The End of Europe: The Limits of Secular Thought

I try not to cringe when I read most of what accounts for smart books these days, I’m thinking of The End of Europe:  Dictators, Demagogues & the Coming Dark Age by James Kirchick.  In my view, this book rapidly acknowledges why Henry Ford’s definition of history was right.  For Ford, history is “one damned thing after another“.  Do we really need a diachronic approach to how Europe is failing today?  Do we?  If a reader is a millennial, it would be acceptable, because so much of what constitutes education for this segment of American society is pure ignorance.  So if you’ve spent the last several years or decades succumbed to television, then Kirchick is your man.  If however, you’ve been introduced to greater writers of the mid-to-late 20th century like Solzhenitsyn, or say Robert Bartly, then Kirchick isn’t your truck.

The European project, as the European Union is known, was Paris’ concoction for accommodating American suzerainty over the European continent at the end of World War II, while Paris punished Berlin.  Given France’s near permanent geopolitical, fiscal and monetary weakness after the war, it sought to openly apply its own advantages while appeasing Washington, all the while it sought Teutonic subjugation.

Ironically, it is Germany today that rides Europe; given Berlin’s continued external surplus, it is Bonn, Stuttgart, and Berlin that usurp Paris and by extension, most of Continental Europe.  The peace, stability, prosperity, democracy and social harmony that characterizes European social order since 1947 isn’t an indigenous muscular liberal center.

With the collapse of Europe under the jackboot of Prussia, it fell to the Americans to vanquish what Europe couldn’t.  The impact of that, is what underwrote any European achievement.

Where else other than Europe and the Mediterranean littoral does one walk through grave yards to get to the beach?

Clearly their are problems throughout the Eurozone and its dominant periphery.  Russia continues to harass the North Atlantic, Scotland, the Baltic, all the while enveloping eastern Europe just outside the Bosphorus.  We witness a near permanent weakening of the Warsaw Pact; having engrossed liberal transformation under Reagan and John Paul, the Poles, Hungary’s own Fidesz Party and its charismatic irredentist minister Viktor Orban including Slovakia, the Czech Republic have all splintered under the pall of heavy capital flows of globalization.

How does Europe win.

It is my view that unless Europe rediscovers its Christian heritage it fails.

As of this writing, the Church is failing.

Here’s the good news, even militant secular thought is nothing less than gnostic rationalism.  The Church Fathers and more have tread this ground already.  By any standard, this is an old trick.  What may prevent any resurgence is economic frailty, Islamism, nuclear parity abroad, and economic autarky.  Its already happening.

Europe really doesn’t need an ever tightening union.  It needs nationalism.  It needs liberty and by extension confrontation.

If Europe is to recover any sense of its own identity, it must confront the open ideologies that underwrite its growing welfare state, its administrative state, its overwhelming socialist policies that prevent growth.

The U.S. had its Volcker and Reagan, will Europe discover hers.


About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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