Epitaph to multiculturalism

Epitaph to multiculturalism


16 | 12 | 2021


[Douglas Murray, 'The strange death of Europe. Immigration, identity, Islam' (Madrid: Edaf, 2019) 413 pp].

Douglas Murray, British writer, journalist and political commentator, provides a comprehensive review of the migration crisis in Europe. He not only analyses and refutes the different arguments given to justify the European Union's (EU) open-door policy, but also gathers testimonies from migrants, the most optimistic political sectors regarding migration and the opinion of experts on topic who oppose the current migration policy. After years of research, trips to the places core topic to understand the scale of the crisis and a wide and diverse bibliography, Murray studies here the failures of multiculturalism, the impossibility of effective repatriation and Europe's sense of guilt that has prevented the establishment of measures that safeguard the common values that allowed the EU's training to be established.

Murray's thesis is that "Europe is committing suicide". He notes that since the arrival of guest workers in Europe after the Second World War, migrants have been faithful to their traditions, while Europeans, mistakenly believing that the next generation would integrate, have lost faith in their own culture. For Europe to be an example of an integrating force, Murray warns, it would have been necessary for European nations to have strongly rooted values.

The British writer starts from what he highlights as the failure of the misnamed "multiculturalism", the prevailing social and political paradigm in much of Europe and very singularly in his country. At the end of the 1960s, 83% of Britons thought that arrival controls were not rigorous, and this led them to advocate limiting migratory flows in the following decades.

Despite the European population's opposition, governments maintained their generous migration policies, justifying them on four main grounds: The economic argument, although Murray points out that only migrants have perceived these benefits; the ageing population argument, although this argument implies cyclical migration of working age people and overburdening of the pension system; the diversity argument, although the benefits of cultural exchange do not increase proportionally with the arrival of more migrants; and the migration argument as a consequence of globalisation, although economic powers such as Japan and China have not had to give in to mass immigration as a condition for their development.

Based on these premises, the author emphasises the need for channels for safe and orderly migration. However, he argues that the EU has overstretched its capacities, given that repatriating all migrants with rejected asylum claims would be costly. He also argues that the various Dublin treaties have been ineffective in the face of the crisis, and migrants have been crammed into subhuman conditions at the borders of the Schengen area. In the face of these problems, the author criticises the lack of direct action by the EU, which merely agreed to pay 6 billion euros to Turkey to hold migrants entering from there.

In contrast to multiculturalism, understood as "state policies sponsor whereby the population could live parallel lives in the same country" and whose failure is evident in the lack of integration of migrants, the author contrasts the case of Israel, where the integration of people from all over the world was possible because multiculturalism was not used for the state training and because the migrants shared the same religion. Murray highlights precisely the fundamental role of religion as an integrating force in societies.

It also denounces the introduction of illegal practices in Europe, such as female genital mutilation. The well-known writer Oriana Fallaci referred to this phenomenon as a "crusade in reverse", arguing that "Muslims are trying to conquer Europe". Precisely when multiculturalism failed, assimilationist initiatives appeared in many parts of Europe, which in turn provoked a strong Muslim reaction, declaring that "assimilation is a crime against humanity". Europe is then left, as Murray points out, with a sense of guilt that leads it to believe that it must suffer the consequences of its migration policy "as atonement for its historical mistakes".

Particularly interesting for the reader is the study of the consequences of the EU's migration policy, which led to the construction of barriers at the borders of Hungary, Bulgaria, Austria, Slovakia and Macedonia. Murray warns, among other things, that the loss of religion in Europe has meant forgetting its founding history, so that a culture that distrusts itself has no power of conviction in the face of those whose beliefs are deeply rooted. Given this incompatibility, the author argues that the image of Islam among Europeans is deteriorating with the arrival of new migrants. Thus, in 2016, 70% of the German population claimed that Islam does not belong in Germany.

The most important belief in Europe, which Murray formulates as faith in human progress, is then put at risk by the arrival of migrants with a different worldview. Consequently, the crisis is not only a migration crisis, it is also an existential crisis. As Europe loses faith in itself, those who do not adhere to the local culture, but seek to impose their own culture, increase distrust among Europeans.


Murray suggests that avoiding the dimensions of the migration crisis would have required the right political and moral leadership in the EU. Merkel's open-door policy was "compassionate to migrants and unfair to the peoples of Europe", he argues. agreement For this reason, the author devotes a few lines to proposing alternatives to the policy promoted by Germany, agreeing with the idea of the British economist Paul Collier, who advocated that, in the face of the crisis in Syria, neighbouring countries should receive financial aid economic support to temporarily take in migrants, thus avoiding the cultural challenges of their integration in the West and facilitating their future return to their places of origin. Murray believes that in economic terms this idea is the most viable, as it is more costly to house 3,000 refugees in Sweden than to set up a refugee camp in Jordan for 100,000 Syrians.

