“How will it be with kingdoms and with kings—
With those who shaped him to the thing he is—
When this dumb Terror shall rise to judge the world,
After the silence of the centuries?”
—Edwin Markham, “The Man With the Hoe,” 1899
“A state cannot be constituted from any chance body of persons, or in any chance period of time,” wrote Aristotle. “Most of the states which have admitted persons of another stock, either at the time of their foundation or later, have been troubled by sedition.” Where Aristotle writes “sedition,” we might today think of dissent or even a type of revolution. Taking cues from Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, Christopher Caldwell, senior editor at The Weekly Standard, has penned Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, outlining a subtler form of revolution: Third World immigration and its effects on Europe. Caldwell asks, “Can we have the same Europe with a different people?” His answer: a resounding “no.”
Unlike the rapid events of Burke’s age, this revolution crept along slowly in its execution. “It took fifty years of mass immigration for Europeans to grow frightened of their minorities,” Caldwell maintains, until they have started “doing out of fear what they previously did out of conviction or generosity.” And people have, indeed, become fearful—not to mention angry. According to a recent poll, only 19 percent of Europeans think that immigration has been good for their countries. Europeans are witnessing a demographic transformation before their very eyes. People from Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia have carved enclaves for themselves throughout Europe. Many neighborhoods are unrecognizable to their indigenous inhabitants. As J. Enoch Powell once remarked, this is not really immigration, but colonization.
How did Europe get to this point? Why did Europeans allow the transformation to happen? Had average Europeans been consulted on this issue and told its consequences beforehand, they would never have consented to mass immigration. From the beginning, European elites drove this wagon, and Caldwell, although lacking Jean Raspail’s nuanced portrayal of European elites, adeptly outlines their shortsighted and often confused immigration policies, starting with guest-worker programs.
Business and political leaders invited immigrants to work in factories after World War II. But, Caldwell maintains, they exaggerated their need for immigrants. Europe’s factories soon went into decline, and the subsequent labor surplus resulted in unemployment and lower wages. Their next rationale was that their countries lacked a sufficient labor pool to prop up the welfare state. But, Caldwell notes, this reasoning is flawed. Immigrants take more out of the welfare system than they put in. And why would immigrants want to contribute to a welfare system without recouping their contributions? It’s a vicious cycle. As the German politician Jürgen Rüttgers quipped, Germany needs “Kinder statt Inder” (“more children, not Indians”). Furthermore, it is uncertain whether such multiethnic societies can maintain welfare states. Caldwell observes that welfare economies tend to arise only on “conditions of ethnic homogeneity.” The more diverse a society becomes, the more cracks form in the welfare state. Citing various studies, Caldwell asserts that much of Americans’ antipathy toward European socialism results from the ethnic diversity of the United States. Such antipathy will likely arise in multiethnic European countries as well. More recently, elites have justified immigration as a penance for their countries’ history of colonization or by citing the alleged benefits of diversity. But these justifications keep changing—“now growth, now welfare, now the benefit to the host society, now the benefit to the immigrants themselves.” As Caldwell observes, “immigration is a fait accompli for which people are scrambling to find a rationale.”
Yet the revolution may have a deeper explanation. Enlightenment universalism, imbuing Europeans with a false sense of security while disarming them in the name of human rights, has undermined the confidence and patriotism required to confront such threats. Furthermore, weighed down by guilt regarding the holocaust, many Europeans (Caldwell observes) lack a sense of self-preservation. European governments, looking to make amends for past wrongs, were preoccupied with keeping under surveillance “a collection of aging ‘fascist’ buffoons,” while the Third World slowly colonized their cities. Multiculturalism, in effect, has become “a self-directed xenophobia.”
In recent years, the European Union has only exacerbated the problem. Caldwell argues that the European Union stripped national governments of two important duties: defending their borders and preserving their cultures. The Schengen Agreements, by abolishing border checks among most Western European countries, allow a country that is lax on immigration (most notably Spain) to set the immigration policy for the rest of Europe. Immigrants sneak into Spain, set up residence there, and then move on to a more desirable country. As for culture, the European Union has legitimized a false European identity. Those immigrants who do not wish to be Bavarian, Flemish, or Welsh can nevertheless exploit the benefits of becoming a “legal,” as distinguished from a “real,” European. As Masoud Kamali explained, “You are not going to be a Swede . . . but perhaps you can choose to be a European.” It is telling that while the popularity of the European Union has fallen among the indigenous populations, polls show that around 85 percent of immigrants view it favorably.
