November 29, 2015 9 Comments
This, from Dan Hannan, is very interesting, I think. I haven’t much to add, particularly since I don’t really know much about continental Europe. So, I’ll let him tell it.
I think it has to do with the way that patriotism has been derided and traduced by Europe’s intellectual elites. If you want newcomers to assimilate into your society, you have to give them something into which to assimilate. You have to project a sense of pride, of common purpose, of self-belief.
This is perhaps especially difficult in Belgium. There is no Belgian language, no Belgian culture, precious little Belgian history. The country is divided between French and Dutch-speakers and subsists, as the saying goes, only in its monarchy and its football team.
The last Belgian election was won by a party that favors Flemish self-rule, and French and Dutch-speaking populations are, in consequence, identifying less with the national institutions, more with their own communities. But where does this leave, say, a Moroccan-origin boy from Molenbeek? What is there for him to be join?
Think of the experience that boy will have had in his adolescence. His every interaction with the Belgian state will have taught him to despise it. If he got any history at all in school, it will have been presented to him as a hateful chronicle of racism and exploitation. When he hears politicians on TV, they are unthinkingly blaming every ill in the world on Western meddling. It’s hardly an inducement to integrate, is it?
Americans are very good at assimilating newcomers. They go in for loud displays of national pride – flags in the yard and bunting on Independence Day and stirring songs – that strike some Euro-snobs as vulgar, but that make it easy for settlers to want to belong. [,,,]
The thing is, what exactly do Europeans believe in? They seemingly are no longer Christian, they don’t believe in their countries, they surely don’t believe in Europe. they don’t even believe in reproducing themselves. Life really is more than football.
And how many times have we said, Nothing will fall for anything!
As it is now constituted, I think Europe is doomed, and perhaps yeats saw clearly
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?