Thursday, September 19, 2019

Obsessing about Love

Today we examine two letters, both sent to New York Magazine’s advice columnist, Ask Polly. Both were written by fans of the column, both addressed the same topic, both were authored by women. In both cases the women are obsessed with love. Or better, they are obsessing over whether they are sufficiently lovable. So much for not depending on a man for anything....

If you don’t get it, think that it’s a girl thing. I am not even being facetious. Regardless of whether or not their boyfriends love them enough, these women are defining themselves as beings who live for love. Which identifies them as women… in perhaps the only terms that they are still allowed to use.

Since Polly’s advice, as always, is well worth ignoring I will focus on the letters. They provide us with a glimpse at the lives that young women are leading in America today. 
Both writers are suffering because they are not sure that their boyfriends love them. They would do better to allow daisy petals to decide the issue definitively, but, no, they are worried that they are not well enough loved. And they are even more worried about losing said boyfriends.

Beyond that sentimental indulgence, we know very little about the women in question. But, we will remark to them, because no one seems to care enough to mention it, that the issue is not how much he loves you. The issue is, does he want to marry you? He can love you to distraction and allow himself to be consumed by his adult version of an adolescent passion, but if he does not or cannot or will not marry you, why do you care about what he feels? Haven’t you learned by now that men are not run by their feelings?

Perhaps these thoroughly modern liberated women do not care about getting married. Or want so badly to be married that they cannot allow themselves to think it. But then, they should not bemoan a lack of commitment when they are not interested in having a committed relationship. Without a public ceremonial connection, they are putting their faith in sentiment. It is a bad idea to put your faith in sentiment.

But, if marriage is the issue, then social and economic factors enter the frame. Examine the first letter, written by a successful creative woman, who describes her boyfriend in terms that would apply well to a girlfriend. She does not depend on him for any material advantage, so she depends desperately on him for emotional sustenance.

She seems clearly to be more successful than he. He seems to be more empathetic, or should it be pathetic? She wants to know how much he loves her, but she more likely wants to convince herself that her grand success has not written her out of the marriage market. She does not say so, because she is not allowed, but feminism did not tell her that a very successful and prominent woman will have far more difficulty finding a suitable spouse. And now she is paying the price. 

She deals with it by making herself  as girly as she can, by showing herself to be consumed by the passions that would befit an adolescent girl. You might say that she is trying to get in touch with her inner teenage girl… and you would not be far off.

Here is the letter she wrote to Polly. See if you agree with  my analysis:

What an amazing piece I stumbled upon of yours! Game changer. Inspiring. I want to be the person you described. The hard part is, I am in so many ways. I have a full life. I have been very successful (as you can see if you Google my name) in my creative career. I have many friends and I work on myself constantly. I am very social and hard working. Despite all this, a man’s love seems to be all that truly matters to me.

I still can’t stop obsessing over whoever I’m in a relationship with. I have analyzed and known this about myself forever, but no matter what I try, I can’t seem to kick the need for reassurance that my boyfriend loves me.

Your article at least helped me this morning when I was stuck circling obsessive thoughts about my boyfriend and taking to Google again to try and relieve some of this madness.

My boyfriend is amazing and open and communicative and talks me through my fears and anxiety, but nothing seems like enough. He is the most secure person I’ve been with — unafraid of communication. He openly says he thinks we’re a good team and asks me what I need in the moments I’m sad.

I don’t know how to stop the cycling loop in my brain that thinks of him and wonders if he still loves me enough or if he’ll leave me soon. It’s always there, even when he talks me through my fears. God, I wish there was an answer.

Can’t Stop Obsessing About My Boyfriend

Imagine being involved with a woman who constantly displays her insecurity and vulnerability and who keeps begging to be treated like a woman. If she has to go to such lengths, we must conclude that said boyfriend is something of a deadbeat, leeching off of her until he finds a better meal ticket. If he is functionally insolvent or does not want to walk in her shadow, he is unlikely to marry her. 

