The near term future of European politics

Also see You Can't Say That, by Christopher Calwell.
But the most important development, over the long run, will have been the publication in Germany of a taboo-breaking book which touched on immigrant themes. It is by Thilo Sarrazin, a member (but not for long, as it turned out) of the Bundesbank’s board of governors. Sarrazin’s book is Deutschland schafft sich ab (roughly, “The Abolition of Germany”). The controversy it has unleashed resembles the one that America had in 1994 over Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s book The Bell Curve. That was a book about the role of intelligence in society that wound up being read as a book on race. Sarrazin’s is a book about Germany’s economic future that detractors have cast as a book about how immigration is ruining Germany’s “stock.” The widespread criticism the book has received from establishment politicians has not blocked—and may even have spurred—its success. It has been a number-one bestseller for a month. Stores have been sold out for days at a time.

I have not yet read the book, and won’t judge its arguments until I do. But genetics is distant from the heart of the book​. It is mainly an account of the actuarial nightmare that confronts the German welfare state, owing to a shrinking working-age population and a leveling off of productivity gains. Mass immigration has been an economic failure, Sarrazin believes, and immigrants from Muslim countries provide—for cultural reasons, it must be stressed—relatively poor raw material for assimilating into German society.
Negative social mood is going to lead to calls for reform and the "extreme" right will be ascendant during this period due to the intellectual implosion of the left. To wit:
The need to discipline Sarrazin in the teeth of widespread public support posed very tricky questions for almost all of Germany’s institutions. It was as hard as passing a health care plan that nobody wants. It was particularly hard for Sarrazin’s party, the SPD. The party head, Sigmar Gabriel, who led the effort at ousting Sarrazin, admitted that mail and emails from members were running 9-to-1 in Sarrazin’s favor. As one Bavarian SPD leader told the press, “Our party members need enlightenment, and yet more enlightenment.”

Gabriel insisted that he was not objecting to the book, which he had not read, but to Sarrazin’s “core thesis” of genetic determinism. And that core thesis, Gabriel said, was “close to” Nazi ideas of “racial hygiene.” This is typical of immigration debates: Gabriel would not accuse Sarrazin of actually holding Nazi views, because Sarrazin does not. So he criticized Sarrazin’s views on the grounds that they have “overtones” of views that he doesn’t hold. “This smacks of .  .  . ” “It is almost as if .  .  . ” “There is an uncomfortable echo .  .  . ” Once this is your standard, you can ostracize anyone for anything and still make believe the discussion you’re censoring is something “well worth discussing.” No one’s censoring anybody! It’s just that absolutely everything that questions the immigration status quo is deemed to fall short of some ever-shifting standard of intellectual propriety.

In the end, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats did not escape damage. “The only solution is education, education, education,” was about the best response she could manage to the question of what she would do about the issues Sarrazin had raised. The Christian Democrats are an umbrella party of Christians, free marketers, and conservatives. The conservatives found all of this a bit mealy-mouthed. There was talk of a rupture in the ranks. A poll found that if Sarrazin were to start a political party, 18 percent of Germans would consider voting for it. In almost every newspaper, there were forebodings that Sarrazin might wind up as the German equivalent of Geert Wilders, the Dutch anti-Islam party leader, or, worse, that the truculent impatience with the German ruling classes that he had unleashed might signal the beginnings of some Teutonic Tea Party.
When more than half of the current political spectrum cannot even discuss an issue due to crimestop, it has no way to engage in debate.

No comments:

Post a Comment