BOOK REVIEW Caldwell on Immigration Europe

BOOK REVIEW per 24 September 2010

Christopher Caldwell:

Caldwell gives us a very important and readable book : Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, The choice of this title shows he thinks the problems he describes put Europe in front of challenges at least as important as those which….. Burke saw coming from the French Revolution.

This book is first of all the work of an experienced and conscientious reporter and analyst. That shines through on all pages by the fullness of documentation Of all the social and racial incidents I got somehow to witness in Paris in the course of the last 15 years not a single one is missing. Not only the dates are given, but the causes, and the main personalities involved.
The bibliography is modest in volume (about 5 pages) but it has much of what you might need, with also a surprisingly ample number of sources in the German, Dutch and French language.
There are also 48 pages of notes again with full references. Finally there is an alphabetical index of 22 pages.

An even greater strength of the book is the pertinence and acuteness of Caldwell’s observations, and linking the single elements of the puzzle. He has a great gift of phrasing observations in a striking way. Here are a few examples. The short topic indication in underlined italic is mine. Caldwell’s words follow, sometimes slightly shortened.

Immigration as a cultural challenge
– Advanced cultures are vulnerable to primitive ones (17)

– On the various migration flows of European history: the Jewish, the Hugunot, the Polish Italians were enriching, not threatening (17)

On employers’ needs
– There has been an overestimation of our need for immigrant labour
On an inherent incompatibility of mass immigration and our European welfare systems
– Mass immigration clashes with the welfare state (22)

How Turkish guest workers became something else than temporary freshly rotating groups
– On Turks in Germany: where originally groups of guest workers would be temporary and would rotate with new groups of workers, corporations pressured government to make Gastarbeiter contracts renewable and let workers families join. Once your Turkish compatriots have set up a beachhead, migration becomes simple and routine (26)

On the false idea that immigration means a longer term relief for our economies
– The faster immigrants adapt, the more immigrants you need. It becomes addiction to ever bigger volumes.
– The gains from immigration are all paid back in later generations- they are borrowed, not earned (35)
Aristotle already knows the need for social cultural cohesion
– A quote from Aristotle “Most of the states which have admitted persons of another stock, either at the time of their foundation or later, have been troubled by sedition.
On the cost of immigration
– Two-thirds of French imams are on welfare…. If welfare recipients do not share the broader society’s values, then the broader society will turn against welfare. (49)

Mass immigration may undercut preservation of local culture
(Cities like) Amsterdam repository of fine local traditions and art may not survive (Ayaan Hirsi).For instance the local migrant majority may ask for food instead of art protection (51)

Migration. Subject to the law of communicating vases-
Eastward growth of the EU with new country members did not alleviate the overall EU migration situation because now small Latvia takes immigrants from Ghana (53)

Benefits of immigration only short terms
– In exchange for minor economic returns of extremely short duration, Europe replanted the seeds of a threat that had taken centuries of patience and violence to overcome – interreligious discord both domestic and international.
Islam was the arch enemy of European civilization, a mortal threat* (91)

On dhimmi- like behaviour of Europe in the face of Muslim complaints
– The Danish cartoon incident well explained and examples of European “dhimmitude (Carrefour) mentioned (p 168) the reaction of the European business world was abject and sycophantic. The French retailer Carrefour posted signs in its stores reading “We express solidarity with the Islamic and Egyptian community – and then in red letters: Carrefour doesn’t carry Danish products” (compare to racial divide over the O J Simpson trial) (p 169)
– Islamic men humiliated by reversal of traditional economic relations between men and women, retreat to spaces they can control: clubs mosques (p 174)

The appeal and dangers of sharia
– APPEAL OF SHARIA: Olivier Roy quote: taken one by one the elements (the veil, halal food) that seem incompatible between Islam and the West actually are not. Caldwell adds”: but taken one by one the piece of a gun are harmless. The danger is with the fitting together. Also sharia-conforming stock funds – Deutsche Bank. (p180)

British and Dutch leaders wobbly on ”democracy”; a majority could impose sharia
– On the remarks of the archbishop of Canterbury and those o Minister of Justice Donner (181-182) He adds: ….the majority is what counts hall we get polygamy ? It is in the line of developments….
– French and Dutch rejection of constitution 2005. Ireland 2008 248

Zapata taking over from Aznar launches bad and changing policies
– The change from Aznar to Zapatero and the policy changes. P 249

Cutting down on our welfare state in order to make our countries less migration prone
– The need to cut down welfare for our own natives to make our homes less attractive to newcomers or pull out of the Schengen agreements

