November 8, 2005

Riots in France

Fortunately, the riots in France do not appear, at least to date, to be turning into Islamist-led hate fests. While there has been some evidence of that earlier, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence so far is that the riots are being fed by three factors: anger over discrimination against immigrants and their descendants; turf wars between various criminals and the police; and the fact that something like half the young men in the cités are unemployed, and Muslim cultural practices mean that many young men in the cités cannot find suitable mates, and unemployed and unattached young men tend to find violence to be fun.

As long as this does not become a more organized and directed violence, the odds are that it will peter out eventually. (I forget who made the joke, but someone said the rioters are organizing a union, so they'll cut their rioting down to 32 hours a week like the truckers and civil servants. France is well-known for union and Left-wing Cause violence. Remember all the burning McDonald's? This could be just a larger version of that kind of thing.) As Steven Den Beste points out, this can change if there are bombings, or if rioters or police begin to be killed by gunfire.

On the other hand, I certainly don't think that this will be "a total collapse in all the socialist nations of Europe", as Den Beste seems to hope. At least, not so long as it doesn't turn those nations nationalist: Europe has very little tradition of actual centrist democratic rule.

And as usual, Planet Moron has a great sarcastic take:

"There's no way of getting their attention,” lamented one of the rampaging youths/student philosophers, “The only way to communicate is by burning." Alas, if only there were one or more historical examples of nonviolent protest movements successfully launching broad social revolutions benefiting the lives of tens of millions and serving as an example to others for generations to come.

Oh well, burn it is!


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November 6, 2005

When Tomorrow Comes

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

The riots in France's Muslim ghettos are becoming more worrisome by the day. While many blogs are covering the events, and at least a few are doing good analysis, there is a paucity of writing about the implications of this rioting. The implications are, indeed, potentially horrific.

The first fact that is important about the French riots is that they are not confined to France. And within France, they are not confined to the Paris suburban ghettos. In other words, riots that began in a confined area have been spreading across France, and to a lesser degree across Europe.

The second fact that is important about the riots is that they are becoming organized. I don't believe there is any evidence that they began as an organized insurrection: the riots appear to have begun as a result of simmering discontent, which is common among European Muslims, but is exacerbated in France because of the terrible economy (unemployment of young men is around 25%, which has long been a formula for disaster) and the French have been taking steps against Muslim encroachment, such as banning the wearing of headscarves in French schools. But the riots were, within a few days, being instigated by gangsters and drug runners, and appear lately to be increasingly directed by radical Islamists. There is some evidence that jihadis may be getting into the act, as well.

The third important fact about the riots is that the young Muslim men who are rioting don't merely hate the Europeans, the despise them and feel superior. They feel entitled to benefits as superiors, and are emboldened by the passive response of the Europeans on both an individual and government level. This, in combination with massive unemployment, means that the Europeans are hosting what amounts to an untrained and unrecruited guerilla army. With the current unrest, the jihadis have a huge opening to begin training and employing these men much as they have done in Chechnya, Iran and Afghanistan. There is evidence that this is already happening in the tactics that the rioters have adopted.

The fourth important fact about the riots is that they have not reached their height. The lackluster French response — it appears that only Sarkozy sees this as a serious threat, and most other politicians seem to see it as a way to get Sarkozy — will encourage, not discourage, the rioters. Worse yet, the lackluster response risks letting the rioters think that they can escalate the level of violence further (there have already been attempts to set people on fire).

The fifth important fact about the riots is that the French (and Europeans in general) appear to not be buying the stance of their leaders. The French realize that these are not "gangs" or "youths" or "North Africans" rioting; at the core, these are Muslims. The very Muslims that Le Pen was demagogueing in the last election. This means that Le Pen and other nationalist ideologues may gain in strength as frustration rises among the people, and they turn to Le Pen in lieu of the non-existent center-right in French politics. (Sarkozy and Chirac, widely regarded as center right in French terms, are in the American sense moderate left, about the same degree as President Clinton was.)

The combination of these facts leads to a few possibilities for the future.

The rioters could simply stop. Whatever energy sources are feeding the riots could simply give out: they could get tired and go home. If this happened, it would be unlikely to be a permanent state, where everyone suddenly became happy with the situation. More likely is that the Muslims would continue to be unhappy, and would become increasingly radicalized. This would lead to a worse set of riots — or an actual uprising — in the next few years.

