This comic really summarizes the thought of the ecological fundamentalists. If you’re not with them, you’re against them. Common sense isn’t a trait many greenies have, yet it’s all the more important.
About an hour ago I stumbled upon this text by Theodore Dalrymple. Funny thing is, this text made me respect France a little. Due to their republican model, they create a leading, French culture, whereas in other European countries, multiculturalism doens’t allow the historic culture to be the most important one. The obvious disadvantages of this model can be seen all over Europe, with immigrant cultures demanding their adoptive homeland to adapt in their favour, instead of the other way around. Multiculturalism bringts trouble along. In all major European cities ever-growing enclaves of mustly Muslims exist, and are causing tensions with ‘natives’, and the main culture.
Yet political courage is far to be found. The ‘every foreigner enriches us’ creed is dominant in most leftwing political parties. People who oppose this uncontrolled migration, and demand at least a durable integration, are labelled racist. But with rightwingers on the rise in Europe, there remains hope, and even some leftist seam to have common sense. The Dutch far-left Socialist Party (SP) of Jan Marijnissen, is a good and hopeful sign of a workersparty, which criticizes immigrants who refuse to integrate.
How the West Was Lost
The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent, Walter Laqueur, Thomas Dunne Books, 256 pages
by Theodore Dalrymple
Flying to Rotterdam recently, the largest and busiest port in the world, I was forcibly struck by the aerial view. I doubt there is a sight anywhere that is more eloquent testimony to the power of human intelligence and organization. Indeed, this applies to the whole of the Netherlands: a physically unpromising fragment of land, much of it reclaimed from the sea, has been diligently transformed into one of the globe’s most flourishing regions, whose economic product exceeds that of the whole of Africa.
The text accompanying a book of photographs of the Dutch landscape that I was given as a present is an unconscious witness to the country’s wealth. Extolling Dutch society’s fundamental egalitarianism, the text stated that in Holland you will not see expensive cars, only middle-of-the-range models. The examples given were Mercedeses and BMWs.
The Dutch are probably the best-educated people in the world (though middle-aged people complain, as everywhere else, that standards are falling). Many Dutch have a vocabulary in English that exceeds that of native speakers in Britain and America. And for many years, the Dutch prided themselves that theirs was a country in which nothing ever happened. The business of Holland was business—plus social security with a bit of anti-Calvinist decadence thrown in. The country was so tranquil, contented, and firmly established that, failing a rise in the level of the North Sea, it seemed the idyll would continue forever.
But a couple of political assassinations, unprecedented in Holland for more than 300 years, suddenly illuminated, as if by a flash of lightning, a darker aspect of reality—one that was not confined to Holland but was Europe-wide. In a very short space of time, complacency gave way to a nagging sense of doom.
It is Europe’s doom that Walter Laqueur explores and explains in this succinct and clearly written book. He does not say anything that others have not said before him, but he says it better and with a greater tolerance of nuance than some other works on this vitally important subject.
There are three threats to Europe’s future. The first comes from demographic decline. Europeans are simply not reproducing, for reasons that are unclear. They seem to care more about the ozone layer and carbon emissions than they do about the continuation of their own societies. Or perhaps bringing up children interferes with what they conceive to be the real business of life: taking lengthy annual holidays in exotic locations and other such pleasures.
The second threat comes from the presence of a sizable and growing immigrant population, a large part of which is not necessarily interested in integration. As the population ages, the need for immigrant labor increases, and among the main sources of such labor are North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. When I recently drove to Antwerp from the South of France, I thought I had arrived in Casablanca. There are parts of Brussels where the police are enjoined not to be seen eating or drinking during Ramadan. Similar accommodations are occurring all over Europe: in the Central Library in Birmingham, for example, I found a women-only table occupied exclusively by young Muslims dressed in the hijab. (They were the lucky ones, members of liberal households that allowed them out on their own.)
The third threat comes from the existence of the welfare state and the welfare-state mentality. A system of entitlements has been created that, however economically counterproductive, is politically difficult to dismantle: once privileges are granted, they assume the metaphysical status of immemorial and fundamental rights. The right of French train drivers to retire on full pension at the age of 50 is probably more important to them than the right of free speech—especially that of those who think that retirement at such an age is preposterous. While Europe mortgages its future to pay for such extravagances—the French public debt doubled in ten years under the supposedly conservative Chirac—other areas of the world forge an unbeatable combination of high-tech and cheap labor. The European political class, more than ever dissociated from its electorate, has hardly woken up to the challenge.
