Mirror, Other Mirror….

On the surface of it, large scale immigration to Europe from Middle Eastern and North African countries doesn’t make a lot of sense. They haven’t been economically necessary since the 1970s (or 1980s at the latest) yet the numbers keep rising. Their academic record is poor, their economic contribution is modest and offset by the enormous costs that they run up though welfare and imprisonment. They tend to be poor at meaningful integration as even those born in Europe often show less than native mastery of the language of their new countries. There is no outmarriage and they only interact with the local population when they can do so entirely on their terms.

Hiring someone ‘with an immigrant background’ from the Middle East or North Africa is liable to be headache as they’ll start agitating for special concessions to the dress code or work schedule (so most people find reasons to not hire them). A rational immigration policy would start looking to turn off the faucet but they still keep coming. They’re obviously doing something that important people want, filling a niche that locals don’t.

Then it hit me. One reason (there are others) European governments are keen on continuing Muslim immigration (despite their generally terrible track record) in because they provide a handy, domestic Other (yes, partly replacing Jews in that role). Europeans of different countries may hate each other historically, but they can and do commiserate with the hopelessness of their Muslim immigrant population and the headaches they cause (I’ve seen it happen).

Self and Other

Both at the individual and collective level human interactions have their own specific algebra that is all about equations and keeping things in balance. There is no way to make everybody closer without making anybody more distant. More allies in one direction means more enemies (or at least non-allies) in another. One way of making old enemies friends is by creating a new common enemy.

Rather than create an international dynamic with an enemy country which could lead to war, importing a minority to be a constant thorn in the side of the native population is perhaps a sound strategy (as long as the numbers are kept reasonably low). A population which has been notoriously unsuccessful of any kind of organized political opposition in their own countries is seen as unlikely as challenging the established political order. What could possibly go wrong?

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