Saturday, February 17, 2007

And Now Sweden

I have mentioned before that emigration of native Belgians, Brits, Germans, and Dutch is increasing yearly. Now it's the Swedes. Immigrants from Muslim countries continue to have children at far above replacement value, native Europeans far below, immigration continues, and now this. Demography may be destiny. The nations of Europe seem to be completely unable to integrate and absorb immigrant peoples. This is because their nations are founded on tribes. America and Australia, less so Canada, are founded on ideas rather than tribes. That's been working a lot better, frankly.

Europeans remain highly suspicious of nationalism because it so easily deteriorates into racialism. It does in Europe, anyway. The nations of Europe are still highly associated with tribes that are centuries old. The Hungarians call themselves Magyars after the tribe that moved in from Asia a thousand years ago. Most of the national movements of the 18th- 20th Centuries had very clear ideas of True Romanians, True Finns, etc. They disliked and often feared those lived among them who were tribally different. Montenegrins just split off from Serbia. The Flemish and the Walloons are still distinct in tiny Belgium. Hatred of Jews and Gypsies and wars over tribal dominance were not 20th C aberrations caused by Germans in Europe. They are Europe.

We have, er, very little animosity between the Flemish and Walloons in America. None to speak of between the Serbs and Croats, even. To get conflict going in America, you have to have really obvious differences: language, dress, color. Even with those, we seem to adjust far better than say Paris or Lille, Rotterdam or Oslo. America does better integrating races from different continents than Greeks or Letts do different dialects. In Europe, nations have a great difficulty defining themselves as anything but historical tribes. Great Britain does best among them, but even the UK has had notable conflicts with Ireland, and still has separatist movements.

Can anyone imagine a popular separatist movement in America? Even to divide races into their own states- certainly a sharper visual divider than Spaniards and Catalans and Basques - attracts only fringe support. (God be praised). You don't have to be descended from anyone in particular to be an American. Any ancestors will do, really.

This quiet emigration is how many western Europeans are solving their Muslim immigration problem. They're moving to New Zealand or Canada, or even (gasp) America. Having no way of defining their nations other than by soil and race, there isn't much hold. Language and foods you can take with you (and kid yourself that you'll pass them on to your children).

One more thing. It's not the elderly who emigrate. Even the middle-aged are underrepresented in mobile populations. The people who are leaving are predominantly those who would have had nice little Dutch or Austrian children to dress up. Europe is vanishing. The English colonies really are very different in the world. Even India is learning how to absorb differences.

9 comments:

merkur said...

"The nations of Europe seem to be completely unable to integrate and absorb immigrant peoples."

Europe was created through the integration of immigrant peoples, and the nations of Europe have been absorbing more immigrants almost since their inception. Of course that's not to say that this hasn't been a difficult process, or that it's somehow "finished" - but then again, neither is the American process, as the current struggle with Spanish-language immigration shows.

"This is because their nations are founded on tribes. America and Australia, less so Canada, are founded on ideas rather than tribes. That's been working a lot better, frankly."

This is wrong, although that could depend on your definition of "tribe". The nations of Europe are just that - "nations", which is a much higher-level political and social project than a tribe - Germany or Italy being good examples of this. I think that you are confusing the concepts of tribe, nation, state and ethnic group in much of what follows.

The point about ideas is not entirely accurate either: France is founded on a very specific idea (liberté, égalité, fraternité), and I'm not sure what "idea" you think Australia is founded on. However it is true that most European countries are less explictly based on ideology than the US, with the exception of the communist bloc during the Cold War.

"The Hungarians call themselves Magyars after the tribe that moved in from Asia a thousand years ago."

The Hungarians are Magyar: the language is Magyar and the people are Magyarok. The term "Hungarian" was more usefully used historically to describe inhabitants of the kingdom of Hungary; while today there are Magyarok living in many neighbouring countries.

"Most of the national movements of the 18th- 20th Centuries had very clear ideas of True Romanians, True Finns, etc."

