Europe’s death wish

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 19.59.34A forensic examination by Dalrymple of Europeans and their sad, secret sickness. He probes the continent’s sclerosis and decline, its inability to confront the challenges facing it.

This atheist writes that the mandate of heaven has been withdrawn from Europeans, for whom God is dead. But

not quite everything has been lost of the religious attitude….Individuals still think of themselves as being of unique importance, but without the countervailing humility of considering themselves as having duty towards the author of their being….Far from inducing a more modest conception of man, the loss of religious belief has inflamed his self-importance.

There used to be Marxism, of course, which

might have been deficient as an explanation of the world, but for a time…gave people [such as Dalrymple’s father] the feeling that they were contributing to the dénouement of history, when all contradictions would be resolved, all desires fulfilled, and all human relations easy, spontaneous and loving. It was obvious nonsense, but not more obvious nonsense than the religious ideas of those whose religious ideas we do not share. And while Marxism was discredited for all but a few ageing faithful, the impulse transferred seamlessly to other causes: environmentalism, nationalism, animal rights, feminism.

But even these are minority pursuits. Most Europeans — above all national élites — are indifferent to most things of value, especially to their history and civilisation. What is left for them?

The present being all that counts, it remains to seek the good life, the enjoyable and comfortable life….So important is the standard of living that they see children not as inheritors of what they themselves inherited, but as obstructions to the enjoyment of life, a drain on resources.

The tragedy of Europe, which has become a collection of failing states, is this:

A healthy modern society must know how to remain the same as well as change, to conserve as well as to reform. Europe has changed without knowing how to conserve.

(2010)

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