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Is This The End of Europe?

November 29, 2014

Today, Pope Francis is in Istanbul celebrating a rare moment of Catholic-Orthodox unity with a visit to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the head of the Eastern Orthodox Churches (whose authority over his flock is considerably less than the pope’s over Catholics worldwide), with whom the Vatican has been in schism for almost a thousand years. But the big news from Francis this week was his jaw-dropping speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The pontiff’s sharp public criticism of Europe’s troubled political culture received much comment in the secular media, which noted how strongly Francis castigated the European Union and its “bureaucratic technicalities,” adding: “In recent years, as the EU has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful.”

Were this not coming from the Pope of Rome, it would be close to boilerplate, given the widespread discontent across the EU about its troubled and sclerotic institutions. Yet Francis’s speech included more acid comments, including that Europe is increasingly out of step with the rest of the world, but nothing got more attention than his description of “a Europe which is now a ‘grandmother,’ no longer fertile and vibrant.” It’s not everyday the head of the Catholic Church refers to Europe, which has been the headquarters of the faith since the late Roman Empire, as “elderly and haggard.”

That said, it’s difficult to say that Francis is wrong about any of this. Virtually no European countries are replacing their populations through natural means, achieving a birth rate of 2.1 live children per woman to even maintain their populations, while several EU members are near the 1.2 rate signalling “death spiral,” i.e. the birth rate at which the population cannot recover. The reasons for this are many and varied — birth rates among native-born Americans are hardly better than in the EU, while the lowest rates on earth are found in East Asia, especially Singapore, Japan, and South Korea, indicating that there’s more than a European problem here — but it can be safely said that the Catholic Church’s ban on birth control is being widely ignored in countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal, which have among the fewest babies in Europe, per capita, yet which a generation or two ago were still strongly Catholic and impressively fecund.

While Francis’s analysis of Europe’s population problem, which is really a deep crisis of civilizational pride, identity and meaning, manifesting in a lack of will to even reproduce, is difficult to refute, it was his proposed remedy that received the most comments. The pope has previously spoken of his deep sympathy for migrants headed to Europe, but in Strasbourg he put his cards fully on the table, urging Europe to welcome migrants with open arms, adding, “We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery.” Getting to Italy via boat is hazardous, and it’s estimated that 3,200 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean so far in 2014 while trying to make their way to EU territory.

While no one to the left of Attila the Hun is presumably in favor of people drowning on the high seas, the pope’s words caused many comments, not all of them friendly, across a Europe that is increasingly questioning the economic, political, and social wisdom of having something like open borders to their south. Decades ago, Milton Friedman noted that you can have open borders or you can have an advanced welfare state, but you cannot have both (in any fiscally sustainable way, he perhaps ought to have added), a position that many overtaxed Europeans are finding sympathy for these days.

The Catholic Church’s enthusiasm for open borders is not new, including its categorization, like Francis this week, of migration foremost as a human rights issue, and has been in evidence for some time in the United States, where Catholic bishops have loudly campaigned for amnesty, including support for Barack Obama’s recent executive action on immigration enforcement. All the same, it’s not hard to see, beyond humanitarianism, why Catholic bishops might welcome millions of newcomers from the south, many of them co-religionists, to bolster the declining numbers (and enthusiasm) of native-born U.S. Catholics. It is rather more mysterious why the Vatican would press for the arrival of millions of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, most of whom are Muslims, a group whose assimilation into Europe to date charitably can be called incomplete, even troubled.

While there can be no doubt that Europe needs more people to sustain their economies and costly welfare states, one ought to question whether simply having an open door to Africa and the Middle East represents any sort of coherent immigration policy (the same can be said of America’s decision to not have much of a border with Mexico). It certainly does not seem to be a good way to attract the skills needed by advanced, information-age economies. Canada and Australia, for instance, which have more thought-out immigration policies than the United States, may offer a model for Europe on how to attract educated, talented, and economically desirable immigrants, rather than merely those who get in boats and hope for the best.

Nevertheless, Australia too now has a migration crisis, caused by its own kindness to refugees, with migrants drowning in significant numbers while trying to make their way to that affluent country. “Why aren’t hundreds of asylum seekers drowning trying to get to Japan?” asked one analyst, pointedly, a year ago. After all, Japan is a very nice country with a most advanced economy and a desperate shortage of people. But refugees don’t try to reach the coast of Japan. For the simple reason they know they will be turned away. Preferring to preserve its native population, Japan turns away virtually all refugee claimants, while Australia lets many of them in, with generous benefits to boot. South Korea, like Japan, is not open to more than few refugees despite a serious birth dearth, so few come. In 2014, any developed country that pursues a permissive policy towards refugees is going to get more of them, perhaps many more.

In this sense, Pope Francis may prove to be out of touch with much of his flock, at least in Europe. While the pontiff did not say anything as flat-out odd as President Obama’s remark this week that “the only people who have the right” to question immigration to the United States are “some native Americans,” which ranks as one of the stranger comments to fall from any president’s lips in public lately, the pope’s sympathy for migrants is clear. His prescription to open Europe to boats — how many, exactly? — of Africans and Asians does not seem to be in synch with where many Europeans are politically of late. At best, it’s a recipe for more troubles with difficult-to-assimilate, and not always very economically productive, immigrants, some of whom will collect generous EU welfare benefits while fighting to destroy Europe; at worst, it sounds like a path to the dystopia predicted by the notorious 1973 French novel The Camp of the Saints.

In France, where immigration and assimilation are very hot-button issues, Marine Le Pen has led her right-wing National Front to unparalleled heights of power and popularity, leading to speculation that she may be the republic’s next president. In Britain, the UK Independence Party has risen fast in the polls on a mixture of Euro-skepticism and anti-immigration sentiment, with its leader Nigel Farage questioning what Americans term “anchor babies”; while the British establishment has pooh-poohed UKIP as racists and yahoos, the fear of mainstream parties is mounting quickly before a possible UKIP avalanche, and its deep appeal to Britain’s white working class is undeniable. Even in Germany, where a phobia about the far-right lingers from 1945, the recently established Alternative for Germany (AfD) is making impressive political hay with a rather UKIP-like mix of Euro-skepticism and anti-immigration sentiments, all without any Nazi taint.

