The End of Europe | James Kirchick

Summary of: The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age
By: James Kirchick

Introduction

Step into the turbulent world of European politics and the impending collapse of the European Union (EU). In James Kirchick’s book ‘The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age’, he paints a bleak picture by unravelling the prominent forces at play such as Brexit, growing anti-Semitism, and rising populism. Delve into the contrasting dynamics of European nations, from the financial crisis in Greece to Germany’s political ambivalence, while Kirchick ponders the viability of the EU. The book also examines the considerable challenges Europe faces, including the rise of nationalism in Russia and Hungary, and the backlash against Muslim immigration.

Europe’s Impending Demise

Europe’s social, economic, and political stability post-World War II is now being threatened by a variety of internal and external forces. The Brexit vote has led to other cracks in the foundation of the European Union, which include nationalist movements, violent anti-Semitism, and a backlash against Muslim immigration. Many Europeans are now choosing populist leaders over more moderate ones, and parliamentary elections are seeing fewer voter turnouts. Although Europe and the United States remain crucial allies, their differences in values and priorities are becoming increasingly apparent. Despite its flaws, the EU is currently the best system for governing Europe, but its impending demise seems inevitable.

Putin’s Russia

Vladimir Putin’s leadership in Russia is marked by his disregard for world opinion, his focus on lining his pockets and recasting Stalin as a Russian patriot. Putin’s goal is to position Russia as an anti-Europe nation with traditional values that lack political correctness. With more than half of Russians holding a favorable view of Stalin, Putin’s leadership is becoming purely authoritarian. His talk of a “Russian World” and Russian exceptionalism reflect Hitler’s talking points of victimization and ethnic oppression. The tampering with the US 2016 presidential election also underscores his leadership’s deviation from civilized world powers.

Hungary’s Revisionist History

Hungary, under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has engaged in revisionist history. The country rewrote its Holocaust participation and embarked on a new era of nationalism and intolerance. Orbán has declared a “Day of National Cohesion” and officially lamented “the unjust and unfair dismemberment of the Hungarian nation by foreign powers.” However, he ignores the fact that Hungary lost two-thirds of its land after World War II because the country had sided with Germany and other belligerents in both world wars. Hungary sees itself as a victim and is in no way responsible for the eradication of European Jewry. The country’s House of Terror Museum downplays any Hungarian responsibility for the Holocaust. Orbán has positioned himself as a pro-Christian and anti-Muslim leader, and his actions have emboldened nationalist forces across the continent.

Germany’s Political Identity Crisis

Germany’s political identity is complex – balancing between the Anglo-French style of governance and its own history and culture. While supporting European unification, NATO membership and cooperation with the US, Germany remains hesitant towards American policy due to scars from WWII. The country’s attempts to atone for the sins of the past have not been fully accepted by its European neighbors, and its disengagement in military conflicts contributes to its political profile. Chafing at its subservience to the US, Germany’s political identity crisis remains a challenge for the country.

Europe’s Immigration Backlash

Europe’s long-standing policy of open immigration and its disregard for criticism has resulted in a surge of populist anti-immigrant movements in countries like Sweden and Germany. The EU’s leniency towards Muslim men entering the continent has been met with increasing opposition from citizens, who have suffered consequences such as sexual assault, which many European officials try to cover up because of political correctness. Racism is treated harshly in Germany, where hate speech laws can be interpreted in a vague and expansive way. Europe’s political correctness has resulted in many white Europeans being labeled xenophobic and racist when they raise any concerns about immigration. This has only served to fuel support for movements such as Pegida and the Sweden Democrats, a formerly neo-Nazi party that has since gained significant traction in the country.

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