Much has been discussed about changing demographics in many West European countries, a result of mass immigration and declining birth rates among the native population. Although some see this subject as a fascist conspiracy theory created by extreme right racists, it is absurd to pretend that the same population profile exists in West European countries today as 50 years ago. All the available statistics prove that this population has changed radically and those still unconvinced can look at street scenes in films or videos from the 1970s. As examples to prove the point, being white and English is now a minority of the London population and there are more functioning mosques than churches in the department around Paris of Seine St. Denis. If the expression ‘great replacement’ is unacceptable, then major demographic modification might be more acceptable, but the facts remain the same. Whether this is good or bad will be dealt with later, but those denying this evidence might as well stop reading here. For the rest of us there are several issues:
- Is this all a deliberate plan by the new population to replace the original population?
- Is this change something desired by the political leaders and if so why?
- Is this change beneficial for the countries concerned?
- What happens next?
1-Is this all a deliberate plan by the new population to replace the original population?
The answer depends on the origin of the new population. Some Muslim political/religious leaders state openly that their objective is that the infidel West should decline compared to Islam and that this objective can be achieved with the arrival of Muslims and their higher birth-rates than non-Muslims. This does this not mean that all Muslims arriving in Western countries think this way nor indeed that all Muslims in the West or elsewhere want this to happen. However, a fundamental idea of Islamic faith is that the world is divided into Dar-al-Islam where Islam exists and where Muslims can practice their faith and Dar-al Harb, literally the house of war where theoretically they cannot. The objective is that the whole world becomes Dar-al-Islam by ‘jihad’ (not necessarily violence and best translated as a ‘struggle’) accompanied if necessary by ‘taqiya.’ or the dissimulation of Islamic practices.
(This above is well-known and available on any research engine. In any case any proselytizing religion requires its followers to spread the word, just like Christianity. )
If the above objective is to replace the local population, it is untrue in other contexts. Asian immigration from China or Vietnam is often a matter of escaping the regime at home and recent Ukrainian immigration is the result of the war. Other examples concern economic immigration by those offering specific skills in new technology or when recruiting foreign medical staff. None of these categories arrive with any idea of replacing local populations.
2-Is this change something desired by the political leaders and if so why?
The role of political leaders in this debate has been ambiguous, something not unknown in politics. Some politicians prefer immigration for economic reasons with the immigrants doing jobs that the native population avoids as in the 1960s and 70s; other politicians welcome immigration today because of staff shortages in various low paid sectors even if the overall proportion of recent immigrants working is less than the average of the whole population. A small minority of immigrants do have specialised skills such as where the shortage of medical staff in France lead to African or Rumanian replacements. (Whether this is morally justified is questionable in view of the medical conditions in these countries.) Replacement staff in high technology industries from the UK or the USA etc also exists, but is a tiny part of the total.
Another reason for immigration has been the idea of helping those in less fortunate situations and helping those less fortunate is indeed an idea in all monotheistic religions. In principle this should be encouraged, but some of those helped are not in particularly bad situations, but pretend to be since life in the West is more agreeable. Since Western countries are richer than the others, simply opening the borders for everyone less fortunate turns countries into geographical spaces like international airports. The consequences are dealt with in the article about civilisation.
Apart from the recent arrival of Ukrainians fleeing the war, real refugees genuinely fearing for their lives represent a relatively small minority of the total and almost everyone agrees that it is desirable to help. Even so, the obligation is for them to make attempts at integration, some say assimilation and genuine refugees do precisely make this attempt. Others do not, sometimes pretending to be minors or under imminent danger at home. Also families join immigrants, legally or not. Bringing families together is again a nice idea, but has led to uncontrolled numbers far in excess of what was anticipated when this measure was first introduced in France in the 1970s.
Another justification self-hatred, a behaviour bordering on mental illness. If certain politicians consider that Western society is responsible for all the world’s problems and should be destroyed, then they believe precisely in changing or destroying Western society. This is to be achieved by cultural Marxist ideas seen in the news every day and also explained more in detail in other blogs.
Another issue concerns the reducing birth-rate and increased life expectancy translated by fewer people working as a proportion of the total population. Immigrants are said to be needed to work, pay tax thereby maintaining the social and economic system. This is partly valid if indeed the immigrants work more than the local population, but leads to demographic changes since immigrants have approximately twice as many children as native Europeans. This is a fact not an opinion as shown by endless official statistics and why it is somehow denied or considered racist to say so is incomprehensible. (An alternative to immigration in this situation is to work more and longer, something considered politically explosive in France, but not elsewhere in Europe where every country has pushed back the official retirement age. The other choice is to reduce social benefits, again not a popular choice anywhere.)
3-Is this change beneficial for the countries concerned?
This depends on the immigrants’ profile, their integration and their reasons for arriving. It is absurd to put all immigrants in the same category in the same way as in marketing segmentation, all customers or clients cannot be placed together. Curiously, some politicians do not feel the need to segment in this debate so all immigrants are automatically good and beneficial for society or bad and cause problems. Immigration offering specific and non-available skills is obviously beneficial, subject to the point about skills sometimes being transferred from poor countries to rich ones. Non-skilled and sometimes illiterate immigration is a negative economic cost to the host society.
