That Western Europe suffers from a state of general paralysis is a truth too universally acknowledged to require much reiteration. Slow growth and high unemployment; an aging and shrinking population; scientific and cultural irrelevance to the rest of the world; a large, unassimilated alien population much of which is hostile to the very countries into which it has immigrated—these are just a few of the problems that Western Europe not only fails to solve, but even properly to recognize.
They are almost entirely post-religious, but they have found no form of transcendence to replace religion, and none is on the horizon. An awareness of belonging, or of contributing to, a collectivity or endeavor of world-importance is no longer possible for them (the European Union is the creation of bureaucrats, by bureaucrats, for bureaucrats).
Modern Europeans believe in very little, except in as comfortable and safe a life as possible. Indeed, health and safety have altogether replaced faith, hope, and charity as the cardinal desiderata. It is scarcely any wonder that, when faced by people who, quite mistakenly and with a combination of staggering ignorance and arrogance, believe themselves to be in possession of a truth that justifies almost any atrocity committed, if not by them, exactly, then by those whom they have indoctrinated, modern Western Europeans do not know how to react. They have either forgotten what it is to believe in anything, to such an extent that they cannot really believe that anyone else believes in anything, either; or their memories of belief are of belief in something so horrible—Communism, for example, or Nazism—that they no longer believe that they have the right to pass judgment on anything. This is not a strong position from which to fight people who, by their own admission, hate you and are bent upon your destruction, brought about preferably at your own expense. First, you can't take them seriously; second, you suspect they might in any case be right. European multiculturalism is self-hatred writ large—and in the meantime is an employment opportunity for cultural bureaucrats.
Well, there you have it, as concise and cogent an insight into the European psyche as any you will ever read.
This is what happens to man when he becomes too comfortable, too prosperous - he becomes decadent, nihilistic, ungrateful and apostate...until trouble (tsores) comes, and having no where else to turn, he runs back to God, repents and the cycle starts again. The Bible (Tanach) repeatedly chronicles this process and not that long ago, it was common knowledge as was the Biblical prohibition on tattoos. Unfortunately, judging by the popular culture, Dalrymple has also accurately discerned something about America :
For myself, I am somewhat skeptical of the strength of American religious feeling compared with the breadth of the religious affiliation that they claim. If Americans were to experience a loss of confidence in their country's power, whether objectively justified or not, the crisis of meaning and purpose might strike them too.
After all, pusillanimity is not even now confined to Western Europeans, though it is no doubt at its worst among them; the American response to the Danish cartoon crisis was little short of disgraceful, both in the government and the press. Indeed, the French for once were considerably less cowardly.
There is an air of doubt and uncertainty in America today. The Church is seen as failing as too many of it's leaders are exposed as "wolves among the flock." Half the country seems to think more like the Europeans rather than traditional Americans. Too many in our society and indeed some in our military are balking at the hard challenges posed by radical Islam. In an era when even our poorest are overweight owners of automobiles and color televisions, too many suffer from economic insecurity. This crisis of doubt and uncertainty has been fostered and cultivated by a myopic, rabid for power political party. Soon we and the world will know whether that party's efforts have born fruit even as another party has neglected it's own weeds. The world will gain a little more insight into whether the US is still a strong and confident country to be taken seriously or merely a nation walking in the footsteps of Europe.
City Journal Articles by Theodore Dalrymple