A review of Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. By Christopher Caldwell.

Doubleday, 2009.

In this important volume a number of important issues are explored concerning the present state of Europe, chief of which is how fifty years of mass immigration – especially by Muslims – has forever changed the continent.

In the first third of this book Caldwell examines the history and rationale for mass immigration into Europe since the end of WWII. There was certainly a labour shortage back then, and bringing in guest workers on a temporary basis seemed like a good idea at the time.

But the temporary usually became permanent, contrary to common expectations. For example, foreign workers demanded – and got, in most cases – the right to have their families come and join them. Since a large percentage of these workers were Muslims, major demographic and religious shifts ensued. While native Europeans were going through a birth dearth, the new arrivals were having rather large families.

Thus Europe changed dramatically, even simply in terms of the numbers. For the first time in its recent history, Europe is now “a continent of migrants. Of the 375 million people in Western Europe, 40 million are living outside their countries of birth.”

But since postwar Europe was “built on an intolerance of intolerance,” very few Europeans actually said these folks should return home when they had finished their work. They were also at this time losing all commitment to their own core beliefs and values, and “behaved as if no one’s culture was better than anyone else’s.”

Image of Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West
Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West by Caldwell, Christopher (Author) Amazon logo

Caldwell examines the economic value of an immigration culture. Just who has benefitted? While Europe made some gains, it may be that the sending countries benefitted the most. No model of development aid comes close to competing with what we find in Europe, says Caldwell. Europe allowed “migrants to set up a beachhead in an advanced economy and ship money home in the form of so-called ‘remittances’.”

Then there is the whole question of the welfare state and how it can fare in quite multicultural climates. Caldwell notes that they were originally set up in Europe under conditions of ethnic homogeneity. But the massive wave of migrants is heavily testing both the welfare state, and the ability of host nations to remain cohesive.

The second part of the book focuses on Islam, and how well – or otherwise – it is fitting into post-Christian Europe. The non-judgmentalism of so many Europeans – especially the ruling elites – along with the decline of Christian values and beliefs meant that Islam became not just an accepted part of Europe, but a politically protected part.

Fear of “Islamophobia” and being politically incorrect resulted in numerous policies and practices which basically lead to Continental suicide. Even after September 11, EU bureaucrats debated whether it was even right to use such terms as jihad and terrorism.

Indeed, there really was a clash of civilisations which emerged. On the one hand, a civilisation which was exhausted, no longer believed in itself, no longer seemed to care, no longer held up anything as worth fighting for, had come face to face with a worldview full of confidence, contempt for the infidel, sure of itself, and with an evangelistic and millennialist faith.

The modern values of diversity, tolerance, secularism and relativism “that were supposed to liberate Europeans had left them paralysed”. A guilt-tripping, cowering, faithless Europe is no match for a triumphant and militant faith system. Thus any talk of integration and assimilation is mainly a pipedream in Europe.

If anything, the tensions and frictions are as strong as ever. Indeed, many Europeans – perhaps a majority – are now not at all happy with the way things have panned out on the Continent, and many wish the migrants would simply go back home.

And they have good reason to feel this way. Too many segregated encampments in major European cities have become no-go zones for native Europeans. Crime rates are soaring, with Muslims becoming the majority of those found in European prisons.

And then of course there is the problem of Islamic terrorism, and the lack of a vigorous rejection of, and protest against, it from the Muslim community. The assassinations (Pim Fortuyn, eg.), the Danish Cartoon riots, demands for sharia law, outbreaks of anti-Semitism, and other examples all too fresh in our memories demonstrate the very real problems Europeans are having with their Islamic guests.

Compared to the American experience of immigration, in which the nation really did become a grand melting pot of cultures and peoples, the Europe-Muslim divide looks too difficult to easily overcome. A divided loyalty is the result. As Caldwell rightly remarks, “Imagine that the West, at the height of the Cold War, had received a mass inflow of immigrants from Communist countries who were ambivalent about which side they supported”.

And Caldwell documents how so often European authorities encouraged and assisted in separatist policies and mentalities. This has resulted in a completely foreign culture growing up within the European culture, with little hope of resolution. It is in fact an adversarial culture, and few Europeans seem to know how to deal with it.

