British author and lecturer Douglas Murray has a recent bestseller out called “The Strange Death of Europe. Here he is talking about the book and the ideas it presents at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend. A transcript is below.
Douglas Murray: I’m only going to speak for about 15 minutes because I wanted as much time as possible for Q&A, because I sense that there hasn’t been much, so far, and because I’m always very excited about hearing other people’s views and questions. But let me start by making a few remarks.
The first, by the way, is that I’ll talk a little about my recent book. It’s always rather difficult to understand another country, let alone another continent, or another culture. There are things you have in common. There are things which seem bizarre, when you look at them from outside, and there are things that look recognizable. There are things that rhyme. There are an enormous number of similarities between where I’m from and where most of you are from, and an enormous number of differences too. I’ve been in the states a week, spoken at a campus, and was on the West Coast at the beginning of the week, and I had one of those disassociation moments in San Francisco, when I had been in my second day in the city, and I just noticed that absolutely everywhere, there seemed to be posters advertising delivery services for marijuana. And I thought this is interesting because if there’s one thing it seems to me that San Francisco doesn’t need it’s easier access to marijuana. More of it, just so that people who smoke it don’t even have to go down the street. But there are lots of similarities between our societies as well, and one of the, I suppose, most gratifying things since the “Strange Death of Europe” came out in June here in the U.S. is the number of people who have come over to me and written to me from America, from Canada, from Australia, and said this book is about us isn’t it? And, perhaps I could stop by just saying a little about what it is about, and you’ll get some of the resonances.
The “Strange Death of Europe” centers on the 2015 migration crisis, which you all remember was the moment when Angela Merkel massively exacerbated an already existing problem by announcing, unilaterally, that the external and internal borders of Europe were basically dissolved. In a single act, the mass movement of people that had been going on for decades sped up exponentially, so that Germany in a single year took in an additional 2 percent of its population. Sweden took in an additional almost 3 percent of its population. This is all part of a pattern. I say that has been going on for many decades. And, just like those previous decades, what happened after the 2015 crisis was that politicians and the media found excuses to justify something that would have happened anyway. So, for instance, German citizens and others were told that this mass migration, millions of people into Europe, was there would be a net economic gain for their society, that it would enrich their society. Now, actually, all of the studies that I have gone over on this show that, at best, most such migration cannot be called to be any kind of economic gain. A study in Britain showed that over a 15 year period, migrants took out 95 billion more in services than they put in taxation. And, of course they would. If you go to another country, you don’t speak the language. You don’t have the skills. It’s going to be a very long time, before you’ve put in anything into the welfare system, remotely like the amount that you and your family will have taken out. But, this is one of the arguments that is made.
And, by the way, just as in all of the decades after the war, so in the post-2015 moment, the governments that came up with these explanations had to hedge around the facts, so that just like the labor government, after 1997, they had to pretend that the average migrant was a Luxemburgian hedge funder. And this is just one of the lies that gets told to the people, because once that one is shut down, once, for instance, you notice that the number of people who have been added to Germany’s welfare bill in the last year, is almost exactly the number of the people who came in in 2015, once you go over that lie, you get to another one, which the German people and others were told; which is that we are an aging population. We are a graying population, and then, therefore, we need, obviously, to bring people in, to keep us and our society into the standards to which we’ve become accustomed. Of course, this argument always ignores one extraordinary thing, which none of the politicians ever seem to recognize, which is the startling fact that migrants get old as well. Amazingly enough, it’s not just us Europeans who suffer the aging process. Who knew? But, of course, if you do believe in that idea, that you need to keep on bringing people to keep yourself in the custom that you’re now used to, you get, what I describe as, the pyramid problem in migration. You keep having to bring in more and more people all the time, to keep yourselves in that sustainable societal moment.
