‘The Strange Death of Europe’
DOUGLAS Murray thinks Europe is committing suicide.
He declares as much in the opening line of his latest book, in which he laments that the leaders of western Europe are allowing the cultural flame of the continent to be extinguished through mass migration, in particular from the Muslim world.
The controversial assertion underpins the book, The Strange Death Of Europe: Immigration, Identity And Islam, but he sees nothing particularly controversial about the claim.
“It was the result of a long time in which I was travelling for many years across Europe, travelling to many countries where people were fleeing form to go to Europe in the height of the migration crisis in 2015,” he told news.com.au.
“I thought someone needs to describe why it was happening, and chart the consequences.”
Murray, who is the associate editor of the Spectator and founder of the right-leaning Centre for Social Cohesion think tank, is highly critical of the far left side of politics for denying or diminishing the problems that come with a sudden large increases in immigration, when those migrants come from different, distinct and strong cultures.
“In one year alone, Germany and Sweden for instance took between two and three per cent addition of their entire population, so this is one of the most significant movements into Europe ever,” the British commentator said of the height of the migrant crisis a few years ago.
For western Europe, he identifies Muslim immigration as the most destructive force and a problem for the social cohesion of the West.
From his perspective, Islamic migrants — a portion of whom have particularly strict religious beliefs — are clashing with a Europe that is tired from history, guilt-ridden, increasingly faithless and overrun with the notion of political correctness.
If allowed to continue, Murray asserts, the result will ultimately be the Islamisation of the continent and the end of European cultural civilisation.
One of the people Murray often cites in his book is German historian and philosopher of Syrian origin Bassam Tibi who in the past has made similar warnings on this topic.
In an interview more than a decade ago he told German magazine Der Spiegel: “Muslims stand by their religion entirely. It is a sort of religious absolutism. While Europeans have stopped defending the values of their civilisation. They confuse tolerance with relativism.”
Murray’s book has been called “brilliant” by The Sunday Times; “compelling, fearless and truth-telling” by the Evening Standard and labelled as “gentrified xenophobia” by The Guardian.
The diversity of opinion surrounding it shouldn’t come as a surprise. In a way, the ensuing debate is what outspoken thinkers like Douglas Murray traffic in.
He has been touring the UK on a speaking tour with neuroscientist and author Sam Harris and the most famous psychologist in the world right now, Jordan Peterson. When he heads to Australia next week, he will speak to audiences alongside American philosopher, activist and public intellectual Dr Cornel West.
Dr West has held professorships at Harvard University, Princeton University and Yale University and is an outspoken social democrat and human rights advocate. If Murray is on the right, Dr West is very much his counterweight.
‘THAT’S A HECK OF A THING TO GIVE UP’
Murray argues it is important that we deal honestly with the ramifications of mass migration in the modern world.
It’s undeniable the issue has played a role in major political events like the Brexit vote, the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the far right in the German parliament.
“There’s a worldwide concern about this and I think that concern is understandable and at least should be attempted to be understood,” he said.
But it’s also true that since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, countries like Germany and Sweden who loosened their immigration laws have since reversed course. At the time, the International Organisation for Migration said more than a million migrants and refugees reached Europe in 2015, with a monthly peak of more than 221,000 in October.
Murray says his book is about finding a solution to migration that is “liberal, humane and sustainable” but is also cautious about blindly embracing the pursuit of multiculturalism, which many Western governments are quick to celebrate.
“If by multiculturalism you mean multiracial, pluralist society then I have no problem with that, and indeed think there are obvious advantages from it, in some circumstance and to some degree,” he said.
“But multiculturalism in recent decades has become something else. It’s become, among other things government policy to push the idea that there is no such things as a core common culture in a country. We are simply convening bodies in which the world can come and celebrate whoever they are in our countries. I think this is a hugely problematic idea.”
Controversial immigration polices are something Australians know well. Despite the criticism Australia’s offshore detention system receives from the likes of the UN and human rights organisations, Murray thinks we’ve got it right.
“I think Australia has done the right thing. The situation in Australia is not that dissimilar to that of Europe but Australia decided to act in a very different way.
“The Australian Government have seen that if you allow illegal migration to occur, if you decided there is no difference between legal and illegal immigration then you’re giving up the law, and that’s a heck of a thing to give up.”
‘THE WOODSTOCK OF DEBATE’
When he appears in front of Australian audiences, it will be much more than immigration on the table.
His recent touring with Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson was labelled “the Woodstock of Debate” and Murray is looking forward to engaging with Australian audiences on a range of topics.
“Dr Cornel West comes from a very different tradition from me, we have very different views. He’s very much of the left, I’m very much not and I think we’ll disagree on an awful lot. But I have an enormous amount of respect for Cornel West … and one of the things that I want to do is work out where we can agree.”
Most of all, he has been buoyed by the growing appetite among the public, particularly the younger generation, to engage on big ideas and difficult topics.
“The thing that is most satisfying, and I really do mean this, is that the engagement of audiences with serious ideas is something that almost nobody predicted, but it’s one of the most positive news stories of our time.”
Douglas Murray and Dr Cornel West will visit Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane from August 14.