Gregg’s: Are we becoming Europe?

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At Acton University (follow tweets #ActonU) we are having a “blogger luncheon” and Samuel Gregg is addressing us.

Gregg is making brief remarks and answering questions about his recent book Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future, as well as a range of related issues.

I highly recommend the book.  I would tell you more about it, but I am, literally, also eating lunch.

Just buy it.  High sales of this book will annoy liberals at the National Schismatic Reporter almost as much as your reading the book before writing or talking about it!

A note: When religion disappears culture changes and our economic and political landscape change dramatically.  We have choices to make.


By the way, there could be signs of hope in some European countries: Hungarian constitution, marriage marches in Paris, economic policy changes in Sweden, etc.

Is it too late for us in the USA?  No, I don’t think it it too late, but we are in serious trouble.  We are making disastrous choices.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. inexcels says:

    I’m afraid I don’t have high hopes for what this country will look like in 20 years. I can only hope my pessimism is proven wrong–but I don’t expect it.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    People have been making bad choices for years, but are only waking up to the big picture. Why I wrote so much in the past years on the Marxism behind this administration is that the evil is that Catholics have fallen into the socialist and communist errors, warned by every pope since at least 1848. So many Catholics in Europe have become socialists that they no longer can think like Catholics, and the same has become true in America. Thinking like a Catholic is not thinking like these ideologies.

    The loss of the sense of God as the center of the universe, long replaced by man, that is, the secular humanist tradition falls into the lies of the socialists, as the secular humanist philosophy cannot stand up to the arguments of the good of the collective, or the necessity for big government. Once man is reduced to a mere limited physical being without the dimension of the eternal soul, any political position which is based on the materialist philosophy is possible.

    Once personal responsibility is taken away by the State, those few who could see that religious belief and religious discipline supports society become marginalized. Nostis et Nobiscum was written as a warning in 1849, followed by years of encyclicals warning against socialism and communism. Why? The materialistic world view denies the end of man which is heaven. Once men and women forget their end, the means become twisted to build false utopias. America has become a false utopia. Europe is fast becoming a dis-utopia, a place where anarchy and Islam will fight for hegemony because of an anemic liberal base which is fast losing its strength.

    The first encyclical I ever read was Mater et Magistra and in that John XXIII reminds us that any doctrine which is bound to production denigrates humanity and the dignity of each individual. In addition such utilitarian modes of organization further degrade individual rights.

    Gramsci in his very first letter from prison noted that the only group in the world which understood what the kulturkampf was really about was the Catholic Church specifically Popes IX, X and Leo XIII.

    Sadly, when I tried for years to point out the evils to Catholics, I was merely shrugged off as either politically too conservative or naive or a scaremonger. Sadly, like Cassandra, I was correct, as were many others who were silenced by Liberation Theologians, the Gay Mafia and Situation Ethicists.

    Anyone who consistently voted for entitlement, financial gain, or security over human rights has personally added to the decline and indeed, death of the West. When one sets aside the Teaching Magisterium of the Church, chaos follows quickly.

    My own opinion is that many dumb or at least naive people are used by those who know exactly what they want-a world without the Catholic Church. Why people refused to see this is the same reason why they refuse to see that wars in the Middle East are sectarian and not our business. When people refuse to name an evil for what it is, chaos thrives. America has become a land of delusional voters, and weak leaders, who for many reasons, including political correctness and just plain selfish gain, refuse to face the truth.

    We are in decline and have been since at least FDR. Once we gave in to Stalin at Yalta, we compromised our own future, by selling out Europe’s future. What Stalin failed to do, that is, take over the West, has been done by all those political groups, including Sinn Fein, who adopted socialist and communist platforms. Look at the leadership of the EU, including the World Bank, where the ideal of EU integration destroys individual national sovereignties. This is another way of describing socialism and communism.

