December 7, 2013
The Camp of the Saints is closing down
For the Herald
Forty years have gone by since the publication of Le Camp des Saints by the French writer Jean Raspail. In it, he painted a grim picture of the prosperous West being overwhelmed by countless “economic” refugees from India who, after a long voyage aboard a ramshackle armada, were allowed in by the kind-hearted natives who, quite naturally, thought it would be cruel to try and keep them out. As far as most Europeans are concerned, what in 1973 seemed an exaggeratedly dystopian novel has proved to be all too prophetic.
Hostility toward immigration, though not necessarily toward individual immigrants, has increased greatly of late in the UK, France, Italy, Greece, Scandinavia and many other places. Though the progressive elites want the doors to remain wide open, public opposition to such a generous policy is forcing governments to try and slam them shut.
Raspail, who for political reasons had the refugees coming from the area around Calcutta rather than North Africa, took it for granted that well-meaning multiculturalism would end up having truly disastrous consequences. Simple mathematics suggest he was right. Unless immigration is limited, sooner or later the newcomers could outnumber their hosts. That would not matter very much if they all made an effort to become model citizens of their adopted countries, learning the local language, respecting the law of the land and rapidly acquiring skills that would enable them to make a positive contribution to the economy. Many, especially the Chinese, Hindus and Sikhs, do just that, but many others have no intention of “integrating” either because they think their own customs are better or because they lack the necessary ability.
Developed societies are complicated structures that make many demands on people living in them. Unlike most of their Third World counterparts, they do not provide jobs for at best semiliterate country folk who, soon after arriving, tend to make their way to the nearest welfare office, much to the disgust of natives who resent being elbowed aside by exotically garbed foreigners who, in many cases, evidently despise them. In much of Western Europe, immigrants have formed big, poverty-stricken and often lawless “ghettoes” into which even the police, let alone firemen and ambulance drivers, are afraid to venture.
That this would happen was predictable. Western societies invest a huge amount of time, money and effort in attempting to educate the young. For the most part, standards are, or until recently were, far higher than in poorer countries where only a minority go to what a European would regard as a proper school. As a result, many new immigrants find themselves automatically incorporated, along with the more feckless natives, into a chronically dependent underclass whose younger members are prone, notably in the bleak housing projects that dot the Parisian suburbs, to vent their anger by torching cars, burning down public buildings and raping any woman who is unfortunate enough to fall into their hands. Needless to say, such behaviour does nothing to endear immigrants and their offspring to their now extremely reluctant hosts.
But the immigrants will keep on coming. As one Middle Eastern, south Asian or African country descends into blood-soaked chaos, more and more people will risk their lives to get into Europe. Many will die, as did the hundreds of unfortunates who a few days ago drowned just off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa when the boat carrying them capsized. So, what is the answer? Well-wishers, led by Pope Francis, say they should all be made welcome and seem to think that the Europeans themselves should supply them with safer transport so their journey will be less dangerous. That would be fair enough if it were only a question of a few desperate individuals, but there are already hundreds of thousands of them and there could soon be many millions.
For decades, Europeans of all descriptions and, though their situation is less dire, North Americans, have been grappling with the problem. Those who say that, given the plunging birth rate, Europe has no choice but to import more people have a point; but merely adding to the population, as though it were just a question of numbers, is hardly a sensible solution. And while many want to help the refugees for humanitarian reasons, few want to see their own countries transformed bit by bit into replicas of the ones millions are fleeing from.
Some think that to stem the flood the rich countries should engage in vast development projects in Africa and Asia so their inhabitants will become reconciled to their fate, but even the most idealistic are aware that there is little they can hope to achieve in war-torn countries run by thugs and beset by murderous bands of fanatical terrorists. Others insist that all displaced people, plus the many who soon will be, should be helped to resettle in countries whose culture and religious beliefs ought to suit them, with most Syrian refugees, say, moving to Jordan or, failing that, a Persian Gulf emirate. However, as almost all the countries of that particular region are unstable, to put it mildly, what the people who say they want Middle Easterners to stay closer to home for their own sake really mean is that in their view Europe already has far too many Muslims and should refuse to let any more in.