That is of course the definition of nationalism, so it's hardly surprising; whether it was accurate is another question entirely.

"Montenegrins just split off from Serbia."

What you mean to say is that "Montenegro just split off from Serbia", and even that is inaccurate. Montenegro left the "Federal Republic of Serbia and Montenegro" in a perfectly legal and uncontested way; so explain to me how that is "tribal"?

"Hatred of Jews and Gypsies and wars over tribal dominance were not 20th C aberrations caused by Germans in Europe. They are Europe."

Do people in the US actually believe that they were "aberrations caused by Germans"? This seems to be a remarkably strange position to hold.

"We have, er, very little animosity between the Flemish and Walloons in America... To get conflict going in America, you have to have really obvious differences: language, dress, color."

One of the key identifiers between Flemish and Walloons, of course, is the fact that they speak different languages, so I fail to see how this is different from the point you make about America. The reason that you don't have any animosity between them is because they're not living next to each other in a small country, surely?

"Great Britain does best among them, but even the UK has had notable conflicts with Ireland, and still has separatist movements."

You should perhaps be aware that there is a difference between "Great Britain" and the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", the latter being a state composed of four countries and various overseas territories. The UK hasn't had notable conflicts with (the Republic of) Ireland, and separatist parties have been a feature of political life ever since its creation. This has almost nothing to do with absorbing immigrants, and everything to do with the historical formation of the state.

"Can anyone imagine a popular separatist movement in America?"

I would have thought that the Civil War was based on a popular separatist movement, no?

"This quiet emigration is how many western Europeans are solving their Muslim immigration problem."

Most of the Brits that are leaving appear to base their decision on quality of life and cost of living issues, rather than "Muslim immigration".

"Europe is vanishing. The English colonies really are very different in the world. Even India is learning how to absorb differences."

"Even India is learning how to absorb differences"? It's been doing it since before the idea of Europe was even thought of. And if the English colonies really are very different, then why is Australia having such a massive problem managing non-English language immigration? And so on, and so forth.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

merkur, your evidence against me is often evidence for my point. Hungarians are Magyars because that is the tribe. They don't regard gypsies, Jews, Romanians, or Serbs living there as Magyars even if they were born there. They have a very ethnic/genetic view of who they are as a people. That people can live across borders for centuries, as the Germans did in Romania, and still consider themselves essentially "German" is precisely my point. No one does this in America, but this is how the nations of Europe formed - around specific tribes. France considers people of Algerian descent to be officially "French," but the white people in France don't think so. Ditto Germans and children of Turkish immigrants.

That the Flemish and Walloons exist separately at all after this many generations together is evidence for my point. The difference is still important to them. They can't get past it.

As to the Civil War, yes, we had a separatist movement a century and a half ago.

I am not questioning the legality or appropriateness of Montenegrin statehood. I simply note that this intense tribal identification which says "we must have our own place, away from the others" does not even last a generation with American immigrants. Before the children have grown, some have moved off and some Others have moved nearby.

merkur said...

"merkur, your evidence against me is often evidence for my point."

Please accept that I am not putting evidence against you, but against your arguments. I'm genuinely interested in your point of view, which I think reflects the thinking of a larger number of Americans. Your primary argument appears to me to be this one:

"The nations of Europe seem to be completely unable to integrate and absorb immigrant peoples. This is because their nations are founded on tribes. America and Australia, less so Canada, are founded on ideas rather than tribes. That's been working a lot better, frankly."

My counter-argument is that the entire history of Europe is a story of waves of migration, with the nation state a relatively recent arrival in its political history. I also suggest that the nations of Europes are not founded on tribes; they're founded on nations. The conflict you identify as "tribal" is in fact a conflict between nationhood and statehood, which is the real tension within Europe.

Staying with the example of Hungary, the state of Hungary is not contiguous with the nation of Hungarians (Magyarok) as they perceive themselves. This doesn't invalidate either concept, nor does it make them less able to integrate and absorb immigrant peoples. You say that "Hungarians... don't regard gypsies, Jews, Romanians, or Serbs living there as Magyars even if they were born there" - they do not, but this doesn't automatically mean that they don't regard them as Hungarians.