So once you get the one of, well, okay maybe they don’t make us richer. Maybe the aging population thing doesn’t work. You get to another one, which is diversity. It doesn’t matter if we’re financially poorer. It doesn’t matter, because we’re so much more culturally rich. Now, I should say that there is something in this. What society — Europeans certainly wouldn’t do this. What society doesn’t want to know as much of interest and culture as the world has to offer? Who doesn’t want to know as much about the world, and about the ideas of the world as possible? But, of course, the first person from, for instance, India to bring Indian cuisine into the U.K., does an interesting service. Vins up the local cuisine. It’s not the case that the next 100 Indians who come, for instance, bring a hundred times more interesting cuisine. It’s not the case that the first Sudanese poet who enters the U.K. massively brings interest to your country and that the next thousand people from Sudan continue to just bring ever richer versions of the poetry of Sudan. And, by the way, please don’t ask me to name my favorite Sudanese poet. But, this is just a part of that lie. They all say – You also notice, by the way, that this is always a one way street. Not once in my adult life have I heard anybody say that the thing that Eritrea needs an injection of Welshman. That they just could do with some Welsh cooking or singing. Nobody says this. Nobody says, as Mark Steyn and I were saying in a conversation recently, nobody says the thing that the Somalis really need is a bit more Bach. I actually think it would be nice for them if they had a bit more Bach. But nobody thinks that’s an appropriate way to say it. But Europeans are told there’s something hollow at our heart. As if we in Europe, the culture of Dante and Gerter and Bach, has some kind of diminishment; something hollow at its center that needs filling by the world.
And then you get to another stage in this, which is, okay, maybe it doesn’t make you richer. Maybe the aging population thing does fall apart. Maybe the diversity thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be or, as I put it at one point in my book, maybe we just have to do an agreement this is a quid pro quo. We have a bit more gang rape and beheading than we used to have, but then there’s a wider range of cuisines. So, who’s to – life’s all swings and roundabouts.
But, then you get to the last stage of that, which is the one that politicians now say and speak to us about. Which is, okay, maybe none of these things are the case. We’ll suck it up. This is globalization. This is going to happen anyway. This is a hell of a way to speak to the general public about their and their children’s future. And, it is only said, once again, to the peoples of Europe in this tone.
So, I explained, at great length, not just the stats and the result of my travels across, not just all of Europe, but many of the countries that migrants have been coming from, trying to explain in as much detail and with as much honesty as possible, the reality of the situation that my continent now faces. But also to explain the deeper, underlying reasons why this might be happening. Because, it seems to me that what I describe as the “strange death of Europe,” I say in the opening line, “Europe is committing suicide or, at least, its leaders have decided to commit suicide.” Whether the publics agree to go along with that, or not, is another matter. Now, this strange death, this suicide, seems to me to be a very unnatural thing to happen in nature. And, so there must be, and I posit that there are deeper underlying reasons for it. One is what I described, taking it from the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner, as the Tyranny of Guilt. This overwhelming guilt, specifically, the German guilt that has spread across the continent in the decades since the war. You, of course, in America have a very clear version of this, yourself. Just as we, in Europe now, have this myth of original sin, so you now have it in America; the original sin of slavery, the original sin of racism, and the European versions of the original sin of colonialism, and so on. Again, it’s a one-way movement.
And, of course, we fall for it, as everybody who has children and grandchildren, or has attended an American campus in recent years, knows. If you say to a student, and I do it quite often, what is your solution for, for instance, the problems that Nigeria currently faces? They have no solutions. They have no suggestions. Very few of them can point to the country on a map. But, the one thing they all can be sure about is, at some point, it must have been their or their ancestor’s fault. The fastest fast tract to look like you’re a knowledgeable young person is to blame yourself and your own society. And, as I say at another point in the book, we get to the big problem the masochists always risk, which is what happens to them when they meet a real sadist? And Europe is meeting a real sadist. So you think you’re appalling, empty, barren, rubbish, guilty. We agree. This seems to me to be the worst possible concatenation of events. The mass movement of peoples into a society. Then, at the point that that society appears to have lost its own faith in itself, this two of the other big underlying issues I raise in the book, are what I call, firstly, the sense of European tiredness. There’s a German word I use that translates roughly as “tiredness with history” or “weariness with history,” where you’ve gone so many of the wars of religion, the wars of nation and states, the wars of ideas, the political dreams, that you’re just tired of it all, and at that point, a change might be as good as a rest. And, then there’s what I describe as the sense that the story may have run out, and that this is just our fate, to go through.
