What kind of a “book review” passes no judgment on the author under review, in this case neoconservative Douglas Murray, while simultaneously, if surreptitiously, pointing out that the title and theme of his book, The Strange Death of Europe, are, well, unoriginal?
All Murray, an articulate Second Hander, has done is to elegantly restate the tragedy of inviting immigration and Islam into Europe while ignoring identity and civilization, themes our side (Old Rightists) has been pounding for decades. Our side doesn’t ponder wistfully, but attacks the culprits with verve and vim.
Yes, Murray is not happy. He’s gone all wistful about Europe’s demise through immigration. I remember writing, in 2005, about the response of American neoconservatives to Muslim riots in France. They (Frederick Kempe, Francis Fukuyama, Jonah Goldberg) gloated. Their Schadenfreude was tinged with a sense of American exceptionalism. Riots are not happening in the US because we’re superior, they crowed. Krauthammer, Mark Steyn: that was their position. Other than making babies at home and total war abroad, Steyn had refused at the time to propose an immigration ban. My point: Neocons are seldom on the vanguard of conservative thought. Yet, after marginalizing those who are, onto the scene they prance, managing to appear cleverer and more seductive than everyone. How do they get away with this?
As to colonialism: Murray, it appears, has been unable to come up with a better explanation for the “suicide of the West” than the hackneyed guilt over it!
In Into the Cannibal’s Pot, published in 2011, I presented a chapter on Africa BC (Before Colonialism) and After, citing the great Sir P. T. Bauer at length. The book, written 6 years ago, was unequivocal: Condemn or condone it, before colonialism there was nothing in Africa.
George Dangerfield’s The Strange Death of Liberal England was published in 1935. It is an exceptionally well-written book and became a cult classic, its haunting title suggesting a mysterious crime, as in a thriller. Dangerfield’s theme was the decay of the civilization created by the British Liberal movement in the years that led up to 1914. Douglas Murray’s book is consciously indebted to its antecedent, and makes a ferociously well-argued case that Europe is now engaged on a parallel course: “Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide. Whether the European people choose to go along with this is, naturally, another matter.”
That challenging exordium states the theme, which Murray pursues with unrelenting tenacity and wide grasp of fact. The mass movement of peoples into Europe coincided with a loss of faith in Europe’s own beliefs, traditions, and legitimacy: “Europe is now deeply weighed down with guilt for its past.” This is a fairly recent development. Half a century ago, “colonial guilt” was not current; it is now widely accepted through sheer repetition as historical and psychological truth. And yet most adults at that time had no idea of this supposed burden of guilt. Most people reckoned that the British Empire, barring a few grubby episodes, was on the whole a good thing. And it extended the civilization of Europe. When in 1969 Kenneth Clark was commissioned by the BBC to write and present a TV series, he called it Civilization. He meant European civilization, with a few nods toward oriental buildings. There was some sniping from the left, but the TV series, with its accompanying book, was enormously successful. There was a precedent in The Rise of Christian Europe (1964), a series of lectures delivered to the University of Sussex by Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of History at Oxford University. Trevor-Roper did not believe in African history; “there is only the history of the Europeans in Africa.” To turn in that direction
‘we may neglect our own history and amuse ourselves with the unrewarding gyrations of barbarous tribes in picturesque but irrelevant corners of the globe: tribes whose chief function in history, in my opinion, is to show to the present an image of the past from which, by history, it has escaped.’
They’d hang him for that today.
Such was the tottering establishment opinion of the era. “While the likelihood of cultural erosion remains irresistible,” says Murray, “the options for cultural defence continue to be unacceptable.” The rise of “colonial guilt” fed the idea of Europe as a unitary state, with its own structures of rights, laws, and institutions that superseded the nationalisms that divided Europe. The European Union was conceived, born, and grew into sickly manhood. Its hallmark was a borderless Europe, with no internal frontiers—and not much of an external one.
And to that Europe the migrants came—legally, to begin with, and then in vast numbers with no pretense of legality. In Britain, Enoch Powell first raised the problem of absorbing the numbers. He was at once reviled as a racist, and dismissed by Edward Heath from the Cabinet. In fact Powell was never a racist. (In India he learned Urdu to interpreter level, and was well regarded by his Indian constituents in Wolverhampton.) He was a nationalist, for whom England was the supreme value. His “Rivers of Blood” speech made discussion of immigration impossible for many years. But he had understood the problems of integration; and the later spilling of blood in the capital went far toward his posthumous rehabilitation. Not that there has been any sign of this in official pronouncements.
Murray’s central theme is the ever-widening chasm between government policy and the views of the population at large. In the early postwar years European governments simply imported workers; they needed them, especially Germany. Later on immigration took a sharply ideological turn. When Tony Blair allowed free entry to the U.K. for the eight new accession countries in 2004, the government announced that it expected 13,000 people per year to take advantage of the scheme. This was plainly ridiculous. Britain was an extremely attractive haven to the Eastern European countries, all much poorer, and their numbers resident in Britain soared from 170,000 in 2004 to 1.24 million in 2013. But this was a deliberate policy of societal transformation imposed on the nation, “a culture war being waged against the British people using immigrants as some kind of battering ram.”