The third part of this book looks at the West and its response to the rise of Islam. Is it in fact capable of compatibility with Western liberal institutions? While the meeting of cultures can be a good thing for all involved, in this case one must ask who will be the winner: the West or Islam? Caldwell suggests that “What Islam will contribute to the West is Islam”.

It seems to be one-way traffic in other words. Western nations bend over backwards to accommodate their Muslim guests, to make life easy for them, to assure them that they are fully wanted. Yet at least a dedicated minority of Muslims are convinced that the end of history means a universal caliphate. Gullible and clueless Westerners are mere fools standing in their way.

Caldwell concludes by looking at how many European nations are now, belatedly, sobering up and clamping down. Radical nationalist and anti-immigration parties have of course sprung up, and the EU has recently been dealt some major blows at the ballot box.

Europeans are beginning to realise that they now have some major problems on their hands. But those who realise this tend to be ordinary Europeans, not the politicians, rulers and intellectuals. Indeed, if “Europe is getting more immigrants than its voters want, this is a good indication that its democracy is malfunctioning”.

As such this book is as much a critique of short-sighted and naive policy-makers as it is about the new immigrants. Europe has tended to show us how not to deal with the immigration issue. Thus it at least serves as a negative example.

Even if Europe now wanted to defend its values against those of Islam, the real problem is Europe no longer knows what those values are. It has long ago jettisoned its Christian foundations, and is now floundering in a sea of relativism, diversity, hedonism and secularism. “Whether or not it can defend itself, it has lost sight of why it should.”

Caldwell concludes, “It is certain that Europe will emerge changed from its confrontation with Islam. It is far less certain that Islam will prove assimilable. . . . When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident, and strengthened by common doctrines, it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.”

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10 Replies to “A review of Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. By Christopher Caldwell.”

  1. It is interesting how Europe parallels the rest of the West in that a rejection of values held by the forefathers of Christendom has allowed the Trojan horses of a number of counter-Christian cultures to enter the gates of the nations. For Europe it has let in the parallel evils of secularism and Islam, for the US it seems secular socialism has taken the floor, while Australia is heading down some really weird direction that nobody knows – not even the noddies currently running the country.
    For the sake of their own hubris and self righteous so-called tolerance those in the ivory towers are opening all sorts of doors that they do not understand. Perhaps we, like the US at the moment, will one day wake up and say enough is enough. I doubt we will learn quickly but at some point we will learn. I guess all we can do is boldly speak the truth even when most men are talking nonsense.
    Thanks for keeping on with this blog Bill, it is an inspiration to read more widely and understand things that the MSM does not like to talk about.
    Phil Twiss

  2. Hi Bill, thanks for the review. I recently heard an interview that Dennis Prager did with Christopher Caldwell and it was an eye opener – particularly their discussion about why Europe is failing to assimilate Muslim immigrants. This has resulted in the second generation being more likely to be radicalised than their immigrant parents.
    Steve Walker

  3. It’s a tragic situation. Basically Europe has abandoned its belief in the Christian worldview. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury would not defend the opening chapters of the Bible and argue that the world was indeed created in 6 days, that there was no death before Adam sinned, that there was a global Flood, and that all people have migrated recently from Babel. Neither would the Pope, I suspect. So if the Christian leaders do not believe their own book is it any wonder that no-one else in Europe feels inclined to stand up for old fashioned, pre-scientific Christian fairy tales.

    But things can change and I’m encouraged by the pandemonium that creationists are causing in the secular strongholds as they challenge the secular creation myth–Darwinian evolution over millions of years.

    Tasman Walker

  4. Recently on bill boards across the UK large posters have appeared that say “SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY GET OVER IT.”: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/media/current_releases/3512.asp

    Understandably some people, according to the government who WILL NOT GET OVER IT are in for a kicking, or at the very least enforced diversity classes.

    And yet it was reported, concerning Muslim attitudes to homosexuals, that the black Leninist, Sir Trevor Phillips, who heads up the Commission for Equality and Human rights said (and I quote the Times, February 26th 2006) that:

    “non-Muslims must also accept the right of imams to denounce homosexuality in a way that many would find offensive.
    “One point of Britishness is that people can say what they like about the way we should live, however absurd, however unpopular it is…………”
    “That’s why freedom of expression — including Muslim leaders’ right to say they think homosexuality is harmful — is absolutely precious.” ‘

    What if it is found that the perpetrators of the above mentioned hate crime, in Blackburn, are found to have been Muslims?


