Sunday, 6 March 2016

Neagu Djuvara tells me Europe is committing suicide


"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, 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 civilization. 

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 Djuvara 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. 

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?

Interviews with Professor Djuvara make the front pages in Romania and most Romanians
, who have not been exposed to cultural relativism and like Europe being Christian, tend to agree with him. Most (the exceptions often went to university in the West) are dismayed and worried by the influx of migrants, even though Romania is not on their route to Germany. But the Romanian government, unlike Hungary's or Slovakia's, does not criticise Germany and instead criticises Viktor Orban, who plans to build a razor-wire fence along Hungary's border with Romania, in case the migrants change their route. 

Romania offered to take 1,500 migrants last summer and was ordered by the E.U. to take anther 2,500. Nothing has been done about this and probably nothing will. This is how Romanians solve problems.

Romania was a multicultural society centuries before Britain. 6% of the population is Hungarian and there’s a now small German minority to which President Klaus Iohannis belongs. Romania allots 
one parliamentary seat each to eighteen ethnic minorities, including gypsies, though Czechs and Slovaks have to share their one.

These minorities are what remain of what was once a patchwork of larger ethnic groups. The history of Eastern Europe is one of many Northern Irelands, one on top of another. They were savagely tidied up in the twentieth century, for example by the "orderly and humane" transfers of population decreed by Attlee, Truman and Stalin at the Potsdam conference in 1945, two or three years before the beginning of a great migration from the colonies to Western Europe.

Romanians believe in and have achieved tolerance, but they are philosophers and know that the default setting of humanity is hostility between ethnic groups.

Romania is in many ways still a time warp, a world where the 1960s social revolution never happened, though the sexual revolution did. In some ways you can be forgiven in thinking you are in 1962 and that's just in Bucharest.

No people in the world are kinder or more welcoming to foreigners than Romanians. The truth is that, as several have told me, they trust foreigners more than they trust one another, provided the foreigners are white. In the 1990s Romanian a
ttitudes to non-whites were much the same as those of the British in the 1950s when Britain was almost entirely white. Now people are much more broad-minded but Romanians believe in a hierarchy of nations, with themselves fairly low down but above Greeks and Turks and a long way above Arabs.

Romania's only non-white minority are the gypsies. The historian Richard Vinen has accurately said that they are the closest Eastern European equivalent to the underclass in developed economies. They are widely disliked and feared, at least south of the Carpathians. In Transylvania and the Banat they are much more accepted.

At the last census, 3% of the population claimed to be gypsies, but gypsy is word with negative connotations and many think the real number is far higher. Neagu Djuvara thinks it's 10%. However many there are, though, they are a lot fewer than they were a few years ago, because many gypsies, fed up with being oppressed in Romania, headed off to Western Europe to be oppressed in greater comfort.

Romanian cab drivers constantly complain that western Europeans think Romanian gypsies are Romanians when clearly they are not because they are gypsies. Romanians see nationality and ethnicity as the same thing. 

Romanians' views on race and homosexuality
, especially among graduates in their twenties and thirties, are changing a lot. Nevertheless, attitudes here are still either refreshingly lacking in political correctness or, depending on your point of view, racist and homophobic.

There's certainly a lot of downright racism even among the young. A survey of teenagers three years ago showed that three-quarters wouldn’t want homosexuals living next door, two-thirds wouldn’t want gypsies, three fifths wouldn’t want Muslims and a third wouldn’t want Jews. As Romania only has a few thousand Jews and Muslims and all homosexuals are firmly in the closet, in practice it is only gypsies that teenagers need worry about meeting in the lift in their Communist-era block of flats. The fact that one third don't mind gypsies living next door suggests young Romanians are more open-minded than their parents.


