Until recently everybody thought that the threat of the Soviet Union lay in its strength; today everybody wisely claims it lies in its weakness. For almost a century the sheer weight and size of the communist monolith made us shudder with fear. Nowadays the monolith is breaking up into parts that, like comets, threaten to slam into Western capitals. Once upon a time we were appalled that the communist walls barred the route to the promising West. Today we are worried that out of the crumbled walls roads may be constructed for the exodus from the East. The millions of East Europeans and Soviets scrambling out of their homelands may soon make us regret the passing of the world that emerged out of Yalta.

According to Claude Chesnais, from the Paris Institute of Demographic Studies, between three and twenty million Soviet immigrants will flood Western countries within the next three years, a prospect that Bruno Tietz, the director of the Institute for Economic Research at the University of Saarland in Germany, already calls the largest Völkerwanderung since Attila. Soviet immigration is only the tip of the iceberg, considering that the decades-long African and Asian immigration to Europe is nowhere near an end. With its open-door policy Western Europe is poised to change its ethnic profile beyond recognition.

Of all European states Germany is in a particularly difficult position. Although the German quota for political asylum seekers is among the lowest in the Western world, Germany is the victim of a legal system that makes it virtually impossible to deport those who reside without permit on its territory. Last year alone 193,063 foreigners requested political asylum in Germany, of whom only 6,500 obtained the status of political refugees. The rest continue to linger in numerous German facilities in the hope of finding a legal loophole for obtaining permanent residency. Still reeling from its “unsuppressed past,” Germany seems to be in no position to close its doors to East European economic migrants, or for that matter to expel dozens of thousands of Polish and Balkan Gypsies on the grounds that they are ineligible for the status of the politically persecuted. Moreover, with its declining birthrate, the lowest in Europe today, Germany, in the decades to come, is likely to become the hub of foreign immigration. The German Question may finally be resolved—once and for all.

How the mass exodus from east and south will square with the cozy picture of the common European home is not very clear. The optimistic scenarios about Europe 1992, conjured up by Eurocrats from Bonn to Brussels, may drown in the rising tide of foreigners, with unintended consequences for the entire European continent. One wonders what will integrate and assimilate the new arrivals, especially when the economic miracle ends and generous European welfare systems become financially strapped? The rise of virulent racism is bound to polarize Europe again and set back the mythical 1992 to what may likely look like a rerun of 1933—perhaps this time with a more savage outcome. Rival immigrant groups in Europe, in dealing with each other, usually exhibit none of the diplomatic niceties or self-hatred characteristic of their liberal hosts. The recent headlines in the European press talk of the Albanian refugees fighting turf battles with Arab immigrants in Marseilles and of the Vietnamese peddlers being bashed by itinerant Poles in Frankfurt. So goes the “one-world state.”

Being essentially the jetsam of the ideology of globalism and the religion of human rights, the new immigrants from the East are already straining resources and creating a situation in Europe that resembles that in Los Angeles or New York. Deportees and exiles, the immigrants of old, have been replaced with economic vagrants who left their homeland of their own will. It appears that the new International of immigrants is more interested in celebrating the triumph of global democracy by joining the bustle and hustle of St. Paul in Hamburg, or the flesh-and-drug sensation of downtown Amsterdam, than in working on the fragile democratic institutions of their abandoned homelands.

Since time immemorial life in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union has proceeded with the slow-motion growth of barley, hardly reaching the pace of grand historical cycles. In Western Europe, by contrast, life can be lived in third gear, and if one can make it across the ocean, one can accelerate to fifth. Every East European and Soviet knows too well that west of Kiel and Trieste everything moves fast-forward—from fast food to fast sex. If one carefully observes the postcommunist immigrants who are now roaming Western capitals, one may notice how they try to make eye contact with passersby, as if they want to show the world that they are the right audience for the nonstop light show. At the bottom of his heart, each East European and Soviet immigrant thinks that the West owes him something, and that his former life of communist misery must now be recompensed by the glamour and glitter of the West.

An Italian author recently wrote that communism failed in the East because it has succeeded in the West. To be sure, capitalism did not defeat communism because of its smart weapons or the babble about the rule of law; it won because it made better designer jeans and Carrera sunglasses that every Soviet soldier and every Romanian apparatchik now likes to sport. Ironically, the same Marxian ideals of welfarism, equality, and the culmination of the “providential state” that brutally foundered in the East, have shown their practicality in the West. The liberal democratic state seems to be reaching the final impasse of its history; and faithful to Marxian recipes, it is canceling itself out—without needing to face up to a Soviet invasion. Alexander Zinoviev, the Russian satirist, is probably right when he predicts that henceforth, the only invasion the West must contend with is the one by East European and Soviet immigrants.

