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.
An important, if not the crucial prerequisite of European development was the destruction of tribal structures by the states of the early modern age, and that was an elementary prerequisite of the national state that became the institutional center of 19th century industrialization. The nation-state dissolved the agrarian social duality of local domination and dynastic centrality. Its goal was the creation of a homogeneous unity of the people, area and power of the state, excluding and distinguishing itself from other entities. The primary achievement of the nation-state was the centralization of rule and the concomitant dissolution of intermediary powers such as tribes, clans, extended families, associations and clientele systems of all kinds. The ideal of the nation-state as constitutional state was the immediacy of state to individual (“equal rights for all”) and the state’s monopoly on force with differentiated organs for enforcement (police, military).
This national state combined important structural elements: money, law, language, government, transportation, citizenship (instead of adherence to a community). And thus it became the provider of a complex market/industrial economy, for instance, in the administration of justice (civil trial instead of vendetta).
To achieve this requires a centralized top-to-bottom administration sufficient to meet the demands of bureaucratic rationale (against corruption and patronage). A central element of this was a unified, legal and calculable system of taxation.
Transforming the dynastic state of the agrarian society into the nation-state required the delegitimization of the former and the anticipatory legitimization of the latter. This was done on the basis of the ideology of nationalism, which defined the identifying unit of the state as the “people,” in its dual meaning as both demos and ethnos.. The nation-state was understood as a “people’s state” and this could mean “ethnic state” or “democratic state” or both. The ideology of nationalism insisted upon the uniqueness of the given people. This could be understood in a “horizontal” sense as an element of a human plurality (as with Herder) or in a “vertical” sense of a hierarchy with a ruling elite at the top and a worker class at the base, as in the classical empires.
The basic concept of nationalism is that the world should be ruled by political units, each of which controls ethnically homogeneous areas. This was a normative concept that — at the time of its inception — was only sparsely descriptive. In the 18th century, there were hardly any ethnically homogeneous “nations.” Nonetheless, this concept achieved an astonishing prescriptive power. In the 19th century, the existence of national states was seen as nothing less than natural, so that a poor future was predicted for political entities that could not claim the principle of nationalism. In the context of Europe, this applied particularly to Austria-Hungary, but also to Russia and the Ottoman Empire — all classical “multi-ethnic” empires whose existence until then had not been in question. The ideology of nationalism tended to ascribe quasi-tribal characteristics to the national state. The nationalistically molded nation-state perceived itself as representing a lineage, and demanded a comprehensive loyalty from its members, otherwise found only in tribal societies. Therefore, conflict with other nation-states easily achieved “total,” if not genocidal characteristics. The resultant excesses occurred largely in the first half of the 20th century, but the possibility exists everywhere where nations are being formed. In the second half of that century, the ideology was in bad odor among the elites in advanced countries, who (justifiably) see in it the potential for ethnic cleansing and genocide. There has been an ideological shift from the “ethnic” to the “democratic” accent on “people.”
This ideological shift in emphasis from ethnic state to democracy carries a significant implication of increasingly universal adoption, despite the fact that it is still de facto organized within exclusive, regional, i.e., non-universal national states. At any rate, there are increasingly efforts to establish trans-national, institutional arrangements (such as the EU), whose building blocks are nonetheless still nation-states. So the national state today faces the ideological problem: that its primary legitimization — nationalism — has become obsolete. And its secondary legitimization — “democratic” humanitarian universalism — is not compatible with its exclusive form of organization. From this arise contradictions and paradoxes which can be fought out in the political play for power.
This is particularly obvious in the second institutional manifestation of the industrial society — the welfare state. It is the institutional solution of a problem created by the dissolution of civic communities. In European agrarian societies, the (cooperatively organized) communities had assumed certain duties of public service for their members that could not be managed by the families — especially helping the poor and support in cases of emergency. With industrialization, communal membership became an obstacle to advancement, and therefore obsolete. In the wake of the introduction of free enterprise and freedom of movement, status as a resident took the place of communal citizen, and “citizen of a community” was expanded to “citizen of a country”. Its services (as was also the case with civic communities) were for the benefit only of its own citizens. In this sense, both were exclusive of those outside and inclusive of those inside. Precisely this relation of exclusion and inclusion defines the problematic nature of the national welfare state.