For your edification, I will also share the letter that CSOAMB found so illuminating. It dates to several years ago. Again, the letter writer is a Polly fan… which might explain why she and CSOAMB are emotionally unstable and socially unmoored:

I really enjoy reading your letters because most often the core of your response is to love yourself, to let yourself sparkle, to be you — and for a short while after reading I feel this sense of excitement and joie de vivre where I think “YES! I am going to love myself. I will find my passion. I will be happy!” and it soon fades.

What I’m trying to figure out is how to truly want happiness and to love myself — because the way I see it now is similar to quitting smoking. I float around saying “I want to love myself, I really do, but —” and then find myself in the same sad state I’ve always been in.

A big part of it, I feel, is that instead of focusing on me, I’ve always put my focus and love on somebody else. From a very young age, I had crushes, and would focus on that person. What that person likes. What makes that person happy. What I can do for that person. How I can be attractive to that person. How I can make that person love me.
And as I grew older, that transferred into all my relationships. To the point where, right now, I am fully obsessed with my partner.

We’ve been dating for two years and I still spend nearly every moment of my day thinking about him. Wondering what he’s doing. Who is he talking to. What is he doing on social media. (I literally will check his Twitter and Instagram and Facebook almost a hundred times a day.) Wondering why he liked that girl’s post but he didn’t like my post. Wondering why he doesn’t send me heart emoji in our text conversations anymore. Wondering how the hell he has his life so put together and can focus on his career and bettering himself when all I can focus on is him.

I’ve tried a few methods of trying to take my focus off him and put it on me, including saying out loud “It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, what are YOU doing?” but it never seems to work.

It drives me mental for two reasons — (1) because I want to be a full, self-sufficient person who has a drive for life and has actual real-life passions, and (2) because I want to have a healthy relationship where I am not constantly grasping onto my partner wondering when/if he will let me go because I am holding too tight. (He doesn’t know how bad my obsession is, but I’m sure he can sense it as much as I pretend to be “cool.”)

What I’m trying to ask is — how do I actually make myself want to focus on me and love myself?


Who Am I Even?

Does this remind you of the old Woody Allen line about solo sex: sex with someone you love?

This letter writer, WAIE has bought a basic therapy culture mistake. Being who you are is meaningless. If you are indulge in such a quest you are going to sign up for endless therapy, because worrying about who you really, really are is a dead end. You will never be satisfied.

The truth is, you can never really know what another person feels about you. You can know the extent of his commitment. You can know whether or not your love has been socialized and domesticated. You can know whether your lives are in sync. You can know whether or not you share regular couples routines. You should care about the open signs of commitment. And you should pay attention to the way your friends and family see said individual. But, don’t trust your feelings… and better yet, never trust his feelings.

It’s not about your being. It’s about his and your good character. An individual who is not trustworthy, loyal or reliable can love you to the depths of his marrow… and it will never suffice. 

As for the therapy culture notion, promulgated by feminism, that a woman who loves herself will be eminently loveable to the perfect male being, one would imagine that after five decades of feminism, women would have learned better. Unfortunately, the therapy culture has turned this dumb idea into an article of faith. And women who bought it are suffering. 

It is a genuinely sad state of affairs. It’s another chapter in the tales of the emotionally overwrought. When you discard social institutions and codes of proper behavior, the only thing you have left is your feelings. Or your lust. You will be afloat in the ocean of emotion, watching your boat sail off into the distance, without a lift vest, without any good prospects or outcomes in sight. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Case of the Impulsive Friend

The situation is not complicated. It is not difficult to understand. Carolyn Hax is on the money this time. But, it is a sign of our times that people grant themselves the right to harass others in public, based on an appearance. In this case, a mistaken impression.

Here is the letter, from today’s column:

My friend "Kathy" is like a sister to me and would do anything for me. Her only problem is that she is really impulsive and has a bad temper.

Last weekend, my boyfriend of seven months, "Dan," went to dinner with a friend from law school who just so happens to be a woman. I didn't go because I knew they'd have more fun just the two of them, and his friend only had the one night before she had to fly out.

