Tribalism Returns to Europe
Is Europe’s adventure in international living about to end?
At Potsdam, Germany, this weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the young conservatives of her Christian Democratic Union that Germany’s attempt to create a multicultural society where people “live side by side and enjoy each other” has “failed, utterly failed.”
Merkel had in mind the Turks who came as gastarbeiters, guest workers, in the 1960s. Some 2.5 million now live in Germany.
Arabs and East Europeans have come more recently. One survey puts the Muslim population at 5 million.
“Multikulti is dead,” says Horst Seehofer of Merkel’s sister party, the Christian Social Union of Bavaria. He wants no more immigration from “alien cultures.” Turks and other Muslims are not learning the language, he contends, not assimilating, not becoming Germans.
Awareness of deep differences with Turkish neighbors became acute for Germans when, grieving in solidarity with America after 9/11, they learned that Turkish sectors of Berlin were celebrating Islam’s victory with barrages of bottle rockets.
Like all of Europe, Germany grows nervous.
This summer, Thilo Sarrazin, who sat on the Bundesbank board, published “Germany Abolishes Itself,” which sold 300,000 copies in seven weeks. Sarrazin argued that Germany’s Muslim population is intellectually inferior and unable or unwilling to learn the language or culture, and mass immigration is destroying the nation.
No rightist, but a stalwart of the socialist party, Sarrazin was forced out at the Bundesbank. Half his socialist party stood by him.
Across Europe, there is a resurgence of ethnonationalism that is feeding the ranks of populist and anti-immigrant parties that are gaining respectability and reaching for power.
Austrian nationalists triumphed in 2008 when the Freedom Party of Joerg Haider and the Alliance for the Future of Austria together took 29 percent of the vote. The Swiss People’s Party of Christoph Blocher, largest in Bern, was behind the successful referendum to change the constitution to outlaw minarets and prohibit the wearing of burqas.
Hungary’s Jobbik Party, which to the Financial Times “sits squarely in Europe’s most repulsive arch-nationalist tradition and which blames Jews and Roma for the hardships of other Hungarians,” pulled 17 percent of the vote this year and entered parliament with 47 seats, up from zero seats in 2006.
The Sweden Democrats just captured 6 percent of the vote and entered parliament for the first time with 20 seats, joining right-wing folk parties in Norway and Denmark.
Geert Wilders, a rising figure in Dutch politics, was charged with hate speech for equating Islam and Nazism. In June, his Freedom Party swept past the ruling Christian Democrats, who lost half of their strength in parliament. “More security, less crime, less immigration, less Islam—that is what the Netherlands has chosen,” said Wilders.
In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy—one eye on Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front, the other on the 2012 elections—rejecting cries of “Nazism” and “Vichyism,” is dismantling Gypsy camps and deporting Gypsies to Romania. Milan is now following the French lead.
What is happening in Europe partakes of a global trend. Multiracial, multi-ethnic, multicultural nations are disintegrating.
Russians battle ethnic Muslim separatists in the North Caucasus. Seventy percent of Americans support an Arizona law to identify and expel illegal aliens. Beijing swamps the homelands of Tibetans and Uighurs with Han Chinese. India fights secession in Kashmir, Nagaland and the Naxalite provinces.
“Wars between nations have given way to wars within nations, “ said Barack Obama in his Nobel Prize address.
Ethnonationalism tore Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet Union and Josip Tito’s Yugoslavia into 22 separate nations, and is now tugging at the seams of all multi-ethnic states. Globalism is in retreat before tribalism.
But the awakening of Europe’s establishment to the shallow roots of multiculturalism will likely prove frustrating and futile.
With her fertility rate below replacement levels for 40 years, projected to remain so for the next 40 years, Germany will lose 12 million of her 82 million people by 2050. Her median age will rise eight years to 53, and 40 percent of all Germans will be over 60.
Germany’s problem is insoluble. She is running out of Germans.
Yet if her welfare state is to survive and her industries are to remain competitive, Germany will need millions of new workers.
Where are they to come from, if not the Third World? For not one European nation, save Iceland and Albania, has had a birth rate for decades that is not below zero population growth.
