Thursday, August 11, 2011
What is really happening in Europe?
Londres flambe, Londres flambe,
Quelle affaire, quelle affaire,
Au feu ! Au feu !
Pas d'eau, rien à faire.
French children's song
First, there were the riots in France. Then the riots spread to other countries, Spain, Greece, and now the Britain. As I sit and watch the various news reports I am amazed to see to what degree they are all missing the point and misreading the nature of what is going on.
As some of you might now, when I was still living in Europe I was a military analyst doing strategic intelligence analysis for a European country. Among other things, I had access to a lot of the brainstorming about potential social unrest which might happen not only in my country, but also in the rest of Europe (we were primarily interested in that because of potential refugee movements). I can tell you that all of what is going on today has long been foreseen by the security services. The problem, the dilemma, really, is that there is nothing which they could really do about it. Let me explain.
There are several, distinct, factors which are acting together in a positive feedback loop help to create this "perfect storm" of social unrest. And even though the media did correctly identify many of them, it failed to understand their nature. Let's take them one by one.
Yes, absolutely, beyond any shade of a doubt, immigration plays a role in these riots. But its not a simple, straightforward "there are too many immigrants" kind of thing. First, there are many different types of immigrations, not just one immigration. It is one thing to have a large percentage of Italian or Portuguese immigrants in your neighborhood, and a totally different one when the immigrant are Albanians or Pakistani. I will not go into a long discussion of why Albanian immigrants are so different from, say, Moroccans or Senegalese immigrants, suffice to say here that anybody who has had any experience in the security forces will tell you, off the record, of course, that the worst immigrants to deal with are first generation Albanians (2nd generation are just fine) and second generation Algerians (1st generation are just fine). Weird, but true, and largely off-topic for this article.
Second, it is important to stress here that even in the worst types of immigrants, its only a rather small minority, say 10%, which causes all the troubles. The vast majority only want a peaceful and decent life. The problem here is simple: how do you deal with the former without alienating the latter (nevermind grievously violating the civil and human right!)
Third, some immigrants have kept close ties to their country of origin and in some cases that can make them ideal agents for all sorts of illegal activities (funding through narcotics trade is a big favorite here). In the past, Kurdish immigrants used to be deeply infiltrated by the PKK, more recently we saw the Albanian immigrants providing a powerful lobby and source of support for the KLA.
The main problem with immigrants is that there is no government branch which can adequately deal with them. Think about it. Security services cannot simply single out or target a group solely based upon its ethnicity or religion. Not only would that be wrong, it would also be illegal, and eventually counter-productive. Keep in mind that many, if not most, immigrants are have a legal status, and often even citizenship. They are entitled to being protected by the security services, not harassed or otherwise singled out. Besides, most security services are too small, and they are really trained to deal with gangsters, terrorists and spies, not 10-20% of any one country's population. The police is no better. First, let's be frank here, they are rarely the smartest folks around, and they have to deal mostly with much more mundane issues such as common crime or traffic. In these times of economic crisis, the cops are also pretty much maxed out - they don't have the resources to allocate to such a big and complex phenomenon as immigration-linked problems. The military? Sure, its big, but it simply does not have the mandate to deal with internal threats, in particular not threat coming from its own legal residents and citizens.
So while the cops and even the military can make all sorts of shows of force, they are really useless. And they know that. Let me just give you one example.
Say that in our country Albanian immigrants control 90% of the hard drugs market. They have no problems shooting cops or any competitors. They make huge money and the put at risk entire neighborhoods. What do you do about it?
You can't just arrest all Albanians. You need to find the bad ones. How? Well, monitor them, infiltrate them, at arrest all the bad guys in one big operation. Sounds good, no? Except. Except that what judge is going to allow you to tap somebody's phone just because he is an Albanian and owns a bar? And where are you going to find enough language specialists capable of translating and transcribing Albanian? And how do you propose to infiltrate Albanian gangs when their social structure is quasi tribal and everybody knows everybody?
As for the European xenophobes daydreaming about some "Christian West" and about how they would "expel all these foreigners", they are simply out of touch with reality. Their theories are utter nonsense. These folks make good speeches about how they would solve the problem if they were in power, without even realizing that the state simply does not have a tool which could be used to implement their empty promises. Finally, the xenophobes will not be voted into power simply most Europeans are educated enough to realize that immigration is simply a function of disparity and that if the West exploits and and terrorizes the rest of the planet, immigrants will always try to flee to a safer, better place.
The economic crisis:
Of course it plays are role here. Somebody with a psychologically and financially rewarding job is highly unlikely to spend his free time going on a rampage or looting. I am not saying that poverty is the cause of these riots, there are few really poor and destitute people in Europe and they don't riot at all. It's the pointlessness of being unemployed or having a disgusting job which makes people angry enough to go out and fight the visible instruments of the "order": the cops. So these riots are not hunger riots, they are hate riots, and that is very different.
The so-called "victory" of the West in the Cold War has resulted in a wave of unrestrained turbo-capitalism run amok and we now see the inevitable conclusion of the previously exported exploitation (in the form of imperialism - thanks Lenin, you were right here!) coming back home and doing what Marx had long predicted: a nasty class war.
As an aside, allow me this little digression here. I was one in the hall of a UN conference where the representatives of the West were congratulating each other on "winning the Cold War". And then, the Representative of Pakistan took the floor and with his unique Paki accent said: "has anybody here ever considered that the West did not win the Cold War, but that the internal contradictions of Communism did catch up with the Communist system before the internal contradictions of Capitalism will catch up with Capitalist nations?". His statement was greeted in total silence, and then rapidly forgotten, of course. But he was right, this is exactly what we are seeing today. Class warfare not so much between the haves and have-nots, as between the rulers and their alienated subjects.
