Category Archives: migrants

The folly of von der Leyen

A mixture of cliché, slogan, and evasion

The president-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is quoted as saying:

The last four years have taught us that simple answers don’t take us far. All that one heard was ‘Close the borders and migration will stop’ or ‘We must save everyone on the Mediterranean.’ We have seen that the phenomenon of migration has not stopped, and that there is a limit to the ability to integrate [the migrants]. Therefore a global approach is necessary. We must invest massively in Africa to reduce the pressure to migrate. At the same time we must fight organised crime so that we ensure that the Schengen agreement [which allows free movement of people between countries party to it] can function because we protect our external borders [i.e. the EU’s borders].

Dalrymple comments:

This evades almost all the difficult questions about immigration. With a superb indifference to practicalities, von der Leyen fails to tell us how either the push or the pull that drives migration is to be lessened, apart from ‘massive investment in Africa’.

Von der Leyen, he notes,

does not tell us who is going to bankroll this massive investment. Is it to be financed via the forced contributions of European taxpayers and be administered by European bureaucrats? The history of massive aid investment on the part of Europeans in Africa has not been happy.

Dalrymple asks:

If the massive investment is not to come from government, with its almost infallible ability to turn investment into liability, who is it to come from, and for what purposes?

The answer

must be the private or corporate sector. But why is it that the private or corporate sector, supposedly ever on the search for commercial opportunity, does not already make such investments? How is it to be persuaded to do so? Is the purpose of its investment to make a profit or to reduce migration?

Dalrymple observes that cliché has

entered the very fabric of von der Leyen’s mind. Surely it must have occurred to her that it is a little late in the day for investment, however massive, to halt the pressure that has led a third or more of sub-Saharan Africans—who will soon be three times more numerous than the Europeans—to want to migrate to Europe.

Besides, he says,

it is not the poorest of the poor of Africa who arrive clandestinely in Europe; it is those who can — or whose family can — pay the air fare, giving them the chance to overstay their visa, or pay people-traffickers (often several thousand dollars) to smuggle them in. Many migrants enter under family reunification schemes inscribed in European law.

A rising standard of living in the emigration centres of sub-Saharan Africa brought about by massive investment, were it to occur (which is far from certain), would

more probably increase than decrease the migratory pressure, in so far as more people would have the means to undertake the migration.

This thought

does not in the slightest inhibit von der Leyen from using the language of the imperative—a way of thinking that might result in the compulsion of reluctant countries to pursue a futile policy at great cost. Moreover, it is very difficult to see how any effective or selective migration policy could be carried out without a closure of borders.

Mashed potato

Asked whether Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy premier and interior minister, was right to arrest non-governmental organisations that rescued migrants in the Mediterranean and brought them to Italy, Ursula von der Leyen, president-elect of the European Commission, is reported as saying:

It is an obligation for people to rescue the drowning. What Italy wants above all is the reform of the dysfunctional system. I understand that the countries of the European Union with external frontiers do not want to be left to face the challenge of migration alone. They deserve our solidarity.

Dalrymple comments:

This is what a friend of mine calls a mashed-potato answer, one that does not address the question but succeeds in conveying a vague and non-committal aura of benevolence. Our solidarity: who could be against it? But what would it mean in practice, our solidarity? It would mean spreading out all the illegal migrants who have arrived in Italy among the other countries of Europe, whether those other countries wanted them or not (and whether or not the migrants wanted to go to the countries allocated to them). Solidarity might not last very long, and might turn into its opposite: extreme hostility. The word solidarity suggests something that those in favour of mass migration are at pains to deny: that the migrants, far from being an asset to the countries they have migrated to, are a burden on them.

Dalrymple points out that von der Leyen

disregards the evidence that Salvini’s policy has been a great success, at least from the point of view of preventing illegal immigration into Italy and deaths by drowning of those trying to reach it. He has saved incomparably more lives by his firmness than have all the NGOs put together who try to save the drowning.

The self-righteous NGOs, who make a mockery of national laws, have by encouraging people to try to reach Italy

underwritten thousands of deaths. It is one thing to save the drowning whenever you find them, but another to go looking for them. The NGOs are an illustration of Wilde’s definition of the sentimentalist: one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. The costs are imposed on others.

There is in von der Leyen, Dalrymple observes,

very little other than slogan, cliché and evasion, with a leavening of humbug.

People-traffickers of the Med

Dalrymple notes that of the 629 migrants on the boat that Italy turned away,

more than 100 were unaccompanied minors.

He points out that since they arrived in Libya—their point of departure for Europe—from West Africa,

organised, expensive, and lucrative people-trafficking must be involved.

