VOLUME 3 (2001), ISSUE 6 (WINTER), EDITORIAL
THE HORUS ROAD
This is TISR's sixth issue. As you know, our Review focuses much of its interest on the international migrations, as this subject is part of the TISR model. In this issue, we publish a first part of an e-book on migrations to Germany and France, in English version. Part II will be published soon, in our 7th issue. In this field where the official thought and culture have a particularly strong and coercive influence, the book brings a new, fresher concept of migrations and interethnic relationships. The book offers an overview of the developments entailed by migrations in these two European countries, but many of its observations and conclusions can be extended easily to a broader international spectrum of countries, notably most other European countries, the US, Canada, and Australia. In effect, already from the 1970s on, the orientation towards "the multiethnic society" was taken in all economically advanced countries. The rhythm and the approach used by the forces which wanted this type of society : governments, corporations, and employers organizations, was varying according to the individual countries, but the general direction of the move was everywhere the same, and the consequences entailed for all of us were similar.
Book's short presentation
France is a country which can seem to be an untoward precursor of this policy, as well as an extreme case of a "multiethnic society". As for Germany, it was on the opposite an almost standard type of an economically advanced communitarian society based on biological and cultural ancestral links, and has recently been involved in the general move. The subjects covered here include the definition of cultural identity, showing how it is constructed, anchored and deepened over time, notably in the case of these two countries. In the second part of the work (to be published in issue 7), our reflection focuses on immigration as a strategy : who are the players or the groups who benefit from immigration? What are the primary factors that led to mass immigration? Finally, the effects of immigration on our societies are discussed.
In this issue, Thomas Schippers (chap. 2) reminds us that cultural identity is not a one-sided phenomenon, but that the definition of the Self necessarily refers to the definition of the Other; which is concretely shown by Jean-Robert Henry (chap. 6), who analyzes how, in the case of France, the references that allowed the definition of a collective identity evolved between two paradoxical, external points : Algeria and Germany. Over the years, the French state created an artificial feeling of a cultural proximity between the French and the nations that were included in the French Empire, a feeling which was destined for weakening later.
Jacques Demorgon (chap. 5) analyzes both French and German cultures. He shows that the German culture, which is of a communitarian (collectivistic) type, is impregnated with interdependent social links, which make it less permeable to other identities and less subject to the dominance of state strategies, while the French culture consists of a dependent individualism which necessarily weakens the social link, while it requires more bureaucratic regulation. Pierre Tap (chap. 3) points out the links between identity and power. He states that demoralized Western societies can take either pessimistic or optimistic stands, but loss of cultural identity likely will inhibit the potential of these societies to thrive ; a strong identity still is the condition by which a social group can maintain its cohesiveness and defeat the threat of dissolution.
Thus, by studying the ties between immigration and the cultural identity of the receiving societies, Ulrich Wagner (chap. 4) analyzes the violence towards foreigners that appeared in Germany at the beginning of the 1990’s - the precise moment when Germany shifted to a country of immigration. Wagner views these violent reactions towards foreign persons as the effect of a vacillation in the cultural identity of the German population.
Similarly, Albert Bastenier (chap. 13, in Part II, Issue 7) analyzes the reactions of the French population to immigration and emphasizes that, for many years, the French have been living with the effects of migration on their society without having a true awareness of what was happening to them, either quantitatively or qualitatively. Today, the French people feel especially deprived and threatened since, in their perspective, the former French society was respected as "monumental". In Germany like in France, the integration movement appears to encounter serious difficulties (Nauck, chap. 19, Seifert, chap. 20). The chapter by the demographer Hervé Le Bras (chap.12) identifies the state ideologies that have influenced the demographic policies in France. He shows that these policies vacillate, depending on the historical circumstances, between "populationism " and "natalism", which are two traditional doctrines that are essentially based on authoritarian presuppositions. Today, these demographic doctrines still are rooted in the spirits of the French academic and ruling circles, despite the numerous and significant changes that have occurred in the nation’s and in the world’s situation.
