LAST week Michel Barnier dropped a bombshell, proposing a complete halt to all non-EU immigration to France for up to five years.
This followed ominous warnings by former and current members of the French Army that the country is sliding towards civil war and were plainly designed to steal Marine Le Pen’s thunder as her bid for the French Presidency gathers momentum.
We all know, but few will say, that what Barnier meant by ‘immigration’ in this context is a proxy for Islam and the rapid demographic transformation of Europe, a consequence of both high immigration flows and higher birth rates. In the UK, the Muslim proportion of the population is forecast to triple to 13 per cent in the next 30 years. The religion has proved impossible properly to integrate into Western societies, but our politicians continue to look the other way, as witnessed by the craven surrender to mob rule in the recent Batley Grammar School affair.
The predictable consequence is an ever-greater degree of bullying, such as the revolting anti-Semitism we witnessed over the weekend with Islamists parading through Jewish areas of North London. Islamism is plainly moving into a new, even more assertive and triumphalist phase.
We have reached this sorry position by a form of cowardice that is moral more than it is physical: even now, Western liberals refuse to accept that their great dream has failed. Central to liberalism is the belief that human beings are little more than rational actors who will always pursue their own economic self-interest. Consequently, the multiculturalists argued, as long as people were given opportunities, any cultural differences would prove to be entirely benign, yielding a productive ‘diversity’ that would never threaten society’s general direction of travel. Unsurprisingly, Western governments’ attempts to tackle the rise of Islamism have been ineffectual, as they refuse to accept that it is a natural consequence of broader Islamic culture, namely the fatalism that is central to much of mainstream Islamic theology. Because of their rejection of individual agency, fatalistic cultures generally tend to be both authoritarian and corrupt. Even more significantly, they suffer from a pronounced economic and social torpor, leading inevitably to feelings of bitterness, self-pity and paranoia when they come into contact with more dynamic and successful societies.
Such maladies are not entirely specific to Islam – indeed Russia is sometimes cited as a society that is similarly afflicted due to the fatalism of Russian Orthodox theology – but the violent sectarianism of the Koran leads to very negative outcomes as it provides a religious justification for the venting of the inevitable rage, pain and humiliation felt by many Muslims as they fall further and further behind.
Of course, most Muslims do not engage in acts of cultural antagonism such as Batley Grammar, let alone violent atrocities like the Manchester Arena suicide bombing, but nonetheless we have to accept that not all cultures are equal or compatible, still less benign: if Western civilisation is to survive, immigration from the Islamic world has to be severely curtailed, and that from the more fundamentalist Islamic societies such as Pakistan should be banned entirely. Not reduced, not filtered – banned. Likewise allowing immigration of young men from savage, brutalised African countries such as Somalia or the Congo who have played such a part in the explosion of London knife crime should be similarly disallowed.
Even discounting such extremes, there are still significant issues with immigration that need discussion. Thanks to Brexit, the Ponzi scheme of mass low-skilled migration from Eastern Europe is coming to an end, but it looks likely to be replaced by an influx of relatively high-skilled economic migration, perhaps largely from the Indian subcontinent as the price of a trade deal, plus an influx of Hong Kong Chinese fleeing Communist rule.
It would be plain prejudiced to suggest that Hindu and Sikh immigration from the Indian subcontinent has proved a serious economic or cultural threat. Instead, it is a huge success story: both groups are economically successful and well-integrated into British society. Doubtless the highly entrepreneurial Hong Kong Chinese will also prosper. There are also further important considerations that may make such immigration desirable – in the case of India, the biggest geostrategic question of our age is its relative alignment with the West or China, and it is plainly in our long-term interests to influence that decision if we can by strengthening cultural and economic ties. In the case of the Hong Kong Chinese, not allowing those we handed over to the evil Chinese regime when we relinquished the colony to settle here is morally indefensible.
However, notes of serious caution must also be raised. In the case of immigration from Hong Kong, who can doubt that a few Red Chinese sleepers will slip into Britain as a consequence, looking to destabilise society? More generally, at least in the short term, large influxes cannot fail to cause significant social disruption: the work of the American sociologist Robert Putnam showed that, far from making society more vibrant, hyper-diversity led to a severe drop in social capital and interaction. Furthermore, even when integration is achieved, there is still the question of numbers: immigration at scale from even the most benign of cultures leads to issues such as population density, housing and the provision of services.
Finally, although plainly a case can be made for limited high-skilled immigration, the sad truth that politicians use it to cover up severe flaws in the indigenous society’s culture: just as an economically indebted country relies on foreign bond holders to sustain its standard of living, a sustained influx of highly skilled people from elsewhere is necessary for countries with denuded social capital. It is used to conceal and deny societal decline and act as a sticking plaster for very serious and long-term problems such as waning demography, poor technical education and widespread alienation, particularly among young men.
It is on all these issues that a serious debate is long overdue. As usual, the public have long recognised truths that the politicians would rather not acknowledge. Instead, we are repeatedly deflected on to the politically much easier but ultimately less consequential area of illegal migration while our society is around us is irreversibly transformed, whether we like it or not.