The savagery of Europe *UPDATED*

Americans, especially Leftist Americans, will invariably assure you that Europeans are more civilized than Americans are.  When pressed for details, they’ll cite art, music, architecture, skinny French women, and gun control.  By those standards, I have to agree that the Europeans are indeed more civilized.  I’ll go even further:  when it comes to art, music, and architecture, Europeans, from the Greeks forward, are the most civilized beings who have ever walked the earth.

However, if you have a slightly richer definition of what constitutes “civilization,” I’m sorry to say that the Europeans are just as savage as anyone else — and maybe more so because, when they burst their “civilized” banks, they tend to do so with a peculiar vengeance.  Just off the top of my head, the Europeans have blessed history books with a series of wars that left death and destruction in their wake on a scale unimaginable on our comparatively peaceful American continent:

  • The Hundred Years War
  • St. Bartholemew’s Day Massacre
  • The Thirty Years War
  • The Napoleonic War
  • The Slave Trade
  • The Colonial Occupations of Africa and Latin America
  • World War I
  • World War II

Our own Civil War, while undeniably bloody, was amateur hour compared to the games the Europeans have played.

Even when the Europeans aren’t at war, it turns out that their blood lust still needs to be slaked.  Bruce Kesler directed me to a book called Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, that doesn’t just examine the murderous years of WWII, but also examines the carnage Hitler and Stalin wrought during the 1930s, in the lead-up to WWII.  Bruce explains why this book is a “must read” — and it has certainly moved up to the top of my reading list.

Another book that reminds us that little but a gloss of art separates Europeans from their savage Darwinian roots is Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II.  The carnage in the World War II’s aftermath is actually unsurprising:  millions of people uprooted, brutalized by six years of war, and scrabbling for incredibly scarce resources.  I doubt any culture would respond well to those circumstances — and the Europeans certainly didn’t.  The Russian soldiers, especially, didn’t.  Although the Russian attack on German civilians doesn’t have a memorable name, a la the dreadful “Rape of Nanking,” it was certainly comparable in terms of ferocity and misogyny.  You can learn more about Savage Continent here.

UPDATE:  Two things:  First, Danny Lemieux’s comment is correct, insofar as it reminds that I forget to include socialized medicine in my list of things that Leftists find civilized about Europe.  He’s also correct that it worked only because America essentially paid for it during the Cold War.  Second, Eugene Podrazik, who blogs at Elkhorn Creek Lodge, saw The Hunger Games and, as I read his post, found it remarkably reminiscent of what Europe will be in a decade or so and what we will be in a few decades, if we follow Europe.

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  • Danny Lemieux

    Absolutely agree, Book. And let’s not overlook the recent experience of the Balkans. 

    As far as all the supposed civilized benefits of European architecture and health care. And let’s not forget that their so-called social healthcare utopia was built on borrowed money and American-subsidized defense.

    It was never realistic and it is about to collapse.

  • Ymarsakar

    If it does collapse, who gets their nukes? Anyone ever think about that.

  • 11B40


    Having taken my video castor oil earlier today by watching some of Bill Moyers’ latest Progressive (née Public) Broadcasting System program, I fear you have not given our Muslim brothers and sisters their historical due. As Mr. Moyers’ guest, Andrew Bacevich of Boston University and formerly our US Army, seemed also not to be aware of, Islamomaniacs have a list of credits that either equal or  more likely exceed those of our European forebears.

    Two of your items stand out in my mind, the slave trade and colonial occupations. Non-racists that they were the Muslims not only (fore)saw Africa as source of actual human resources but also the Balkans, the Middle East, and  points even farther east becoming the business model for a truly diverse and multicultural industry. Similarly, their colonial occupation ventures ranged from beautiful Al-Andalusia round the orb to Indonesia. No pikers they.

    While I am not historically certain, I would guess that Mohammed’s boys jaunty jihad up and down the Indian sub-continent would compare nicely to the two WWs. Moreso, we still get to enjoy the after-(partition)-glow as India and Pakistan survey lovely Kashmir as possibly Palestine 2.0.  If Mohammed did nothing else, he certainly managed to globalize his evil ideology.


  • Indigo Red

    I call dibs on the nukes!

  • Charles Martel

    When the Old Testament said that Israel was to be a light unto the nations, I’m wondering if God had nukes in mind. When Europe begins it final slide into the pit of Islam, it may be Israel and its bright light-making nukes that come to the rescue.
    It would be a supreme irony if the people that most of Europe strove so mightily to make extinct were to be the ones that save that wretched abattoir. 
    Islam delenda est.

