“Roll up the map of Europe; it will not be wanted these ten years.”

—William Pitt (1806)

“Nothing,” goes the Johnsonian cliché, “concentrates a man’s mind more wonderfully than the prospect of being hanged.”  This very natural reaction may explain why a whole raft of intellectuals, journalists, and even politicians, none of whom was previously noted for his concern about immigration, have suddenly evinced an urgent interest in the subject.  A growing number of conservatives have begun to realize that the Europe of the not-too-distant future may be much less European than they would like, while a growing number of liberals (in the positive, British sense of that word) have started to see that the Europe of the future may be much less free.

Following in the wake of Bat Ye’or, Oriana Fallaci, Mark Steyn, et al., the latest in this roll call of late-flowering race realists is Walter Laqueur, up until now known chiefly for his highly regarded surveys of antisemitism and fascism, and of modern Russian, German, and Israeli history.  Now in his 80’s, the former Brandeis and Harvard professor and director of the Institute of Contemporary History is apparently still searching for new social phenomena to describe.  Such mental agility is much to be admired in a man of his age.  Laqueur’s is obviously still in many respects a young mind, able to take new impressions from unpleasant but unignorable new data.

These data are indeed disconcerting.  The indigenous peoples of the westernmost end of the Eurasian landmass are declining precipitously in numbers.  What is more, their ancestral territories, in which they have built some of the world’s most enduring and successful societies, are not simply being emptied of themselves but are being refilled by peoples from Africa and Asia, many of them Muslims.  In house after house, street after street, suburb after suburb, city after city, country after country, the very specific populations who produced European civilization in its many forms are starting to be replaced.  It is an entirely pacific phenomenon, but it is nonetheless definite.  It is a collapse and a concurrent colonization—a rout rather than a Ragnarok of the civilization that once bestrode the earth and even reached out briefly to the stars.

To give the phenomenon a more concrete shape, let us examine some figures.  According to U.N. and E.U. projections, France’s population of 60 million will decline to 55 million by 2050 and to 43 million by 2100, but the proportion of ethnic Frenchmen and women will decline much more rapidly.  The population of Germany, now 82 million, will become 61 million by 2050, and 32 million by 2100.  The Ukraine is projected to lose 43 percent of her people by 2050; Bulgaria, 34 percent; Latvia and Lithuania, 25-27 percent.  The figures are fragmentary and difficult to obtain, but Laqueur estimates that there are 5.5 million Muslims in France (double the number in 1980), 3.6 million in Germany (there were just 6,800 in 1961), 1.6 million in Britain, 1 million in the Netherlands (more than double the 1980 levels), 0.4 million in Sweden (triple the 1980 figure), 1 million in Spain, almost a million in Italy, and half a million in Greece—all of these populations having a much higher growth rate than that of their respective hosts.  On top of these figures, Turkey looms in the future of the European Union with another 71 million people, whose addition would swell the E.U. Muslim quotient overnight from around 5 percent to around 15 percent—and Turkey’s accession is being encouraged by such patriotic and intelligent statesmen as George W. Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair.  Beyond Turkey, the population of sub-Saharan Africa is set to double, while Iran’s population is projected to grow by 44 percent.  No doubt a goodly percentage of these will aspire to join their fellows already in the West.

It is little wonder that many observers are now prophesying that Europe just a few decades hence will be, at best, a kind of insignificant theme park or, at worst, a largely Muslim continent controlling the British and French nuclear arsenals.

Laqueur brings valuable qualities to his latest and arguably most urgent task.  For a start, he has a formidable intellectual reputation, which of itself will help to make immigration restrictionism more credible.  To this, he adds a dispassionate approach and attractively understated prose.  Thus, “It is by no means obvious that racism is stronger now than it was fifty or a hundred years ago,” and “social workers and the ‘migration experts’ did some good work . . . but on balance probably did more harm than good.”  He condemns airport searches of obvious non-Muslims as “public relations exercises.”  Of complaints from the European Union about “vitriolic attacks on asylum-seekers” in the media, he writes that they are

usually nothing more than the identification by the news media of the often considerable part played by these immigrants in crimes that had been committed, with the stress on the identity of the perpetrators.

