Sunday, October 17, 2010

The (mono) Culture that is Germany

Ah yes, Germany. Where people still want a "pure" country and 10% dream of a new Fuehrer.

The article starts strong:

Germany's attempts to create a multi-cultural society in which people from various cultural backgrounds live together peacefully have failed, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

"Multikulti", the concept that "we are now living side by side and are happy about it," does not work, Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam near Berlin.

"This approach has failed, totally," she said in Saturday's speech.

Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, CSU, told the same party meeting Friday that the two Union parties were "committed to a dominant German culture and opposed to a multicultural one.

"'Multikulti' is dead," he said.

I don't know what you think of when you hear the phrase "a dominant German culture", but it does not produce a pleasant image of unicorns and rainbows in my head.

Then the article progresses from intolerance among the elites to intolerance among the rank and file:

The study, by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think tank, showed that more than one third (34.3 percent) of those surveyed believed Germany's 16 million immigrants or people with foreign origins came to the country for the social benefits.

Around the same number (35.6 percent) think Germany is being "over-run by foreigners" and more than one in 10 called for a "Fuehrer" to run the country "with a strong hand".

Thirty-two percent of people said they agreed with the statement: "Foreigners should be sent home when jobs are scarce."

Far-right attitudes are found not only at the extremes of German society, but "to a worrying degree at the centre of society," the report noted.

More than half (58.4 percent) of the 2,411 people polled thought the around four million Muslims in Germany should have their religious practices "significantly curbed."

The integration of Muslims has been a hot button issue since August when a member of Germany's central bank sparked outrage by saying the country was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants with headscarves.

That last bit reminds me of when I left GMU for Tulane and Gordon Tullock told me the move was terrific because I was "raising the average IQ at both places"!


SomeGuy said...

While I find those more extreme elements a bit frightening and personally believe diversity to be a socially and economically beneficial thing, by and large, some are far too quick to dismiss the concerns expressed by citizens about rapid mass immigration of people from very different cultural and economic backgrounds. Just because immigration has generally yielded good results for the United States historically doesn't mean that we should expect similar results for all developed countries now and forever regardless of the many changes we have undergone. Western Europe of today is fundamentally different than the United States was many decades or centuries before.

Here are some differences, as I see it:

Large welfare state -- immigrants don't necessarily NEED to be productive to survive. To the contrary, those that are least productive also tend to reproduce much faster than the so-called natives.

Education -- to be very productive in the more modern economies of today and not be a net drag on their systems (taxes vs transfers), you need to be fairly well educated and share a certain work ethic. In other words, the gap between poor immigrants and the existing citizens is likely much greater today.

Much more accommodation / rules against discrimination -- where before poorly integrated immigrants needed to learn the cultural norms and share a certain values to leave their respective ghettos and prosper, now various members of society are legally or otherwise compelled to accept and accomodate them.

Media -- immigrants of today can live in their own largely separate bubble through technological advances: internet, satellite TV, cheap airfare, etc.

Government -- today, clearly, government plays a much larger role in society than it used to. Thus the stakes are much larger as immigrants command increasing political influence -- how transfers are dispersed, what is or is not taught in school, and so on.

Types of immigrants -- given what are, in many ways, lower hurdles to immigration (less cost, less risk, easier time getting "established", etc) I am not sure that we're not attracting a different type of immigrant today than we used to. Not just the culture, but the age and gender. Instead of, say, young men coming for economic opportunity, whose success was entirely dependent on their ability to be productive, we have whole families moving now for some very different reasons or, even if the reasons are the same, simply aren't as adaptive because their hurdles are lower.


None of this is to say that you can't have any immigration, but I do think serious and honest consideration needs to be given to the rate immigration and the size of existing immigrant communities with the different world we live in today. If nothing else, it has the potential to put a real strain on the welfare systems since so much of it is premised on shared cultural values. Though I believe these programs are doomed for failure even without immigrants (as people start to take them for granted and demand more and more)... dropping a bunch of new people into it with fundamentally different ideas can do much to speed up the demise.

Anonymous said...

Partial disagreement w/ SomeGuy who is, I believe, thinking too hard about this.

Re: Education. I don't think you have to know much in order to live a better life in the US [for instance] vs Mexico [for instance]. It took me about 5 minutes to learn to operate a lawnmower when I was 10 years old. Many immigrants can make a better living, and not be a drag on the system, by cutting grass in the US than they can doing X (where X >= doing nothing) in their home countries. At least until the states start requiring grass cutter's licenses.

The only issue is cultural perception. Do people immigrate to a country because they believe it is a place where hard work will make them better off? Yes, win-win; No, fail-fail.

John said...

On the survey results, I'm sure if you polled America with those same questions, you'd get a fair amount responding in the affirmative.

Anonymous said...

First time I heard that 'raise the IQ' line it was about Max Rafferty leaving the California public instruction job for Alabama. I think I was twelve.

zimaroll said...

BR's point is well taken, but I think it really only applies to US. Some Guy has a reasoned, cautious-but-not-hysterical observation. Germany is likely more multikulti than US on homosexuality and women's rights than US, but it is breaking down in onslaught of a particular kind of non-productive immigration.

Anonymous said...

"Ah yes, Germany. Where people still want a "pure" country and 10% dream of a new Fuehrer". Wink, wink, nudge, nudge they're a bunch of Nazis right Angus? Thomas Sowell has several articles on his website supporting Angela Merkels statements - does this make him a Nazi too?

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