Kathy was in the same restaurant on a date and she saw Dan laughing and talking with a strange woman. Unfortunately, she didn't bother talking to him, just called him a cheating scumbag and dumped his water on his food. When she got home she texted me a picture of them together, and I immediately explained the situation to her and called Dan.

He wouldn't let me come over. He said the incident shook up his friend and ruined their night.

Dan now doesn't want anything to do with Kathy, but said he knows how close we are so he won't ask me to cut her off. He said he needs some time to think things over.

I haven't seen him since the incident. I'm devastated. I'm in love with Dan, which is why I think Kathy went off like she did. She texted him an apology. He won't accept it, but he also keeps telling me I have nothing to apologize for. How can I fix this so he doesn't break up with me?

— My Problem Now

I am sure that you understand that MPN has a problem. She chooses her friends poorly and defends them when their inexcusable behavior. Dan does not ask her to cut off her friend, because he apparently now knows enough about MPN to want her out of his life. Thinking it over means that it's over. It’s his prerogative. And there is nothing she can do. Short of completely breaking off all ties with Kathy. If she won’t do so, she has told us all we need to know about her own character.

Hax offers a slightly more conciliatory approach. 

Your friend needs help. Embarrassing herself, putting innocent people through an ugly scene and jeopardizing a relationship that’s precious to one of her closest friends?

That’s the kind of screw-up trifecta that can wake a person up to this fact. Apparently it wasn’t for Kathy.

So please recognize this as your responsibility in “fixing” this, your way to try to make Dan and his friend whole. He’ll get over this or he won’t, but either way you can square up and not give Kathy a pass. Not anymore. “What you did is not okay; it’s time to get help for your temper.”

Assuming she lets you, you can be at her side as she does.

We would want to know how many other times Kathy has embarrassed herself or her friend. Assuming that it has happened before, MPN has no obligation to stand by her friend while she undergoes whatever counseling might help her. Besides, why would Kathy take the counseling seriously if she is not paying a price for her appalling behavior. Too many people have been too understanding for too long. It’s time to draw a line and end the relationship with Kathy.

It's one thing to be impulsive and to have a bad temper. It's quite another to have a weak and bad character. Reducing Kathy's moral failing to a psycho issue solves nothing.

How to Lose Friends and Offend People

A woman writes to advice columnist and therapist Lori Gottlieb. She is in therapy and is also alone. Naturally, she does not tell us how old she is, where she lives, her family circumstances or her occupation. As always happens in these letters, we only know that she had defined her being in terms of being romantically unattached. Call it a first symptom, one that she probably owes to her largely incompetent therapist.

Her therapy has taught her that she must learn to accept being single. One does not know whether her therapist or therapists have told her that if she does not need a man then a man will magically appear at her doorstep, with roses and an engagement ring. We do not know whether she drank too much of the cultural Kool-Aid or whether her therapist offered her this piece of nonsense. 

Her second symptom elicited her letter. Being as she is alone and feels largely rejected by men, she does not want to hear about her friends’ relationship issues. Apparently, she is easily triggered. Every time she hears that a friend had a fight with her husband she immediately feels oh-so-sorry for herself, because she does not have a husband. The solution she lights upon, and that Gottlieb strangely endorses, is for her to tell her friends to stop sharing stories about their marriages, their relationships or their children.

I am not going to fault Gottlieb entirely, because she is answering the question as posed. As it happens, the question is a symptom. If you cannot share in the joys and sorrows and anguish your friends experience, you are not a very good friend. You are driving people away from you.

Worse yet, you are telling people to self-censor their remarks because you cannot deal with their happiness. Apparently, the letter writer believes that her current unattached state is the fault of her friends. And that she would feel much better about her condition if her friends did not discuss what mattered to them. 

I suspect, without having any more evidence, that she is more likely suffering for being left out of couples events. When her friends go out with their husbands they are less likely to invite a single friend, because odd numbers are odd. Thus, she is more likely worried about being excluded than about having her feelings hurt. Consider that an hypothesis.

