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Europe’s leaders are too weak to stand up for western values and rights

The psychological trauma of the two world wars is driving Europe to cultural suicide, according to a new book

By on Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Third Battle of Ypres 1917. European culture has not recovered from the psychological trauma of the world wars

The Third Battle of Ypres 1917. European culture has not recovered from the psychological trauma of the world wars

‘I have never met a young man who passed through [the Great War], or grew up after it, who has any belief in progress at all.” So wrote classicist Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson in 1931, and the trauma of that conflict continues to torment the European mind, and to threaten Europe’s survival.

That is the view of the former Birmingham prison doctor Theodore Dalrymple, author of the newly published The New Vichy Syndrome, who has spent the past three decades describing (often hilariously) Britain’s societal collapse.

Those superficially aware of his immense body of work might think of Dalrymple predominantly as the chronicler (and mocker) of the criminal underclass, but his primary targets are intellectuals and the dishonest ideas they espouse.

Ironically, the horrors of the early 20th century, carried out in the name of utopian intellectual ideas, have led to ever more intellectual folly, the most disastrous being multiculturalism. They thought of its in culinary terms “of couscous today, chicken sagwalla tomorrow, cassoulet the day after, and sashimi the day after that”.

Instead, what we got was more book burning after a sacred western secular value – the freedom of speech – clashed with a sacred religious belief held by Europe’s Muslim immigrants. Protestors held up placards saying “Kill Rushdie”, yet not a single prosecution was brought, nor did Salman Rushdie even receive the backing of most intellectuals (nor the government or the newspapers) back in 1989.

“Suppose that a wild Christian fundamentalist cleric had called for the death of an author who had suggested that Christ was a homosexual,” writes Dalrymple, “does anyone think that Trevor-Roper et al would have sailed forth to support, or at least to ‘understand’, the cleric?”

Of course not, but multiculturalism trumped freedom, and the government of the day took the view that it didn’t want to stir up the Muslim population. And yet: “to have prosecuted and punished rigorously, even at the cost of some temporary inconvenience such as a riot or two, would have sent a clear and unambiguous message that our stern society was determined to defend its freedoms against thuggish obscurantism”.

Again and again Europe’s leaders have shown an unwillingness to stand up for their values. In his time as a prison doctor the author witnessed the brutality experienced by many Asian women, and the cowardice of the state.

Many women were forced to marry relatives from Pakistan, a process endorsed by the British state, while many of Dalrymple’s young female patients were kept away from school from the age of 12. Absolutely nothing was done by authorities, yet who were happy to drive white parents to suicide attempts for the same offence.

As well as cowardice, Europe’s leaders display wilful ignorance. When the French newspapers reported the rise in the French birth rate last year they showed a cartoon of a fresh and healthy Marianna baring her arms and “flexing her demographic muscles”. And yet “there was a ghost at the banquet, that is to say, the proportion of babies born to Muslim mothers”. There was not a word on the subject, and the triumph was put – hilariously – down to the French welfare state. This is a dysfunctional civilisation, and to address the problem we must look at the trauma that caused it, in 1914.

The book ends with an account of the three anti-war plays that stormed London’s stage around 1930, among them For Services Rendered by Somerset Maugham. In the last scene Eva, driven mad by the death of her fiancée and caring for her brother, blinded in the same war, insanely shouts the opening stanza of “God Save the Queen” while her deluded father, Leonard, unaware that his family is collapsing around him, says weakly: “This old England of ours isn’t done yet, and I for one believe in it and all it stands for.”

When Hitler began to re-arm five years later the British were unwilling to react, to stand up for their values. Once again, we seems to be suffering the same fate: the tragedy is that England isn’t done for yet, but do its people believe in it and all it stands for anymore?

  • Oferdesade

    this is not a british phenomenon. it's universal. it's why most totalitarian regimes continue to exist, why islam is gaining a growing foothold in europe, why chairs are being purchased for political gain at major (not only)british universities, why large companies (yes, like BP) have been getting away with literally murder for so long…
    you cant fight the machine, and if you do chances are there's another machine propping you up from behind and you dont even know about it (think: french revolution).

  • homemaker

    What Ed West is describing in his article is the breakdown of virtue.There is a total lack of consensus on what is right, and moral debate which drives our social aspirations, has decended into a slanging match.Our politicians have abandoned virtue and the casual callousness and intransigence which has entered our public life is symptomatic of an underlying brutality.
    We must continue to resist the commodification of human life and call for virtue in our public and social lives. There is a viable alternative to what is on offer in our current culture, and we should not be ashamed to put forward that Christ-centred alternative.

  • Eileen

    “The psychological trauma of the two world wars is driving Europe to cultural suicide….”

    The thing is, it's not just a 'cultural suicide', it's a biological one.

    We've been giving away (or been forced/tricked into giving away) our lands, our countries, our political power, what should have been our children's heritage to people to whom we are not related.

    No one in their right minds would invite strangers into their home to live indefinitely … as well as giving them decision making powers in their home. Why should we do it in our countries?

  • Mclom

    The biological suicide also includes contracepting our populations beyond recovery. This has now happened to Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia – who is fighting back but it is probably too late. Shame on the mantra of women's (mostly artificial and unsatisfying) “rights” covering up pure selfishness.

  • louella

    Better the West defends Christian values rather than secular Western values – which can be anything according to the latest fad! Christianity was the sure base of the West; secular post-Christianity is not rooted in anything eternal. But of course secular politicians have no intention of defending Christianity – quite the opposite in fact.

    Looks like it will come down to faithful Catholics to retain and rebuild what can be salvaged of the wreck of what was once Christendom. The rest looks like being taken over by Islam. Time to start reclaiming and leading – instead of expecting secular leaders to do it. Pigs will fly first.

  • Eileen


  • Yuval

    Europe did away with her Jews, the Jews being more ancient in Europe than the so-called Europeans. Now comes the Godly revenge for the spurning and murder of the Jew, the Muslim invasion. By accepting the legitimacy of the deep-seated Islamic antisemitism Europe is both reaffirming its own anti-semitism, and placing itself in the same status as the despised Jew: Dhimmitude. As for the Jew, he has given up on any European christian feelings or remorse concerning almoist two millenia of antisemitism, and is now better poised to defend himself in the Holy Land against the islamis imperialist onslaught than any European “nation”

  • Anonymous

    “nor did Salman Rushdie even receive the backing of most intellectuals (nor the government or the newspapers) back in 1989.”

    Eh, what, Ed?

    Rushdie received round-the-clock police protection from 1989 and was still receiving it in 2000, two years after the fatwa was lifted. 

    Hardly a lack of government backing. Unless you want to retreat into sophistry – as somehow I think you just might – and claim the government should have “SPOKEN OUT” instead of providing actual physical support for someone who was, at the time, an outspoken opponent of the government, and particularly the PM.