Category Archives: Europe

Centripetal and centrifugal forces in doomed Europe

CONTINENTAL PARADOX

The centripetal forces, writes Dalrymple,

are those that would lead to the ever closer union proclaimed to be the purpose of the EU (eventual total union),

while the centrifugal forces are such as the following.

  • Flanders nationalists want independence from Belgium. The status and prestige of the French and Flemish languages created resentment: the Flanders aristocracy or haute bourgeoisie spoke French not Flemish; the educated Flemish speakers learnt French but the French-speakers did not learn Flemish. Many Flemings have neither forgotten nor forgiven that while Belgian army officers in the Great War were French-speaking, the Belgian infantrymen, the cannon-fodder, spoke Flemish and could neither understand the officers nor be understood by them. (Today the Flemings subsidise the Walloons.)
  • Scottish nationalists want independence from Britain. (Scotland receives subsidies from London.) Unlike the Irish, the Scots have little to complain of at the hands of the English, at least in the past two centuries. The Scots were among the greatest advocates and beneficiaries of the British Empire; and far from being an anti-imperialist movement, Scots nationalism is a consequence of the decline and fall of empire rather than a rejection of British imperialism.
  • Catalan nationalists want independence from Madrid. Catalonia is more prosperous than the rest of Spain, and its taxes subsidise other parts of the country. Catalans felt oppressed by the Franco regime.
  • Basque nationalists want independence from Spain.
  • In Wales within living memory, children could be punished for speaking Welsh on the playground. There were Welsh-speaking parents who did not want their children to grow up speaking Welsh (those of Dylan Thomas, for example) — they felt that speaking Welsh was not merely useless but harmful to the prospects of young Welshmen. The experience of being punished for speaking one’s native tongue in one’s native land is bound to create resentment. (Cardiff is a recipient of subsidies from London.)
  • Corsican nationalists recently won local elections. (Corsica receives subsidies from Paris.)
  • A northern Italian movement wants to disembarrass that prosperous part of the country of its perpetually impoverished south, which it must subsidise.
  • Many Bavarians want independence from Germany.

SEARCH FOR IDENTITY

Dalrymple points to factors in the rise of separatist movements.

  • People dislike their near-neighbours more than they dislike distant ones. Since hatred is by far the strongest political emotion, it is not surprising that people in search of an identity find it in distinguishing themselves, usually with dislike, from their nearest neighbours.
  • There is the search for identity in modern conditions, in which even in supposedly small countries, large cities make anonymity the normal daily experience of the majority. In such conditions nationalism, like tattooing and piercing, becomes a shortcut to personal identity.

MEGALOMANIA OF PETTY POTENTATES

Why are the separatist movements strongly pro-EU? (This appears strange in so far as the EU would destroy or replace national sovereignty.) Why are nationalist centrifugalists so eager to form an alliance with EU centripetalists, who wish to efface the very thing the nationalists claim to be seeking? Dalrymple examines three hypotheses.

  1. The nationalists might not be aware of the contradiction. Few of us are logical calculating machines who work out the full implications of our beliefs, let alone always act in our own best interests.
  2. Out of the frying-pan into the fire: nationalist dislike of immediate neighbours may loom so large that it overcomes thought.
  3. Leaders of the nationalist parties or separatist groups want there to be more places at the top table—vacancies that they would then fill. They might even rise to the dizzying heights of the former prime minister of Luxembourg, who has long bestridden the world, or Europe at any rate, like a colossus. This he could never have done without the existence of the EU. In other words, personal ambition and the megalomania of petty potentates.

EUROPE OF REGIONS

What should be the attitude of leaders of the EU towards the potential fracturing of the EU member states as they are at present constituted? Dalrymple explains.

In the short term, EU leaders have to pretend to support the current arrangements, because for the moment power is concentrated in the hands of the leaders of those member states. If the power in Madrid or London begins, however, to seep away, the path to a Europe not of the nations but of ‘the regions’ is cleared.

The cards Putin holds

One form of hubris, says Dalrymple,

is the belief that the need for vigilance has been abolished because everyone now has the same worldview as ourselves, that the end of history has come, and we are it.

Vladimir Putin, Dalrymple notes, has these things on his side:

  • military power
  • his increasing control of the media and over public opinion in Russia
  • the appeal of his policy to nationalist passion (which, apart from ethnic hatred, is probably the strongest political passion)
  • the weakness of his European opponents

The European débâcle

Waarom Dalrymple meewerkt aan SCEPTR

The continent’s problems, says Dalrymple, are

largely the result of intellectual error, and frequently of dishonesty as well.

This is combined, he points out, with

a totalitarian impulse to suppress free discussion. Many subjects cannot be freely discussed, with the result that the only way of expressing disagreement with the prevailing orthodoxies and pieties is by an inchoate and destructive rage.

But let us control our rage and instead attempt to overcome political correctness

using the tools of rationality.