The riots could continue as they are, with neither a stronger response by police nor an escalated level of violence and killing by the rioters. This could be sustained for some time, but the increasing frustration of the French citizens — particularly with rioters now burning cars in the Place de la Republique, which is perhaps not coincidentally now known in large part as a place where Jews and homosexuals congregate — make it likely that this would not be stable once an election was underway. Once Le Pen and his nationalists began gaining real traction in the polls, the French "leadership" would be forced to act to have a hope of winning the election.

The riots could spread and escalate. At the moment, this appears to be the most likely result. It is already happening, as the various links above point out. But to what end? There are two likely ends: either the French will crack down, but not hard enough, or the rioters will eventually run out of control. In either case, a true insurrection could break out in France. (One wonders what term AFP would use for the enemy then? Presumably "activist" and "insurgent" would no longer be the proper terms. Assuming AFP supports the French government and civilians against the Muslim invaders, that is.) Were an insurrection to break out in France, it could trigger a widespread European insurrection, particularly in London, Germany, Scandinavia and the Low Countries. This is close to the worst case scenario.

It's also possible that, instead of a widespread insurrection breaking out, the rioters will pass a certain point and then subside into low-level guerilla warfare. This might be the second best case, because there would be a chance of this low-level warfare simply petering out over time. Sadly, this is not a very likely case. Even if low-level warfare breaks out, the social pressures driving events in Europe today would almost certainly cause an escalation within the next few years. The Islamists do not see anyone else as having any right to tell them what to do even in minor matters, and they cannot see themselves as part of France, unless it is as the rulers of France.

The two most likely cases are the best case and the worst case scenarios. (This is pretty unusual: it is more generally true that the best and worst cases are quite unlikely.) The best case scenario is a strong government crackdown. While this would lead to significant short-term violence, it could lead to long-term peace, particularly if it were followed up by a program of either selective deportations or (better) real attempts at assimilation. This would also be the path most likely to prevent the nationalists from profiting by the situation. (And let's be clear, the nationalists in France are pretty far right, particularly for Europeans.)

The worst case scenario, though, is also fairly likely. If the French remain true to form, and try to offer political solutions like a "millet" system (well-mocked here), this could both enflame the rioters into even more outrageous demands (and how do you surrender to a mob, anyway?), and enflame the French citizens into demanding hard-line solutions. If the government failed to comply, it could fall. In this scenario, if the French delay and delay, while offering concession after concession, it is possible that the situation could go from widespread rioting to widespread warfare between Muslims and right-wing thugs. And that is a situation that could easily spread throughout much of Western Europe.

Where will we end up? Hard to say. My hopes argue for a strong French response to shut down the rioting and end the "no go zones" and ability for Muslims to terrorize others. My fears whisper of a broad European civil war. The Europeans would certainly win a clash of arms; the French would certainly win such a clash in France. But only if they were willing to defend themselves, and my fear also whispers that this may be a skill that has atrophied in Western Europe.

Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs
Will water the meadows of France!

UPDATE: Wretchard has compiled a map of the locations of the rioting. It shows just how widespread the unrest has been within France.

UPDATE: Eric at Classical Values explores similar thoughts.

UPDATE: Truth Laid Bear has a topic page on the riots. Good one stop shopping on blog debate.

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October 10, 2005

The Peace of the Grave

Glenn Reynolds rounds up some opinions on the so-called "peace movement". This leads to a thought I've had since the 1980's, when the "peace movement" was active in attempting to get the US to stop defending Europe and Latin America and pretty much even the US against the Soviets:

The "peace movement" always and only focuses on the actions of the US, our allies, or Israel [hereinafter "the good guys"]. They never condemn the side that opposes the good guys [hereinafter "the enemy"], even — in fact, especially — when the enemy is actually doing what the good guys are being falsely accused of1. Always and forever, the "peace movement" urges us to disarm, to back down, to forgive, to forget, to sleep, to sleeeeep....

The "peace movement" does not advocate peace: it advocates surrender. And to surrender against tyrants is to advocate the death of Liberty and its adherents — that is to say, they want us dead, or at least powerless and enslaved.