Now, I’m very weary and wary, rather, about making predictions. I do, at the end of the book, say roughly two directions I think this could go. But, specific predictions, I tend to avoid. After all, we live in a world where Harvey Weinstein can end up causing the resignation of a British defense minister. So who knows what the rules of causality are in this world we now live in. But, there are some predictions that you can make. One, that it’s fairly obvious that Europe will not be the same place with different people in it, and that it isn’t the case that people who just walk into a continent immediately absorb all the ideas of that continent. And the subtitle of my book is immigration, identity and Islam; that the Islam bit matters because it’s clearly proving for Europe to be the part that we may not be able to digest or are finding it, at the very least, very hard to digest. And, you know there are all sorts of motifs that go around on this. One, is the constant claim that there might, at some point, be a tipping point. I’ve given up claiming that there is such a thing as tipping point. If we’d had met this time last year, and you said to me there’ll be three major terrorist attacks in your country in the opening months of the year, I’d have probably said, well that might be the tipping point. But, it turns out that 22 young women killed on a Monday night at the pop concert in Manchester, within hours the motif becomes, how can we have love rather than hate? How can we overcome hate? Hate, hate, hate. Sing John Lennon’s Imagine. Imagine there’s no borders. Great idea. For then we had one of the Gallagher Brother’s songs. A song called Don’t Look Back in Anger. People started crooning away, Don’t Look Back in Anger. Why not? Why not? You know, we had the love, love, stop the hate concert, I think two weekends after the Manchester area bombing, and there was a bit of that was sad, and then they got onto all the dancing and boogying. They didn’t pay any attention. The media didn’t pay attention to the fact the dead hadn’t even been buried. There were still girls in hospitals having bits of bolts and nails taken out of their spines. Well, at least we’ve moved on. It didn’t get us down. Boogey on. And I deeply resent this tone, and I suspect and know that a great number of the members of the public in Europe deeply dislike it too.
The reception of this book, by the way, has been rather startling. The Guardian and The New York Times both tried to snuff this out at birth and didn’t succeed. It’s now the bestselling non-fiction book of the year. In the U.K., it’s been a top – I’m not after applause for it. But, yes, the publisher said that, actually, their quarterly reports were far higher than they expected, because of me and Harry Potter, which was not a combination I’d ever thought would come about, but my mother had told me for a long time that it would be worth getting into books about wizards, because it was good for sales. So, I was pleased to say I got there without the wizards. And, the best thing, really, has been the number of publishers that have been sidling up to me, since saying things like, “I told my bosses we should do something in this area.” One publisher in the U.K. said to me that their boss, after my book had been at the top of the bestseller list for 20 weeks, said that their boss said to them, “Well, we don’t want those readers.” Hmm, love his shareholders to know that.
But, anyway, for the time being continued this period of keep-calm-and-carryon-ism or ignoring the facts. But, at some point, they will, inevitably, catch up with us, and that’s what the latter part of my book is about. There are people, of course, who don’t care at all about this. I spoke to somebody the other week who said, “Well, it doesn’t matter to me because I won’t be here.” Among other things, that point of view breaks down what I regard as the essential pact of civilization, which is it is not just about you. But as Edmond Burke most famously and brilliantly said, that civilization is a pact between the dead and the living and those yet to be born. You have to hold that pact together, every bit of it, and to give it up and to break a part of that pact is to break everything that you should be loving and cherishing. Now, there are plenty of people, today, who are attacking us in Europe with genuine hate, just as there are here in America. But the one thing that they never take account of is that we are not just motivated in response by hatred and justified hatred, but also by love; love of everything that we hold dear, love of an entire culture, love of country, love of family, love of neighborhood, and love of everything that’s gone before us, and that it would be the worst thing imaginable, if in response to having inherited that, we then handed on to the next generation, something that was unrecognizable. So, we have this gift in our power not to pass on something like a large version of Mogadishu to the next generation. It’s in the balance there, in Britain, as it is here, and in the years ahead, we’re all going to be walking through this same swamp. I’d like to hand it over to you for questions. Thank you.
I don’t know whether there’s a microphone or whether people with large lungs can just holler.
Audience Member: Yes, hello, Mr. Murray. Thank you very much for a great speech. I have one question sir. What do you believe is your prognosis for Eastern Europe; orthodoxy and the former Soviet Republics, Warsaw Pact? They’re not as willing to embrace this multi-culturalism and this disease that affects Western Europe. What do you think is the prognosis for them?
Douglas Murray: Very good and very important question. I have a section in my book that I call “Why Eastern Europeans are Different.” You’re right. I was in Hungary, again, a couple of weeks ago. The Polish translation of my book just came out. I had been speaking there. They have a totally different view on this. I think there are lots of reasons, but the central one I suggest is that Eastern Europeans have retained, what a great Spanish philosopher described as, the tragic sense of life. The thing that we in Western Europe, and I think large numbers of people in America, have forgotten, is, as I said, the tragic sense of life. Life, as we have it now, is highly unusual, historically speaking. We’re extraordinarily lucky with what we have, and we think that this luck goes on forever. The Eastern Europeans remember that differently. They get swept aside, from one side, and just as they get rid of that, they get swept aside from another. They got no time off from history, and they remember this. They remember that even the things you care about most can be destroyed, utterly, by people who are utterly unworthy of them. And, I think we’ve forgotten that in the West, but they have good reason to keep that memory. And, as a result, I think their future will be very different. Somebody else.
