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Cultural suicide by Europe and the Democrats
Have the leaders of the Democratic Party joined the 'Suicide of the West'?
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
May 30, 2013

Originally published November 3, 2006

This essay asks two questions: Are Europeans in the throes of passive cultural and political suicide as they ignore the threat of fanatical Muslims in their communities? And if so, have the leaders of the Democratic Party in America joined the Europeans in sleepwalking toward a precipice?

My main source for answering the first question is a book review titled Suicide of the West, by Theodore Dalrymple, which appeared in the Clairmont Review of Books, Fall 2006. Dalrymple reviewed three books in pursuit of his theme of the "Suicide of the West" – namely, Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Too, by Claire Berlinski; While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, by Bruce Bawer; and Londonistan, by Melanie Phillips.

Decadent societies unwilling to survive

Author Clair Berlinski probes the deepest into the psychological and existential problems of Europe. She believes that the European inability and unwillingness to honestly face the growing danger of Muslim fanaticism in their midst is caused by a hidden pathology or a deep psychic disturbance. According to Dalrymple, these pathologies are suicidal. Berlinski's insights offer important clues to the question of whether the European pathology has crossed the Atlantic and taken root in America.

The unwillingness of a decadent civilization to defend itself is nothing new to history. When Germany invaded France in 1940, the French and Germans had armies that were roughly equal on paper in manpower and weaponry. The French defenders had fabulous, state-of-the-art defensive fortifications that should have worked if used correctly and vigorously. However, the French lacked intelligent, aggressive, courageous leadership and the moral fortitude to give the Germans a good fight. The stern qualities the French exhibited when they resisted Germany in World War I were gone, and an indecisive, self-indulgent moral flabbiness remained.

I recently viewed French films made in the thirties through the fifties to brush up on my French. (Recent French films are unwatchable.) In every French film I watched, the protagonist died in the last frame. In one film there were four protagonists, and they all died. None of the deaths had meaning. All those who died were frustrated in their purposes and desires. None had a higher purpose or meaningful hopes and dreams beyond financial gain or desires for romantic love or lust.

The cynical French film-makers were obsessed with death. They dramatized life as a cruel trick played on hopeful, naive fools. Death, as the only victor, soon comes to crush the wishful thinkers and bring their vain hopes to nothing. The depraved cultists of death behind the camera mock life itself as a vain and foolish pretense. The drama comes to an end with a camera close-up on the lifeless face of the dead man who dared to hope. "How dare you live and hope?", the film-maker seems to ask the dead man.

The bitter irony and despair of atheistic existentialism poisoned these French dramas. The rejection of life – as an ordeal that is not worth the effort – was regularly fed to the French public as popular entertainment. It is no wonder the French lost their will to fight in WWII.

The French pathologies have gotten worse since then. When Muslim teenagers burned thousands of cars throughout France in October and November of 2005, the French exhibited a shocking unwillingness to defend themselves, or to be honest about the threat that stared them in the face.

A replay of the fall of Rome

The French are repeating the Roman cultural suicide of sixteen hundred years before. The Romans at the time were in pusillanimous denial of the barbarian threat.

The barbarian tribes of the fifth century had nowhere near the numbers, training, weaponry, or supplies to overcome a major civilization of 200 million people. Yet they overran the Western half of the Roman Empire. The famous military valor and discipline of the Roman legions was gone. The decadent Roman citizens avoided military service, and they paid mercenaries from other nations and inducted barbarians from the marches of the empire into the "Roman army" to defend them. Great civilizations die when they lose the will to fight for their survival.

Is Europe ready to collapse in the face of radical Muslims who have immigrated to Europe? Not just yet. But the trends look very bad.

A post-Christian culture

According to Berlinski, Europe has a "post-religious" culture. They have no source of transcendence to replace religion or to give meaning and purpose to life. Before we proceed to Berlinski's insights, let us consider the difference between a post-Christian culture and a post-post-Christian, or, in Berlinski's words, a "post-religious culture."

The intellectuals of Matthew Arnold's nineteenth-century England deeply regretted the retreat of faith in Christ and sought alternative sources of transcendence. Their substitutes included Romantic literature, poetry, patriotism, tradition, nostalgia, and the quasi-Christian trappings of liberal churches stripped of faith and doctrine. Arnold sought transcendence through the romance and mystique of a quasi-Christianity cut free from biblical teachings, and stripped of the cross and the resurrection of Christ, except as a vague metaphor.

