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8 December - Immigration in the west in terms of capitalism - more general remarks

Reader comment on item: Europe under Siege

Submitted by Andy (United Kingdom), Dec 8, 2005 at 07:32

Since I made my comments about the immigration problems of the west in the framework of the capitalist system, the Frence riots have flared up, demonstrating how a country such as France with 5 million Muslims has both been in thrall to them and neglected them.

All the various arguments about immigration would not operate if the barriers to goods services and people had naturally been removed over the last 50 years. However, nationalistic sentiments have increased rather than decreasd as various nations feel under pressure from outsiders who wish to partake of the most successful economies.

France is the classic example, with the National Front getting an increasingly large share of the vote. We can imagine the sort of people who vote NF. They hark back to Algeria and the pied Noirs. But you can't have your cake and eat it: The French treated their colonies as part of Greater France, to their credit. Though they have obviously not followed through in providing the social support Frenchmen would expect for those immigrants who have found it difficult to get into the job market, with the result that they have beeb ghettoised and made to feel unwanted.

In Britain, we too have increasing racial tension, even to the extent of young blacks of Caribbean origin fighting asians of mostly Bangladeshi origin in the streets of our northern towns! Now the cotton mills have closed, generations of them too sufffer unemployment, though they are entitled to full social security benefits, including Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit, just like anyone else.

But no country has properly though through the consequences of allowing immigrant in to do the jobs indigenous people refused to do. In Germany, Turks form a great part of the work force, but are not allowed citizenship, being forced to return to Turkey at the end of their working lives. How are they expected to think as Germans? Britain, belatedly, is making learning English a requirement, as well as citizenship. But the heart has to follow where the rules go.

It always seems mad that people now imbibe foreign cultures on holiday all over the world, then condemn the very same cultural differences when they are practiced back home. If we still feel suspicious of our immigrant workers then the lessons of modern history have not gone home. We are all the same under the skin and want basically the same things for ourselves and our families.

But to get on with other peoples requires time and effort. Prejudices and stereotyping have to be overcome by education. I know of quite a few people who spout racial hatreds that so obviously come from the racial prejudice they heard their parents or grandparents declaiming. To repeat these ignorances without any thought whatsoever to current contexts is to show them up for what they are: ignorant and narrow-minded bigots. The same sort of people would fulminant about different religions to their own. The world has moved on. Globalisation does not just mean economic standardisation but the mixing of cultures and the ability of people from all round the world to get on perfectly amicably in economic, social and political terms.

One of the ways to make sure this continues and develops is total free trade. it does not exist now. Barriers exist everywhere, which are are simply expressions of out-dated nationalistic thinking. Even the great beacon of the capitalist system, America, has regulations by the bucket-load to protect its weak industries.
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