CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Paris Statement

Oct 17, 2017

Europe is in a real bad way. Secularism, immorality, porous borders, an inability to understand Islam for what it is, the rapid decline of Christianity, a loss of purpose and identity – these and other factors have resulted in a weakened and dying Europe. Things are looking very worrying indeed for this once great continent.

Over the past decade a number of important volumes have appeared warning us of the slow death of Europe. Here are just a few representative titles:

Berlinski, Claire, Menace in Europe. Crown Forum, 2006.
Caldwell, Christopher, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. Doubleday, 2009.
Dalrymple, Theodore, The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism. Encounter Books, 2010.
Laqueur, Walter, The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009.
Murray, Douglas, The Strange Death of Europe. Bloomsbury Continuum, 2017.
Thornton, Bruce, Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow Motion Suicide. Encounter Books, 2007.

Thankfully there are some leading European conservatives, thinkers, philosophers and others who are well aware of the current malaise that is Europe, and are seeking to do something about it. Ten such leaders have done just that, and ten days ago they released the Paris Statement. The signatories are:

Phillipe Bénéton (France)
Rémi Brague (France)
Chantal Delsol (France)
Roman Joch (Czech Republic)
András Lánczi (Hungary)
Ryszard Legutko (Poland)
Roger Scruton (United Kingdom)
Robert Spaemann (Germany)
Bart Jan Spruyt (Netherlands)
Matthias Storme (Belgium)

The 36-point statement is a timely and important reminder of how grave the situation is in Europe, and what must be done to turn things around. Points 2 and 3 lay out the case for what ails Europe:

2. Europe, in all its richness and greatness, is threatened by a false understanding of itself. This false Europe imagines itself as a fulfilment of our civilization, but in truth it will confiscate our home. It appeals to exaggerations and distortions of Europe’s authentic virtues while remaining blind to its own vices. Complacently trading in one-sided caricatures of our history, this false Europe is invincibly prejudiced against the past. Its proponents are orphans by choice, and they presume that to be an orphan—to be homeless—is a noble achievement. In this way, the false Europe praises itself as the forerunner of a universal community that is neither universal nor a community.
A false Europe threatens us.
3. The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing. Moreover, they are ignorant of the true sources of the humane decencies they themselves hold dear—as do we. They ignore, even repudiate the Christian roots of Europe. At the same time they take great care not to offend Muslims, who they imagine will cheerfully adopt their secular, multicultural outlook. Sunk in prejudice, superstition and ignorance, and blinded by vain, self-congratulating visions of a utopian future, the false Europe reflexively stifles dissent. This is done, of course, in the name of freedom and tolerance.
The false Europe is utopian and tyrannical.

The Christian foundation of Europe is covered in points 9 and 10:

9. The true Europe has been marked by Christianity. The universal spiritual empire of the Church brought cultural unity to Europe, but did so without political empire. This has allowed for particular civic loyalties to flourish within a shared European culture. The autonomy of what we call civil society became a characteristic feature of European life. Moreover, the Christian Gospel does not deliver a comprehensive divine law, and thus the diversity of the secular laws of the nations may be affirmed and honoured without threat to our European unity. It is no accident that the decline of Christian faith in Europe has been accompanied by renewed efforts to establish political unity—an empire of money and regulations, covered with sentiments of pseudo-religious universalism, that is being constructed by the European Union.
Christianity encouraged cultural unity.
10. The true Europe affirms the equal dignity of every individual, regardless of sex, rank or race. This also arises from our Christian roots. Our gentle virtues are of an unmistakably Christian heritage: fairness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, peace-making, charity. Christianity revolutionized the relationship between men and women, valuing love and mutual fidelity in an unprecedented way. The bond of marriage allows both men and women to flourish in communion. Most of the sacrifices we make are for the sake of our spouses and children. This spirit of self-giving is yet another Christian contribution to the Europe we love.
Christian roots nourish Europe.

However, rugged individualism, libertarianism and hedonism are tearing Europe apart:

14. The false Europe boasts of an unprecedented commitment to human liberty. This liberty, however, is very one-sided. It sells itself as liberation from all restraints: sexual freedom, freedom of self-expression, freedom to “be oneself.” The Generation of ’68 regards these freedoms as precious victories over a once almighty and oppressive cultural regime. They see themselves as great liberators, and their transgressions are acclaimed as noble moral achievements, for which the whole world should be grateful.
A false freedom prevails.
15. For Europe’s younger generations, however, reality is far less gilt with gold. Libertine hedonism often leads to boredom and a profound sense of purposelessness. The bond of marriage has weakened. In the roiling sea of sexual liberty, the deep desires of our young people to marry and form families are often frustrated. A liberty that frustrates our heart’s deepest longings becomes a curse. Our societies seem to be falling into individualism, isolation and aimlessness. Instead of freedom, we are condemned to the empty conformity of consumer- and media-driven culture. It is our duty to speak the truth: The Generation of ’68 destroyed but did not build. They created a vacuum now filled by social media, cheap tourism and pornography.
Individualism, isolation, and aimlessness are widespread.

