Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe is an incisive critique of mass-migration and its consequences on the European continent. It doesn’t follow that because some migration can be good for our European society, more of it is proportionally good. On the contrary, the uncontrolled influx of migrants is changing Europe into something else. There is no “soft landing”, or as it is strongly stated in the introduction: “Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide.” Europe has caused its own demise and whatever hope is left, strongly depends on a sense of identity and a willingness to fight for that identity.
Or more accurately, the problem lies at the heart of European identity – it is suffering from a self-inflicted guilt about its past. For instance, as Douglas points out in his book, welcoming groups in Germany have explicitly stated that their welcoming of the immigrants coming in by train “was in some way a remedy for what had happened in the 1930s and 1940s.” And it goes even further: “The almost hysterical behaviour of the crowds radiated a sense of not just relief but ecstasy – that there were people migrating into Germany rather than migrating out of it.” A guilt narrative is what drives Europe into taking the world’s problems upon itself. Ironic though it may seem, Europe cannot be solely responsible for everything in the world.
In the chapter called “The Tyranny of guilt”, Douglas lays out beautifully the public misconception of what had happened to the three-year-old boy, who had been washed up on a beach in Turkey. Albeit tragic, the incidence sparkled Europe’s “shame”. A longer piece by Douglas explains this:
“This general feeling of guilt and shame spread across Europe and North America and pushed aside all practical questions of precisely what could have been done for the Kurdi family or all the other families that might wish to come after them. So great was this outpouring of guilt that several pertinent facts were lost entirely. Not least among them was the fact that the Kurdi family had set out from a safe country – Turkey. The father had chosen to leave that country – where he had paid employment – to get his family into Europe. The body of his young son had washed up not on a European beach but on a Turkish beach. And though there was some media mourning in Turkey over the tragedy, there was not anything there remotely like the introspection and self-accusation indulged in by Western politicians and media.”
So again, the problem with Europe is the feeling of guilt that not only permeates throughout Western Europe, but also conceals the facts. Douglas thus seems to point out what can happen when feelings take over (feeling over thought). He is right in saying that Europe cannot possibly be guilty of everything as it would like itself to be. Why are we the only ones responsible? Why is Turkey not responsible? The boy did, after all, wash up on a Turkish shore and he wasn’t a refugee. He was an immigrant. This changes the guilt narrative. As one reaches half way through the book, it is hard not to ask these questions – what are the facts?
Europe will not last as we know it today, if this kind of self-laceration is to continue. In his rather apocalyptic view, in the end of the book, Douglas depicts a changed Europe that is no longer Europe. A feeling creeps upon one as it does when one reads Houllebecqs submission. Whereas Houllebecq offers little or no hope to the reader in his prediction of an Islamic France, Douglas is more uncertain of what is about to happen. The only thing for sure, really, is that Europe is going to change (most likely not in a positive way). People will have different reactions to this. Some will be quiet about it. Some won’t. There is no decent answer to the future of Europe “which is how the fatal blow will finally land.”