Immigration problems continue to plague Europe. In France the Front National is finally fed up with the Gaullist right, which expects the support of the and-immigrant nationalists but treats them with contempt. Jacques Chirac is alarmed enough to begin borrowing the Front National’s rhetoric. When the Prime Minister, ditzy socialist Edith Cresson, called for a crackdown on illegal immigration, two out of three Frenchmen surveyed agreed with her. In July she announced new measures aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Legal immigrants found guilty of hiring illegals can be expelled, and foreigners from countries that send large numbers of illegals to France will not be eligible for tourist visas. While these measures are not likely to stem the tide, it is apparent that immigration and the French identity are coming to the fore in French politics. It was only a year ago when North African youths went on a rampage in Vaux-en Velin (near Lyons) and tried to burn down the nice new neighborhood that the government had built for them.

In Italy, the rioters have tended to be Italian teenagers, and there have been outbreaks or ragazzismo all over the North, most recently in Milan. Italy is currently experiencing a constitutional crisis brought on by mounting dissatisfaction with the partitocrazia, and none of the major parties is willing to tackle the immigration question. So far the most creative solution has been a bribe given to the Albanian government in the belief that it is cheaper to give welfare to Albanians before they go to Italy.

Immigration is also a touchy political problem in Germany, one that is complicated by reunification. With a fresh supply of cheap east German labor, German businesses no longer have so pressing a need for Yugoslav and Turkish workers. The Turks, predictably, are insistent in demanding their rights, and the tension is building all over the country. In the east, where there are fewer economic opportunities for working-class youth, the conflicts are overt.

According to a July story in the Sildeutsche Zeitung (reprinted in English in The German Tribune), neo-Nazi youth groups in Dresden are capitalizing on the immigrant issue. In one “housing area” of 45,000, the “faschos” parade openly, speaking derisively of the foreign “dregs” and expressing their hope for a clean nation of pure Germans. There have been numerous skinhead attacks against Vietnamese and Africans, but the local sympathies are mostly with the youth groups. One restauranteur told the reporter, “If it weren’t for the Hitler salute and the swastika . . . the boys would be all right.”

Meanwhile, the political debate rages over how many political refugees ought to be allowed to take asylum in Germany. If stricter limits are not imposed, it is all too easy to predict the consequences: a newly militant extreme right that will not shrink from repeating the mistakes of the past. Recent events in Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union are the clearest evidence that national and tribal loyalties have not disappeared from the European scene. As this century draws to an end, Europe—East and West—appears to be playing itself backward. By the year 2000, the arrangements of Versailles and Yalta may all be a dead letter.