On publication in May last year, The Strange Death of Europe became a surprise bestseller and remained so all last summer. It’s rare that a book of such seriousness, cogency and pessimism finds so many readers.
Murray announces quite simply in his introduction: “Europe is committing suicide.” He predicts within the lifespans of most people currently alive “Europe will not be Europe and the peoples of Europe will have lost the only place in the world we had to call home”.
Murray puts forward two simultaneous causes. The first is the mass movement of peoples into Europe post-war, making it into “a home for the entire world”. The second is the way Europe itself “has lost faith in its beliefs, traditions and legitimacy”.
“The world is coming to Europe at precisely the moment that Europe has lost sight of what it is,” says Murray. “And while the movement of millions of people from other cultures into a strong and assertive culture might have worked, the movement of millions of people into a guilty, jaded and dying culture cannot.”
Murray surveys the history of migration, highlighting how much it has been underestimated by governments and how little serious public discussion has been permitted — even when, for example, the 2011 census revealed the enormous changes that have taken place, in London especially.
He travels to Lampedusa and Greece to meet migrants and learn their stories. But he also goes to Germany, to report on Angela Merkel’s August 2015 speech, welcoming all migrants — “Wir schaffen das” — which has resulted in her coming downfall.
He traces the way new parties have emerged across Europe to represent popular opinion so determinedly ignored by mainstream parties. “There is an ongoing effort to make European publics not believe the evidence of their own lives,” he says, quoting poll after poll, showing how out of step with public opinion governments have become. In 2010, 47 per cent of Germans said they did not think Islam belonged in Germany. By 2015, that figure had become 60 per cent. Now it is higher again.
In a new Afterword for the paperback, after surveying the events of the last year, Murray says he had anticipated criticism. “Yet none of the many facts in this book were able to be refuted and nobody of any consequence has even tried to contest or deny them.” The Strange Death of Europe is essential reading, just as much for those who would dispute its analysis as for those who will find here lucidly set forth what they already intuit.
The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam by Douglas Murray (Bloomsbury, £9.99), buy it here.