My Journey (illusorynirvana) wrote,
My Journey

Europe and the Refugee/Migrant Crisis

Europe is going to struggle under the economic and cultural weight of the dramatic influx of refugees and migrants from middle-eastern countries in recent months. In the short run, it will boost the economy as the capitalistic wheels chug along to cater to the rise in population. In the long run, the social democratic welfare state will not be able to cope. What is true as Angela Merkel has noted, is that Germany and Europe will change; not least in terms of its socio-economic model dating back to the middle of the 20th century.

The cultural paradigm is another factor. There have been calls about protecting the Christian heritage of Europe as if this was the culmination of European thought and contribution. I believe this premise is fundamentally mistaken. The advancement of Europe since the Enlightenment period was not because of Christianity, but despite it. The struggle between the Church and science has been well-documented. Modern Europe owes much to its secularism and blatant irreligiosity. It is this alone which has placed a check and balance on followers who believe that they own the only one true path to reach the divine. Secularism has been a powerful social and political force and a much needed one to take the edge off non-pluralistic religions. Non-pluralism within religions is often built into its thinking system to draw in followers and prevent them from leaving for other faiths. One can see this not only within the Christian religions and Islam, but also certain Hindu sects and within classical Jewish tradition. The notion of the One right way is both an impressive allure and determent. Historically, it has proven remarkably effective in cultivating resolute faith and also a profound us vs them mentality. Without secular forces at play, Europe would not be much different today from the medieval times when religion held an astonishing amount of control on what people should say, wear, think and do.

The worrying aspect of the future is not that the Christian roots of Europe will be threatened by the influx of Muslim immigrants. The more worrying aspect is that the change in demographics will be a setback for the secular project, given the non-pluralistic view of Islam. In many ways, Christanity will receive a shot in the arm in terms of its conservative social views when Islam joins it on the political front, if the numbers that are estimated to arrive at Europe's doors over the next few years are remotely correct. The struggle will not be between Christianity and Islam, but between secularism and the rise of non-pluralistic religious views, a battle, which in the European context, was assumed to be done and dusted a long time ago.

All of this of course does not take away from the legitimacy of the humanitarian crisis that has enveloped Syria. The suffering is real and the needs are real (except when it's 'fake' as when migrants join real refugees, which by all accounts is certainly happening). The talk about borders and nation states and economic zones also masquerade the fact that the history of the human race since we marched out of Africa, has been the history of migration. This current mass movement of people is just one of many in our combined history and within a much, much larger time-frame it will probably be seen through more appropriate lenses than just short or medium-term economics or religious diversity. And importantly, talk about protecting Europe's borders by saying that the problems of the rest of the world are not ours, is extremely dishonest. Europe's modernity and industrialization, was built upon its brutal colonisation of Asia, the Middle-East, Africa and the Americas. The transformation of Europe from a feudal, agrarian society into an industrialised one was heavily reliant on using (and exploiting) raw material, labour and markets in the conquered, third world. Given this history, it is ironic today to hear – in response to the refugee crisis – bleats about the independence of Europe from the rest of the world, after a couple of centuries of slavery, colonisation and exploitation.
Whatever the case, the work is cut out for Europe and the social changes and struggles in Europe will be monumental in the years and decades ahead.
Tags: politics, society
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