I am told President Trump has said that “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”  In the September issue of Chronicles, several authors, such as Aaron Wolf, either directly or indirectly dealt with this same crucial question.  What follows is a mere snippet of additional reflection.

What used to be Western civilization is indeed threatened today with progressive extinction at the hands of Muslim immigration, which considers the West as a worthless relic of a useless past, at best, or, in the minds of Islam’s more or less hidden leaders, as a hostile multisecular force to be destroyed, either by sheer violence or by submerging it under a demographic tsunami.  Faced with this threat the politically correct Western governments and Western “elites,” more or less followed by a significant portion of the anesthetized or indifferent masses, show incredible willingness to yield to the invasion.  Following the unfortunate preaching of the Pope, the Western countries consider it their sacred duty to open their arms to an unsustainable number of migrants, the majority of whom have no reasonable right to be considered refugees—and the least of whose concerns (logically, as their numbers swell) is to adopt the culture and customs of their host country.  Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic are to be banned from the society of civilized Western nations for their reluctance to follow suit.

Such a set of evidences naturally raises this question: Why are most leaders of the Western world, supported by a sizable fraction of their Western constituencies, so obviously bent on ignoring the clear and present danger they are confronted with?  Why are they so intent on imposing their suicidal policy upon what remains of traditional Western peoples?

The answer to this question lies, I think, in the following assertion: Every human society is characterized by a dominant mentality, more or less consciously shared by its members, because it is the mental reflection of its social fabric.  I shall therefore draw a moral portrait of the average citizen, as shaped by such a mentality in contemporary Western societies, so as to try to understand how he/she is bound to react to the terrorism that plagues these societies today.  I shall leave aside that minority of citizens who, owing to a more thoughtful nature, are able to escape the yoke of this particular mentality and live according to rules that do not merely, and rather slavishly, reflect the fabric of the society in which they live.

It is hardly disputable that the “Rights of Man” has become the West’s favorite slogan, the one it never ceases to display as its major contribution to civilization, and as a title to undying glory and respect.  But there is more to the slogan than meets the eye.

Indeed, it could be argued that the concept dates back 2,000 years: Inasmuch as it is supposed to promote the respect of all men for one another, it could be argued that it is a mere repetition of Christ’s words, exhorting mankind to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Pope John Paul II said so himself.  But as soon as the comparison comes to mind, a crucial difference should stand out, at least if one cares to think about the words.  In the Lord’s command, the key word is “love,” whereas in the Enlightenment slogan it is “rights”—which says it all in a nutshell.  For to love, as the Lord’s life and death were meant to prove, is to forfeit the preference for oneself over anyone else (a preference that is instinctive to all animals as well as men) and renounce one’s innate selfishness.  The meaning inherent in the philosophy of the Rights of Man, despite its general understanding today, is just the reverse, as exemplified by the loathing of its supporters for Christian belief.  Claiming to have a right is actually demanding to be respected, period.  But on what grounds does one expect this demand to be satisfied?  Obviously, it cannot be because one expects to be loved.  Therefore, the only possible reason must be the centuries-old commonplace principle of reciprocity: If you respect what I consider my right, then I shall respect what you call yours.  Again, this is to say that at the root of this ideology lies an exclusive concern for one’s self-interest, or, to use the 18th-century phrase, an overwhelming love not of the other but of oneself.

It could be argued that our societies are compassionate ones, at least more so than those of the past.  But why does one feel like being compassionate?  I would suggest the answer lies within the word itself: Compassion for someone means literally to suffer with someone, as if the latter were one and the same as oneself.  In other words, once again, compassion (or sympathy) may well be another word for concern for oneself, for love of oneself.  Our societies are compassionate because they are ego-worshipping societies.

