, because if we loose faith – in democracy, pluralism, equal rights, freedom -- “America” will die just as surely as “Europe” will die. When some groups are more equal than others, when some have freedom of speech and assembly and others don’t, when immigrants refuse to become assimilated, then the inevitable result is the Balkanization of the U.S. and the end of the idea of “America.”
We’re idiots if we don’t fight to keep the ideas and ideals that have made the US the living embodiment of the very best precepts of the Enlightenment.