    How this is playing out in the US is the not so covert kulturkampf, led by this administration, but prepared by the destruction of the classical education system for over a hundred years for a utilitarian model. Some of us saw this by the mid-seventies, but prosperity blinds and halts rational discourse. The only consistent prophet has been Patrick Buchanan. Sadly, Europe is in the throes of death. Only the Americans who are truly Christian can save America, but will they? Too many have lost the ideal of civic duty.

  3. John Nolan says:

    America may not have the economic pre-eminence she enjoyed in the immediate post-war years, but since her victory in the Cold War has no military rivals either now or in the foreseeable future.
    Thanks to native genius and an early industrial revolution, Britain was the ‘workshop of the world’ in 1850, helped by the fact that her main rival, France, lost a lot of her overseas trade as a result of revolution and war. But apart from naval power, Britain was never pre-eminent militarily (apart from a brief period in 1918). In the 1860s she was effectively sidelined as Bismarck drastically changed the balance of power in Europe, and feats of arms like the Abyssinian campaign (to rescue a handful of European hostages) of 1868 were conducted largely by Indian soldiers.

  4. Norah says:

    Dr Gregg is an expat Australian. He replied very kindly to my then school age son who emailed him with a question regarding an assignment he had to do.

  5. Up until the mid 2000’s I was hearing scripted slogans from American liberals about how Europe is better at _ _ _ _ than the U.S. or how Europe’s system of this and that is more “fair” than the U.S. or how Europe is far more “progressive” than the U.S. and “leagues” beyond American culture . . .

    . . . then in 2005 we saw riots in France, and in 2011 riots in London, and in 2005 London terrorist bombing attacks, and in 2004 Madrid, Spain train bombings . . . and all the chatter about Europe’s “grandeur” and how great an empire Europe suddenly quieted to the sound of crickets chirping. Turns out the American left was duped yet again into jumping on a bandwagon that was all for naught. But like all good liberals do, they joined lockstep with blind loyalty to their ideology to implement sweeping changes all across America to mirror Europe. It was just a matter of time before this foolhardy effort revealed its rotten fruits.

    Like Ronald Reagan said, “the problem with our liberal friends, is not that they are ignorant, it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.” Well put President Reagan.

  6. StJude says:

    Sadly.. I dont think we can recover from Obama… and we certainly cant overcome the people who voted for him and worse….still defend him.
    Welcome to the USSA.
    And I pray I am wrong.

  7. I hope your lunch was enjoyable!

    Absit invidia – No doubt there are elements in the U.S. that wish to mimic Europe but there are as many in Europe who wish to ape the U.S.! Britain is often referred as America’s ‘lapdog’ and the French, like many European nations have a love-hate relationship with American culture. The bombings in London and Madrid were due to those nations supporting the U.S. in the Middle East. While rioting in France (to a lesser extent Britain) is an old tradition the residue of imperialism and colonisation, immigrant ethnic minorities, has added a new degree of tension to these increasingly secularised societies.

    Secularisation (the inevitable fruit of the Reformation) has led to the decline of the West. America’s most fundamental and immediate problem is that of Europe: your Total Fertility Rate is too low and has been for a long time. Don’t mind what you are being told by your government. Your TFR dropped below replacement rate (2.1 babies per woman of child-baring age) in the early 70’s and stayed below it until the late 80’s. It has bounced along just above and just below it since. That recovery is probably due to immigrants having children! Outside of immigrants it is likely that the TFR for native-born Americans is about 1.8 or thereabouts – on a par for many Western European countries. This is a problem for all Western nations, the fruit of the liberal secular idolisation of freedom and it’s sacraments: abortion, contraception, divorce and sexual license. The results for all Western political and social systems is decline, stagnation and collapse.

    In a nutshell: the Western nations are not having enough babies.

    Watch Japan! Japan is the benchmark as it has almost no immigration to offset it’s very low TFR. The Japanese already buy more adult nappies (diapers) than they do children’s! What is happening to Japan will happen to the West only it will take a little longer. On the other hand Japan does not have large immigrant minorities of a different ethnic, religious and cultural mix from its own that can be a source of political and social tensions and conflicts.

