In an excellent “where we stand today” post on Iraq, Glenn Reynolds links to this 2003 essay by UPI’s James Bennett. We’ve ocassionally discussed Europe’s malaise; Bennett’s essay ties many of their problems back to the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust:
Continental Europeans, helped by the Marshall Plan and American investment, rebuilt their countries with vigor after 1945. Led by the last generations to mature in the environment of the hybrid Jewish-European civilization, Europe seemed to pick up where it left off in 1933.Gradually, however, Europe seemed to run out of creativity, in everything from arts, to academia, to demographic vigor, to the will to political reform. Endless rehashing of elsewhere-discredited Marxism replaced creative political thought. Overt fascism and national chauvinism were banned, but a new Euro-chauvinism took its place, loudly proclaiming the superiority of European ways over crude American ones — a new chauvinism on a wider scale, based like the old national chauvinism primarily on resentment.
It may be coincidence, but these new generations are the ones who grew up without the experience of studying, working and socializing with substantial numbers of Jews. Can this have no effect on politics?
Consider that the current war has seen the rapid re-emergence of the classical anti-Semitic themes in Europe, and coming from the same classes and types that supported the previous anti-globalization revolt of the 1920s and 1930s. The whitewashing of anti-Semitism as “anti-Zionism” grows more and more transparent by the day. French television has begun to adopt the terminology of the Vichy propagandists in reporting on the “Anglo-American attack” on Iraq. “Neo-con” serves the same code-word duty that “rootless cosmopolite” did in Stalin’s anti-Jewish purges.
The widespread anti-Americanism in the world, of which Continental Europe is the ultimate source, has almost nothing to do with the character of President George W. Bush or the current administration, or other such cosmetic issues.
The modern world was first carried forward by two great civilizations. The Anglosphere was one. The dynamic industrializing culture of 19th century Continental Europe, to which the spark of the Judaeo-Christian encounter was so important, was the other. That culture committed suicide in the ’30s. Perhaps its successor is not the revival of that culture, but rather its zombie.
In considering the Holocaust, most attention has been given to its direct victims, as is appropriate. However, we must also consider that it was a form of self-administered lobotomy for Continental European culture.
It would not be surprising if the twin anti-modernist themes of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, now rapidly coalescing into a single nasty mess visible in many of the pro-Saddam demonstrations of the past year, become once again the predominant political-cultural theme in Western Continental Europe, overwhelming the decent and positive forces there that had previously prevailed.
And we should not be surprised if such people hate us.
Or if a similarly European worldview percolates amongst America’s left. As Jonah Goldberg noted in May, that the “ideas, assumptions and prejudices held by the statistically typical Democratic voter, according to [a recent] Pew study, are quite simply, European”.
Update: Welcome, fellow weekend Insta-readers.
Another Update (10/23/05): Related thoughts from Ilya Shapiro of Tech Central Station.