This was a post-Christian culture that should not be confused with a post-post-Christian culture.

Great Britain makes a stand

Segments of Britain regained a measure of Christian transcendence from the Welsh revival, the Keswick Movement, the Oxford Movement, and the preaching of C.H. Spurgeon in the Victorian era. Therefore, Britain's spiritual and cultural decline was slower than that of other Europeans. Unlike the French, the British had not yet slipped into a post-post Christian culture when they fought World War II.

In contrast to the French, the Brits had the grit to fight stubbornly against the Germans in the air, at sea, and in apocalyptic land battles. Their greatest general was Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, who was an Evangelical Protestant. Their heroic national leader was Winston Churchill. Churchill was a throwback to the ideals, moral earnestness, and high drama and grandiloquence of the Victorian age:

"I have, myself, full confidence that...we shall once again be able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. That is the will of His Majesty's government – every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation....

"Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous states have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island whatever the cost may be.

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender; and even if... this Island, or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet would carry on the struggle...."

(Winston Churchill, June 4, 1940, speech to the House of Commons)

Spiritual amnesia and nihilism in Europe

Continental Europe is further removed in time from the vestiges of faith than is Great Britain. The passage of two and a half centuries have elapsed since the beginning of the general retreat of faith in continental Europe. Europe has a collective amnesia of the nostalgic romanticism and poetry of a post-Christian culture that characterized England during World War II. Europe has entered the nihilism of a post-post-Christian culture – or what Berlinski calls a "post-religious culture," where even the vague consolations of a gutted liberal Christianity are gone in many places.

Berlinski wrote that many Europeans have forgotten what it is to believe in something and are skeptical about whether anyone else believes in anything. Therefore, they reject the idea that the Muslim fanatics in their midst have gone crazy because of their twisted beliefs. They assume that Muslim misbehavior must be driven by socioeconomic root causes, social injustice, and real or imagined Western malefactions.

Here we must pause and reflect on how many times we have heard American liberal Democrats say much the same things.

Those who cannot believe that anyone else believes in something obviously are going to misconstrue the sincere Christian faith of many Americans. If they look upon true Christianity as something inexplicable and mysterious, they might attribute dark and sinister motives to American Christians. To verify this liberal paranoia about Christianity, we need only recollect how many times we have heard liberal Democrats say that the Evangelicals are trying to build a theocracy.

Having no conception of faith, such liberals misconstrue the Evangelical movement as a grand conspiracy to grab power while wearing the cloak of religion. People who can no longer remember or conceive of what it is to believe in God are reduced to believing conspiracy theories and crackpot myths about believers.

The Authoritarian personality

Berlinski wrote that some Europeans associate faith with fanatical totalitarian movements such as Fascism and Communism. Thus, they tend to attribute authoritarian or totalitarian motives to those who believe in God. It is quite true that Fascism and Communism involve a warped faith in tainted ideals. Such "faiths" came to Europe to fill the vacuum left by the retreat of the Christian faith. The folks in a post-post Christian culture cannot distinguish between Christianity and the counterfeits that developed to replace Christianity.

Some liberals brand Christians of orthodox doctrine who are politically conservative as Nazis. This has been going on for a long time. A liberal friend of mine in college regularly called me a Nazi. My social friends called the leader of my campus conservative organization "der Fuhrer." When I returned home from politicking, they played tapes of the German army band. The games of these rubes were not entirely in jest.

In 1968, a high school friend of mind was back from college for the summer and sporting a particularly ugly beard. I tugged at the beard and asked, "What's this?" He said "You have a regimented mind." I knew that he got that line from a college professor, but it was years before I found out where the professor got the line. He got it from the book The Authoritarian Personality, by Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969).

Adorno was curious about what kind of man became a Nazi. He developed a method of psychological testing that produced an "F-Score." The F-score measured the degree to which one has an authoritarian personality. If one is socially conventional, has old-fashioned moral values, likes traditional culture, is submissive to legitimate authority, honors his father, and is religious, he gets a high F-score. Careful studies have found no statistical correlation between F-scores and authoritarian tendencies or political affiliations. Those who have totalitarian allegiances do not necessarily have high F-scores.