Audience Member: Thank you so much for being here today. Here in the United States there’s also another line that we face which is, as we discuss the issue of immigration, particularly with respect to Muslim immigration, we were told we are a nation of immigrants and, particularly, ensuring aspects, for example, in the Jewish community, if it were not for the United States, we would not be here. My family would not be here. How do you go and address that particular core issue? We are a county with a history of welcoming others. We are welcoming the different people. I, of course, respond why welcome people that don’t share your values?
Douglas Murray: It’s a very important question. There are several things. There are two critiques to this book that I found interesting, but this one is one of the most interesting. Yes, America is a nation of immigrants. That’s true. Of course, it’s not true with Britain. And it’s not true of most of Europe, actually. We’ve had very, very static populations, so that, to give you a quick example, everyone talks about Huguenots, French Protestants who came over in the 17th Century. Fifty thousand French Huguenots, French Protestants came over after 1683; 1681, sorry. And that, by the 1990s was an average of 6 weeks of migration into the UK.
So, we still talk about the Huguenots, which is a one-off. But that’s going on all the time now. And, of course, the French Huguenots, French Protestants, had a better chance of integrating into Britain than, say, a Nigerian Muslim is going to.
And I think this is a question – this is not a science, but there are obvious truths that we have to be able to face up to, which is that some groups integrate better than others. And we have to work out what the general rules are. Now, where I’m from, as I say, this is a deeper problem than it is here. Your sense is that you have an integration success story; you still have the sense that it’s a good thing to be in America and that you’re lucky to be in America, and a lot of things like that. The response in Europe is very, very different on that.
And, I would say that one of the things you can agree with is, let’s at least look at what the basic ground rules are. Okay? If I move to this country, for instance, I became a citizen, I might say, I want to bring some of my values. Imagine if I said to you, I would like to bring my car. Okay. You might think that’s a rather odd thing to do, but okay. And my wheel would be on the other side from yours. You say, okay. Just a little quirk. He’s a British guy. He likes driving on that side of it. But if I said, and I also want to continue to have the right to drive down the left-hand side, we’d have to talk about that, wouldn’t we?
And that’s what a lot of this is about. There are lots of groups here who feel very sensitive, by the way, when I talk about immigration in an American context. Because there are so many people here who think, like a lot of Jews do in Europe, oh, my gosh. What if this is about us? It’s not about you. It’s about the people who don’t want to join the you. And that’s a big challenge we’re all going to have. Do I have time for one more question?
Audience Member: It’s kind of been easy to get into the minds of the ruling elite, as far as this collective guilt, but how do you account for the phenomenon, I think it was in Nottingham, where you had blue-collar police who are actively suppressing the ongoing rapes of British girls by Muslims? How do you account for that? Is it equivalent to the concentration camp guards or how do you put it together?
Douglas Murray: Well, because they are trying to defend what they believe, rightly or wrongly, to be the religion of our time. Like all belief systems, it shatters in a very ugly fashion. But we’ve been trying to sustain a whole set of unsustainable ideas. One of them is this idea, as I say, that people don’t bring their own ideas when they move into a culture. They’re all the same the minute you walk over the border. You immediately get 21st Century ideas about women and everything else.
So, these policemen who are in this position, they’re having to police that. And not just policing criminality or crimes; they’re trying to police the culture. They’re trying to hold together the whole thing. And I’ve spoken to many people who have gone through this cognitive dissonance. It’s the same reason why in Britain at the moment, if your house gets burgled, if you get robbed in the street, it’s very likely the police will tell you they don’t have time to look into the crime. Whereas if, as some people present know, you send out a Tweet with the wrong tone of joke in it, they’ll be all over you. So, as I say, this is just one part of the phenomenon.
Now, I’m aware that I’ve got Mike Finch standing to my left, which is usually a great pleasure, as always, but it also almost certainly signals a change in speaker. But can I just say, I’ve got to sadly go up to New York after this, and it’s such a pleasure always to be here at Restoration. It’s enormous pleasure to meet so many friends and to see so many heroes. Thank you for your time, and I hope to see you another year. Thank you.