    Secularism (the religion of most liberals and some conservatives) does not know how to handle institutional religion especially Islam. Secularists think they are dealing with a retarded version of liberal protestantism, i.e. a more retarded version of protestantism than Catholicism. They seem to think that if only they can educate the Muslims (Catholics, etc) then they will see the light and become liberal agnostics or some such beast.

    The only way out of this coming collapse and conflict is for the West to abandon secularism and re-embrace Catholic Christianity or at least the Natural Law. By recovering its Judaeo-Christian Greco-Roman heritage the West could survive the approaching years of difficulty. Without it we won’t.

    For further study I recommend:

    the documentary: Demographic Winter (it’s on YouTube:

    Jonathan Last’s book ‘What to Expect When No One’s Expecting’.

    Check out the Population Research Institute (

  8. jaykay says:

    Br. Tom Forde: you put your finger on it. The root problem is of course the abandonment of Christianity, and all the bad effects have followed on from that. Of course, Christianity has to be actually practiced by a people on a day-to-day basis for its good fruits to be nourished and keep recurring, same as you prune and water plants. When it is practically abandoned, as has been the case in most Western European countries since the end of the War, then what happens is that the good effects live on for a while (as they did up to about the 70s) but when they fade away then the trouble begins.

    Others have called it “living off your capital” i.e. the “capital” of almost 2,000 years of Christian civilisation. That capital is now, to all intents, exhausted and we’re still living in the crumbling grand mansion that our forefathers erected for us over generations, but with no resources to maintain it. Because of our own fecklessness, in two generations. The problem is that so many, with their pinko blinkers on, don’t accept that the mansion is falling down about their ears, despite all the evidence, and actively persecute those who not only point out the facts but do something to maintain it viz. live an authentic Christian life.

    Meanwhile, in other news, Ireland looks set to celebrate its coming out of the closet of “repressive religion” (boo, hiss) by embracing abortion, and on the 40th anniversary of Roe-v-Wade as well. How too cute! And this from a country whose fertility ratio is already dangerously close to falling below the replacement rate. Which means we can become fully-fledged members of the EU death-club… and join our “sophisticated” mainland European brethern in the Masque of the Red Death.

  9. JonPatrick says:

    Well said Brother Forde.

    One area where we in the US seem to compare unfavorably to Europe is the brokenness of our government at the Federal level. At least superficially the European governments seem to at least be functioning better, perhaps one advantage of the parliamentary system is that one party controls both the executive and legislative functions and can get things done. Witness the deficit reduction efforts in the UK vs. our complete inability to make even sensible reforms that most people agree are necessary. The dysfunctional legislative branch has resulted in an increase in a trend that has been ongoing since WW2, an increasingly powerful Federal bureaucracy that has become the de facto government of this country. The state and local governments still seem capable of functioning but are at the mercy of this Federal bureaucracy and seem increasingly powerless to exercise their legitimate functions.

  10. The Masked Chicken says:

    “In a nutshell: the Western nations are not having enough babies.”

    It is a bit more complicated than that. The West is not having enough babies because, in essence, it is being increasingly feminized. In those cultures that have strong male domination, such as Islamic, Latino, and Black cultures, the number of babies are soaring. The more closely males and females are treated as, essentially, equivalent, the lower the birthrate. In fact, the massive insanity of treating disparate things as if they are equal has led to a lot of this. Homosexuality is an attempt to treat man- female as equivalent to male-male or female-female, etc. It is a loss of discrimination, ironically, that has led to much of this.

    The Chicken

  11. Gail F says:

    Mary Eberstadt’s new book:


  12. Supertradmum says:

    Read Gramsci and my comment above…

  13. pmullane says:

    Hi John Nolan:

    “America may not have the economic pre-eminence she enjoyed in the immediate post-war years, but since her victory in the Cold War has no military rivals either now or in the foreseeable future.”

