That story is the disintegration of Europe. The European Union is, in Arnold Toynbee’s terminology, a “universal state,” and a universal state is not a good sign for a great society. It is not a sign of a civilization’s cohension, but rather the end of its dynamic cohesion, signaling the dissipation of its vital spirit.
But after what happened in Europe during the 20th Century, it’s really not all that surprising that the seat of Western civilization has lost its identity. The 1914-1945 war continuum, featuring the rapid demise of empires and the rise of struggling fanatical ideologies and, of course, murderous warfare, left Europe with fine wine, great architecture, a noble tradition, and a population largely composed of crash test dummies.
Bruce Thornton’s book on the subject, Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow-Motion Suicide, is available from amazon.com.
Here Thornton is interviewed by K-Lo for National Review Online. An excerpt from the interview:
Kathryn Jean Lopez: What was the first sign that Europe was suicidal?
Bruce Thornton: If we take just the period after World War II, Iâ€™d say the collaboration and support of Communism and the Soviet Union on the part of many European intellectuals and politicians, coupled with hysterical anti-Americanism, was an important sign that European civilization was intellectually and morally bankrupt. The failure to see the true nature of Communism â€” that it is an ideology diametrically opposed to all the ideals of liberal democracy Europeans touted and enjoyed â€” bespeaks a suicidal collapse of certainty in the rightness of Western Civilizationâ€™s achievements, particularly respect for the individual, human rights, and political freedom. More recently, the flacid response to jihadist terror and European Muslim aggression against those same ideals also signifies an exhausted civilization unwilling to defend itself, and resentful of those like the United States who will.
Read it all.