  1. I find myself in disagreement with Professor Djuvara. In my reading, civilisations do not just run out of steam as it were but can be subjected to shocks or become dysfunctional.
    It seems that the model we all have in mind is the Roman Empire but Professor Djuvara's period of 2000 years cannot fit the Roman Empire period for the simple reason that it was too short.
    The Empire was established in its Mediterranean form circa 150 BC. The collapse of the Western provinces takes place around 493 AD, while it takes another thousand years for the Eastern Empire to be destroyed.
    Spengler predicted the collapse of Western civilisation in the 1920s - immensely popular and still influential but quite wrong.
    What can happen is that the rulers of a civilisation can become arbitrary, bureaucratical and inward-looking and the economy become dysfunctional or unable to adapt. Adrican Goldsworthy, one of the leading experts on the Roman Empire believes the Empire's collapse occurs when the military situation became such that the highly specialised internal economy of the Empire (different regions devoted to one sort of manufacture or trade - much like today) collapsed when trade movement became too dangerous or impossible.
    We do not have a Muslim military invasion. We have a dangerously male migration into Western European countries together with a completely incompetent supranational government which is so in the grip of lawyers and sentiment that it cannot decide what to do in the interests of those it rules.
    Meanwhile, as seen in Poland and Hungary with the vociferously nationalist political resurgence, these peoples have not lost their idea of themselves. The British have never done so and on the ground of economics, the Swedes liberalised tremendously in the last twenty-five years. The result was to restart economic growth but also to liberate the populace from the demoralising (which I use in the classical sense) effect of the welfare-statism of the mid-twentieth century.
    A return to national politics, a classically liberal economic outlook and a willingness to act forcefully in national interests will return European civilisation to the fore.

  2. First of all we should define homophoby, most of the times the meaning of the word is actually distorted. Then we should take a closer look at what PC means, basically lack of free speech. There is a difference between stating an opinion and inciting to racism, violence, "homophoby", etc.


  3. Statistically yes, it's a fair portrayal. I would add proneness to self-deprecation and passive-aggresiveness. Equally true, I would add social intelligence (let us bear in mind the so called "Romanian hackers" are 95% scam artists holding PhD in social engineering) and allocentrism


  4. I agree with the Prof; it’s a sign of civilizational decadence that Merkel invited 1m Muslims in, thereby encouraging many millions more to get to Germany, all too often via you in the Balkans.
    Mass deportations are the only answer, but the only political parties ballsy enough to contemplate the are loathsome neo-Nazi ones. We need tougher conservative pols.
    And Brexit

  5. Interesting take on the "decline and fall"

    Of course those with drive and ambition will go abroad because of the failing "social welfare system" and no confidence that the political classes will change and do not envisage that they will ever return. Where else can you work most of your life and then lose your job and eventually most of the health benefits. Even if you qualify for benefits, bribes rule. In many ways I very happy to think I am the age I am.

    What was the UN's prognosis? Romania will lose 47% of its population by the end of the century. Hardly makes for confidence in the system. Maybe this is also an illustration of what is wrong with the EU. One size does not fit all. The only benefit at the moment is the subsidies available, although the absorption is badly managed and the fact that there is pressure to clean up corruption.

  6. A couple of years ago I was having a conversation with the Chief Economist of Citigroup. He was a Dutch gentleman, and as the Dutch are far more pragmatic than the rest of us in Europe or the Balkans, he predicted the situation we are in today with quite amazing accuracy. The rest of his prediction was around how the Far East had always been the cradle of civilization throughout human history, and how they would make a comeback in the next 20-25 years and become world leaders, again. His take on Europe was that the dominance of the European civilization starting from the Industrial Revolution (IR) was an anomaly, brought upon by the fact that the IR started in Europe, and European countries built up their institutions in a correct manner, starting a couple of centuries earlier. However, in his view, there were other dynamics which would mean that the European dominance would be unsustainable and the balance of power would shift towards the East. I tend to agree with him. Adding to his views, I believe that the recent surge in immigration will definitely damage Europe's social fabric, and drive up nationalism and extremism, which I find totally counter-productive and anti-civilization. I believe British politicians are aware of this bleak future, and hence their desire for Brexit. Having said all of this, I also believe that the EU has to resist, even without the UK. After Pax Romana, it is one of the most ambitious peace projects humanity has ever seen, and it would be a pity for all of the EU nations to return to the 50's and 60's, reviving borders, going back to national currencies, and restricting free flow of goods, people and capital.