The reasons for this political shift are not difficult to determine. In addition to rising frustrations about the under-performing EU economy, there’s the troubling matter that quite a few European governments have promised reforms to ailing immigration and assimilation policies, without doing much of anything. Four years ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel raised eyebrows by stating that Germany’s multi–decade experiment in multiculturalism had “utterly failed.” While Merkel proclaimed “multi-kulti” to be “dead” in late 2010, it is still there in any real sense. Similarly, Britain’s David Cameron in early 2011 stated that “multiculturalism” had “failed” — and proceeded to do nothing about it, leading to the rise of UKIP. British voters, aware of the “fool me once…” paradigm, are likely to be skeptical of Cameron’s public counterattack on UKIP this week, at last promising real reforms to a broken immigration system.

Yet Cameron’s instincts are the right ones, however flawed a messenger “Dave the Chameleon” may be. If the European center-right does not make haste to address essential issues of immigration and national identity, in a way that is plausible and free of cant and condescension, they will surrender this huge issue to the far-right, which now is increasingly allied with Putin’s Russia on this and many other matters.

While the Kremlin’s outreach to the EU’s right-wing fringe has existed for years, the mainstream media is starting to notice what I was writing about months ago, and no longer are Russian intelligence payoffs getting to just the quasi-Nazi fringe. This week it was revealed that Le Pen’s National Front has secured a 40 million Euro loan from a Kremlin-linked bank, while Heinz-Christian Strache, head of Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ), was in Moscow this week to discuss “overcoming the crisis in Europe,” amid rumors that the FPÖ, too, is taking Kremlin cash. Germany’s AfD likewise has suspicious financial ties to Moscow, while the Russian position was made clear in a recent strategy paper published by a Kremlin-linked think-tank titled: “Putin: The Leader of International Conservatism.”

As I explained months ago, Putin and his worldview are in direct opposition to the post-modern West’s “WEIRD” demographic, which provides our elites. The Kremlin strongman is making no effort to hide his views, rather the contrary. In last year’s Valdai Club speech, Putin employed enough muscular faith-and-family language to warm the heart of any European traditionalist:

Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.

The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote pedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.

It cannot be missed that Putin considers the post-modern West to be a civilization in profound crisis, too bored with affluenza and so mired in the loss of faith that it has even lost interest in reproduction, one of the most basic of human desires. It is no exaggeration to observe that Putin sees his mission as saving Russia from that fate.

Although it has long been fashionable to note that Russia, too, has a terrible demographic problem, not helped by rampant alcoholism, there are signs that the corner has been turned. New evidence shows that Russia actually has one of the higher birth rates in Europe, thanks in part to Putin’s pro-natalism policies. As with many old-fashioned Kremlin efforts, Westerners have chuckled at things like “go home and have sex day,” but they seem to be working. (It bears noting that the only country in the former Soviet Union that has really kicked its birth rate up high is Georgia, a devoutly Orthodox as well as anti-Russian country, thanks to the offer by the country’s Patriarch to personally baptize all third-and-more children born to Orthodox families.)

There should be no illusions here. Putin sees the European right, by no means just the far-right, as his friends and allies on a wide range of political and social issues. Many right-leaning Europeans have greeted Putin’s defense of traditionalism warmly, seeing it as far more important than anything involving Ukraine, and have accepted Kremlin funding in an increasingly overt manner. Even UKIP’s Nigel Farage, the most moderate of the Kremlin’s EU friends, at the height of Russia’s Special War on Ukraine in the spring, stated that he considered Putin the world leader he most admired.

While there is little chance of full Putinism, which is a distinctly Russian and post-Soviet phenomenon, taking hold in the EU, there is ample room for politicians to exploit opposition to immigration and multiculturalism, as well as support for traditional family values, in a distinctly Kremlinesque fashion. What that might look like can be gleaned by looking at Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is leading his country towards a sort of Putinism-lite on the Danube, allowing democracy in form if not always in content. His increasingly authoritarian ways are much noted in the Western media, more than might be expected from a small country of ten million people. But Orbán is a gadfly, and he holds a commanding majority in Hungary’s parliament, where under him the once center-right Fidesz party has ditched the center and has headed towards unapologetic traditionalism and nationalism — xenophobia to his detractors.

Yet it should be noted that, excepting occasional bone-headed missteps of the sort Putin made in his early years in Moscow too, Orbán remains popular with most Hungarians, who view the post-Communist period as one of corruption and incompetence, against which Fidesz has defined itself, plus the only plausible alternative is the more or less neo-Nazi Jobbik, which holds one-fifth of the seats in Budapest’s parliament, and compared to whom Orbán looks like a sensitivity trainer.

Orbán, like Putin, does not hide his program, which seems designed to make the WEIRD demographic’s heads explode. He has unabashedly extolled Hungary’s Christian values (he is not a Catholic, like a plurality of Hungarians, rather a member of the country’s politically influential Calvinist minority) while hailing Europe’s Christian Democratic leaders of the 1950’s, comparing them harshly with the post-modern liberal political, economic, and social values that reign in the EU today. Needless to add, such comments have not endeared Orbán to the Brussels smart-set, which is embarrassed to have such a caveman leading an EU country, but as long as Fidesz and its leader remain popular with Hungarians, there’s not much the EU can do about its Orbán problem.

Unsurprisingly, Orbán has spoken warmly of Putin, while pursuing close economic relations with Moscow, which has the oil and natural gas that Budapest needs. Adding fuel to the fire, Orbán has toyed with historical revisionism, noting the injustice of the post-Great War Treaty of Trianon, which took away two-thirds of Hungary, which is a sure-fire way to aggravate fellow EU and NATO neighbors Romania and Slovakia, which have appreciable ethnic Hungarian minorities. Just as bad, from the EU’s viewpoint, were Orbán’s comments this summer on immigration.

He more or less strapped on a flamethrower, stating, “The goal is to cease immigration whatsoever,” he said: “I think the current liberal immigration policy, which is considered obvious and morally based, is hypocritical.” When later asked about how this went down with fellow EU leaders, Orbán added fire: “There were two types of reactions: some envied me because they mustn’t say things like that although they’d very much like to. The others disagreed because they’ve failed to turn around demographic trends with family politics; have kept social tension at bay by subsidizing the jobless; and aren’t fazed if the ethnic basis of a nation state is broken.”

Not content to stop there, Hungary’s prime minister noted that his mission was to keep his country, which is far from wealthy, ethnically Hungarian and Christian. While this was met with horror by postmodern Europeans, there was less outcry in Hungary. To secure the country’s future, Orbán is implementing natalist policies including cash incentives, three years off work with pay for new mothers, and encouragement from Budapest to newlyweds to produce more Hungarians the old fashioned way. If your love for one another becomes the source of a new life, that’s the greatest gift to your family. A child is a blessing, and the pledge of survival of the family and our nation,” says the congratulations card sent by the government to new brides and grooms.

