What is the effect of immigration of people from collapsed states or states incapable of development? Are they importing that collapse to this society? Are they destroying here the cultural and institutional prerequisites of industrialization which they never had and could not create in their homelands?
The following brilliant and comprehensive article about Modern Multicultural Madness was the last one published before his death by the German scholar Rolf Peter Sieferle. Among other things, it provides a useful synonym for multiculturalism: “multi-tribalism”.
JLH, who translated the piece for Gates of Vienna, includes this introduction:
This article was recommended to me by Egri Nök.
Rolf Peter Sieferle took his own life on September 17, 2016, at age 67.
It is clear from the “in memoriam” comments in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as well as in assorted other articles, that he provoked strong feelings — affection and respect among friends, colleagues and students; bitter criticism from others, especially of his book Finis Germania, published post mortem, which is a miscellany of the thoughts and writings in his remaining manuscripts and journals. He has been characterized as a “right-radical” by many, for the obvious reason that he was a clear-eyed historian who provided a close look at what is happening today.
The last thing published before his death is the long article, Deutschland, Schlaraffenland, translated below. It is long, but worthwhile. With calm, relentless logic, he guides us through the rise of the industrialized, capitalist state and inexorably leads us through the causes and results of its dissolution in terms of universal history. He may be a latter-day Spengler, or a fact-based Nostradamus. Whatever he is, when I read his words, I find myself thinking that the real reason Donald Trump was elected is because many people went to the polls thinking, “Make us trust again!”
The translated article from Jürgen Fritz’s blog [pdf]:
Germany — Land of Milk and Honey
On the path to the multi-tribal society
by Rolf Peter Sieferle
At this point in time, a wave of immigration of unprecedented magnitude is inundating Europe. On the periphery, millions are setting out for the promised land. Europe is surrounded by collapsing states and hopeless areas. The population of Africa, presently circa one billion, is growing annually by 3%, that is, 30 million, of which several million yearly can set out on the way to a better, promised land. Add to this the emigration from the civil war areas of the Near East. Some of the earlier barriers to this migration have disappeared. In Libya alone, a million migrants await a space on a boat which will transport them on the dangerous passage across the Mediterranean Sea.
In this respect, Europe is in an unusual situation, due to its geographical location. Other industrial areas in the world are threatened by immigration, but none as extensively as Europe. Latin America has a population of about 400 million, that is, the number of potential emigrants is approximately the same as that of the resident population of North America (USA and Canada). The ratio in Europe is three times as great (1500 million vs. 500 million). The US border with Mexico is relatively small and can be relatively easily secured, since there is only one country from which immigrants can flow into the USA. It is quite different in Europe. It is realistically impossible to screen off the outer borders. And in the border areas of North Africa and the Near East, there are more and more unpredictable states which cannot be counted on to cooperate.
Other industrial countries such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand are so far from possible origin lands of immigration that the trip by boat people is risky and relatively easy to monitor. It is more problematic in the emerging countries of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, etc.) which are eligible goals for immigrants. Other countries such as China and Russia are difficult to reach and are not (yet) attractive for immigration. That leaves Europe as the place where we can expect the greatest immigration pressure. Europeans must be paralyzed with fear at this development. They are facing a folk migration comparable to the one in late antiquity.
Why do so many people want to immigrate to countries like Germany? The reasons are obvious: here there is prosperity and security, a functioning constitutional state; there are no wars or civil wars, no epidemics; the health system is excellent and free; unemployment is low; the social nets are lush — it is a land of milk and honey, and you would have to be a little dim not to recognize that. The reasons for immigrating, for the wish to immigrate, are easy to understand.
It is somewhat harder to understand why conditions in Germany are so much better than in, for instance, Iraq. That was no always the case. A thousand years ago, it was not clear where living conditions were better, and three thousand years ago, the standard of living, i.e., the civilizational niveau in Europe was without doubt lower than in Mesopotamia. Something has changed drastically here in recent millennia. The question is, what? This question is the same as the one about the reasons for “Europe’s unique path” — that is, why Europe succeeded in breaking out of the model of agrarian civilizations and bringing forth a new kind of economy, state and society, which combines prosperity and security for all. In asking this, we come upon three complexes of factors which have instigated Europe’s advance into the constitutional industrial society (a.k.a. “the modern age”): they are by nature technical-industrial, cultural-intellectual and political-institutional. What element played what role is a very thorny question. Thus far, there is no agreement on what was decisive. But it is certain that a process of positive feedback has built up in Europe in the last 300 years, and the result is the “land of milk and honey” we see before us.
Undisputed though it may be that the development into an industrial society radiated outward from Europe, it is also clear that the imitation of it in other regions has proceeded with greater or lesser success. This was simplest in the neo-European colonies (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) which effortlessly adopted or even took part in shaping the European model. Examples of success may be found in Asia, in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan — presumably also sooner or later in mainland China and India. These countries did not develop their own version of industrialization, but succeeded in a relatively short time in joining the parade.
Other countries were less successful, even though they could observe Europe’s unique progress from closer at hand. This is especially true of Russia, which has tried to keep pace with Europe for 300 years, and yet continually regresses to its old plight. That is also true of the Ottoman Empire, of which only one province was truly successful — Palestine/Israel, and in fact because of the Zionist immigration from Europe. It must be emphasized here that Judaism was not a decisive factor. If someone (for instance, Werner Sombart ) should wish to trace industrial capitalism to the Jews, the geographical location of its inception would have to be sought in Galicia, rather than in the north of England, where there were hardly any Jews in the 17th and 18th centuries.
From Tribal Consciousness to Industrial Nation
So we confront the problem that a successful industrialization is based on certain historical, especially cultural and institutional preconditions which are not easy to imitate or create. People like living in the promised land, and are moved to immigrate to industrialized countries, but something is keeping them from establishing this paradise at home. Apparently, immigrating to an already existing utopia is easier. Why? If industrialization and democratization, the creation of a constitutional order and implementation of rational ways of thinking are natural characteristics of “modernization,” then why is it so much more attractive to undergo the rigors of migration, than to transform one’s own native land according this model? The reason, in general, is that the assumptions of modernization theory are false. Ours was a highly improbable process, shaped by many contingencies which had over centuries created ways of thinking and institutions, the results of which are evident today in zones of prosperity and security. This model of success cannot simply be copied. Transferring technology is easy; transferring institutions is difficult; transferring cultural-intellectual paradigms is practically impossible or at least a very lengthy process.