The Prescience of Hilaire Belloc

Intelligent people aware of Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin and the like still manage to believe that Islam is benign and bad things won’t come of its growing foothold in the West. Belloc knew better, grasping all those years ago that its challenge can’t be permanently postponed

I recently read Hilaire Belloc’s The Great Heresies. I confess to having read nothing else of Belloc which I now intend to put right. He was a Roman Catholic of great conviction and this apparently colours much of his political and historical writings. It is of course central to the book I have just read. At this time, I don’t want to go into all of the heresies against the Catholic Church which he covers, of which The Reformation is prominent. I want to focus on Islam, which he calls “the great and enduring heresy of Mohammed.”

A first thing to remember is that this book was published in 1938 when the Islamic world was largely occupied by Western Powers. If you trace a line from, say, 622 (when Mohammed and his followers reportedly migrated from Mecca to Medina) to 1938, it would be hard to find another period when the Islamic world was at such a low ebb. Now listen to Belloc.

Millions of modern people of the white civilisation – that is, the civilisation of Europe and America – have forgotten about Islam. They have never come into contact with it. They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them. It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilisation has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as in the past.

Switch to the present.