Will this work in raising Hungary’s birth rate? That remains to be seen, though the cases of Georgia and Russia of late demonstrate that it can be done. What is certain is that the future belongs to those who show up for it and, at current birth rates, in fewer decades than anybody wants to imagine, much of Europe will be aged and infirm, and in severe financial crisis for no reason other than a lack of Europeans.

During the Cold War, clever anti-Communists were careful to deprive the militant Left of much of its program by increasing pay and benefits for workers, and generally treating the working class fairly, thereby nullifying the appeal of Bolshevism. In the United States, Washington, DC’s embrace of civil rights had more than a little to do with a desire to take away from Moscow a powerful propaganda point about how badly America, the supposed land of freedom, treated African Americans. In a similar vein, Europeans who want to blunt the rising appeal, and influence, of Putinism and its fellow travelers would be wise to wage a political counterattack, soon.

Mainstream EU political figures must acknowledge that grass-roots concerns about immigration and assimilation are not simply due to racism and related unfashionable views. Native, working class Europeans have valid reasons, not about hate, to question these policies. Moreover, in no EU country did any government ever ask the population if they wanted these currently controversial policies that have opened the door to Africa and Asia. If mainstream European political parties do not make a sincere effort to address these concerns, they will be exploited by friends of Putin whose commitment to democracy is weak, at best. And it will happen sooner than you think.

Time will tell if Pope Francis’s Strasbourg speech is as out of step with as much of European opinion as it seems to be. It is, however, safe to say that an era has ended, one of huge historical significance. Only ninety years ago, the Anglo-French Catholic layman Hillaire Belloc (in)famously pronounced, “Europe is the faith and the faith is Europe.” And he was right. As of this week, this is no longer the case.

From → History, Strategy, USG

64 Comments
  1. Reblogged this on Aquilon's Eyrie and commented:
    This is a very interesting article on Pope Francis’ recent comments on immigration and the problems with European birthrates. Could Putin be onto something with his policies?

  2. Walt permalink

    Europe is a rascist former colonial power, America is a rascist imperial power. All these immigrants from former colonies just have to see rascist Europe with thier own eyes. Of course Africans just have to come to America to see the rascism there. Then when they see the rascism they are so shocked that they invite thier family members to come see it too.

    Why don’t European people immigrate across the Mediteranian and level the playing field.

    This is not a race issue, a drug addict will take advantage of a situation but will not change his ways, likewise with many, not all, immigrants too want to take advantage of Northern Hemisphere but still retain their baggage.

    • If you want to pontificate about racism, learn to spell it.

      • Walt permalink

        I too was suprised at my mispelling, and wondered how could I come come up with that spelling error. Although, I really do constantly mispell in 3 languages English, Polish and Ukrainian. But it looks like reading your blogregularly late at night along with watching too much russian propaganda where they call me a fascist and racist, and then I type the russian phonetic pronunsiation of racist and it comes out to “rascist”. Perhaps “rasheest” is better. My apologies.

    • V. Uil permalink

      I have found that when someone starts to throw around the term racist this and racist that it is a reliable indicator that they don’t have very much to say since racist is a particularly meaningless term. A last refuge of some who has little to say, but disapproves anyway.

      Given that you speak English, Polish and Ukrainian one must assume that you have more than passing insight into the collapsing birthrate of Europe, the flood of refugees into the southern EU and the remarkable decline of Europe after 500 years of vibrancy.

      It is a pity you did not elevate your comment(s) to provide some – I suspect well qualified – useful insight into the interesting and depressing article.

  3. Robert Marchenoir permalink

    Putin advertising himself as a promoter of Christian values stretches the definition of chutzpah.

    There’s nothing remotely Christian in giving a free rein to army officers to torture and kill conscripts, stealing companies from their owners at a whim, recruiting thugs to beat political opponents or kill them, building a mafia state where property developers burn down old buildings with grannies inside while the police looks the other way, having the air force bomb out of existence their fellow soldiers just because letting them live would expose the strategic ineptitude of some military thug pretending to be a general, or using the Orthodox church as a political tool, while allowing the harrassment of the Ukrainian Orthodox church because it does not bow to the Moscow patriarchate, which happens to be in Putin’s pocket.

    And that’s a very short list.

    • Agreed, but this is kinda tame stuff by (bad) Russian historical standards.

      • Thomas Westergaard permalink

        Anything is tame compared to the Russian past, but should a country not be compared to it contemporary peers rather then its distant/ resent past?

      • Ideally, yes; but things are seldom ideal with Russia.

    • Want2No permalink

      “Putin advertising himself as a promoter of Christian values stretches the definition of chutzpah.”

      It worked for Hitler, who cast himself in much the same way.

  4. Very interesting article, good to see US commentators engaging with internal EU debates. I’m not sure that you’ve fully explained the nuances of the debate though, perhaps for reasons of space. Speaking about where I know, the UK, there are several strands, including immigration from outside the EU, assimilation/multicultralism, and intra-EU migration. Here migration from outside the EU has already been clamped down on, even to the point of excluding Australian and Canadian migrants, but remains high due to allowances for families of the high numbers who have already arrived. More of an issue is how to integrate those already here. The UK’s muslims are predominately from very difficult backgrounds (illeducated rural Pakistan), unlike US or French muslim populations. France especially seems to have played a better hand badly with its North African muslims. Here I would agree that there is a need & an appetite for more forceful intergrationalist policies.

    The biggest reason for the recent success of UKIP is the high level of intra-EU migration though. The UK is one of the few dynamic EU economies, its open and fair in treating people on merit, and English is widely spoken. So lots of people have come, from the new E European members and now increasingly from the sclerotic South. Free movement of people is one of the founding principles of the EU, and so this migration can’t be stopped without leaving the EU. Cameron’s recent speech was aimed at making this movement less attractive, without banning it, by stopping EU migrants getting unemployment & some in work benefits. It’s arguable whether this will work as most EU migrants work, more than natives.

    Giving some ground on these issues, a la Cold War social democats, is inevitable and wise if done carefully, but could be counterproductive. Saying ‘UKIP are right, don’t vote for them’ doesn’t make sense. Support for migrants is somewhat deeper than you suggest, and is often generational. If the EU can survive the next 20 years then there will be few who remember a time when these countries were monocultrual. Support for UKIP almost exactly maps to where migrants DON’T live.

    I doubt that religion will have a big role to play, the UK is pretty much post-religious (we voted Darwin the 3rd greatest ever Britain, I’m happy to say), and our birth rate is at replacement, as is France’s. Southern Europe has more religon but birth rates are much lower. Policies that encourage female workforce participation (eg childcare), rather than right-wing ‘stay at home’ ones would probably work better.

