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THE NEW VICHY SYNDROME: WHY EUROPEAN INTELLECTUALS SURRENDER TO BARBARISM By Theodore Dalrymple
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October 11, 2011
Main Nav Subject Navigation. Featured Collections. In this volume I notice more of a rant and less balanced argument than other works, and sometimes sweeping statements are made. Compare these two points made in the same chapter p. There seemed nothing in between the two: it was total war or total peace. Whilst the former is a gross generalisation and over-simplification of a nation's experience the latter is an astute observation well made - or is it just my own bias picking out the points I agree with?
Those quotes come from the final chapter entitled "The Consequences" which doesn't quite serve as a conclusion - new points are raised at the very end, and the observational net is widened to include America which had hitherto barely been mentioned. It makes for rather an abrupt ending and gives the impression of having been rushed.
Overall there are some good individual observations but a more solid summary and drawing together the various threads of argument pursued in the book would have made this a more satisfying reading experience. Cultivated fellow: three theatre pieces quoted at length demonstrates a shift in attitude towards the first world war a few years after it, and he obviously reads the newspapers as well.
On the one hand, Europeans believe they have at last created an ideal social and political system in which man can live comfortably. In many ways, things have never been better on the old continent. On the other hand, there is growing anxiety that Europe is quickly falling behind in an aggressive, globalized world. Europe is at the forefront of nothing, its demographics are rapidly transforming in unsettling ways, and the ancient threat of barbarian invasion has resurfaced in a fresh manifestation.
In The New Vichy Syndrome, Theodore Dalrymple traces this malaise back to the great conflicts of the last century and their devastating effects upon the European psyche. From issues of religion, class, colonialism, and nationalism, Europeans hold a "miserablist" view of their history, one that alternates between indifference and outright contempt of the past.
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