2016 presidential elections in Austria

by Ingrid Robeyns on May 23, 2016

The Austrians just elected Alexander Van der Bellen, a Green politician, as their new President – with 50,3% of the votes. The other half of those holding the right to vote preferred Norbert Hofer, the candidate of the populist right-wing (or, as some have it, neo-fascist) party FPÖ. I haven’t followed Austrian politics close enough to know whether that qualification is justified. It’s a difficult debate about which qualifications are justified for the various European radical right-wing parties, but either way it seems that their becoming more mainstream has not made them less radical (Dutch political scientists who have studied various radical right-wing European political parties claim that they do not moderate their principles and ambitions when they gain power – they only moderate their tone).

Either way, those of us who see the European radical right-wing parties as dangerous for values such as toleration, solidarity and international cooperation, have an uphill battle to fight. Van der Bellen may have won last night – but we should not forget that half of the Austrians prefer a radical right-wing president. Too much of this reminds us of the toxic political climate we had in Europe in the past. And I find it increasingly hard not too worry that there are too many signs of some of that returning.

{ 135 comments }

1

Ingrid Robeyns 05.23.16 at 8:54 pm

I think we should only tolerate those who are tolerant. The way racism and xenophobia have become mainstream is what is worrying and “the battle” is to engage in a conversation that makes that visible, and also makes visible the lies and dehumanisations on which everyday racism and xenophobia are based. This is not to deny that there are genuine problems in society, but by putting them only/mainly/exclusively in an ‘ethnic’ or ‘racial’ frame we are fuelling this ‘we-versus-them’ thinking. I don’t know where’ you’re geographically based, Ze K, but the debates in Europe on e.g. the refugees right now are not pretty – and that’s an understatement.

2

J-D 05.23.16 at 9:23 pm

So what you’re saying, Ze K, is that if we reject the views of the Freedom Party, if we oppose and criticise and attack them, that will result in the party gaining popularity and winning more votes; so if what we want is for the Freedom Party to lose popularity and for voters to abandon it, what we should do is stop criticising and attacking its views and instead speak positively of them and acknowledge them as valid.

Yes, it’s easy to see how that makes sense.

3

Robespierre 05.23.16 at 9:39 pm

No, he says the nationalist vote is caused by something. That’s not the same thing as saying it’s the right answer. People who must compete for jobs, social housing, etc have real concerns; language integration for migrants in schools is a real challenge; the poor, while better off than migrants, bear the brunt of it.

Of course, the left’s answer should be: right, here are more resources for schools, public housing and crumbling neighbourhoods. If the left’s answer is “don’t be racist. Here’s some more austerity”, don’t be surprised at the result. There’s only so many times that left and right can embrace in a grand coalition to keep out competitors. Let’s hope they are left wing populists rather than the right’s.

4

Placeholder 05.23.16 at 9:43 pm

Despite the media scandalization process refugees are not as unpopular as people think. The Tories recently reversed a policy on unaccompanied minors because the people were shown to be in favor. Even in Germany it’s closer to a 50-50 policy on a lot of issues. The issue is the strength of opposition and the sudden polarization around the rightist unholy (and not always properly distinguished) unholy trinity of it, immigration, the EU.

If we’re going to draw these analogies then let’s get scientific.
Fact 1: The NSDAP vote correlated with the unemployment rate in Germany.
http://uk.businessinsider.com/chart-german-unemployment-and-nazi-vote-2015-2?op=1?r=US&IR=T
Fact 2: It did not correlate with actual German unemployed. Those people radicalised but they voted KPD. https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/50909/134.pdf?sequence=1

The issue is idealism that understands deep reaction as an idea people hold that must be refuted or acknowledged. Trump voters did not suddenly start believing Obama was Muslim in 2008 and about half of republicans have always believed that. Black or working class voters have always been more conservative on many social issues but they can and do back the left comfortably. UKIP voters are not working class no matter what people tell you. So why does it matter to them all of a sudden? Figures like Trump seem disruptive because they are a radical break with the orthodoxy that develops in years of plenty but they are intended to reconcile an ideological crisis caused by economic failure that cannot be done with a system failing on its own terms. However dangerous they seem, the liberal establishment knows it needs a radical bait-and-switch when it is their own position that is at stake.

5

bruce wilder 05.23.16 at 9:57 pm

Figures like Trump seem disruptive because they are a radical break with the orthodoxy that develops in years of plenty but they are intended to reconcile an ideological crisis caused by economic failure that cannot be done with a system failing on its own terms. However dangerous they seem, the liberal establishment knows it needs a radical bait-and-switch when it is their own position that is at stake.

I am having difficulty parsing the passage quoted. “they are intended”? Whose intention? “that cannot be done” ? Is the liberal establishment dangerous? Is Trump a”radical bait-and-switch”? Which position, and whose, is at stake?

6

Placeholder 05.23.16 at 10:24 pm

The conservative power base – of money, corporations – knows they have to run on conservative populism out of fear of left populism. The radical right want to be bound to the system even when they can’t defend it. Any sops to liberal society that the neoliberalism consensus of the ’90s will be gladly ejected if it keeps them together. That certain conservative intellectual class this produced will rail #NeverTrump and no one will listen. The polls will narrow as they are narrowing now and it is not ‘tribalism’, which JQ seems to be using to mean a partisanship with a more nationalist core is not the reason. Much of the media will go along with it.

I guess I make it hard to read because I can hardly bear saying but I think it’s true.

7

Cabalamat 05.23.16 at 10:30 pm

@2: “I think we should only tolerate those who are tolerant.”

Some people are bigots, and for that reason dislike Muslims. Other people dislike bigotry, think a lot of Muslims are bigots, and for that reason dislike Muslims.

I suspect that there would be less hostility to recent Muslim migration into Europe if European societies took steps to ensure that those entering Europe supported such values as democracy, free speech, equal rights for women, anti-discrimination against gays, etc.

8

Plume 05.23.16 at 10:35 pm

Is it true that 50% of Austrians wanted the right-winger? Have they broken things down as far as turnout goes?

In America, turnout is extremely low in election after election, but especially midterms. So it’s virtually always a mistake to think of the final percentages as equivalent to the population overall. In our midterms, for example, a 35% turnout rate is typical. It would seem that it’s more a reflection of who is inspired to vote (and the effectiveness of machine politics), rather than some accurate snapshot of how the nation feels.