Another alternative proposed is to process asylum claims outside Europe, as was done in Australia, which received migrants in reception centres on the islands of Papua New Guinea. In this way, Murray proposes that the EU establish centres for asylum seekers in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. He also mentions the possibility of a temporary asylum figure and discusses the option of joining forces to deport those whose application asylum has been refused.

At the end of his book, Murray recapitulates that most European citizens have been silent for years about their position on mass immigration and have resigned themselves to accepting that their home is no longer theirs alone because of the EU's uncoordinated foreign policy. It concludes that, for the time being, the responsibility for the world's problems will remain with the West while the states truly responsible for the migration crises refuse to take in the migrant population. At final, attitudes among Europeans towards migration will continue to deteriorate and both the sense of guilt about the past and the uncertainty generated by the lack of leadership will continue to consolidate, as Europe succumbs to the pressure imposed by those who come to impose an opposing worldview.


Murray's analysis covers the different angles of the migration crisis in an orderly and critical manner, making it useful for a documented account of the shortcomings of current migration policy and the failures of the multiculturalism that underpins migration policy. Thus, among the merits of the text is the qualitative and quantitative analysis carried out by the author to validate his arguments. This analysis ranges from interviews with different actors in the crisis to the study of statistical reports produced by different European agencies.

Furthermore, his detailed report convincingly refutes the arguments used to persuade public opinion of the need for the EU's open-door policy. In this respect, it is worth highlighting the important role that the author assigns to citizens who, lacking confidence in their own beliefs and history, do not express their unease at the uncontrolled arrival of migrants and, ultimately written request, accept the imposition of an ineffective migration policy based on multiculturalism, even though this paradigm has proven to be a failure. The author strengthens his position against multiculturalism by making reference letter experts in this paradigm such as Rumy Hasam, Samuel Huntington and Oriana Fallaci, who several decades ago spoke out about the effects of the arrival in Europe of migrants with a different worldview and the destabilising power that this would have.

On the other hand, Murray does not limit himself to denouncing the problems that migration and its justifying paradigm have entailed, but also quotation to migration experts such as the aforementioned Paul Collier and the British author David Goodhart, whose initiatives to tackle the current migration crisis could be a viable alternative if taken into account by the EU. Given the brilliance of these approaches set out in the book's later chapters, Murray's analysis could have presented these alternatives in a more comprehensive, detailed and critical manner to serve as guide for future migration policies. The absence of such in-depth analysis is striking, given that Murray was the founder of the first British think tank dedicated to the study of extremism and terrorism, and that his valuable interventions in such prominent forums as the European Parliament indicate that he writes with the intention of being read by those who influence these policies.

Likewise, the sociological analysis carried out could have taken into account the difficulties presented by Muslim migrants who have been living in Europe for years and whose problems differ from those experienced by new migrants. This would make it possible to go beyond the author's denunciation of the difficulties experienced by new arrivals by also drawing on the circumstances endured by those who have been in Europe for years and have experienced the failures of multiculturalism, giving strength to the alternatives to the EU's open-door policy.

In terms of the rigour and seriousness of the research, the difficulties of integrating Islam into Europe, whose founding history is rooted in Christianity, are discussed at length. reference letter However, at no point does reference letter address the problems involved in the integration of non-Muslim migrants, leaving the reader to wonder whether the author considers that the integration of migrants of other religions poses the same social problems or whether, on the contrary, he does not address them because he considers that their integration does not pose major difficulties. It is certainly unreasonable to require the author to analyse in detail every subject migrant arriving in Europe, as this would alter the purpose of his work. But if this caveat were made, it would suggest the reason why non-Muslim immigrants are not studied throughout the book, which would bring clarity to the author's reasoning and give argumentative force to his analysis. 

In any case, the author makes an excellent work in exposing how the crisis of European values has been the foundation that has allowed the current migration crisis to advance. This crisis of values has worsened with the arrival of millions of people trying to impose their worldview on a continent that is afraid to denounce attitudes contrary to European values for fear of reprisals. Consequently, as Murray rightly argues, Europe needs leaders capable of promote its cultural rescue.

With his numerous contributions and specific shortcomings, the value of Murray's contribution to one of the priority issues on the EU's diary is beyond doubt. In this sense, the author should be thanked for his research which, among other things, denounces the errors of migration policy based on multiculturalism, inviting awareness of the need to recognise the founding values of a society when designing and implementing public policies that are coherent with the needs of all the actors involved. At final, this work can be studied by policy makers at subject as it clearly sets out the reality and serves as guide for future migration policies to avoid falling into the mistakes of the past.