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The Fate of Entropa By: David Solway
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The exorbitant art installation commissioned by the Czech Republic to celebrate its recent ascension to the EU presidency turned out to be, to the embarrassment of its official patrons, a pointed satire of the European experiment in borderless politics and transnational multiculturalism. Each nation contributing to the new polity was mercilessly pilloried in emblem. Nor were the authorities initially aware that the title of the exhibit, Entropa, was an obvious conflation of “Europe” and “Entropy.” Europe and disorder, it seems, have become synonymous.

What is this entropic Europe? It is not merely the sum of its 27 member states but a transnational association staking its hopes for the future on a vast administrative structure overseeing questions of local and national importance. Its aim is to substitute the Kantian dream of universal harmony for the law of the Hobbesian jungle. The European ideal is one in which disputes would be resolved by committing to a parchment world of dialogue and negotiation which eschews the use of force. All well and good.

Then along came Milosevic and the Serb-Bosnian war, which Luxembourg’s foreign minister Jacques Poos seemed to welcome as a test of the European model for conflict resolution. “If one problem can be solved by Europeans,” he explained, “it is the Yugoslav problem.” The European failure was entirely foreseeable. For in a world bristling with Milosevics, Putins, Arafats, bin Ladens, Nasrallahs, Chavezs, Mugabes, Mashaals, Castros, Assads, Jong-Ils, Ahmadinejads and the rest of that raptorial fraternity, polite diplomacy and the “postmodern” foreign policy that renounces the use of force is not only ineffectual and delusional, but lethal. Most recently, the Russian invasion of Georgia has shown up the European concept of soft power and paper diplomacy for the pitiful façade that it is.

But it is not only a question of an errant and quixotic foreign policy predicated on a thorough misunderstanding of both historical reality and human nature. European social policy, with its core belief in the farsighted wisdom of a managerial class that is appointed rather than elected and a technocratic elite legislating its solutions down to the public, is equally destructive. For it revives shopworn, socialist-inspired theories and presuppositions that drive government to interfere in the domestic life of its people, leading to the very absolutist systems it presumably seeks to avoid.

The top-down and fundamentally undemocratic transnational order so dear to the Left is a surefire recipe for disaster. The untenability of the post-Marxist mentality is amply illustrated by Europe’s current plight. Indeed, the verdict is already in although few are willing to heed it: chronic unemployment, punitive rates of taxation, economic stagnation, unsustainable welfare entitlements, Defence budgets down to 1.8% of GDP, yet government spending averaging more than 50%, and a prehensile electorate glued to the teat. Like it or not, for Europe the game may well be over. The Benelux seed has blossomed into a post-Edenic garden of unaffordable welfarism and merged identities, presided over by an all-controlling administrative deity whose goal is, ultimately, to create a new species of post-historical man.

But in this world Paradise is not an option. Human nature may be nudged in certain humane directions over the long historical haul but it cannot be transformed by revolutionary or bureaucratic fiat. The French and Russian revolutions serve as perennial warnings of the harms unleashed by such unchecked hybris. The quest for political transcendence can lead only to eventual banishment from the imagined garden and to the flaming sword which turns every way.

The state of civic and cultural beatitude envisioned by the EU cannot stand up indefinitely against the rigors and pressures of inexpiable reality or, for that matter, the staying power of felt nationality. Ironically, the proof sits in Europe’s own frontyard, like a particularly unsightly garden gnome. Belgium, the bureaucratic center of the EU, is currently in the throes of a potential breakup, threatening to split into two new nation states, one serving the French-speaking Walloons and the other the Dutch-speaking Flemings. Even the leftish Economist has suggested that “a praline divorce is in order.”

This is bad enough but it gets worse. An open-door immigration policy, based on the multicultural pieties du jour, has given rise to a demographically fecund, Islamic fifth column within the body politic, currently estimated at 12% of the West European population. Add to this a corresponding fall in the indigenous birthrate below the replacement ratio, and we do not need a Daniel to read the writing on the wall. One constituency has issue, the other only issues.

Transnational multiculturalism is Europe’s effort to exorcize the malignant spirit of nationalist particularism which led to the nightmare scenario of the 20th century. The European Common Market, built on a foundation of historical memory and economic integration, was probably the best way to achieve this aim. But the current post-political solution may prove as bad or worse than the dilemma it is meant to resolve. The Kantian hallucination of perpetual peace, which allows for the infiltration of culturally immiscible elements into the social body while rendering the body politic incapable of defending itself against external threat, is fraught with baleful, real-time consequences in its wilfull indifference to the way the world works and the way human beings work in the world.

Shangri-la multiculturalism with its faith in the averaging out of all differences—while paradoxically accepting Muslim particularity—imperils the unique advantages of Western civilization: individual rights, the sense of cultural responsibility, liberal democracy, the free market of goods and ideas, the privilege of dissent, and the triage of lawful competition to ensure the leavening rather than the levelling of human distinction. In eroding or abandoning these hard-won benefits for the fiction of a kind of extra-territoriality, of post-historical immunity from human contingency and innate differences, Europe has embarked upon a suicidal trajectory.

We talk about “failed states” but it now seems we will have to consider the notion of a failed continent—a “senescent” continent (to use historian Niall Ferguson’s word) inundated by waves of hostile immigrants resistant to assimilation and insisting upon their “difference.” Meanwhile the very concept of national differences, of human singularity and cultural autonomy is surrendered to the fantasy of universal sameness. You can’t have it both ways. The project is manifestly incoherent.

There is big trouble ahead for a Europe that, on the one hand, stresses the liberal philosophical tradition of freedom of expression, yet, on the other, prosecutes Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders whose controversial film, Fitna, strives valiantly to uphold that tradition against its enemies and detractors. Clearly the European, or Entropan, postnational vision does not herald a glorious and enlightened world-in-the-making but is rather a harbinger of its gradual decay.

We are left with a sobering conclusion.The Europe which seems to shine so brightly in a sordid and unforgiving world is really the victim of a dark ideological declension, obsessed by colonial guilt, contemptuous of the best part of its own storied heritage, riven by contradiction and prone to the temptation of an illusory absolution. Its only redeeming feature is that it provides an object lesson for America.

Entropy is a measure of disorder in the universe. Entropa is merely its continental microcosm.


David Solway is the award-winning author of over twenty-five books of poetry, criticism, educational theory, and travel. He is a contributor to magazines as varied as the Atlantic, the Sewanee Review, Books in Canada, and the Partisan Review. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity. A new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, will be released by CanadianValuesPress this fall.


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