Europe, A Nation of Old Men Up for Grabs
I have just completed a three-week tour of Europe starting from a home base in Switzerland to southern Germany, thence to the south of France, and finally to northern Italy.
Each of these places is unique. Each is delightful in its own way, rich in culture and history, a pleasure to be in. The food and wine range from the solid and hearty on the upper Danube to the subtle and complex along the Côte du Rhone. The public buildings—including Roman baths, Gothic cathedrals, baroque royal palaces, and notable experiments in fascist modernism—are well preserved and easily accessible. This is the most civilized part of the world by far.
Yet even this, the most pleasant, the best cultivated, the most civilized corner of the planet is up for grabs. For all intents and purposes, Europe is already a candy store with a busted lock.
This busted lock is not found in the quality of European life. For some 210 million Germans, Frenchmen, and Italians, the quality of daily life is vastly superior to that of their social equivalents elsewhere, even in the United States. There is no permanent underclass outside the Muslim ghettos (an insoluble French phenomenon), and there is none of the grotesque income inequality characteristic of modern America. Most streets are always safe. While the landscape differs greatly between Bavaria, Provence, and Lombardy, all of them offer evidence of many centuries of harmonious interaction between man and nature.
Neither is the busted lock found in the culture wars. For the time being the statues are all there: Kings Ludwig I and Louis XIV, Giuseppe Garibaldi, even Christopher Columbus, seem safe from mutilation.
Of course, Europe is not immune to the Weiningerian spirit of self-loathing which has gripped America. That much is evident in the bureaucratic apparat of the European Union, which has morphed over the past quarter-century into a cultural-Marxist “community of values” commanded by unelected bureaucrats who actively promote the cultural and demographic suicide of the Old Continent.
In the streets and neighborhoods of European cities, however, the madness has not taken visible form thus far. A few rainbow flags flutter here and there, yet there is no sense of the relentless Gleichschaltung of cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. Intersectional fanatics may well be present (France gave us Maximilien Robespierre and Jean-Paul Marat, after all), but they are not yet visible. The sense of something horrid which is coming our way—the well-founded angst making life intolerable for millions of normal Americans—does not grip Europe yet.
On the debit side, however, is where we find the busted lock. There is a malaise affecting all of Europe: an ageing population and falling fertility. I have known that for years, of course, but it was in Nice, on the iconic Promenade des Anglais, that I suddenly realized that most people walking on the street were old, seriously old, and that there were precious few children running along the walkway, or playing on the beach below. The same applied to Montpellier’s gardens in France, to the Italian Como’s lakefront, and to every other location I visited.
The numbers are scary. In 1960 the population of today’s European Union accounted for 13.5 percent of the global total. By 2018 this figure had fallen below 7 percent, and on current form it will drop to 4 percent by 2070. By that time the inversion of the population pyramid will no longer be possible. There will be no “Europeans” left.
The meaning of this fact is clear to the geopolitically minded: space, and especially resource-rich and easily habitable space, does not tolerate a power vacuum.
To his lasting credit, Jean Raspail grasped the nature of the problem with relentless precision long before it became apparent even to those Europeans who care for their countries, nations, traditions, and faith. Just over a year after his death, as I drive across the sunflower fields of Provence, France and along the rocky Amalfi Coast of Italy, I find it hard to cherish the colors and the light without dreading, at the same time, what this will all look like a hundred years from now. Who will inhabit the deserted hilltop villages, dominated by those long-silent bell towers?
Is there hope? The old question cannot be avoided. I refuse to believe that all this beauty, all this goodness, all this energy expanded to serve our Triune God, is doomed to fall into the hands of the barbarian hordes hell-bent on desecrating our churches, raping our women, subduing our children, and uprooting our vineyards.
Europe is getting old, but she is still beautiful, wise, and good. Her would-be conquerors are ugly, stupid, and evil. As per Dostoyevsky, if there was no God the downfall would be possible and likely; but He does exist. Therefore, miracles are possible, and likely, and thus imminent. There is hope.
Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles, is the author of The Sword of the Prophet and Defeating Jihad.