Tons of factors going into that inspiration, or lack there of, certainly. IMO, the lack of a strong, aggressive, no apologies alternative from the left is a huge help for right-wingers. The Dems, for instance, have stuck with the idea that it’s better to be Republican Lite than actually offer a full-throated alternative, which is why, IMO, they keep losing those midterms.

The immigrant problem is Europe must certainly be a huge advantage, politically, for the right, but what would happen if parties on the left there stopped making nice with austerity and neoliberal ideology in general, and actually offered people concrete measures to improve their lives? What if they decided to end the status quo ante, and went all out left-populist, aggressively, without hedging? I just can’t see how a laser focus on the non-rich — the majority — wouldn’t bring them victory after victory. Follow through would be absolutely necessary, of course. Walk the walk, etc. But people want change. It makes too much sense to give them change that helps the quality of their lives considerably, and that’s something the right can’t ever bring. The left can.

9

TM 05.23.16 at 10:54 pm

Turnout was 73%. What hasn’t been mentioned is that this was a runoff election. Both main party candidates were eliminated in the first round. There are major political realignments under way almost everywhere in Europe. The stable party systems of the post war order (which in some countries like Italy imploded decades ago) are definitely a thing of the past.

10

Guy 05.23.16 at 11:39 pm

Am I the only one who thinks these far right/left labels are increasingly meaningless?There are plenty of things Hofer and his ilk are saying which are frankly, way to the left of the US Democrats. There is a reason after all that the social democratic parties have lost the votes of Europe’s working classes. Perhaps pro-establishment vs anti-establishment is a better characterization (and mirrored quite uncannily by Clinton vs Trump/Sanders).

Watching the slow motion collapse of Europe’s political centre is both terrifying and unsurprising. Recession, austerity, stagnant wages, billions spent on bank bailouts, the brutalist treatment of Greece (or the ongoing money pit that is Greece if you’re a German voter), a million refugees suddenly appearing out of nowhere, cross-border terrorism…I suspect the average voter can only look at all this and conclude the system isn’t working and its time to vote for something new.

11

J-D 05.23.16 at 11:49 pm

Robespierre @5

It’s possible that you’re right and that what Ze K meant was that there needs to be a greater allocation of resources to schools, public housing, and crumbling neighbourhoods; Ze K didn’t write that, though.

12

Lowhim 05.24.16 at 12:20 am

@5 Yes, this has to be the argument. Countering it with blaming the people for reacting in such a way is counterproductive. That being said, given Europe’s attitude (I’m only speaking of my own experience here) towards gypsies [1], I sense that there is something underneath it all that might arise in all but the best of times.

[1] How many times did I hear the “they provide no social function” to why they should have been cleared out (deported) from Europe. I wonder if this has ever been studied? The reaction to gypsies and minorities vs how well the economy was doing.

13

BBA 05.24.16 at 12:23 am

Keep in mind, Austria is a parliamentary republic and the President has very little control over policy. Voters may have been more comfortable voting FPÖ for President than they would be for Chancellor. Or alternatively, if they don’t understand the difference, I’d expect they’d have been sorely disappointed when President Hofer didn’t actually have the governmental authority to make Austria great again.

14

chairman 05.24.16 at 12:54 am

I would like to see the left start thinking seriously about solutions to international inequality and the various crises of troubled countries that don’t involve large-scale immigration. Mass immigration causes a number of social problems, especially for the poor. Instead of bringing large numbers of refugees into European countries, how much would it take to make refugee camps in middle eastern countries decent places for them to live? What can be done toward this goal? How can we help troubled countries develop their capital infrastructure so their people don’t *want* to come to Europe? This dialogue is too absent from the left (I’m sure there are some who engage in it) who rather have an ideological attachment to mass immigration.

15

derrida derider 05.24.16 at 1:48 am

BBA is right – the success of both the Green victor and the Trumpian vanquished was a combination of the largely symbolic position of the President and the peculiarities of FPTP elections. Had the first round been an STV/preferential or similar voting system the top two candidates would undoubtedly have been from the major parties.

The appeal of the radical right should not be exaggerated. Also their radicalism should not be too – they are nativist, not fascist. That’s nasty enough but there is a difference.

16

Marc 05.24.16 at 1:59 am

@17: The top two candidates actually ran in the runoff election, no? It’s entirely possible that, if 50 percent were willing to go far right in the second round, more than 50 percent could have chosen second preferences that would have put the far right into power if there was preferential voting. In fact, given the closeness of the election, I’d actually bet on it.

17

Peter Dorman 05.24.16 at 2:39 am

#14: Some of us the left have been thinking about this. Our idea is called “global public finance”. Combine that with the emerging evidence the monetary transfers, pure and simple, can transform the lives the world’s poorest people. For a weak (but introductory) version of global public finance, see the website of the Leading Group for Innovative Finance for Development. For me, a minimum condition for actively supporting a politician (in the US), rather than just opposing her/his opposition, is speaking out in favor of joining the Leading Group and advancing its agenda.

18

J-D 05.24.16 at 3:01 am

derrida derider @17

‘Had the first round been an STV/preferential or similar voting system the top two candidates would undoubtedly have been from the major parties.’

Not a chance.

There is no reason to think that in a preferential/AV/IRV ballot the voters would have allocated their first preferences differently from the way they actually did in the first round of the actual ballot. In that ballot, the candidates of the two major parties got 11% of the votes each, coming fourth and fifth out of the six candidates.

If there had been a full preferential ballot, there are ways it would have been possible that one of those two could have got into the final two — I don’t know enough about Austrian politics to know how likely it would have been, but it is possible — and if one of them had got into the final two I would rate the chance of his going on to win as high. But both of them in the final two? No.

19

Neville Morley 05.24.16 at 5:10 am

The President actually has sweeping powers to appoint and dismiss ministers, including the Chancellor, appoint senior judges and federal state governors, and dissolve the National Council. The fact that these powers have only ever been exercised in a ceremonial way, reflecting the make-up of parliament, doesn’t mean they never could be; part of the fear about Hofer – and presumably part of the hope of his supporters – was that he might break with tradition and use the powers of the office to give the FPÖ real executive power, partly by blocking the normal processes of government.

20

J-D 05.24.16 at 5:34 am

Neville Morley @21

That’s an interesting point. What nobody knows, I suppose — because there’s no way anybody can know for sure — is how the Austrian population would react if a President deviated in such a way, and so widely, from past practice. Were Hofer’s supporters explicitly saying that this was what they wanted?