The greatest threat from immigrants, however, is Islam. Hardly any Western European country remains unscathed by Islamic-terrorist attacks—despite the fact that nearly all Western leaders proclaim Islam a “religion of peace.” Although elites first dismissed these attacks as stemming from poverty or lack of assimilation, they have been proved wrong. Many of the terrorist leaders, Caldwell asserts, are well off and college educated, and second-generation Muslim immigrants are more anti-Western than the first generation, and the third generation more so than the second. They may want a European standard of living, but they increasingly prefer the anti-Western tenets of Islam. Omar Bakri told the London daily Al-Hayat, “Allah willing, we will transform the West into Dar Al-Islam by means of invasion from without. If an Islamic state arises and invades, we will be its army and soldiers from within.” Another Muslim recently carried a sign in Westminster reading, “Europe, You’ll Come Crawling When Mujahideen Come Roaring.”
While Islam may possess hard-wired hostility toward non-Muslims, for many jihadists it may also serve as an anti-Western anchor of identity. After spending time with hardened jihadists, Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist, discovered that many of them were not inspired by Islamic ideology, but by their desire “to see the world, handle weapons, and have a youthful adventure.” During the French riots of 2005, Caldwell reports, many of the rioters were wearing expensive basketball shoes and sideways New York Yankees caps, and flashed the cameras with gestures learned from rap videos. After months of investigation, French authorities still could not come to agreement on what the riots were “about.” Furthermore, unlike certain traditional religions rooted in a particular place, Islam has become a global phenomenon linking disparate people together via satellite television and the internet. Part of its appeal to Third World immigrants may well be its anti-Western ideological slant.
The societal costs of this demographic transformation have been immense: the replacement of Homer and Shakespeare by Arabic calligraphy and kente cloth; the supplanting of Christian symbols by Muslim ones; censorship and the loss of liberties for Europeans; rampant crime; rape gangs; terrorist attacks; riots; the costs of healthcare, education, and housing expenses incurred by immigrants; neighborhoods overrun by minorities; the violence that means Europeans can no longer travel safely in their own cities; and many of the other problems that arise in multiethnic societies. Such problems further empower the managerial elite in managing ethnic tensions, often to the disadvantage of the indigenous populations.
“Race, as a category of experience, has returned with a vengeance” to Europe, Caldwell affirms. “Some kind of ethnic conflict simmers in every country where there has been mass immigration.” And governmental and nongovernmental agencies, lobbied by immigrant groups, have been all too eager to censor any speech deemed “racist”—so much so that now many Europeans are afraid to vocalize their discontent. Taking this “antiracism” to the next level in France, President Nicholas Sarkozy has implemented an American-style affirmative-action program, despite its unpopularity among his voting base. Critical of Sarkozy’s shortsightedness, Caldwell laments that
one moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong.
Still consumed by the post-World War II obsession with eliminating “European racism” at any cost, European elites carry on a quisling crusade that only emboldens anti-Western sentiment. The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut commented that “this anti-racism will be for the twenty-first century what communism was for the twentieth century: a source of violence.”
Although Caldwell is correct on most points, his book is not without its shortcomings. He sometimes finds it necessary to engage in gratuitous political correctness, taking jabs at right-wing parties in Europe as well as at Enoch Powell; this perhaps can be ascribed to a desire to ingratiate himself with his masters and benefactors. And though Caldwell is candid on the subject of immigration to Europe, he often contrasts this phenomenon with immigration to the United States by repeatedly underestimating the problems that arise through immigration from Mexico and other Central and South American countries. He fails to appreciate that most of these immigrants’ traditions are only in part Western. Caldwell at times stops just short of assuming a false choice between Israel and the Muslim immigrants in Europe. He excludes the third option, that of denouncing Muslim hostilities toward Jews in Europe and opposing Muslim immigration to Europe, while simultaneously remaining neutral in Middle Eastern politics. The threat of terrorism is primarily an immigration—not a foreign-policy—issue, and any Western patriot should be more concerned with who controls the neighborhoods around Paris or London than who controls the West Bank.
Finally, Caldwell is too pessimistic about the future prospects of Europe. Oddly, he hints that the Americanization of the Continent might prove helpful, having argued that this very Americanization is part of the problem. Although he takes note of recent victories by anti-immigration parties throughout Europe and the turning of indigenous sentiment against immigration, he fails to see that Europe may in fact be in a stronger position concerning immigration than is the United States. Despite the massive waves of immigrants, European countries remain overwhelmingly more homogenous, demographically speaking, than the United States. Unlike most Americans, Europeans typically feel strong attachments to blood and soil, attachments that may actually be growing stronger. And in the 11th hour, Europeans may just be willing to make the necessary sacrifices and fight for their birthright. Perhaps, even now, the next Charles Martel is being born.
[Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West, by Christopher Caldwell (New York: Doubleday) 432 pp., $30.00]