Dangers of Turkey’s EU candidature
– Bring Turkey into Europe. Nothing undermined popular support for the EU more than the decision of the European Commission to declare Turkey a model for the “moderate”, “secular” Islam that Europe aspires to have within its borders, and to proceed with negotiations to admit Turkey to full EU membership.
– French and Dutch “NO” votes Turkey projected at 100 mln to dominate the European parliament from the moment it will be admitted
Inflow of immigrants Borders with Asian difficult countries
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger called EU negotiations a “grave error” an anti-historical goal, given Turkey’s Islamic roots (p 267)

Naive hope that “affirmative action” for immigration n could be temporary
” This (Sarkozy) view is naïve; it tends to become permanent California still has programs to foster hiring of nonwhites even now that nonwhites are a majority in the state. – Affirmative. Action cannot be ended because beneficiaries are too weak, and later for the opposite reason that they are too strong. (p 267)

Describing our European immigration adventure in total
– “Chosen immigration”. But from the beginning it was not a conscientious choice. It just happened inadvertently. Why did western countries not make a clear choice ? This is a mystery at firs p269)

Need for more European intelligence operations in Africa
– Lack of intelligence hampers the European identification missions to exert pressure (271-2)
Limiting immigration means accessing Third world expertise .That expertise comes at a steep price to us with debt forgiveness, development aid, co-development., gifts to government leaders, and so on. .

Negotiation stance between European countries and the migration home countries. Using the word “mafia”, as sweetener and escape for both negotiating sides.
A lot of what is called “mafia” covers the practice of quiet negotiations between western and African governments (p272 ) – “Mafia is a fig leave, like also ”human trafficking” Because negotiators from poor southern countries cannot be seen to cooperate in closing the door on one of their natives’ only exits from poverty.. For Europe’s negotiators the idea of “mafia” is also comfort because it implies that if the continent can just manage to solve a crime problem, its immigration problems will disappear. It gives westerns also the look of selflessness, addressing a humanitarian problem not looking selfishly to bar a door..
– Asymmetry in expertise also visible in Islamic terrorists knowing our airports, and our lack of knowledge handling the situation in Afghanistan (p272)
Agos: we need native informers, but that will be resisted by the developing countries, In fact we always promise them that they will “own” their own development.

The Cold War heritage distracted Europe making it ill suited to face the immigration challenge
the European decision to welcome millions of foreigners was made at a time when it was not of sound mind and body, in a political landscape drawn up by Hitler and Stalin and as the ward of a country – the United States – whose interests coincide less with those of Europe’s now that the age of Hitler and Stalin has passed.” (p 276)

Where are we now, ? Is our mentality changing or has the situation changed ?
– Right now Europeans have not grown “harder” towards immigrants. They are just in the bill-paying stage of a transaction that has already occasioned a good deal of buyer’s remorse (p 281)


Indeed a great book, and a great tool for our further work.
We dare to summarize it in the following way:

This is what has been happening over the last 40 years, while we were sleeping. This is what is coming to you, if present trends are not reversed.

That richly documented message is enough to earn our gratitude.
Caldwell sticks mostly with the diagnosis, though on possible cures he sometimes he gives a few hints (see notes) . But he does not develop an overall alternative strategy.
Perhaps he felt that would be outside his mandate, and might take away from the book’s analytical character and value. Moreover an overall strategy would have to be open to a variety of packages, with their composition varying according to national preferences, even if in all of them the measures regarding demography would take prime place.

Readers know that we blame our leaders for the fact that they did not warn us on the demographic challenges of Europe. They did not initiate or foster reflection and action when the United Nations threw us the gauntlet by saying that Europe would need 750 mln immigrants. Our leaders perhaps thought they did not have the time. At any rate they did not muster the courage to point toward the need to develop alternatives.

An appeal therefore to our readers to think about this theme Perhaps they may take a look at our piece ”ALTERNATIVES” on this website, and see whether they might not share with us ideas on how to address one or the other element of an action list.

We would particularly value to hear from what is sometimes called “Benedict’s Creative Minority” (see Samuel Gregg, in Acton Institute…September 22 2010 )
The complexities of the migration phenomena have not yet been fully addressed by the Church’s authorities working in the field of social doctrine.

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Note: a few hints from Caldwell for improvement of our European position:
 Don’t make our welfare system too rich, too general, it needlessly increases the attraction to immigration. Perhaps cut it down would be wiser
 Increase our expertise, our “business intelligence” on the real situation of African and other countries Then we shall be stronger in our negotiations, with less need to hide behind useless “Mafia” explanations

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Caldwell has also a few good remarks on the International Crisis Group, (115, 116)
– On assimilation and integration (p 125)


About dutasia

Former Ambassador of the Netherlands, presently National Commissioner for Thailand and for Indonesia in the ICC, the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Business Organization. Chairman of China Carbon Forum in Beijing, China.
This entry was posted in EUROPE, Immigration into Europe, Islam in Europe, Migration issues and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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