#Obama #Trump2016 Does Europe Have a Future? @Savage
It’s both a continent and an idea, with an alternately heroic and ignominious past and, until recently, an enviable present. Can the heart of the West survive the 21st century?
A poster of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a r\\
With an alternately heroic and ignominious past and with what seemed, until recently, to be an enviable present. But does it have a future? The November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris marked the culmination—so far—of a concerted campaign directed mainly at Europeans and orchestrated, or inspired, first by al-Qaeda (Madrid 2004, London 2005) and more recently by the self-proclaimed caliphate based in the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq. The latest round of carnage began with the 2014 attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, was stepped up in January of this past year with the Charlie Hebdo and kosher-supermarket massacres in Paris, continued with shootings at a free-speech gathering in Copenhagen and mass assaults on European tourists in Tunisia, followed by explosions in Ankara and Beirut and reaching a crescendo with the multiple attacks in Paris.
Europeans are now faced with questions they have hitherto preferred to dodge. Are Europeans ready to fight for Europe? What is the place of Islam in a post-Christian Europe? Or, to look at it from the jihadist point of view, what is the place of Europe in a fast-expanding and globalized Islam? Is 21st-century Europe still the heart of Western civilization, or is it changing out of all recognition?
However one answers those questions, a brave new world seems to be emerging in which Europe becomes the theater where the clash of civilizations is played out. So far, the signs are that this encounter will be no more peaceful than it has been in the Middle East.
I. How the West Was Hollowed Out
Since the origins of what we now call Western civilization in Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem, the patrimony of the ancient world, as embodied particularly in the realms of philosophy, law, and the Jewish and Christian scriptures, has continued to inspire the nations to the north of the Mediterranean. Without that legacy, the West’s political, economic, and intellectual success and dominance could never have been achieved.
Standing on the shoulders of their ancient giants, Europeans created the world we now live in through a long series of intellectual revolutions, each one intended to secure a particular kind of liberty. In the medieval era, it was the libertas ecclesiae, the freedom of the Church from the state. In the Renaissance, it was the liberty of the emerging individual. In the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, at stake was liberty of conscience, while in the scientific revolution it was freedom of the mind; both were made possible by the freedom of the press. In the Enlightenment, people aspired to personal and ultimately political freedom under the law regardless of race, religion, or class. In the industrial revolution, economic liberty made possible a general rise in prosperity that for the first time in history lifted the majority of Europeans out of poverty and gave them access to education and the fruits of civilization. Finally, in the last century, we have witnessed an era in which all the previous upheavals combined to produce not so much a revolution as—literally and metaphorically—an explosion of modernity that has rendered all previous assumptions obsolete.
But the consummation of this long process of emancipation has paradoxically called into question some of our most hard-won liberties. Humanity has bifurcated into “the free world,” where private and public liberties are protected by the rule of law and, in reaction against that realm of freedom, the dominion of despotism: a succession of tyrannies that seek to deny individual freedom and instead seek salvation in submission to the absolute authority of a totalizing ideology. From the political religions of Communism, fascism, and Nazism with their personality cults to the religious politics of Islamism with its own personality cults, we are now living through a period of unprecedented polarization between Western civilization and its enemies.
From the political religions of Communism, fascism, and Nazism to the religious politics of Islamism, we are now living through a period of unprecedented polarization between Western civilization and its enemies.
At just this moment, to complicate the picture, the West, and Europe in particular, has largely abandoned its patrimony. Philosophy no longer offers a defense of Western values against the insidious onslaught of despotism from without and nihilism from within. Law, detached from its moorings in the divinely ordained order of nature, is now seen as the embodiment of human rights of any and all kinds, themselves deduced from a liberal politics that rejects any foundation in biblical morality. The hurricane of relativism has swept all before it, bending to breaking point the mighty tree of Western civilization, hollowed out by self-hatred and weakened by the loss of its religious roots.