The Transatlantic Divide

This is another installment of my ongoing series on Mark Steyn’s book America Alone. Previous posts have highlighted the problems facing Western society, particularly in Europe, with respect to the possible takeover of that society by radical Islam. Chapter 7 of his book is called “The Four Horsemen of the Eupocalypse: Eutopia vs. Eurabia.”

Steyn already has pointed to the demographic demise of Western Europe and how the loss of Christian faith has led to a spiritual vacuum in those nations—a vacuum being filled by Islamism. He’s also shown how many Europeans kowtow to Islamic pressures by appeasing Islam, even to the point of dressing as a Muslim to avoid trouble.

In this new chapter, he comments on the growing split between Europe and America. Keep in mind he wrote this while Bush was president, but it’s pretty prophetic when he states, “The transatlantic ‘split’ has nothing to do with disagreements over Iraq, and can’t be repaired by a more Europhile president in Washington: you can’t ‘mend bridges’ when the opposite bank is sinking into the river.”

As I said, how prophetic. We now have that “more Europhile president” who promised to mend those bridges he declared had been destroyed by Bush, yet what do we see? He is held in contempt, not only by European “allies,” but by the Muslim world he sought to placate. His influence is next to nothing.

Steyn continues with more distinctions between America and Europe:

Europeans work fewer hours than Americans, they don’t have to pay for their own health care, they don’t go to church and they don’t contribute to other civic groups, they don’t marry and they don’t have kids to take to school and basketball and the 4-H stand at the county fair.

So what do they do with all the time?

Europe, in fact, is a society devoted to leisure, all the while denigrating American capitalism. Slow down, the European mindset counsels, and do what you inner child tells you to do.

“When life becomes an extended picnic, with nothing of importance to do,” writes Charles Murray in In Our Hands, “ideas of greatness become an irritant. Such is the nature of the Europe syndrome.” The Continent has embraced a spiritual death long before the demographic one. In those seventeen European countries that have fallen into “lowest-low fertility,” where are the children? In a way, you’re looking at them: the guy sipping espresso at a sidewalk café listening to his iPod, the eternal adolescent charges of the paternalistic state. The government makes the grown-up decisions and we spend our pocket money on our record collection.

These wealthy societies, Steyn sadly concludes, “expect to have total choice over their satellite TV packages, yet think it perfectly normal to allow the state to make all the choices in respect of their health care.” He calls this “a curious inversion of citizenship” when people demand total control over “peripheral leisure activities” yet contract out to the state the big items like health care. His final quip is direct:

It’s hard to come up with a wake-up call for a society as dedicated as latter-day Europe to the belief that life is about sleeping in.

I’m not done with this chapter. More later.