Real leadership is required at this very dark hour:

26. Breaking the spell of the false Europe and its utopian, pseudo-religious crusade for a borderless world means fostering a new kind of statesmanship and a new kind of statesman. A good political leader stewards the commonweal of a particular people. A good statesman views our shared European inheritance and our particular national traditions as magnificent and life-giving, but also fragile gifts. He does not reject that inheritance, nor does he chance losing it all for utopian dreams. Such leaders covet the honors bestowed upon them by their people; they do not lust for the approbation of the ‘international community,’ which is in fact the public relations apparatus of an oligarchy.
We need responsible statesmen.
27. Recognizing the particular character of the European nations, and their Christian mark, we need not be perplexed before the spurious claims of the multiculturalists. Immigration without assimilation is colonization, and this must be rejected. We rightly expect that those who migrate to our lands will incorporate themselves into our nations and adopt our ways. This expectation needs to be supported by sound policy. The language of multiculturalism has been imported from America. But America’s great age of immigration came at the turn of the twentieth century, a period of remarkably rapid economic growth, in a country with virtually no welfare state, and with a very strong sense of national identity to which immigrants were expected to assimilate. After admitting large numbers of immigrants, America closed its doors very nearly shut for two generations. Europe needs to learn from this American experience rather than adopt contemporary American ideologies. That experience tells us that the workplace is a powerful engine of assimilation, that a generous welfare system can impede assimilation and that prudent political leadership sometimes dictates reductions in immigration—even drastic reductions. We must not allow a multicultural ideology to deform our political judgments about how best to serve the common good, which requires national communities with sufficient unity and solidarity to see their good as common.
We should renew national unity and solidarity.

The Statement rightly recognises the vital importance of marriage and family:

33. Marriage is the foundation of civil society and the basis for harmony between men and women. It is the intimate bond organized around sustaining a household and raising children. We affirm that our most fundamental roles in society and as human beings are as fathers and mothers. Marriage and children are integral to any vision of human flourishing. Children require sacrifice from those who bring them into the world. This sacrifice is noble and must be honoured. We endorse prudent social policies to encourage and strengthen marriage, childbearing, and childrearing. A society that fails to welcome children has no future.
Marriage and family are essential.

I urge you to read the entire Statement. It offers a glimmer of hope in a very dark place. It will not be a panacea, and it does not claim to be one. But it offers us a way forward, and a way to turn things around. Europeans especially need to get on board with this important document, although it presents all of us with wise advice and incisive reflections.

thetrueeurope.eu/a-europe-we-can-believe-in/

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13 Responses to The Paris Statement

  • The world gets more bizarre by the minute- out of California Babylon:

    “Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.
    The measure also applies to those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive. Modern medicine allows those with HIV to live longer lives and nearly eliminates the possibility of transmission, according to state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), authors of the bill.”

    Is this proof that the homosexual fraternity is a death cult with a nihilistic view that if they are going down, they’ll drag as many innocents with them as well? Don’t get blood transfusions in the US – pity being a haemophiliac.

  • Austria just recently elected a guy who claims to be anti massive refugees. However some people don’t trust him since years ago he aid merkal and was pro refugee. But as time went on he changed his mind. Bill and everyone, please pray for this person to do the right thing and save Europe in these dark times.
    www.breitbart.com/news/the-latest-election-tally-shows-austria-turning-right/

  • Only God can save Europe now. No man or conservative ‘hero’.

  • Thanks Aaron. Of course that would be true of everything and everyone – only God saves. But he works through people, so I will rejoice when he raises up men and women to do his work, be it a Luther 500 years ago, or a Wilberforce 200 years ago, or a Churchill 75 years ago. And he can raise up people today to help turn Europe around if he so chooses.

  • Bill we are in perilous times and getting darker by the moment and I wonder how the Church in Australia will respond. Will she be an Esau and consider our birthright as ‘easy comes easy goes’ or cling onto Christ Jesus like Jacob until heaven’s blessings fall onto the Church so we can rise and take the world again?
    Looking at Europe Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the cathedral door 500 years ago ushering into the world the light of the Gospel of Christ once again. Hopefully this statement will usher into Europe the urgent call to return to their roots and preserve their Christian foundations and culture.

  • Well worth the read.

  • Just started reading Harry Blamires’ The post-Christian mind : exposing its destructive agenda. (Vine Books, Ann Arbor, Mich, 1999). Blamires says many of the same kinds of things that are in the Paris Statement – Will Europe and her Western cousins party their ways into Hades? Another alternative to a revival of Christian faith is the spectre of a revival of that pagan empire known to early Christians as “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots”… Is it already too late for Europe’s Christians to push back against the tide of Post-Modern secular hedonism that is steadily “white-anting” the nations of Europe.

  • Thank you & GOD bless “have posted article to Facebook”

  • “…..Murray, Douglas, The Strange Death of Europe….”

    I just read an essay over at Quadrant on the future of Europe – and this book was central to the essay. One point that really stood out “The criminal law is meant to operate in terms of individual, not group, responsibility.” – it was about the mass raping of girls in Rotherham and officials abdicating from their responsibilities, out of fear of ‘what else may happen in the community by muslims’. The entire problem was swept under the ‘societal rug’.
    There is no longer light and good order in Europe. The end.
    quadrant.org.au/magazine/2017/09/mass-immigration-suffocating-europe/

    God Bless Bill.

  • Teetering on the edge of a cliff, whether Europe or the West, or Down under. We have to pray for increasing faith to stand against the tide of evil. We have to find rest in the fact that no matter what happens, God is still in control, and we know how the story ends. But, could there be a final raising up of the true church worldwide, and a final sweeping of the land of the Holy Spirit? I pray so.

  • Sir Roger Scruton, UK signatory to the Paris Statement has some very sensible things to say, too I note: his homepage at: www.roger-scruton.com/ .

  • Wow, this reads like refreshing water to a parched wasteland of secular totalitarianism. I do hope it makes a difference.

  • Put into words the real concerns I had about Europe but could never quite put my finger on. Reason, clarity and truth have a powerful impact.

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