Spiked Review Of ‘The Strange Death Of Europe’

Douglas Murray offers a powerful critique of immigration, identity politics and Islam.

In The Strange Death of Europe, Douglas Murray argues, as the title suggests, that Europe is in its death throes. He reaches this conclusion by weaving together two arguments. First, there are too many migrants, especially of the wrong sort, entering Europe. Secondly, they are coming at a time when Europe ‘has lost sight of what it is’. Hence, he argues, ‘the movement of millions of people into a guilty, jaded and dying culture’ cannot work.

The likelihood is that Murray’s supporters and critics will lock horns over the too-many-migrants argument, while ignoring his contention that European culture is guilty, jaded and dying. This would be a shame because the first argument can only be understood in the context of the second. If the nations of Europe had a strong belief in liberal democracy, then immigration would not be a problem. Strong European nations would recognise the importance of their political ideas, nurtured from Classical Antiquity, through Judeo-Christian traditions, to the present day. Strong European nations would see that immigrants from around the world, who do not hold liberal political values, would need to embrace a European political perspective.

European nations with a strong belief in liberal democracy would expect immigrants to assimilate, a process whereby immigrants would come to endorse the political ideas of their new society. Assimilation focuses on the political and public spheres and disregards religious and cultural differences in the private sphere, so long as these private practices do not conflict with the ideals of liberal democracy. A nation that assimilates its immigrants will have an integrated community. A nation that does not assimilate its immigrants will have parallel communities. Assimilation requires effort and determination from the host nation and the immigrant.

But Europe is no longer composed of nations with a strong belief in the political ideas of liberal democracy. Since the Second World War, therefore, these weakened nations have struggled to assimilate their immigrants. Indeed, in the postwar era, Europe’s political and cultural elites have either ignored the issue of assimilation or championed its absence. Many postwar immigrants have assimilated into European societies, but they have done so despite the attitude of Europe’s leaders. Moreover, there are many immigrants who have not assimilated and, with the passage of time, the problem of parallel communities has grown. Parallel communities tend to draw more immigrants towards them in a cycle that makes the problem bigger and harder to address.



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