All this Laqueur lays out with exemplary clarity. He sees Europe, once the home of a dynamic civilization that energized the rest of the world, declining into a kind of genteel theme park—if it’s lucky. The future might be grimmer than this, of course: there might be a real struggle for power once the immigrants and their descendents become numerically strong enough to take on the increasingly geriatric native population.
As is to be expected in a relatively short book, the author does not explore matters in great depth. One interesting and important question is why Europeans have abjectly surrendered to the dishonest nostrums of multiculturalism. Why, for example, can a couple of Dutch children be told by their teacher to remove the Dutch flag from their school bags because it might offend children of Moroccan descent—who, it should be noted, are supposed to be Dutch citizens? Why, when I arrive in regional airports in Britain, do I see signs for British passport holders written in Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, and Hindi scripts, presumably for the benefit of British citizens who cannot read the Latin alphabet? Why do German courts rule that beating women is a religious right for Turks, just as terms such as “illegitimate children” have been banned from official usage as being denigratory and stigmatizing?
The answer surely lies in the shame of Europe’s recent past. The Dutch, for example, are aware that not only did many of them (or their parents and grandparents) collaborate enthusiastically with the Nazi occupiers, but no sooner was Holland liberated than it engaged in a bloody colonial war to try to retain the East Indies. Under these circumstances, reference to the extraordinary positive achievements of the country came to seem like chauvinism or worse, and no pride in Dutchness could be communicated to immigrants. The same, a fortiori, applies to Germany and even to Britain, whose enormous achievements intellectuals have long been deconstructing.
Only the French, with their republican model, have gone in for a salutary monoculturalism, but unfortunately their economic and social policies helped, if not to create, at least to maintain Muslim ghettoes. On one hand, the children of immigrants were told they were French; on the other, they were de facto excluded from the rest of society. Ferocious resentment was the result, and to coin a phrase, we ain’t seen nothing yet.
Laqueur makes the important point that shortcomings of the host countries notwithstanding, many immigrant groups have thrived without difficulty. He might have added that they have all successfully overcome initial prejudice against them. There is no Sikh or Hindu problem in Britain; the country has recently absorbed half a million Poles without any obvious tension or difficulty. (Tony Blair, with his usual perspicuity, predicted that when Poland joined the European Union, 13,000 Poles would move to Britain.)
This suggests—and Laqueur has no hesitation in so saying—that there is a problem peculiar to the integration of Muslims in Western countries, at any rate, when they are in such large numbers that they are able to make whole areas their own. Imbued with a sense of their own religious superiority, which considers a Muslim way of life better than any other, they are ill-prepared to adapt constructively to Western society.
Yet adapt they do, though not necessarily in the best way. The young men of the second generation adopt many aspects of American ghetto “culture,” which in conjunction with Islamic teaching and tradition, enables them to dominate women in a way that is to them extremely gratifying. This prevents the women (who, as Laqueur tells us, and I can confirm from personal experience, are vastly superior morally and intellectually to their menfolk) from achieving all they might in an open society. In turn, the cheap and unconstructive satisfactions of domestic dictatorship discourages Muslim men from real achievement and engagement in the wider society around them. For the majority of young men of Muslim descent in Europe, the chief attraction of Islam is the justification it offers for the ill-treatment of women.
Is a “clash of civilizations” within Europe thus inevitable at some time in the future? Laqueur is cautious, as befits a man who has seen so much that was unprecedented in his own lifetime. Secularization, if only of a strange and not altogether reassuring kind, has already made deep inroads into the Muslim population. On the other hand, it may be that this very secularization is what calls forth religious fanaticism as a response. After all, Muslims can see in European Christianity an example of what happens when the light of reason and historical criticism is allowed into the purlieus of religious doctrine: it falls apart. Since Islam is so much a part of the identity of people wherever it has predominated, an attack on Islam, even or especially in the form of rational criticism, provokes an existential crisis.
