Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is the European version of Western Civilization doomed?

A European asked whether I might have some underlying goal behind my note "When is it appropriate to Surrender?" ( He thought it might be a "surrogate" having to do with surrendering to Islamism. I'd hate to think any of my discussions were surrogates for anything. It follows the previous note "Salamis, and is Western Civilization worth Saving" ( ) which contrasts those who fought the Battle of Salamis with Europeans today who don't seem willing to fight for much of anything. The Battle of Salamis was written by Barry Straus (Professor of history and classics at Cornell) and subtitled "The Naval Encounter that Saved Greece -- and Western Civilization." There is good evidence that is exactly what happened. Our Western Civilization would not exist had Greece lost that battle to Persia. Did the Greeks know that is what they were fighting for? No, of course not, but it is valuable to examine what it is they were fighting for. Strauss mentions, among other things, "Democracy" and "Freedom," which are key ingredients in what we today term "Liberal Democracy." The contrast between that time when Western Civilization was saved and this when it is being eroded, is stark.

In a series of notes not so long ago I discussed the pacifistic and anarchic inroads that ultimately degraded France's ability to withstand Nazi Germany. It is all well and good to say that one should fight for one's beliefs, but what happens if one decides not to? Just as many Greek City states capitulated to Persia, so did much of France's population capitulate to Nazi Germany.

Europe has grown weak largely because of its experiences during World War II and the Cold War. Europe doesn't trust its largest nation, Germany, and Germany doesn't trust itself. "Stop me before I Kill again!" might be Germany's unspoken desire, and Europe has been trying to do that through its union, its monetary system, and its weakened military capability. And in this same vein does it surprise us that they have instituted multiculturalism in Europe? They invite other cultures into Europe and then don't insist that they integrate. This is the reality of what has been occurring in Europe. And part of that reality, I am suggesting, may be due to Europe's sense of guilt. They have caused the two most horrendous wars in World History -- maybe Western Civilization isn't worth saving.

No European is saying that it ought to be replaced by Islam or Islamism, but this is something like their attitude toward Christendom. They have abandoned Christianity and no that doesn't mean they want to embrace Islam, but a negative (having no religion at all) is not a good defense against the aggressive religion Islam. By the same token, if they have abandoned their faith in Western Civilization, as I believe they have, while that doesn't mean that they want to replace it with Islamism, they are not in a very good position to oppose the Islamists. They find themselves in regard to both religion and politics in a position of trying to oppose something (Islam and Islamism) with nothing.

This European also suggested that Ancient Greek thought was a product of multiculturalism, I think that would be a difficult argument to prove. Not so long ago I spent some time with Heidegger's concept of tradition. Heidegger wanted Germany to hark back to its traditions, but Europe doesn't want to hear that message today. It wants to abandon its traditions. It wants to "progress" not devolve back into tradition, and that seems to be in effect, especially when we view the threat of Islam and Islamism, tantamount to the abandonment of Western Civilization.

The Greeks harked back to their traditions when they opposed Persia. Were those traditions multicultural? I don't know that they were. Language, for example, evolves. Take English. Was the language of Chaucer from another culture or merely part of our Western tradition? I assume the latter. The Athenians and the others at Salamis harked back to their traditions. They evoked their beliefs and ideals and fought against a tyrannical empire and won.

That is very different from what is going on today in Europe. Apathy and anarchy have bit deep into Europe's soul and Europe may not have the will to withstand a younger more vibrant culture.

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