Friday, July 21, 2006

Europe's Growing Migration Quagmire

Europe has resolved another migrant mini-crisis. Previously, it was Chinese workers suffocating in a truck, or Africans storming Ceuta, Spain’s enclave in Morocco. Now a fishing boat captain has elected to save would-be migrants headed for the mainland from drowning. He then finds that neither Malta nor anyone else wishes to take them. Fortunately, it it has all been worked out. Three will stay in Malta, and the rest will be allotted among Spain, Italy, Andorra and Libya.

This kind of muddled, completely arbitrary compromise is always the hallmark of indecision, and that is where Europe currently resides in its migration problem. At this point, this much is clear to me:

- Europe desperately needs the migrants. (This point is disputed, a controversy I will take up in a subsequent post.) It is aging, and has a very burdensome and ambition-destroying welfare state that its population refuses to give up.
- There are people from Europe's fringes who are eager, even desperate, to go and keep the welfare-state Ponzi scheme going, mainly because their own societies are falling apart in comparison. They will go, as Mexicans do to the U.S., regardless of any legal and military barriers the Europeans place in their way.
- Europe’s population doesn't really want any immigrants (France and the U.K. partially excepted), except as multicultural zoo exhibits.

Thus, stasis. Europe will soon reach a moment of reckoning, where there will either be a largescale recovery of native fertility amid vastly increased rewards for increasingly scarce children, wholesale expulsions of immigrants amid nativist backlash (the backlash is likely, the expulsion not) or a large-scale program to regularize immigrant exchanges with Africa the Middle East and Asia culminating in the gradual nonviolent civilizational change of Europe, or continued large-scale illegal immigration and relegation of the immigrants and their children to the shadows, in which case the civilizational change will be violent. The second outcome is the most likely, but if it occurs there is no way Europe avoids being dramatically changed. In fact, the key question for Europe in 25 years may be not the conflict between whites and nonwhites, but the conflict among various immigrant groups over control of the civilization that remains. The demographic numbers appear, while subject to change if fertility recovers, to be that bad. (The globalization of Africa and the Mideast, despite globalization's bad reputation in Europe, would ironically do Europe a big favor. In taking such a hard line on lowering farm subsidies, Europe is contributing to bigger problems fifteen years down the road.)

Finally, the problem is not uniform. I expect these problems to be worst in the places where the demographic trends are worst, the prosperity is greatest, and the assimilationist forces the weakest. Given that France has, along with the UK, a significant assimilationist tradition (which the Arabs seem partly exempt from), the problems, while much in the news these days, may be less severe there. Rather, I expect Italy and Germany soon to see the worst of it. (Spain has high immigration and negligible domestic fertility, but is aggressively courting immigration from Latin America.)


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