Recap of the Book ‘The Decline’ by Professor David Engels
Within twenty to thirty years, civil wars are going to break out throughout Europe, comparable to the wars Spartacus waged against Rome before the collapse of its republic. That’s what professor David Engels of Brussels’s Free University predicts in an (as usual) underexposed book Le Déclin (The Decline) that was also translated into German as Auf dem Weg ins Imperium (On the Road to Empire) in 2014.
According to this Belgian historian, the similarities between the decline of the present-day European Union and the fall of the Roman republic are so big that civil war in Europe has become inevitable. Countries such as Germany and France will then cease to exist. In their places, armed paramilitary groups will found their own states.
Professor Engels expects that this period of civil wars won’t end until an emperor stands up who will once again promise the European peoples social security, just as the first Roman emperor Augustus did. (But by that time, twenty- and thirty-somethings saving for a pension today will probably be left standing empty-handed.)
The professor draws his conclusion from detailed, fact-based comparisons between Rome and the present-day European Union. In his book, he analyzes several ‘politically incorrect’ topics such as the multicultural society, mass migration, aging demographics and replacement immigration, but also the decay of the family as the cornerstone of society, as well as the overall shift from traditional values towards abstract ideas such as equality, tolerance and personal development.
In the following paragraphs, I summarize the first three of the professor’s twelve main arguments.
Tolerance on Steroids (§2.1)
Despite the fact that white skin color has determined European identity for a long time, inhabitants of the European Union now regard tolerance of the ‘other’ a sign of civilization. The racism of the twentieth century has traumatized them. Exclusion, they believe, only leads to hostility. But they have idealized their tolerance to such an extent that they have effaced their own ethnic identity.
Europeans now believe in universal values and welcome anyone from any place on Earth. But rather than selecting quality, they’ve opened their borders to everyone on mere humanitarian grounds. Nearly 20% of the German population now consists of people (and their progeny) who immigrated there since 1950. Almost 25% of French people have a migrant parent or grandparent. This has had consequences: in 2006, 9% of the German population was found to have committed nearly a quarter of all crime—criminal immigrants.
Similar developments had taken place in old Rome. Professor Engels writes that, because of this, native inhabitants had begun to feel disenfranchised from the societies their forefathers had built. Because of replacement immigration, the original population slowly began to lose its loyalty to a country increasingly less their own.
New Births and Aging Demographics (§2.2)
“With the massive integration of women into the workforce, Europeans have little time to spend on their families,” writes professor Engels. As a consequence, the native population has begun to age in a catastrophic way: European families hardly produce any children anymore.
By contrast, people of African or Arab descent do keep their families large. In Switzerland, native women give birth to 1.7 children on average, but migrants give birth to 2,8; Turkish and Moroccan migrants even to 3.4. By the time the native baby-boom generation has gone extinct, one in three Germans will be a migrant, predominantly Muslim. The fear of Eurabia, a Europe populated by Arabs, will then have become reality.
A comparable demographic catastrophe had taken place in Rome. Over time, Roman slaves had become the majority and ‘free’ citizens a minority. On top of that, the critical difference between a larger generation of older citizens versus a smaller, younger generation led to mutual distrust between them. In any case, Roman elites were more interested in satisfying their hedonistic needs than in the continued existence of Rome’s free populus.
Family and Individualism (§2.3)
As a result of low births, Europeans have begun to rearrange their families. For example, nearly a quarter of French children no longer grow up with both biological parents. On top of that, Europeans have collectively begun to normalize gay marriage and adoption from abroad, even by gay couples. The rights of children are no longer put front and center in European societies, but rather second to their parents’ personal needs.
Professor Engels calls it worrisome that the family as a cornerstone of society is disintegrating, among others because of the growing number of divorces. How can a human being stay loyal to his society when the stability and the security of his own family are continuously being undermined by ‘progressive’ changes?
Strikingly: even in the final days of the Roman republic, women had begun to become financially independent. Not their own husband, but State and employer from then on maintained a woman’s life. A Roman author complained that the city only kept slaves in order to artificially boost its numbers, whereas the original Romans preferred to see “their race and their name” perish.
The Decline of Western Civilization
According to professor Engels, Europe’s decline is part of a global phenomenon also visible in its former colonies of North America, South America, Australia and South Africa. They, too, struggle with aging demographics. The signs are identical everywhere, namely that the collapse comes from within:
“In fact, cosmopolitanism and the decay of family and marriage complicate and hinder cultural identification. Because the urban insulation and the unbridled materialism it creates, apparently justified by the right to personal development, careerism dismantles the social cohesion between citizens, the most important element of identity.”
In short, we keep working more for more money, but keep receiving less life and fewer children for it in return. That breeds feelings of jealousy, distrust, and anger towards others. As a consequence, citizens eventually stop trusting the judicial system, whose universalist attitudes render it both incapable and unwilling to protect its own citizens.
With that, Engels concludes his book, at least in his role as a historian. In an epilogue, however, he goes one step further: can we draw any lessons from the comparisons between Rome and the European Union, and if so, what do those lessons tell us? First and foremost, Engels emphasizes that the Roman Empire superseded a decaying democratic republic. In Rome, it was Emperor Augustus who then rose to power and who would rule from 27 BC to 14 AD.
The people supported Augustus because he promised them a quick restoration of societal order, as well as an efficient social security system. In case Europe disintegrates indeed, it is likely that modern Europeans will also support a strong leader, just as they had once chosen a Napoleon or a Hitler. In order to survive, Europeans will grow willing to accept the risk of voting for a radical party that centralizes power.
Professor Engels expects that the Europe of the future will no longer be progressive and cosmopolitan. A future European emperor or president will, once again, embrace family values and tradition in order to revive its native population: a Europe of law and order.