Laqueur is neither apocalyptic nor optimistic but measured and open-minded about the future. Yet given the earnest frivolity of the European political classes, who face up to and legislate for every problem except the serious ones, it is likely that his prediction for Europe is accurate: it will sink into insignificance, more important, it is true, than Africa but no more important than Latin America.
Actually, I like Latin America.
I think this is a great move by Sarkozy, though I’m not a big fan of Le Pen. It shows that France has elected a smart man. And though it might be a mere political stunt by sarkozy, it’s a good one. So maybe there is a future for France.
PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy held talks Wednesday with far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen _ the first time the nationalist firebrand has been invited to the presidential palace in at least 33 years.
Le Pen called the invitation a “democratic gesture,” and said the two talked about the European Union. “I told him what he already knew, of our profound differences on this subject,” Le Pen said, adding that they also had a “general exchange of views.” Sarkozy is preparing for an EU summit in Brussels this week, hoping to push through his idea of a “simplified treaty” to replace the draft EU constitution rejected in 2005 by French and Dutch voters.
Le Pen has called for France to pull out of the EU and its common currency, the euro.
Sarkozy said in a June 6 interview with Le Figaro newspaper that he would meet with “all political formations” represented in the French and European parliaments. Le Pen is a lawmaker in the European Parliament. “I saw that some people were astonished,” Sarkozy said in an interview with TF1 television about his decision to see Le Pen. “I don’t understand. Jean-Marie Le Pen has the right to stand for elections. … He represents millions of people. And I’m supposed to say … ‘I won’t see him?'”
Former presidents Jacques Chirac and Francois Mitterrand always refused to meet with Le Pen. He met twice with Alain Poher, who was president for two brief interludes in 1969 and 1974, according to National Front spokesman Alain Vizier, who could not provide exact dates.
Le Pen, who shocked France with his second-place finish in the 2002 presidential race against Chirac, came in a poor fourth in this year’s contest. His National Front Party fared so badly in this month’s legislative elections that it risks losing up to 60 percent of its state subsidies.
The 13th of june there were elections for a new president in Israël. Candidates were Shimon Peres (Kadima), Reuven Rivlin (Likud) and Colette Avital (Labor). Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister won after the other candidates retreated from the race because they didn’t got enough votes. Vice Premier Shimon Peres was elected Israel’s ninth president , capping a six-decade political career in which he has held every senior government post. While he started his political career in the far left mapai party(founded by Ben-gurion himself) he left labour in 2005 to join the centrist party, Kadima (founded by Ariel Sharon). Which shows us that labour (and the left in general) isn’t all that bad in Israël and surely isn’t the same like, say, the European left.
The elections followed after Former President Katsav was accused of fraud and rape. Though it is a ceremonial function, Peres might be able to restore the prestige of it with his record as a Nobel Laureate, former prime minister, defense minister, protege of David Ben-Gurion and founder of Israel’s nuclear program. He is also seen as a strong supporter of peace. Maybe this can help in negotiating with Mahmoud Abbas and bringing Israël partly to peace…(though it won’t help with that pesky hamas!)
-“If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem but a fact that must be coped with.” (Shimon Peres)
‘Dilbert’, the marvellous creation of the genius Scott Adams is a constant source of humor for me. Dogbert is my role model, and this is the funniest comic ever.
In the near future, I plan to write a review for ‘God’s Debris’, Adams’ non-dilbert book.
for more comics, visit: dilbert.com
for more brilliant insights: the dilbert blog
The 10th of june there were elections both in France and Belgium. In France the first round of the parliamentary elections was held, and in Belgium the federal elections allowed a new house of representatives and senate to be chosen.
In France, Nicolas Sarkozy repeated his succes from the presidential elections and is winning by a landslide. The 2nd round, next sunday will most probably have the same outcome, resulting in an overwhelming majority for Sarkozy’s UMP (Union for a Popular Movement). Both the centrist from Bayrou’s UDF and the socialists from Royal disappointed (themselves, not me), and the far-left and far-right parties were marginalized.
The federal elections in Belgium were also very hopeful.
