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Steven Hayward- Contributor
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Dr. Steven Hayward is Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies for the Pacific Research Institute. He is also nationally recognized for his recently released book, The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order 1964-1980 (Prima Publishing, 2001), and Churchill on Leadership: Executive Success in the Face of Adversity (Prima Publishing, 1997). [go to Hayward index]

"The West has no soul left..."
...the slow collapse of European civilization...
[Steven Hayward] 4/6/04

When news came several weeks ago that France was banning head scarves-often worn by devout Muslims-in its public schools, I thought it may be a sign that France was taking a stand over its European culture and heritage. But it turns out the ban was motivated by secularism, not particularism. The French are against any personal expression of religious identity: crosses and yarmulkes are banned as well.

The growth rate of the Islamic population in France is such that within a few decades it is not inconceivable that France will have an Arab-Islamic majority population. Only the disreputable National Party of Le Pen is so gauche as to suggest restrictions on immigration into France; still less does anyone suggest that an immigrant population be assimilated as we have done in America for 200 years.

All of which brought to mind Jean Raspail's infamous 1975 novel, Camp of the Saints. Raspail's Swiftian satire described the collapse of French civilization when challenged by a flotilla of Third World refugees that decided to migrate to France in hijacked ships. The novel was naturally attacked as racist at the time it came out, though as usual the critics missed the main point of the book, which was a critique of the emptiness of multiculturalism, a decade ahead of its time.

Raspail offered this searing meditation in the preface to a 1985 edition of Camp:

For the West is simply empty, even if it has not yet become really aware of it. An extraordinarily inventive civilization, surely the only one capable of meeting the challenges of the third millennium, the West has no soul left. At every level-nations, races, cultures, as well as individuals-it is always the soul that wins decisive battles. It is only the soul that forms the weave of gold and brass from which the shields that save the strong are fashioned. I can hardly discern any soul in us. Looking, for example, at my own country, France, I often get the impression, as in a bad dream dreamt wide-awake, that many Frenchmen of true lineage are no longer anything but hermit-clams that live in shells abandoned by the representatives of a species, now disappeared, that was known as "French" and which did not forecast, through some unknown genetic mystery, the one that at century's end has wrapped itself in this name. They are content to just endure. Mechanically, they ensure their survival from week to week, ever more feebly. Under the flag of an illusory internal solidarity and security, they are no longer in solidarity with anything, or even cognizant of anything that would constitute the essential commonalities of a people.

This explains a lot, such as the cravenness of Mssrs. de Villepan and Chirac. The United States, I think it is safe to say, still has the soul Raspail rightly says is required for the preservation of civilization. Or at least it seems so every time I see one of our fighting men in Iraq interviewed on TV. CRO

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