By Iran Review
By Ardeshir Zarei Ghanavati*
Apart from failure of neoliberal agendas, European countries and, basically speaking, the Western civilization is now grappling with three concurrent and totally interrelated problems and the quality of interaction with every one of these problems will have a direct effect on other aspects of this issue as well. These three problems, which include immigration, international terrorism, and strengthening of the radical right parties within the civil society and across the political structure of these societies, have had a great influence on these societies.
As a result, the public sphere has changed and became anarchic, on the one hand, while on the other hand, and in the political sphere, power institutions and parties have been pushed toward adoption of different policies, which have at times been at odds with European democratization, fundamental laws based on respect for human rights, the process of globalization, as well as convergence and cultural integration within this allegedly democratic structure. Since at their roots, these problems have a meaningful correlation with the Western world’s effort to meet its geopolitical interests and its intervention in such critical regions as the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, they have naturally caused spillover of crisis from “colonies” to “metropolises.” The interplay between spillover of the crisis and the aforesaid three problems has created a vicious circle in the Green Continent and it would not be easy for Europe to get out of this cycle.
1. Immigration phenomenon: The movement of human populations from an unfortunate environment to a better-off environment has been a prominent feature of life in human societies and civilizations, which has continued from the time when humans were hunters up to the present time. In past times, this immigration took place with a controllable and managed rhythm and the immigrant population went rather well through the integration cycle in host societies. During that period, immigration not only did not cause acute problems for these host societies, but also led to integration of more experts and politicians and caused more dynamism and balanced growth in those societies.
Despite all shortcomings that are associated with this cycle, which have now become more evident as immigration enters a period of anarchy, past immigrants were always forced under cultural hegemony of the host societies to comply with the existing structures in those societies. However, in recent years and following periodical crises and instability in failed societies and due to the relationship between those issues and West’s hegemonic interference in other countries, a different form of instability has come to the surface. On the other hand, since instability has been escalating in African and Middle Eastern societies, the burgeoning population of immigrants has greatly exceeded the host countries’ capacity to control immigration and this has caused changes in demographic composition of the Western societies. Since these immigrants mostly come from crisis-hit societies and have experienced wartime conditions and have been forced to change their abode under unnatural and compulsory circumstances, they inevitably take part of their problems and their legacy of violence to host societies.
2. International terrorism: At no juncture of its history like today the world has had to deal with a problem in the form of international terrorism, which is characterized by ease of its spread from crisis-hit environments to more secure places. The spread of the phenomenon, which is known as radical Islamist terrorism, to European societies, especially to those countries and societies, which have had a more open form of democracy, has currently faced these societies with a horrendous monster, which nobody is immune to its harm.
The new form of terrorism feeds on the intercivilizational violence and for this reason, it is bound by no human rules and regulations in setting goals and taking actions. Since the new phenomenon of jihadist terrorism focuses on the use of the weakest links in the political and social structure of these societies and considers infliction of mass casualties as a sign of its success in spreading terror, it naturally considers streets, gathering halls, human assemblies and, in general, attacking the greatest number of people who enjoy the least security protection as its ideal goals.
3. Strengthening of radical right tendencies: As European societies are flooded by migrants from eastern countries and as terrorist actions spread through those societies, the best ground has been provided for the growth and strengthening of anti-immigration and radical right tendencies. Since the end of 30-year wars in Europe and after two world wars, which were outcome of the accumulation of power and the powerful countries’ need to find new colonialist spheres of influence and new markets, Europe has never been faced with such a sweeping wave of racism as it is today. The fall of social democrat and center-right parties in Europe under present circumstances, when these intellectual currents cannot offer any way out of the crises that are nagging their societies, will inevitably provide a good ground for growth of the radical right and left tendencies.
However, since the problems that Europe is currently facing as a result of terrorism and immigration serve the goals of the radical right groups and justify their slogans, at present, unfortunately, only radical right groups can be considered unrivaled winners in this borderless continent. The biggest mistake committed by the European Union, which was the result of neoliberal goals and interests that govern this ailing structure, was that all European institutions focused on suppressing radical left tendencies, especially in countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and other weaker societies of the European Union.
As a result, powerful EU institutions and countries like Germany practically dashed any hope that European masses had for any modification and revision of failed neoliberal policies of the European Union. Under these conditions, when a large part of the European people was angry with these policies, the radical right groups ran their roots deep by taking advantage of such tangible issues as the purported threat of immigrants flooding Europe and the fear of Islamist terrorism, which overshadows social life in Europe. At present, they are moving step by step to conquer all powerful institutions across European countries.
The rapid rise of the European public opinion in support of the radical right parties in France, Germany, Italy, Britain, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, Denmark and Norway is an alarm bell whose thunderous chime will be no less menacing than terrorists’ bombs and the flood of immigrants. The fall of the moral credit of center-right and social democrat European parties into the abyss of fighting immigrants and promoting Islamophobia is a telltale sign of a regrettable situation, which is now the case with regard to many European countries. This is especially true about a country like France where even the socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls has trampled on all the country’s principles and laws as well as his party’s principles by highlighting the dispute about the burkini, which is put on by Muslim women. Instead of finding root causes of problems and coming up with correct solutions to those problems, what Europe is currently doing is to waste time and this is exactly what terrorists and radical right parties want.
*Ardeshir Zarei Ghanavati
Expert on International Relations & Foreign Policy