The many hang-ups of Moslems in the West

Some observers, Dalrymple notes, see Islamisation

as the most fundamental threat to the continuation of Europe as a civilisation.

These people assume that Europe

does nothing to change the Moslems themselves, and that their religious affiliation is of such overwhelming importance to them that nothing else goes into forming and maintaining their identity.

Dalrymple believes this is too crude a view. Rather, he says,

it seems to me likely that Islamism in Europe is a reaction to cultural dislocation caused by the very power of the dislocating attractions (many of which seem to me to be, in truth, sub specie æternitatis, not very attractive) that Moslem youth experience merely by living in Europe.

The factors the West faces, and which it declines to tackle in any meaningful way, are listed by Dalrymple as follows:

  • a highly secularised Moslem population whose men nevertheless wish to maintain their dominance over women and need a justification for doing so
  • the hurtful experience of disdain or rejection from the surrounding society
  • the bitter disappointment of a frustrated materialism and a seemingly perpetual inferior status in the economic hierarchy
  • the extreme insufficiency and unattractiveness of modern popular culture that is without value
  • the readiness to hand of an ideological and religious solution that is flattering to self-esteem and allegedly all-sufficient, and yet in unavoidable conflict with a large element of each individual’s identity
  • an oscillation between feelings of inferiority and superiority, between humiliation about that which is Western and that which is non-Western in the self
  • the grotesque inflation of the importance of personal existential problems that is typical of modern individualism

Europeans fear for the future

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-23-19-21The people of Europe, says Dalrymple (from 30:19),

are not just nostalgic — they’re worried about the future.

They see themselves

as being part of a vast experiment.

Experiments

have been tried on the population — experiments over which they have not been consulted.

For instance, Angela Merkel’s acceptance of a million refugees:

She didn’t consult any German people.

The totalitarian impulse

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-20-56-23Dalrymple points out that Europe’s problems are associated with

intellectual error and dishonesty — combined with a totalitarian impulse to suppress discussion.

Many subjects cannot freely be broached, with the result that

the only way of expressing disagreement with the prevailing orthodoxies and pieties is by an inchoate and destructive rage.

The dilapidated West

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-08-14-36Dalrymple points out that with the economic centre of gravity having shifted to Asia,

North America does not seem able to assure its population of an increasing standard of living, and Europe is sluggish.

Paris, for instance, is

tired. One feels it is in a time warp of the trente glorieuses, during which it modernised with the help of a concrete-based infrastructure that looks past its best. France has an almost communist air of dilapidation; this is a society that has to run very hard just to stay where it is.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-08-19-27screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-08-29-56screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-08-31-28

Europe’s decay into irrelevance

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 22.35.21The auguries for Europe are not good, writes Dalrymple,

not only because of the political immobilism that elaborate systems of social security have caused in most European countries, but because of the European multinational entity that is being created against the wishes of the peoples of Europe.

The European Union serves several purposes, none of which have much to do with the challenges facing the continent. It

  • helps Germans to forget that they are Germans, and gives them another identity rather more pleasing in their estimation
  • allows the French to forget that they are a medium-sized nation, one among many, and gives them the illusion of power and importance
  • acts as a giant pension fund for politicians who are no longer willing or able successfully to compete in the rough-and-tumble of electoral politics, and enables them to hang on to influence and power long after they have been rejected at the polls
  • acts as a fortress against the winds of competition that are blowing from all over the world and that are deeply unsettling to people who desire security above all else

We’re doomed

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 08.32.34The 20th century, writes Dalrymple, was Europe’s

melancholy, long withdrawing roar, and just as Great Britain would not long be suffered to be the workshop of the world, so the world did not long suffer the continent of Europe to dominate it, economically, culturally and intellectually. Europe’s loss of power, influence and importance continues; and however much one’s material circumstances may have improved, it is always unpleasant, and creates a sense of existential unease, to live in a country perpetually in decline, even if that decline is relative.

Combined with this, he points out, is the fact that most European populations

experience a feeling of impotence in the face of their immovable political élites. This feeling is not because of any lack of intelligence or astuteness on the part of the populations: if you wanted to know why there was so much youth unemployment in France, you would not ask the prime minister but the more honest and clear-headed village plumber or carpenter, who would give you many precise and convincing reasons why no employer in his right mind would readily take on a new and previously untried young employee. Indeed, it would take a certain kind of intelligence, available only to those who have undergone a lot of formal education, not to be able to work it out.

The motor of Europe’s decline, says Dalrymple, is

its obsession with social security, which has created rigid social and economic systems that are resistant to change.

An open economy

holds out more threat to Europeans than promise: they believe that the outside world will bring them not trade and wealth, but unemployment and a loss of comfort. They are inclined to retire into their shell and succumb to protectionist temptation, internally with regard to the job market and externally with regard to other nations. The more those other nations advance, the more necessary does protection seem to them.