And Laqueur notes, laconically, that complaints about religiously motivated discrimination were few in number until the term Islamophobia was coined in 1998.  There are plenty of quotable insights of this kind.

He also displays an essential empathy with the now interrelated plights of indigene and immigrant, all of whom have been thrust involuntarily into an awkward historical position that is likely to become much more awkward before it improves (presuming it does improve).  He is disarmingly honest about the mistakes he has made in the past, such as when he allowed himself to believe (along with very many others) that the European Union was, or could be, a serious global counterbalance to the United States.  Laqueur, at least, can see that, when it comes to global politics, all of Europe’s querulous appeals to the “international community” and “human rights” are likely to be less effectual than good old-fashioned military might.

But perhaps most valuable of all to the immigration restrictionist cause are Laqueur’s Jewish background and impeccable antifascist credentials.  Unfortunately, in the postwar decades, opposition to mass immigration has often run in tandem with antisemitic conspiracy theories and authoritarian tendencies, as excitable, eccentric, or simply unpleasant persons filled the void left by the professional politicians’ refusal to tackle this obvious problem.  Laqueur’s parents died in the holocaust, and it would have been understandable had he simply refused to listen to anti-immigration arguments at all on account of “where they might lead.”  That he has not done so speaks volumes for his commitment to truth—and for his realization that Christians (or post-Christians) and Jews are in this migration mess together.  The plight of modern Europe, beset by Muslims from without and by decadence from within, is somewhat reminiscent of Israel’s similarly precarious perch on the edge of a hostile landmass.  If only postwar British political life had been characterized by such independent thinkers as Walter Laqueur, instead of conformists such as Tony Benn (who ranted that Enoch Powell’s famous 1968 speech reminded him of “the flags that fluttered over Auschwitz and Belsen”), books like this might never need to have been written.  He is a welcome recruit to our cause; many who would have never read Pat Buchanan will read Walter Laqueur.

Nevertheless, Laqueur’s book is, in some respects, inferior to Buchanan’s equally dispiriting but more detailed Death of the West and State of Emergency.  (There are few statistics in Laqueur’s book, although there is a seven-page bibliography that curiously omits Buchanan and several other obvious candidates for inclusion.)  Buchanan has thought, written, and spoken about this subject for years and put himself to a great deal of trouble and unpleasantness in so doing.  By this self-sacrificing standard, Walter-come-latelys must necessarily be seen at a disadvantage.  But a man cannot choose when or how he receives his epiphanies, so it would be unfair to hold this against Professor Laqueur.  That he has had an awakening is what matters.

Curiously for such a subtle historian, Laqueur scarcely interests himself in the ideological roots of the problem, whereas Buchanan cites chapter and verse regarding the Frankfurt School’s disastrous influence on the culture of the West.  Laqueur does talk about the effects of “bad conscience” stemming from the refusal of many European countries to give safe haven to Jews fleeing persecution in the 1930’s, but, clearly, there is more to the matter than that.

On the other hand, Laqueur spends more time than does Buchanan in talking about the effects of the welfare state and of membership in the European Union—areas where he is clearly much more comfortable and at home than he is with the subject of immigration.  These are, indeed, important contributory issues—it is worth knowing, for instance, that, while only 5 percent of residents of Denmark are Muslims, they account for 40 percent of the social-welfare outlay—but Laqueur arguably devotes too much space to them.  The European Union and the welfare state are strictly epiphenomenal—like immigration itself.  All are mere byproducts of a civilizational loss of will and self-reliance.

