mfioretti: immigration*

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  1. Southern Europe is still angry

    And it is angry at the European Union, in particular France and Germany, for a perceived lack of solidarity on the euro and on immigration and refugees.

    There was a warning when Alexis Tsipras won in Greece during the height of the euro debt crisis, with his promises to change the European Union. And while he got slapped down by Brussels and became somewhat tamed in the national interest, anti-European feelings are alive in the southern countries of the bloc, as well as in the authoritarian-lite governments of Central and Eastern Europe.

    Leaders in Brussels and Paris would have been heartened earlier on Sunday when the Social Democrats in Germany voted to remain in a coalition government with Ms. Merkel, keeping her in power and allowing Germany to try to work with Mr. Macron on overhauling the eurozone. But that may be harder after the Italian vote.

    As the French leader of the National Front, Marine Le Pen, said in a Twitter message on Sunday, “The European Union is going to have a bad night.”
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  2. about to experience a dramatic shift

    The demographics of the United States are changing quickly, and there is no simpler way to understand that than to look at the most common age of each race and ethnic group.

    The US Census Bureau recently released its estimates of the US population as of July 2016. Besides an estimate of the total population (325 million), the census also includes estimates of the number of people of every age within each race and ethnicity. For example, the census estimates that, as of July 2016, there were 976,288 Hispanic 15-year-olds in the country.

    Jed Kolko, chief economist of jobs site Indeed, combed through this data and came away with a fascinating insight. He discovered huge variation in the most common age—more technically, the mode—between each major racial group in the US.

    While there are more 57-year-old white people than any other age, the most common age among Asians is 28. For Hispanics, it’s 10. Perhaps most incredibly, the most common age for people in the US identified as mixed race is 0—babies that have not yet reached the age of one.
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  3. As the negotiations with Brussels approach, it is becoming ever more clear that net immigration is unlikely to fall very much, if at all, as a consequence of Brexit. Addressing the need for extra unskilled workers in particular sectors and regions, Davis has acknowledged: “Whatever we do has to be flexible enough to meet these requirements.” In other words: expect the new system of border control to be complex, detailed, and full of exemptions – not the red, white and blue wall that the nativists crave.
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  4. Why did voters who by and large benefit from social democracy turn against the parties that most strongly support it?

    It’s a hard question to answer if you believe people cast their ballots principally on the basis of their perceived economic interests. European social democrats have been proposing ideas that more objectively speak to the material interests of voters, particularly in the working class, for decades. In virtually every country in Western Europe, however, it hasn’t been enough to help the parties maintain their historic levels of public support.

    Ironically, that could be because the European left is the victim of its own success. Ronald Inglehart, an eminent political scientist at the University of Michigan, argues that the combination of rapid economic growth and a robust welfare state have provided voters with enough economic security that they could start prioritizing issues beyond the distribution of wealth — issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and, most crucially, immigration.

    So it’s not that European social democrats failed to sell their economic message, or that economic redistribution became unpopular. It’s that economic issues receded in importance at the same time as Europe was experiencing a massive, unprecedented wave of nonwhite, non-Christian immigration.

    That, in turn, brought some of the most politically potent nonmaterial issues — race, identity, and nationalism — to the forefront of Western voters’ mind.

    How comfortable were they, really, with multicultural, multifaith societies?

    The traditional social democratic message didn’t really speak to these cultural anxieties. But the right’s did.

    What this suggests, then, is that a party’s stance on economics isn’t very important to right-wing populist voters. People choose to back those parties because they want someone to shut down immigration and restrict the rights of Muslims, not because of those parties’ stances on trade or welfare spending.

    Kai Arzheimer, a professor at Germany’s University of Mainz, studied data on working-class voters, the traditional base of social democratic parties, between 1980 and 2002. He found that the stronger the welfare state, the bigger the gains for far-right parties among the working class. The top third of countries — that is, the ones with the largest welfare states — saw roughly four times the rate of far-right support among the working class as the countries in the bottom third did.

    You see a similar sort of pattern inside countries. Right-wing populists typically have gotten their best results in wealthier areas of countries — that is, with voters who experience the least amounts of economic insecurity.

    It’s important to bear in mind that the rise of the far right isn’t solely, or even mostly, the result of social democratic decline. The far right has pulled in some working-class voters, but most of its supporters are petty bourgeoisie (like shopkeepers) or low-educated, fairly high-income people (like successful plumbers). Swaying these voters through economic proposals will be difficult.

    “They social democrats » shouldn’t be purely focused on winning back the voters who went to the radical right, because when push comes to shove, a significant part of that electorate is deeply nativist,” Cas Mudde, a scholar of the European far right at the University of Georgia, tells me. “They want a party that is nativist; the only way to win them back is pretty much by becoming radical right or radical right-light.”

    “What Reagan had succeeded in doing was tarnishing liberalism as a giveaway to people of color,” Ian Haney López, a professor at UC Berkeley who studies race and American politics, says. “Investment in our cities, investment in our schools, investment in social welfare programs, all of that was branded as giveaway to undeserving minorities.”