    Ultimately this is a story about economics. If the EU economy were to be jump started then right wing populists would not be popular for much longer. Germany is the main obstacle there, they are refusing the sort of inflationary medicine that might get things going. Like with dealing with Russia, sole German leadership of Europe can be a very worrying phenomenom. Hopefully, like the US, they can be trusted to make the right choice after trying all the others.

  5. I’d simply note the ‘mainstream’ German conservative parties (CDU, CSU) have a strong and entrenched Nazi element, the only difference with the NDP being, the NDP is breaking an unspoken rule; you cannot be Nazi in German politics and be in any sense ‘out of the closet.’ My perception is, Putin is courting the more moderate traditional right, those who eschew Nazism. Marine Le Pen works for him (and a growing part of the conservative French electorate) because she has considerably moderated her father’s blunt language and views. I believe it would be a misconception to infer Putin is in any sense sympathetic to what might have been construed as fringe parties sympathetic to Western Europe’s Nazi legacy, as this legacy actually exists mostly (e.g. neo-conservative) as a closet phenomena of today’s mainstream political scene. The rising parties on the right will no doubt attract some vocal and visual fascist principals that may or may not be intended to undermine those newly rising institutions, depending on dynamic, exploitable opportunities and who focuses resources on the rise of popular sentiment (whether grass roots, wealthy private parties, corporations, intelligence agencies, examples given, and to what degree.)

    I’ve looked at the issue of multiculturalism in relation to contemporary politics and ultimately resorted to satire:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2014/10/09/liberals/

    ^ Cynicism aside, multiculturalism creates social friction for the very reason disparate cultural models more often than not have conservative elements unwilling to surrender ground to a larger tolerance of (what is in their respective perception) another culture’s intolerance in its own right. And there will always be at least some degree of validity in this point of view, because that is the nature of conservatism and conservatism’s subset in any culture will to some degree determine outlook, and determine whether any given culture’s outlook becomes xenophobic. Personally, I am super intolerant of the religious far right but also I see multiculturalism has contributed to strengthening this necrotic phenomena and contributes to the rise of xenophobia. It’s a negative symbiotic process.

    Ok, so that a lot said, but you’ve covered a lot of ground, more than I would like to take on here. I’ll close (hoping I’m making a bit of sense) with a few notes; taking Pope Francis at his word would be a big mistake. If he gains North America by trading off Europe, well, he’s a politician and that’s not inconceivable. He’s buying off Opus Dei for the moment, and he’ll never do the right thing and crack down on that fascist power behind much of our world’s woes. Insofar as repairing relations with orthodoxy, it all show and no substance, Rome will never surrender its neo-Platonic philosophy that is anathema to the church which had been established in the East (my opinion.) As well, I’m of the opinion declining birth is a good thing, if only because ‘sustained development’ is precisely the principle of cancer and is utterly anti-life in a macro-cosmic sense- pointed to environmental collapse. If social collapse is the obvious fore-runner of a larger collapse of Nature, then well and good we would begin to search for new avenue sooner, rather than later. The present system will either be dismantled (less trauma) or fall (more trauma) but certainly cannot be sustained…

    • “He’s buying off Opus Dei for the moment, and he’ll never do the right thing and crack down on that fascist power behind much of our world’s woes.”

      You’ve been reading too much Jack Chick and Dan Brown. Opus Dei is the cleanest section of the Catholic Church at present and has been that way for quite some time. It’s unfortunate that they don’t have more influence over Francis than they do at the moment.

      • I don’t read fiction. Perhaps you’d find this interesting, one of many examples of that organization’s criminal elements:

        “They do see what they’re doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it’s a crusade, literally,” Hersh reportedly continued. “They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function” -Seymour Hersh

        http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/highranking-members-military-part-knights-malta-opus-dei-reporter-claims/

        I’ll come up with plenty more (and by far more damning) examples if you insist .. interesting you seem to think criminals would surrender their business model (a.k.a. leopards change their spots)

      • @Ronald:

        It might help if you actually read the links that you provide. From your source:

        ““The allegations recently made by Seymour Hersh relating to General McChrystal’s involvement with an organization called The Knights of Malta are completely false and without basis in fact,” he reportedly wrote. “General McChrystal is not and has never been a member of that organization.””

        All that Hersh has is speculation, not any proof of conspiracy, and he even got McChrystal’s membership wrong!

    • califax permalink

      Oh, Ronald, where do I start?

      1)
      If you are trying to teach people about german politics you should at least get the names of the parties right: It’s NPD, not NDP. The NDP is an entirely different kind of animal and joined the FDP after Wiedervereinigung.

      2)
      “The strong and entrenched Nazi element” in CDU/CSU, i.e. germans who were adults during the 3rd Reich, are dead. Take it for what it means because there is no metaphor here. These people are dead. You can visit them at the graveyards.
      If you are looking for active people with national socialist ideas and believes, you will find them popular in NPD, somewhat scattered among die Linke and as some highly concentrated syrup in small lunatic groups like the “Reichsbürger”.

      • Sorry for the typo. Reinhard Gehlen once smirked there were more former Nazis in Adenauer’s ministries than in his BND (with it’s more that 100 former Gestapo officers) .. I don’t suppose that could have anything to do with the (CDU associated) Adenauer Foundation recently training members of Ukraine’s Svoboda party?

        “But the Ukrainian right wing has also received instruction financed by German taxpayers. Party members appeared at events hosted by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the German political foundation affiliated with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives. Examples include the conference entitled “Lessons from the 2012 Parliamentary Elections,” the seminar series called “The Higher School of Politics” and a discussion on the 2012 elections”

        http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/indirect-berlin-support-for-ukrainian-right-wing-extremists-svoboda-a-959073.html

        ^ ‘like father, like son’ is the folk wisdom… sure if you want to be technical, the literal Nazi party members from the Reich are dead, but that certainly does not mean they left no legacy with the CDU/CSU

      • Those that argue that the CDU has a Nazi element are cut from the same cloth that insisted that Dubya is a secret Nazi because Prescott Bush had business dealings in Germany.

        The flipside is the Birthers who target Obama’s personal history.

      • Niccolo, perhaps you should have a look at Jeff Sharlet’s work “The Family” .. it lays out the remarkably similar fact of sympathies of Prescott Bush era conservative businessmen for the Reich and brings it forward to the present. Here’s a short excerpt:

        http://www.salon.com/2009/07/21/c_street/

        Anyone with intelligence experience is, of course, familiar with the concept of ‘cells.’ For instance, Allan Dulles was an intelligence officer in WW I. His business group (you refer to) profiles as essentially identical to the group Sharlet records. Red flag there for any competent analyst.