21

Alex K--- 05.24.16 at 6:06 am

@ Plume (10): “But people want change. It makes too much sense to give them change that helps the quality of their lives considerably, and that’s something the right can’t ever bring. The left can.”

It seems to me that some strands of the “far-right” are a nativist mutation of the left, while others are a welfare-adjusted mutation of the libertarian right. If the former prevailed, I don’t see why they could not improve the quality of the citizens’ lives, although at least some immigrants would be excluded.

22

J-D 05.24.16 at 7:01 am

Guy @12

‘Am I the only one who thinks these far right/left labels are increasingly meaningless?’

Once upon a time, the terms ‘right’ and ‘left’ were useful for explaining/describing some things, but not for others.

Now, by contrast, they are … useful for explaining/describing some things, but not for others.

Yes, there are limits on the useful meaning of the terms, but they haven’t become less meaningful. As you pay more attention, you notice more things, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there before.

23

John Quiggin 05.24.16 at 7:13 am

(Genuine question) What have far right/nativist parties actually done, now that a number of them have been in office or provided the votes to keep right neoliberal parties in office?

My intuition is that, while it’s easy enough to win votes with nativist, anti-immigrant rhetoric, doing something substantial about it is much harder. There are plenty of ways to make life difficult for migrants, particularly non-citizens, and plenty of symbolic ways of making people feel unwelcome but these aren’t likely to stop, let alone reverse the flows of people around the world.

Th actions that would have real effects, like mass deportation, seem like they would require tearing up the legal system in ways that still seem well beyond the realm of political possibility.

Then there’s the possibility of a slippery slope. I can’t though, see any plausible chain of intermediate positions.

24

Dipper 05.24.16 at 7:48 am

@ John Quiggin

What have far right/nativist parties actually done?

In the UK they haven’t got into power much. The BNP – a genuine far right party – had a councillor or two and a MEP but they have no disbanded. UKIP – a kind of multi-cultural nativist party – has had a number of MEPs and won Thanet Council (a small town in Kent)

What they have been generally is a shambles. They have no cohesion or organisation. UKIP by its nature is a collection of malcontents, golf-club generals and mavericks. They very quickly argue and fall out. If you did one of those Belbin psychology tests you would probably find they were all the same types – Plants and Shapers, and as you need a mix of personality types to make an effective organisation, they generally fail.

I believe the SNP were similar in the 1970’s, until Alex Salmond turned them into a cohesive party machine, but there are people better equipped to comment on the SNP than I on CT.

25

Anderson 05.24.16 at 7:52 am

27: Hungary?

26

TM 05.24.16 at 8:09 am

“the success of both the Green victor and the Trumpian vanquished was a combination of the largely symbolic position of the President and the peculiarities of FPTP elections.”

That misses the fact that nothing close to this outcome ever happened before. Also, the far right candidate got 35% even in the first round and outclassed both main party candidates. Compare that to the French election 2002 when Chirac came out first (and won 80% in the runoff) but the socialist candidate came out behind Le Pen because the left was so divided. That really didn’t need to happen but Austria wasn’t like that.

Regarding presidential powers, Hofer did say during the campaign that people would be surprised how much he could do as president, which many interpreted as a threat. Van der Bellen on the other hand promised to prevent an FPÖ chancellor, which is indeed in his power (the chancellor is not elected). As an aside, the Austrian constitution is from 1920. They didn’t bother to write a new one after 1945.

27

TM 05.24.16 at 8:20 am

26 et al: Italy is a case study, Berlusconi has been kept in power by the Lega Nord and other far right parties. Generally I think the nativist parties have mostly been supportive of neoliberalism. There may be exceptions but I’m not aware of a case where austerity policies were prevented by the far right.

28

Akshay 05.24.16 at 9:07 am

The question of John Quiggin @ 26 on what the far right has actually done is important. In my own country of the Netherlands, Geert Wilders gave parliamentary support to a right-wing government of the Christian Democrats (at that point dominated by their conservative branch) and the centre-right, Pro-Business VVD party. Their record is clearly on the economic right, supporting big corporations and agribusiness. Once the crisis threatened to hit the budget too severely, Wilders withdrew his support, causing the government to fall. He calculated correctly, that in spite of a short-term hit to his popularity, his votes would grow more in opposition to austerity. He did not prevent budget cuts, he simply refused to take responsibility for them.

Wilders himself originates from the right wing of the VVD party. When he split off from them, his first manifesto was economically very right-wing and pro-market. He quickly discovered there are far more votes in cynical demagogy. He systematically supports policies like health-care, to please the elderly in his base. He claims all budgetary problems can be solved by spending less money on foreign aid, asylum seekers, sustainable energy, coddling muslims, etc.

He will probably lead the largest party by next election, but might not be able to form a majority coalition.

On asylum and immigration, mainstream parties have been making laws tougher and tougher for decades, although not so tough as to deter people, who are fleeing Assad’s torturers, Russian bombs and ISIS executioners, from seeking refuge. The influence of the far-right works via the mainstream on these topics.

29

Pete 05.24.16 at 9:07 am

JQ @26: While the parties haven’t done much directly in the UK, appealing to their votes has caused round after round of tightening to the immigration system making it increasingly bureaucratic-evil.

A lot can be traced back to HRA article 8 and other aspects interacting with the immigration system. There were a series of publicised cases, all of which were litigated with legal aid, in which it was ruled that human rights prevented people from being deported. This effectively created a “right to immigrate” provided you could make it over the wire in the first place. Part of the reaction to that has been to cut the legal aid system to the bone.

The trend of the UK Pakistani/Bangladeshi communities preferring to seek marriages with people from the old country rather than the UK was also something people took exception to. That’s why the spousal visa salary requirements exist.

The Rahman case judgement is also well worth reading on political corruption in immigrant communities; Tammany Hall in Tower Hamlets.

The strategy of calling anyone a racist who points out any problem in any immigrant community is incredibly bad for the discourse. People get fed up of it and then resolve never to listen to you again; you’ve lost them to the anti-immigrant right for the medium term.

30

Tabasco 05.24.16 at 9:19 am

What have far right/nativist parties actually done?

We’ll find out when Marine Le Pen becomes President of France next year. Unlike most other European presidents, she will have real power.

