Cold War II
I decided to do something different this week - play analyst.
I predict that there is a good chance (30%-40%) that in a quarter of a century the US and Continental Europe (“CEU”, I firmly believe that the UK will not be part of the Continental construct) will be engaged in a new Cold War.
Please remember that all predictions about the future are predicated on current trends. It is possible and even likely that these trends will change with time as people realize where events are leading. An analogy can be made to two ships on a collision course. If nothing is done, then the ships will collide. However, once the crews realize what is going on, then they will take defensive actions that may or may not be able to avert the disaster.
I base my assertion on the following three European trends:
1. Demographic time bomb. European societies are dying. The European fertility rate is now less than 1.4 (compared to America’s 2.1 - the replacement rate). This will have significant effects on European societies. The modern European welfare state is dependent (like the US) on the working population to fund the benefits of retirees. As the working population shrinks compared to the supported population, the burden on the individual worker increases dramatically. Add to this the fact that European societies have a track record of ever-increasing benefits, which will create an even higher burden.
There are two “peaceful” ways to confront this problem. Increase the immigrant population or increase productivity. Culturally, Europeans have been incapable of the first. The few immigrants that they do take in are segregated and marginalized. A small, isolated, unassimilated population will not be able to single-handedly support the increase in the European benefit needs. The increase in productivity is impossible while restrictive labor and business laws remain in place. There has been no appetite in Europe to reform these impediments.
2. Economic time bomb. The unwieldy nature of European economies is well known. The labor markets, the products to be offered and trade are all highly controlled, mainly to protect against competition. I believe that there is another potential weakness that has yet to be confronted. I’m talking about the dollar bubble.
For the past decade, America’s strong dollar policy has made European manufactured goods cheaper to sell in the US (we are the world’s consumer). It has also made American investments more attractive. The resulting “virtuous” circle - Europeans buy dollar-denominated assets, driving up the price of the dollar and inducing others to buy dollar denominated assets, driving up the price of the dollar - has created a bubble. A similar process was (is?) at work in the Nasdaq bubble (buy stock, stock goes up, others buy stock only because it went up, stock goes up some more) created that calamity. An unwinding of the dollar bubble will have bad effects on both sides of the Atlantic.
In the US, a weaker dollar will drive down the markets, but because the dollar will be cheaper, there should be a corresponding increase the demand for American goods and services (good for jobs). On the other side of the Atlantic, however, the situation will be more uniformly bleak. European companies are still highly leveraged and depend for a large portion of their profits on the American markets. They cannot as easily fire employees to lower costs. Any repatriated euros will have to be spent on debt service to the continent’s credit-stressed banks. As a result, European companies will not be able to do the one thing that the demographic time-bomb requires them to do - create jobs.
3. Move away from democracy. Despite the fact that most European nations are democracies, the emerging EU apparatus is clearly undemocratic. It is a sprawling bureaucracy that does not respond to the will of the European people. The ineffectual European Parliament has about as much power as the Iranian one. The European bureaucracy is staffed by the Continental elite whose attitudes about government mirror that of the Bolsheviks - “dictatorship of the proletariat”. Like Lenin and his wealthy comrades, these Continentals see themselves as the über-smart vanguard of a new Utopian society. They will not allow the pleadings of the unwashed masses to affect their goals.
The influence of individual governments, which still have some democratic responsibility, is being whittled away in the new European Constitution. The attempts to build a powerful European Presidency to marshal the European bureaucracy to the detriment of the nation-states has been checked for now, but the struggle away from democracy continues.
Finally, individual liberties are on the decline. Most worrisome are the new laws against xenophobia, which has yet to be defined. These prohibitions against improper “views” can easily evolve into instruments of repression. Many European governments already have hate-speech laws whose application is a function of the speaker. For example, anti-Semitic speech by right-wing speakers is outlawed, but similar speech by left-wingers is encouraged as “discourse”. Application of the xenophobia laws will be just as political.
The combination of factors one and two shows that European society is unsustainable. The first factor shows that European culture is literally dying. They refuse to either reproduce or to assimilate enough outsiders into their culture. Given the current trends, cultural Europeans will die out in several hundred years.
