Monday, January 28, 2019

Europe Is Falling Apart

The last time we Americans heard about French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levi— known in France by his acronym, BHL—he was beating the drums for war in Libya. BHL had gotten the ear of French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Sarkozy managed to persuade President Obama—BHO—and his hapless Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton—HRC—to support the Libyan rebels who wanted to overthrow the regime of  Muammar Qaddhafi.

At the time  the world was reveling in the Arab Spring and imagined that democracy would soon be busting out all over the Middle East. So, following the lead of BHL the American military supported Libyan rebels, overthrew Qaddhafi and made HRC look tough. 

Democracy did not break out in Libya, but chaos did. Most savvy commentators had predicted the same. And then there was Benghazi and the murder of an American ambassador, crime that HRC brushed aside as though… tough luck. Rather pathetic for the individual who was responsible for ambassadorial security.

Anyway, BHL believes that Europe is falling apart. That it is losing its great democratic traditions-- the ones that Middle Eastern nations did not adopt. He also believes that London Bridge is falling down. So, he has written an impassioned cri de coeur, as they would call it in Paris, to beg the British to have another referendum and not to exit Europe.  A passel of European intellectuals signed his letter. They sent it to major European publications, among them, the Guardian. (via Maggie’s Farm) Here is a link to the text

They believe that Europe is falling apart, because Europe is falling apart. One point for them. I have often noted the facts on this blog. More than one point for me. Thus, it is not news. And yet, the philosophers do not mention that immigration policies have caused this falling apart. One demerit for them.

They had the chutzpah to call it a manifesto, as though their manifestly overblown emotions would sway public opinion.

Anyway, they frame their manifesto as an attempt to salvage liberal values. And to salvage what they call the idea of Europe. Really. Are these great minds saying that they do not understand that Europe is a continent, not an idea? It is not a nation, either. The confederated states that form the European Union are certainly not aligned on immigration policy.

If anything, one is reminded of Voltaire's quip about the Holy Roman Empire-- that it was neither holy, nor Roman not an Empire.

The philosophers are fighting for the great European ideal and they are fighting against Great Britain and America… especially against the American leader. 

The Guardian opens its article:

Liberal values in Europe face a challenge “not seen since the 1930s”, leading intellectuals from 21 countries have said, as the UK lurches towards Brexit and nationalists look set to make sweeping gains in EU parliamentary elections.

The group of 30 writers, historians and Nobel laureates declared in a manifesto published in several newspapers, including the Guardian, that Europe as an idea was “coming apart before our eyes”.

“We must now will Europe or perish beneath the waves of populism,” the document reads. “We must rediscover political voluntarism or accept that resentment, hatred and their cortege of sad passions will surround and submerge us.”

They might be great thinkers but they sound like children who fear that they have been abandoned by their parents, and thus that they might have to defend themselves on the world stage. They are fighting for their own relevance in a world that is passing them by. In France, the only thing that matters is the influence of France on the world stage. 

They write of their regret that Europe has been “abandoned from across the Channel” – an oblique reference to the drawn-out Brexit process that has arguably brought Anglo-European relations to their lowest point since the second world war.

And they say that unless efforts are made to combat a rising tide of populism, the EU elections will be “the most calamitous that we have ever known: victory for the wreckers; disgrace for those who still believe in the legacy of Erasmus, Dante, Goethe, and Comenius; disdain for intelligence and culture; explosions of xenophobia and antisemitism; disaster”.

“Abandoned from across the Channel and from across the Atlantic by the two great allies who in the previous century saved it twice from suicide; vulnerable to the increasingly overt manipulations of the master of the Kremlin, Europe as an idea, as will and representation, is coming apart before our eyes,” the text reads.

Yes indeed. The Anglosphere saved Europe from itself in World War II. Now the philosophers call upon it to save it from its stupidity. You might have noticed, BHL, in a spasm of pseudo-sophistication, echoes the title of an important philosophical work, Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation. I hope you are suitably impressed.

How about a nod toward reality? How about a nod toward the question of national borders? How about a nod to the masses of migrants who have especially flooded Western Europe, and from whose onslaught Britain and American want to spare themselves.

Apparently, being a great continental thinker means not knowing how to think. After all, the values espoused by BHL and Co. are under attack on a daily basis by migrant hordes that have no interest in adopting Western values and that are plying weak Western leaders to their will.

Pamuk said the idea of Europe was also important to non-western countries. “Without the idea of Europe, freedom, women’s rights, democracy, egalitarianism is hard to defend in my part of the world.

“The historical success of Europe made it easier to defend these ideas and values which are crucial to humanity all over the world,” he said. “There is no Europe besides these values except the Europe of tourism and business. Europe is not a geography first but these ideas. This idea of Europe is under attack.”

To blame this on Great Britain and on Donald Trump is to miss the point entirely. But, that is what makes philosophers into philosophers. Anyway, BHL declares war on those who are trying to preserve European culture and customs. In a singular act of moral blindness he blames them for Europe’s problems:

Despite its “mistakes, lapses, and occasional acts of cowardice”, Europe remains “the second home of every free man and woman on the planet”, they say, noting with regret the widely held but mistaken belief of their generation that “the continent would come together on its own, without our labour”.

Pro-Europeans “no longer have a choice”, they say. “We must sound the alarm against the arsonists of soul and spirit that, from Paris to Rome, with stops in Barcelona, Budapest, Dresden, Vienna, or Warsaw, are playing with the fire of our freedoms.”

