Wednesday 2 March 2016

Meeting Neagu Djuvaru

'Europe is committing suicide. Langsam aber sicher. Slowly but surely.'

Is there nothing we can do to avoid this, I ask.

'There is no escape. It is our destiny.'

I am taking tea with Neagu Djuvaru, the doyen of Romanian historians, who will be 100 in August. He is an old man but has the ebullience of a child. He seems a very happy man except when he thinks about the future of Europe, which he is glad he will not live to see. 

There is, he says firmly, no alternative to a Muslim conquest of Europe and the end of Western civilisation. It is a thesis he has repeated several times in interviews. Romanians, who have not been exposed to cultural relativism, treat it with great respect.

I tell him that an American history professor recently said to me that Western civilisation will not come to an end because it is now universal.  There is no other civilisation. But as I
say this I realise that there was no alternative to Western civilisation in the fifth century
but this did not prevent the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Every civilisation comes to an end after approximately two thousand years, so Neagu Djuvaru has written in his magnum opus “Civilizations and Historical Patterns”. So it will be again. I remembered that H.L. Mencken said that America was the only country to have gone from being primitive to being decadent with no period of civilisation in between. The approaching end of European civilisation seems to be bad luck on Romania, which has not yet had the chance to become decadent. 

Professor Djuvaru agrees, but says there is no help for it. Europe has grown old and lost its vlaga, an earthy word which means sap. The Muslim migrants entering Europe are the equivalent of the barbarians who invaded the later Roman Empire. At least, he points out, the Roman Empire was replaced by Germans, who were Indo-Europeans and cousins to the Romans. This time, he says, it will be worse.

I reflected that, though we have the bomb and the military might, Western Europeans did not seem to have as much vlaga as they used to have and not nearly as much as the Islamists.  The passion and anger of Hamas and the Muslim zealots is their strength. It was this passion that led them to conquer half the Roman world in late antiquity, for what were the early caliphs but Islamists?

Professor Djuvara says that his generation, of whom he is one of the last survivors, went abroad to study and to return, whereas young Romanians today leave Romania and do not want to come back. He has a very good point. Romania is now an emigrant country, like all the countries in the former Soviet Bloc. But what perhaps he does not understand is that emigration means something very different in the age of smartphones and Facebook from what it did when he went to Paris to study in the 1930s.

I shall write up my extensive, wide-ranging interview with Neagu Djuvara and publish it shortly. 

1 comment:

  1. I continue to disagree with your assumption that there are different kinds of civilization and that they can be described as inferior/superior.

    That's not how I see things. There is always change and at the same time there is none.