Everybody's Got One
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Thursday, March 25, 2004


David Carr at Samizdata parsing Niall Ferguson's speech The End of Europe?:
Few serious analysts of my acquaintance make any attempt to examine the role of religion in civilisation and, as a wholly secular individual, I must admit that I do not give it a great deal of thought either. But maybe that is to overlook the importance of religion as a sort of civilisation catalyst.

Ferguson clearly indicates that Islam is poised to rush into the vacuum left by the soon-to-be-departed Christianity but even he does not suggest that this means the 'end' of Europe as a civilisation. Merely that the Europe of a hundred years from now will be an altogether different place from the Europe of a hundred years ago.

If faith plays a key role in bolstering a successful civilisation then could Islam give Europe that new lease of life? Or will it simply be North Africa with pine trees?
A further question, of course, is whether any faith will do, or if it needs to have some specific characteristics. We have before us in the Europe-to-come a wonderful scientific experiment, to determine whether it is Islam that is incompatible with modernity, or Arab culture. (Existing test cases like Malaysia and Kosovo/Albania are complicated - one might sat contaminated - by the persistent use of Saudi money to spread the Wahhabi meme; over the next century, that won't be as much of a factor.)

Of course, we may not have the luxury of a hundred years to find out - which is why the force-fed test-tube experiment going on in Iraq is so important (and epistemologically necessary).

posted by Kelly | 10:41 AM link