Is European Economic Prosperity Dependent on Mass Immigration?

The purpose of this article is to overview the issues and arguments surrounding the question of mass immigration to Europe. Its analysis is conceptually and in the use of available data focused on the last decade of immigration to what is now the European Union of 27 member states. In doing so, it takes a critical stand on those arguments suggesting that Europe, for various reasons related to the economic growth, needs large-scale immigration in order to preserve its wealth and way of life to the future. Our analysis shows that when taken in the overall perspective, that is, when the immigration of low- and high-skilled workers is calculated together with public expenses with which the issue of immigration is connected and with tax gains that immigrants bring, the net economic gain is very low or none. However, although not being the focus of our present text, the underlying theme of this work is also to suggest that immigration needs to be consider also from other then economic terms and the results of our analysis cannot be taken as sole factor for providing political decisions on immigration to European countries.

In approaching our topic, we first make an overview of immigration trends to Europe. This overview provides both empirical and theoretical background information required for our subsequent evaluation of the arguments of official EU bodies and commentators, who claim that mass immigration is economically beneficial, and indeed necessary, for Europe.

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Carl Schmitt, Aristotle and the concept of the political

schmittCarl Schmitt, besides being one of the thinkers of the ‘conservative revolution’ of the interwar Germany, was also notoriously infamous for being a ‘Hitler’s jurist,’ thus one of those important intellectuals who provided the necessary legal framework for the brutish Nazi regime. Yet, our world is seldom such that individuals can be so simply categorized as ‘good’ or ‘evil,’ and Carl Schmitt, has an interesting concept of the political which might give, and gives, contemporary political students and academics a completely new perspective on the sphere of politics.

Indeed, what is politics and its area of interest – the political? I might well continue by countless common definitions like ‘the political is what concerns the state,’ or I might mention the argument of many radical feminists or some of the scholars as Colin Hay (2002, pp. 69) who suggest that ‘everything has the potential to become political’ – even what was considered to be solely a domain of the ‘private’ – as was a few years ago shown in the infamous ‘fox hunting case’ in Britain.

Thus, the ‘classical’ definition of the political perceives politics as an arena – as Politics with the capital ‘P’ (by equating politics with places where is politics being created ~ usually the state, the government. However, many scholars including the ‘communitarians’ Charles Taylor, Michael Walker, Michael Sandel and Alasdair MacIntyre would certainly argue that politics is today also, or even primarily, created outside the national borders of the state – for instance in INGOs, QUANGOs, TNCs and in economic and financial organizations associated with them such as WTO or Bretton Woods institutions). Nevertheless, the second, ‘less traditional’ definition of politics perceives it as a process. When conceived as a process, in terms of application of power, or as of ‘transformatory capacity’ as Anthony Giddens formulates (1981), politics has the potential to emerge in every social location.

Colin Hay specifies:

‘Power … is about context-shaping, about the capacity of actors to redefine the parameters of what is socially, politically and economically possible for others. More formally we can define power … as the ability of actors (whether individual or collective) to “have an effect” upon the context which defines the range of possibilities of others’ (Hay, 1997, p. 50; quoted in Hay, 2002, p. 74)

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Globalization

Globalization seems to be almost a mythical word. As mentioned by Jerry Mander, media in the West almost unilaterally portray it as another step of ‘progress’ towards a ‘better world.’ [1] Consequently, as a striking opposition to smiling men in suits, media present shots of ‘globalization opponents’ which are portrayed solely as violent anarchists throwing paving stones on some or other demonstration against a meeting of G8, or any Bretton Woods institution for that matter. This inaccurate and misleading approach creates in public the perceived dichotomy of the supporters and opponents of globalization; the first are associated with the ‘educated’ and the latter with the ‘asocial rabble subverting the current effort for a better, liberal world order for all humanity.’