31

David 05.24.16 at 9:38 am

Ingrid’s remark that “we should tolerate only those who are tolerant”, apart from being a dubious, and possibly self-refuting, basis for action, brings to mind irresistibly Tom Lehrer’s 1965 joke:
“I know there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I HATE people like that!”
If you take the extraordinary step of actually speaking to, or even reading interviews with, people who are attracted to extreme right parties in Europe, you find that very few of them are “intolerant” in the simple sense. They share the basic identity-group differences you find everywhere among all classes: Flemings and Walloons in Belgium, the Dutch and the Germans, people from North and South Germany – all of them complain about each other, tell rude jokes and remember alleged historical slights. I don’t think most French people literally believe that all Corsicans are bandits and terrorists, for example, but many of them pretend to. This kind of thing is endemic in the human condition.
So there’s little intolerance for migrants as such, beyond this low-level political noise. But voters for these parties come disproportionately from communities that are actually affected by migration, and they often have very practical complaints and concerns: about already overburdened health, social and education services, the exploitation of migrants by unscrupulous employers to force down wages, half of your child’s class at school being unable to speak the native language and so forth. Camps of Roms outside Paris with no running water and open sewers are not being built in plush residential areas. But actual demonstrated intolerance (especially violent intolerance) has been very limited: I can’t speak for all countries but in France it’s been virtually non-existent. People’s anger is overwhelmingly directed against the government – hence the good performance of some of these parties.
The Left could reasonably have reacted by saying, yes, we understand that migration poses practical problems that need to be addressed. We will get the economy moving again so that jobs are being created, we will put money into schools and hospitals, we will build more houses, we will put more police back in the difficult areas. But the Left, which is frightened to make such suggestions, falls back instead precisely on intolerance: no platform for racists, no tolerance for racist views. It’s solution is to shoot the messenger, by trying to abuse those who draw attention to popular discontent , and to silence them. The field is thus left open for other political movements.
Europe is a big part of it too, and extreme-right parties often do well in areas where there are few migrants for this reason. In the countryside and small towns, farmers are being ruined by EU agricultural policies, which encourage large industrialized producers who can take advantage of EU regulations to bring fruit and vegetables from hundreds of kilometers away to undercut even the costs of production of small farmers. Suicides among small-scale French farmers and the bankruptcy of family farms are now so common that they hardly make the news. And you want to support your local agriculture, perhaps? No chance: shops no longer have to indicate the country of origin of meat, for example, because that would bring subjective, non-economic factors into a rational purchasing decision. The EU’s governing class, wealthy, deracinated, and speaking only to itself in a kind of strangled pseudo-English, is seen, with some justice, as trying to erase all national and local cultures, producing a homogenized European product, a standard consumer/worker, freely transferrable around Europe. And European governments, whether of the notionalLeft of Right, have largely bought into these ideas.
If the Left is unwilling to address the practical concerns that lie at the heart of support for these parties, it can hardly complain if others do. Intolerance is not a policy.

32

reason 05.24.16 at 9:51 am

David
“So there’s little intolerance for migrants as such, beyond this low-level political noise. But voters for these parties come disproportionately from communities that are actually affected by migration, and they often have very practical complaints and concerns:”

Actually, I don’t think that is in anyway true. Mostly they come from groups that feel disadvantaged in some way, but actually rarely due to migration. Anti-immigrant sentiment I believe is generally strongest where there are fewest immigrants (e.g. Eastern Germany rather than Western Germany).

33

Alex K--- 05.24.16 at 9:52 am

@John Quiggin (26): “What have far right/nativist parties actually done…?” Poland seems the only country in the EU governed by that sort of party. The Polish agenda is not so much about immigration, though. The previous government agreed to take in 7,500 immigrants (into a nation of 39 million); this one is hesitating between zero and 7,500. Not much of a difference. Poland’s virtually monoethnic now.

However, the long-term Law and Justice agenda seems more radical than any other right-wing party’s. The cabinet started by trying to staff the supreme court with its lackeys and ended up defying the court’s orders. It’s as close to a coup d’état as possible short of tanks in the streets.

Overall, Kaczynski’s ideal seems to be a kind of paranoid Catholic authoritarianism. You may want to look into the Jan T. Gross controversy to get a feel for the mindset of the Kaczynski circle, especially of its defense minister Macierewicz. The man is almost clinically insane.

The most amazing thing is that Poland was growing pretty well under the previous cabinet. No crisis to speak of, plus generous transfers from the EU for years. Poland never had it so good.

@TM (32): “Berlusconi has been kept in power by the Lega Nord and other far right parties.” By an improbable alliance of the LN (“don’t feed the south”) and Fini’s post-Fascists rooted in the center and the south (“more transfers and subsidies, please”). Berlusconi was not that big on austerity unless he had no choice.

34

Placeholder 05.24.16 at 10:08 am

“The Rahman case judgement is also well worth reading on political corruption in immigrant communities; Tammany Hall in Tower Hamlets.”

For example, Andrew Gilligan being convicted of libel for LYING about corruption in Tower Hamlets. http://londonbangla.com/poplar-town-hall-owner-mujibul-islam-receives-apology-damages-telegraph-libel-case/

And most brazenly of all, his mayoralty was dissolved by an act judicial arrogation unseen since Lord Denning called the innocence of Gerry Conlon an “appalling vista” by dissovling his election through EIGHTEENTH CENTURY COLONIAL LAW IN IRELAND:

““Time and again in the Irish cases it was stressed that the Catholic voters were men of simple faith, usually much less well educated than the clergy who were influencing them, and men whose natural instinct would be to obey the orders of their priests (even more their bishops). This principle still holds good. In carrying out the assessment a distinction must be made between a sophisticated, highly educated and politically literate community and a community which is traditional, respectful of authority and, possibly, not fully integrated with the other communities living in the same area. As with undue influence in the civil law sphere, it is the character of the person sought to be influenced that is key to whether influence has been applied.”

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/29/lutfur-rahman-tower-hamlets-mayor-verdict-undue-spiritual-influence

35

Pete 05.24.16 at 10:20 am

That’s why I said read the judgement, not the newspaper coverage of the judgement.

36

Placeholder 05.24.16 at 10:51 am

First of all: “Time and again in the Irish cases it was stressed that the Catholic voters were men of simple faith, usually much less well educated than the clergy who were influencing them, and men whose natural instinct would be to obey the orders of their priests (even more their bishops)” is a DIRECT QUOTE FROM THE JUDGEMENT.