More worryingly, The Last Days of Europe includes relict traces of old and toxic thought patterns.  Some of these may be the fault of typesetters—such as “firefighters” where Laqueur means firemen, and “white” in inverted commas (while black is not).  But others are plainly his.  The French police are sometimes “harsh” in tackling Muslim rioters, he says, although he has to admit such tactics can be effective.  He thinks that Europe showed “disgraceful impotence” in Kosovo.  He commends Nicolas Sarkozy for wanting to implement affirmative action—“It will have to be tried”—and Gerhard Schröder’s government for making it easier for Turks to gain German citizenship.  (Of course, the Germans should have encouraged the Gastarbeiteren to leave, saving themselves an annual expenditure of 100 million euros to promote integration, and a great deal of trouble.)  Laqueur claims “That Europe will need immigrants from abroad goes without saying.”  He even appears to feel a little nostalgic for the vanished hard-left identity of inner-city districts of Berlin and Paris; it does not appear to have occurred to Walter Laqueur that such political attitudes have helped to cast down the walls of Europe.  Judging from his website, he seems to admire the repellent Abbé Sieyès and applies the rabble-rouser’s disingenuous “J’ai vécu” to his own life.  Laqueur even says of those “who resent becoming strangers in their own homelands” that “perhaps they are wrong to react in this way”—but he does at least point out that they were never asked their opinion of, or even told about, these momentous changes.

Laqueur also focuses fairly narrowly on Muslim immigration, although he does refer to black birthrate differentials and to the imbecilic hip-hop “culture,” which encourages young black men to seek “respeck” when they would be better off listening in school.  But what of the Chinese, to whom we have so kindly donated most of our industrial capacity and knowledge, and whom we are pleased to admit in enormous numbers?  What of the burgeoning murderous “gangstas” of Western inner cities, whom at least one Labour minister admires for their “formidable entrepreneurial and leadership skills”?  Although Islam is the most obvious and urgent element of the looming immigration disaster, it is just one element.  And even the author’s discussion of Islam does not cut very deep—although he does note in passing that it has special features that make it harder for Muslims to integrate.  There is no suggestion that Western foreign policy might be helping to inflame Muslims.  Nor does he reflect on the fact that the United States is almost as cavalier as the European Union when it comes to border control and national security.  And was the United States really always the “melting-pot of races” he favors?

Laqueur predicts a turbulent future in which large-scale immigration is likely to continue—albeit possibly tempered by government initiatives such as Gordon Brown’s vaunted “Britishness days”—in the absence of a possible “right-wing, reactionary backlash.”  (Mr. Laqueur has mixed feelings about such a prospect.)  He thinks that more and more Europeans will seek to ingratiate themselves with Muslims, as the Mussulmen become political musclemen—taking their lead from the time-tarnished custom of Taqi’a, or dissimulation.  This appeasement has already begun.  Let us consider just a few examples from recent U.K. press headlines, which suggest that more and more of us are becoming moral Albanians.

Glasgow hospital employees have been instructed not to eat at their desks during Ramadan, and vending machines are to be temporarily removed from the premises.  A Scottish bakery chain has “future-proofed” its new premises by including Muslim-style toilets—although they do not have any Muslim employees.  Councils in London have told employees that they should not invite colleagues out to the pub after work, and that the assumption that everyone drinks alcohol is a kind of racism.  Public libraries in London and Birmingham have bought books by the imprisoned preacher Abu Hamza, who lost his hands but (sadly) not his life trying to murder Russians, and by Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna (whose contributions to interfaith dialogue include “The kafirs are the henchmen of the Shaitaan . . . . The only language the kafirs respect is jihad”).  Muslim supermarket check-out operators in one chain are to be allowed to refuse to handle alcoholic beverages.  An admittedly puerile festival in Cornwall was censured for featuring cross-dressing, burqa-wearing participants with such names as Miss Sleptwithjudgeistan and Miss Reallyamanistan.  A local vicar whined, “I cannot believe they thought people were going to laugh . . . No one would want to curtail freedom of speech but it’s hard to differentiate this from downright bullying.”  It is hard to differentiate this response from downright toadying.

Equally contemptible scenes may be observed elsewhere in epicene Europe.  In Germany, courts have ruled that Turks may beat their wives and dismissed complaints about noise by those unlucky enough to live close to mosques.  The Italian supreme court recently confirmed that a lower court was correct to acquit a Muslim father and son who beat and imprisoned their daughter/sister because she had a non-Muslim friend.  After all, intoned the court solemnly, “Her lifestyle did not conform to their culture.”  And so on, ad tedium, ad nauseam, almost ad infinitum.  With bad decision after bad decision, mini-capitulation after mini-capitulation, Europeans are losing their grip on Europe.  Too many modern Europeans are, as Oriana Fallaci expressed it so vigorously in The Rage and the Pride, “sh-tting in their pants” before the looming specter of Islam.  No doubt if Osama bin Laden were to take over as prime minister from Gordon Brown, many Britons would suddenly realize that, in fact, they had always been devout Muslims.