She and her therapist think that the problem is other people, the good and bad things that are part of other peoples' lives. Dare I say that this is just the kind of lame advice you would expect from a therapist. If she thinks that she is feeling bad about being unattached because her friends talk about their relationships, she is seriously off the mark. She can shut them all up and drive them away and she will still feel like crap, because she will still be unattached. And she will have shown herself to be a lousy friend. She is worse than a lousy friend; she is an appallingly self-centered human being. I assume that she learned this habit, this need to control the minds of other people, from therapy. 

If you cannot take joy in the good things that happen to your friend, you are more an egomaniac than a friend. If you cannot commiserate with the bad things that happen to your friends, you are more a self-centered self-indulgent product of the therapy culture than a friend. If she wants to know why she is single, that is a good place to look

This woman should quit therapy and get out of her uniquely self-centered frame of reference. 

For your edification, here is the letter:

How do I tell my friends I really don't want to hear about the problems they are having in their relationships? It is really hard for me to listen to them complain about their spouses or significant others when I am fighting hard to accept being single.  

They assume that because things are going well in other aspects of my life, I am okay with my nonexistent romantic life, and therefore free to listen to them complain. I am not. It's the reason I have been in and out of therapy for the past few years—the inability to accept and deal with the fact that I am single, with no real prospects on the horizon.  

I want to be a good friend, but I just don't think I can hear another story about how he forgot to take out the trash or call right back so the marriage/relationship is over! When I tell them that I don't want to hear it, I truly mean it, but they assume I'm only kidding and keep talking. I have to take breaks from them just to get away before I explode and ruin friendships.

Please tell me what I should do.


Unfortunately, for this woman and for anyone who takes her advice seriously Gottlieb goes straight off the rails. She advises this woman to be open and honest with her plaints, to tell her friends that she does not want to hear about their lives and, moreover, that every time they shared with her they triggered negative emotions. She did not want to share their good and bad times; she felt assaulted. It is completely obvious, even to the untrained mind that this tactic will cause her to lose most of her friends… because she will be offending them.

Gottlieb sees it in terms of grief, incorrectly. This woman is not grieving the death of a loved one; she is complaining about lost possibilities. She is not in mourning. She feels ashamed of herself for having been rejected.

In Gottlieb’s words, in case you think that I was kidding: 

If your coupled friends understood your ambiguous grief—the intangible loss, the not knowing, the toggling between hope one minute and sadness the next—they might show more sensitivity by toning down their complaints and taking your request more seriously. So rather than taking breaks from them or biting your tongue during these conversations, you might find it beneficial to be more direct in sharing your experience with them.

She continues:

When you complain about your partner, it’s like telling me that your meal at a nice restaurant was disappointing at a time when I’m hungry and not sure there will ever be enough food for me.

Don’t treat my romantic concerns as either less significant than yours (because you’re in a relationship) or as fodder for your amusement.

 My dating stories may seem funny or entertaining to you, but they’re often quite upsetting to me, and I’m sharing them with you because I’m seeking your support.

You’re right that things are going well for me in other areas of my life, but please don’t assume that I’m not grieving the lack of a partner. Don’t deny my grief by telling me I should feel grateful for all that I have (I am) or perfectly fulfilled without a partner (I’m not). Try to imagine what it’s like to do things by myself that I thought I’d be doing with a spouse by now, from the big (buying a house) to the small (deciding where to go for the weekend). Don’t deny my grief by saying “I’m sure you’ll find someone,” because ambiguous grief is all about the ongoing uncertainty. The truth is, nobody knows when or whether I’ll find the right person, and when you offer false certainty, you further deny my reality.

Then, Gottlieb takes it back:

Of course, you don’t want your friends to avoid sharing their lives with you, or to feel like they’re constantly on the verge of causing you pain. But an awareness of how these complaints land on you will make your friends less tone-deaf, and that in turn will build your tolerance to hear what’s weighing on your friends (at least in small doses).  

In truth, her friends are going to stop sharing their lives with her. They might feel guilt for causing her pain, but more likely they will write her off as a chronic self-centered malcontent. It would be nice if the woman could learn to share her friends’ lives, but, in truth, the open and honest approach will quickly sabotage that, and make her more alone.