  7. There is a reason our mothers taught us not to talk to strangers.

  8. I think that the EU is increasingly being stressed by divergent opinions within it regarding immigration, the failure of a "one-size-fits all" common currency and increasing nationalism within individual countries. The Soviet Union lasted what - about 50 years? I suspect that the European Union may not last much longer, a decline that will probably be hastened if the UK leaves, setting a precedent for other countries ...

  9. Think it is accurate enough however this Romanian attitudinal position is not unique in Europe today.
    Cyprus springs to mind where outwardly they are keen to be seen to be wooing the Turkish Muslims to get the north back but inwardly they revile them plus interestingly the other groups not accepted by the Romanians. I wonder if it is not more a religious divide - after all both Cyprus and Romania are Orthodox a la greque.
    There are other striking similarities - the Cypriot diaspora who stay mainly in the UK and who outnumber their counterparts on the island and whose prejudices have not changed despite the advent of so called pc.
    It is an interesting parallel.

  10. David in Banja Luka7 March 2016 at 12:39

    "the"orderly and humane" transfers of population decreed by Attlee, Truman and Stalin at the Potsdam conference in 1945" - a bit hard to blame Atlee, the newly appointed British PM. Surely these transfers were previously agreed between Roosevelt, Stalin and junior partner Churchill?

    "No people in the world are kinder or more welcoming to foreigners than Romanians." - having lived in Romania and several other SEE countries, I whole-heartedly share this opinion.

  11. Your article blends a description of views in Romania with your own thoughts. My own recommendation would be that you should do so in a way that makes much clearer the distinction between the two.

    Part of my reason is that the Romanian views as you report them are now seen as unacceptably racist and you should be careful to separate your self from that. It is much more the political correctness, it is seen as an urgent moral issue and, given what to this day goes on in Bosnia, isn't just a bien pensant matter.

    The other benefit would be to allow you more clearly, should you wish to do so, to use the Romanian experience and current Romanian views to reflect on migration into and within Europe now and other European attitudes to it. The attitude of generosity so long as they are perceived as white (noting that now in the UK at least gypsies are white) is quite widespread. The comments of the taxi drivers are quite instructive.

    The nonsense talked by the old man is also instructive. There is a world of difference between the invading armed barbarians of yore capable of bringing down whole states and the current migrants, even if some of them are violent. The view of the decline of civilisation has some merit, of course, even if the far greater and present risk to it is secularism, not a few million Muslims. Viewed from north Western Europe that fight is just about lost and the noises of the Polish bishops and their ilk sound monstrously out of touch, as well as monstrous in their own right. The notion that every civilisation or empire or whatnot lasts for 2,000 years is a comically self focussed comment, as if all those things were fixed term parliaments. A slight sweep of history would disabuse him.

    You will gather that I have no time for the racially and civilisationally purist attitudes of the Romanians as you describe them, but the contrast with the current views in most of northern and Western Europe is interesting. The political and economic backwardness of Romania has allowed it to preserve enough of a particular culture that the tides of modernism, globalisation and prosperity have largely pushed aside in the rest of Europe. It is entirely legitimate to regret that aspect and even the net result of those changes; what I find instructive is how racist this example (vestige?) of that culture is, even though, as you point out, its history and that of surrounding parts of Europe is much more complex.

    What to me is most interesting and here the views of those Polish bishops come to the fore (or for that matter those of the collapsing Irish church), is the question of whether we are necessarily like that if we don't have a pretty plural culture. Idle speculation perhaps, but in that kind of space using the experience of Romania to shed light on what may be a more general condition of human society could be quite pointed.