The State

is either granted or arrogates to itself ever greater powers. A bureaucratic monster is created that is not only uneconomic but anti-economic and that can be reformed only at the cost of social unrest that politicians wish to avoid. Inertia intermittently punctuated by explosion is the outcome.

Dalrymple notes that the British government

has increased public expenditure enormously, such that the British tax burden exceeds that of Germany, which is a heavily taxed economy. The ostensible purpose has been to improve public services while serving the cause of social justice, a rhetoric that the public has hitherto believed; the hidden purpose has been to create administrative jobs on an unprecedented scale, whose function consists of obstruction of other people as they try to create wealth, and to bring into being a clientèle dependent upon government largesse (half the British population is in receipt of government subventions as part or the whole of their incomes) and results in an ‘keep a-hold of nurse for fear of something worse’ psychology.

The dependent population

does not like the state and its agents, indeed they hate them, but they come to fear the elimination of their good offices more. They are like drug addicts who know that the drug that they take is not good for them, and hate the drug dealer, but cannot face the supposed pains of withdrawal.

In the name of social justice,

personal and sectional interest has become all-powerful, paralysing attempts to maximise collective endeavour. The goal of everyone is to parasitise everyone else, or to struggle for as large a slice of the cake as possible. No one worries about the size of the cake. Après nous le déluge has become the watchword of the population.

It hardly needs pointing out that

the rest of an increasingly competitive and globalised world is not going to be sensitive to the same concerns as European governments.

The miserabilist view of the European past,

in which achievement is disregarded in favour of massacre, oppression and injustice, deprives the population of any sense of pride or tradition to which it might contribute or which might be worth preserving. This loss of cultural confidence is important at a time of mass immigration from very alien cultures, an immigration that can be successfully negotiated (as it has been in the past, or in the USA up to the era of multiculturalism) only if the host nations believe themselves to be the bearers of cultures into which immigrants wish, or ought to wish, to integrate, assimilate, and make their own.

In the absence of any such belief,

the only way in which people inhabiting a country will have anything in common is geographical; and civil conflict is the method in which they will resolve their very different and entrenched conceptions about the way life should be lived. This is particularly true when immigrants believe they are in possession of a supposedly unique and universal truth, such as Islam. And if the host nation is so lacking in cultural confidence that it does not even make familiarity with the national language a condition of citizenship, it is hardly surprising that integration does not proceed.

The problem is multiplied when a rigid labour market

creates large castes of people who are unemployed and might well remain so for the whole of their adult lives. The bitterness caused by economic uselessness is multiplied by the bitterness of cultural separation. In the case of Islam this is dangerous, because the mixture of an awareness of inferiority on the one hand, and superiority on the other, is a combustible one. Latin Americans have felt it towards the USA, Russians towards Western Europe, Chinese and Japanese towards Europe and America.

The auguries are not good,

not only because of the political immobilism that elaborate systems of social security have caused in most European countries, but because of the European multinational entity that is being created against the wishes of the peoples of Europe.

The European Union serves several purposes, none of which have much to do with the challenges facing the continent. It

  • helps Germans to forget that they are Germans, and gives them another identity rather more pleasing in their estimation
  • allows the French to forget that they are a medium-sized nation, one among many, and gives them the illusion of power and importance
  • acts as a giant pension fund for politicians who are no longer willing or able successfully to compete in the rough-and-tumble of electoral politics, and enables them to hang on to influence and power long after they have been rejected at the polls
  • acts as a fortress against the winds of competition that are blowing from all over the world and that are deeply unsettling to people who desire security above all else

La peine européenne forte et dure

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 08.53.20Dalrymple writes:

‘Europe’—in the Soviet-style usage of the word now so common—does not mean peace, but conflict, if not war. We are building in Europe not a United States but a Yugoslavia. We shall be lucky to escape violence when it breaks apart.

  • Europe is, so far, the consequence of peace, not its cause
  • multilateral agreements have always been possible without the erection of giant and corrupt bureaucratic apparatuses that weigh like a peine forte et dure on Western European economies
  • the maintenance of peace does not require or depend upon regulating the size of bananas sold
  • the notion that were it not for the European Union, there would be war, is inherently Germanophobic—no one believes, for instance, that Estonia would otherwise attack Slovenia, or Portugal Slovakia.

Take Belgium. The country is composed of two main national communities—the French-speaking Walloons and the Dutch-speaking Flemings.

The division between the two is sharper than at any previous time, to such an extent that the country recently had no government for more than 500 days. No one in Belgium explains, or even asks, why what has not proved possible for 189 years—full national integration of just two groups sharing so much historical experience and a tiny fragment of territory—should be achievable on a vastly larger scale with innumerable national groups, many of which have deeply ingrained and derogatory stereotypes of one another.

‘Europe’

lacks almost all political legitimacy, which will make it impossible to resolve real and growing differences.