Emmanuel Todd: “I clearly document the dynamics of the decline of Protestant passionarity in the West”

11:24 18.01.2024 •

French sociologist Emmanuel Todd (photo), in an interview with the newspaper ‘Le Point’, talks about the decline of the West, about “the defeat it inflicts on itself.” There are many reasons for this decline: the disappearance of the nation-state in the West, increasingly replaced by transnational structures; deindustrialization, which was revealed by the suddenly revealed inability of the West to supply Ukraine with weapons and ammunition; "nullification" of the Western religious basis, expressed in the self-liquidation of Protestantism.

In an interview, Emmanuel Todd talks about his new book, "The Defeat of the West". Some excerpts:

- The development of the West should be considered at two levels. There is an economic level that we are seeing now. It turned out that globalization had put the United States of America in a state where the Americans were suddenly unable to produce the weapons necessary for Ukraine.

- I am writing about the collapse of everything that once led to the rise of the West. I am writing about the collapse of the Anglo-American world through the destruction of its foundation – the Protestant denomination within Christianity. This "evaporation" of Protestantism in the United States, in England and in the Protestant world in general led to the disappearance of the strength and identity of the West. The change came through a dramatic shift in religious dynamics.

- Here's an example: if we look at Joe Biden's circle, we see a group of leaders who are no longer bound by any common belief system of a religious nature. And they certainly do not share any beliefs of Protestant origin. I see that the Protestant "matrix" no longer underlies the selection of people into the highest echelons of American power. As a historian, I clearly document the dynamics of the decline of Protestant passionarity in the West. In fact, even during the period when the United States was Great America, during the times from Roosevelt to Eisenhower, American Protestantism had already entered the stage of “zombie religion,” external religiosity without faith.

- America suddenly falls into nihilism and into the deification of insignificant things – in fact, into the deification of emptiness. Now, they destroyed religion, not a trace remained of it, but the person around whom the religious system was created, he still faces the question of the meaning of human existence.

- The real instability is at the heart of the Western system. That's why my book is called "The Defeat of the West." But I would like to draw your attention: the defeat of the West is not necessarily a victory for Russia. The West is destroying itself; it is not the enemy that is defeating it, but itself.

- Yes, Russia entered the battle in Ukraine, but you can only enter the battle that is already underway. I understand that people only see that first day of active Russian military operations. But here we are faced with the paradox of Western expansion. Spurred on by the collapse of the Soviet project, the Western system, after its victory, wanted to isolate Russia, although at the same time its own Western core was collapsing. This is revealed to us today when the Americans find themselves trapped in Ukraine. Suddenly it became clear that their defense industry had become too slow: we see how it faces difficulties in raising funds even for 155 mm shells. There are more internal problems there!

- I tend to read the full texts of Putin’s speeches, rather than excerpts from news reports. I know what the Russians are concerned about. I am a demographer, and when a demographer sees that the population of Russia hardly exceeds the number of Japanese living on the limited land of their islands, he cannot succumb to the general madness and chatter about some kind of “Russian expansion”. The area of Russia is 17 million square kilometers! How can the Russians want to further expand their territory? They already have plenty of land.

- If the West's fear of Russia were logical and sincere, we should seek a common language with Moscow. Now the West is losing its importance, and Russia could help the West maintain its position in the world if it integrated it into its ranks. But such efforts were thwarted by the Americans. The US goal was pure politics – to avoid rapprochement between Germany and Russia, because this rapprochement would lead to the expulsion of the United States from the system of European power. And so the Americans chose to destroy Europe instead of saving the West. And even NATO is already losing in this conflict.

- It seems to me that Germany is now playing a much more subtle game than we imagine – the industrial, demographic and sociological foundations in Europe have remained stable. It will all end with Russia and Germany coming to an agreement. Peace will reign again.

- Let's try to understand how Russians view the idea of sovereignty of nations. They are able to understand the desire for sovereignty among other nations, but exclusively and only among great powers. It never occurred to Russian leaders to apply this doctrine to Ukraine.

- A significant part of the Russian-speaking middle class of Ukraine secretly went into the service of Russia. Ukraine cannot rely on a Russian-speaking middle class. Russian speakers in Ukraine have a choice between Ukrainian nationalists seeking to eradicate the Russian language, and Russia, which is experiencing an economic revival. And what did thoughtless denunciation of Russians and refusal to think about their rights bring to Ukrainians? It brought the collapse of the Ukrainian nation, which the West is now preparing to abandon to its own devices. The ‘defeat of Russia’ is not working.

- If the West bothered to read at least the TASS agency website, it would understand that for Russia the return of Trump to the post of US President does not play any role. Moscow is at war with the United States, and the issue of changing the government in Washington is not at all important to Russia.


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