My second contribution (chap. 14) retraces the origins of, and the reasons for, immigration in France, showing how the interest of the state itself was involved in the generation and the stimulation of migratory flows. In this sense, immigration, the history of which is linked to those of colonialism and imperialism, appears as a class strategy to ensure the continuity of the social order within the receiving society.
What is multiethnicity for?
Immigration is usually presented as simply as the product of the will of the migrants themselves. While this factor certainly plays a role, it does not explain everything : immigration would not be possible if it had no support from some parts of the receiving societies. The first teaching of our book is that mass immigration in the economically advanced countries is wanted by forces operating within the receiving countries themselves. In effect, the very first reason of immigration was that it lowers the cost of labor, favoring thus the increase of capital profits, while minimizing investment and maintaining the same organization of work and managerial hierarchy as before. Thereafter, the objective became rapidly to reconstruct a new working class, a class that was disappearing since the 19th century, not only in purely financial terms but also in terms of submission to authority and social stratification.
This is a second lesson : mass immigration helps maintain the older systems of governance. This is due to the fact that immigrants are generally at the bottom of society, and that they tend, due to the immigration situation, to be more submissive to political and managerial authority. This is all the more true because this ethnicized new working class had neither the same demands for social promotion nor the same socially progressive values, such as professional progress and acquisition of knowledge, as the local one. This appeared notably when immigration shifted from the temporary importation of labor to a settlement immigration around the 1980s. Thus, the call for immigration was taking a less economic, and a more sociopolitical character. This has of course political consequences. A society with a more hierarchal class structure is not governed like a society with weak social stratification. In the former case, the upper class tends to become even less controllable by the rest of society ; in the latter case, the central (rather educated and rich) middle class can play a bigger role in the steering of society - which globally favors democracy. Thus, the call for mass immigration appears as thoroughly conservative, linked with the persistence of authoritarian ideas and anti-equalitarian schemes of the governance of society.
Finally, a third lesson of this book is that the migratory phenomenon has created a huge crisis in the cultural identity in the receiving countries. In effect, it is not the problem of the integration of the minorities, but it is the global problem of the integration of the whole society that is essential. The sociologist of the School of Chicago, Louis Wirth, described this type of development when he said that if a society is a set of common views, a system of reciprocally recognized beliefs and expectations which are expressed into actions, it follows that a human aggregate cannot be regarded as a society unless it has reached this capacity of collective action. The degree to which the members of a society lose their common sense, the proportion in which the social consensus is undermined, indicates the extent to which this society is disorganized. By raising the level of anomie in society, deteriorating the social link and increasing the loss of cultural benchmarks, mass immigration could made worse the mental health of the global population and raise indirectly the level of crime and delinquency.
What does the current battle bear on?
After the simple labor immigration, came the settlement of the migrant families. The new battle now bears on citizenship rights, which involves the possibility for migrants to stay in the receiving countries. In a number of countries, like Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, the nationality law was changed so as to be adapted to the Power's objectives. The most spectacular, large-scale case is the one of Germany, where the Red-Green government renounced to the nationality Code of 1913, which was based on an ancestral jus sanguinis. The governmental objective was here to facilitate the naturalization of the migrant populations - by shortening strongly the durations of stay legally required to become a German citizen. Double nationalities were allowed, and an automatic access to the German nationality for the "third generation" was added ; therefore, the introduction of a jus soli. The government expected from this facilitated, partly automatic access to the German nationality, an "accelerated" integration of the foreigners, which is a curious, almost primitive concept - as if "integration" was something legal, not cultural. This is a scorched earth policy: the real objective is not integration, but irreversibility.
