“Eurabia” refers to the synthesis of Arab and European culture, a grand cultural project undertaken by European and Arab elites to create an open Mediterranean zone of economic, demographic and cultural symbiosis between Europe and the Arab world. Bat Ye’or, in her recent book, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, has denounced this project as a foolish alliance in which Europeans think that by helping the Arabs destroy Israel, they can use the Arabs to isolate and compete with America. In fact, she argues, the Europeans’ sacrifice of Israel will only whet the appetite of Islamists who aim to take over Europe as well.
Bat Ye’or traces the creation of the Euro-Arab dialogue in the seventies that created a journal by that name and orchestrated the growing symbiosis of Europe and the Arab countries:
[Eurabia] is a project that was conceived, planned and pursued consistently through immigration policy, propaganda, church support, economic associations and aid, cultural, media and academic collaboration. Generations grew up within this political framework; they were educated and conditioned to support it and go along with it. This is the source of the strong anti-American feeling in Europe and of the paranoiac obsession with Israel, two elements that form the cornerstone of Eurabia.
(See the interview here and here).
In addition to these diplomatic trends, she identifies a demographic and cultural level where an anemic European culture that has ceased to reproduce itself, whose increasingly aged population demands full social services, and whose youth refuses to do manual labor, import Arab laborers to avoid facing its own heavily mortgaged future. Over the last generation, these workers have immigrated in large numbers, to the point where a number of major cities are approaching a Muslim majority in the course of the next decades (Malmo, Sweden, Rotterdam, Netherlands).
Current demographic trends suggest that a significant number of European countries will be a majority Muslim by mid-century. As Bernard Lewis commented in a controversial interview with a German newspaper, “Europe will be Islamic by the end of the Century,” a prediction that Robert Spencer then took for the title of an article. And however the initial immigrants may have felt about the Western countries to which they moved and in which they accepted state support, recent years have seen the spread of a particularly powerful strain of Jihadi Islamism among many, especially an alienated youth.
Eurabia represents an extreme version of the Jihad Paradigm, an alarming if not alarmist update of Samuel Huntington’s 1996 thesis about the Clash of Civilizations. Eurabia anticipates a militarily weaker tribal population taking over and transforming a larger but declining “greater civilization,” a process that has not occurred since the fall of the Roman Empire.
If this indeed is taking place it seems to represent a situation where the European political elites, stricken with what Kenneth Minogue calls an “Olympian complex,” fall prey to their own hubris. They seem to think that this bargain, in which they compete with their natural ally (USA, Anglophone culture, other civil polities) by allying with their own natural enemy (Arab, Muslim, prime-divider societies) will work out to their advantage. Their calculus seems based on a prime divider mentality that takes an undifferentiated attitude towards commoners. For them, it does not matter whether the manual laborers are Christian, post-Christian, or Muslim. They expect to remain on top.
Rally held in London on February 11, 2006 to protest the Danish Muhammad cartoons.
The PCP reactions to Eurabia have been either to ignore it (Borders and Barnes and Noble do not carry it on their bookshelves), or to dismiss it as paranoid conspiracism or racism on the one hand, and an attempt to ally neo-conservative thinking with Christian fundamentalism on the other. More recently, as events increasingly corroborate the thesis, the Economist has dedicated an issue to the topic, in which the editors did not review Bat-Ye’or’s book, and in which they basically dismissed the problem. The thesis, critics claim, is at once absurd – an Islamic Europe? what nonsense! – and demonizing – viewing all Muslims in Europe as a fifth column. From this perspective, Eurabia feeds the worst Islamophobia even as it deflects criticism from the US and Israel, confusing legitimate European and Arab concerns about US imperialism and Israeli colonialism with conspiratorial back-stabbing.
Any description of large societal movements orchestrated by cultural and diplomatic programs will strike most readers as conspiratorial, to say the least. And it will be to each person to decide what degree of credence to accord these cries of alarm. In considering the case, however, it seems worth noting several observations:
- Cognitive egocentrism can blind people to significant elements in the thrash of cultures. The danger here is that European elites, confident of their moral and cultural superiority are being duped by demopaths.
- The issue is not just whether Islamists can take over Europe and the US, but whether they think they can, and what the unintended consequences of actions inspired by that aspiration will bring on.
- Large cultural and social programs that serve to destroy civil society and restore an elite to decisive power are not wild conspiracy theories, but the stuff of history. In some senses, all prime divider societies are the successful conspiracy of the elite to dominate the commoners.
- Not everyone who engages in behavior supporting a “conspiracy” like Eurabia need be either conspirators or malevolent. For reasons ranging from idealism to ressentiment, Muslims, Jews, European Christians and post-Christians can support and advance an agenda that they neither understand, nor approve of.
- There is heavy pressure not to denounce Eurabia, both from the politically correct progressive camp, and from the Islamists, some of whom do not hesitate to use violence to silence criticism.
As with weighing JP and PCP, the judge must beware. If we decide to reject the thesis because we want to feel morally good, and refuse to believe such nasty things about others, or in order to find favor with progressive friends and colleagues who heap scorn on the thesis, or because we truly believe in the transformative power of multiculturalism to create a world of peace and understanding, we may be tempted to reject Eurabia as conspiracist racism. But if we are wrong, there are consequences. Unlike UFOs and the Loch Ness monster to whom some readers compare Eurabia, Jihadis have committed notable and highly visible acts of violence that reflect values profoundly opposed to civil society.
If, on the other hand, we decide to accept the theses because we feel threatened and angry, and morally offended by such wanton religious violence, theological intolerance, and patriarchal domination of women so characteristic of the Arab culture with which the symbiosis is taking place, and paint every Muslim an enemy and Islam a religion of terror, we close off avenues towards a real resolution to the problem. Identifying demopaths needs to be selective. When we allow no exceptions for the many people who will side with (those they think will be) the winners, we strengthen the conditions for apocalyptic warfare. Given the tens of millions of dead that such ultimate wars to exterminate the enemy have caused in the last century, that does seem like something worth avoiding.