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Today’s World: Islam and Secular Europe
In the tenth and final chapter of Sacred Causes (“Cubes, Domes and Death Cults: Europe after 9/11”) Burleigh recounts the events leading up to “the day that changed the world,” September 11, 2001. He is undoubtedly right that it is necessary to read Conrad’s The Secret Agent or Dostoevsky’s Demons in order to truly fathom the minds and hearts of those contemporary “nihilists” who, like their nineteenth-century predecessors, are intoxicated with conspiratorial violence and their own set of deadly ideological abstractions. But Burleigh unfortunately overstates the case when he reduces Islamist terrorism to “a cover version of ideas and movements that have occurred in modern Western societies.” As a result he concedes too much to terms like “Islamo-fascism” that in my view obscure more than they clarify. Burleigh is on firmer ground when he criticizes contemporary European elites for their lack of self-confidence and for their willful restriction of European memory. He rightly criticizes those elites who want to reduce the European inheritance to a set of “humanitarian” abstractions as if “democratic” Europe is intelligible without some substantial reference to its Christian past.
|Last Updated on Friday, 09 October 2009 13:00|