In Flanders the elections resulted in a major victory for the right-of-center CD&V/NVA (Christian Democrat & Flemish and the New Flemish Alliance) , receiving 29.6% of the Flemish vote in the house of representatives, wich is a 3.8% gain. Vlaams Belang (Flemish interest, a seccesionist rightwing party) won 1.1% of the vote, totalling 19%. List Dedecker, a newly formed rightwing liberal party, formed by former openVLD member of parliament Jean-Marie Dedecker was the big surprise of the elections by gaining 6.5% of the vote, wich is double the score the polls had predicted. The Greens made a dissapointing 2.4% gain and represent 6.3% of the electorate (they had expected 7.5% at least). The major losers were the openVLD (open Flemish Liberal Democrats), the traditional liberal party from the Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, who lost 6.6% and stranded at about 18.8% of the vote, a result due to the lack of real liberalism and socialist course, criticized by List Dedecker. But the worst result, and the result which pleases me the most, is the decimation of the socialist party, the Sp.a (Socalist Party different (whatever that may mean)). They lost 7.2% and have only 16.3% left. Two far-left parties, PVDA (communists) and CAP (bunch of losers complaining about the so-called ‘neoliberal course’ of the sp.a, what a joke) stayed far below the minimum percentage for representation.
In Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium, the elections took a different turn. Wallonia, historically a horrid socialist bastion has shown signs of common sense. For the first time in decades, the liberal party MR (Reformatory Movement) is stronger then the socialist PS (Socialist Party). The MR gained 2.8%, totalling 31.2%, whereas the PS lost 6.9% and fell to 29.5%. CdH (Democratic Humanist Centre) a centrist formating made a slight gain of 0.4% and now has 15.8%. Ecolo, the green party gained 5.3%, and now has 12.8% of Walloon vote. The far-right FN (Front National) remained status quo at 5.6%.
The Trend in Flanders is clearly in favor of the rightwing parties. Also Seccesionists are on the rise. The Vlaams Belang, advocating Flemish autonomy made a slight gain. List Dedecker, which prefers confederalism and republicanism made a very succesful debut, and the NVA, the CD&V partner also favors nationalism and thus the Flemish Republic. The NVA composes a significant part of CD&V/NVA results. 2 senators and 5 representatives are NVA. Wallonia apparently has no supporters for more autonomy or independance. Apparently it depends largely on Flanders for it’s social welfare system, no wonder seccesionism is on the rise, and knowing smaller countries are mostly more prosperous countries, I’m as well happy about this trend.
It sucks to pay taxes. Giving away money so the government can spend it at bullcrap isn’t on my list of needs for a better society. I don’t want my taxmoney to be used to give prisoners extra comfortable prison cells, to give one example, crooks need to be treated as crooks. I do acknowledge the need for some limited taxes, in order to sustain a limited health care, or other things, such as building roads or powerplants, but being forced to give 50% or even more of your income is downright criminal.
The funnier it gets when someone concludes there is no law demanding you to pay income tax. The first time I heard from this was when I watched Aaron Russo’s “America: From Freedom to Fascism’. An interesting movie in wich libertarian Russo claims there is no law wich obliges to pay income tax, and in wich he also criticizes several other things, such as parts of the Patriot Act, the possibility of spychips, ID cards, electronic voting, and more.
Things have taken a nasty turn since some people who refused to pay income tax were sentenced to jail, even though the prosecution couldn’t come up with a legal argument, debunking their claim. Just the other day I read about the “Ed Brown” case. Apparently this man and his wife Elaine have been succesfully evading taxes since 1990, taxes they claim to be illegal. It has come this far that the man has barricaded himself in his mansion-fortress, in Plainfield, New Hampshire. This way he hopes to outlast the FBI agents who have surrounded his house to arrest him. Brown however, uses solar energy to power his house, in case they cut him from the main grid. He has his own source for drinkable water and has enough food stocked to remain indoors for decades. He also claims to be armed and has warned that he would forcefully protect himself if the police was to storm the house. A few dozen people who sympathize have put up tents on his domain, and are planning to help Brown if it ever comes to an assault. A few of those also claim to be armed.
Even though I don’t believe in the ‘9/11 is a US conspiracy’ mumbo-jumbo, I do sympathize with the man for not wanting to give in. The underdog vs the system even has some romance in it. The fact that he lives in New Hampshire makes it all the more epic, the man really takes his state’s motto ‘Live free or die’ literally.