And interestingly enough, if we look at the "peace movement" from the 1960s onwards, the same people are always at its core: the hardcore Communists. Even today. Some people are simply evil right through; and let's face it, the only way to stop them is to kill them. Their minds are not changeable, and they will not give up until they win. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be necessary, in that there aren't very many people who fall for it any more, as the picture in Glenn's post demonstrates. Perhaps time will take care of the problem for us.

1For example, war crimes in Viet Nam or torture in the current war.

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October 5, 2005

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

The British are falling all over themselves to be PC to Muslims. Mark Steyn has the story.

Why is it that tolerance is only a one way street?

(hat tip: Glenn Reynolds)

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July 5, 2005

Who Will Remember the Cold War as it Was?

The memorial at Checkpoint Charlie is no more. (hat tip: InstaPundit)

This is a shame and a tragedy, as such memorials keep alive the consequences of bad decisions. Think of how hard it is to convince someone who has seen Auschwitz that the Holocaust never happened. Yet as such memorials of the brutality of the Soviet sphere are removed - ironically at a time when Russia is again turning its imperialist eyes to the near abroad - it will become easier and easier to pretend that there was nothing more to the divide than a difference of opinion, a political matter of degree rather than of kind.

And then we see the tragic demonstration of the truth of Marx's reply to Santayana: "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

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June 2, 2005

Gotchya

Cicero sums up my thoughts pretty closely on the situation in Europe right now. One thing I would add is that history always plays the arrogant for fools.

Just as the Europeans are the fascists of the 1930s when you scratch slightly at their multiculturalist skin, so are we Americans the murdering bastards who slaughtered our way across the continent and willfully destroyed entire German and Japanese cities just to make a point, when you scratch at our skin of civilization. People don't change in their fundamentals - individuals can, rarely, but humans as a whole do not - and we are all still brutal animals at heart. That is why civilization is such a noble experiment: we can pretend we're not animals, and vow not to be animals today. But we'll still be animals just below the surface, and when that animal nature is challenged, it will come out.

This is a lesson that the jihadis, who have no surface civilization to hide their hobbesian nature, are learning at the hands of the American soldiers and Marines, and that I fear the Europeans will relearn if they slip into the ante-bellum past. I would rather have a Europe that snidely comments at how simple and brutal the Americans are, as their economies slide into stagnation and their global influence into oblivion, than a Europe composed of a cluster of fascist and socialist armed camps looking over their mutual borders with fear and suspicion.

The proposed European constitution is an unworkable mess, and needs to be defeated. But the idea of a pacified and united Europe should not be thrown out with it. Instead, there should be a renewed effort to create a true single state, but a loosely-federated system that focuses on consolidating foreign, defense and trans-border criminal issues rather than on Maltese property-ownership rules and the details of reindeer-herding.

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June 1, 2005

Knives?

Sometimes it is useful to remember that the nationals of Great Britain are not citizens, but subjects.

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August 12, 2003

The Enemies of Liberty

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

Outside of a very few political junkies, few Americans are paying any attention to the Hutton Inquiry. This is an inquiry in the UK into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. David Kelly, after it was revealed that he was the likely source for a report on the BBC damning the Blair government for falsifying information in its justifications for war. It turns out that it is likely that the BBC "News" reporter, Andrew Gilligan, most likely wrote the story pretty much in advance, with the desired political tilt, then sought out someone to say something that included the words "Blair", "government", "dossier" and some version of imprecision.

This post at the Karmic Inquisition gives a good reason why this matters so much. I've said before that this is a four-way war: the Enlightenment West vs. the Post-Modernist West, against the Pan-Arab National Socialists vs. the Islamist Radicals. It is the battle within the West that Adam Sullivan's piece focuses on, and it is really an important facet to understand: there are those in the West who are the enemies of individual liberty, and they are in positions of great influence, and they want to win because they think they are in the right. If the Enlightenment West doesn't win against the Post-Modernist West, then it really doesn't matter whether the Post-Modernist West or either faction of the Arab/Islamist culture wins, because all of those routes lead to tyranny for the West - either the tyranny of dhimmitude, or of a mix of fascism and socialism, or of Orwell's 1984 regime.