        The fact these stories are picked up by the ilk of Alex Jones would hardly diminish their importance. And then coming at this thread with the Obama ‘birther’ angle, as opposed to rational rebuttal, is classic method of underhanded attempt to sink any possible validity in readers’ thinking, to derail exploring the facts. These sort of method (such as you employ) can be read up on here:

        http://pastebin.com/irj4Fyd5

        Insofar as Obama ‘conspiracy theories’ .. all is not necessarily well in Oz:

        http://www.globalresearch.ca/barack-obama-his-mother-and-the-cia/31756

        That’s not to say all the information is in, clearly it is not. That’s also not to say there is necessarily nothing there. But we’ll never know if we leave it up to David Icke to determine these things for us, right?

        Note to John; the very fact you enable these sort of (Niccolo & Califax) behaviors in the forum, is hardly indicative of hospitality towards viewpoint outside a certain line of thinking. Ivory tower syndrome is not necessarily conducive to decent manners (one of the worst in reality.)

      • That you cite Global Research speaks volumes about your perspective.

        I allow anyone to post comments who is not profoundly rude or an obvious troll. If you don’t like that, too bad.

      • I pick up information from a wide spectrum of sources… for instance Ron Paul’s site, the UNZ Review, VICE, even the Black Agenda Report (HARD Left but generally accurate in relation to Africom.) All of these site will have information, time to time, that can be useful in building assessments. Each of these sites will have varying personalites and views/interpretations, however the metadata can be valuable. You can limit your exposure, and condemn my sources but it simply points to a narrow rut of inquiry, in my opinion. Good day-

  6. Steve Manning permalink

    It will be interesting when the foreigners get their hands on the armories of Europe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction

    Might be end of the world not just Europe.

  7. John, this is one of your better pieces.

    In short, Europeans who are traditionally-oriented and who feel removed from the distant and unresponsive EU bureaucracy see Putin and his system as an increasingly attractive alternative, whether in Orban’s Putin-Lite manner or similar since it does hold answers to existential, national, and economic questions that the EU has failed to answer. One however must exclude those states that border with Russia for historical and security reasons, although it is certain that many officials in those places harbour private jealousies as to how much latitude Putin has to administer his regime since it doesn’t fall under EU rules.

    With much of Europe’s economy continuously teetering on the verge of depression or are already in a depression, the establishment parties lose credibility as they’ve had years (getting close to a decade now) to correct the situation. This allows for non-mainstream parties to exploit this credibility gap. These parties are shut out by the political, bureaucratic and media elites, so naturally they are not system loyalists in the general sense, leaving them to criticize their own governments and the EU in general, quite often along the same lines that Russia does today.

    If the elites aren’t responsive to the needs of the people, then this isn’t an instance of ‘fifth columns’ but rather a revolt against the distant elite that continues to pursue policies that don’t have any benefit for the majority of the people but that do help those that are closest to the regime.

    Pope Francis is in a bit of a catch-22 at present. We know his public stance on immigration in Europe, but what is his private stance? The reason why I bring this up is the following: should the Catholic Church go nativist in Europe, as the majority of Europeans already are minus a few non-Catholic countries, the EU elite would hammer the Church by way of media assassination and by way of generated scandals to drag them through the various judiciaries as the Church would be painted as being ‘fascist’, or ‘racist’, or even “Nazi”. It certainly could be possible that the Church maintains a pro-immigration stance not just for the sake of gaining new Catholics in Europe to upset the prevailing secular trends, but also to keep itself in the political sphere where it can because it can be said with some certainty that the Pope would not have been allowed to address Strasbourg if he was publicly opposed to continued immigration.

    • Thanks for your kind feedback…much to ponder there!

    • At the risk of being too culturally deterministic, I took the Pope’s position to be less political than a logical outgrowth of his background among the Franciscans and as a native of the immigrant nation of Argentina.

      • Hi Marque!

        From what I know of Pope Francis, he has held some very, very ‘reactionary’ political views in the past that might be tempered not just by his present role, but also by the prevailing liberal mores of our times and how they’ve embedded themselves into the governing institutions of the West in particular. Most Argentines of Italian extraction (and there are many) are natural xenophobes even if many of them have socialist economic views. Argentina is quite European, unlike most of the rest of South America, and Argentina is viewed by its locals as a continuing European outpost on that continent.

        As for Franciscans, they can vary. Visit the region of Herzegovina to find ones that would instantly welcome a Francoist regime in a minute.

  8. xtmar permalink

    I think that you answered your own question:

    “It is rather more mysterious why the Vatican would press for the arrival of millions of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, most of whom are Muslims, a group whose assimilation into Europe to date charitably can be called incomplete, even troubled.”

    Here:

    “The Catholic Church’s enthusiasm for open borders is not new, including its categorization, like Francis this week, of migration foremost as a human rights issue, ”

    While the Catholic Church has a multitude of sins to its name, it is still at heart a religious organization, and one which generally tries to help people, even if they aren’t co-religionists. If Francis and other members of the Catholic leadership believe that immigration is one of the leading human rights issues of our time, why shouldn’t they push for its normalization, even if it’s ultimately a Pyrrhic victory?

    Also, re natalism and birth rates, it will be interesting to see what happens in South Korea (birth rate 1.19!) and so on after the next few decades.Even China has an under replacement birth rate, and no prospect of really raising it. While I think this will cause great economic hardship, I’m not sure if it will make the world a more or less stable place. On the one hand, economic problems are a great reason to go to war, since it promises growth, and also a good domestic rallying point. On the other hand, I think that older societies are generally more risk averse and focused on preserving the status quo than younger, more expansive, societies, though obviously neither of these observations are hard and fast.*

    *In fairness, I should add that the risk aversion of older societies seems to show itself more in terms of less domestic strife than in terms of organized conflicts.

  9. Andraz permalink

    I agree with your article but I would add something – Putinism equally appeals to the far left (probably due to the anti-West and, anti-imperialism rhetoric, equating NATO with fascism, anti-americanism, plus some longing for the old days). It is not rare to see the members of FPO, Le Pen’s Front, Jobbik on one side, and members of Syriza, Die Linke on the other to show a great appreciation for Putin’s policies, even visiting the same events. The same goes for the far left in Slovenia.
    Regarding immigration let me give you an example. My very good Bosnian friend had some family immigrating to the US and some to Sweden during the war. The family in the US started their own business, and live a fairly successful life. The other part in Sweden who upon arrival and up until now have been receiving full benefits from the apartment to monthly paychecks plus free health care have not even learned Swedish, live in one of the enclaves, and have become hardline salafi – let me give you an information that my friends’ cousin, the salafi in Sweden, was, while still in Bosnia, a fotomodel.

