Book Review: The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray

If you want to learn about the migrant crisis in Europe, read The Strange Death of Europe by the British journalist and Spectator contributor Douglas Murray. From its origins in the continent’s post-World War II desire for cheap labor, to the short-sightedness of European leaders as to the effects of such a massive influx to the curious European sense of self-loathing and cultural exhaustion, Murray coolly and convincingly diagnoses Europe’s impending cause of death, what could be done about it, and what will probably happen.

Douglas K. Murray

Murray writes with a dispassionate, though incisive edge that strikes the perfect balance between the historian, the social critic, and the European aghast at what has been done to his continent. As an American, his analysis explains more of the story than we typically get on this side of the Atlantic.

Yet Murray does that rare thing in a popular history: He straddles the line between being accessible and academic, instructive without revealing too much bias. His preference for a European Europe is clear, yet while pessimistic he never seems hectoring or completely biased.

As a homosexual who is, I am pretty sure an atheist, Murray recognizes, for example, that Western civilization is the most tolerant in the world, and that this tolerance, as well as the other blessings of European culture, stem from the combination of Christianity with the Greco-Roman legacy.

And yet Murray is not unsympathetic to the plight of peoples fleeing their awful countries for a better life in Europe. Far form it. In fact, he’s very understanding of the reasons why people have been flooding into Europe, and he does what few journalists seem to: He talks to migrants.

But he balances this with something most mainstream journalists neglect through unconscious bias or by design: He also takes the legitimate concerns of European citizens seriously.

Unlike the elites in most European countries, and these countries’ leaders, Murray discusses the fact that the European nations have a right to exist and control their own borders how they see fit. Instead, European leaders are more concerned with shutting their own citizens up, even if this means lying about them and denying their rights.

Europe has succumbed to America Disease: The belief that their countries, unique among other countries across the globe, belong to the rest of the world just as much, if no more, than to their own citizens. And the majority Europe’s people do not agree with this. So few writers, especially European writers, touch this issue, but not Murray. He is fearless He meticulously cites his sources and provides the evidence for you to do your own follow-up homework. And he does it all without sounding preachy or snarky.

Especially brave is Murray’s discussion of Europe’s twin problems: demographics and Islam.

Oh-so modern and secular Europeans are now, in the twenty-first century, discussing religious blasphemy, having parallel religion-based legal systems, and whether church and state should always be separated. And Europeans are not having children, becoming minorities in their own ancestral homelands.

Further, modern Europeans, especially those of the political Left, are all too happy to abandon their liberal, Enlightenment philosophies in order to appease an increasingly radical religious group that shares none of their concern for the rights of women, homosexuals, and religious minorities.

In the absence of Christian belief, something else will fill the vacuum that secular philosophy and consumerism has failed to. This is where Islam has come on, strain of Islam often more radical than that practiced and expressed in Muslim-majority countries.

However, philosophy comes under Murray’s microscope for special scrutiny. This book is worth it for chapter 13 alone, but the entire discussion of Europe’s cultural and existential exhaustion will help Americans understand the peculiar psychology of the continent we share so much with.

Criticisms of The Strange Death of Europe are, of course, that Murray is a racist, heartless, xenophobic son-of-a-bitch, blah blah blah.

More nuanced criticism would be that The Strange Death of Europe is not as complete or exhaustive as it could be. Murray has also came under fire for his treatment of French author Jean Rapsail’s controversial 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints, which I have read. Murray does not like the book per se, and does find it distasteful, but he, like anyone who reads it, cannot deny that the book is prophetic not only in what happens, but in how European society and leadership reacts. Ditto his discussion of British MP Enoch Powell, best known for his inflammatory “rivers of blood” speech in 1968.

What people, with their less-than-stellar intellects and desire to smear, fail to understand is that Murray’s discussion of something or someone, and that the thing or person may have been correct is neither an endorsement nor an expression of agreement. But the comprehension gap persists.

There are, I’m sure, criticisms with Murray’s diagnosis of the rot and bankruptcy of Europe’s nihilistic high art and culture, as well as his dismissal of the purported economic and cultural benefits of rapid, large-scale immigration (“The cuisine!”), but Murray makes compelling cases that these benefits accrue to the few in the upper-echelons of society while causing massive social and economic problems for the rest of society.

It’s a sobering, infuriating book that will depress you. But it’s important stuff to know because the United States faces many of these same problems now. We are just, as usual, a few decades behind in the process than our European brethren.

In The Strange Death of Europe, you will learn:

  • How the quest for cheap labor has ruined Europe.
  • The problems of radical Islam.
  • How Angela Merkel comes across as the stupidest, or the most sinister leader in Europe. She will go down in history as one of Germany’s two most destructive chancellors.
  • How philosophy, preferably those of Germany and France, led to the erosion of cultural and religious rootedness and contributed to Europe’s sense of cultural self-loathing and desire to expire.
  • The way in which Europe’s short-sighted, unplanned methods of dealing with the huge influx of migrants does neither the migrants nor the Europeans any good.
  • How the nation of Sweden in particular has been reduced to a bizarre little self-loathing joke whose own leaders openly declare that their culture and people deserve to fade away.
  • The fundamental split between Western and Eastern Europe on how to handle the crisis.
  • Methods the Europeans could take to resolve the migrant crisis that are both humane and effective.

Most of all, you will marvel at how the European people have resisted hanging their leaders from poles.

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