In The Spectator (June 24, 2016) Charles Moore, the Grand Old Man of British journalism despite his relatively young age, writes, “How much longer can it go on?  Deaths caused by terrorism are always followed now by candlelit vigils, a minute’s silence, victims’ families/government ministers/emergency services/clergy/imams all clustered together, walls of messages, flags at half-mast.  Instinctively I feel uneasy because the meaning of it all gradually suffers attrition, and also, perhaps, because it asserts a solidarity which isn’t quite there.  Yet the fundamental cause of mourning is true and deep enough—it is first for the dead, then for a civilization which may be dying.”

The poignancy of the last sentence lies in its suggestion of what a great many people feel, while recognizing that it need not be so.  The death of European civilization—Western civilization—is a theme, confined until very recently to “pessimistic” conservative journals and other fora where it has been a familiar one for decades, that only recently has become a popular one.  Though it is, of course, a tragic theme, what makes it poignant as well is that the death of the West needn’t happen, that people can prevent it if only they are the right sort of people—and that the sort presently in charge are very far from being the right sort.  Following two terrorist attacks in a fortnight last spring Prime Minister Theresa May responded with the Churchillian formula “Enough is enough,” as if the mayhem caused by preceding attacks had not been “enough.”  Her response was an echo of London’s Muslim mayor’s anodyne statement some weeks before that Londoners need to regard terrorism as “part and parcel of life in a big city,” which in turn echoed the words of the French prime minister a year earlier when he opined that France “will have to live with terrorism.”

It is increasingly clear that the public and political class of Western countries is simply inadequate to the job of fighting terrorism.  And the reason for their inadequacy is that they are the modern public class, drawn from the tame, not to say emasculated, managerial and technocratic bourgeoisie that, over the past two centuries, has replaced the old aristocratic warrior class which shaped and dominated Europe (and to a much lesser degree, America) for many centuries before that, while fighting for it and defending it.  This class was confident wielding the privileges and exercising the authority to which its members were born, and equally so in bearing arms against all enemies.  To it, violence and warfare were neither obscenities nor scandals, but a necessary part of life in a hostile world.  If our civilization is indeed dying, its death will be owing almost entirely to the fact that modern democratic society, by destroying the old feudal class, has destroyed its countries’ God-given natural immune system along with it.