    With regards.

    Andraz

  10. Putin officially declared Russia as leader of anti Western World;its open hostility. Lavrov in his last statement wrote,that West is territory of “Christianophobia”.Russians long ago call Europe as”Gayropa”.In this brilliant article,author describes situation in post modern world.Former Pope His Holiness Benedict XVI once said,that current economical crisis is mostly crisis of meaningless.Time for reanimation basic European values based on Christianity,cause Putinism is attacking world democratic order and tries change it on new order with Russia’s leadership/as revenge for lost in cold war/.I am glad,that Georgia as model country described in the article.Balance between civil values under control of Christianity creates society of solidarity.I am Georgian doctor and can say,that in my Homeland no place for religion fundamentalism.So time for West wakes up and returns to its basic roots,on which founded the Renaissance of course adequate of modern epoch.

  11. A couple of thoughts about Hungary. Orbán has clearly adopted a pro-Nato, pro-EU position in the last few weeks, though the Western media have been slow to notice. I organised a round table discussion on current security issues on Friday (28 November) and all the participants (high level), Hungarian and others, agreed that the security environment has changed markedly for the worse, with Russia as the key problem. But, yes, it is correct that Orbán sees a deep crisis in Europe, from which there is no exit in the short term. To some degree this is understood in Brussels, hence Juncker’s comment that the EU was facing its “last chance”. Whether the EU can give up its addiction to over-regulation remains to be seen. And no one likes the messenger, especially when he’s right about the bad tidings.

  12. You can live in the US and find affinity for these right populists’ words — so long as you ignore Putin’s actions. There is a palpable disdain for the arrogance emanating from the Washington Beltway, the UN, and even Brussels when it comes to matters ranging from immigration to foreign affairs and domestic policy. As a largely areligious Anglo-Protestant (and half-Kraut), I have nothing to say to the Pope and his hobby horse, other than that he could do worse than review Paul Johnson’s “Modern Times” for its description of Western denominations that have persistently declined as they’ve adopted much of the leftist campus’s secularist world view. (When I become America’s salvational Putin, my reeducation camps will make that book required reading as a condition for graduation and release from captivity.)

    I would be tempted to draw the dividing line between these continental rightists and the rest of the traditional West somewhere between Calais and the Cliffs of Dover. It sounds like a bunch of cranky continentals taking advantage of the Anglo-West’s moment of self-doubt and second-guessing to beat their breasts and seek their moment in the sun. The Anglo-West and especial Anglo-World will need to return to understanding and appreciating our roots in classical liberalism stretching all the way back to the Magna Carta that emplaced the rule of law even over the monarch. (Are you listening to me, Vlad? This is an important teachable moment.)

    But the Ivy League cadre training academies for our own western elites in politics, media and culture, and the administrative state are home to an ideological framework that runs the intellectual gamut from A to B (stealing from Dorothy Parker), the left-most letters of the alphabet.

    In sum, if you’re in a post-modern, post-Western, morally and culturally relative mindset, what do you care if the culture and society slowly wither and die? There’s nothing worth passing on, nothing worth living for, and certainly nothing worth dying for. Putin and his European flunkies have merely recognized that there are many who aren’t quite so eager to strap themselves to the societal assisted-suicide gurney just yet.

  13. Alex permalink

    This article is well-taken, although I think that it understates the extent of anti-immigrant racism on the European far-right, in addition to making no mention of anti-Semitism, which unites immigrants with their right-wing opponents, and is still probably the most meaningful measure of European political decline.

    Also, I must admit I get irritated when Western cultural conservatives mistake the filial piety found in Muslim societies (or, I presume in Russia)–which treats individuals as members of a complete structure–for their own value system based on the nuclear family as a support structure for individual citizens.

    • “the filial piety found in Muslim societies (or, I presume in Russia)”

      Only in the ethnically non-Russian, mostly Muslim parts of Russia.

      Otherwise, Russian society appears thoroughly atomized. Not being involved in any meaningful social structure, I would say structural loneliness, together with poverty and poor education, turns young men into natural candidates for Putin’s army, police, and security services.

  14. Christopher permalink

    Thank you for the good outside view on Europe – always refreshing (although sometimes a bit painful to realize the open issues that we face).

    On Germany (my home country):

    There is not real an “embedded Nazi-part in CDU and CSU” as Mr. West stated above. There might be a few hardcore conservatists here and there, but this is very different to the positions shown by the NPD (which is rather irrellevant in the larger schemes and probably fully embedded (and partly funded) by the local Verfassungsschutz).

    The rise of the AfD is in my view more a matter of CDU/CSU moving to the middle and left over the last years and a general tireness of the people with the established parties and the lack of vision from Ms Merkel ( on that a very good article from the New Yorker:

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/01/quiet-german?intcid=mod-most-popular )

    Also, a moderate right-wing party is a rather common phenomenom in Europe, so the rise of AfD in Germany is more a normalization of the political system than anything else (lets see if they survive the next months of their internal quarrels).

    And having a modern immigration system such as Canada would also allow a serious discussion, how to handle and integrate the fugitives from Africa et al (while currently often all different groups of immigrants are discussed simutaniously).

    Another big point on Russia:

    For the first time in 25 years we might see an actual increase in military spending in Germany. While the discussion around it will probably take a few years from now and then 5-10 years to see the change in reality, the importance of this cannot be overstated. Germany has no tradition of increasing the military budget at all and also no real support in the population yet, so this shift will be a huge topic going forward – all thanks to Putin and his friends. Lets see how this develops.
    (and grown up in West-Berlin in the 80s, I can fully understand the Polish position that we need a lot more NATO troops near the Russian border).

    and if you need something to read for Christmas, check this out: seems fiiting to me:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/dec/18/how-he-and-his-cronies-stole-russia/

    • Excellent post up until you recommended Anne Applebaum. The woman is a shrill propagandist without a shred of objectivity when it comes to Russia. She, and her husband, should be sidelined along with the Poisonous Manlet, Ben Judah.

      If you want to read about the plundering of Russia, may I suggest two books?

      Casino Moscow – Andrew Brzezinski (Zbig’s nephew).