    Why then can we not push the tolerance envelope by having posters saying “SOME OF US ARE MUSLIMS GET OVER IT”?

    David Skinner, UK

  5. But things can change and I’m encouraged by the pandemonium that creationists are causing in the secular strongholds as they challenge the secular creation myth–Darwinian evolution over millions of years.

    “Pandemonium”? LOL! Tasman, the vast majority of Christians aren’t fooled by creation “science”. What could possibly make you believe that “secular strongholds”, which I assume means universities and the media, are at all threatened by it? Christianity will never gain ground in Europe if Christians start denying obvious facts about geology and biology. Indeed, I think it’s the stubborn adherence to young-earth creationism by a small (yet vocal) clique of Christians which repels many Europeans from engaging with Christianity.

    Heather Bates

  6. The mainstream Anglican Church in Perth just brought out some guy to speak as an apologist against the damage that was being done by all of us loony creationists. This is the same Church that has had Buddhists speak during Christmas services and has actively engaged itself in inter-faith dialogue with muslims and others silly enough to talk to them: go figure. If a very public face of the church (albeit an apostate one) won’t stand up for biblical truth then I guess its up to us loonies who believe the bible to do so. Its just a shame that over that last few centuries those who believe the bible as God’s truth have had to contend with a main branch of the Church as well as those who self consciously hate the gospel.

    I might add that I don’t include the evangelical branch of the Anglican Church in the above which has been contending for biblical truth and orthodoxy. Although to be honest in our experience we have come a cross quite a few evangelicals that do not hold to a particularly biblical account of creation and tend to write off creationist thinking as naive. A point I would argue is one of the initial cracks in the earlier Anglican Church’s armour that has done so much damage to Christian credibility in the eyes of the world.

    Phil Twiss

  7. Bill I am always challenged by your articles. You may feel like a voice crying out in the wilderness but you speak on behalf of many of us. Keep up the good work.
    The core of the problem is the decline of Christian values and beliefs brought about by theological liberalism; the Bible lost its authority and truth became relative. The church in Europe has lost its saltines and the culture lays bare unclothed of the full armor of God. As you rightly say when faced with “a worldview full of confidence, contempt for the infidel, sure of itself, and with an evangelistic and millennialist faith” European culture cowards in submission. Thankfully there is a force far greater than Islam. The Church armed with the infallible Word of God, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit is unstoppable; the gates of hell will never prevail against her. The problem started in the Church and the solution will have to come from the Church.
    Des Morris

  8. Thanks Heather

    But in broken-record fashion, you keep returning with the same tired complaints. We all know by now that you are a Darwinian true believer, but you offer nothing new, so it is not worth our time here rehashing the same old arguments.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  9. Thanks for your comments Tasman (25/9/09) concerning the challenge of Creationist to Darwinism. I couldn’t agree more.

    For those who may not have heard/seen it, Creation Ministires has put out a brilliant documentary film called The Voyage That Shook the World. It was timed to counter the lefts lauding of Darwin and to deconstruct Darwinism in this his 200th anniversary year, despite the Darwinists predictable scramble to reconstruct the edifice. Sadly it seems most Darwinist prefer ridicule to rigorous review of Creationist claims and in so doing disqualify themselves as genuine scientists and prove themselves to be but ‘true believers’ of a crumbling theory. Years of effort, ingenuity and I dare say ingeniousness have gone into honing the theory of evolution and attempting to discredit the Bible, but like a beach ball held underwater, such efforts will eventually fail as have others before them and ‘the truth will out’. God always has the last word – He is the Alpha and the Omega.

    Excellent material is available for churches/individuals who are seeking to reach out to those who have been ensnared by the theories of the man who I’ve since seeing the film found out, was an amateur naturalist/scientist!
    See CREATION.com and read the latest updates of some of the best highly trained scientific minds of our day, who also happen to have ‘the mind of Christ’.

    Michelle Shave

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