With migrant deaths en masse dominating the news all over the world, let’s face it, folks, it’s not business as usual anymore. This mass movement of peoples from so many threatened parts of Africa and the Middle East calls to mind nothing so much as the invasions that occurred in the Dark Ages that brought about the end of the Roman Empire. In English we call that period the “Barbarian Invasions” but the German word is better: “The Völkerwanderung” which means “the migrations of peoples” or “ethnic groups.”
Let’s be clear: these are not barbarians, and this is not an armed attack by powerful armies like Attila’s, hell-bent on pillage. They’re ordinary people whose countries have become shooting galleries or prison camps, and after years or even decades of hardship, they’re risking everything to get out. And who wouldn’t? But make no mistake, this massive influx of Syrians, Afghans, Eritreans, and Libyans will shake Europe to its core, just as the Visigoths, Vandals, and Franks did so many centuries ago. We’re going to see entire countries, like Syria, empty their cities and villages into the EU.
The cultural clashes that were already present throughout Europe from earlier immigrants will escalate dramatically, and who knows where it will all end. Perhaps we’ll get ghettos: ethnic enclaves within cities that resist assimilation. Perhaps after dozens of arson attacks on refugee centers, or the rise of parties and gangs devoted to saving the Fatherland, the right wing will win elections in some countries and Trump the sob sisters of the left, deporting hundreds of thousands of migrants. They may even take aim at entire established ethnic groups who they deem undesirable—a modern day “send ‘em back” movement may grow to fruition, replete with funds to establish new Freetowns or Monrovias. Maybe in 50 years we’ll see a “LePenville” teeming with ousted French-Algerian Muslims in the Atlas Mountains.
Or perhaps the Welcomers will win out. More and more migrants will arrive, and compassion will triumph. Perhaps then we’ll eventually see more homogenization: Afghans marrying Danes, Syrians marrying Greeks, or Eritreans marrying Italians, their erstwhile colonial masters. Perhaps in 100 years most families will be neither black nor white, but brown. Perhaps German will be a creole of Turkish and Arabic. That’s what happened when the Vikings invaded the British Isles, we ended up with a new variety of English. And perhaps, just as the Christian missionaries risked their lives to spread the Good News to the pagan Goths, Vikings, and Anglo-Saxons, we may see a new sensibility develop in the wake of the old religions, the victory of Humanism and an acknowledgement that sacrificing what we have in order to help those in need is the highest form of good.
If Europe is interested in stopping the flow from Libya and Syria they need to start doing some serious nation building, and to do that they need to get all the parties shooting at each other to come to a peace council. Isn’t it clear that these countries are too big? Break them up! Give each warring party a plot of ground and tell them to tend their garden. Make it worth Assad’s while to split his country up. Give those militias in Libya some boundaries, tell them to stay within them and see to their people’s needs. City-states are an old idea. Let’s refine it and make it work. Later, once things are humming along, there can be unions of these smaller political units, but for now, smaller is better. The only exception to this would be any group that is out for military conquest, or that will not respect international law in the treatment of its citizens, particularly women.