The Europeans Keep Rejecting Liberty
Modern continental Europe keeps trying to solve its political problem — and then to impose its solution on everyone within reach. Recognizing this historical process can help us understand European anti-Americanism, strongest perhaps in Germany. America created the Europeans' political predicament, and we keep preventing them from adopting the solutions they come up with.
America created the Europeans' political problem by the magnificent example of the American Revolution and the astonishing, world-changing success of America. In an interesting version of the story of the emperor's new clothes, rule by hereditary monarchs, hereditary aristocracies, and established churches was suddenly revealed to be absurd and indefensible.
The only problem was that continental Europe was for the most part incapable of self-rule. The attempts, for example, by Germany, Italy, and France to achieve reasonably stable regimes of rule by their own people would be comical but for the terrible human consequences of their repeated failures.
With the exception of the Netherlands and a few other European countries that, like Britain, have achieved rule by their own people, the modern history of continental Europe is the story of people trying various experiments in an ongoing effort to relieve themselves of the burden of self-rule.
For a while, it seemed certain that fascism was going to be the European solution. The Germans and the Italians took the lead, but there were at the same time homegrown fascist movements throughout Europe, even in Britain. The French earned from Homer Simpson the sobriquet "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" because of their feeble resistance to the Nazi invaders and their swift adoption of a policy of collaboration with their Nazi rulers. If it weren't for America's military intervention, the Nazis would likely have defeated Britain, and fascist Europe would have reached from Ireland's western shore to Moscow and beyond.
The crushing military defeat of fascist Germany and fascist Japan took the fascist solution off the table. What were the Europeans to do? Next up: communism.
WWII resulted in only the western portion of Europe not being swallowed up by the Soviets. Once again, as with fascism, there were homegrown communist movements and sympathizers everywhere in Europe outside the Soviet-ruled zone. Communist Europe would likely have had that same western border in Ireland considered above — except once again for the United States. America kept a military presence in Europe after the war, preventing the Soviets from snapping up what remained of Europe not already under their control.
The Americans did not simply prevent a Soviet takeover of Europe. The American example destroyed communism's claim to legitimacy as surely as America's example had destroyed the European monarchs' claim to rule. The collapse of the Soviet Union robbed the Europeans of a communist future.
The Americans had done it to them again.
What now is next to be tried? Islam. Bernard Lewis, the great scholar of Islam and no enemy of Western civilization, predicted an Islamic Europe some time ago, and an Islamic Europe is now coming on much faster than when he made that prediction. Muhammad is the most common name given to baby boys in cities throughout Europe, even in Britain.
Once again, as in WWI and WWII, the Germans are taking the lead. Because Germany dominates the European Union, the open border policy imposed on Europe by Angela Merkel is responsible for a massive Muslim invasion of Europe — and this time the invaders don't need to brush past feeble military resistance or even use weapons. The invaders only need to show up and apply for welfare, leaving them with plenty of free time to plot the takeover of the West. An earlier generation of the French at least had feebly resisted the Nazi invasion before surrendering.
However, there are developments that raise the possibility that Europeans will yet save themselves by a sensible nationalism. There is, for example, Brexit, the important precursor to President Trump's election in 2016. The people of Britain voted to reclaim British national sovereignty and to restore the integrity of Britain's borders. In addition, there are nationalist stirrings in Germany that may turn out to be part of a broader European rejection of a future under the rule of Islam.
Perhaps the prospect of an Islamic Europe can yet rally Europeans to the defense of Western civilization. If nations in Europe can muster the spirited belief that their nations are worth defending, they may yet hold off the moral and intellectual corruption of radical Islam. It is very much the hope of lovers of liberty everywhere that they do so.
Robert Curry serves on the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute. He is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea and Reclaiming Common Sense: Finding Truth in a Post-Truth World, due out on September 24. Both are from Encounter Books.