When immigrants arrive, there are several scenarios.
- They can become ‘more royalist than the king’ and copy local culture to the point of denying their own. This happened especially, but not exclusively with Jewish immigration in an attempt to gain acceptance and avoid antisemitism. The results are highly questionable as those knowing anything about European history are aware. In any case, there is no reason in the opinion of this writer that immigrants deny their own culture whatever it might be, unless it be absolutely incompatible with local customs such as forced marriages or killing those who change religion.
- A second choice is to assimilate and become (more or less) copies of the native population. The immigrant’s customs and cultures are to be kept private in as far as they exist, something seen in the French assimilation model that seems to have broken down. The public space is to be kept neutral for everyone’s benefit, but private lives are precisely that. Whether this is realistic today is questionable, but the objectives are that of the general interest of recognising equality by public uniformity. A certain amount of common sense is required. Reasonable assimilation is still perfectly possible if Chinese immigrants prefer Chinese and not French cuisine or that non Christians do not follow Christian origin public holidays like Christmas. These examples do not cause problems for the functioning of Western societies.
- They can integrate, keep their own customs, but make attempts to live like the native population, a rather vague concept. Many in the Anglo world would say that this is the desirable compromise, but one consequence is that the public space is not neutral and there is the danger of different communities running their own lives inside geographical districts. It is unrealistic for this to change in countries where it already exists and even in France with the assimilation model, some public display of cultural ideas is tolerated. An obvious example is Chinatown festivals in Paris and politicians sending good wishes to religious groups about their holy days. (When they do not do this for the majority Christian population, then questions must be asked…)
- They can pay lip service to the native population, accept that this population has its own culture, but make little attempt to be part of it, (sometimes proclaim that they are proud not to do) and spend almost all of their time with those thinking the same. This view exists among some religious Jews, a high percentage of Muslims as well as Romany gypsies. If the group concerned is a very small minority, such as religious Jews, (a small minority inside Judaism, itself being a tiny minority of the general population) then this might or might not be desirable, but has little consequence on public life of the vast majority. To some extent, Christian groups passing their lives isolated from the general population in monasteries and so on do the same. This approach becomes problematic where the group is far bigger as seen with Muslim communities in many European cities.
- Finally they can reject the majority culture, hate it or proclaim that they do so, consider their own culture superior and proselytise to convince others to do the same. (Christians in parts of the world did precisely this although it was not always a question of hating local culture, but believing that Christianity was superior.) Today, Islamist ideas in the West have become widespread with a categorical rejection of Western culture. Not every Muslim living in Europe shares this approach, but some do and make no attempt to hide their opinions. Another debate is whether Islam by definition does this with its non-separation of the spiritual and profane; very few majority Muslim country are constitutionally secular, none are Western style democracies, some are bloody dictatorships and others are more agreeable with benevolent leaders. Some accept non-believers and other religions with conditions inside their countries and others do not or only with major restrictions. A detailed analysis of Islam is considered in another blog.
4-What happens next?
This where the debate becomes more difficult. For reasons of international travel and a policy of more or less open borders depending on the situation, immigration is not going to stop. However populist movements are on the rise in many countries and a return to controlled and chosen immigration is likely as was the historical situation everywhere until recently. National governments made their own policies for their own countries and this was considered absolutely democratic and logical. If necessary, immigration agreements existed between countries where their interests converged. The European Union is contrary to this way of thinking since by agreement, national policies over immigration is handed to the 27 Member States. It is not certain that the public appreciates this idea which became a fundamental reason for Brexit. The United Nations passes resolutions about immigration being a Human Right, but their opinions are not legally binding under international law. Excited climate campaigners considering that the world is coming to an end soon suggest that millions of climate refugees will arrive in the West anyway because of rising sea levels. There is not the slightest scientific evidence of this happening, but a few climate models claim this is possible. In view of the track record of climate models, there is no real need to take this point seriously and another blog deals with climate questions. One of the ironies in the tragedy of the Ukraine war is that being patriotic and defending national boundaries is no longer taboo among the chattering classes who consider themselves intellectually superior to the general population. Anti-Brexit opinion was precisely this and open borders movements claiming to be pacifist are now having a hard time defending their ideas.
Indeed, social tensions are high in many countries sometimes spilling over into communal unrest. If this becomes civil disobedience then society is in difficulty and if civil war, society is destroyed. The opinion of this writer is not one of optimism. Living together and celebrating diversity is a nice slogan in an ideal world, but is not reality in many cases. It is perhaps regrettable, but there it is and there are relatively few examples where people of radically different cultures live happily together. Politicians need to consider the consequences. Pretending that there is nothing to discuss and the problem will disappear is appropriate for ostriches. Pretending that population replacement or major demographic modification is not happening is the same.