Niall Ferguson

In: "Civilization: The West and the Rest"

[...] idea about the way people should govern themselves. Some people make the mistake of calling that idea ‘democracy’ and imagining that any country can adopt it merely by holding elections. In reality, democracy was the capstone of an edifice that had as its foundation the rule of law – to be precise, the sanctity of individual freedom and the security of private property rights, ensured by representative, constitutional government.

In 2008 the Islamist government, led since 2003 by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party, amended the constitution to allow headscarves in universities, only to have the decision overturned by the Constitutional Court. The European Court of Human Rights has also upheld the headscarf ban.

an antiquated symbol of the sexual inequality ordained by Islam, which a secular society should prohibit?

Maybe the ultimate threat to the West comes not from radical Islamism, or any other external source, but from our own lack of understanding of, and faith in, our own cultural heritage.

More generally, religious belief (as opposed to formal observance) of any sort appears to be associated with economic growth, particularly where concepts of heaven and hell provide incentives for good behaviour in this world. This tends to mean not only hard work and mutual trust but also thrift, honesty and openness to strangers, all economically beneficial traits.

All we risk being left with are a vacuous consumer society and a culture of relativism – a culture that says any theory or opinion, no matter how outlandish, is just as good as whatever it was we used to believe in.

What Chesterton feared was that, if Christianity declined in Britain, ‘superstition’ would ‘drown all your old rationalism and scepticism’. From aromatherapy to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the West today is indeed awash with post-modern cults, this spiritual vacuum leaves West European societies vulnerable to the sinister ambitions of a minority of people who do have religious faith

[...] what if collapse is not centuries in the making but strikes a civilization suddenly, like a thief in the night?

[...] certain complex systems are wholly non-deterministic, meaning that it is next to impossible to make predictions about their future behaviour based on past data.