The welfare state — after nationalism’s loss of plausibility — faces the problem that it is only viable as a nation-state; that the inclusivity of its public services is based in fact on a form of exclusivity. However, the official ideology supporting the welfare state’s redistribution of wealth (out of motives of “equality” and “justice”) applies universally. If the welfare state bases its programs of “social justice” on universal humanitarianism (“human rights”), then the area of the implementation of these justice-serving programs can clearly not be confined to the nation-state. As a universalist ideology, universal redistributive socialism should be oriented toward the world state and/or world society. Since these “entities” do not actually exist, it must incorporate elements of globalization into the present nation-state/welfare state, and open the welfare system to, for instance, immigrants. The ultimate effect, of course, would be the destruction of the welfare state, but not of its universalization.
The welfare state — confronting globalization, with its comprehensive mobilization of production factors and information streams — finds itself on the defensive. This problem is now enormously exacerbated by mass immigration, so the question is whether the welfare state still has any chance of survival. Expanding the welfare state while opening the borders to immigration certainly cannot be sustained. It would be like turning up the heat and simultaneously opening the windows. One reaction to this might be to see the welfare state as a residual form of the nation-state and take mass immigration as an occasion to deconstruct it. That would be a logical “liberal” solution: complete factorial mobility also implies complete (personal) freedom of movement. This, of course, is only possible if the state pulls back into its legal core and abandons social interventions (as for instance in 19th century USA, during the mass immigration from Europe). This, at any rate, would not be in the interests of the lower classes in welfare states, who would wage a “populist” resistance against such a development.
The question arises: 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?
There is no easy answer. The question of the historical rise of the industrial society is not the same as the question of the conditions under which an existing industrial society can continue to exist. For example, even if the Protestant ethic of Calvinism, as Max Weber suspected, had played an important role in the genesis of capitalism, it is beyond doubt that capitalism can continue to exist without this ethic. It may be that the genesis of “the land of milk and honey” (in the sense of the destruction of the agrarian society model) was based on premises which are no longer necessary to its continued existence. It may be that the modern paradise is resilient, and that is what those who speak of “colorful diversity” are betting on.
The immigration to Germany is welcomed on purely economic grounds, because it promises an enlargement of the work force that is endangered by demographic developments. This is the abbreviated version of a common economic argument, in which only capital resources and the workforce play a part. More recent institutional economy, moreover, also considers “social” and “cultural” capital, i.e., immaterial factors which contribute to prosperity. This requires willingness to cooperate and associate as well as mindsets and attitudes that result in cooperation and trust. This cultural capital depends upon tradition and the clarity of adherence to a group.
In the packet of cultural capital that is characteristic of a functioning, democratic, enlightened and economically successful society, belong, among others, the following elements: constitutional law, fair play, individual rights, restriction of state force, conjunction of individualism and the common good, freedom of expression (including religious freedom), a work ethic, orientation toward progress, expansion of trust, respect for education. This combination is the cultural secret of success for advanced countries.
The Threat to Cultural Capital
An important, if not the decisive element of cultural capitalism, is trust. As empirical comparisons of various countries show, there is a close correlation between the amount of trust and economic efficiency. The level of trust is the measure of both civilizational level and performance capacity. In the year 2000, to the question of whether most people can be trusted, 67% of Danes and 66% of Swedes answered “yes” but only 3% of Brazilians. Willingness to cooperate and trust ease social intercourse and, in an economic context, lower the costs of transactions, which bolsters the readiness to collaborate.
Cultural capital may be passed on through tradition. A culture is never homogeneous, and this is especially true for the complex societies of the nation-state era. Not all those who belong to a “people” share all cultural characteristics. On the other hand, it is always possible to assimilate foreigners to a certain extent, i.e., equip them with the cultural capital of their new society — also known as “integration.” There are, to be sure, limits of comprehensiveness and speed. The greater the number of immigrants and the faster they immigrate, the less the chance of assimilation. There is the danger that the “multicultural society” that results from immigration will destroy cultural capital, transforming ethnically and culturally homogeneous industrial countries into multi-tribal societies. It is then very likely that important institutional and intellectual-cultural prerequisites for a functioning industrial structure will be destroyed. The basic model of trust will disappear, which can drive the costs of economic transactions to enormous heights. In place of the constitutional state with its monopoly on force, the law of vendetta may reappear.
When conflicts arise, attempts are made first to resolve them within the pertinent tribal structure, through their own mediators, but also perhaps with the help of enforcement-capable allies. Once this process is underway (and the beginnings of it can be observed in numerous European cities) it can gain strength with ease and develop its own dynamic. Then (along old or new borderlines) more and more tribal groups may form, with their own tax system (protection payments) and their own decision apparatus. These groups will then come into competition with the traditional constitutional state and its policing forces. Ultimately nothing will remain of this “state’ except as one tribe among other tribes. For those citizens who belong to no particular tribe, and had relied upon the constitutional state, this will be fatal.