Moreover, people's flows within the European Union are not regulated by public authorities within their national framework any longer. The Schengen agreement is a cooperation of 13 member states of the European Union, Iceland and Norway, in force since March 2001. The main objective is to enable persons to travel between these states without being subject to control at their internal borders. In practice, this means that a passenger arriving in a Schengen state from a non-Schengen state will only be controlled in the former state and no further checks will take place if the person is traveling from that Schengen state to another Schengen state. A huge number of migrants who have been legally admitted or who migrated illegally to a given country may thus move freely within a very large, uncontrolled European space, and possible restrictive local policies would thus becoming inefficient. In a recent interview, a French-Arab intellectual, Amin Maalouf, suggested that the European Union should extend to both shores of the Mediterranean sea, and bring there its "humanism"...exactly the old dream of French imperialism and colonialism of constructing a multi-ethnic state Empire. Today, the European Union is resuming this project, aiming at including Turkey, and even possibly countries like Israel and Morocco, into the European Union. This comeback over the ages of a new Roman Empire would break all links remaining between the state - here the EU - and society - in other words the autonomous, specific cultures of each society. In addition, if countries like Turkey join the European Union, the Germans will definitely be unable to change anything concrete to the presence of a very large Turkish group in their country.
In many countries, this policy triggered racial violence, like in the East of Germany and in the British cities in 2001 and 2002 - a violence that is rising since the September 11, 2001 Al Khaida attacks over New York. It also raised a profound malaise at a population which is losing its identity and benchmarks, lacking its cultural and ancestral memory, and being confronted with complex intercultural communication problems that are longstanding and uneasy to overcome. In addition, the political results of the Power's ethnic policy in Europe are obvious : the rise of so-called nationalist, "populist", extreme-right-wing parties which focus on immigration issues, their electoral successes in countries like Austria, Switzerland, Flanders, Italy, Holland, Denmark, and Norway, in large cities like Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg, and at the French presidential elections of April 2002, clearly are a reaction to the Power's policy. The French presidential elections, notably, happening in a country where the minds are quite controlled, reflects the implosion of the French society as a background, and its counterpart, a deep political dislocation. The importance of autonomist parties like the North League in Italy, which criticize the ambiguous, soviet-similar leaders of the bureaucratic Roman state as well as the importation of foreigners to Italy, can also be ranked in this category. These trends express clear protests against large-scale migrations as well as social dislocation at large. Behind a smiling, hypocritical face, the Power has a determined will to carry forward its policy for ethnically constructing the population.
It is ready for this to go very far, using if necessary non-democratic methods such as forbidding parties, intimidating dissident opinions or forbidding their expression (thus, in Continental Europe, citizens can be prosecuted for expressing "racist" opinions, the definition of which being very broad), controlling the official knowledge, playing with the rules of nationality or with the electoral laws, and even "cleaning" the language of any phrases that could seem in opposition with its own views (thus for example the traditional old French word mulâtre, referring to a person with a mixed white-black origin, was withdrawn from the dictionaries, because it was believed to express a feeling of a sterility of these type of cross-breeding, and it was replaced by the word metis which appeared as more "neutral"). The mobilization of diverse tools of legitimization, such as the discourse on human rights, official social science, historical symbols such as W.W.II recordings, an undetermined reference to "humanist" culture, and even a supposed "morality", are used today to justify the current policy and impede or inhibit the emergence of opposed opinions. Moreover, the political power plays a dangerous game, trying both to impede the rise of these parties and to utilize their existence, or their electoral breakthroughs, to frighten the populations - trying thus to whitewash its own policy and to let itself appear as a bulwark against "extremism".
The attempt to isolate these parties within the political game, like in Belgium and France, or even entire countries where the far right is associated to the government, like Austria, had limited success or had to be withdrawn, and tends to humiliate the electors who have placed their trust in these political movements. The European power tried to save its electoral position in Denmark by withdrawing the sanctions it had decided against Austria, but it failed. The Danes are a clever nation, and they felt the link between European integration, the single currency, and immigration. They rejected the "euro", and some time after, they elected a new government more hostile to migrations.