It claims Bengalis cannot be victims of racism because they are NOT A MINORITY IN TOWER HAMLETS: “These official statistics are relevant to the court’s approach to the politics of Tower Hamlets. Whatever may be the position in the rest of London or in the country at large, in Tower Hamlets Muslims in general and Bangladeshis in particular are not in any real sense a ‘minority’: in both instances they are the largest community in comparison to other religious and ethnic groupings. Although, therefore, Mr Rahman and his associates constantly refer to the Bangladeshi community of Tower Hamlets as if it were a small beleaguered ethnic minority in a sea of hostile racial prejudice, the court must look at the reality of the religious and ethnic makeup of the Borough.”

His definition of racism is: “There can be no doubt that to call a man a racist is to make ‘a statement of fact in relation to [his] personal character or conduct’ (s 106). In the multi-racial, multi-cultural society that is 21st century Britain there can be few more damaging statements to make about anyone. To make such a statement about a white candidate in an electoral area that had a majority of BME citizens would be a serious matter indeed.”

“The Bangladeshi community might have thought itself fortunate to have been the recipient of the Mayor’s lavish spending but in the end the benefits were small and temporary and the ill effects long-lasting. It was fool’s gold.”

An APPALLING Vista.

37

David 05.24.16 at 10:56 am

reason,
I don’t think anyone has ever suggested that support for right-wing parties is mechanically correlated with areas of high immigration. I certainly didn’t, although there are a number of cases where it’s certainly true – around some of the big cities in France, example. But “migration” is pretty useless as a label to describe a complex set of phenomena that provoke a whole set of attitudes, fears, uncertainties, misinformation etc. which we too flippantly dismiss as “racialism” and refuse to tolerate. Nonetheless, there is a tendency for fear and distrust of the consequences of migration to be strongest in areas of relative economic insecurity (your East and West German examples) because the economically insecure are the first to suffer the practical consequences. Real example follows. You are a season fruit-picker in Southern France, in an area where the (non-white) immigrant population is negligible. You’ve just lost your job because the fruit company has taken advantage of the liberalization of employment rules to bring workers across from the Maghreb to live in camps for three months and be bussed to the orchards. They earn a quarter of what you were paid and have no right to unemployment or sick pay. Then they go home. The fruit company is making record profits. You are a little put out by this, but when you complain to your local Socialist Party politician, you’re told to stop making racist comments and go away. Bloody hell, you think, I’m not voting for you any more.
Of course there are many other reasons why people vote for right-wing parties, including a dollop of genuine racialism. But much of their support is grounded in problems people have, or fear to have, in their everyday lives.

38

Peter T 05.24.16 at 11:46 am

“You are a little put out by this, but when you complain to your local Socialist Party politician, you’re told to stop making racist comments and go away.”

That would be an odd politician. It’s more likely you are given a dollop of bromides couched in managerialist jargon, and go away longing for someone who will actually talk a human language.

39

Pete 05.24.16 at 1:08 pm

@44 this is quite close to what happened with Gillian Duffy, although even Gordon Brown was smart enough not to say it to her face.

See also the Emily Thornberry fiasco, where she assumed that because racist groups fly the St George flag a lot that anyone flying the St George flag was a racist. It’s not a bad heuristic but a tremendously stupid thing to say on twitter.

40

engels 05.24.16 at 4:09 pm

Hard to argue with anything in this post – response is as depressing as it is predictable

41

hix 05.24.16 at 4:13 pm

Still not convinced that Hungary does not count. The FPÖ already was the smaller partner in a coalition government at Austria a decade ago by the way.

42

David 05.24.16 at 4:22 pm

Peter T @44
Yes, that as well, but the point is that no politician of the Left in Europe would dare to say something like “this is very worrying I’ll make a speech about it.” They would be torn limb from limb by others on the Left if they did so. Case in point, France is convulsed with protests at the moment against a new neoliberal law that would destroy job security, such as it still is. Cunningly, the government has given the proposed law to a female Minister of North African origin, and hinted snidely that any criticism of the so-called “Loi El-Khomri” means that you are a sexist and a racist, and “playing the game of National Front.” This has served to shut up a lot of politicians on the Left, while the extreme right, of course, has taken up the cause.

43

TM 05.24.16 at 5:10 pm

“This has served to shut up a lot of politicians on the Left, while the extreme right, of course, has taken up the cause.”

I was curious about that but it seems that the FN isn’t very active against the law. MLP has criticized it but that’s it. The protest movement is clearly left and syndicalist. Also haven’t found anything about critics of la loi El Khomri being accused of racism.

44

David 05.24.16 at 6:28 pm

@TM. Yes, that’s what comes dashing something off quickly on the way out. Yes, the resistance to the LEK comes mainly from the Left, the extreme right has, as you say, not been very active because they don’t need to be. They just sit there and wait for frustrated voters to come their way; The racist/sexist arguments have been made, but in a kind of informal nudge-nudge manner. The idea was not to win the public debate (a hopeless task) but to intimidate members of the PS into voting for the law, and, at a minimum, not speaking out against it. This, together with turning the whole thing into a vote of confidence, has enabled the government to keep the upper hand so far.

45

Mario 05.24.16 at 6:31 pm

To those wondering about how far to the right Orban is: you can listen to the man speak on immigration in this youtube video and decide for yourself.

46

John Quiggin 05.24.16 at 10:27 pm

An obvious irony regarding Poland is that the tribalists represented Law and Justice play both sides of the street. In Western Europe, where Poles are often seen undesirable migrants accused of taking jobs they stand on their rights as members of the EU and defend free movement, while in Poland itself they want to keep foreigners out and stand for national independence against the dictates of Brussels.

47

Alex K--- 05.25.16 at 6:18 am

@John Quiggin (53): Exactly. Law and Justice (PiS in Polish) don’t want to lose any of the benefits from EU membership but would rather not bear the inevitable costs. They might also be thinking that playing rogue will boost Poland’s bargaining power within the block. At any rate, PiS want transfers from the West to keep flowing, but with fewer strings attached.

Poles tend to fit the “good” immigrant stereotype, as opposed to Maghrebians and Middle Easterners. Poland’s own immigration policy is based on a similar stereotype: they are taking in Ukrainians and Belarusians but keep out non-Europeans. PM Szydlo says Poland has accepted a million migrants from Ukraine since 2014, which is probably exaggerated, but half a million sounds realistic. As Poles take better-paying jobs in the West, they leave openings at home for the Eastern neighbors, who are much poorer on average.

