Contemporary migration and its challenges.
In moments of levity, this writer presents himself as a “professional immigrant”. Indeed, by choice or driven by vainly resisted forces, his life had to be repeatedly relocated. The experience of starting anew is as unpleasant as it is also valuable. In the aftermath of the recent US election, the migration experience became a recognized topic of significance.
Migration is not only a force that determined the US election. A new movement of peoples is tied to the appearance of unwelcome immigrations throughout the developed world. This new immigration, its political impact and its social consequences, will serve as a subject of future discussions.
Mankind’s history is the record of migration. Some episodes are not mentioned because of the due emphasis given to the record in immigrant-shaped countries, such as the USA, Canada or Australia. Conveniently separated from the overall case of the movement of peoples is that history’s migrations were also conquests. The correlation is so strong that we can talk about conquests that were immigrations carried out with other means. We should admit that the present’s nations are located in territories that have been taken from their earlier inhabitants that were driven away, either assimilated under pressure, or annihilated. Any given land, even if it is now officially “our inherited historic homeland”, has been at one point someone else’ territory. To illustrate, consider the current owners of the real estate and the events in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa during the Dark Ages and the Muslim Conquest.
Equally as effective in creating today’s political-ethnic map by the sword has been peaceful migration. As in the case of Kosovo, once the heart of historic Serbia, where under Ottoman rule the majority there became Albanian. This new demographic reality came about without the consent of the earlier majority because it lacked sovereignty. Ironically, what used to be southern Hungary became Serbian because the Crown let Serbs that fled Turkish misrule settle there. Frequently, after the individual trickle-in of settlers or their entry as organized groups, the land used by them became lost to the state that accepted them of its own volition. This process is an ongoing one and fuels disputes involving land that had traditional owners and the new majorities that claim it for them. The instances abound in which such antecedents are destined to become recognized issues once the new ethnic balance receives a separatist component.
Antidotes exist to such disputes. One of them is the grant of cultural autonomy and local self-government. This is an effective measure where the ethnic minority is a local majority with ancient roots. Even in Europe, some states see federalism and local autonomy as door openers to secession. Nevertheless, a federal response to what could otherwise have become secession, has often defused tension. No Finn in Sweden, no Swede in Finland, and none of the four nations that make up Switzerland, feel oppressed because he belongs to a minority. Going further we allege that, federalism is a key to the success of politically and economically thriving states and their system.
There are countries in which national success; immigration and the new settlers’ rise are presented as intertwined issues. Indeed, this is a realistic assessment and not a PC –inspired slogan. In these instances, we find a conscious policy that regulated admissions and a clear expectation regarding the comportment of the entrant. That meant that pre-dating arrival, there was a will to adjust to the ways of the host and a desire to participate in success-strategies. It must be evident that learning the language of the majority was part of this adjustment.
The record shows that there are immigrations that do not share this attitude and reject the notion that immigration implies adherence to the “social contract” that governs the host. More than that, those that reject the values that regulate the societies to which they have applied for access set the comportment’s tone. Beyond this imported hostility, one also finds a lack of imported skills that in their state of development the receiving economies need. From both of these barriers follow traits that hinder integration and we can talk about “resistant minorities.” The resulting and intended creation of separate and thereby inassimilable groupings react to “rejection” by hating additionally the order around them. Being condemned to failure because of their attitudes leads to frustration. This dropping out before getting assimilated spurs to hostile acts against the majority and its order, which is blamed for failure.
The alternative, classical immigration has produced individuals that, through their will to exploit through creative adjustment existing opportunities, have created a growing middle class. For individuals this process meant upward social mobility. The process of personal upgrading facilitated the integration into the system that these individuals have chosen by settling in it.
Both in the classical countries of immigration, as well as in Europe, a new immigration is unfolding. The attraction is not in all cases the striving for opportunity but the lure of financial support that is allotted independently of the beneficiary’ societal contribution. This creates, at the expense of the existing middle class, an immobile underclass whose perspectives depart from the majority’s and which contradicts the attitude that had made the host country successful. Not infrequently, this immigration begins with an illegal act. In Europe’s case, false national origins are claimed to support the fraudulent claim of political persecution. In the case of loosely controlled countries that lack residence registration, illegal entry and residence is practiced. Given this inauspicious start, mainstream careers will not necessarily be pursued, and so the inclination to engage in continued illegal activities is given.
Illegal or forced immigration tends to prove to be an irreversible process. This is an outcome in highly developed systems that in their practice extend protection, not as intended, to the falsely accused. Much rather, the criminal that violates the rules of the game naively assumed by society, is shielded. Thereby his apprehension is hindered and his chastisement is obstructed by protection intended for another purpose and whose postulates reflect assumptions that are invalidated by the nature of the challenge. Therefore, the conditions assessable now suggest that, economically and politically advanced societies have caused themselves to lose their ability to control their immigration. Furthermore, thereby, a significant part of their sovereignty and some pillars of their social order are also impaired.