It should be emphasized that to Homo sovieticus the liberal West does not represent an escape from equality, but the fulfillment of equality, and his hatred of communism grows in proportion to his craving for the already communized West. No Eastern immigrant wants to risk his life by embarking on an ulcer-causing uncertainty, and only a few wish to tinker with the dog-eat-dog liberalism now in the making in their former homes. Westerners commit a serious mistake when they assume that these departing anticommunists, with their hatred of communism, are actually repudiating the laziness they enjoyed for a good part of their communist life. The sad truth about the would-be Westernized East Europeans and Soviets is that they wish to combine the psychological predictability of the East with a heavy dose of credit card mentality. Very revealing, indeed, are their newly found pastimes of playing toto lotto or putting money into bogus insurance funds. Is it an accident that a large number of Poles recently voted for an obscure expatriate upstart with the body language of a self-made American? In a sense Tyminski is a lingering metaphor for the dream of every failed East European who, having been lied to for so many years, upon discovering even a minor disturbing truth about the West, refuses to believe it. The fatal attraction of liberalism does not lie in its addictive permissiveness, but in its seeming equality, which leads everybody to believe he can become Robert Redford or Armand Hammer in an afternoon shopping spree.

For centuries economic migration was unknown in Europe. Economic wealth was a phenomenon too rare and static to provoke envy. The affluent aristocracy, more accustomed to consuming, left trade to itinerant foreigners such as the Lombards or Jews. The notion of national patrimony had a sacred aspect for most Europeans, and on that notion, starting with the 16th century, the idea of the nation-state began to emerge. This traditional attitude toward wealth may also explain why economic envy, which Marxists have wrongly dubbed “class struggle,” was nonexistent. With the beginning of the movement of capital and the deracination of labor, turmoil and revolution were bound to occur. Georges Sorel remarked that the poor usually tolerate the rooted wealth of their hereditary aristocracy much better than the mobile wealth of a monetary aristocracy, since the latter, while hypocritically preaching legal equality, usually creates horrendous economic inequalities in its search of profit.

What is today exceptional about mass immigration, writes Bruno Etienne, an expert on Arab immigration to France, is that it results less from real poverty and more from the action of global capitalism. Having invented the migratory work force, global capitalism is now in a position to displace people from one part of the globe to another, which in turn only weakens the sense of patriotism among both natives and immigrants. Is it an accident that both liberalism and communism, two doctrines preaching economic determinism, are also avowed enemies of historical and national consciousness? Is it an accident that for liberals true history starts only with 1789 and for communists with 1917, as if nothing preceded those dates?

Contrary to widespread belief, what really threatens Europe is not the increase in foreigners, but the Europeans’ loss of historical and ethnic consciousness. The danger for the West is not uprooted individuals from the Third World, but an officially promoted multiculturalism that has completely blurred the line between immigrant and native. In a system of capitalist gadgets, people can become commodities too, and just as expendable.

Moreover, with the loud endorsement of the global world order, an African Muslim considers himself no less qualified for French citizenship than a Catholic and European Pole. With the English political system adopted by much of the Subcontinent, no logic can bar Indians or Pakistanis from Britain or Canada. And the illusion of automatic equality will lead even the most ignorant to the conclusion that their salvation lies in immigration. To date the West’s only response, in order to stem the tide of foreign refugees, is to try to make a distinction between economic and political immigrants; as if in our liberal system any reason for immigration, other than an economic one, were allowed to exist!

An East European citizen today is forced to live in” a quasi-Third World economy, while just across the border he hears the buzz and the hum of the high-tech West. It is the nearness of liberal wealth that causes such frustration among immigrants, frustration a Westerner will never be able to grasp. A Western commercial shown on the Polish TV network will do more damage to an average Pole than thousands of Soviet tanks. The affluency is simply too erotic, too egalitarian, too tempting; to the point that every immigrant sees it as something that must belong to all humanity. The implosion of commercials can only feed the immigrant’s hatred of those rich Westerners who had the good luck to be born at the right time and place. It is his own failure that he sees in them, just as a black will always see in a white racist the parody of his own existence. A century ago it would never have occurred to a Danubian peasant to curse his fortune; today a Romanian Gypsy roaming the Berlin Alexander Platz, or a Pole selling his fake porcelain ware in Frankfurt, lives in febrile certainty that some day he will become part of the Western wonderland. Catching up with the West is the new vocation of those waiting in line for the last trip of Noah’s Ark.

One question worth asking is how Soviet and Eastern immigrants would have behaved if their former communist hell had miraculously turned into an economic paradise—if East German Panzer communism or Castro’s Creole Utopia had worked right from the outset. Would there still be those lamenting the killing fields? Probably not. When in the 50’s the Gulag housed five million prisoners, the Western intelligentsia remained conspicuously mute, preferring instead to attend cocktail parties at the Soviet and Cuban embassies. When in the 80’s the Gulag population shrank to five hundred, the same intelligentsia began staging anticommunist rallies in front of those very same embassies. It surely is no accident that the loudest Stalinist collaborators of yesteryear are also the most eloquent apostles of anticommunism today.

Yet the immigrant’s illusions may not last for long. The liberal West makes promises to many, but delivers only to a chosen few. And most Westerners forget that the only achievable equality is that of poverty, for which wise people have invented the name of “communism.”

In a system obsessed with economic rationality, wealth is already creating new and irrational appetites, which in turn will necessitate another rational solution. And what else is the spirit of totalitarianism but a rational attempt to solve mounting irrational problems?