The world is nevertheless never so simple that it could be summarized as a battle of the forces of good against the forces of evil. The academic literature which supports the case against globalization exists, even it is flourishing and is supported by many erudite and distinguished scholars, whose ideas unfortunately, do not seem to fit into the contemporary political state of affairs. Academics like Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Sandel or Charles Taylor [2] are communitarians supporting localized management of political and economic affairs against the globalization, which they accuse of destroying both local culture and economy.

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Tories urge against materialism

David Cameron

//Update 12 Sept.: Probably the most interesting and commendable proposition of the policy paper that yesterday escaped my attention is that it suggests to add to the existing indicator of the national economic prosperity – GDP – set of new indicators which would better map the real social welfare. The criticism of GDP comes largely from the simple fact that it treats all possible national disasters as ‘positive boosts’ and healthy for the economy. GDP rises when a country is ridden by floods, tornadoes, or even war because of the consequent economic investments.

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The report from the Quality of Life policy group created for the Conservative Party argues and documents by the empirical research that the sole pursuit of material wealth ‘won’t make the British people happy’ (reported by the Independent here, in Czech here). Interestingly, this paper denounces the Conservative Party’s own policy from the years of the Thatcher and Major government as appealing solely to the selfish human nature.

On the other, however, the Conservatives seem to have nothing against globalization and ‘free’ market as such and vehemently stand against any further European integration, that is, the first steps which one should take if he genuinely opposes the current materialism of the West. What is needed is an European framework which would be able to support local businesses as against the domination of trans-national companies who today universalize the whole West and are subject to no other interest than their own – which is obviously to make people buy as much as their products as possible. The resources available to these transnational business players is tremendous – for instance ‘the budget of General Motors ($132 billion) is greater than the GNP of Indonesia; Ford’s ($100.3 billion), greater than the GNP of Turkey; Toyota’s greater than the GNP of Portugal; Unilever’s greater than the GNP of Pakistan; Nestlé’s greater than the GNP of Egypt’ [1]. It is no wonder than that these companies are able to ‘convince’ some politicians that to support their cause is really in theirbest’ interest.

The Conservatives, however, are and will probably remain silenced with regard to this prime cause of the spread of the materialist propaganda. Their advice to stand against materialism thus sounds nice, but the sincerity of such statement is doubtful since it is not accompanied by any applicable remedy…

 

[1] http://www.alaindebenoist.com/pdf/confronting_globalization.pdf, p. 122.

Individualists and their Liberal friends

We would all probably agree that every individual is in some way or another unique. Everyone of us has inside a potential, a certain predisposition, both due to inborn and socially-given qualities. As formulated by the first conservative thinkers as Edmund Burke or even those more radical like Joseph de Maistre, the role of our peers, those closest to us, of our nearest community, is to help us understand and then to develop this potential. This does not serve only to the particular person whose qualities are discovered, but ultimately to the development of the particular community as a whole. An individual as such is ‘nothing,’ only in a process of interaction with his natural and nearest communities he gains the sense of himself. Each fulfills one’s role, each gives his best, according to his qualities, in order to ‘build’ and ‘create’ above himself. One participates in what is interchangeable called ‘society’ or ‘community’ (in a sense of daily, journalistic use, while in the academic literature these terms are distinguished, mainly as ‘negative’ in the first case, and positive in the latter – F. Tonnies, O. Spengler, S. Freud). This society or community to call it freely for the moment is truly an organism, as true conservatives rightly for decades pointed out – an intellectual, worker, teacher, politician – all have certain functions, ‘social roles,’ as it is in an organism where a brain, muscles, senses, instincts also fulfill certain duties without which the organism could not function. Even those less able are not condemned because they can find their purpose in being a part of a larger whole – in this higher creation of all called community.

This conservative view of the society (not the liberal mutation manifested in the so-called conservatism of Thatcher or Reagan) is opposed by liberalism. Liberalism argues that for atomized society – society of autonomous, self-serving, Benthamite ‘utility maximisers,’ who seek above all else ‘their own way to happiness.’

But is this liberalism really that liberal as it tries to convince by its very name? There is ‘liberal’ democracy, ‘liberal’ market and so on, but what is the real meaning, the real content behind these powerful and bold phrases?

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