This book is supposed to be a big hit in France, and what makes it significant for me is that the author might even be part of what many call the Counter-Jihad. It’s hard to tell, though. It’s hard to tell because the author insists on writing in an overly complicated style and to write as though the whole subject is rather abstract. The French may love this kind of thing, and may even demand it of any thinker on a serious subject, but the Anglosphere is different, I suspect. Anyway, here is a sample his writing:
The production of common things always holds a part of mystery. The diversity of common things produced by humanity is the object of wonder and admiration. The diversity of common things produced throughout European history is particularly surprising and admirable. I have sought the conditions of this incomparable fecundity in the need to articulate the indeterminacy of the political regime and form along with the indeterminacy of the response to be given to the Christian proposition of an alliance between human freedom and divine benevolence. Each form of common life in Europe was a way of resolving this double indeterminacy by in a way linking the concretization of a way of governing oneself with the concretization of a certain relation to the Christian proposition.... [p. 86]
I insist that the problem with Muslims can be stated quite simply. Either we impose our will on the Muslims here in the West by demanding that they assimilate, or we don’t. If we do, then they will be forced to create some Western-friendly version of Islam that they and we can live with, or else they will drop Islam and choose something else (Christianity or more likely, just secularism), or maybe they will just leave.
If we don’t impose our will on them, then either they will impose their will on us by forcing us to accept shari'a, or there will be some kind of compromise in which each side imposes its will on the other to some extent. Either way, it will be bad news for at least some women, gays, and secularists (and many others, too). I’m going to discuss just one such possible compromise, a compromise in which Muslims largely stay in their own enclaves, which they run as they see fit. When they emerge from such an enclave, they are forced to live like the rest of us in the West. Needless to say, the women, gays, and secularists who live in such an enclave will be forced to live in ways that the average leftist here in the West would consider intolerable. And of course, if they impose shari'a on us so that we basically become nothing but a province of Saudi Arabia, then most women, every gay, and every secularist will find life intolerable.
Instead of discussing this bleak future, Manent prefers to go into abstractions rather than specifics. The specifics he gives are these: he is against burqas and polygamy and wants free speech, but is not bothered by different swimming pool hours for girls and boys. Ok, but what about the gropings at Cologne or the trafficking of young teenage girls in Rotherham? How does he plan to preserve free speech in the face of relentless opposition from the left? More basically, how does he hope to inspire the average non-Muslim into wishing to preserve the West when our elites seem to have no interest in such a project? Maybe there was an answer to this last question in this book, but I gave up trying to puzzle out his thoughts. Life is too short for that sort of thing when one can be direct and to the point.