      He goes into detail how wild the era of privatization was albeit from a pro-western perspective which gives it a certain balance. One of the villains of the book is Boris Nemtsov, currently in opposition to Putin and a favourite of the West. He was and is an oligarch who made his millions by the methods of that time: extortion, violence, fraud, etc.

      http://www.amazon.ca/Casino-Moscow-Adventure-Capitalisms-Frontier/dp/0684869772/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417448895&sr=8-1&keywords=casino+moscow

      Godfather of the Kremlin – Paul Klebnikov

      Klebnikov, a journalist for Forbes, goes into detail covering the same era that Brzezinski did, but with a focus on Boris Berezovsky who stole and murdered his way thanks to Chechen Mafia muscle in his employ. Klebnikov was later assassinated. It’s interesting to note that his name is never mentioned in the western press along the lines of Politkovskaya, I wonder why? Well, for one thing, Forbes and the Telegraph UK have accused Berezovsky of ordering his assassination but waited until Berezovsky’s death to issue a j’accuse due to Britain’s draconian libel laws.

      Read the Forbes’ one here – http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardbehar/2013/03/24/did-boris-berezovsky-kill-himself-more-compelling-did-he-kill-forbes-editor-paul-klebnikov/

      Here is the link to Klebnikov’s book – http://www.amazon.ca/Godfather-Kremlin-Times-Boris-Berezovsky/dp/0151006210/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417449040&sr=8-1&keywords=godfather+of+the+kremlin

      Without understanding what happened in the late 90s in Russia, one cannot understand Russia today, nor Putin, nor his appeal to the vast majority of Russians.

      So when regime propagandists like Judah, Applebaum, and others start accusing Putin of corruption, one can only laugh. Russians themselves would largely agree that they should only be so lucky as to have Putin’s corruption when compared to the pro-western, liberal-democratic, free market, style that ruined their country and raped it of its resources that were quickly offshored to places like London, UK.

      What only makes it even worse is how Applebaum, Judah, and others of their ilk are now championing Khodorkovsky, another oligarch who stole, cheated, and murdered his way to the top. He is being made out to be a Mandela-type figure. Ben Judah was praising him at a recent conference that he attended with Khodorkovsky in Norway…….and these guys dare to accuse others of corruption.

      • Christopher permalink

        Thanks for the reading suggestions – I wasnt aware of the position that Ms Applebaum seem to have, therefore I will look for other books as well. And no – I dont think anybody would really think that any of the old oligarch (including Khordorkovsky) was able to reach theri wealth under legal (western-style) circumstances. Same goes also for Timoschenko in Ukraine. In my view (which is from far away I admit) both are/were for good reasons in prisons although not for the ones they were sentenced for.

      • As someone who is well familiar with Russian realities, I completely disagree with your characterization of Ben Judah (and Anne Applebaum) as mere propagandists, and with your view of Khodorkovsky as a murderer and Nemtsov as an extortionist. There is simply no compelling evidence to claim that, other than conjecture.

    • Paul permalink

      And having a modern immigration system such as Canada would also allow a serious discussion, how to handle and integrate the fugitives from Africa et al (while currently often all different groups of immigrants are discussed simutaniously).

      You don’t have to integrate any fugitive from Africa or the Middle East. Deport them. They have other countries in their continents that they can flee to.

      In Europe you had ethnic Germans, millions of them, fleeing to Germany and Austria in the aftermath of WWII, not to Syria or Somalia or Lebanon. The French Huguenots in the past fled to Germany and England, not to Eritrea, Egypt or Nigeria. It’s the same continent, the same race. The millions of aliens wanting to come to Europe and racially displace and eventually replace the population must be made aware that they are participating, willingly, in the dispossession of the Indo-European peoples, and forced to crawl back to their continents, to be among their people, and if need be, to flee to a neighbouring country.

  15. c6543 permalink

    “Mainstream EU political figures must acknowledge that grass-roots concerns about immigration and assimilation are not simply due to racism and related unfashionable views. Native, working class Europeans have valid reasons, not about hate, to question these policies.”

    Yes, one obvious reason being IS…and AQ…and Boko Haram…and Shabaab…and MB…and those mainstream EU political figures working closely together with MB…and those previously mainstream EU political figures now working closely together with russian energy companies.

    The threat from IS being so imminent and still hearing mainstream EU political, or pontifical, figures speaking of open borders, one might be forgiven for wondering which terrorist threat really is the biggest, the one coming from IS/AQ/MB itself or the one coming from figures consciously opening the door for them.

    Past and present mainstream political figures seem to be following a road map dating from the infamous SDS war council in Flint, and modern day Leninists seem to have found that religion of the right kind, correctly applied and utilized, may in fact work as a steroid for “The People” in a final solution to the Bourgeois’ Question, where of course from a globalist Leninist perspective all non-revolutionary Westerners are Bourgeois.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_War_Council

    Btw, I wonder how Le Pen et al pieces together the downing of MH17 and the Kremlin support of the Ukrainian “Peoples Republics” with Christian values.

    • c6543 permalink

      Digging deeper:

      It’s getting spookier by the day. Is this just a coincidence, or could even the MB four finger salute originate in the Flint War Council meeting?

      From the Wiki-article: “In her speech, Bernardine Dohrn praised the actions of the Manson family (although she would later claim that the speech was meant to be satirical), saying, ‘Dig it; first they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the room with them, then they even shoved a fork into pig Tate’s stomach. Wild!’ Holding up four fingers (symbolizing the fork) became the WUO’s salute during the War Council.”

      http://www.rferl.org/content/egypt-four-finger-salute/25085068.html

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_War_Council

      Dig it?

      • c6543 permalink

        Will IS finally “Bring the war home”, almost 50 years later? Is this the end game?

  16. YEAH permalink

    in amongst this whole debate it often go’s unsaid why people are anti immigration.

    ok i grew up in a small town in the scottish highlands,the highlands are or were until recently europes suicide capital,we’ve some of the highest rates of heroin addiction anywhere on earth,just up the road from me is the small fishing village fraserburgh which has more addicts per head than anywhere on earth.my town is the uk’s unemployment capital(per head).

    so life can be pretty grim at times,i’d imagine its like parts of the deep south,full of poor white and out of fashion rural folk.until recently our biggest employer was a garden centre,they’ve hundreds of acres for growing,people pull the trees and put them in bundles.its minimum wage and hard work but its work and keeps the locals off the dole.

    they closed down last summer and reopened a month later with a slightly different name with a brand new polish work force employed through a polish agency,needles to say the only natives to keep there jobs were the managment.

    and to make the whole thing even worse the local council granted the poles housing when countless locals have been on the social housing lists years

    this is has happened all over britain and quite simply most brits have had enough of it.

    time to leave the EU

    • Gus permalink

      Maybe the Poles use less heroin?