I don’t know where the paranoid streak fits in the picture, but it’s impossible not to feel it when you read (about) Kaczynski and Macierewicz.

48

J-D 05.25.16 at 6:31 am

Pete @34

‘The strategy of calling anyone a racist who points out any problem in any immigrant community is incredibly bad for the discourse.’

The strategy of objecting whenever anybody or anything is described as racist, even those actions and statements which are racist, is incredibly bad for the discourse.

49

Neville Morley 05.25.16 at 7:11 am

@Ze K #56: do you have any evidence for that statement? Polish discussions of the UK’s referendum on EU membership have suggested strong support for free movement and hence concern about various UK proposals to curb or discourage it. Significant numbers of Poles in UK return or plan to return after some years, rather than being permanent migrants, so why would they be regarded as traitors?

50

Alex K--- 05.25.16 at 8:05 am

Ze K, you’re quoting an article from 2007 and the wrong Kaczyński. President Lech Kaczyński died in the plane crash near Smolensk in 2010.

His twin brother Jarosław has been the leader of PiS for at least a decade. Recall that PiS first formed its government in September 2005 but lost the parliamentary election in 2007. Jarosław served briefly as PM in 2006-7, resigned after the electoral defeat and also lost the 2010 presidential election. Things didn’t look good for him but five years later, PiS won the presidency and a 50%+ majority in the Sejm and the Senate, like no other party before them. Clearly, the guy learned something in the eight years he was in the opposition.

Jarosław does have an idée fixe though, that everyone around is a KGB/SB agent.

51

Daragh 05.25.16 at 8:58 am

Ze K @56 – If we cast our minds back into the prehistoric era of five or six months back, we can see PiS very rigorously and openly playing ‘both sides of the street’ as JQ puts it, and making it very clear they would not countenance anything that smacked of an infringement on freedom of movement, or unequal treatment of European migrants. So, no, the general point doesn’t stand.

52

novakant 05.25.16 at 11:03 am

Of course Orban is on the far right wing – anyone disputing this is clueless.

53

TM 05.25.16 at 12:27 pm

“PM Szydlo says Poland has accepted a million migrants from Ukraine since 2014, which is probably exaggerated, but half a million sounds realistic.”

The terminology is curious. Apparently the Polish government argues that they have “accepted” Ukrainian refugees and therefore can’t take in refugees from Syria. But officially, Poland doesn’t accept Ukrainians as refugees, they do however give out temporary work visas, apparently to compensate for Polish Westward emigration (http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/polen-willkommen-als-arbeitskraft-1.2687222).

It should be mentioned when talking about migration and nativism in Europe that citizens of 28 countries are factually free to move and work anywhere in the Union, and hundreds of thousands have moved from poorer to richer countries. Most parts of Europe have in fact become far more diverse in the last few decades than they used to be and most Europeans seem to view this positively or at least don’t have a problem with it.

FWIW, a 2014 report by the EU commission states:

“At the same time, intra-EU mobility is also producing social and cultural impacts, by influencing local communities and their well-being, with effects on several areas such as housing, the education system, social cohesion and relations between the newcomers and the host communities. The overall evidence suggests that this situation is not placing major issues and burdens on the local communities or local public services, whereas issues related to discrimination are being gradually overcome and positive attitudes towards migration and mobility are generally recorded. However, EU mobile citizens do not always benefit from the same opportunities as native citizens when it comes to labour market conditions, housing options, or full inclusion of children in the schools. Also, the interaction with local citizens and the participation in the city’s civic and political life appear still limited.” (http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen/files/dg_just_eva_free_mov_final_report_27.01.14.pdf)

54

Doctor Science 05.25.16 at 1:04 pm

John Quiggin asked “What have far right/nativist parties actually done?”

One striking and crucial aspect of the Austria election is the gender gap [link is to terrible site, don’t read comments, but data seems good]: Van Bellen was supported by women and won, Hofer was supported by men and lost.

Far right parties are nativist, but they’re also anti-feminist. In the case of Poland, for instance, one of their goals is draconian restrictions on abortion.

Maybe the results in Austria have less to do with immigration or employment, more about reproductive freedom and other women’s rights.

55

Placeholder 05.25.16 at 1:53 pm

@64-5
Well if you don’t like the source then good news the BBC have scalped the story [http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36362505]

It is impossible to judge why people are voting Hofer without asking why they aren’t voting for Van Der Bellen. The scandalized media are covering Hofer like flies cover honey – they could at least find out what ‘independent green economist’ actually means.

So to Robespiere@5, and all those asking if a radical economic popular message can overcome radical xenophobic nationalism the only test of this thesis seems to be Jeremy Corbyn – who’s proposing to nationalise what New Labour privatised, policies that even 70% of UKIP voters say they support. If there are others then the international press has no interest finding them.

56

Dipper 05.25.16 at 3:14 pm

People get UKIP wrong, and possibly other nativist parties too. It’s not immigrants tat they don’t like, or even immigration as such. Generally what they don’t like is political parties that are so determined to make a success of free movement of people that they deliberately turn a blind eye to criminal activities, undercutting of wages, overcrowding, or other immigration-related issues. And just to stop anyone coming on here and moaning about associating criminal activities with immigration, the point is not that immigrant communities are hot-beds of criminality – criminals come in all shapes, sizes, and nationalities – it is that police refused to investigate crimes because the alleged perpetrators were from immigrant groups.

When followers of Hofer were interviewee on TV they said they wanted someone to stand up for them. That doesn’t seem a particularly outrageous request for someone to make. If we want to get right-wing xenophobic parties elected, then the best way to do it would seem to be to demonise people who just want to be politically represented and make the only parties who stand for the interests of ordinary native populations far-right ones.

57

Alex K--- 05.25.16 at 3:25 pm

@64: “Far right parties are nativist, but they’re also anti-feminist.” Not necessarily. For anti-immigrant parties, one of the strong selling points is the regressive and repressive values held by many third-world immigrants.

Poland is different because non-European immigration does not play a major role on the nationalists’ agenda, except as a bugbear perhaps. Nationalism has a strong religious connection in Poland, for historical reasons, so it’s no wonder that it goes hand in hand with abortion restrictions and anti-gay rhetoric.