  • Gringo

    Americans, especially Leftist Americans, will invariably assure you that Europeans are more civilized than Americans are.  When pressed for details, they’ll cite art, music, architecture, skinny French women, and gun control.  By those standards, I have to agree that the Europeans are indeed more civilized.
    I grew up  in a town with a lot of immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe. They were hardworking, decent people of peasant origin. Their children got a much better education in the US than they got back in the Rodina/Vaterland. I knew some offspring  who were MDs or engineers- which they couldn’t have become back in the Rodina/Vaterland.  The parents were quite happy to be here. They had come here early in the century, before the Iron Curtain fell on their countries.
    In my teens and twenties I met in my hometown refugees from  the Iron Curtain. They didn’t want to talk about their experiences, but from their general demeanor you could ascertain several things: 1) There was a reserve, a caution about them that I later  attributed to growing up under a totalitarian regime. [When someone from Estonia has the a similar demeanor to someone from Ukraine…]In fact, one husband was quite explicit in stating that his wife was reluctant to discuss politics because of her childhood experience. 2)They felt relief about being here.
    Some of my ancestors came here fleeing religious persecution.
    Given the above, which showed me that Europe was a place that MY PEOPLE – WASP or Polak- wanted to get the hell out of, I was not as inclined to view Europeans as more civilized than the benighted Amis.

  • Indigo Red

    In strictly European wars, the that has always impressed me was their inability to stop killing when a war ended. Often the most horrific periods of killing has been post-war lasting decades and in the case of the Spanish Inquisitions, centuries. When Americans end a war, wholesale and retail killing essentially stops. That was something new in European history.

  • Ymarsakar

    More than half the reason European elites detested Amis is because America fought two World Wars, without destroying their economy and putting their people into hock and stock to sell off to repay “war debt”. France couldn’t manage that. Britain never managed that. Germany sure as heck never managed that. Russia was probably the retard kid on that totem pole of “didn’t manage”.

  • shirleyelizabeth

    I’ve always, proudly, almost to tears, thought of America as land of the free, home of the brave, bastion of the honorable. There is so much to honor, and so much of our liberty that gives us our honor. And though the rest of the “civilized” world gets caught up in what they will, America is always the protector of that honor. Hopefully.

  • jj

    The fact of the matter is that the Rape of Berlin is less known than the Rape of Nanking for purely political reasons.  Everybody in Europe knew of it, of course, but when it took place everybody was of the mind that the goddam Germans deserved it, and everybody knew they were going to have live with the goddam Russians – so what the hell.  Everybody knew perfectly well that rape is a traditional perk of the victors in Asia, and half the Soviet army was from east of the Urals – not very far removed from their Mongol forbears – so what do you expect?  The Russian army, before the Soviet era, during the Soviet era, and probably to this day; has routinely indulged.  But it wasn’t politic to talk about it.  Like the Katyn massacre, everybody in Europe knew within a minute and a half of the first body being discovered that the goddam Commies did it under orders from mad dog #1, Stalin – but they had to live with the son of a bitch, and deal with him every day, so they didn’t say much. 
    With all the time I’ve spent in Europe, including living in Britain, I never particularly noticed that we were detested.  Envied, of course.  Considered wildly naive – yes.  A lot of room for misunderstanding. One of the reasons for that is the sheer size of where we come from.  Outside of – perhaps – New York, we don’t often have the opportunity to hear fourteen different languages spoken in the course of an hour’s stroll down the street, whether the street is Ashley in Atlanta; Michigan Avenue in Chicago; Market Street in SF; or Sunset in LA.  You have an outside chance on Fifth Avenue in NYC – but it’s routine on the streets of Paris, Rome, Berlin, London, or Brussels.  That makes a difference.  You are constantly aware that other countries are right there, a few hours away; be they stronger or weaker than you, lesser or greater, friendly or unfriendly.  One of the reasons Hitler behaved the way he did prior to the war itself was that he was quite sure that Britain would not go to war with him, because in the previous 200 years Britain had spent 40 of them at war with France; only 3 – in WWI – fighting with Germany.  Why the hell would they want to fight with Germany?  (Hitler was a realist: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Chamberlain confounded him by being much less a realist, and giving Poland – Poland?  Are you kidding?  You’d go to war over Poland? – the famous, and idiotic, guarantee.)
    But the point is that Europeans have always looked at a much different world than we in this hemisphere have.  We don’t, and never have had, a potential enemy a day’s march from our capitol.  We don’t know what that’s like, whereas it’s been a reality that has informed the thinking of most of Europe for a thousand years.  We’re masters of what we survey; they’re not.  It’s completely inexplicable to us, and outside our experience.  European populations have had their homes destroyed and been put on the roads as refugees on more than one occasion.  If it happens again it won’t be a new experience for them.  It would be for us.
    Europeans are not “just as” savage as anybody, they’re probably more savage than anybody.  It comes of having spent centuries rubbing shoulders, every day, with hereditary enemies, people they hate.  The politicians can do and say what they want in the Hague – or anywhere else: it’s wallpaper.  They’re papering over cracks, and eventually it won’t work.  The Irish and British will not ever like each other; the Germans and French, ditto; the Italians and the former Yugoslavians (any of them) do not now and never will like each other; the Spanish and Portuguese do not now and never will like each other; and the Greeks and Turks will hate each other until the end of time.  This too, is outside the American experience.  We don’t have anybody to despise – though Mexico’s getting close.
    We are very stable, they’re not.  They talk about America being a young country – but they know better.  America began at, let’s say, the beginning of the Washington presidency.  That was 1789. We’ve been pretty much unchanged since, politically, culturally, etc.  In that time France stopped being a kingdom, and became a republic; the Napoleonic dictatorship; then an empire.  It stayed an ’empire’ until 1870, when the streets of Paris filled up with Germans.  Then it became a republic.  Then in 1940 the streets were filled with Germans again.  Then in 1945 it became a republic.  Again.  Who knows what it’ll be tomorrow – but I’d say France, as an organized entity we refer to as a country, with common customs, a common, stable, and reliable political life, a way of being; is younger than America.  Much younger.  Italy?  A kingdom until the 1920s, then a dictatorship for a while, and has existed more or less as it is now from 1945.  That’s a lot more recent than 1789, isn’t it.  Is Italy older than us?  Your call – depends on your definition.  Germany only came into existence when Bismarck knit the principalities together into a country in the 1870s, and we all know what they went through thereafter.  From when do you date Germany?  1990?  1945?  1918?  1875?  Up to you – but they’re all more recent than 1789.  Nobody thinks about it much, but all of Europe – except Britain, which actually is older than we are – is younger as functional entities than America.  Our kind of stability is – except for Britain – unprecedented in European terms.  220 years of unbroken stability, doing things the same way, supporting and respecting the same institutions?  A dream.
    So, with such differing backgrounds, our viewpoints are often very strange to each other.  Our reactions are often unexpected.  As a Mormon, Mitt Romney’s an outsider.  Visualize him making that a strength.  Visualize him designing uniforms for himself and his followers; a new flag to replace the one we have; a secret handshake and a new salute.  Imagine him with a private army of bodyguards, all in uniform (designed by him), following him around, marching funny and saluting funny.  How would he make out?  Hitler made out rather well, but I suspect Mitt – or anyone else in this country – pulling such shenanigans would be laughed off the stage, and not taken seriously for as much as the first minute.  Liberals keep trying to get cults going in this country, it never works.  Europe is fertile ground for it – we’re not.
    For all the similarity, for all the fact that most of us are in fact European by background, the differences are startling.