In spite of scientific proof that Adorno's theory is false, the idea of the authoritarian personality seeped into the stew of liberal ideas and became an enduring liberal myth.

In 1968, a conservative Christian who voted Republican was sometimes called a Nazi by liberals. In 1968, Gore Vidal called William F. Buckley a Nazi to his face on television. I cannot number the times I have heard liberals call President Bush a Nazi.

Liberals tenaciously believe this nonsense because the post-Christian West traumatized the world with its counterfeit substitutes for Christianity such as Marxism and Fascism. The traumatic memories of those days have conjured up an imaginary bogeyman, one which scares many Europeans when they are confronted with someone who has authentic faith in God.

Forest fears

People traumatized by nightmares and delusional terrors are blind to true evils and dangers all around them. Those who are beset with forest fears and struggle against the bogeymen of the night will fail to protect themselves from the authentic dangers of the forest. Many Europeans are afraid of the Christian bogeyman and are blind to the true dangers of fanatical Islamic terrorists living in their midst. Fear itself is not the danger. Being afraid of the wrong things is the danger.

I had a college professor of world history, appropriately named Dr. Faust, who somehow had come to believe that Martin Luther was responsible for breeding Hitler. This fantasy brings to mind G.K. Chesterton's maxim that "A man who won't believe in God will believe anything."

Dr. Faust found out that I had conservative ideas. He asked about my denominational affiliations, whether I approved of a denominational merger, and whether I preferred blondes to brunettes, among other strange questions. I later realized that he was probing to see if I had an "authoritarian personality" according to Adorno's theory. Very much later, I came to understood that his inexplicable hostility towards me was rooted in the forest fears of liberal mythology. I am glad I don't have his nightmares.

European self-hate

As the sources of transcendence have dried up in Europe and the people find no meaning or purpose in life, they have turned to health, security, comfort, pleasure, and personal peace as their sole reason for living. Berlinski deftly explained how this empty way of life has transmogrified into a colossal case of collective self-hatred.

Believing nothing and living for no higher cause than mere comfort and security, the Europeans are haunted by a vague collective guilt and anxiety. They gradually have come to think that they have no right to pass judgment on anything. A totally selfish being is allergic to the very idea of moral judgment. In Europe, it has become a taboo to condemn any non-European culture. This taboo is intensified by a lingering guilt about European colonialism.

The relative vitality of non-European cultures makes the pale and passive nihilism and the pampered hedonism of post-post-Christian Europe look like the ghost of a culture in comparison. European culture and civilization – which were given birth by the mother church during the 1050-1100 A.D. period – are now perishing as the last faint links to Christianity are severed.

Berlinski wrote that European Multiculturalism is "self-hatred writ large." The abdication of every duty in the pursuit of self-pampering indulgence leaves the human creature with a colossal case of self-hatred. During the 1970's, the cult of self-esteem was based on the assumption that every human insecurity was caused by self-hate and the cure was teaching people to feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, this approach encouraged people to pamper themselves, which led to a more intense self-absorption. At some level of consciousness, self-absorption leads to a feeling of worthlessness and a deeper self-hate.

Collective self-hatred has engendered an anti-European culture among Europeans. This phenomenon is not far from the Multiculturalism of American liberal Democrats, who invariably look for a way to blame America for every problem abroad and make excuses for foreign cultures no matter how perverse and malicious they may be.

The death of patriotism

National patriotism is dying in Europe as the Europeans extinguish their national identities in favor of a European identity and a European union.

Their outraged protests to the contrary notwithstanding, some liberal Democrats also no longer understand patriotism. If one has forgotten what it is to have faith in God and instead lives solely for affluence, personal peace, and comfort, the bugle call of country is but a faint echo from afar. One must be alive to a greater world above and beyond the petty self to awaken with joy to the sweet bugle call of one's beloved country.

The Democrats are not as far gone as the French, but they sound an uncertain trumpet. As St. Paul wrote, "[I]f the trumpet give an uncertain sound who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (Corinthians 14: 8).