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July 8, 2003

A Geneology of Anti-Americanism

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

This article, by James Caesar in the American Prospect (hat tip: Grim's Hall), discusses the history of Anti-American thought among Western intellectuals (particularly in Europe). Here's the conclusion:

Not only does anti-Americanism make rational discussion impossible, it threatens the idea of a community of interests between Europe and America. Indeed, it threatens the idea of the West itself. According to the most developed views of anti-Americanism, there is no community of interests between the two sides of the Atlantic because America is a different and alien place. To "prove" this point without using such obvious, value-laden terms as "degeneracy" or the "site of catastrophe," proponents invest differences that exist between Europe and America with a level of significance all out of proportion with their real weight. True, Europeans spend more on the welfare state than do Americans, and Europeans have eliminated capital punishment while many American states still employ it. But to listen to the way in which these facts are discussed, one would think that they add up to different civilizations. This kind of analysis goes so far as to place in question even the commonality of democracy. Since democracy is now unquestionably regarded as a good thing - never mind, of course, that such an attachment to democracy arguably constitutes the most fundamental instance of Americanization - America cannot be a real democracy. And so it is said that American capitalism makes a mockery of the idea of equality, or that low rates of voting participation disqualify America from being in the camp of democratic states.

Hardly any reasonable person today would dismiss the seriousness of many of the challenges that have been raised against "modernity." Nor would any reasonable person deny that America, as one of the most modern and the most powerful of nations, has been the effective source of many of the trends of modernity, which therefore inevitably take on an American cast. But it is possible to acknowledge all of this without identifying modernity with a single people or place, as if the problems of modernity were purely American in origin or as if only Europeans, and not Americans, have been struggling with the question of how to deal with them. Anti-Americanism has become the lazy person's way of treating these issues. It allows those using this label to avoid confronting some of the hard questions that their own analysis demands be asked. To provide just one striking example, America is regularly criticized for being too modern (it has, for example, developed "fast food"), except when it is criticized for not being modern enough (a large portion of the population is still religious).

A genuine dialogue between America and Europe will become possible only when Europeans start the long and arduous process of freeing themselves from the grip of anti-Americanism - a process, fortunately, that several courageous European intellectuals have already launched. But it is also important for Americans not to fall into the error of using anti-Americanism as an excuse to ignore all criticisms made of their country. This temptation is to be found far more among conservative intellectuals than among liberals, who have traditionally paid great respect to the arguments of anti-American thinkers. Much recent conservative commentary has been too quick to dismiss challenges to current American strategic thinking and immediately to attribute them, without sufficient analysis, to the worst elements found in the historical sack of anti-Americanism, from anti-technologism to anti-Semitism. It would be more than ironic - it would be tragic -- if in combating anti-Americanism, we were to embrace an ideology of anti-Europeanism.

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June 24, 2003

Demography

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

I think that most Americans feel a deep tie to Europe. Culturally, linguistically, ethnically and politically, we became what we are because of Europe more than anywhere else. That is why, I think, we're so annoyed when European nations act like weasels. It's also why this kind of article (link via ZenPundit) is scary to me, and would likely be scare to most Americans if it weren't the most significant under-reported story in the world.

One study by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, predicts that the median age in the United States in 2050 will be 35.4, only a very slight increase from what it is now. In Europe, by contrast, it is expected to rise to 52.3 from 37.7.

European populations are ageing because modern first-world medicine and nutrition allows the population to live longer, but the population is not replacing itself. In fact, according to the article I quoted, the fertility rate in Germany is only 1.34 children per woman. This means that each generation is some 2/3 the size of the generation that spawned it. Given Europe's generous pensions, this cannot continue indefinitely.

The consequences of this will be huge: either significant additional immigration will have to be allowed, possibly leading to a European civil war within the next 20 to 50 years (since most of this immigration is from Arab nations with anti-liberal traditions, and by and large the immigrant populations are not being assimilated into the liberal European mainstream), or Europe's global political significance will shrink to the level of Brazil, while Europe's role changes into primarily a US vacation destination. Either way, as long as Europeans don't have more children, and fix their pension systems, there is no way to avoid some kind of large discontinuity some (historically short) time down the road.

It is my hope that Europeans will get through this dangerous time in their history (I'm sure they see it differently) without it becoming a dark time in all of our histories.

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May 10, 2003

Whither France?

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

I think that the biggest question raised for me by this article, is whether France will see its sixth republic, or whether it will be able to forestall that by plunging Europe into the depths. And if Europe falls in line behind France, will Europe in the next decade resemble Europe in the 1930s?

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