There were excuses. Governments believed, or affected to believe, that the Gastarbeiter would return to their home countries. They did not. They brought in their families, old and young, and put down roots. So politicians began to talk of “controlling immigration,” with no feasible means of achieving this; such talk became merely “an electoral trick.” The next recourse was that of the Conservative mayor of London (probably the last of that party), Boris Johnson. In a column for the Daily Telegraph titled “Let’s not dwell on immigration but sow the seeds of integration,” Johnson wrote, “We need to stop moaning about the damburst. It’s happened. There is nothing we can do now except make the process of absorption as eupeptic as possible.” After half a century of failed eupeptic endeavor, for which governments were solely responsible, it takes some chutzpah to chide the citizenry for not trying harder. It is one thing to believe that some immigration is beneficial to the host country. It does not follow that the more immigration, the better. But this was the default position of the liberal media and those who appeared on TV. Those holding different views did not appear on TV.
The cultural downside of mass immigration became evident in the new century, and following the 2011 census. An Old Bailey trial found nine Muslim men—seven of Pakistani origin, two from North Africa—guilty of the sex trafficking of children between the ages of 11 and 13. One girl of 11 was branded with the initial of her “owner,” M for Mohammed. High-profile cases with the same import came out of Rotherham and other northern centers. In Rochdale 1,400 cases of sexual abuse were traced; they were sacrificed on the altar of multiculturalism. The authorities took no serious action, and the media reported these events with studied euphemisms, such as “Asian men” instead of “Pakistani” or “Muslim.” The official view promoted talk of a “melting pot” (a term that never applied to Britain) and hid the implications of population growth. The number of migrants continues to soar well above the official figures. Although net migration figures for recent years are far in excess of 300,000, “the number of new National Insurance numbers issued each year (because they are required for work) has been more than double that.” Immigration and rising birthrates among immigrants account for almost all the population growth, which ensures that the demographic makeup of the U.K. will change significantly within the lifespan of most readers of this book. Murray concludes this somber chapter: “the voices almost everybody wanted to demonise and dismiss were in the final analysis the voices whose predictions were nearest to being right.”
Murray demolishes the economic case for high rates of immigration in a devastating chapter, “The Excuses We Told Ourselves.” The basis of the welfare state is that people are able to take services out of the system because they have paid into it through their working lives. But new migrants who have contributed nothing make immediate demands on healthcare, schools, and housing. A study by University College London found that from 1995 to 2011 the potential cost of immigration to Britain was £159 billion. “The reality is that whatever its other benefits, the economic benefits of immigration accrue almost solely to the migrant.”
Then there is the problem of aging. In order to maintain a numerically stable population, a developed country needs a fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman. Across Europe in recent years that rate has fallen below replacement level, partly for economic reasons. The costs of bringing up a child and providing for a decent education for him are well known, and frankly dismaying. The aged, their numbers ever-growing, need care, which can come from migrant workers. But those same migrants will themselves grow old. The “diversity” argument holds that they bring new cultures and attitudes—“and of course the endlessly cited example of new and exciting cuisine.” Their social and political views, however, may be startlingly different from those of the host country.
The travails of Continental Europe are extensively visited here. They are not shared by the Visegrad group (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic), which, being Christian, refuses to have anything to do with Angela Merkel’s policy of a quota system for largely Muslim immigrants. Their line is “You broke it, you own it.” Murray has been to Lampedusa, an offshore island that serves as a gateway to the Continent: “Once onto Lampedusa you are into Italy, and once into Italy you are into Europe.” The migrants are passed on, making their way to France, where virtually nobody is a first arrival—the Atlantic crossing to Bordeaux holds no charms for them—and congregate near a Channel port where the great prize is entry to El Dorado, Britain. In several excruciating chapters, Murray details the hellish consequences of people-trafficking and the refusal of the authorities to face up to the problem.
Merkel continued to assert the moral aspect of multiculturalism: “it suddenly seemed as though some of the absolute bases of Western civilization were being offered up for negotiation.” What is now happening is that entire national populations fear “Le grand remplacement” (Renaud Camus’s term), described by a brilliant novelist-philosopher, Michel Houellebecq, whose dark novel Submission imagines a future in which France votes for a moderate Muslim party as the only means of keeping the National Front out of power.
Population displacement hides behind that thoroughly bogus concept of “net migration,” the figure at the forefront of the British government’s policy of reassuring its citizens that immigration is under control. If the numbers of leavers and newcomers are not far apart, then all seems to be in order. But suppose that in a given year half a million left the U.K., and another half a million entered the country: Net migration is nil. Would that be hailed as success? In that case, the interesting question is not simply arrivals, but leavers. For a pointer to the future, look at France. In 2016 an estimated 12,000 millionaires left France; 60,000 total, since 2000. Where did they go? Top of the list came Australia, an outpost of Europe with a superb climate, generous social arrangements, and freedom from the migration problems of Europe. Another thing: Australia and New Zealand have no inheritance tax. Wealth protects itself, and wealth is part of the future.
For the Europe left behind, the prospects are less alluring, as the states have to pay for the demands of their own citizens and of immigrants, most of whom are simply gatecrashers who cannot be repatriated or repudiated. Murray’s final two sentences read, “Prisoners of the past and of the present, for Europeans there seem finally to be no decent answers to the future. Which is how the fatal blow will finally land.” Dangerfield’s elegiac musings on The Strange Death of Liberal England come to mind as the author characterizes the aftermath of the Sarajevo killings. It is his equivalent to Sir Edward Grey’s “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” Dangerfield wrote,
‘Now the gracious, the terrible twilight absorbs, minute by minute, the low German coast, and seems, in the mind’s eye, to creep reluctantly westward . . . And now the half light fades away altogether, and on the splendour of Imperial England there falls, at last and forever, an inextinguishable dark.’
Change “England” to “Europe,” and Dangerfield’s conclusion is Murray’s.