There is a certain kind of person who is temperamentally drawn to decay and secretly enjoys the contemplation of disaster.  Laqueur can, I believe, be acquitted of this vice, but his book may tend to demoralize the very people he, and we, want to steel against extinction.  The great problem with this whole gloomy genre is that it may actually help direful prophecies become self-fulfilling.  While Laqueur cannot be expected to come up with actual policies, it would have been helpful for him to have suggested clearer directions out of the morass.  Instead, he offers “Many questions and no conclusive answers.”  His pointers are of the vaguest kind, and sometimes mere plaints.

Laqueur rejects natalist policies, pointing out that they do not have much history of success.  He sets great store by education (although he does point out the paradox that many Islamic terrorists are well educated).  He suggests financial rewards for immigrants, or those descended from immigrants, who make “any effort at all” in school.  A respectable command of the national language should be a precondition for admittance into a country, Laqueur believes.  He argues that more efforts should be made to attract skilled and positive-minded immigrants, as opposed to the present “policy” of admitting anyone who turns up.  Yet the Asian millhands and Caribbean bus conductors who came to the United Kingdom in the 1950’s were generally well disposed, even patriotic, while, whatever the first-generation immigrants’ qualities might be, no one can predict how their children or grandchildren might turn out.  And Laqueur engages in some wishful thinking of his own: “Even Muslim radicals may be compelled to oppose further immigration, for the more needy there are, the less the state will be able to help.”

Yet, to adopt a more positive perspective on the fate of Europe, we cannot predict what will happen, as Walter Laqueur admits.  He knows that projections can be wildly wrong, and that “Europe had been declared dead or dying countless times during the last two hundred years.”  There are many imponderables in politics, and the more diverse a society becomes, the more imponderables there are.  The Western political climate has changed considerably since the events of September 11, 2001, and the media are filled with stories that they would never have dreamed of publishing on September 10, 2001.  A more nuanced approach to Islam by Western governments—fewer invasions of Muslim countries, and policies of divide-and-rule aimed at maximizing the differences between Sunni and Shia, and different Muslim nationalities—could yield benefits.  Maybe insurgent Islam will disappear of its own volition, as Muslims become better educated, or better integrated, or simply seduced by Western decadence.  (A counterargument would have it that Islam might be reinforced by that phenomenon, as Muslims in Europe witness at first hand the consequences of corporate apostasy.)  If nationalist parties such as the Vlaams Belang or the Swiss People’s Party continue their upward trajectories, sooner or later, the mainstream parties will have to be seen to do something to control immigration.

On the other hand, less optimistically, what will happen if, or when, a new generation of firebrand Muslim preachers, or a serious economic slump, or really effective “right-wing, reactionary” leadership comes along?  What if the United States or Israel attacks Iran or Syria, and the violence spills back into Europe?  What might happen if—when—more Islamic bombings (perhaps answered by deadly attacks on innocent Muslims) occur?

And if the worst comes to the worst, and a physical struggle for power within the borders of European countries should break out in a decade or two, as some Muslim hotheads want and some European strategists are now predicting, it should never be forgotten that there are still many tough and intelligent Westerners.  At the moment, both their feelings and skills are unfocused, but they could at least potentially be channeled—and then, as the 19th-century British music-hall song put it, “We don’t want to fight / But by Jingo if we do . . . ”  It would only take a relatively small number of Europeans to turn the tide.

The hour is late, and the situation is inherently perilous and unpredictable.  The only thing of which we can be sure is that we all are living in increasingly interesting times.  But the extinction of Europe prognosticated by Walter Laqueur and others just may be as premature as Francis Fukuyama’s so-far-deferred “end of history.”  In any case, Laqueur offers a salutary reminder: “Decline offers challenges that ought to be taken up even if there is no certainty of success.”  In fact, it is nothing more or less than our duty to do so.


[The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent, by Walter Laqueur (New York: Thomas Dunne Books) 243 pp., $25.95]