What Mark proclaimed to the world in his 2006 book, America Alone–namely that Europe is suffering demographic collapse and civilizational exhaustion–the New York Times, I noted the other day, has finally gotten around to confirming. To which James Poulos in effect replied, aw, cheer up:
[S]urely some among Europe’s rising generations will revolt against the notion that exhaustion and failure are their only birthright….We’d better prepare ourselves now, I wager, for a few inspiring surprises in Europe.
I’m not so sure. Consider this graf from the Times article:
More broadly, many across Europe say the Continent will have to adapt to fiscal and demographic change, because social peace depends on it. “Europe won’t work without that,” said Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, referring to the state’s protective role. “In Europe we have nationalism and racism in a politicized manner, and those parties would have exploited grievances if not for our welfare state,” he said. “It’s a matter of national security, of our democracy.”
Fischer may speak of “our democracy,” but what he’s really saying is that Europeans simply cannot be trusted with democracy. Ordinary people? The elites have to smother them with benefits to keep them from electing another Mussolini. The vast, unelected, utterly bureaucratic superstate that Fischer and his kind have been erecting in Belgium? Vast, unelected, and utterly bureaucratic is just the way they want it. A superstate, an elite that’s profoundly and explicitly suspicious of ordinary people–all this makes it exceedingly difficult for Europeans who want to oppose the statism to find political ground on which to plant their feet–to organize, to found blogs and journals, simply to breath. When Americans find themselves faced with an unresponsive political system, what do they do? Throw tea parties. In Europe, that’s just unthinkable. Literally. The conditions of European life–the elitism, the narrow range of views expressed in the press, the whole deference to elite, bureaucratic authority which which the whole society has been condition–make it all but impossible for such a thought to present itself in anyone’s mind.
“Rising generations will revolt?” I sure hope so. But on a scale of one to ten, with ten representing the most forlorn of hopes, I’d rate that one about a nine. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in Poland or Hungary, nations whose history has taught them the importance and fragility of freedom, a movement may yet stir. But in Germany or Italy or Spain or France?