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The West is dying because it has turned its back on the Permanent Things.  But what will be left when the secularist “West” is dead?…

I expected my recent essay “Race against Reason” to provoke an element of controversy and was not surprised when it elicited the following comment:

Yes, this is all well and good, but we can’t ignore the simple facts of mathematics and human population growth. If Europeans get displaced by vast numbers of non-Christian (if not anti-Christian) foreigners, there is no more West, there is no more ‘Europe,’ and respect for the Permanent Things—which is by no means universal—is lost forever. At this point if we truly wish to conserve we must entertain some level of repatriation and decreasing non-Western immigration massively.

The points raised deserve a response even though, in point of fact, they have nothing to do with my essay, which sought to show the irrational roots of racism. As I made clear, “the thorny and volatile issue of immigration… is not a racial issue, in spite of the efforts of many to brand it as such.” The setting of limits on the number of immigrants and the tackling of the problem of illegal immigration is a legitimate right of sovereign nations, irrespective of the color of the skin of the immigrants.

Similarly I insisted that “the problem of radical Islam and the barbaric terrorism to which it has given birth… has nothing to do with race or racism”:

Islam is a religion, not a race, and, what is more, it is thoroughly multiracial, with all races represented in its ranks. To oppose ISIS and seek appropriate measures to prevent the spread of its influence and power is no more racist or ‘Islamophobic’ than opposition to the terrorism of the IRA in the 1970s was racist or ‘celtophobic.’ Opposition to barbarism and the terrorism it practices is a mark of civilization, not racism.

With regard to the Islamic presence in Europe, do we need reminding of the wars in the Balkans, of recent memory, in which Christians and Muslims in Bosnia and beyond, killed each other in a frenzy of hatred and “ethnic cleansing”? Do we need reminding that all of those doing the killing, on both the Christian and Muslim side, were impeccably white? Do we need reminding that such ethnic cleansing has been part of the demographic dynamic of that region ever since the Muslims first invaded centuries earlier? Do we need reminding that the very word “balkanization” entered the language because of such enmity between peoples and the destructive fragmentation that is its consequence? The point is not whether Islamic immigration to Europe is a major threat to peace—obviously it is—it’s that Islam is a multiracial religion as Christianity is a multiracial religion. It’s about a clash of cultures, not a clash of races. In such a clash of cultures, a black Christian and a white Christian are one side of the divide, and a black Muslim and a white Muslim are on the other. It might well be the case that the influx of Muslims into Europe is leading to the balkanization of Europe with all the harmful consequences that this entails; however, it’s not a racial issue but a religious or cultural one. Let’s not confuse the issue by blurring our terms.

Let’s move on to my interlocutor’s discussion of “the simple facts of mathematics and human population growth.” I agree that these mathematical facts can’t be ignored, but they are not so much about the problem of addition as of subtraction. It’s not a problem of population growth but of population depletion. Europeans have embraced the culture of death, contracepting themselves out of existence. Europe is not suffering from a population explosion but a population implosion. With a shrinking and aging population, unwilling to reproduce itself, immigration becomes a necessity. One cannot have a sustainable economy, still less a continually expanding economy, if the number of producers and consumers is shrinking. A culture which seeks self-gratification instead of the self-sacrifice needed to raise children is doomed to self-destruction. It has no future. It has no future for the plain and simple reason that it has no children. In this sense, it can truly be said that the future belongs to those who forsake selfishness for the selflessness of parenthood. The meek really do inherit the earth!

But, my interlocutor responds, “if Europeans get displaced by vast numbers of non-Christian foreigners, there is no more West, there is no more ‘Europe,’ and respect for the Permanent Things—which is by no means universal—is lost forever.”

What is one to make of these doom-laden words? Is it the end of the world as we know it?

As one who subscribes to–nay, as one who submits to—the Permanent Things, I would say that the “West” is not synonymous with the Permanent Things, nor do the Permanent Things depend on the survival of the “West” for their permanence. On the contrary, the “West” is dying because it has turned its back on the Permanent Things.

The Permanent Things are grounded in a reverence for God and for the Church that He established, and also in a reverence for the traditional family which is the bedrock of all healthy culture and the seed with which it plants itself into the future. When the love for God is gone and the family has been abandoned, there is no future. The secular fundamentalist “West” is decaying because it is decadent, and it is dying because it has embraced the culture of death.

What will be left when the secularist “West” is dead will be the Permanent Things. Christianity is alive and well, and thriving and growing, in Africa, Asia, China–and yes, even in resurrected embryonic form in Europe and other parts of the “West.” Europe and the “West” might be committing collective suicide, but Christendom is always new, as it is always old, because it is the Permanent Thing.

The future looks grim for those who have cast their lot with the Grim Reaper, but for those who follow the God who conquered death there is always the promise of the resurrection. The “West” might be “lost forever,” but the light in the East is always rising.

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17 replies to this post
  1. A very good article and a very good point. We need to distinguish between the things which made the West great and the geography and demographics therein. Indeed there are hopeful signs in the wider world.