If your point is that they can't integrate and absorb immigrant peoples; none of the groups that you mention are necessarily "immigrants" - they just happened to be living there when the boundaries of Hungary were drawn. As I said before, I think you might be using the word "tribe" when in fact you mean "nation" (in the sense that they are used in political theory), in which case we are having a slightly different discussion.

You also believe that America and Australia have been better at absorbing immigrants because they are based on "ideas" rather than "tribes". Your point about Australia would definitely come as a surprise to most Australians, whatever their background, particularly in light of the "White Australia" policies that were pursued until the 1980s, the continued problem of relations between indigenous Australians (2.2% of population) and immigrant Australians, and the Cronulla riots in 2005.

Your secondary argument is that:

"This quiet emigration is how many western Europeans are solving their Muslim immigration problem."

My counter-arguments are that a) emigration from western Europeans is not primarily in response to "Muslim immigration problem", and b) where they are concerned, most western Europeans are not concerned with "Muslim immigration" but with broader immigration issues. I am basing my first counter on books such as George Walden's recent "Time to Emigrate", plus a number of polls published in the last few years.

My second counter is based on the fact that most of the coverage and discussion around Muslim extremism is not based on immigration, but around civil liberties issues, and that discussions of immigration more broadly do not generally focus on "Muslim immigration" but are more likely to worry about immigration from eastern Europe through the EU (for example).

merkur said...

P.S.

"I am not questioning the legality or appropriateness of Montenegrin statehood. I simply note that this intense tribal identification which says "we must have our own place, away from the others" does not even last a generation with American immigrants."

My argument is more that you're assuming an "intense tribal identification" as being the main driver behind the push for Montenegrin statehood, where in fact this was not the case.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Excellent response. I shall have a go later.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

merkur, your tone was more civil than mine, and for that I apologise and give you thanks.

We may well be talking about something different when we use the words tribe and nation. we shall see.

But first, let me put your last point aside for discussion later. If you have information about why Western Europeans are emigrating I would be grateful to know it. While it is true that people might be mistaken or deceitful about their motives, they certainly always deserve first crack at giving their own explanation for their actions.

Yes, Europe was awash for many centuries with the movement of tribes in the sense I am using it. Angles, Danes, Franks, various Slavs, Gaels, and Visigoths all moved in and out of regions. I see that as slowing around 1500 and gradually freezing into nation-states after 1700. As the idea of a national identity developed, each tribe took on the idea that it should have its own nation. As each tribe seldom occupied an entirely discrete and boundaried area, wherever a boundary was drawn, some people felt they were on the wrong side of it. Their various responses would be to move across the boundary, try and get the boundary moved, or assimilate into the new state. I had used ethnicity as my marker, but language is perhaps a better one. Over time, every group has some outsiders marrying in, and after a few centuries any purity of genetic strain is usually more rhetoric than reality. Separation of language is never absolute, but is a better marker. Finns know that they are Finns even in Sweden because their island or enclave still speaks Finnish. I call this "tribal" because their identification is with their ancestor group rather than their current political boundary. In that sense European nations are not tribal because each nation includes some who are from some out-tribe.

Yet when Europeans make nationalist appeals, they make it not to the people within their boundaries as much as to the ancestor tribe or common language. Hitler saw the Sudetenland as essentially German because it still had many German-speakers in it. Some residents of the Sudetenland agreed with him. Such appeals to nationalism were (and are) often disguised appeals to tribalism/ethnicity/race.

You may well say that the Germans were many tribes, not one, and I would not disagree. But their coalition into a nation had become over time a meta-tribe, or race, which could be used as an appeal for unity.

As to the lack of such conflict in the US, Australia, etc, it may well be that the selection bias, plus the emotional preparation that goes into seeing yourself as the new kid on the block, depressed inter-group conflict more than whatever ideas of government were in the colonies. It is indeed a different experience to live next to another tribe in your (often supposed) ancestral land than for both of you to move to another place and be neighbors.

