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The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent Paperback – March 3, 2009
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Laqueur, who has four-plus decades of experience writing on Europe's recent and contemporary history, arrives at an essay that seems to be a valediction of his career's geopolitical concern. Viewing Europe's future, he discusses current trends in three areas: the immigration of Muslims, financing of the welfare state, and the European Union. They dominate European political life today, and as Laqueur addresses how these foci of popular and elite attention manifest themselves country by country, the author drives his treatment toward the conclusion that reform is nigh impossible yet unavoidable. Muslim immigrants, he argues, have not been assimilated, don't wish to be, and are profoundly alienated from their host societies. Europe's munificent social-welfare systems don't add up, as Laqueur illustrates with an array of demographic statistics pointing downward and economic numbers pointing sideways. As for the EU, its centralizing aspirations have halted with recent rejections of a constitution and its inability to create a credible military force. Venturing conditional prognostications on these matters, Laqueur delivers a pessimistic assessment. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“In the midst of our own immigration debate, Americans cannot afford to miss The Last Days of Europe. . . . Laqueur has no tolerance whatever for political correctness, and doesn't mince words. . . . Laqueur's tone may be calm, but his substance is explosive. . . . Bold, subtle, hopeful, piercing, and absolutely terrifying dissection of Europe's prospects. . . . The Last Days of Europe's chilling climax is not to be missed.” ―The National Review
“One of the more persuasive in a long line of volumes by authors on both sides of the Atlantic chronicling Europe's decline. . . . Mr. Laqueur's short book is measured, even sympathetic. . . . This temperate quality makes the book's theme--that Europe now faces potentially mortal challenges--all the more compelling.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“Succinct and clearly written . . . [Laqueur] says it better and with a greater degree of tolerance of nuance . . . Exemplary clarity. . . . Laqueur is neither apocalyptic nor optimistic but measured and open-minded about the future.” ―The American Conservative
“The Last Days of Europe spotlights an uncomfortable reality. Hopefully it will generate greater awareness, more open dialogue, and the courage to take steps to deal with Europe's problems.” ―Henry A. Kissinger, former secretary of state and national security adviser
“An eloquent and eye-opening epitaph for a civilization as much as for a continent--all the more impressive for its depth of historical understanding as well as its illuminating transatlantic perspective. The preeminent historian of postwar Europe has become the prophet of its decline and fall.” ―Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University, and author of The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West
“An appraisal of Europe's present and future that reveals Walter Laqueur at his analytical and reflective best. Compelling . . . A marvel of dispassionate analysis.” ―James R. Schlesinger, former Director of Central Intelligence and Secretary of Energy and of Defense
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Laqueur's contribution has a resigned and melancholy feel, unlike some of the aforementioned titles. He analyses the current European identity crisis and the rising xenophobia amongst native Europeans with empathy, observing that the average European family today has fewer than 2 children as opposed to five in the 19th century. This decline of the native birthrate is contemporaneous with massive immigration from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The immigrant populations have high birthrates which increase social tensions since the concept of the melting pot is utterly alien to Europe. Immigrant groups have ghettoized themselves and this hostility to the host countries is breeding violence. Nowhere is this more evident than in Brussels, the seat of the EU bureaucracy.
While the threat of radical Islamism increases, Europeans are in full appeasement mode. Following Theo van Gogh's murder in 2004, certain Dutch politicians like Ayaan Hirsi Ali had to go into hiding. In 2005 there were the riots in France and the Danish cartoon episode, when very few public figures had the guts to defend freedom of speech. The next year the elites declined to defend the Pope's observations on reason and religion. And abroad, Europe has been made a fool of by the Iranian ayatollocracy with its nuclear ambitions.
Laqueur lucidly appraises the continent's 20th century history: how its wars, its murderous collectivist ideologies, and post World War II, its welfare statism and depressing multiculti and relativist cults have drained it of self-confidence. They might stimulate bistro dialogue over decaf lattes, but Foucault, Guattari and Deleuze are no match for the impassioned, expansionist faith of the immigrants.
The author's prescription is nothing new: he recommends stricter controls over the abuse of democratic freedoms by radical preachers and the promotion of integration, meaningful work and better education for the alienated groups. There are signs of these and some ground for hope after the latest German, Swedish and French elections, but these solutions will not work without a spiritual revival.
It is clear that Old Europe especially, is in deep trouble. The most disturbing scenario would be a repeat of the 1930s, by for example the embrace of a charismatic pan-European leader in the face of frightening crises, instead of a return to classical liberal values. Part of the problem is, Europe does not have much of a principled Right, except perhaps the libertarian parties of Scandinavia or the Flemish nationalists.
Oriana Fallaci likened the old Italian Right of the Risorgimento to a noble lady that committed suicide - an apt description of the senescent Christian Democrats that have accepted the tenets of welfarism. Thus the welfare state consensus has never been properly challenged except in the UK where Margaret Thatcher positively transformed the country in the 1980s. That is why British society is in a better state today.
For further information on the recent history and the current state of Europe, I recommend Eurabia by Bat Ye-or, The West's Last Chance by Tony Blankly, The West and the Rest by Roger Scruton, Our Culture, What's Left of It by Theodore Dalrymple and The Dragons of Expectation by Robert Conquest.
Essentially Laquer suggests that Europe will become a gigantic museum with Muslims as the ticket takers. Ethnic English, French, Germans, Russians, all Europeans aren't reproducing at a rate sufficient to replenish their stocks while Muslim immigrants are not only outbreeding Europeans, but failing to integrate. The result? A largely Islamicized Europe. He is far from alone in this view. Other authors, notably Mark Steyn (America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It), Melanie Phillips (Londonistan), Bruce Bawer (While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within) and Claire Berlinski (Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too) have written of a changing Europe, each from their own perspctive. Most notable is the late Orianna Fallaci's (The Force of Reason), written as she was dying and filled with fiery passion.
Laquer's view is quite interesting because unlike the authors cited above, he does not reflect first-person views, but rather sticks to the statistics and raw facts, which are frankly depressing.
Europe has failed to integrate Muslim immigrants into its societies. While some Muslims have indeed become a part of their adopted nation, most remain apart. They do not attend school. They do not learn the native language. They do not assimilate. They do hate. They do nurse and nurture discontent. They do sop up, with the all too willing help of social workers and multiculturalists, all the financial benefits they can. And they reproduce, all too often with wives brought from their countries of origin.
Increasingly these Muslim immigrants are being radicalized while their children drift off into gangs or a srange counter-culture that rejects their parent's values but doesn't adopt the values of their host nation.
Europe's economic stagnation, globlization, aging populations and the native's failure to reproduce will, according to Laquer, reduce Europe to a largely Muslim society by 2050.
This is not an optimistic book. Nor is it particularly dystopian as others have been. Rather it is a sober and fully explained assessment by a competent historian who has seen Europe's fall into the abyss of evil in the 1930s and 40s, its recovery and its missteps toward its preseent dangerous position. Laquer does not forsee the survival of Europe as we know it.
Required reading for anyone concerned with political stability in Europe and the world.
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