If such a movement should be set in motion, we would be witnessing an industrial society in the evolutionary process of destroying itself. Historically, the successful complex “industrialization and modernity” was created by a particular constellation of cultural elements. This complex, however, has developed normative characteristics of humanitarian universalism, which render it unable to regulate or prevent the immigration of members of alien cultures. Such a society — no longer able to distinguish itself from the forces disintegrating it — is living morally beyond its means. It is not sustainable. Through relativization, it is destroying its cultural identity — the prerequisite of its capacity. And so it puts an end to itself.
European societies are obsessed with the elemental idea of egalitarianism. This ideological model produces the utopia of total material equality, which, to a certain extent, is the natural point of attraction in human existence. Inequities, on the other hand, are “unnatural,” so they are regarded as mere “social constructs” and therefore to be reconstructed at once. This is true for all categories, ergo for gender, race, intelligence, social position, etc. From this perspective of a universalist-egalitarian program, any actual inequity is insufferable. Confronting suffering, poverty, suppression, misery and failed hopes activates a reflexive need to help, of which the simplest (and both ethically and sentimentally most satisfactory) is: “refugees welcome,” that is, acceptance of all comers into Europe, with access to the entire package of the welfare state. Surprisingly, this reflex is not confined to those humanitarian extremists who feel that familiar heart palpitation for the welfare of humanity. It permeates large portions of the society in prosperous zones — the further away the memory of their own hardship, the more intense is the feeling. It is astonishing to observe what eager helpfulness is offered the immigrants at the local level, and how strongly the acceptance reflex is, not just in the media but also in political circles.
Administrators and pragmatic politicians, who actually supply the help, have a problem, as some of the population perceives in mass immigration the danger of an undermining of the familiar social and political order. These people are attacked in the media and tarred with the radical opposite of egalitarianism — “racism” — whose connotation since the Nazi era is extremely negative. It is also inappropriate, since the differences discussed here are ethnic-cultural and not racial. Many contemporary citizens just prefer to keep their mouths shut and hope that the bitter cup does not come their way.
Is it really possible for a society to destroy itself by such processes of ideological confusion? I think so. Cultures and ideologies are powerful forces. People blow themselves up for Allah. Why shouldn’t they destroy a social order which they neither like nor understand? The welfare state is seen by most people as natural, just like the constitutional state. They will only begin to understand that neither of them is this, but rest upon very fragile bases, when they have disappeared, that is, when the multi-tribal structure has displaced them. Perhaps the demise of Europe is a lesson for other industrialized civilizations (like China) and perhaps the last “Europeans” will seek refuge abroad.
Finally, let us examine this process from the clear perspective of universal history. More than 60,000 years ago human beings left Africa and spread over the entire earth. This was a process of diffusion, during which many separate peoples with their own cultures were formed, and to an extent had no contact with one another over long periods of time. This trend reversed abut 5,000 years ago, with the beginning of the agrarian civilizations, which created empires and drove long-distance trade. This was drastically accelerated 500 years ago by European seafarers, and for about 200 years now all of humanity has more or less been in contact. The process of globalization — underway for a few decades — has enormously expanded the mobility of information, goods and also people, and today we may contemplate a future in which the abstraction “humanity” has taken on tangible form.
This process of universalization and globalization is probably unavoidable, and the “peoples” who have shaped recent decades are now being consumed by it. We must be clear about the fact that this will be accompanied by countless painful frictions. Many present-day Germans would like to disappear as a people, be dissolved in Europe or humanity at large. Other peoples will vigorously resist such a prospect. It will not be harmonious. Individual cultures will attempt to use this opportunity to impose their traditional model universally, whether by force, or Western “human rights” or Islamic jihad, or whatever else. The immigration crisis we now face is just a premonitory sign of comprehensive convulsions which will swallow up everything we now take for granted.
|1.||Werner Sombart, sociologist and economist (1863-1941) in his book, Die Juden und das Wirtschaftsleben, propounded a racist interpretation of Jews as peripatetic, money-centered, instigating forces in the rise of capitalism.|
|2.||Area in eastern Europe, once part of Poland.|
|3.||From the Greek, meaning respectively “the common people” and “multitude” or “nation.”|
|4.||Johann Gottfried Herder, inspirer of the young Goethe, proponent of Germans speaking German (as opposed to French). Key figure in the German Enlightenment, Storm and Stress, and Classicism.