Nationalism in Europe
Nationalism in Europe
We are frequently warned about the dangers of growing nationalism in Europe. The dangers of ‘extremist’ parties on the right gaining influence. Some news outlets sound like these parties are powerful and influential. Yet, is that really true? Let’s have a look at European politics to see where these parties currently stand.
Orpheus in Hades. There is silence as nobody is interested in listening.
Can we talk?
Last week, on one of my many visits to the airport I noticed a small book laying in the duty-free shop. The title of this small book, although written in Dutch, translates simply as ‘’Can we talk?’’. It was written by the Dutch author Joris Luyendijk and the topic was modern polarization. Joris previously wrote books on his experiences living in Egypt among the natives for a year, and on the culture of the banks in the City leading up to the crash of 2008.
The primary message of the book was that we live in separated societies regarding our opinions and worldviews. We read websites that share our opinion. The pages we like on Facebook agree with our worldview. The people we follow on Twitter say the same things we say. And those that have other opinions? They read other websites, like other Facebook pages and follow different people on Twitter. Everyone lives in their ‘’opinion-bubble’’, closed off to anyone that disagrees with them.
Still from “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1945)
The Picture of Dorian Gray
One of the most exquisite books that have ever been written is undoubtedly ‘’The picture of Dorian Gray’’ by Oscar Wilde. The book, the only novel written by Wilde, is not only amusing and relevant for the time it was written; it may be relevant now more than ever.
For those unfamiliar with the novel, I will briefly outline the core of the story. A young aristocrat named Dorian Gray has a portrait made of himself. Upon seeing the portrait he envies the ever-lasting youth the portrait has and wishes that the portrait would grow old, rather than he himself. And so it happened.
Dorian had been granted eternal youth, and the picture, hidden from sight, aged as time passed. Dorian had surpassed mortality, and being an aristocrat he had a guaranteed income from his lands or inheritance. Although the prospect of infinite life and money sounds appealing to many, during the novel we witness Dorian suffer and succumb to his vices.
”Youth is the only thing worth having.” – Dorian Gray
Thor’s Fight with the Giants, by M.E. Winge 1872
Thor as a Woman?
There are many fascinating stories in the ancient Norse mythology. The one we would like to look at today is the one that has been embraced by the LGBT movement. It is the story about the powerful God of Thunder. Or, as you might know him, Thor. You are free to picture the Thor from the movies, as the mythical Thor is also a strong guy with a hammer. The only thing you would need to add is a beard.
Why does the LGBT movement take such an interest in Thor? Because Thor, at some point, dressed as a woman. Now, we could explain that as the Vikings also rejecting gender-stereotypes. We could believe that the Vikings were in reality very progressive when it comes to transvestites, or even transgenders. However, would that make sense? Let’s have a look at the actual myth and find out what happened there.
Murder in the House, by Jakub Schikaneder
The Suffering of the Victims
Every day people are killed. Shot, stabbed, or beaten to death. Sometimes one, or several people, kill a large group of seemingly random people. These are horrible events. All of them result in people whose lives are untimely brought to an end. The victims died for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
People consider events like this to be extra horrific for three reasons. The severity of the body-count; the apparent randomness; and the fact that it is purely due to the evil deeds of another person. This makes it different from a regular murder, or a plane crash. The only thing required to prevent such needless slaughter is for the perpetrator to come to his senses before committing the deed.
Mass killings such as this, can be more or less divided into two categories. There are the mentally deranged and there are the terrorists.
Sistine Chapel Ceiling Painting, by Michelangelo
From Glory to Despair
Italy. One of the oldest civilized territories on the European continent. In a distant past, Rome dominated Europe. Its cities flourished and were full of life.
Nowadays, Italy’s villages are drained. The young move into the cities or seek a brighter future abroad. The few that stay simply don’t have enough children to maintain the population. The Mayor of one of these small towns, Domenico Lucano, found an interesting solution to this depopulation problem. His village, Riace, invited migrants to rejuvenate the town. Currently about a quarter of the two thousand inhabitants are migrants, primarily from Africa and Asia. The native Italians that still live there are mostly the elderly. The Guardian states the town has ”secured its own future”.
Although most easily visible in the small villages, it is a trend taking place on the national level.
Forest Landscape, by David Vickboons (1633)
The Global Warming Media Focus
Recent decades have seen a revival in the debate on climate change. The debate is highly salient and is frequently discussed on the news or on conferences attended by world leaders. It is a debate that centres around our emission of greenhouse gasses and its impact on global temperature. In line with the usual conclusion that these emissions do indeed influence the earth’s temperature, measures are taken to reduce our CO2 production, or at least these plans are drafted.
There’s talk about how bad cars are, or how bad it is that we eat beef, since cows produce methane. The story culminates in the idea that if we do not prevent climate change, we are heading for extinction.
But, will all that focus on global warming and CO2, other topics, which have received way more attention in the past but were never actually solved, are no longer getting the screen time and exposure they should.
Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, by Ilya Repin. The Cossacks reject the Ottomans demand to submit.
The Future Presence of Islam in Europe
As of 2016, there were over 25 million Muslims estimated to be living in Europe. Spread over the entire continent this results in an average of 4.9% of Muslims. The total population lies around 500 million. However, the 4.9% is not spread evenly. France is currently on 8.8%, while Poland has less than 0.1% of Muslims compared to their populations. Moreover, the Muslims in Poland are likely to belong to the native Tatar population that has lived there for many centuries. On the other hand, the Muslims in France originate primarily from territories that used to be French colonies and arrived in large numbers since the end of World War 2. Since the end of the war we have seen a growing Muslim population in Europe.
We will discuss the predictions from Pew Research regarding the growing Muslim population, from zero migration to high migration. What are the consequences?