  2. When the individual is focused on the State as the highest and greatest ‘good’, where all political and economic efforts and investments are focused to shore up the State at the expense of the family, and individual and collective ideology/philosophy has the State as it’s teleology rather than mankind’s True Final End, Eternity with God, the End is near. Modern liberals find their gratification in ‘social activism’ rather than in children and family. Their teleology is the State according to their selfish values and concepts of Liberty and Justice, forsaking their societal obligation to ‘create’ and generate by means of children and family for the gratification and false ‘high’ on what they believe to be their civil obligation to political activism. In other words, they have denounced their familial relationships and responsibilities to embrace the State as the fashionable substitute for the family. This all began in earnest with the fall of the Scholastics and the rise of the Humanists. It would be wise for the leaders of the Western World to dust off the encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII and become educated in the scholastic perspective of the Christian State’s role in society: The servant of the Family, not the Usurper thereof.

  3. As always, Veritas from Mr. Pearce–Thank You.
    There are some voices in the Church that say that the roles have reversed and the parts of the world that West once evangelized, now will (re)evangelize the “West”. And indeed priests from those countries can be seen in once Christian “West” celebrating Masses for a few elderly that are left still attending Sunday Masses. Is there any hope though? In the past, perhaps because of my stupid young naivety, I thought there was, but after years of living in this culture of death I perfectly see what Cardinal Dulles, who was also more optimistic earlier in his life, meant by concluding later on that dialogue with the contemporary “culture” is hopeless. After Second Vatican Council it is indeed more about dialogue than evangelization, and from the results we can clearly see that the two words are very far from being synonymous.
    In the meantime, to those few left in the “West” who seek Truth, Good, Beauty and of course ultimately God, I would recommend to shelter themselves from the culture of death in some Christian Circles/Societies/Organization, in the likes of American Chesterton Society—it is much easier, if not necessary, to fight dragons (battling dragons, as Mr. Pearce indicates in one of his articles, is a must) being a part of a Christian community—in times much better, in many perspectives, than the present, G.K Chesterton said: “But in these times it needs almost superhuman fortitude to be human.” Yes, indeed, being in the “West” these times, it needs almost superhuman fortitude not to become a dragon.

  4. I have an honest question which stems from the article. The intellectual tradition of the Roman Church has been from Europe. Although the intellectual tradition is perverse in many ways already (trying to understand Aquinas w/o being grounded in Aristotle, the biased reading of Augustine, etc) I have a hard time saying it’s dead. Asia, Africa, China do not seem to be producing priests in the intellectual tradition of the Church. If the west goes, doesn’t it appear that the intellectual tradition is also gone?

    • Hey Jacob,
      True, most of the priests from non-western countries are not educated in the Intellectual Tradition of the Roman Church, but the same could be said about most of the priests educated in the “West”. In general, St. Augustine and St. Thomas are ignored, considered old and incomprehensible. On the feast of St. Thomas this year, I heard a sermon from a cool, older priest who said that he wanted to say it for 40 years; that the pre-consular church was Thomistic and post-consular church is existential. One may find it very…bizarre, to say lightly, as pope Pius XII in his encyclical Humani Generis promulgated on 12 August 1950 (just 12 years before the start of the council) listed existentialism as one of the erroneous trends in the church. In words of Romano Amerio in his fantastic book “Iota Unum”:
      “Existentialism is also based on this principle of independence. For it, existing things have no relation to the divine ideas, those prior essences which participate in the absoluteness of the divine being. The encyclical reproves the modern mentality, not inasmuch as it is modern, but inasmuch as it claims to detach itself from the firmament of unchangeable values, and to give itself over wholly and solely to present existence. Even with correction, this mentality cannot be reconciled with Catholic dogma.”
      In general, encyclical points out some dangerous trends in the church—the trends that depart from Thomistic teachings.
      Before the Church was pointing at Unchangeable God, and now (main stream Catholicism) she is pointing at very changeable human. They say that the council was pastoral, but one can defiantly see some dogmatic implications.
      I am inclined to say that if the West is not dead, it is certainly dying–and it is dying precisely because it abandoned its intellectual tradition.
      On the more positive note, there is an inspiring renewal of Traditionalists that is very faithful to the Roman Intellectual Tradition. Maybe that’s the future.

  5. Today i read a timely sermon by Msgr Knox. He said, “it is one of the most striking proofs of the superiority of Christianity to Islam, that when both tried the same philosophical diet we could digest it and they couldn’t…. They buried Aristotle away, like a dangerous explosive; and the mohammedan culture, till then a dangerous rival to our own, became sterile…. We had not yet fought them to a standstill; but we had THOUGHT them to a standstill.” While it is clearly not the West alone it is hard to imagine the church moving forward without a healthy Western Church.

  6. Thank you for your thought-provoking article. It seems to me, though, that you are conflating a few issues (not to mention their causes), and in the process, losing sight of the different measures the West must take to save itself. While below replacement level fertility rates among Western peoples obviously pose an existential risk to the West, that risk is greatly exacerbated by the uncontrolled influx of avid adherents to a hostile, alien belief system—not to mention the risk of racial annihilation presented by the tsunami of sub-Saharan Africans.