If all these heavyweight thinkers cannot see the problem... what hope is there for Europe. Eastern Europeans have made a different choice, even a different wager. When they see the way so-called liberal democracy is destroying Western Europe, who can blame them for wanting to opt out. The manifesto demonstrates one salient point: Western Europe has run out of philosophers who can think straight.


Toddy Cat said...

Really disappointing that Milan Kundera added his name to this farrago of nonsense. He saw through one monstrous totalitarian project, only to be duped by another.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

From a Western European perspective, I think this all traces back to the mechanized slaughter of World War I.

The Great War created a horror show on such a grand scale that all that was left was despair. Europe quit being Europe, exhausted from hopelessness and betrayed by the remaining vestiges of a social order that couldn't possibly deliver because it was so decadent. They turned against themselves, disgusted by all that arrived with the Guns of August.

The legacy of the Industrial Revolution became a financial annuity to fund social programs until the spirit of entrepreneurism was squeezed dry. True social democracy is driven by (a) social cohesion, and (b) economic expansion. Europe increasingly has neither.

As for World War II, Churchill, C.S. Lewis and others were drawing on a dwindling social bank account that few were ready to make real deposits on. Militarily, America saved them from Nazism. And they know it. Europe escaped instant darkness but a creeping sunset has being in process ever since.

And with the migrant invasion, it's just easier to say yes to feel better about yourself. When you speak out, you're labeled an evil bigot. With all the testicular fortitude that's left in reserve, it's no wonder few say anything.

The Poles and Hungarians are a refreshing counter to all this, but they had to fight it out behind the Iron Curtain. They know suffering at the hands of a bankrupt ideology, and they ain't going back.

UbuMaccabee said...

Great column on BHL. I have never trusted him on reality since his re-imagining he was de Tocqueville in his utterly wrong-headed trip through America. I'll take Naipaul any day over that poseur. BHL gets everything wrong.

Sorry to see Simon Shama on that list. He has at least written some solid history; he should know better. He does a whole series on the fraud of European assimilation of the Jews and then fails to see that European globalism has become the very thing that is driving the Jews to get out of Europe--and move to Hungary! "Stay, the French authorities will do nothing to protect you from the hordes, and we will not allow you to arm yourselves, but stay and make Europe unified." Sick.

I love how they mention the rise of anti-Semitism in the same breadth as condemning populism--as if one caused the other. "Populism" is just the reassertion of national identity in the face of a faceless and arrogant EU authority, along with a direct reaction to the mass-invasion of 8th century savages who carry with them a very toxic strain of hatred for Jews. Populism in Europe means: "we're not taking any of those assholes, no matter what you tell us." I spend a lot of time in Europe, and the Muslims are coming out at sunset to chant their prayers in public, openly and aggressively, while the fools walk to the opera and pretend not to notice or understand. I know what language he is speaking, it's called conquest.

European Jews should come on down here to Dixie; we'll set them up with a gun, a dog, a cold beer, and a fine smoked brisket. Live like free men and women. Temples all over the place, and the economy is hummin'. Big love for the Jews here in the South. Y'all get out of there, y'hear, it just ain't safe anymore.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

You can't build a great society with everyone running around living their own "truth." Social stability requires social cohesion -- the glue. When you don't value anything you in common as sacred, transcendent or special, there's no glue. That's where Europe is, and America is catching up.

When people ask "What does it mean to be French?" they've really missed the point. They've taken it for granted -- whatever it is. And when they don't think that it's worth preserving, the culture gets co-opted by bohemian, nihilist radicals who claim their highest value is tolerance (which isn't actually a value at all). In reality, they just don't care about their country, culture, etc. They're above it all. They've evolved to a "higher consciousness," or some other cosmopolitan tripe. They're lost, and can't be guides to anything meaningful but their own subjective reality, which by definition can't be a shared reality. And so they're disaffected, starving artists. And they're pissed off. At you. At society. At God. At everyone. About everything. And you're an idiot because you're too stupid to understand what they're saying. You hate their loathsome art because you don't get it. See?

That's why the real enemy is cultural rot. The Western rot is an elite consensus coalescing around two radical ideals: (1) social anarchy, and (2) communist economics. Both are the result of a brand of fantasy -- non-thinking masquerading as sophisticated intellect. It is the conceit of cosmopolitan chic. It's the cult of celebrity, which is being famous for being famous. Our academic, political, social and media elites are completely insulated from the chaos caused by their laziness, while they mock the people who speak out against it, labeling such people "bigots" and "_____-phobes." The elite don't mind any of this because they believe (a) they're smarter than everyone else, and (b) they can control it. They're wrong on both counts, and their ignorance will be their downfall.

That's how you get NYC becoming unlivable while DeBlasio drones on about police brutality. It's an alternate reality driven by the premise that people should be able to do whatever they want, and those with means should just suck it up and keep working to make this workers' paradise possible.

Life sucks. America sucks. You suck. You're a bigot. Shut up.

Some people say fighting never resolves anything. That's the kind of bullshit advanced by people who've never had to fight for anything. Anything that's worth anything is worth fighting for. Western Civilization is worth fighting for.

The reckoning is coming. You can only lie to yourself for so long. I'm amazed that normal Americans have been so restrained thus far.

Yes, Europe is failing. But America is not Europe. And that's a blessing.

UbuMaccabee said...

Ignatius, as I read your words, a flaming sword appeared in the sky and I heard the words, "conquer by this." I think you are onto something. Great stuff, brother. We need more war monks.