Saturday, September 25, 2010

Livy, Enoch Powell and Thilo Sarrazin

In response to my note comparing Bruce Thornton to Victor Davis Hanson, someone referred me to Enoch Powell who was another brilliant classicist who objected to the influx of immigrants into Europe. This is far too small a sampling to permit any decisive conclusion, but I have read a bit further in Livy's Early History of Rome and noticed that Rome was able to do something that modern Europe was not.

Rome in its early days had a population problem. It had a very small population. It couldn't field an army large enough to overwhelm its enemies. So over a period of the two centuries I have read about thus far, it has incorporated city after city into Rome. It didn't just claim cities and leave the population where it was; it moved entire populations into Rome itself, and Livy reports no problems with these populations. These immigrant populations didn't burn horses or issue fatwas against Roman centurions. They fit in rather well. In no time some of these integrated leaders became kings of Rome. Rome knew how to integrate immigrant populations. Also, the immigrants had to give up their old ways. This wasn't discussed by Livy. He just assumes that once they moved to Rome they were Romans. They knew the Roman language and behaved like every other Roman.

The closest Livy comes to describing a problem had to do with matters of jealousy. Rome was to a very large degree a meritocracy. If some general could defeat Rome's enemies and become beloved of the Roman people, then he could be voted King by the Senate. This caused some of the descendants of Ancus and others to feel jealousy. Why should Servius become king when they were true descendants of Roman royalty and not immigrants? But debate ended when Servius achieved a great victory on the battlefield. After that it was clear that Servius' popularity was too great for jealous rivals to gain any advantage.

The three classicists mentioned would know these things. It would be natural to ask, why was Rome so successful at integrating their immigrants while we have so much difficulty integrating ours? One obvious reason is that Britain, and any Liberal Democratic nation, doesn't have the means to force an immigrant population to integrate. If they want to enter a European nation and retain all the earmarks of their previous nationality, there is nothing in European law to prevent them. When this happens, when an immigrant population prefers to enter enclaves with people who have the same heritage they do -- rather than try to integrate into a population that doesn't seem to want them, difficulties arise. This isn't speculation. Difficulties have arisen.

So what can be done about it -- about these immigrants who continue to flood into European nations without the likelihood that they will integrate? One obvious solution would be to shut off immigration. Who cares if the various European nations can't reproduce enough children to maintain current population levels? Ah . . . the Europeans do. They want young people, and they don't care where they get them, to work hard and pay taxes so that they will be able to retire in comfort. Actually, when described as baldly as I have it sounds a bit like slavery -- bringing these immigrants into your European country so they can work and support you in retirement. It would be one thing if you like them, but you don't. You don't want to mix with them any more than you want them mixing with you. They are in effect slaves.

Of course they don't behave like slaves. Unfortunately for you Europeans they have many more rights than the slaves of old. As to those "rights" it does not good for your Politically Correct Leaders to claim that you are racist. It is what it is. They won't integrate into you and you won't integrate into them. So stop bringing them into your countries. Learn to retire on something less. What good is your retirement money when these immigrants burn your car out front, if not your house and you?

Just this morning I read an article that proves you don't need to be a classicist to come to the above conclusions about immigration: . This article will appear in the Weekly Standard. It is by Christopher Caldwell and entitled, "You Can't Say That, Against its wishes, Europe's political class is hip-deep in immigration debates." The key "offender" in these debates is Thilo Sarrazin who published a "taboo-breaking book" in Germany. ". . . Thilo Sarrazin, [was] a member . . . 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."

Caldwell writes, "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.

"Sarrazin is a serious economist, with a real expertise in budgets and labor markets. He is also a Social Democrat who looks at Germany’s highly developed welfare state as the great achievement of its postwar governments. All Social Democrats do, but like American Democrats they are split into two tendencies. There are those who believe that people of the left should demand maximal welfare benefits, to be limited only by countervailing political pressures. Many of these members have lately bolted to join former East German Communists in the Left party (Die Linke). There are also Social Democrats who believe that the first task of politicians is to ensure a stable financial basis for the benefits they dish out. Sarrazin was the leading voice of that latter tendency in the Berlin city-state government, the German equivalent of a Robert Rubin or Larry Summers.

"Sarrazin was also a bit of a freelance intellectual. He did not mince words, as most postwar Germans politicians do. In a multicultural city, he laid the blame for a lot of budgetary ills at multiculturalism’s door. It was convenient for the city’s left-leaning mayor, Klaus Wowereit, to have him exiled to the world of high finance in Frankfurt. But Sarrazin did not keep his counsel when he took his Bundesbank seat in 2009. Interviewed in the magazine Lettre International a year ago, he opined, “I don’t have respect for a person who lives off the state while expressing contempt for it, who doesn’t plan for the education of his children in a rational way, and is constantly producing new little Kopftuchm├Ądchen”—a coinage of his own that can be translated as “headscarf girls.” Sarrazin was demoted to a less glamorous portfolio at the bank. He began writing his book to document what he was talking about. (As if lack of documentation were his failing.)"

As we know from our own experiences, Leftists turn all such concerns into matters of race, and they did that with Sarrazin as quickly as they could. A poorly chosen illustration was all it took to satisfy Leftist leadership. Caldwell writes, "While no convincing case has been made that Sarrazin is inclined towards anti-Semitism, his remarks made it possible to attack his book without appearing to be merely censoring his unpopular remarks on immigration.

"When we say 'unpopular,' we mean unpopular among the German political classes, who condemned Sarrazin almost univocally. You can count the exceptions on one hand. There was Edmund Stoiber, the former Bavarian minister president from the Christian Social Union, who warned that the last time public sentiment against heavy immigration was ignored—in the 1990s—the result was the rise of right-wing movements. Wolfgang Clement, the SPD budget czar, thought Sarrazin’s points were reasonable.

"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.

"Now the German debate has come to resemble the American one. The magazine Der Spiegel mentioned “the danger of an emotional and irrational debate that would give a new impetus to the rightmost fringe.” True, the right has got some impetus out of the Sarrazin affair. But the taboo that is being broken is not the one the German mainstream press thinks. Until now the debate over immigration has been platitudinous, based on moral uplift, lecturing, and exhortations to fellow feeling. Sarrazin’s book merely asks Germany’s political leadership to look at the numbers. The threat to them is not of an irrational debate but a rational one."

The issues seem clear. The information is available for anyone to see. Sarrazin is an economist and not a classicist; so he casts, apparently (I haven't read his book either) the issues in logical terms. So will these self-indulgent Europeans, who think (as their Welfare States have encouraged them to think) that the Government owes them their entitlements, vote themselves out of this difficulty? Or will they go on accepting immigrants into their nations that hate them and won't do enough work (according to Sarrazin) to maintain the entitlements they so desperately want to keep? Bruce Thornton who wrote of Europe's "Slow Suicide" is pessimistic about Europe's willingness to make wise decisions about their immigrant problem, and I agree with him.

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