Robert J Davies reviews Travels in Cultural Nihilism by Dr Stephen Pax Leonard, fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and author of numerous books on the Scandanavian and Arctic Regions:
Travels in Cultural Nihilism is a collection of essays by Oxford academic Stephen Pax Leonard examining what is left of nationhood, traditional values and a sense of belonging in the context of mass immigration and the accompanying ideology of multiculturalism.
A glance at Dr Leonard’s academic background quickly indicates someone well-placed to delve deeply into these areas. This book is a wonderfully rich and illuminating critique of modern progressive thought by someone with great academic reserves to call upon and self-evidently a superb linguist. Anyone with expertise in anthropology, ethnography and sociolinguistics, who has spent months living in a remote Arctic community to study the language and customs of local people, is well worth listening to when they offer their perspective on how society is changing and what drives that change.
Stephen Pax Leonard is deeply concerned about the impact immigration is having in the West and the existential threat it poses. Through these separate but interrelated essays he examines how “liberalist multiculturalism” has developed as a means of embracing demographic upheaval and championing it. He looks at the consequences of so doing and what the future will likely hold.
The author analyses the situation in Sweden in particular, both because he knows a great deal about the country and because Swedes are arguably further down this path than elsewhere. It is frankly an eye-opener how this gentle, tranquil land is now beset with problems caused by the migrant influx amid concerted official attempts to force-feed diversity to the people as if that will somehow solve everything.
Concerns expressed are amply underpinned by a wealth of facts and figures – many pretty alarming. We learn that there are now more worshippers attending mosques in Britain than attending church, for instance, or that a third of all our youngsters are now of foreign heritage. Yet for the liberal mainstream who ignore such statistics, the enemy is in fact, ourselves – native white Brits on whom all the ills of the world can be blamed.
For anyone who shares Dr Leonard’s pessimism regarding the future direction of Britain and the West as a whole this book will reinforce those concerns. Yet there is optimism expressed too and faith in the wisdom of the general public ultimately to reject the dreary conformity of political-correctness and identity/victim politics. He points out that the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit in Britain, as well as moves afoot on the continent towards a return to conservative thinking, are signs that the vacuity and nihilism of globalist, progressive thought may ultimately be rejected.
Travels in Cultural Nihilism is a very well-written scholarly work extensively researched by someone with expertise in this field. I very much enjoyed it. It is one of a handful deserving to sit alongside Douglas Murray’s excellent The Strange Death of Europe or Ed West’s The Diversity Illusion. It’s also a brave publication in many respects – it can’t be easy for Oxbridge academics, such is the prevailing mood, to stand aside from “group-think” and offer a ferociously independent, non-conformist analysis of this kind. But if our society and the West as a whole is to have any hope, then books like this are worth their weight in gold.
* Travels in Cultural Nihilism, by Stephen Pax Leonard, is published by Arktos Media in paperback and e-book format.