James Kirchick’s The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age is an engaging meld of journalism and history. The product of six years of living in and reporting from Europe, Kirchick’s book is essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of the upcoming elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany, which will take place amid economic stagnation, jihadist attacks, and Vladimir Putin’s attempts to undermine NATO by subventing philo-Russian populist/nationalist parties.
Across the continent, but particularly in those three countries and in Sweden, it’s almost impossible to discuss immigration and Islamism without being accused of racism. Free discussion is confined to what Europeans call the “opinion corridor,” and dissidents step outside it at their own risk. “Rising support across Europe for xenophobic, populist parties,” writes Kirchick, “is partly the result of a constricted political discourse in which decent, ordinary people are told not only that plainly visible phenomena don’t exist but also that voicing concerns about these allegedly nonexistent phenomena is racist.” It is as if Islam were a racial category.
Just five years after winning the Nobel Prize and being championed as a model for the world, the European Union, says Kirchick, is “crumbling.” It’s unable to police its borders, stimulate economic growth, afford its generous welfare state, and halt its demographic decline—and unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge the failures of multiculturalism. The attempt to create a European super-state by way of a common currency, the euro, has produced an increasingly bitter divide between prosperous northern Europe and southern neighbors such as Greece, Italy, and Spain. Nonetheless, for the ideologues of the European Commission, led by its president, Jean-Claude Juncker, former prime minister of Luxembourg, the only good answer to every problem has been to expand further the already-overextended powers of the European Union—a body heartily detested by a good portion of Europeans. The one thing that the unelected bureaucrats of the German-dominated EU are good at is policing free speech and denouncing the nationalism that grows out of their arrogant and unaccountable failures.
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