Europe has shown itself unable or unwilling ‘to reproduce itself, fight for itself or even take its own side in an argument.’
As we approach death, it is not unusual for members of our solipsistic species to suspect that the world is similarly doomed. When Stefan Zweig executed a suicide pact with his wife in Brazil on February 23, 1942, the Viennese novelist had more reason than most for harboring this suspicion. After fleeing Nazi-dominated Europe where his books were being burnt, Zweig wrote the manuscript “Die Welt von Gestern” (The World of Yesterday) with confidence that the world of tomorrow would be dark. Europe’s destruction was not yet complete, but it had long since “passed its own death sentence.”
In “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam,” the British writer Douglas Murray opens his forensic inquiry on the impending suicide of the old continent by picking up where Zweig left off. Zweig never lived to see the death sentence carried out, but Murray fears that coming generations of Europeans will not be so lucky.
“The Strange Death of Europe” is a polemical but perceptive book culled from Murray’s extended sojourns across Europe’s frontiers — from the Italian island of Lampedusa, a flyspeck in the Mediterranean closer to the shores of North Africa than it is to Sicily, and to Greek islands that sit within sight of the Turkish coastline. These places have borne the brunt of the recent exodus from the Middle East and North Africa, but the author has also ventured to the remote suburbs of Scandinavia and Germany and France where many of these migrants end up. The resulting portrait is not a happy one.
To put it briefly, Europe faces two existential challenges. I use the term “existential” advisedly, not in the sense that Europe will somehow cease to exist but that it’s identity and ideology is being gravely, and perhaps irretrievably, disfigured. The first of these “concatenations,” to use Murray’s arresting term, is the mass movement of peoples into Europe, ensuring that “what had been Europe — the home of the European peoples — gradually became a home for the entire world.”
Read more: The Federalist
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