July 15, 2017 by John Bruce Leonard
A Window Through, Part I
TO WHOMEVER would seek a window into the real state of affairs in our contemporary societies, no better opening can be suggested than that furnished by the so-called “immigration crisis.” Its real causes, its actual consequences, its true goals, are the objects of continual mystification, rendering it difficult if not impossible to see through; but at the same time, it is now becoming such a pressing issue that no one can look upon it with indifference, which has been a great spur toward clarity on the part of a great many. And the image which begins to develop at the other side of it in consequence of all these many cleaning hands, is of some interest indeed.
Contrary the common “narrative,” the problem of immigration is not caused by wars; there have always been wars, and yet Europe certainly has never seen such an influx as in the past few years. More, the vast number of illegal immigrants to the United States, and a sizable majority of those to Europe, are not the refugees of some blood-rent nation, but rather are individuals who come from poor but relatively stable countries. Were the major wars in the world to end tomorrow, the immigration crisis would relent but moderately.
The problem can neither be said to lie in famine, in disease, in extreme poverty; for again, none of these phenomena are new; and yet, as is known, the migrant crisis struck Europe in but the past few years, while the United States has seen upward trends for decades.
Certainly, some external factors can be implicated in all of this. The war in Syria has certainly put greater pressure on European borders, and the fall of Gaddafi in Libya has essentially lain a passage through the African sands which funnels the masses of immigrants of the black continent northward. The entire composition of Europe and Africa at present has the look of an inverted hour-glass—with Europe, however, sitting at the bottom. And one has only to consider the horrifying demographic changes predicted in Africa in the coming century, to grasp just how little time is really left.
This leads us to the consequences of immigration. No one any longer denies—for no one can any longer deny—that immigration of this scope and intensity leads to disturbances in the social order, often grave and profound. The countries who bear the brunt of the rapidest changes, prove to be the most strongly “anti-immigrant.” And not surprisingly. No matter how much the migrants are touted as being “resources,” no matter how many times one repeats the tired old bromide that they somehow “enrich” the lives of their host nations, this rhetoric wears thin in the face of the real confrontation between customs of vastly different kinds, between individuals who speak no common language nor share a common faith, between ways of life which at countless points come to friction hot enough to start a fire. It is suggested that these migrants will be “good for the economy”—claim which certainly does not stand on common sense, and which, if it is really indicated by some economist’s alchemical equations, is distant enough from everyday life to fall at once into disrepute and suspicion. Idem the commonplace that these immigrants “do jobs no European or Americans will do.” Such is only defensible on the grounds that they are paid far less than a European or an American would be in similar jobs, because they work under the table and live in squalid conditions which permit them to avoid the greater costs of modern Western life.
In the face of all of which, we cannot help but set before ourselves the question of the ends that this immigrant crisis really serves. It does not suffice to claim that there are no “ends” involved, other than the multifarious ends of the migrants themselves, to escape from hardship and danger, to guarantee themselves and their families better opportunities and a brighter future. This does not suffice, for the simple reason that it is only half the story. These immigrants enter our lands because they are permitted to enter; and since by now it is clear that the peoples of the United States and Europe are less than enthusiastic about the prospects of real “multicultural societies,” for which one speaks precisely of a migrant crisis, of an immigration crisis, we are forced to the question—why has nothing been done to secure the borders?
Even this is not yet adequate; for in point of fact, actions have been taken. Maurizio Massini, Italian Representative in the United Nations, for instance, attempted just two weeks ago to close Italian ports to NGO ships, the activities of which have been increasingly falling under suspicion for the methods they employ and the interest they take in the immigration crisis. The UN ruled tempestively that such a determination falls beyond the jurisdiction of individual UN members, and forced the ports open before they had even had time to shut. Similar actions taken in the United States on the behalf of numerous judges against most of the strongest of Trump’s executive orders on immigration reveal a similar stamp. Those in power today like to speak about “crises”—but their actions demonstrate that they take a considerably more sanguine view of the situation. What could possibly be their motive?
It is easy enough to refer to the crudest economic explanations in order to solve part of this conundrum. There can be no doubt that a great many individuals, better say corporations (supposing one makes a distinction any longer), throughout the West are decidedly benefited by an influx of extraordinarily low-cost labor, and look with greedy eagerness at the arrival of yet more de facto serfs. But anyone who is willing to leave the matter at this must take the following view of our contemporary situation: our politicians are puppets on the strings of corporate puppet-masters, and, utterly lacking all independent ideology, sell themselves behind scenes to the highest bidder. But this does not quite hold up to scrutiny, particularly in Europe, for the simple reason that most of the incoming immigrants have not been in any way introduced, not to speak of injected, into the work force, but rather pass their days milling about in squares and parking lots, begging for coins, vending their services as parking-aides, dealing drugs, prostituting themselves or their compatriots; or else they are shuffled off to remote villages or countryside compounds and lodged in houses, hotels, agritourisms, and like structures, where they are given food and clothing, shelter, televisions, high speed internet, and like goods. The European governments often spend exorbitant amounts of money to keep them in such places. It is certain by now that there is a going business in fetching them out of the sea, and it may be that this in and of itself adds sufficient incentive to persuade our good governments to play along. Yet I will not be alone in finding that this entire “economic” explanation of the changes upon us somehow falls flat, does not ring full enough in the ear, to provide an adequate summary explanation of what is really happening. It has its role, to be sure; but as a final explanation, it is slight.
It is expected that by the midpoint of this century, white Americans will be in the minority in their own homeland. The Europeans will not be far behind. The changes upon us are of a scope and kind unheard of in the history of the West. The stakes could not be higher. It is necessary for us to comprehend our positions, for it is our future, and the future of our children, which is in this very moment being put to the trial. Nay, more yet: it is the future of our very people, of the West itself, which now is coming to the line. To ignore this problem is to forfeit all we have ever had of heritage. To ignore this problem is to prove that we are no worthy scion of our forebears. To confront this problem in all its aspects, amounts perhaps to awakening ourselves to a higher task than the mere clambering after lucre and status, which alas consumes the better part of our joint contemporary efforts. It might be that in the crisis of immigration—which, to be sure, really is a crisis—we might find the spark to rekindle this dwindling flame of the Occident.
We have here lain out the problem, hopefully with enough force to suggest the necessity of responding to it. It remains for us, then, to gesture toward that sphere wherein we may begin to seek an answer.