Immigration Skepticism is a Revolt Against the Elites

Megan McArdle talks to ordinary middle-class English people about immigration in Luton: 

I bought some Polish sausage and pastry at an off-license, some Indian dumplings and Thai noodles at a couple of food trucks, and I sat on a bench in the mall, listening to people from three continents chat with each other in more than half a dozen languages, none of which I spoke.

As an American, this did not strike me as odd; this is what our cities have been like for centuries, particularly on the coasts. One group of immigrants moves in, creates an enclave, then gets rich, assimilates and moves out, making way for the next group that will throw a little of their food, their language and their customs into our vast melting pot. But this is not normal in most of the world. Nor is it necessarily welcome.

Anti-immigration sentiment in the U.S. is often found in places that don’t have enormous immigrant populations, and wonks who proclaim this to be irrational seem not to grasp that those people may be looking at the places that have been transformed by immigration and responding with a fervent “No, thank you.” There’s a lot to be gained from globalism, the mixing of two or more cultures into something new. But something specific and local and much-loved is inevitably lost at the same time, and the people who feel that loss most keenly are the inward-looking people who stay in place, not internationalist elites.

So it’s not that my food was bad — it was all quite good — or that there was anything wrong with the immigrants serving and eating it. They all looked like quite nice people. But it was all very different from traditional British food, traditional British people. And no matter how hard we try to argue that it doesn’t matter, it does — politically, if in no other way. Especially when things aren’t going all that well for the natives.

Somehow, over the last half-century, Western elites managed to convince themselves that nationalism was not real. Perhaps it had been real in the past, like cholera and telegraph machines, but now that we were smarter and more modern, it would be forgotten in the due course of time as better ideas supplanted it.

That now seems hopelessly naive. People do care more about people who are like them — who speak their language, eat their food, share their customs and values. And when elites try to ignore those sentiments — or banish them by declaring that they are simply racist — this doesn’t make the sentiments go away. It makes the non-elites suspect the elites of disloyalty. For though elites may find something vaguely horrifying about saying that you care more about people who are like you than you do about people who are culturally or geographically further away, the rest of the population is outraged by the never-stated corollary: that the elites running things feel no greater moral obligation to their fellow countrymen than they do to some random stranger in another country. And perhaps we can argue that this is the morally correct way to feel — but if it is truly the case, you can see why ordinary folks would be suspicious about allowing the elites to continue to exercise great power over their lives.

Much of what is foolish and tendentious in the German immigration debate is caused by the failure to realize that immigration affects people in different social classes differently. The Europhile consultants in Prenzlauer Berg associate immigration mainly with delectable ethnic food and cheaper home renovations. As long as they are unable to understand why supermarket cashiers don't share this view, they will continue being (hypocritically, disingenuously) baffled by anti-immigrant sentiment.

2 thoughts on “Immigration Skepticism is a Revolt Against the Elites

  1. I’ve finished Umvolkung, Akif Pirincci’s latest book, all 160 pages of it. A slender paperback, it will fit in your hip pocket, but you’ll have to order it directly from the publisher, as Akif has been declared a non-person and all his books going back 25 years have been disappeared by bookstores, book wholesalers and by (I’m sure that some creepy antifa hackers are going to break into Antaios’ customer database and publish it — including my name and address — but I’m past caring at this point.)

    A few disconnected thoughts on the book. In the course of a titanic struggle, Pirincci’s editor made him lose almost every “shit”, “asshole”, “caca”, etc. from the manuscript, and even though I had gotten used to his scatological style, I must say it is a change for the better. Pirincci has always been a brilliant writer, the Joseph Conrad of late 20th century Germany, but his political musings had been marred by an excess of gutter language, as is clear now that it’s gone.

    The book includes current events up to mid-March 2016, so it misses some more recent outrages, such as Germany’s finance minister telling an interviewer that closing the border would mean that Germany “degenerates from inbreeding”. The word Umvolkung is Nazi terminology. It referred to the plan to expel and exterminate the Slavic populations to Germany’s east to create Lebensraum for the teeming German masses (at a time when Germany was only about half as densely populated as today). Pirincci argues persuasively that Umvolkung is back on the agenda, but this time it is designed to destroy the German character of Germany in favor of invaders from a brutal, supremacist “culture”: the Islamic world.

    With preternatural clarity, Pirincci circumnavigates the cliffs of conspiracy theory that bedevil the people who blame everything that goes wrong in Germany on outside forces. Nope, this is a catastrophe of their own making. To be sure, nearly identical processes are under way in Sweden, the UK, Belgium, France and other western countries. A comprehensive study of the flows of Arab petrodollars into foundations, think-tanks, political action committees, newsrooms, NGOs and universities in the West has yet to be written; this is outside the scope of Akif’s book, and he makes a strong case that so much of the rot is internal, the outcome was pretty much pre-ordained.

    Instead, he focuses on sex and money. The money to finance the crackpot schemes of the Greens who have been driving the other established parties before them for decades — Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and Free Democrats, not to mention the successors to East Germany’s Socialist Unity Party, who needed no pushing — is coming from Germany’s shrinking middle class, the thirteen million (out of a population of eighty million) who are still making a net positive financial contribution, paying in more in taxes than they take out either in benefits or in the form of taxpayer-financed make-work schemes. Without these workhorses* the entire redistributive system collapses, but more and more of them (if still young enough) are emigrating to places where they will be more appreciated and less exploited. Eventually, Pirincci predicts, all the blood will have been squeezed out of the producers and that is when the invaders will take by main force what they no longer will get from the automatic cash machine.

    Not that the invaders are being peaceful now, as Pirincci well knows. (He wrote his pamphlet Das Schlachten hat begonnen — The Slaughter Has Begun — years ago in response to the already rising trend of migrant-on-German violence). Muslim invaders beating up German schoolboys and proudly filming their deeds is something that takes place across the country, on schoolyards and in the streets, every day:

    This is in fact nothing new, it had been going on for decades, not years. The frog was being boiled slowly, now the temperature dial is being turned up much faster. The pain, however, is still being felt mostly in Germany’s lower classes while the middle class are still able to largely insulate themselves from the physical violence exerted by the Muslim invaders. More than the violence, however, sex is going to be the crucial issue for Germany’s men. The recent surge of military-age Muslim men has tilted the sex balance in Germany even more grotesquely towards the male side. Remember, a Muslim man is allowed to marry a non-Muslim woman. The converse is not true. If a non-Muslim man wants to marry a Muslim woman, he must convert to Islam first. And be sure that her brothers enforce this rule with an iron fist.

    Squeezed from all sides, lower-income German young men are derided by their social superiors as uncouth mouth breathers and they are losing at the game of musical chairs when it comes to finding partners for sex and marriage; the game is rigged against them and in favor of the Muslim invaders. Video games, free-TV transmission of football matches, cheap beer are keeping them sedated for now. But eventually, they will have lost so much that they come to realize that they have absolutely nothing left to lose anymore. Pirincci does not look beyond this point. But I think that much bloodshed lies ahead — and most of the might of the government will be brought to bear on the side of the invaders.

    *Here, Pirincci quotes Boxer, the brave horse in Orwell’s Animal Farm, whose standard response to every financial shortfall is “I will get up earlier in the morning and I will work harder!”


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