I will mention in passing that one of Gottlieb’s examples does have the ring of truth. If your friend is starving you will naturally not regale her with stories of your last banquet. The rules of good manners will preclude your making such a faux pas. You might invite her to lunch, point her to the nearest soup kitchen or help her to fill out the forms to get food stamps. In this day and age people do not need to starve. And, normally, when two people suffer such a gross income disparity they pull away from each other. They do not tell stories about great meals. It is normal behavior.

Considering how poorly the letter writer seems to have conducted her own relationships, she should listen carefully to her friends and go to school on their stories. If she can get over herself and shed the nonsense that therapy offered her, she might learn something from the experiences of other people, something she can use when she gets involved in her next relationship.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Is Western Civilization Drowning in Guilt?

His name may not be very high on your to-read list, but you should still pay some attention to the thinking of French philosopher Pascal Bruckner. Generally considered among the more conservative voices in France, he has just offered, by way of Quillette, (via Maggie's Farm) a short treatise on the current devolution of Western civilization. We have following this story conscientiously for years now. Today, we will look at Bruckner’s analysis.

Interestingly, he begins with an analysis of European guilt. Since I have often written about guilt (alongside shame), I was intrigued. Bruckner explains that most of Europe is being consumed by guilt for having supported and collaborated with the Third Reich:

Thus, the European victors over the Third Reich were contaminated by the enemy they had helped defeat, in contrast to the Americans and Soviets, who emerged from the conflict crowned in glory. Ever since, all of Europe—the East as well as the West—has carried the burden of Nazi guilt, as others would have us bear the guilt of North American slavery and Jim Crow.

I would mention that the Soviets signed a nonaggression pact with Hitler, and thus should not be let off free. The only nations that were never tainted with Nazi obscenity were Great Britain and the United States. It makes some twisted sense that the guilt ridden leftists of the world blame all of humanity's ills today on the Anglosphere. Thus, I take a slight exception with Bruckner’s analysis, and note that the current conflict between Great Britain and the European Union feels like a replay of World War II. Europeans will do anything in their power to humiliate the newest incarnation of Churchill, Boris Johnson. And they are happy to support Hitler's heirs in Tehran. What does that suggest, beyond an inability to think at all.

By Bruckner’s analysis, the European nations that supported and sustained Nazism chose, after the war, and for over seven decades, to make their politics into a form of penance, or therapy, if you will, for their sins. In place of realpolitik, or balance of power politics, they chose to punish themselves for their dereliction, thus, to purify their souls before they meet their maker: 

Having scaled unprecedented peaks of barbarity, the Europe of Brussels has decided to redeem itself by privileging moral values over realpolitik. Henceforth, we were enjoined to adopt what Auguste Comte and Victor Hugo, each for his own reasons, called “the religion of humanity,” grounded in altruism and devotion. Western Europeans dislike themselves. They are unable to overcome their self-disgust and feel the pride in their heritage and the self-respect that is so strikingly evident in the United States. Modern Europe is instead mired in shame shrouded in moralizing discourse. It has convinced itself that, since all the evils of the twentieth century arose from its feverish bellicosity, it’s about time it redeemed itself and sought something like a reawakened sense of the sacred in its guilty conscience.

If you want to know why Angela Merkel was admitting over a million Muslim migrants into Germany, the answer is: to atone for German guilt. One mentions, if only in passing, a remark made by fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, to the effect that Merkel was expiating her guilt for Nazi atrocities against Jews by inviting hundreds of thousands of Jew-haters into her country. The point is, when you merely set out to cleanse your psyche, you lose touch with reality and become a living contradiction:

What better example of this proclivity exists than Angela Merkel’s embrace of about a million refugees fleeing war-torn Syria in 2015? Even though this gesture that would help replenish a shrinking labor force was not strictly disinterested, for this pastor’s daughter it was also a spectacular way to repudiate Nazism and escape its shadow. After the catastrophe of the Second World War, the Federal Republic would now offer itself as an ostentatious example to the world. Germany would practice open-heartedness in a single country, just as Stalin in the USSR had once practiced socialism in a single country. Already pre-eminent in Europe, Berlin would call the shots, whether exercising toughness or kindness. Merciless with the Greeks in July, when the Chancellery wanted to eject them from the eurozone, but beneficent with the Syrians in September, it could demonstrate severity or an ever so imperial charity.