Let's put it bluntly. Europe is a US colony. Just as in the Middle-East or Latin America, the US Empire relies on a class of collaborators which is rewards with wealth and power for its subservience to the US Empire. Everybody knows that Europeans did not want to go to war in Iraq of Afghanistan. Everybody knows that Europeans did not want to start a war in Libya. Heck, most Europeans did not even want the kind of EU which the elites did impose upon them. The vast majority of Europeans are opposed to the IMF/WB "austerity measures" and the vast majority of Europeans know that the international bankers have screwed one European country after another. Everybody also knows that there is no real "Left" in Europe (Tony Blair or Cohn-Bendit are not more leftists than a tiger is a vegetarian) and that the only non-co-opted political parties don' stand a chance in any real election. And here is where the immigration factor also comes into place.
Most immigrants know all to well what role the West has played into turning their countries of origin into such a hell-hole that they had to emigrate to the very same West not because they love or admire it, but in spite of the fact that they hate it.
Another digression, if I may. I often hear Americans saying that "if our society is so bad why do people from all over the world emigrate to the USA". Guys, let me break you the bad news: these immigrants *hate* you and *hate* your society. And this is why they are so willing to rob you, whether at gunpoint or otherwise: they are robbing the robber. I personally live in Florida and I am fluent in Spanish and I can assure you that most Hispanics *despise* the Anglos and will say so quite openly to any Spanish speaker. I have heard that many times. First, I approach some Hispanic and ask him - in English - for something and he basically tells me to get lost. I switch into Spanish. The guy immediately makes a 180 and not only helps me, but goes out of his way to accommodate me. Once I was even told that "we need to help each other against these assholes" (meaning the Anglos). Its exactly the same in Europe, I have seen that many times there too. And, please, don't simply get offended at that - if you are European or Anglo-American - but understand this is only a case of karma, of chicken coming to roost, of "he who sows the winds, reaps the tempest" as the French expression goes.
So the combination of thoroughly alienated European youths with angry and resentful immigrants makes for an explosive mix. I would even say that many European youths who oppose the imperialist and capitalist systems identify themselves far more with the brown-skinned immigrants and their hatred of the "system" than with their parents, teachers or politicians.
Of course, not all immigrants hate their host-country. But enough do. That is the point.
Now a lot of you will get really mad at mine. Fine. I will tell you what I know and what I think, and you can shoot or dismiss the messenger. I don't care, really.
The sentence "If God does not exist, everything is permitted" (often attributed to Dostoevsky) might anger secularists/atheists/agnostics (further called "SAAs") but, guys, its indisputable. The very concepts of "right" and "wrong" have absolutely no basis in logic, even if most SAAs don't realize it, or choose not to act on it. But that is more of a philosophical point and, thus, off-topic again. More relevant to my topic is this: religious communities are never involved in the type of riots and civil disturbances we see in Europe. I lived right next to a mosque and I can tell you that when most "proper and law abiding citizens" were informed that a large mosque would be built in our neighborhood they were horrified. They thought that this would result in an influx of rapists, muggers or even terrorists. Within one year of the opening of the mosque the "proper and law abiding citizens" realized that the kind of immigrants who show up for prayers at the mosque were far more "proper and law abiding" then the locals! This is also why a vice-cop once told me in Toulon "we never have any problems with first-generation Algerian emigrants, they are all Muslims and have a traditional education; it's the second generation Algerians (who often become SAAs) which are the cause of all our problems".
And no, I am not dismissing religious riots in India or Egypt, and no, I am not saying that Muslims or Christians are "better" than SAAs. In fact I will even admit that a 'negative' religion like the atheistic Communism or the pagan National-Socialism can yield an ethos, if not quite a real morality. But Europe is a post-Christian society in which the very concepts or right and wrong have been ridiculed beyond any hope of redemption and in which the majority of the ignorant, alienated and angered youth believes in absolutely nothing.
Consider this: there is an entire generation (several, I would argue) that has been raised in a society in which lies and hypocrisy are the norm, in which violence, in particular, but not only, against dark-skinned people is an integral part of the social order, in which the rich get richer, the poor poorer and in which democracy is an empty word meaning little more than submission to authority. How could anybody seriously expect that kind of generation not to explode, sooner or later?
Not only do most European youth believe that Christianity, Islam and all other religions are a lie, they also believe that Socialism, Communism, Democracy or free-market Capitalism and globalization are also lies. And, frankly, they are right: the kinds if Christianity, Islam, Communism, Democracy, free-market Capitalism or globalization which they have been exposed to are, really, all lies.
And this is why to simply call them "thugs" and "criminals" not false, but also not quite correct. Yes, their actions are criminal, and their excuses about "racism" and "poverty" are just that - excuses, cop-outs. But on a deeper level, what these riots show are the signs of the agony of a system built on one and only "value": greed. Because this is what capitalism, the putative victor of the Cold War, truly is. It is an ideology whose fundamental dogma is that the ideal society is the product of the sums of everybody's greeds. As a direct by-product of this is the truism that "growth is always and by definition, good" (the mere fact that infinite grow in a finite environment is exactly the reason why tumors kill their hosts is simply not considered).
So this is what, I believe, these riots are really about: a comprehensive failure of the Capitalist system. An economic failure of course, but also a political and moral failure. Capitalism is a fundamentally anti-human system which cannot be sustained without killing its host. The riots in Europe are only one - amongst many other - symptom of the fact.
Posted by VINEYARDSAKER: at 18:24
Labels: capitalism, riots