I don’t know how and if this linkage works in Austria. Hofer suffered a huge loss in just one Bundesland, the largest of all: Vienna. (He also lost the small Vorarlberg, where Van der Belen has roots.) More generally, Hofer carried the small towns and rural areas as opposed to the cities. AFAIK, the Austrian countryside is not an impoverished wasteland.

58

Doctor Science 05.25.16 at 4:28 pm

Alex K:

For anti-immigrant parties, one of the strong selling points is the regressive and repressive values held by many third-world immigrants.

Yeah, right. Except those parties also generally have a pro-natalist line, and they scorn the anti-feminist values of immigrants mostly to make themselves feel better. I’ve not heard that they actually work to try to help immigrant women find a better life.

If that’s a “strong selling point”, why isn’t it working with women voters?

59

infovore 05.25.16 at 5:25 pm

There appear to be two axes in play: one is populist/establishment. The populists are painting the establishment as out-of-touch elites, and the establishment the populists as dangerous know-nothings. There is some justice in both of these descriptions. (Of course the populists aren’t against an establishment in general, they are against the current establishment, and are liable to dig in against being disestablished the moment they acquire power, except they may not feel themselves to be bound by the norms of the current establishment when doing so.)

The other axis is cosmopolitan/nativist, which tends to mirror the left/right division.

Along these axes, the usual left-right division ends up being establishment/cosmopolitan versus establishment/nativist. Basically, both sides have been “tamed” to the point that they count as establishment. The undomesticated versions of left and right are populist/cosmopolitan and populist/nativist respectively.

Note that in this typology, neoliberalism has a strong establishment cosmopolitan component, which may be part of the explanation of why the established left-wing parties have found it so hard to distance themselves from it.

60

Alex K--- 05.25.16 at 6:07 pm

@69: “If that’s a “strong selling point”, why isn’t it working with women voters?”

In the case of the Front National, because Jean-Marie’s party was obviously a party of grumpy old males. Marine’s party is striving to be different. In 2012, Marine finally received about the same share of the female and male vote at the presidential election. The party as a whole though continues to underperform among females, although 27% (IIRC) of the female vote in the 2015 regional election was not a bad showing at all.

“I’ve not heard that they actually work to try to help immigrant women find a better life.”

To be cynical, many of their voters would prefer immigrants to quietly disappear, so an effort to actually help immigrants may not go well with the core electorate. But even if a nativist party wanted to genuinely help, say, immigrant women, the party would insist that the women break with their religion (if it’s Islam) and their community, which would be perceived as a racist outrage.

61

infovore 05.25.16 at 6:34 pm

@72

Note though that the left is not inherently cosmopolitan. […]

The ideology is, in the sense that class is supposed to trump descent. But all politics is local …

In a similar vein, every now and again we get hints that the various right-wing populist/nativist parties are coordinating and cooperating with each other to a far larger extent than they’d be willing to admit to.

62

engels 05.25.16 at 6:39 pm

Ah yes, “socialism on one country” – remind me how that worked out

63

Ecrasez l'Infame 05.25.16 at 7:52 pm

“Yeah, right. Except those parties also generally have a pro-natalist line, and they scorn the anti-feminist values of immigrants mostly to make themselves feel better.”

Okay, so take Prof Krisztina Morvai MEP, the Jobbik nominee for President of Hungary for example. I’m sure since you’re such a massive feminist you already know of her work on HIV, child abuse, prostitution and domestic violence as a human rights lawyer? And you must have read Terror in the Family: Wife beating and the Law? Watch the video, who’s the phoney – her or the “progressive” Labour MEP?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IURDfBgbMi8

The new radical right is very different from the traditionalist-conservative far right. Law and Justice in Poland are more old right. The radical right is not so authoritarian and supports freedom of speech and women’s and lgbt rights. That why there are a lot of “Freedom Parties” – it’s not just a perverse neo-fascist branding exercise – the radical right genuinely values social freedoms.

64

TM 05.25.16 at 8:17 pm

The far right has always been anti-feminist and anti-gay, both in Europe and the US. In recent years, there is a new tendency for nativists and racists to justify their anti-immigrant policies with concern precisely over the threat that radical islamism poses to women and gays, and the more general claim that immigrant males from “other cultures” are sexist and threaten “our women”. Most of this is certainly phony and cynical propaganda. Also the discourse about “strangers” threatening “our women” is not new at all, that has always been part of racist rhetoric.

I’m not dismissing the possibility that there might be genuine change in some right wing parties. That some of these parties are or have been led by women (Le Pen, Petry) and openly gay men (Fortuyn), that is new. Still none of these parties that I know of supports same sex marriage or reproductive choice. AfD leader Frauke Petry has stated that a “normal German family” should have three children (in order to ensure the survavl of the nation, “das Überleben des eigenen Volkes, der eigenen Nation sicherzustellen“), and wants to restrict legal abortion.

65

TM 05.25.16 at 8:18 pm

oops, survival of the nation.

66

J-D 05.25.16 at 8:35 pm

Dipper @97

‘Generally what they don’t like is political parties that are so determined to make a success of free movement of people that they deliberately turn a blind eye to criminal activities, undercutting of wages, overcrowding, or other immigration-related issues.’

I wouldn’t like political parties to behave that way, either. But do they? outside people’s imaginations?

‘And … the point is … that police refused to investigate crimes because the alleged perpetrators were from immigrant groups.’

Did they? how do you know?

67

engels 05.25.16 at 8:36 pm

it often ends up amalgamated with national-liberation movements

And what does ‘national liberation’ have to do with nationalism in America or Austria? Trump, Hofer, etc are leading ‘national liberation movements’ for American/Austrian whites? You’re either implying something pretty creepy, or you’re not making much sense.

68

Dipper 05.25.16 at 9:02 pm

69

F. Foundling 05.25.16 at 9:15 pm

@Ze K 76
>“The ideology is, in the sense that class is supposed to trump descent.” Classical revolutionary Marxism, yes. Which is why I don’t like it: it’s unpleasantly Eurocentric.

Class trumping descent is Eurocentric. As opposed to, say, Australia-centric or Greenland-centric. Ummm… OK.

I suppose it’s just like atheism, which is, of course, just another sect of Christianity, as evidenced by the fact that it completely fails to appreciate the sacred truths of Hinduism.

70

TM 05.25.16 at 9:29 pm

81, what is phony is the claim that the nativists are genuinely concerned with women’s and gay rights.