    The uncomfortable truth is that America’s lack of a European-style welfare state hurts a lot of white Americans. But a large number of white voters believe that social spending programs mostly benefit nonwhites. As such, they oppose them with far more fervor than any similar voting bloc in Europe.

    In this context, tacking to the left on economics won't give Democrats a silver bullet to use against the racial resentment powering Trump's success. It could actually wind up giving Trump an even bigger gun. If Democrats really want to stop right-wing populists like Trump, they need a strategy that blunts the true drivers of their appeal — and that means focusing on more than economics.

    The upshot is that a significant shift to the left on economic policy issues might fail to attract white Trump supporters, even in the working class. It could even plausibly hurt the Democrats politically by reminding whites just how little they want their dollars to go to “those people.” One can only imagine what Trump would tweet.
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  5. Perhaps most notable is how Trump’s antics have overshadowed the real arguments he brought to the table. With his tart tongue, Trump has exposed something real: a populist fury at the decades of bipartisan consensus for a more globalized world; frustration over 15 years of slow economic growth; impatience with an immigration system that depends, because of bureaucratic dysfunction, on ignoring or not enforcing written laws; a rejection of the government’s apparent helplessness in the face of conundrums like homegrown terrorism.

    Win or lose, Trump’s rise has forced the Republican Party to rethink its identity in a way that hasn’t been done since the civil rights era.
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  6. In a long article, Charlie Stross breaks down the way that climate change, human reactions to climate change, and economics are turning the world into a place overrun by heavily armed racist kooks with the power and willingness to destroy everything in their race to get rich enough to buy a mountaintop retreat before the seas rise.

    A good parallel read is Bruce Sterling's "general health-check for our world's many regions and peoples," which includes such nuggets as "Iraq remains a catastrophic mess. Since they're so visibly keen on sectarian ethnic-cleansing, they ought to abandon the shell of the national order and form balkanized mini-states. It makes sense, but I don't think even that would help them."

    Oh, and "Russia is so lastingly humiliated by their failure to globalize that they've become a 'troll state... Americans used to have all kinds of practical "reform" advice for Russia, but that's worse than useless now. If you show up in Russia and tell 'em to follow the American Dream, it's like showing up with whooping cough at a house party for tuberculosis."

    Restricting transnational mobility for the proles/serfs/99.9% is part of the program and plays well to the nativist strand in climate change politics, which is why unless you've got a few million burning a hole in your back pocket you'll find it really difficult to legally immigrate into the UK or USA or other top-tier countries from outside the developed world. And why all our corporate-owned media (that is, 95% of them: Reddit is owned by Conde Nast, The Times and Fox News and 90% of the newspapers in Australia are owned by Rupert Murdoch, and so on) are banging the drum against immigration, at the behest of their (investor visa equipped) owners.

    But anyway, here's my summary of the next decade:

    1. The weather's going to get worse.

    2. We're going to see more and more unscrupulous huckster types leading revanchist, nativist right wing political movements and banging the anti-immigrant drum, world-wide. Civil rights include the right to free movement; this makes civil rights an easy scapegoat and target for the angry populist nativists. Sensible media capitalists (those with a sense of self-preservation) will pander to these assclowns. Courageous media capitalists (those with the odd ethical bone in their body) will stand up to them and get themselves assassinated or imprisoned. Luckily we have the internet except, oops, Facebook owns it and FB will do whatever they're told. (And if not Facebook, Google. The internet is infrastructure, and if annoying dissidents are drinking from the pure tapwater of honest news and you own the pumping station ...)

    3. This is going to happen both in nominally/formerly Christian countries and in the Muslim world. Both sides will see each other in a mirror and hiss like cats, but it doesn't really signify anything. Fear of terrorism is a rallying point, so expect unscrupulous politicians to use crack-downs on their local minorities to bolster their popularity. This will of course include crack-downs on civil rights because nothing annoys a political entrepreneur trying to posture as a strong leader like a civil rights lawyer with a good case.

    4. The ongoing 1300-year Sunni/Shi'ite cold war will continue, sometimes hotter, thanks to climate-induced disruption in the Middle East and the eventual collapse of the Saudi petrochemical economy. The ongoing Saudi succession crisis isn't going to help (as we just saw).

    6 None of this political posturing is going to do jack shit to roll back the already-in-train effects of climate change so the immigration pressure will continue, driving trends (2) and (3).

    7. Don't buy long term coal or oil futures.
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  7. European countries' birth rate per 1,000 people are much lower than other countries across the world
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  8. Europe’s population is shifting to the Northwest. The GDP in its more easterly nations seems to be booming, while the countryside and many smaller cities continue to empty at the expense of the great conurbations. And while Europe’s southern nations continue to suffer under austerity, cities around the Mediterranean are nonetheless among the fastest growing in terms of population. These are just some of the key demographic shifts
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  9. I've spent much time observing, interviewing and carrying out systematic studies among people on six continents who are drawn to violent action for a group and its cause. Most recently with colleagues last month in Kirkuk, Iraq among young men who had killed for ISIS, and with young adults in the banlieus of Paris and barrios of Barcelona who seek to join it.