In addition, dramatizing the impact and nature of these movements is a bad strategy. In Germany, where the government wanted to forbid the political extreme-right-wing party under the pretext that it was dangerous for the public order, it had to retreat when it was discovered that the most "dangerous" members of this party were infiltrated agents of the government itself. One could wonder how the German government could be so awkward ; the main question was raised, however, by the dubious character of the procedure that this government had used, and by its manipulative intentions, on which this event was shedding light. Another strategy the Power has not renounced to is to permit the migrants themselves to participate in the elections. Although it could be shown that the political distribution of the foreign population would not differ significantly of the one of the original population, it is highly probable that such an electoral reform would impede any change on the specific subject of immigration policy, narrowing thus the spectrum of the political choices, and making the presence of very large ethnic groups in Europe irreversible.
What will the future look like?
In Europe, the uninterrupted flow of migrants continues to amplify, while at the same time, a new bureaucratic Leviathan, somewhat influenced by the French model of political governance, is rising. Some governments tried to regulate, to brake temporarily, or to organize the flow of the migrants, but the reasonableness of this policy was never really put in question. Overt campaigns, supported by UN demographers, are run by the business for relaunching immigration in a Europe accused to be an "ageing" continent (but which problem does exactly pose this ageing process, while unemployment is particularly high in our countries and the activity rates pretty low?). Bringing more people to Europe, and more generally to the Western, economically advanced countries, is thus undoubtedly part of the program of the current political and economic leaders. Therefore, tensions are not likely to diminish, but on the opposite should increase in the following years. One of the explanations of the gap that deepened these years between civil society and the political class is that politicians do not present a correct view of the issues at stake. Do all those who would have liked the Greens to protect nature and to limit the waste of environmental resources, necessarily want the right of vote for the migrants and the making of a large multiethnic society? What is the rational link between the two orientations? Did the Germans who voted for the Social-Democrat party at their legislative elections really want to abandon the D-Mark and to reform the nationality law, or did they just want less unemployment and more economic justice? Do all those who would like less bureaucracy and fewer taxes automatically want the extreme individualism, the poverty, and the destruction of communities that right-wing-parties liberal policies entailed?
Electors have today to take the political orientations as a "package" - based on a false, truncated system of alternatives. The existing parties thus lack of representativeness, and there is a need for something new, proposing a new association between different elements of the political patchwork. Of course, our Review would like to contribute to this elaboration. Ethnicity is not the only field in which the political game is truncated, but it is one of the important ones. It is notably the role of this Review to contribute to clarify an issue that is so crucial for the people. The research work has been done, in this field like in other important ones, it will be published, and it will be known by the public - despite all material obstacles, harassment attempts, or ideological pressures. In a few years, it will be very difficult for the Power to sustain that the view of things it wants to promote or impose is the right one and it is scientifically proved or rationally supported. At any case, it is not not a good idea to attribute to a given ethnic group the responsibility of the situation. Perhaps that the best orientation to take would be to admit that cultural identities are longstanding, that they are important to people's lives, that they must not be manipulated by any power, and that they belong to people's self-determination rights. There is today a need for a free, critical, and democratic reflection for the preservation of people's original identities - a right to cultural self-determination.
The Horus Road was, in the ancient Egypt between 1730 and 1530 before Christ, the road that the legitimate Theban monarchs had to take to reconquer their country occupied and step by step dominated by the Hyksos invaders, crystallizing thus a burst in cultural identity and initializing a long era of prosperity and radiance for their country. It symbolizes the work that we have to do to take again the control of our own identities - a task which applies both to the original populations and to the migrants -, in order to escape uprooting and ethnic alienation, and to restore our collective dignity.
In his books The Celestine Prophecy and The Celestine Vision, American novelist James Redfield says that humankind is involved in a deep revolution of its spiritual consciousness, a development that is still braked by fears. This revolution is the point that we might be approaching now. And respecting the cultural identities will most probably be an important part of the new paradigm that is emerging.
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