  • Bookworm

    jj:  If my comments section had a “like” button, a la Facebook, I’d “like” your comment.

  • Ymarsakar

    JJ’s forgetting about a couple of incidents like the raid of 1812. It’s a modern filter placed over America’s turbulent past.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Excellent discourse, JJ. I’ve always been amused when I hear Europeans “tut tut” in their oh-so sophisticated way whenever there’s an outbreak of tribal violence in Africa. As if….

  • Gringo

    jj gave a good summary of why  the US and Europe are different, in spite of the US being founded by people of European descent.
    In my direct  experience with Europeans when I was in Latin America, only the far leftists had scorn for the US. As well they should. Though one comment from a French women stuck. She was a Communist, but her remark was not one of a Communist, but of a European. We traveled together for several weeks, so we got along OK. One time she informed me that her paisans who had visited the US had been invited into homes of Americans. She said that there was something SICK about Americans, that we should be so hospitable to strangers.
    This is not just a French-US cultural difference, but an Americas-Europe difference. I worked with two South Americans who had European roots, German and Italian. Though one was  technically a German national, the only time he had spent in Germany was to go to university. His father had been a mining engineer in Peru. The other’s Italian parents had immigrated to Peru. He later worked as an engineer for Volkswagen in Germany. Both were uncomfortable in Germany. They said that if your family hadn’t been in town for the last 500 years, the Germans would have nothing to do with you.
    Conclusion: Europeans and Americans- North and South- have different attitudes towards strangers.
    All those wars might be a reason for the difference. :)

  • Bookworm

    That, Gringo, is a very interesting observation.  Whenever I return from a trip abroad, I’m so grateful to be embraced with American friendliness.  We assume that people will be nice and treat them accordingly.  Europeans assume the opposite — and treat people accordingly.  At an individual level, in my travels through Europe, I’ve invariably met with delightful people who enriched my journeys, but at a cultural level, Americans are definitely, and almost naively, open-hearted.

  • Ymarsakar

    It’s something called social mobility.

  • Danny Lemieux

    I think that what you described, Gringo, is that of “low trust” societies. European countries are generally low-trust societies. In the southern (Catholic) areas, the trust level descends greatly as one moves away from family connection, to the village, to the country and out to other countries.

    In northern (Protestant) European countries, people have a higher level of trust between countrymen, but low trust levels between classes (aristocracy versus bourgeois versus working class) and other countries. Scandinavian countries don’t count, as they are so small that they more resemble tribes than countries.

    I think that much of the high “trust” factor that Americans show others is a holdover from our pioneer days, when people had to depend upon strangers to fight common enemies (Indians, elements, etc.). I hope that we never lose this, but times are a changing. There are a lot of people on the Left fighting very hard to divide us into tribes and castes and pit us against each others’ throats for political and monetary gain.