    With some insights from social science research, I will try to outline a few conditions that may help move such youth from taking the path of violent extremism.

    But first, who are these young people? None of the ISIS fighters we interviewed in Iraq had more than primary school education, some had wives and young children. When asked "what is Islam?" they answered "my life." They knew nothing of the Quran or Hadith, or of the early caliphs Omar and Othman, but had learned of Islam from Al Qaeda and ISIS propaganda, teaching that Muslims like them were targeted for elimination unless they first eliminated the impure. This isn't an outlandish proposition in their lived circumstances: as they told of growing up after the fall of Saddam Hussein in a hellish world of constant guerrilla war, family deaths and dislocation, and of not being even able to go out of their homes or temporary shelters for months on end.

    In Europe and elsewhere in the Muslim diaspora the recruitment pattern is different: about 3 out of every 4 people who join Al Qaeda or ISIS do so through friends, most of the rest through family or fellow travelers in search of a meaningful path in life. It is rare, though, that parents are ever aware that their children desire to join the movement: in diaspora homes, Muslim parents are reluctant to talk about the failings of foreign policy and ISIS, whereas their children often want desperately to understand.

    Last summer, an ICM poll revealed that more than 1 in 4 French youth -- of all creeds -- between the ages of 18 and 24 have a favorable attitude towards ISIS; and in Barcelona just this month 5 of 11 captured ISIS sympathizers who planned to blow up parts of the city were recent atheist or Christian converts. The unholy alliance of narrow xenophobic nationalism and militant jihad, which play off one another's fears, are beginning to destabilize the European middle class much as fascism and communism did in the 1920s and 30s, while inciting willingness to sacrifice among both nationalist xenophobes and militant jihadis. By contrast, our own research shows that even among native Western youth, ideals of liberal democracy no longer elicit willingness to make costly sacrifices for their defense.

    Europe has a birth rate of 1.4 per couple, which means that without massive immigration it cannot sustain a viable middle class upon which every successful democratic society depends. Yet, Europe is arguably further from effectively dealing with problems of immigration than ever before. As one young woman from the Paris banlieu of Clichy-sur-Bois told us, she like so many others she hangs out with, feels neither French nor Arab, and because she will always be looked on suspiciously, she will choose the Caliphate to help create a homeland where Muslims can pool their resources, be strong again, and live in dignity.

    But the popular notion of a "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West is woefully misleading. Violent extremism represents not the resurgence of traditional cultures, but their collapse, as young people unmoored from millennial traditions flail about in search of a social identity that gives personal significance and glory. This is the dark side of globalization. They radicalize to find a firm identity in a flattened world: where vertical lines of communication between the generations are replaced by horizontal peer-to-peer attachments that can span the globe. Young people whose grandparents were Stone Age animists in Sulawesi, far removed from the Arab world, told me they dream of fighting in Iraq or Palestine in defense of Islam.
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  10. With millions of people willing to risk their lives by migrating across Asia, the Middle East and Africa in order to make it to Europe, no amount of border security or "preemptive strikes" will address the problem. Europe's security response is merely dealing with effects, not the causes of migration.

    Therefore, the waves of desperate migrants will continue to propagate towards Europe. Europe may not let them in, but what we will be then facing is the catastrophic and morally repugnant situation of the Mediterranean polluted by thousands of decaying corpses.

    There are several causes for the current epic flow of migrants: poverty, hunger, unemployment and climate change in the originating countries are some of the reasons.

    The EU could address these issues by, for example, increasing humanitarian aid budgets instead of splurging billions of euro on military spending as part of its US-NATO alliance. EU countries could cancel trillions of euro in debt owed to European banks by countries in Africa. That would then allow those countries to develop resources for their people instead of them being forced to migrate to find employment in Europe.

    But here is the real factor: conflict. Most of the people migrating to North Africa and thence to Europe are fleeing war and conflict. The UN High Commission for Refugees records that among the millions of would-be migrants the preponderant nationalities are Syrian, Iraqi and Afghani. Among the African migrants, many too have come from countries torn apart by violence.

    Now we ask: who has caused these wars and conflicts? It should be obvious, but amazingly, the Western media do not permit the explicit identification of the countries that are responsible for most of the conflicts.

    The Washington Post, for example, this week wrote about the refugees crisis and "an of arc of strife from West Africa to Afghanistan". Nice prose, but neither the Washington Post nor the Western media in general identify the culprits for this "arc of strife".

    A boat transporting migrants arrives in the port of Messina after a rescue operation at see on April 18, 2015 in Sicily
    Leaked EU Draft Shows Majority of Undocumented Migrants to Be Sent Home
    The culprits are primarily Washington and its European allies.

    Washington and London together destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq, forcing millions of displaced during more than a decade of illegal war and occupation. A despicable legacy that continues to this day.

    Washington, London and Paris, along with other European NATO members, destroyed Libya with a seven-month aerial blitzkrieg during 2011. That criminal carnival of mass murder overthrew the government of Muammar Gaddafi and replaced it with a failed state of ongoing internecine violence. That is why lawless Libya is now the launchpad for millions of migrants being trafficked to Europe. The US and the EU created that gateway of misery.
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