It not only might be so, it should be so. But somehow that hasn't been as apparent in colonies of other European nations, or even colonies of previously expansionist China or Islamic states. In those instances, people from from place A to B and retain very much the culture of A for generations. I may have painted it too strongly, but there is an observable difference in the English colonies in the evaporation of at least some ethnic distinctions.

Jonathan Wyman said...

AVI, what about the Italians? They were amazingly fractious during their move towards nationhood, but seem to have settled down now. What's your thought on why?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

As far as I can tell, Italy is increasingly a prosperous north, which has manufacturing and lots of people from Eastern Europe trying to move in, and a declining south, which is attracting African immigrants. The overall population is flatlined, which suggests that they would be losing population quickly were it not for immigrants. That, however, seems to stem from birthrate rather than emigration.

merkur said...

"We may well be talking about something different when we use the words tribe and nation."

I think we are; in fact I think that we're conflating the terms tribe, nation, race, ethnicity and country (the latter being close to but not identical to state).

"If you have information about why Western Europeans are emigrating I would be grateful to know it."

I started to put together a bunch of links from the Telegraph and the Times, but they're on my other computer. Which is in another country. So I'll sum up like this: there is concern over immigration, but concerns about "Muslim immigration" are only a small but growing subset of that. In the UK the concern is not regarding immigration per se, and here I'll quote George Walden (with whom I agree only partially):

"The trouble is that random population growth impacts directly on everything feeding rumbling middle-class discontent: rising taxes, rising mortgages, failing schools, the overstretched National Health Service, crime and insecurity of every kind. I do not anticipate riots or demonstrations, but a mood of semi-suppressed nastiness could gradually develop... Obviously there must be some immigration and of course it can benefit Britain... But those who claim that it benefits everyone will have to explain how..."

"Europe was awash for many centuries with the movement of tribes in the sense I am using it... As the idea of a national identity developed, each tribe took on the idea that it should have its own nation."

Obviously I can't disagree that early Europe was composed of tribes - but it also consisted of other political and social groupings, including the most obvious one - that of kingdoms. All of these (and not just tribes) still exert an influence today - for example, in the UK, the "seven kingdoms" that preceded England are a good example, lending their names and to some extent boundaries to modern counties.

I would disagree completely that "each tribe took on the idea that it should have its own nation". The point about national identities is that they were layered over the top of tribal identities, some of which had ceased to have any meaning long ago. For example, nobody today would declare themselves Visigoth; but they might feel themselves Prussian, a much more recent formation.

"You may well say that the Germans were many tribes, not one, and I would not disagree. But their coalition into a nation had become over time a meta-tribe, or race, which could be used as an appeal for unity."

I think that in this case the "meta-tribe" is more coherent with "nation" rather than "race". And of course the German word that was used by the Nazis was "volk", which is again a slightly different concept.

"As to the lack of such conflict in the US, Australia, etc, it may well be that the selection bias, plus the emotional preparation that goes into seeing yourself as the new kid on the block, depressed inter-group conflict more than whatever ideas of government were in the colonies. It is indeed a different experience to live next to another tribe in your (often supposed) ancestral land than for both of you to move to another place and be neighbors."

As I said before, I don't think that there has been a lack of conflict in the US or Australia. However it is noteworthy that both of those countries were previously remote as destinations, requiring immigrants to break with their previous lives; modern travel and communications means that this is no longer the case, and I will hazard a guess that as a result immigrants are not assimilating as quickly. So I would propose that the US model that you believe to have been successful is in fact the result of geography rather than ideology (which would also explain Australia, New Zealand and Canada).

"But somehow that hasn't been as apparent in colonies of other European nations, or even colonies of previously expansionist China or Islamic states. In those instances, people from from place A to B and retain very much the culture of A for generations."

I'm not sure what your argument is here, could you clarify?