Thursday,18 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1352, (13 - 19 July 2017)
Thursday,18 April, 2019
Issue 1352, (13 - 19 July 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Is Europe really dying?

 Signs in St. Ann
Signs in St. Ann's Square in central Manchester, May 26, 2017. (Reuters photo)

A recently published book on the death of the European continent has engaged the minds of Europe, the West, the East, and perhaps the rest of the thinking world.

It is little wonder that in his address to the people of Poland President Donald Trump spoke proudly and fervently of preserving Western culture and fighting for survival. Undoubtedly he was moved when he listed the accomplishments of Western civilisation, (the matrix of what we now call America) “we wrote symphonies”, he cried at the top of his voice, thinking perhaps of Poland’s greatest composer Frederic Chopin. 

No doubt that this 1,000-year old civilisation of Europe has brought us the world out of the stagnant gloom of the Dark Ages and the rise of the Renaissance revived classical knowledge and wisdom of the ancient world of Greece and Rome, who transported to the West the basics of the great civilisation of ancient Egypt which they ruled for 1,000 years, the Greeks for 300, the Romans for 700. From Egypt they took back the formulation and the very essence of a great civilisation.

With the fall of the Roman Empire a cloud of intellectual and cultural darkness enveloped Europe until the creative giant arose from a long slumber. The movement we know as the “Renaissance” or rebirth, started in Italy and before long exploded throughout the rest of Europe.

It was in art that the spirit of the Renaissance achieved its sharpest legacy. It gave us Leonardo da Vinci. It gave us Shakespeare.

Their achievements will never die no matter what author Douglas Murray says in his book The Strange Death of Europe, “Godless Europe is dying in front of our very eyes”. Murray believes that it is the refugees and migrants who present a serious moral danger to Europe’s survival: “…barbarian hordes welcomed by idiots who’d gladly trade in a few beheadings for some colourful ethnic restaurants”. Migranta are raping, terrorising and murdering Christians and Christianity through Islam. Bitter and racist to say the least, Mr Murray.

Immigration, identity and Islam are the reasons this continent is caught in an act of suicide.

Murray’s biggest complaint is that pubs in England are closing earlier and Europe is suffering from colonial guilt and will stand and fall “on its attitude to church building”.

Highly resenting the influx of Muslim refugees in Europe, another author Peter Townsend in his book Nothing to do with Islam contends that “the most depressing realities of modern life, is the regularity with which deadly attacks are carried out in the name of Islam”. He is right.

Many crimes are committed and the blame falls on Islam, but did we not do it to ourselves? We banished the Monstrous Brotherhood and their surrogates who have dragged their religion in the gutter. But it is not Islam.

If Europe is on its sick-bed, as some say, there are several reasons for this fallacy.

Following the Industrial Revolution, during the 18th and 19th centuries, new empires arose as Europe raced ahead of the rest of the world in terms of economic and military power. By 1800, Europe and its colonies covered just over half the land surface and by 1914 the proportion had increased to 85 per cent. Among the imperial powers such as Italy, France, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Russia, England was the strongest, which inspired the remark that “His Majesty’s dominions on which the sun never sets”. But after WWII, the British Empire collapsed. First it lost India which was regarded as “the strength and greatness of England”, and Britain lost its global domination, as colony after colony found its independence. By the end of the 20th century all that remained was a few isolated possessions. 

The baton was passed to the US, saviour of the victory of WWII.

While we admire and value Winston Churchill, building a United States of Europe was not his best idea. It has choked the economy of Britain as taxpayers had to pay hard-earned money to help collapsing economies such as Spain and Greece. Restricting laws from Brussels destroyed prosperous industries and its financial affairs was under siege by the bureaucracy in Brussels. Brexit was inevitable.

Struggling to regain its sickness, Europe is stubbornly ignoring the damage its declining birthrate is creating. According to the United Nations reports, Europe’s birthrate is negligible while Asia’s and Africa’s is on the rise. That is no formula for prosperity.

While a feeble Europe is dealing with a myriad problems, tired after centuries of wars, conflicts and revolutions it is depending on the US for protection as in NATO and trade for some economic adrenalin.

Is Western culture eroding? Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institute writes: “American primacy is eroding thanks to the shift in global finance from the West to the ‘rising rest’. Still the US will remain powerful as long as it adapts to a changing world.”

While China has achieved industrial and financial success, it can never overtake the intellectual and cultural influence this ancient continent of Europe has offered. English is the international language, we do still listen to the symphonies, revere Shakespeare, Beethoven, Chopin and da Vinci.

We have adopted Western manners, thrill to Western pop music, enjoy Western food and follow Western fashion.        

Trump is right to fight for the survival of Western culture.

The reports of its death are greatly exaggerated.

We heartily wish Europe a speedy recovery.

“Whoever speaks of ‘Europe’ is wrong. It is a geographical concept.”

 Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) 

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