    And yet she cant win a war against a bunch of goat herders with a Casio wristwatch and a load of fertiliser. The Nihilistic lack of will to do anything difficult is more the root of the current crisis than the lack of ability to defeat your enemy.

    Brother Tom Forde:

    I agree with your comment, secularisation of the West is what is killing her. God is lost and we have turned completely into ourselves. Ultimately selfishness is at the root of all our major civilizational problems: the breakdown of the family; abortion; fatherlessness; materialism; welfarism; mass immigration; etc etc. No man wants to do what men traditionally do, sacrifice themselves for the greater good (which is a big part the vocations crisis also). I agree with what the Masked Chicken said that our culture has lost its masculinity. I would take issue with your comment:
    “The bombings in London and Madrid were due to those nations supporting the U.S. in the Middle East”

    Not really, they were part of an ongoing Jihad by muslims against Infidels in the West. Muslim aggression predated Western war, and whilst the Muslims fight and mean it (and are willing to take the consequences) western nations make small token gestures at defending themselves and then spend more time and effort apologising and trying to win hearts and minds etc etc. The enimies of the West have made a calculation, we have the might, but are unwilling to use it, and they will therefore win.

  14. PA mom says:

    There are many women I know who have stopped having children at 4 or 5, who love their Church and have very masculine husbands. Four or five children fit in the minivan, but 6? All of a sudden, it is a step up in the family vehicle to something which might be very expensive to obtain and maintain, and is very obvious “oh, you have a BIG family…”. The thought of putting six children through 12 years of Catholic school, then college is somewhat awe inspiring also..
    In our personal conversations my husband’s concerns are that of looking ridiculous with too many children, being unable to manage discipline for additional children, and being unable to afford to care properly for more children. In short, in my case, and a number of other cases I have known, it is the men placing the limit on children.
    Please pray for us, that we get this decision right in the eyes of God.

  15. Br. Forde:

    “They seem to think that if only they can educate the Muslims (Catholics, etc) then they will see the light and become liberal agnostics or some such beast.”

    True. The issue at hand in the West is that Catholics HAVE ALREADY become reeducated into liberal agnostics and whose youth ARE becoming reeducated into liberal agnostics while Muslims are REJECTING secularism. While the Eastern religion is holding fast to its roots, Western Catholics have been apostatizing for several decades. So much so that I’ve listened to liberals after mass try to defend communism to me over coffee and donuts and many parochial schools are teaching “world religions” as their religion class in Catholic School.

  16. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    To try to take up a couple of many good things said here, so far:

    pmullane says, ” Ultimately selfishness is at the root of all our major civilizational problems: the breakdown of the family; abortion; fatherlessness; materialism; welfarism; mass immigration; etc etc.”

    Supertradmum says, “When people refuse to name an evil for what it is, chaos thrives. America has become a land of delusional voters, and weak leaders, who for many reasons, including political correctness and just plain selfish gain, refuse to face the truth.”

    And Br. Forde refers to “the fruit of the liberal secular idolisation of freedom and it’s sacraments: abortion, contraception, divorce and sexual license.”

    In both sides of the ‘Atlantic West’, there is a widespread practically successful pre-emption of ‘naming evil’ and seriously discussing “our major civilizational problems”.

    One part of this, seems to be something like an ‘initiation’ into a ‘body’ with ‘sacraments’ by an exploitation of ‘complicity’. The devil tempts, and if successfully, then accuses the guilty. Something analogously ‘diabolical’ is going on here. People are ‘liberated’ into abuse, and stirring consciences ‘shamed’ into public silence, made ‘complicit’, and where successfully charged with ‘complicity’, made more ‘complicit’. And, of course, successful menace of injury (to livelihood, property, person, ‘hostages to fortune’) is liberally applied.

    What, practically (beyond aspiring to a radical preparedness, “a condition of complete simplicity (costing not less than everything”), in the face of possible martyrdom), can be done in these circumstances?

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