Here are a few thoughts about what I call the “Hitlerian Effect” that is still affecting Europe today. These are basic in nature and presentation. A more thorough entry will be placed here at a later date as this is still a work in progress. I hope it will stimulate some thoughts for you.
If one were to look at post WWII Europe as a whole entity, not in segments or decades, I believe that we see a pattern of post Hitler trauma, and it manifests itself in a variety of ways. First, there is a rather strong aversion throughout Europe, Western Europe especially, to any sort of requirement for immigration, or strict enforcement of existing immigration laws . This means to say that from my point of view, there are essentially no restrictions on immigration to European nations that previously were protective of their national identity. Historically, of course, people migrated throughout Europe, but essentially, France was for the French, Germany (post 1871) was for the Germans, etc. Yes, there were many ethnic groups in each nation, but the national identity was French, German, etc. The largest exception were those of Jewish origin, and throughout European history, they have been removed from nations for a variety of reasons largely political and religious, and to my mind, quite unfairly so. All we need do is look at the Reconquista and Inquisition in Spain for example, and the atrocities of WWII for the final, and most disgusting example. Those of Jewish origin do not factor into this particular discussion as a result. Historically, Jewish people have been branded as scapegoats indiscriminately in large part based on rising and falling economic times, and unfairly blamed for those natural tides. Jews were integral parts of many European nations and were Germans, Frenchmen, Brits, etc. It is a completely different situation for that group of people.
Because of the Holocaust, Europeans have been loathe to do two things…restrict immigration to their nations for fear of being branded Neo-Nazi, and because the very idea of restricting one’s nation on the basis of nationality has become repugnant to Europeans for that is what the Nazi’s tried to do with the forced deportation, concentration camps, expulsion, and the like. Those in power today throughout Europe are the decision makers that were alive during that period of time and remember what occurred quite vividly. Unfortunately, this has led to a degree of what used to be called in Germany “Kulturkampf” in my opinion, throughout Europe. Rather than assimilating into whatever European nation immigrants have moved in to, they simply attempt to “import” their cultures, traditions, etc, into their host nation. Europeans have been unwilling to challenge this as, again, they are quite sensitive to what happened in Germany under Hitler. European governments don’t want to speak of “preserving” their culture,as again, that ideology is akin to supporting what the Nazi’s spoke of, and they “won’t go there”. This has created a situation in which nations will not actively support their identity, and will not encourage assimilation into the national culture. This leads to a certain fragmentation in the host nation as a result. I think a good example are the rise of Sharia courts in Britain. Recently, however, some European nations have begun to challenge these notions as France has with the outlawing of Burquas, etc. I would further submit that the United States is somewhat different in that it’s creation was the result of immigration as opposed to the European nations historically. It provides, then, some distinct differences in makeup for the U.S. as opposed to Europe.
Secondly, Europe has become something of a nanny state in many nations. I travel through Europe twice yearly and have seen the problem grow. There is no question that socialist ideas and vehicles are in place in Europe and the result is that Europeans are having a hard time paying the bills. This, coupled with immigrants who are flowing into European nations looking for work, is exacerbating the problem. The new immigrants are getting government services, but many cannot find work in order to pay the requisite taxes. This is creating an imbalance in the system in which people looking for work cannot find it but are exhausting the government resources that are paid out in the process. The new immigrants are frustrated as they’ve come legitimately looking for work but there is none to be had. If we look at France from a few years ago, the Parisian riots in East Paris were a prime example of this. The riots were precipitated by immigrants who could not find work and rioted as a result. The French government told them that French citizens were priority one when it came to work…creating unrest in the immigrant (mostly North African) community living in Paris. Again, the post World War II welfare state, as a result of the war, was in place. Since 1830 in France, socialism had been gaining ground and acceptance in Europe, specifically France. Germany was one of the first European nations to implement the idea of Governmental Welfarism (my term) but it was done by Bismarck in order to appease the populace and subvert those in the government who were pushing for those reforms. As a result, Bismarck was able to keep power until 1890 when he was deposed by Wilhelm II for reasons unrelated to what had just been stated.
Today, we see a Europe that is, in my opinion, slowly losing its identity nationally (Britain is slowly “not for the British” – see current native born birth rates), more people on the government payroll and therefore straining the resources (see Greece, Britain, France) and European economies that simply can’t put people to work as they are not producing what they used to. This last issue is more global in nature to my mind, as companies (including those in the U.S.) are farming out work to developing nations as the labor is cheaper and the shareholders can make money. This, in and of itself, is not bad as that is what capitalism is about, but when you have a socialist economic structure in which the government is paying for services, but there isn’t enough money flowing into the system due to “overcrowding” and a stagnant economy, you will get a top heavy system that can’t support itself which is what I believe is happening in Europe today (my article on “compassionate capitalism” will come out at the end of the summer).
I am of the belief that all of this is a result of WWII, the guilt that Europeans feel over not stopping Hitler in his tracks, and the resultant overcompensation as a result of that failure to act. Certainly there is much more, especially with regard to immigration (which is not at all a bad thing provided that some level of assimilation occurs to the host nation), expansion of social safety nets that nations can no longer afford, and the question of whether a nation has an inherent right to preserve itself or not in the face of changing demographics. I think it is an interesting question and one that needs further examination.