A continent that defeated German dreams of hegemony has allowed itself to be ruled by Germany. Fancy that:

It’s paradoxical that, notwithstanding its massaging of public opinion, the Federal Republic of Germany, in the guise of a “modest nation,” became the leader of the European Union, upon which it has ceaselessly imposed its will for nearly three decades now. It renounced military adventures and conquered through economic pre-eminence. The problem with virtuous theories, however, is that they often mask a desire for power, or produce unintended consequences.

As happens in America, Europeans are consumed by their guilt. They are giving themselves over to self-punishment as a form of atonement, and they blame themselves for everything that is going wrong in the world. When Muslims rape their women they blame white Europeans for being Islamophobic.

In America, the left as declared war on thought crimes and blames our nation for everything that has gone wrong in the world. You can see it most clearly in the climate change hysteria. Since America is reducing its production of atmospheric pollutants and even carbon dioxide, the climate change fanatics are blaming America-- including Great Britain and the Industrial Revolution-- for destroying the planet. About the world’s leading polluters, China and India, they have nothing to say.

Analyzing the European soul, Bruckner writes:

We have become the continent of the uneasy conscience and we wish to show the rest of the world the face of moral law in all its purity. Europe sees itself as a sacrificial offering, through which the entire world can expiate its sins. It offers to assume the shame for every misfortune that befalls the planet: famine in Africa, drowning in the Mediterranean, terrorism, natural disasters, they are all directly or indirectly our handiwork. And when we are attacked—by terrorists, for example—it’s still our fault; we had it coming and are undeserving of compassion. Since we are overcome by such a torrent of sins, all we can do is bear up and attempt to correct and atone for them all, one by one. An unctuous discourse intended to edify is replacing what was once political and historical analysis; an ideal society must replace the existing one of ordinary men, and be cleansed of its impurities. Two areas in particular reveal this delusion of sanctity—immigration and ecology.

And, of course, Bruckner is quite right to see that our new flagellants believe that by expiating their guilt they will give rise to a new and better society, a New Jerusalem, if you will.

That is because, like everyone else, they know that only in Europe will they find a sense of exacerbated culpability; it’s pretty much assured that they will be able to arrive on its shores, preferably under the gaze of the media, confident of being taken in, or at least listened to.

Pope Francis has proposed hospitality as the solution. Though we can only wonder how the fine people of Argentina would react if millions of Muslim migrants were resettled there. Yet, an open arms policy, a hospitality policy does nothing but to invite people who have never thought to do so, to migrate. And, Bruckner adds, the European welfare state will be crushed by the new burden.

At a practical level, hospitality cannot be granted as a simple offering to the detriment of national sovereignty. The fear, not of the foreigner, but of the stranger in one’s home, of not being protected by the state, the fear of cultural insecurity and expropriation—these are not reactionary fantasies. How can the welfare state, already overstretched, cope with the costs of retirement benefits and medical care if it must also cater to the needs of new arrivals? In former times, such an influx would have been called an invasion, an occupation, colonization. Today, such pejoratives are forbidden. From now on, it is simply a matter of love and listening and radiant outwardness instead of ugly inwardness. But we are forgetting a simple truism: were it a matter of just a few thousand people, one’s duty to help would be clear. But when we talk about tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions, priorities necessarily shift—where there are overwhelming numbers, morale collapses.

And also:

For having accepted the challenge of migration we have become accountable for every individual who has died at sea. In a strange twist, those who rescue people from the waves have become the executioners. The European of virtue is thereby ensnared in his own trap: he has confused attention to a problem with a duty to fix it.

