Western Europe is in a strangely neurotic condition of being smug
and terrified at the same time. On the one hand Europeans believe
they have at last created an ideal social and political system in
which man can live comfortably. In many ways things have never been
better on the old continent. On the other hand there is growing
anxiety that Europe is quickly falling behind in an aggressive
globalized world. Europe is at the forefront of nothing its
demographics are rapidly transforming in unsettling ways and the
ancient threat of barbarian invasion has resurfaced in a fresh
In The New Vichy Syndrome Theodore Dalrymple traces this malaise
back to the great conflicts of the last century and their
devastating effects upon the European psyche. From issues of
religion class colonialism and nationalism Europeans hold a
miserablist view of their history one that alternates between
indifference and outright contempt of the past. Today s Europeans
no longer believe in anything but personal economic security an
increased standard of living shorter working hours and long
vacations in exotic locales.
The result Dalrymple asserts is an unwillingness to preserve
European achievements and the dismantling of western culture by
Europeans themselves. As vapid hedonism and aggressive Islamism
fill this cultural void Europeans have no one else to blame for
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