Let me add another illustration of the same idea.  We live in societies devoted to democracy as the god of all gods.  Democracy literally means the governing of the city by the people, its basic principle being the sovereignty of the people.  So what is so awesome or so worthy about the notion as to preclude any reflection about why it is so universally revered?  After all, if the power of one man, or a few, can be considered dangerous, why shouldn’t the power of all be thought so as well?  The answer springs from the very terms of the question.  In the eyes of the many, the supposed validity of the democratic regime over all the others stems from the very fact that no one in particular may be supposed to have a right to govern the others.  In other words, democracy is popular because it allows each citizen to consider himself a sovereign in his own right, whether concerning a matter of opinion, from the most trivial to the religious, or daily behavior—a sovereignty illustrated for instance by the famed sexual tolerance granted to all individuals with the blessing of all progressive people.  Democracy sanctifies the individual’s love for himself.

Another sacred principle of our societies is the famed right of each citizen to freedom of thought and expression, the right of each individual to dissent from others’ opinions.  It is indeed quite a respectable principle, but one which admits of two possible and quite different interpretations.  Indeed, the pupil may have a right to disagree with his teacher.  But why would there be teachers, if they didn’t have a right to correct the possible errors of the pupil?  In other words, if the right to dissent is understood as a right to stand firm upon one’s opinion, regardless of its possible weakness, it is merely another form of the cult of the ego: My opinion is just as valid as any other; there is no truth but mine.

Another distinctive mark of our societies is their cult of economic progress, i.e., the indefinite improvement of the well-being of all citizens.  Improving one’s personal comfort is certainly laudable up to a point, but beyond that point (which is difficult but nevertheless essential to ascertain) it becomes hard not to ascribe such pursuit of indefinite material progress to an implicit approval of men’s propensity to hubris, which is reflected in the individual’s propensity to extend indefinitely his sovereignty over nature.  Or in still other terms, shall I quote Adam Smith, who identified the propensity for exchange as the founding act of economic development, and ascribed it not to the individual’s benevolence but to his fundamental selfishness, his self-love?

To conclude, I want to point out again that when I consider the propensity for self-love to be the mark of modern Western citizens, I do not mean to suggest that most individuals are conscious of it; being implicit in the fabric of our societies, it is all the more powerful because it is not the effect of a deliberate will on the part of most people.

Now, supposing this diagnosis to be accurate, how is it related to the permissive attitude, of both Western governments and their citizenry, toward massive and potentially lethal immigration?  This relationship is at least three-sided.

First, the cult of one’s ego deprives the individual of any feeling, indeed of any idea, that his very existence depends on the welfare of various entities of which he is only a part.  Existing human communities, together with their past history, a past which is not only a communal one but also an individual one, range from one’s family, village, or town to one’s country (the land of one’s fathers), and beyond these merely human communities, to the supernatural one supposed to draw all men and their various communities together into a spiritual unity bonded by the love of God’s creatures, provided they behave as such.  These communities the god-like ego not only ignores but spurns, even hates.  To such an ego they are only the source of artificial constraints, shackles to his own sovereignty, hidden under the guise of preposterous moral duties.  Hence nothing could be more remote from the average Western citizen of our times than the notion of risking his life to defend his community.  As Chilton Williamson pointed out in a previous issue of your favorite magazine, the times are gone when one could find warriors aplenty in Western countries; nowadays in response to every new Muslim-engineered massacre, all that the crowds manage to achieve is to deposit flowers, light candles, and shed tears.  Contrary to a popular misconception, the cult of the ego goes hand in hand with hedonism, which, in turn, breeds unwitting but overwhelming cowardice.

There is an even stronger reason for the tolerance of Western citizens toward massive immigration.  Again, it is a matter of sheer logic, a logic that is more often felt than clearly perceived.  Indeed, for these citizens, doomed to fall prey to the spirit of the times, expressing reservations about any foreigner’s right to settle in their country, not to mention manifesting hostility to him, is tantamount to denying themselves the right—a crucial right of the sovereign ego—to settle wherever they want to.  Thus, the feeling of guilt, more or less consciously upheld by a fair amount of the masses and their leaders, which induces the opinion that the West should welcome anyone who wishes to settle there, whether he is qualified or not to do so.  Hence, also, a reluctance to acknowledge that one may have enemies, a propensity to believe all immigrants are of the same mind as Westerners and are like brothers rather than invaders.

