The world is coming into Europe at precisely the moment that Europe has lost sight of what it is. And while the movement of millions of people from other cultures into a strong and assertive culture might have worked, the movement of millions of people into a guilty, jaded and dying culture cannot. Even now Europe’s leaders talk of an invigorated effort to incorporate the millions of new arrivals. …
Today the ethics and beliefs of Europe – indeed the identity and ideology of Europe – have become about ‘respect’, ‘tolerance’ and (most self- abnegating of all) ‘diversity’.
Such shallow self-definitions may get us through a few more years, but they have no chance at all of being able to call on the deeper loyalties that societies must be able to reach if they are going to survive for long.
This is just one reason why it is likely that our European culture, which has lasted all these centuries and shared with the world such heights of human achievement, will not survive. As recent elections in Austria and the rise of Alternative für Deutschland seem to prove, while the likelihood of cultural erosion remains irresistible the options for cultural defence continue to be unacceptable.
Stefan Zweig was right to recognise the derangement, and right to recognise the death sentence that the cradle and Parthenon of Western civilisation had passed upon itself. Only his timing was out. It would take several more decades before that sentence was carried out – by ourselves on ourselves. Here, in the in-between years, instead of remaining a home for the European peoples we have decided to become a ‘utopia’ only in the original Greek sense of the word: to become ‘no place’.