Moreover,

once they are landed in Europe, their right to family life—the life that domestic legislation in many European countries has been dedicated to smashing up—will be recognised, thus justifying, or mandating, yet more arrivals.

Very obviously, more of a liability than an asset

Sharing the burden, not the assets

Whatever attitude governments take to undocumented migrants, writes Dalrymple,

no one truly believes that they are more of an asset than a liability.

Madrid’s decision to take a vessel carrying 629 African migrants

was taken on ‘humanitarian’ grounds, rather than because it believed that Spain would benefit from the migrants’ presence. When European leaders discuss the migrant question, it is in terms of sharing the burden, not the assets. No one speaks of foreign investment in this way, which suggests that European politicians believe that the free movement of people and capital are different in an important way.

Certain European leaders, Dalrymple notes,

are incensed when countries such as Hungary and Poland refuse point-blank to take any migrants from Africa or the Middle East. But I have never seen mentioned in this context the question of where the migrants themselves want to go. They might as well be inanimate toxic waste as far as the discussion is concerned, rather than human beings with wishes, desires, ambitions. They are but pawns in a political game.

Modern philanthropy

Doing good by making others pay for it

When the Rome government refused to let a vessel carrying 629 African migrants dock in Italy, Spain took them in. Dalrymple points out that the migrants

were rescued by the boat of a non-governmental organisation dedicated to saving them from floundering in the Mediterranean.

This is, he notes,

typical of modern philanthropy: you do good by making others pay for it, by imposing financial burdens or obligations upon them that they have not chosen. Of course, to rescue drowning people is humanitarian: the question that the Italian government asks is whether the supply of rescue creates the demand for it.

The Nauru Regional Processing Centre

A wonderfully Orwellian name, says Dalrymple, for a holding camp for would-be refugees to Australia

A wonderfully Orwellian name, says Dalrymple, for a holding camp for would-be refugees to Australia

How the West invites terror

Riaz Khan Ahmadzai

Riaz Khan Ahmadzai

Muslims, writes Dalrymple,

are not deceived by pusillanimous, odious, unctuous, and fatuous expressions of understanding for their feelings that have emerged from official circles, in a vain and cowardly attempt to defuse the situation by a precipitate though insincere abandonment of the best values of the Enlightenment.

Islamic fundamentalists

know perfectly well that the West does not respect them, and that the only way they can cut a figure is by terror. Technologically, scientifically, artistically, philosophically, economically they are nullities: but they know how to be vicious, and that makes up for every other defect. If the world will not listen to their tedious religiose lucubrations, it will at least pay heed to their bloodcurdling threats. Each expression of pseudo-understanding is music to their ears: they know that threats of mass decapitation and killing in the streets have worked. It is an open invitation for more of the same.

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

The Western democracies, says Dalrymple,

have demonstrated a lack of resolve comparable only to that of Chamberlain and Daladier in the face of Hitler.

When, he says,

we see the freedom that the Enlightenment wrought challenged in so intellectually primitive and thuggish a way, we realise how very much we owe the Enlightenment. You don’t really appreciate something until you have lost it.

The problem of the Muslim world is that

it wants the material fruits or benefits of the Enlightenment without the Enlightenment. A considerable proportion of the large migrant population from Islamic countries to Europe has wanted this too, which is why many such migrants are notably less successful in their adopted countries than their Hindu, Sikh, and Chinese counterparts. Muslims have been trying to square this circle for well over a century, since they first became aware of how retarded they were by comparison with a civilisation that theirs once more than equalled. Like the inhabitants of the ghetto, they want the respect of the rest of the world without wishing to do the things necessary to obtain it.

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 09.45.50

Why the West has to import labour

Despicable work, according to the UK newspaper the Guardian

Despicable work, according to the UK newspaper the Guardian

People, especially young people, in the better-off countries of Western Europe very often have completely the wrong attitude to work, if they work. The result, writes Dalrymple, is that,

despite mass unemployment, we have to import labour

in order that certain kinds of work be done. In Ireland, for example, Dalrymple says that

an old lady of my acquaintance needed 24-hour attendance, and this was provided by a Filipina, even at a time when there was 15% unemployment in Ireland.

An important factor is the

system of social security and unemployment benefits. The economic difference between doing this type of work and not working is not great enough to entice any native to do it.

There is also a

psychological, cultural or even religious difference. The change in the title of the senior nurse in a hospital ward from sister to ward manager is indicative of a change in sensibility, from a residually religious notion of serving others to a technocratic one. In the popular imagination, the distinction between service and servitude has been more or less eliminated.