Let us try to get closer to the heart of the matter.  Most of our contemporaries do not believe in anything except their right to believe in whatever they please, such as their own opinions and their chosen way of life.  They do not believe there is anything that, because it is natural, good, or true, may give birth to a feeling of duty.  Everything is relative: That is their truth.  The logical result is that, rather than fight for beliefs they deem to be intrinsically whimsical—i.e., not worth dying for—they prefer other ones that do not require any sacrifice on their part.  “We are not afraid,” they shout.  “We shall keep shopping in our supermarkets.”  Obviously, the terrorists are terrified.

If this reasoning is correct, it suggests for the West the only possible way out of this snare.

If pathological self-love is the disease of the contemporary West, then the remedy for this disease can only be something that helps the individual fight his own proclivity to prefer himself to anyone else.  And once the difficulty has been thus formulated, the solution comes readily to mind.

Actually, it does with one proviso: that it be acknowledged there is such a thing as human nature.  Indeed, the cure can only come from realizing the requirements of this nature.  People who deny its existence cannot have the idea of such a cure, and even less the will to prescribe it.  Let us not waste time discussing their prejudices: Sheer common sense and observation amply prove them to be erroneous.  Let’s go back instead to centuries-old wisdom.

It has always been observed that men are torn between two aspirations.  While it is true that men’s freedom endows them with the ability to stand apart from everything and everyone else, it remains to be proved that they can be happy doing only that; common experience indicates that man is just as much, if not more, a participatory animal, eager to belong, to be a member of a whole beyond his lone self, rather than to be a self-centered atom with neither doors nor windows, to speak like Leibniz.  And to an animal, wittingly or not craving membership, there exists a natural series of wholes ranging in his own eyes from the less to the more worthy of participation.  There is by nature an utterly satisfying whole that encompasses all the others and gives them substance and meaning, a sort of perfect club fulfilling the most demanding need a man can feel for membership per se.  To stop speaking in riddles, the idea I wish to convey is the well-weathered one that man is by nature a religious animal, one that, whether he knows it or not, craves a supernatural order of things to which all human orders are subordinated, and from which they derive their worth.

But as it usually goes with creeds, there is the original one, and there is the one manufactured by impostors eager to avail themselves of the former’s moral power.  The impostors have borrowed the dogma of only one God, but, as if looking for a being able to overwhelm the One they copy, they maintain their god (named Allah) is the only true being, one from whom men derive their substance to such an extent that they are by themselves nothing but mere manifestations of his will, a sort of selfish god who cannot allow any of his creatures to be real beings.  Such is the primitive faith of Islam.  On the contrary, the original faithful believe God to be such a generous being, albeit awesomely powerful and wise, as to have created beings whose subservience to Him is born not out of a quintessential incapacity to disobey God’s will, but out of voluntary love and respect.  To such believers the universe is an order within which not only mankind but each man has a very special place and, more precisely, a very special role, because men are endowed with a capacity both to realize that there is an order and to refrain purposefully from harming its supernatural harmony by seeking which note he is destined to play in it.  Such is the faith, arguably unique, that is the Christian Faith—and arguably the one best suited to fulfill the requirements of human nature.

I shall draw two conclusions from all of this. The West suffers from a fatal flaw, the individual’s deep-seated love of himself.  It is lethal because it eventually deprives individuals of any reason for self-respect, which means any solid and determined will to defend themselves.  Faced with the clear and present danger of a simplistic but aggressive creed, the West’s only true defense is to hold tight to its traditional identity, to support staunchly its religion of old.  I am tempted to say Christianity alone can successfully resist the onslaught of Islamic ideology.

If such is the sin of the West, the way to atone for it is obvious.  Unfortunately, to implement such resistance is a desperate ambition.  Indeed, how does one instill even a small measure of humility into the heart and spirit of a civilization built upon the conviction that each man is his only true god—in other words, upon implicit but widespread pride?  By sheer force, by the sword, replies Islam, implicitly and explicitly.  A nonsensical answer, the traditional Christian will say, and the traditional Christian is right.  But things being what they are, the true Christian’s answer is, between the exemplary saint’s martyrdom, on one hand, and the populace’s lachrymose tolerance, on the other, to hope and pray for a miracle.  Let us pray.


(Rex Features via AP Images)