Given that the left has not given up its Marxist dream, it has simply recycled the Marxist class struggle narrative by casting the migrant as the instrument that would overthrow the capitalist order:

Today, the migrant has replaced the proletarian and the guerrilla warrior as the new hero of contemporary victimology. He is both the epitome of oppression and the source of our salvation. Every other consideration must fall before him. One isn’t allowed to have one’s own thoughts or entertain any doubts about him, because his wretched condition demands only charity. In the same way that a “racialized” person can never be a racist, the idea that someone wanting to leave his own country to come to Europe could be duplicitous, or lie about his identity or intentions, amounts to a thought crime. Deprecating the European goes hand in hand with idealizing the foreigner, who embodies all virtue. He is at once the persecuted and the redeemer who’s come to shock us out of our comfort and complacency.

If you prefer a more spiritual slant, Bruckner is surely correct to see those who promote and support illegal immigration as animated by the spirit of Christian charity. Or by a secularized version of same.

Our only duty toward the refugee is to play the solicitous host, the zealous concierge, so that he may save us from ourselves and our shrinking demographics. Without him we’d be vegetating in a retirement home, or like the paralyzed old man pushed about in his wheelchair by a congenial black man in the 2011 hit movie Les Intouchables.9 Thus, the great nations of Europe have no other purpose than to serve as welcome centers and public lobbies for the world’s unfortunate.

The notion that immigrants will quickly become brilliant contributors to the advance of Western civilization, that they will save us from ourselves, and help us to build a brave new world is patently absurd. We are not inviting computer scientists to settle in our nations. We are inviting people who could not make it through elementary school.

Behind this argument, Bruckner writes, lies the presumption that we Westerners have never really accomplished anything… or, if we did that we did it by indulging in criminal behaviors, oppressing and exploiting the people and the natural world.

So, the arguments that favor illegal immigration represent a secularized Christianity, promoted by people who have lost their faith:

When it comes to migration, we must consider both our honor12 and the notion that our salvation lies entirely in the hands of others. Curiously, in Europe, unlike in the United States, this kind of sentimental Christianity goes hand in hand with a loss of faith. The more religious practice recedes, the more we abandon ourselves to a kind of goodwill that is as ardent as it is wrong-headed. Chesterton was right: “This modern world is full of old Christian ideas gone mad.” And here we are, since 2013, having adopted the notion of the migrant as Christ figure. We might call this strange mix of passivity and piety altruistic fatalism. Since we can’t stop the influx of migrants, we must enthusiastically embrace them. The Other is not like me; he shines, due to his very destitution, in a remote and inalterable splendor—an innocent figure untainted by modernity and capitalism. We venerate in him the mirror image of ourselves, the very opposite of our shortcomings and sins and of the world we inhabit. What better illustration of this than the spectacle two years ago of African immigrants dashing off their ship onto a Spanish beach amidst startled holiday makers lounging on their towels. On the one hand, the spoiled inhumanity of the affluent, on the other, the energy of the oppressed.

Thus, no more borders, no more boundaries, we will all be citizens of the world, belonging to no nation but to some international order:

As Le Monde put it in 2013, “the people of the future will all be dark beige with brown hair. France and the world will get more mixed.” That prophesy aside, let us understand this: one’s home no longer exists, my home is your home. Just like during the colonial period, the new global individual belongs on no particular soil. We have to dismantle and rebuild our society as if it were a Lego set. The old white European’s hegemony must give way to the richness of diversity. Migrant and minority identity is always positive, and that of the old nations always regressive. It’s not surprising that the people of Europe are unenthused by the reformers’ plans and fairy tales. They have forgotten the basic fact that an offer creates demand. The porousness of our borders, the constant stream of people traffickers, the haste of some rescuers to become service providers and create, via phone signals bouncing off satellites, an “uber-migration” (Stephen Smith)—all of these factors incentivize migration more than poverty or war. 

