“A people who still remembered that their ancestors had been the masters of the world would have applauded, with conscious pride, the representation of ancient freedom, if they had not long since been accustomed to prefer the solid assurance of bread to the unsubstantial visions of liberty and greatness.”
Historian Niall Ferguson sees ominous parallels between the situations of modern Europe and the Roman Empire in the early Fifth Century:
Let us be clear about what is happening. Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defenses to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums. At the same time, it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.
The distant shock to this weakened edifice has been the Syrian civil war, though it has been a catalyst as much as a direct cause for the great Völkerwanderung of 2015. As before, they have come from all over the imperial periphery — from North Africa, from the Levant, from South Asia — but this time they have come in their millions.
To be sure, most have come hoping only for a better life. Things in their own countries have become just good enough economically for them to afford to leave and just bad enough politically for them to risk leaving. But they cannot stream northward and westward without some of that political malaise coming along with them. As Gibbon saw, convinced monotheists pose a grave threat to a secular empire.
It is conventional to say that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Europe are not violent, and that is doubtless true. But it is also true that the majority of Muslims in Europe hold views that are not easily reconciled with the principles of our modern liberal democracies, including those novel notions we have about equality between the sexes and tolerance not merely of religious diversity but of nearly all sexual proclivities. And it is thus remarkably easy for a violent minority to acquire their weapons and prepare their assaults on civilization within these avowedly peace-loving communities.
Go here to read the rest. I think the historical parallel is overdrawn, but there is no doubt that Europe is in trouble. Hedonism is a poor basis for a civilization and that is what European elites have attempted to do over the past half century. These elites convinced their societies that the good life could be theirs gratis. War would be abolished, kids would become an optional hobby and all of it would be paid for by money conjured out of nothing by beneficent welfare states. Even by the standards of prior utopian disasters, the whole project from the start had a deep air of make believe and mendacity and it has come aground, as human fantasies always do, upon hard reality. Life in this Vale of Tears is always a struggle, and any people who seek to pretend otherwise are doomed. The refugee crisis has merely given a push to a very ramshackle edifice.