  17. Curlywurly permalink

    In Germany Putin might not only try to influence newly formed parties like the AfD, he’s also not averse about trying the same for the more established ones. Although the following Article is dated and does not provide any direct connections it still might be of interest to you: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/philipp-missfelder-ein-mann-will-nach-osten-13015861.html
    Regarding the AfD, the story might even be more interesting in that some of the founders like Henkel and Lucke seem to be in the atlanticist camp while others like Gauland are looking east. I am not sure if this just the old east vs west german socialization or if it’s something else going on. So the direction isn’t yet entirely set. It will be interesting to watch how this is going to turn out, the only thing being sure that at least one camp is going to be angry and disappointed. Of course all the chaos and dissonance occuring during the birth of a new party or political movement presents an excellent opportunity to influence its direction for anyone organised and with proper means. Expecting a red-blooded ex-KGB man like Putin to abstain from doing so would be odd after all, especially with the historical precedent of the Soviet Union trying to influence West German movements in the past, quite often successfully. Why anyone here in Germany would think otherwise or be surprised by that is somewhat strange and makes me wonder about my compatriots.
    We certainly do live in interesting times.

  18. Orban is just power hungry. Don’t expect anything from him.
    Putin is a statist.

  19. Gus permalink

    The reason why we are now here talking about what the pope says, is exactly why he said what he said. To attract attention. Rising anti-EU sentiment is a hot topic these days so that is a perfect way to catch headlines. In addition, the catholic church somehow seems to think that anti-EU rhetoric will go down well with whatever it considers its target group (what works for Le Pen might work for him too). It is not clear to me to what extent his criticism applies to the EU or just Europe as such or both. That having said, a few remarks:

    – As you point out yourself, low birth rates are typical for rich industrialised countries. It would be pretty far-fetched to blame the EU institutions for that.

    – EU institutions are not more ‘sclerotic’ than the institutions of most member states (not to mention countries like the US and Japan), and in particular of those with a history of dominance by the Catholic church who just happen to be the ones (Italy especially) with the lowest birth rates (France excepted).

    – EU insitutions have very little if nothing to say about countries’ immigration policies (from outside the EU). How did it suddenly become our fault that people will do anything to get here even to the risk of drowning? As you write referring to Japan, the biggest problem is probably the high chance of success, otherwise noone would even try.

    – Putin’s conservative rhetoric has nothing whatsoever to do with any real political ideas or ideals. Its only purpose is influence and can therefore be disregarded entirely as far as it pretends to be something more than that.

    – The Catholic Church of all institutions calling another entity ‘elderly and haggard’ borders on the ridiculous.

    – Whatever the causes of Europe’s population problem (and I think they vary among the member states affected) it has to do primarily with people’s personal choices to get children or not. The Church would like to decide it for them, which is the last thing that people want.

    – Any community should have the right to decide who can and cannot join it and under which conditions. The viability of any community depends on it. As such, this has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia (although they can be factors). The church knows this better than anyone, considering all the obligations it has created in the past for becoming and being a member (baptism, communion, confession, etc).

    – As far as the church considers immigration equal to ‘helping people’ I do not believe that this is based on facts in most cases these days.

    – If the church wants to battle population decline maybe it should consider scrapping celibacy and giving the right example.

  20. Not George Sabra permalink

    Japan’s birthrate is in even worse shape than Europe’s.

    • As I wrote.

      • Not George Sabra permalink

        Indeed. I missed it since it was mentioned earlier along with other Asian countries. I guess I should’ve accused you of racism and had the accusation printed in Rolling Stone eh?

        On a more serious note, it seems like something has to give — declining birth rates and policies discouraging immigration in the long run don’t seem to mix. You mention Spain and other (formerly?) Catholic countries’ low/declining birth rates, but the EU is much more than Western Europe now. Do central and eastern Europe EU states face the same contradiction between low birth rate and opposition to immigration?

      • LOL…it’s a much tricker issue in former East Bloc countries.

  21. Putin’s demographic success tends to be overstated. If my calculations are correct, Northern Caucasus remains the largest contributor to organic population growth in Russia. It’s mostly Muslim, culturally distinct from both Russian and Volga Muslim regions, and makes up 5% of total population. Meanwhile, Central Russia is still in decline, although it is not as dramatic as ten years ago.

  22. Pawel66 permalink

    Europe has lost the ability to differentiate between dreams and reality. We tend to forget that our choices have consequences, including the unintended ones…
    A welfare state helps to reinforce that perception, isolating us from the consequences of our mistakes and vices. And, to some extend, reducing the reward for individual success.
    Friedman noted that a welfare state is not compatible with an open society.
    I am afraid that it is also not compatible with a free society in a longer run.

  23. Why would you source your information on Russian demographics from a self identified “Men’s Rights Activist” who proudly supports scientific racism? I understand, people should check out alternative views to avoid being stuck in an echo chamber but surely there are better ways. Why not rely on the Russian Census office instead?
    (http://www.gks.ru/bgd/free/B13_00/IssWWW.exe/Stg/dk12/8-0.htm)

    As you can clearly see Russia has just barley crossed into demographic growth in 2012 and 2013. Prior to this — and Putin’s pro-growth campaigns began much earlier — the decline merely slowed. Indeed, if you consider that the general demographic trend of Russia-USSR followed its economic growth the coming period of stagnation under the weight of both sanctions and an oil price that is now 40 dollars a barrel below the Russian Federal budget’s break even point it is more likely to mirror the previous period of stagnation in the 80s. So I guess yes, congratulations to Putin, instead of being an outright disaster its just a rolling one. The missing children of the 90s though are going to be noticed again when there is a significant gap in THEIR children.

    Finally, as Alex K rightly points out this growth has primarily concentrated in the Muslim regions. If you strip out the Southern republics, core Russia is still losing people. Or alternative if you give Muslims Russian birth rates again you will see permanent stagnation kept up by immigration from Central Asia.

    And the new immigrants, the vast majority of them are Central Asians who, again, do not qualify to be “Russian” in the Putin-Conservative definition of the term. Only Armenians and Ukrainians — constituting just a bit less than 24% of the new arrivals would be considered adequate for the Orthodox-Racist system being built up. In other words, the quality of the new immigrants is relatively low whereas the brain drain of ‘Russian Russians’ among ranks of advanced degree holders in STEM fields is accelerating. So yes, its great that Russia can now attract 10 Uzbek farmers, but losing 2 mathematicians to Berkeley in return is a bum deal.

    • You say “MRA” like Nazis say “Jew”. Curious.

    • Thanks for mentioning my comment. An updated GKS migration report can be found at http://www.gks.ru/bgd/free/B14_00/Main.htm. I would like to find out whether the recent inflow of Central Asian immigrants into Russia has had a tangible impact on the country’s birth rate. At this point, I’m not sure where to look for that data.

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