Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bruce Miner interviews Bruce Bawer and Claire Berlinksi

Via Instapundit, two interviews on Compass Points Blog, one with Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept, and a second with Claire Berlinksi, author of Menace in Europe, both on the question of the future of Europe with particular focus on its ethnic and immigration and demographic issues.

I was struck by the same sections from the Berlinksi interview that caught Glenn Reynold's attention:

Here is a point of great importance. When you are talking of second- and third-generation immigrants, as most of the rioters were, it is not entirely coherent to say that this is a problem with immigrants.

These people have been in France for more than fifty years. This is a problem internal to France every bit as much as it is a problem of the French versus their immigrants. One rioter, for example, was interviewed on France 2 (from the neck down). He said: We are not racaille as Sarkozy said. WE ARE FRENCH CITIZENS. He said it proudly and he obviously believed what he said. He also said it in perfect French. Of course he did. His family has been in France for forty years. And in this sense, the trajectory of the crisis can be predicted: Because it so clearly an exercise in the French tradition, the rioters, having made a lot of trouble, will now forget about things and go back to hanging out, dealing dope, and making a street corner nuisance of themselves.

But this is nonetheless a European problem, and it has already spread. It is a European problem in that the economic and social complaints that gave rise to this episode of unrest are pan-European, and they cannot be resolved with any traditionally European solution. The problem — which we see in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Italy, Britain, everywhere in Europe, in fact — is that every single European country has imported a huge body of ill-educated, unskilled immigrants who for both cultural and economic reasons cannot be assimilated and who do not see themselves as part of the larger story of Europe, and do not feel that they have been able to claim their proper share of the postwar European bounty. Neither France nor any European country can solve this problem because they are insoluble, at least within the parameters almost every European country has rigidly defined, in the postwar era, for solving social and economic problems. Not long ago, on French television, a shoe manufacturer compared the price of making a pair of shoes in France with the price of making the same pair of shoes in India. The difference is roughly on the order of ten to one. So even if the racaille (a perfectly apt description) were employable, how could they be employed, given the exigencies of French labor law, which demands both a high minimum wage and a short work week — not to mention huge social security taxes? The only solution, in this neo-socialist context, is for France to adopt a WPA-style program and make work for them. Not a bad idea in the abstract, but so long as France wishes to participate in the global economy, not a realistic one, either. If taxes were raised in France to pay for this, more riots would break out. A great many corporations would simply pick up and leave. This is true everywhere in Europe. It is quite possible that riots in the specifically French style will not break out in, say, Denmark (although I do note that similar riots have broken out in Denmark and other European countries), but the strain at the social fabric is nonetheless great everywhere in Europe, and as it becomes progressively more frayed, social malaise and unrest in one form or another is inevitable.

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