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David Calling

The David Pryce-Jones blog.

The Collapse of a Civilization’s Self-Confidence



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News of Britain’s moral and cultural decline comes pouring in. A friend sends me a passage from the Brussels Journal, which is not as you might expect a pro-European Union hand-out but the publication of the Flemish nationalists in Belgium. Here it is:


A section entitled “British Culture” on the government’s website for the U.S. states that, “Like the U.S., Britain is proud of its multicultural heritage.” And an accompanying section “The History of Multicultural Britain” seems to suggest that ancient Britain was as nearly ethnically diverse as the modern country, or perhaps more so. In this supposed British history, the largest paragraph out of only nine is on the Muslim community, and the word “Muslims” appears four times while “Celts,” “Angles,” “Saxons,” “Norse,” and “Danes” appear only once. “English,” “Irish,” “Scottish,” “Welsh,” and “White” don’t appear at all.


Can this be true ? my friend asked, horror-struck by the travesty of inventing a role for Muslims in fashioning the historic character of Britain, when they have immigrated only in the last generation or two. At the very same moment, the newspapers are carrying the latest attack on Britain by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury – he who recently informed us that Muslim sharia law in Britain is not only unavoidable but also desirable. (Incidentally, several Muslims responded in the media by saying that they had emigrated to Britain precisely to avoid sharia law in their countries.) This time, the Archbishop told us that we are in the grip of “selfish, controlling, greedy habits,” because we are cultivating a fantasy that there will always be “enough oil, enough power, enough territory” for our desires. Our civilization, he concludes, will collapse.

Never mind that this unfortunate priest is himself in the grip of a sub-Marxist fantasy about the inevitably doomed consequences of capitalism and democracy. What is really striking is the lack of self-confidence evidently motivating him and also the bureaucrats who drafted their nonsensical version of the Muslim role in Britain. Some sense of guilt, or inadequacy, or fear, has spread through the upper reaches of the society like a dreadful epidemic. But where did it begin, and why ? It is a central mystery of our times, and will provide the theme of a Gibbonesque Decline and Fall in many volumes by some great historian of the future.



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