This would not be a concern for any of us, if it weren’t for the second factor. The deteriorating economic situation ensures that the day of reckoning for Europe will be soon, in our lifetimes. Not only will the population decline, but they will also become much poorer. The resulting loss of standard of living, influence and power will bring closer the day when the Europeans start taking their predicament seriously and look to reverse their plight.
This is the point where my predictive powers take the greatest leap. There will be many ways to deal with a dying civilization, but I believe that European history and current trends show a clear preference for blaming the outsider. Most contemporary states/cultures undergoing painful (for the ego) transitions have chosen to blame either a disliked local minority or an outside force. Consider, for example, Nazi Germany, the entire Arab world, the former Communist states, and the current Communist states (North Korea, Cuba).
I believe that the CEU will be no different. The last century has shown the propensity of Europeans to shift blame for failure onto others. The Communists blamed the local capitalists, and when power did not yield the beneficial results, then foreign capitalist powers. The Nazis blamed the Jews and the Communists, all naturally operating under foreign influence. Blaming others for one’s problems is a common human reaction mainly because it is easier then self-reflection. This is especially true of welfare cultures, where people have been conditioned to relinquish the responsibility for one’s actions to a central authority. Under the circumstances, I believe that the first reaction of the CEU to the impending disaster will be to find a scapegoat.
Chances are that this scapegoat will be America. This pattern is already emerging. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder won his last election by diverting the electorate’s concern about economics by engaging in a campaign marked by anti-Americanism. The same can be said of the Jacques Chirac, who saw his popularity rise by opposing America. If the price of opposition to America is seen to be small, this pattern will be amplified as the economy gets worse. This dynamic can already be seen in the Arab world. For more than three decades, Arab potentates have seen criticism of America as essentially cost-less and used it to divert attention from domestic problems. As a result, America’s two greatest “allies” in the Arab world (Egypt and Saudi Arabia) are our greatest critics.
These anti-American sentiments stem from frustration and impotence in the face of American successes. The present rift with CEU can be traced to the widening gulf between CEU’s image of itself and it’s actual abilities. Due to factors one and two, this divergence will surely increase in the future.
Finally, factor three ensures that this turns into a Cold War. There is a high correlation between the states that have sought out scapegoats and authoritarian forms of government. The Nazis, the Communists and the Arabs have all had a tremendous control over the possible range of opinions available to the public. Each of these had a strangle hold on the sources of public information and the ability to censor opponents. The emerging bureau-authoritarian EU government has all the tools it needs to run an anti-American propaganda campaign. The freedom of the press in the CEU is already limited. Most nations already have state controlled television networks and the freedom of the independent news sources is hampered by the government. Case in point is last year’s injunction by a German court against a news agency banning it from publishing claims that Schroeder dyes his hair.
The new crime of xenophobia is especially troubling. Those who think little of laws punishing “bad” speech, are obviously ignorant of Soviet propensity of assigning noble causes to all their immoral actions. They should also re-read Orwell. My own Soviet-instilled paranoia suggests that it will possible to prosecute, say, the Danish for xenophobia for opposing some German functionary. It is possible that Europe will acquire, under this law, its own nationality and those who oppose further “integration” will be quieted as xenophobic. Notice, for example, that to date no European leader has been admonished for his xenophobic anti-Americanism. To paraphrase Orwell, it seems that “all hatreds are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
To conclude, I believe that European culture is dying and that there is a good chance that at some time in the near future America will become the primary scapegoat for their problems (the local Muslims being a close second). The resulting confrontation will be similar to the first Cold War against a rotting Soviet Union. The confrontation will be ideological (American survivalism against European “soft-power” veneered nihilism), political (through proxies - see Israeli-Palestinian conflict), economic and, in some cases, military.
By my own reckoning this prediction has a greater chance of NOT occurring. This could happen if the Europeans begin to reproduce or to assimilate foreigners in large numbers, dismantle their welfare states, reform the EU, or some combination of these. Nevertheless, because this is a distinct possibility, we must plan for the contingency that the “Axis of Weasels” truly becomes the main threat to our security.
UPDATE: The Telegraph talks about Europe today. Leader: Europe: the wolf is here and Barbara Amiel: Anti-Americans are really against liberal democracy.
Multiculturalism and culticidism
A British inner city doctor has a great piece in the Times of London connecting culticidal attitudes and multiculturalism, and, eventually, violence.