The restless, impatient bickering by Democrats while the country is at war – if that war lasts longer than is convenient to one's personal peace and comfort – is a very European trait. The maelstrom of complaining and carping criticism about our present war against Islamic fanatics abroad gives us a clue about the European kind of policies we might have if the Democrats come to power.

Transplanting the bad seed

Patriotism cannot coexist with the national self-hatred of Multiculturalism. Multiculturalism appeared in Europe among men who could no longer remember what it is to believe in God, and who suspected that no one really believes in God, whatever they may profess. Multiculturalism with self-hatred at the core leads to a culture of nihilism. One cannot be nihilistic and patriotic at the same time. A nihilistic friend once responded to a patriotic line of mine and said that I am "slipping into madness." Quite to the contrary, my friend, nihilism is madness and patriotism is sane.

Multiculturalism migrated from Europe to the United States and found a home in the left wing of the Democratic Party. Disillusionment with Marxism and economic determinism created a vacuum in the Democratic left during the late 60's and early 70's. The bad seed was planted in America and produced some bitter souls who rose to the top of their party, including Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Howard Dean. These blind guides sometimes seem almost as impervious to the threat of radical Islam as the leaders of Europe.

Fortunately, American and British liberals don't usually fall as far into denial and moral oblivion as their counterparts in Europe. However, Britain is now in worse shape than America.


Melanie Phillips – as paraphrased by Theodore Darlrymle – said in Londonistan, "[T]he British government and intellectual elite has been complicit in allowing the dangerous ideology of Islamism – which threatens not only the security of the British state, but of Europe and North America – to take deep root in Britain.... [A]n amalgam of cowardice, moral frivolity, lack of conviction, political correctness...has ensured that almost every policy decision taken by the government, has worsened the situation rather than ameliorating it." Phillips said that the situation would be comical if it were not so typical of the pusillanimity of the British establishment.

What can we expect if the Democrats take power in Congress this November [2006]? Complicity in "allowing the dangerous ideology of Islamism to take deep root" in America? Will the Democrats rule with "an amalgam of cowardice, moral frivolity, and political correctness?" Will the American establishment become as pusillanimous as the British establishment? We can find a possible answer if we recall the pusillanimous and feckless leadership of Jimmy Carter.

Hopefully, not all liberal Democrats have a spine of Jell-o as Carter did. Berlinski reassures us that there is some moral backbone left in America.

The moral backbone of America

Authors Claire Berlinski and Bruce Bawer (in his book While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within) agree that the survival of religion in America imparts a moral backbone to Americans that is mostly absent in Europe. (Liberal ideas, however, can trump faith, as in the case of the self-contradictory Jimmy Carter.) Faith in God imparts courage engagement with a larger world outside the self, and a hatred of evil.

As America continues to emerge as the sole economic, political, and military superpower of the world, periodic waves of spiritual renewal continue to replenish the ranks of believers. America has escaped sliding into a European-style spiritual extinction.


The war against terrorism and Islamic fanaticism is a war for the survival of the West. Even so, Americans are getting restless and impatient about having their Army stuck in the Middle East. No sooner do the troops clobber one set of opponents than new insurgents seem to spring from the cursed ground – as when the mythical Cadmus sowed dragons' teeth and a race of fierce armed men emerged from the ground.

Patience and perseverance can win through to victory in this kind of war, however, and the American people are being tested as to whether they are determined to sustain their opposition to evil and persevere in the noble cause of saving Western civilization from extinction. The post-post-Christian Europeans may be too far gone in their inner pathologies to save themselves from a satanic Muslim fanaticism. The burden must fall upon Christian America, with a little help from Britain to save the West.

A test of America's will to live as free men and to fight her vicious enemies will come with the mid-term [2006] election which is just around the corner. Will the voters cede power to the defeatist Democrats whose leaders sound increasingly French in their unwillingness to fight? Or will voters patiently take up the burden of freedom, democracy, and Western civilization and reject the defeatist cult of the leaders of the Democratic party?

Vote Republican, and deny the Democrats majority status in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Send a message to the Democrats that we are Americans and we will not cut and run and abandon the post of duty. We shall not forsake the burden of world responsibility that has been placed upon us by divine providence.

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at

© Fred Hutchison


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They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31