T he desperate wish in what is loosely called the West to at least appear morally correct is unfortunately over-matched by the desperation of people fleeing unstable, overpopulated places outside the West, and it is a fiasco beyond even the events of the moment.
The refugee / immigrant crisis around the Mediterranean is a preview of a horror show to which there is no end in sight, and is certain to escalate. So anyone who indulges in fantasies about organizing an orderly, rational distribution of displaced persons for the current wave, is badly missing the point. Wave beyond wave awaits after the this one. And then what will the well-intentioned sentimentalists say? We wanted to do the right thing… we meant well… we cried when we saw the little boy dead on the beach….
Yes, the tragic intrusions of the US military in Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and elsewhere have been reckless and stupid. But that is not the whole story. The desert nations of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have populations abnormally swollen by a century of oil-and-gas-based agriculture, really by the benefits of Modernity in general. Now that the oil age is chugging to an unruly crack-up, and Modernity with it, and the earth’s climate is doing wonky things, and the rich nations to the north have faked their finances to the point of bankruptcy, well, circumstances have changed.
In the years ahead, populations will be fleeing and shifting from many more unfavorable corners of the world. The pressures are mounting all over. Alas, the richer nations in which the fleeing poor aspire to gain a foothold, will also be contending with the disabling effects of a universal economic contraction — the winding down of the techno-industrial system and the global economy with it. That process has the potential to shatter political unions, overthrow established social orders, and provoke wars between the demoralized countries who still possess dangerous military hardware. At the least, it will produce economic conditions in Europe and North America probably worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
So, the idea that the nations currently bethinking themselves “rich” can take in, shelter, and employ the masses fleeing MENA (and elsewhere) is absurd. Somehow the people in charge, plus the intellectual classes who shape opinion and consensus, are going to have to arrive at some clear notion of limits and boundaries. It is actually happening in parts of Europe right now, extempore, where the immediate crisis is worst, for the moment in Italy, Greece, and Hungary — which first interned the refugees and then let them loose on the road to Vienna, probably only a way-station to Germany. Soon all nations across Europe will be agonizing, shucking, jiving, or improvising some sort of desperate response.
Among other confusions of policy and intention, the public “debate” so far does not make any distinction between true political refugees fleeing for their lives or economic migrants seeking to improve their prospects elsewhere. It is surely easy to empathize with both categories of persons, but that doesn’t mean you give up the control of your borders just to make yourself feel better. That is pretty much what has happened in the USA, where the Left, for political expediency, has deemed it indecent to call “illegal” immigrants what they are, and the Right has just been pusillanimous and hypocritical about it. Hence the unfiltered persona of Trump who, for all his titanic shortcomings, has at least managed to make his rivals look like the craven midgets they are.
Likewise, the rise of Marine LePen in France, Geert Wilders in Holland, and other parties seeking limits to immigration, perhaps even deportations. Personally, I reject the idea that it’s “racist” to want to preserve one’s national culture and character (especially in language), or to favor bona fide citizens for gainful employment. Europe has the additional obvious problem of an immigrant Islamic population overtly hostile to European culture and tradition. Why is it morally imperative for Europeans to countenance what amounts to low-grade warfare?
The situation that smoldered for decades is now exploding. Don’t expect to see any end to desperation and instability in MENA, but do expect new demographic crises out of other regions: Indonesia, Ukraine, Pakistan, West Africa, and Brazil, with its cratering economy. It’s not inconceivable that China might bust apart politically, with centrifugal consequences. The global economy is contracting. We have indeed attained the limits to growth. Cheap oil is bygone and the capital infrastructure we have won’t run on expensive oil — including the oil industry itself. New technology or further central bank legerdemain is not going to fix that. We’re in population overshoot and a scramble is underway to bail on the places that just can’t support the people who live there. National boundaries will be defended. Sentimentalists will have to step aside. History is not a bedtime story about bunnies and kittens.