    1. I wanted intervention in Bosnia from almost the start of the war and unlike everyone I knew in Romania I was in favour of bombing Serbia to get them out of Kosovo, though now I think that might have been a mistake.

      Gypsies like Turks come in a range of colours and the majority are white or pass for white. Many are the same colour as Indians. The ones you have in the UK (I find myself writing you not we, tellingly) are mostly from Romania btw.

      I don’t think Romanians mind Europe being secular even though they are the most religious country in Europe – they mind Europe ceasing to be culturally Christian and becoming multicultural and increasingly Muslim. I agree with them and fear Islamisation. What I fear in the medium term is Germany and every other country in Western Europe ceasing to be an ethnic state and becoming immigrant societies like Canada, USA etc. in Europe’s case that will mean to a large extent becoming (more) Muslim.

      I don't know what pluralism means but I am not sure I like it. I am Janus-faced and paradoxical about everything in life. I dislike conventionality and conventional people but I want most people around me to be conservative even though I am not. I preach conservatism for others not myself. I like societies where people go to church and look up to the squire. They do still exist, thank God.

    2. Paul you are one of the most Vanilla Conservatives I have ever met. Your writing invariably these days reflects your fear of an uncertain future more than your understanding of a never stable past. You may say and even think you dislike conventionality ,yet you cling to it like a plaster life belt on the Titanic.Those societies you talk of may exist but they are as rare as the Amish these days. I don't think that being beholden to a squire is the same thing as looking up to.

    3. You do not know me, although I do like vanilla flavoured ice cream. (And you are being ad hominem again.) I want living tradition, not traditionalism. A large influx of foreigners over a short period (say from 1950 to the present day) may be good or bad but it interrupts and changes an organically developing tradition.
      When I said "I like societies where people go to church and look up to the squire" I was using shorthand to mean I like traditional societies, their roots going back to the past.

      Paul Gottfried said that, unlike England, with its essentially medieval social structure, America was made by Protestant sectarians who neither had nor desired a medieval past and whose descendants have turned into celebrants of progress, commerce and human rights. I don't want Europe to resemble America or lose touch with its medieval past.

  12. Impressive Paul you met a hero. Very well written!!

    Kees Cramer

  13. EU is not "the western civilization" and has not been for a while. The current Rome is somewhere btw. Nyc and La. EU is being eaten by socialist intellectuals not muslims. There's no decline. These places you talk about could barely make ak47's if they had to not to mention iphones. And that not for lack of smart people or technology but for lack of societal cultural and political institutions. The nation state religion is getting weaker and the Romanian national sub sect is one of the weaker ones and the early one to go. People who invested themselves into the identity provided by the nation state religion are threatened by a symbolic death and very scared.

  14. The whole subject of the impact of mass Muslim immigration on European culture and values is one that fascinates (and worries) me greatly. I think Djuvara makes a significant point when he implies that the Muslims will prevail in Europe because of their greater passion and anger. Those are emotions that are generally scorned today in Western Europe – they are too primitive to be civilised. The question is: are the Muslims interested in “civilisation” as we think of it?? I think not ...

    1. "I think Djuvara makes a significant point when he implies that the Muslims will prevail in Europe because of their greater passion and anger." Actually that was my point, not his.

  15. 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.


  16. I always find the "civilizations come to an end after X number of years" argument dubious, because X is always different depending on the argument being made. Over on the other side of the Atlantic, people arguing that America is dying say "Civilizations come to an end after 200 years" backed up with a handful that did, to "prove" that we're at the end of our own line.

    1. I agree - there is no time limit. But there seems a remarkable lack of great men and women in the West since 1950 except perhaps in the field of science and technology. Most importantly a lack of great writers, actors, thinkers. A lack of new ideas.

    2. "Most importantly a lack of great writers, actors, thinkers. A lack of new ideas."
      Our political representatives, from left and right, have hit an intellectual buffer.

    3. It all seems to be hitting the buffers except science, technology and economic growth. Which bound ahead. But we have become grumpy old men.