Dalrymple cites a sentence written by a columnist in the London newspaper the Guardian:

So when a girl at 17 decides to go ahead and have a baby, there is no tragedy of lost opportunity other than the local checkout till waiting for her low-paid labour.

Such a sentence, Dalrymple notes,

breathes snobbery and disdain for those who do such work; it assumes that once a checkout cashier, always a checkout cashier, a fate worse than death. That there might be people for whom such work is suitable and potentially not odious does not occur to the writer. What makes the work odious is not the work but those who communicate their disdain of it. Snobbery thus makes the import of labour necessary.

Take hotels. In Britain, Dalrymple points out,

all good hotels employ exclusively foreign labour. If you want to go to a really bad large hotel in Britain, find one in which the staff are British. It is guaranteed to be ill-kept, with slovenly service, not very clean, with atrocious food, grubby staff, inattention to detail. Even a foreign telephonist is likely to be better, and to speak better English, than an English telephonist. If you want a good or even only a decent hotel, you must find one in which all the staff are foreign. This is so whatever the unemployment rate, high or low.

Dalrymple says he asks people to imagine that they are employers who seek an employee to perform work that is not skilled but requires such characteristics as punctuality, politeness, willingness to oblige.

The imagined employer has two applicants about whom he knows only two things: their age (shall we say 24) and their nationality. One is British and one is Polish. Which of the applicants does the imagined employer choose? Not a single person to whom I have put this question has hesitated for a moment: he chooses the Pole.

Our need for migrants

has a cultural, not an economic root.

But of course,

this does not mean that we need all the migrants we are likely to get from wherever we get them.

Flüchtlinge willkommen

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.48.04So, even now, say a few Germans. In Sweden they cried (until they brought in border checks),

Flyktingar välkomna.

Dalrymple turns to Max Frisch’s Biedermann und die Brandstifter (1953), written

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.48.47in the aftermath of the Second World War as an attempt to explain (and to warn) how a patent evil like Nazism can triumph in a civilised society.

The play’s protagonist, Dalrymple explains,

is a comfortable bourgeois living in a town that is beset by several mysterious acts of arson. He is visited at home by Schmitz, a hawker, who half-persuades, half-intimidates his way into an invitation to lodge in Biedermann’s attic, and who soon brings a second hawker, Eisenring, to stay in the house.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.34.08Gradually it becomes clear that Schmitz and Eisenring

are the ones setting the fires in the town, but Biedermann refuses to acknowledge it. His blindness arises from moral and physical cowardice, and from wishful thinking—the hope that what he sees does not really mean what it obviously means.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.49.23Schmitz and Eisenring bring barrels of gasoline into the house and Biedermann,

pusillanimous to the last, helps them make the fuses and gives them the matches with which they burn his house down.

Ghettoised Sweden

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 09.06.25Dalrymple points out that last year, Sweden took in 100,000 migrants and this year it is estimated that it will have taken in 190,000, equivalent to 3 per cent of the population. He says:

If this rate were to continue for very long, Sweden would be irreversibly changed for ever.

On the London Guardian newspaper’s website, Dalrymple comes across a video about the Sverigedemokraterna or Sweden Democrats, a political party opposed to mass immigration. Dalrymple writes:

The Guardian journalist interviewed young members and made them appear arrogant and unattractive. Whether this was the result of editing or a true representation of them, or both, I cannot say. She herself appeared intolerably smug and self-righteous, arrogant in a different way. She asked the young Swedes what was wrong with vibrant multicultural societies such as Britain and France.

Even from the video,

what was shown, no doubt unintentionally, was that Sweden was not multicultural, it was ghettoised, with practically no contact whatever between the refugees and natives.

The Swedes, says Dalrymple,

throw social security to the refugees as zookeepers throw meat to the lions.

One of the questions of the Guardian journalist to the young Swedes was

Why do you dress so smartly?

The question was asked, says Dalrymple,

in an accusatory tone, as if dressing smartly was yet another of their bad qualities, a derogation of their duty to appear casually or scruffily dressed like almost everyone else in modern society.

For the person who asked it,

any kind of formality in dress was symbolic of élitist or exclusivist political sympathies, whereas casual dress, the prevailing any-old-howism of the majority of the population, was symbolic of democratic and egalitarian sympathies, a demonstration of solidarity with the poor of the world. Whether poor people in Africa actually benefit from rich people dressing in expensively-torn jeans and T-shirts is not important: as with presents, it is the thought that counts.

There is another way of looking at it, Dalrymple says.

To dress well is a sign of respect for other people and society, to dress scruffily is a sign of disrespect for them, a sign of the purest egoism. Perhaps it is even possible to express élitism and respect at the same time.