Last week, I described my visit to William Randolph Hearst’s San Simeon castle and its combination of church-inspired architecture and myriad of actual religious artifacts that Hearst had purchased from Europe after World War I and put on display for himself and his private guests. As I wrote, the combination of World War I followed by proto-socialists like the Bauhaus hitting the Control, Alt, Delete buttons on European culture created “a fire sale for someone on Hearst’s enormous budget. If Europe was committed to destroying itself and starting over from zero, Hearst would buy the best of the past for his home”.
There’ll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands–probably–just as in Istanbul there’s still a building called St. Sophia’s Cathedral. But it’s not a cathedral; it’s merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West.
Maybe (and yes, I’m being somewhat facetious), Hearst really was onto something when he created his one-man private Disneyland version of Europe 80 years ago.