I came across this interview
with reporter Oriana Fallaci
), in which she assails Europe's slow demise. This demise has less to do with the religion of Islam as it does Europe's own cultural amnesia. The simple fact that Christianity was denied reference
in the now rejected
EU constitution (while a general statement on its history was made) is proof alone of Europe's refusal to acknowledge what made it great. While you can read the entire interview above, there are a few quotes worth special attention:
Ms. Fallaci speaks in a passionate growl: "Europe is no longer Europe, it
is 'Eurabia,' a colony of Islam, where the Islamic invasion does not proceed
only in a physical sense, but also in a mental and cultural sense. Servility to
the invaders has poisoned democracy, with obvious consequences for the freedom of thought, and for the concept itself of liberty."
Europe is most definitely not Europe anymore. I will not go as far as Ms. Fallaci to blame Islam alone for the demise of Europe. Europeans are to blame for Europe's transformation, mainly by their own indifference towards Europe's cultural destruction. While minorities who happen to be conservatives are considered "self-loathing" in the U.S., Europeans in general truly embody "self-loathing".
The impending Fall of the West, as she sees it, now torments Ms. Fallaci. And
as much as that Fall, what torments her is the blithe way in which the West is
marching toward its precipice of choice. "Look at the school system of the West
today. Students do not know history! They don't, for Christ's sake. They don't
know who Churchill was! In Italy, they don't even know who Cavour was!"--a
reference to Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the conservative father, with the
radical Garibaldi, of Modern Italy. Ms. Fallaci, rarely reverent, pauses here to
reflect on the man, and on the question of where all the conservatives have gone
in Europe. "In the beginning, I was dismayed, and I asked, how is it possible
that we do not have Cavour . . . just one Cavour, uno? He was a
revolutionary, and yes, he was not of the left. Italy needs a Cavour--Europe
needs a Cavour."
Part of the problem in Europe is the success of cultural nihilism. In my opinion, nihilism breeds a lust for comfort... a life devoid of struggle. But is it not the inevitable struggle between right and wrong that is vital to any civilization's survival?
I argue that nihilism also leads to the diminishing of great men. To be great, one must struggle. However, great men have saved Europe time and time again. Churchill, one of the world's greatest statesmen and leaders, saved Britain and is partially the reason for the Allies eventual toppling of fascism. Those who rise up to defend what is right and fight what is wrong cannot simply yearn for comfort. If all Europe wants is comfort, who shall be the protectorate of their comfort? Europe cannot resist those who reject the European value system. Today Europeans appear to be unwilling to struggle with any new threat. A life of comfort, by its very definition, exempts struggle.
"You cannot survive if you do not know the past. We know why all the other
civilizations have collapsed--from an excess of welfare, of richness, and from
lack of morality, of spirituality." (She uses "welfare" here in the sense of
well-being, so she is talking, really, of decadence.) "The moment you give up
your principles, and your values . . . the moment you laugh at those
principles, and those values, you are dead, your culture is dead, your
civilization is dead. Period."
The values of the West (in particular, the values that have made it superior to all of the civilizations before it) are worth defending. While Ms. Fallaci is very critical of Islam (and with good reason in some respects), the West must clearly understand what it is defending.
The greatest threat to the West that I can see is nihilism. That is its own self-destruction. The West (and particulary Europe) no longer believes in anything... therefore all is embraced and not judged based upon merit. Islamic radicalism is merely feeding on Europe's own indifference; and indifference can be seen as Europe's new philsophical outlook. The problem of indiffernce can be seen throughout history: Europe's collective indifference towards Nazism led to a devastating war. Now again, indifference is leading to Europe's cultural and economic decline.
I do not totally agree with Ms. Fallaci. My take on her is the same as Friedrich Nietzsche: correct diagnosis and observation, but incorrect cure. Europe must awaken out of its cultural coma. It is very similar to what I believe is America's amnesia in defining freedom. Europe cannot truly define what makes it great. One can only mutter "freedom" so many times before the obvious response is "how?" Since this is the case, where is the rush to defend European freedom? Certainly there are no Churchills (although Tony Blair gets pretty close) who can define why certain values must be defended. Europeans instead rationalize terror: "One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist." Excuses are made for those who would deny basic rights to women and support the abridgement of speech and thought. Somehow, it is the fault of the "imperialists" and their values that have made so many mad at the West. There is no reflection as to why European values are hated by Islamic radicals. The values of the West are worth defending. The problem facing Europe is that no one is willing to defend them and call radical Islam what is is: wrong.
Europe's denial of objective values will further delay the destruction of radical Islam. I am not a fatalist... Europe will survive. It will survive in spite of the likes of Chirac and Schroeder. Once Europe reaffirms the general values that have made it full of political freedom, economic prosperity and cultural richness, it will defeat the very ideologies that wish to end individual liberty.
UPDATE: Reader AlanK comments that Tony Blair has given a speech about the state of the EU. I went ahead and read the entire speech and want to point out a few things. I truly admire Tony Blair's courage in battling international terroism. He has truly been a great statesmen (I'd go as far to say he'll be judged VERY favorably by our generational successors).
Blair mentioned three words that I was happy to read. He mentioned "values", "ideals" and "idealism" several times in his speech. All European leaders must reaffirm what they believe in and give them a sound footing. Only then can they be successfully defended. The problem is, many Europeans still deny there is objective truth and agree with the statement "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." The words listed above have little meaning if they are to be interpreted on a person by person basis.
Also, I do not believe the EU Constitution as written (pdf link) is really a constitution. It appears to be an attempt to enumerate as many rights and privileges to the various groups within Europe as possible. The problem with that was seen by the US Founding Fathers; it is impossible to enumerate all of man's rights. That is why the ratified US Constitution was left without the Bill of Rights but when added, James Madison included the Tenth Amendment. I might add that I disagree with many conservatives' ire over the created "right to privacy." It may not be enumerated, but simply because it is not written does not mean it is not a right to be enjoyed by women. The goal of a national (or in the case of Europe, multinational) constitution should be to specifically lay out what the powers of the EU are, then give the remaining powers to the individual nations.