Embracing the Foreigner, Bruckner continues, is not a gesture of solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world. It is an effort to expiate the guilt we are all supposed to feel for their failures. You see, the success of Western civilization was really a crime, based on the oppression of the masses. The longer we entertain this madness the more we will destroy the coherence of our own societies:

What we celebrate in the Foreigner is not a future solidarity but our own undoing. With this way of thinking, we are served notice that we must lose on all sides: the fear of being submerged by Africa and Asia persists, but the refugees already in our native lands, in France especially, and above all in Paris, are treated badly.

The universalist delirium has recently given rise to climate change hysteria. Why, Swedish truant Greta Thunberg addressed the French National Assembly, its House of Representatives:

Another example of this moral maximalism is what we now call the climate emergency. The reception given to a speech by the teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg at the National Assembly on July 23, 2019, is a case in point. Hailed like a Delphian oracle, Greta scolded the assembled deputies as if they were errant children. The episode will be remembered as among the most risible in the history of the Fifth Republic.

Of course, climate change hysteria, as has been noted, especially by Niall Ferguson, promotes economic policies that will impoverish the West. Asian nations are too smart to allow themselves to be led by teenagers. Besides, China tried it once. They are not ready to go back to that dismal past.

Global warming places Europeans on the horns of a dilemma: either we change our way of life or we face imminent collapse within 10 to 20 years. Ecology, in the sense of legitimate concern about animal suffering and the waste products of progress, has mutated into a doctrine of the Apocalypse. In concrete terms this means that the generations to come have only two options: either widespread death in the near future or the halting of economic growth through some outbreak of unforeseen frugality. This cataclysmic discourse is, however, based on a paradox: the claim that enterprise is in vain, only helps to discourage it. What good does it do to mobilize, to clean our rivers and oceans and lakes, to plant trees and decarbonize the economy, if we are doomed? This doctrine of despair does less to mobilize our conscience than to thoroughly demoralize us.

And yet, climate change activists are all wanna-be despots. They want to impose their narrative, ignoring basic economic and meteorological truths:

Those who speak in the name of the planet seek to oppress. As a terrifying catastrophe looms in the future, the human species must rely on experts and break the bad habits that have brought them to disaster. If we want to prevent temperatures from rising more than two degrees, per the Paris Accord, we must achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible. No one, we are reminded, must shirk this imperative, especially not Europeans, who were responsible for the capitalist revolution and for pillaging the globe.

In more religious terms, he continues, the climate change agenda promotes asceticism:

We must voluntarily become poorer, divide our standard of living by 10, and choose a life-saving asceticism over the comfortable indecency of our present lifestyles. Cleverly, the doomsayers locate the end of the world between 2020 and 2030. It’s close enough to terrify us but still far enough away to escape verification. The high priests of disaster don’t want to save the human race as much as they want to punish it. They are calling for the destruction they pretend to fear: humankind—and the European, in particular—is guilty and must pay.

We need first to get over the idea that Europe should become a charity:

Europe cannot turn itself into a charity. Unless it wants to disappear once and for all, it cannot, like the Catholic Church, seek political guidance from the gospels (which not even Rome itself can manage to follow). Either it becomes a convincing world player alongside the others (USA, China, India, Russia, Brazil), and forges a new balance between power and human rights, or it will be dismembered by hungry predators waiting to devour it piece by piece.

Europeans, and of course Americans, should regain their pride, their sense of having accomplished great things.

It is therefore imperative that we retain our self-confidence as combative occidentals, convinced of the uniqueness of our contributions to civilization, and who make no excuses for our existence. Europe needn’t make any pledges. In and of itself, it is a guarantor of democracy that knows better than anyone how to blend freedom and prosperity. America may one day succumb to its vices of violence, inequality, and segregation. But it is sustained by religion and patriotism, which bolster it despite its divisions. Unless Europe changes course, it will die of its virtues.

He concludes:

Its discourse of guilt has metastasized into one of self-annihilation. When a section of the ruling class abandons its responsibilities, the commonweal itself is attacked, and moral perfectionism becomes another name for abdication. Only mortally wounded civilizations can be destroyed. How can the Old World be resuscitated if it wants to disappear? Perhaps we must await a new generation to emerge to staunch our desire for self-destruction and save us from sleepwalking into oblivion as mystical penitents.