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People in the Counter-Jihad fraternity are justified on occasion for feeling they are banging their heads against a brick wall.

This blog, just like Gates of Vienna, Jihadwatch, IslamversusEurope and so on, often seems like it preaches to the choir. On the issue of Islam, the general public prefers – over controversy and truth – occasional fits of anger, separated by long periods of tepid disinterest. Playing a part in the effort to save Europe therefore can often feel like little more than a hobby.

As to why we are failing, many different theories have been advanced – from the successes enjoyed by Leftist slander (‘Racist!’ etc…), to the unfortunate excesses of people who identify with us (Breivik etc..).

My own theory is rather different. I believe that the public suffers less from ignorance (the threat of Islamism is well known by now) than from a defective poise of the imagination. Put simply, the public suffers from a lack of Historical Self-Awareness.

Of all the intellectual senses, historical self-awareness is among the most valuable and also the most rare. To know your position in history requires both a knowledge of the past and a knack for imagining the future. Both are difficult to develop.

Most people talk about the Holocaust, to take a grand example, in terms that suggest it was almost something ancient, hidden behind a mist of centuries, almost irrelevant to the present – like the conquests of Genghis Khan, or the immolation of Pompeii.

But of course the mass-murder of European Jewry did not happen in an age of swords and sandals, but that of Charlie Chaplin and Bob Hope. It entirely merits the term ‘recent’.

When this awareness becomes possible, other things move into view.

Fifty years ago, near the midpoint of the swinging Sixties, both Europe and America were fertile, homogenous and unchallengeable by any country in the world. Not even China and Japan, whose economic miracles were then only beginning to germinate, could bare comparison. The Islamic world meanwhile was a sedentary, mediocre irrelevance, of interest only as a strategic asset to Washington or Moscow.

Stockholm was Swedish. London was English. Lebanon had a Christian majority and a civilized, aspirational society. Iran and Turkey wanted nothing more than to imitate the obvious advantages of Western culture. To advance the point-of-view that Sharia-compliant society was superior to the glittering capitalism of New York was considered as absurd in the suburbs of Cairo as in London.

Fast-forward to the modern world. Europeans are aging, dying out (by up to a quarter a generation) and diminishing in every area of global influence. China is (in real terms) the world’s leading economic power. The South-West of America is steadily but irresistibly returning to Mexican administration. Swedes are no longer safe on their own streets. Murder, mugging and terrorism are an everyday threat in London, Paris and Madrid. Mosques proliferate across the continent. The point of view that Sharia law is superior to Liberal Capitalism is no longer a fringe view in Cairo but absolutely dominant, as it is across the Muslim world and in swelling portions of the West itself.

We who can comprehend the scale and speed of change between these two eras recognize that what has happened, and is happening constitutes an emergency. Those who have known only the present however, or who have never wondered what came before it, or who have naively assumed ’twas every thus’ cannot see any problem at all.

My generation in particular falls into the latter category. Multiculturalism is often imagined as being the default condition of history. Gang violence, Islamist terrorism, Muslim rape-gangs, drug-dealing, Sharia courts in Western towns – nothing about this is new, or strange, or not completely inevitable. Those old folk who maintain otherwise are just bitter, deluded liars.  

The reality is very different of course. Despite the liberal consensus, the age before multiculturalism was not a living hell of injustice, boredom and sterility, but of cohesion, happiness and invention – an age that supported a position now slipping through the West’s fingers like water.

Until this issue is addressed – by a more honest portrayal of the recent past and its advantages – little may be affected in the future.