    At the end of the day, these pathologies can all be traced to the corrosive effects of Cultural Marxism in the West: feminism, sexual libertinism, the de-legitimization of Christianity, the pathologization of White history and culture, the exaltation of non-White history, culture and people. These have all left Western peoples defenseless vis a vis intellectual attacks from academia, the media, etc. Bewildered Westerners have become so deracinated that we can’t bring ourselves to defend our homelands’ being overrun.

    So while a return to the Permanent Things is necessary for the West to regain its footing, alas it’s no longer sufficient.

  7. The year 2016 is lost forever. As for ideas, they are not easily lost, though they may be ignored, and as for habits, they are choices. Historical determinism is an illusion, and a dangerous one at that.

  8. Gates of Vienna has an interview with Jesuit priest Fr Henri Boulad, on the occasion of his gaining Hungarian citizenship, broadcast on Hungarian TV.

    He averred that that Christianity will disappear from Europe. In thirty years, maximum, Europe will be Muslim. Sweden and Germany are already finished as nations; France is half-way there.

    I agree with Fr Boulad. But I would go further and maintain that eastern Europe allied to and protected by Russia will have no peace on its borders unless it uses weapons of mass destruction to destroy the Islamic caliphate which western Europe will by then have become.

  9. What will happen to Rome and the Vatican? Is it any better in Italy? I travel in Italy a lot and I don’t see many people attending Mass. The churches are empty. They are used for classical concerts (Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” yet again!) offered to tourists. I think Vatican II was a very big mistake. Tossing away centuries of tradition for the sake of “progress”. The myth of progress is secularism’s biggest joke. Sadly, the Church fathers fell for it in the 1960s. But there is a small, growing movement of Catholics, young and old, who want their Tradition back. All I can say is that it looks bleak, but one must never lose hope.

  10. This is true, but I think that one can legitimately mourn the potential death of the West while still clinging to the everlasting existing of the Permanent Things. God is good and Christ is on the throne – Hallelujah. But there were a lot of subsidiary goods which were specific to European and American culture, just as there are lots of subsidiary goods which are specific to the Mexican, Kikuyu, and Japanese cultures, and those specifically Euro/American goods may be lost forever.

  11. Interesting article. However, merely because a religion has multi racial adherents does not make it a ‘multi racial’ religion. Christianity was over centuries in its manifold expressions shaped by many kinds of cultural influences not only in the western world, but worldwide. In this sense we cannot seperate culture from race – indeed it would be racist to do so. Islam has multi racial adherents but it does not show either the same flexibility, tolerance or acknowledgement of such cultural diversity – rather it attempts through a show of force from a racial base to subjugate, impose its will and convert those it has subjugated.

  12. First is the question of whether or not a constantly growing economy is a desirable thing. Europe got along for a long time without one, producing the highest culture in the meantime. To me, the author’s GDP fetishism has destroyed the West’s soul as it materially enriched us.

    Second is the historical fact that the Babylonian mixing of cultures always precedes civilizational collapse or civil war. I expect you’ve read your Aristotle; the man cites a dozen examples from his living memory alone.

    Third is the fact that people of other races do not (I won’t go so far as to say cannot) understand, interpret, and practice Christianity in the same way as Europeans, no matter how well intentioned or competent the missionaries who evangelize them. At the risk of sounding pithy, Santa Muerte was never canonized by Rome.

  13. If Latin, Greek, and Hebrew were the original languages of the Christian synthesis between faith and reason, between God and the world in Jesus Christ, and if English is come to be the language of the modern world, perhaps Conservatism, in the spirit of the present journal : The Imaginative Conservative : is truly the best and permanent cultural gift which the Anglo-Saxon nations can offer the rest of the world, because it was Conservatism that made the English speaking nations able to almost conquer the modern world, and no other philosophic method like it exists from non-English speaking modern nations, coincidentally English is the only modern language which uses the Latin alphabet, without national adjustments, so eventually, it is to be hoped, with English as preferred language of the modern world, people must study conservative thinking, and The Imaginative Conservative is also a very good way to improve on ones English language, perhaps, when our confused century must give way to the next century, an English language, conservative synthesis will emerge, to build up all humankind from our ruins, much like the Latin language once built up the West ?

  14. Some years ago, at a Bible circle meeting (in Danish, of course) the priest asked, which historical event did the most damage to Christendom, and an elderly lady immediately answered: The French Revolution! Now, this was also what made Edmund Burke formulate the principles for Conservatism. So, I think that it really was Conservatism that made English into world culture and world language, because it is still the ideological principles of the French Revolution which have not evolved since and which the world is confused with. Then, the Western heritage can not be separated from the modern English language, and its good usage. Paradoxically, even without the United Kingdom, citizens of the European Union must still use English for common understanding. The loss of Western culture in the English speaking world is caused by globalization. But it is to be regretted, if the ideologies of the French Revolution and the like are adopted by Americans.

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