Baby boomer Europe decided in the 1960s and 1970s it wanted La Dolce Vita, not the hassle of children. It had that sweet life. Now the bill comes due. And the bill is the end of their tribes and countries as we have known them.
Old Europe is dying, and the populist and nationalist parties, in the poet’s phrase, are simply raging “against the dying of the light.”
Europe’s Revolt of the Pampered
For the fourth day running, France has been crippled by strikes. Airlines are canceling flights. Travelers making their way to Paris from DeGaulle and Orly face long delays.
Tourists are stranded. The Eiffel Tower was closed. Rail and subway traffic into the city has been curtailed. By shutting down refineries, French oil workers may cause a shutdown of gas stations and force the government to raid the strategic petroleum reserve.
Millions have gone on strike. One in 10 high schools has been closed. Students at secondary schools and universities march beside workers and block entrances to paralyze the educational system.
And what is the cause of this national tantrum?
President Nicolas Sarkozy has moved through the National Assembly and is pushing through the Senate a measure raising the retirement age for state pensions from 60 to 62.
For if France does not raise that retirement age, its social security system will face a $58 billion deficit by 2018. Sarkozy’s reform follows his victory in repealing a decade-old Socialist law that mandated the 35-hour workweek in France.
What world, one wonders, are these French living in?
Around 2050, those high school and college students will be near or above today’s retirement age of 60. Who do they think is going to pony up for their pensions? Are they not aware of what is coming for France and Europe?
Today, 23 percent of French men and women are 60 or older. That will rise to 33 percent by 2050, when there will be one French worker for each French retiree, if 60 is retained as the age of retirement.
Today, 5.5 percent of French men and women are 80 or older. By 2050, that doubles to 11 percent.
Who do the French strikers think is going to pay the taxes for the medical expenses of this infirm and aged ninth of a nation?
Where the median age of the French is 40, in 2050 it will be 45. But that number disguises a far drearier reality.
Since 1970, the fertility rate of French women has been below the 2.1 children needed to sustain France’s population, what demographers call zero population growth. For the next four decades until 2050, the fertility level of French women is projected to remain roughly 15 percent below ZPG.
Yet France’s population of 62.6 million is projected to make a healthy leap to 67.7 million. How can a population continue to grow when the birth rate for almost 80 years running to 2050 is below replacement level?
Answer: As the French retire, age and die, France is filling up with immigrants coming to replace the departed and departing French, and the millions of French children who were never born because their potential parents did not want them.
Where are the immigrants coming from?
Some come from Eastern Europe. But more are arriving from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and the former French colonies of the sub-Sahara. Arabs and Africans are populating cities like Marseilles and Grenoble, and filling up the burgeoning banlieues around Paris, where every few years, they go on a tear and burn thousands of cars. For Paris police, the banlieues are off-limits, except when traveling in platoons.
These immigrants do not bring the occupational skills, education or language abilities of French youth. Most will not earn the wages and salaries of native-born French, and thus not contribute the same level of taxes to sustain a welfare state constructed by a Socialist Party that has ruled France on and off for decades.
With the end of the 35-hour workweek and retirement at 60, the peeling back of social welfare benefits granted to the French in the salad days of socialism has only just begun. They can march and protest and strike, but they cannot avert the inevitable.
What is true of France is true of Europe, where not one nation has a fertility rate that will replace its native-born. Among Russians, Ukrainians, Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians, the death rate already exceeds the birth rate. These countries have begun to pass away. And their neighbors will follow.
With the financial crisis of 2008-09, followed by the threatened debt default of one or more of the European Union PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain), all of Europe also seems to be slashing defense budgets to save all they can of their welfare states.
Which raises questions we debt-swamped Americans cannot put off forever. Why, 65 years after World War II, are we still defending these nations? When Europe has more wealth, more people and a more lavish welfare state than we do, why should we impose sacrifices on our people to pay for the privilege of defending her people?
Instead of borrowing from Europe to defend Europe, why do we not charge them for providing that protection? If we are going to play Romans, why not demand tribute, as the Romans did?
America is the first empire in history to pay tribute to its satraps.