Belgian historian David Engels claims a civil war will erupt in the next 30 years as he draws parallels between Europe and the fall of the Roman Republic.
“In 20 to 30 years Europe will have become an authoritarian or imperial state, after a phase resembling civil war and decay,” said Mr. Engels who is a historian at the Free University of Brussels. Engels has been predicting Europe would go down the path of authoritarianism since 2011, but the ongoing migrant crisis has added weight to his prior warnings, Kronen Zeitungreports.
“I expect a civil war, which will force a fundamental social and political reformation in Europe, whether we like it or not, following the example of the decaying Roman Republic in the first century BC,” he said.
Convinced the fate of the European Union is heading toward its equivalent of Julius Caesar’s, the man perhaps most famous during the Roman civil wars who fought against his rival Pompey the Great, the historian said the parallels are “so massive, so obvious, and that has been the case for decades”.
According to Engels, the factors that brought down the Roman Republic are present in Europe today. He listed many factors like family decay, individualism, the decline of traditional culture, globalisation, fundamentalism, and rampant crime.
Significantly, he noted the split between an oligarch class, the Roman Senators or the current financial and political elite, and the rise of a populist movement that demanded to give the people a voice.
In Europe, those populist voices take the shape of politicians like Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Marine Le Pen in France, and others who the academic compared to populist Roman Senator Publius Clodius Pulcher.
While the migrant crisis plays a part in his vision, Engels said it is not the only factor. “The present population movements are only one of the many symptoms of our present spirit, characterised by a strange mixture of cosmopolitanism, self-doubt, calculus, materialism, and bad conscience,” he said.
“I’m afraid of that, but it would be cowardly to close my eyes just because you do not want to see reality,” he said noting that he wasn’t in favour of civil war or authoritarianism.
The civil war, which he says cannot be avoided, will likely not look like a traditional military conflict, he said, because European societies are not militarised. Rather, he said the civil war will look like the situation in Sweden where over 50 no-go areas have formed or Brussels where suburbs like Molenbeek were able to hide Paris terrorist Salah Abdeslam from police for months.
French academic and Islamic expert Gilles Kepel made a similar prediction last year saying that the rise of radical Islam among young Muslims in Europe could take the continent into a large-scale civil conflict.