Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has touched a hornet’s nest. Her statement comes in a series of such statements by some German officials leading to uncomfortable scenarios for German lawmakers. But, this time the Chancellor herself stepped into the quagmire and it remains to be seen to where it leads.
Germany’s attempts to create a multi-cultural society in which people from various cultural backgrounds live together peacefully, have failed, Merkel said on Saturday October 16, 2010, speaking at a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam near Berlin.
The previous day, speaking in the same party meeting, Horst Seehofer the leader of CDU’s Bavarian sister party, CSU said the two parties were committed to the dominant German culture and added they are opposed to the multicultural one. He was quoted as saying, “Multikulti is dead.”
In August, a member of Germany’s central bank, Thilo Sarrazin, sparked outrage by saying the country was being made “more stupid” by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim immigrants with headscarves. He added, “No immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare state and crime.” The banker has since resigned, but his book written on the subject is selling like hot cakes.
Interestingly enough, Merkel also said that Germany needed specialists from overseas to keep the pace of its economic development, while warning against “immigration that weighs down on our social system.” Maybe Ms Merkel wants selected immigration, irrespective of what the laws and immigration agreements with immigrants’ countries say. Angela wants intellectual immigration to continue because, “Companies will go elsewhere because they won’t find the people to work here anymore.”
This somewhat anti-immigration tendency is seen in Germany irrespective of where the political party stands. The political parties from far right to left of the centre are unanimous on this issue. The banker who lashed out at Muslim immigrants was said to be a member of the opposition Social Democrats.
In fact, these political parties are trying to reflect social tendencies developed in the recent past among the German people, while they are supposed to reflect their party principles, if they matter. A recent study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation showed that 34.3 percent of Germans believe immigrants came to country for the social benefits. More than one-third (35.6 percent) of Germans feel their country is overrun by foreigners while 58.4 percent feel Muslims are a burden to the economy and their religious practices should significantly be curbed, according to the study.
Of the five million Muslim immigrants in Germany, four million are from Turkey. Germany and Turkey signed a labor recruitment agreement on 31 October 1961, and since then, Turkish immigration has shot up. The agreement initially invited immigrants to work, but not to stay. Later, in 1964, the agreement was modified because German companies did not want to retrain new workers constantly.
Rise of the Right and Far Right in Europe
With the failure of Social Democratic parties in the Europe in addressing people’s problems like unemployment, stagnant wages, decreasing opportunities and the absence of left parties and disclosure of the true face of so-called socialist parties, the only choice left for the people are rightist parties. Economic conditions formed the basis for this trend in European countries, but what are those economic conditions?
With the advent of globalization policies, the developed countries were forced to open their doors to labor markets, although to a minute extent. The immigration by those in search of work to the developed economies from the poor countries of East Europe where supposedly socialist governments collapsed at the end of 80th decade, speeded up. The developed countries signed agreements with immigrants’ countries to regulate the immigration but did not stop it entirely, because they needed the immigrant work force available at cheap cost. Before the spread of outsourcing, immigration was encouraged by the developed economies in search of more profits.
But, immigration posed social costs. The people of the developed countries have lost some their jobs to the immigrants contributing to the rise of unemployment. The people began to assume immigrants were depriving them of their jobs. One should not forget that the developed economies forced the poor east Europe countries to open up every sector to be plundered by the western European businesses and companies, allowing meager opportunities to eastern European people. As a result, more people were pushed below the poverty line in east Europe, which in turn, encouraged more east Europe people to emigrate to the developed west. The cycle continued and prompted the people of the west to assume that the immigration was the only, or at least the main, cause of their problems.
Centre of the problem
But, what people could not see was that at the centre of the problem lay the globalization policies promoted by their rulers at the behest of wealthy business and financial companies. Economic giants like MNCs, and TNCs continuously hunt for profits. They then look for opportunities to utilize such accumulated profits as new investments; again, to maximize their profits. In the process, the people were immigrated and emigrated and businesses were outsourced. Also, technological innovations deprived people of more jobs. All these conditions projected immigrants as a problem.
So, immigration is not the cause but rather, the effect, of the policies of the western European governments, but the social impact of the globalization policies resulted in hatred towards immigrants. As these problems were left unsolved, so-called labor and socialist governments collapsed, and rightist parties stepped in to cash in on the opportunities, campaigning against the immigration policies and immigrants. The people were in the mood to invite them in the face of decreasing job opportunities, increasing costs of living. That’s how the right and the far right occupied the chairs of the governments.
Have They Solved the Problems?
No, they have not. They do not even intend to solve problems, their intention is to occupy the places of power. After which they continue the same policies. Because, it makes no difference whether these parties are named and stand as socialist, social democrat, left of the centre, centre, right of the centre, right or far right, all of them work for the rich classes, not for the people. The only difference lies in whether the globalization policies that help the rich class are to be implemented cautiously, slowly, moderately, moderately speedily, or speedily. From the vantage of the people,the effects are the same: decreasing wages, contractualization of jobs, lay-offs, job cuts and you name it.
Instead of solving problems at the root, these political parties are projecting temporary solutions, which sometimes are not solutions at all. For example, see the banker’s statement in Germany. He sees Muslims as a whole as a burden to the German economy, and instead of correcting his economic outlook, Merkel herself declares the attempts to build multicultural society have failed, confirming her junior’s statement, “multikulti is dead.” Such statements are themselves a bid to divert the attention of the people from the core issues, such as globalization policies, allocation of maximum budget resources to the wealthy business houses, causes of the unemployment, rising discontent from jobs and pension cuts. France’s attacks on the Roma people and their forced expulsions are examples of this.
The western European governments do not want their people to concentrate on their problems, or the real causes of their problems. They do not want their people to see job and pension cuts, unemployment, rising prices and decreasing job opportunities as their core problems. They do not want their people to become proactive and agitate. Instead, they want their people to see something else as the reason for their problems. That something today is immigration. Tomorrow it could be nationality, race, terrorism or anything.
The Farces of Globalization and Austerity
When proposing the policies of liberalization, privatization and globalization, the developed countries convinced their people as well as the people of the rest of the world that these policies would increase job opportunities in their countries and abroad. They said the policies would transform the globe into a small village where every person can move from anywhere to anywhere in search of jobs, they would would boost the prosperity of the third world countries, as well as that of the poor in their own countries, and so on. None of this materialized. Now, the globalization policies have recently taken the form of austerity measures. The Euro crisis is the continuation of the global financial crisis, and it is also the pretext for the implementation of the austerity measures.
Now they are saying multikulti has failed. Do they mean to say globalization has failed? No, they will not say that. If they do, they would have to lose markets and everything achieved so far in the name of globalization. But, they want selected labor to immigrate, to sustain the pace of growth of their economies. Angela Merkel dared to declare openly that they required such immigrants to help contribute to growth. One should wonder she is not ashamed of it. She assumes that the other nations, from which she invites the growth-contributing immigrants, need not grow but instead, must continue to be suppliers of growth; contributors instead of growing themselves.
Such is the face of right, far right or any right-wing ‘ists’ for that matter, which care only for the wealthy countries. They care about the growth numbers of MNCs and TNCs but not the ground problems of the people. That is why the German Chancellor wants to keep the jobs for themselves but globalize the resources for exploitation.Powered by Sidelines