Traveling in a
There is a Roman Empire-like sameness throughout
Yet, as in the waning days of
The present generation has inherited the physical architecture and art of a once-great West -- cathedrals, theaters and museums. But it seems to lack the confidence that it could ever create the conditions to match, much less exceed, such achievement.
The sense of depression in
But by the novel's time, the people of Gondor had become militarily and spiritually enfeebled by self-doubt, decades of poor governance, depopulation and indifference, paradoxically brought on by wealth and affluence.
Europeans are similarly confused about both their past and present. They claim to be building a new democratic culture. But the governing elites of the
Free speech is increasing problematic. It is more dangerous for a European citizen to publicly object to illegal immigration than for a foreigner to enter
Elites preach the idea of open borders. But people on the street concede that they have no way of assimilating millions of immigrants from the
Oddly, less wealthy Central and Eastern Europeans are more astutely skeptical of mass immigration than wealthier but less rational Western Europeans.
Europeans claim to believe in democratic redistribution, but apparently not on an international level. They are torn apart over a poorer Mediterranean Europe wishing to share in the lifestyles of their northern cousins without necessarily emulating the latter's discipline and work ethic.
The world quietly assumes that the rich and huge
Such problems are left to the more uncouth Americans. That unspoken dependency might explain why many Europeans quietly concede that the hated
Yet paradoxically, the European reaction to the gory past often results in an extreme Western sybaritic lifestyle that in itself leads to decline.
European religion has been recalibrated into a secular and agnostic political correctness. Child-raising, if done, is often a matter of having one child in one's late 30s. Buying a home and getting a job depend more on government ministries than on individual daring and initiative.
Yet the more credible European lesson from the last century's catastrophes is that too few 20th-century European democracies stayed militarily vigilant. In the 1930s, too few of them felt confident enough in Western democratic values to confront existential dangers in their infancy like Hitler and Stalin.
Atheistic nihilism and a soulless modernism -- not religious piety and a reverence for custom and tradition -- fueled German and Italian fascism and Russian communism.
Contrary to politically correct dogma, Christianity, military deterrence, democracy and veneration of a unique past did not destroy
Instead, the culprit of European decline was the very absence of such ancient values -- both then and now.