71

J-D 05.26.16 at 12:05 am

Dipper @82

The independent inquiry did not find that (to use your exact words) ‘police refused to investigate crimes because the alleged perpetrators were from immigrant groups’.

72

J-D 05.26.16 at 6:32 am

Ze K @86

It’s not my impression that TM @84 was making a point about the use of the term ‘rights’. The idea of the term being copyrighted appears to be your invention and no part of what TM wrote. My impression was that TM was asserting that nativists are not genuinely concerned about women and gays (their rights, their well-being, their concerns, their issues, their problems, whatever).

If TM asserts that nativists are not genuinely concerned about women and gays and you assert that they are, there’s a genuine disagreement; if TM asserts that nativists cannot be genuinely concerned about women and gays and you assert that they could be, there’s a genuine disagreement; but if TM asserts that they aren’t and you assert that they could be, you’re not disagreeing, you’re talking about different things. So when TM writes that they aren’t and you write that they could be, it gives the appearance that you’re trying to make a surreptitious change of subject.

73

Dipper 05.26.16 at 7:19 am

@J-D 85

the independent inquiry was into social work not the police, so it was not in its remit to specifically criticise the police. However what the independent report does say (section 11) is:
there was a widespread perception that messages conveyed by some senior people in the Council and also the Police, were to ‘downplay’ the ethnic dimensions of CSE. Unsurprisingly, frontline staff appeared to be confused as to what they were supposed to say and do and what would be interpreted as ‘racist’. From a political perspective, the approach of avoiding public discussion of the issues was ill judged.

and for a second opinion there’s the experience of labour MP Ann Cryer http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/30/rotherham-girls-could-have-been-spared-ann-cryer

The then local labour MP Dennis McShane said “there was a cultural issue of not wanting to rock the multicultural boat”

So that’s two Labour MPs saying that race was an issue that prevented proper police work and protection, and that includes protection of Pakistani heritage women and children who were suffering abuse.

This is a quick review of Jayne Senior’s book http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/rotherham-whistleblower-explains-why-sex-abuse-ring-was-covered/

One explanation of police behaviour is that it was not due to a political viewpoint but because of collusion between the police and the criminal gangs

https://rotherhampolitics.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/rotherham-abuse-scandal-police-corruption-probe-after-allegations-of-collusion/

74

TM 05.26.16 at 7:49 am

Ze K, I have pointed out that all racists in history, you can name the Nazis, the KKK, whatever, they all used the rhetoric that women needed to be protected from threatening outsiders. When a group that is demonstrably hostile to women’s rights, concerns, however you want to call it, a group that is demonstrably sexist and patriarchal in outlook and policy, justifies racism in terms of “protecting women”, that is obviously phony and cynical. Likewise, when people express outrage at sex crimes committed by foreigners/”others” but the same people are indifferent when the perpetrators are of their own group, I call that phony and cynical.

I suspect you are trolling, since you have chosen to dispute my terminology instead of the arguments.

75

Alex K--- 05.26.16 at 8:26 am

@84: “what is phony is the claim that the nativists are genuinely concerned with women’s and gay rights.”

In the nativist worldview, focusing on these concerns while ignoring the Big One is akin to decorating cabins on the Titanic. The nativist movement is essentially preservationist. It aims to protect what it perceives as the achievements of Western civilization from a fast-growing, socially backward, culturally alien minority. Some nativists see gay marriage as one of those achievements; others, as a a sign of decline.

Regardless of their stance on that, most of them probably realize that, even if immigration stops, the share of residents of non-European ancestry will continue to grow for some time because of disparities in fertility. Anti-abortionist natalism is a knee-jerk reaction to this…

…but also to a more general problem: with fertility levels below two per woman, no pension system and no welfare state is sustainable.

76

TM 05.26.16 at 9:02 am

91, my suspicion that you are trolling is confirmed.

92: “with fertility levels below two per woman, no pension system and no welfare state is sustainable.”

That’s a myth. In any case, with fertility levels above 2, nothing is sustainable. The choice isn’t between popuation growth or no growth, the choice is between a soft landing and a hard landing. Germany is the perfect example of a soft landing, with a population level that has been constant at 80 million plus/minus 2 million for almost fifty years. It’s the quintessential economic and demographic success story. Nativist claims that German women need to get it over with and start breeding more are sexist and racist as well as plain stupid.

77

J-D 05.26.16 at 9:34 am

Ze K @88

The response from TM (90) shows that I was right in thinking that TM did not intend to place emphasis on the word ‘rights’ and that you were mistaken to think so.

78

J-D 05.26.16 at 9:54 am

Dipper @89

Section 11 of the report also says ‘The Inquiry Team was confident that ethnic issues did not influence professional decision-making in individual cases’ and ‘Frontline staff did not report personal experience of attempts to influence their practice or decision making because of ethnic issues’.

Anne Cryer is quoted as saying that the police found constant excuses not to do anything, but she is not quoted as saying that they refused to investigate because the alleged perpetrators were from immigrant groups.

‘There is still no satisfactory answer as to why so many of Rotherham’s institutions behaved so badly’ according to the review you cited of Jayne Senior’s book, but it also states ‘both of the offical reports state that the council, social services and local police failed to act because the blame was placed on the girls – some as young as 11 – who were thought to be responsible for their own fates’. Are you perhaps not aware that it is a recurrent (although not, I hope, universal) feature of sex crimes cases that victims are blamed (regardless of the race/ethnicity/origin of the perpetrators)? Are you perhaps not aware that it is also a recurrent feature that doubt is cast on whether the victims are likely to stand up as witnesses in court (one of the excuses that Anne Cryer does mention were given to her for inaction) — again, regardless of the race/ethnicity/origin of the perpetrators?

You end up yourself by quoting a report of allegations that corrupt police may have actively protected the perpetrators — I don’t see how you can link that with the perpetrators coming from an immigrant group. Obviously it’s true in this case that the police failed to do their job — that seems to be generally agreed. Also it’s undisputed that the perpetrators in this case came from an immigrant group. But there is a vast difference between ‘the police failed to do their job in this case where the perpetrators came from an immigrant group’ and ‘the police failed to do their job in this case because the perpetrators came from an immigrant group’. Can you really not perceive the difference?

79

Marc 05.26.16 at 2:08 pm

@94: I think that it’s a real problem to lump all people uneasy about mass migration into the racist and sexist camp. There are definitely right-wing groups that qualify for that judgement; but there are also an increasing number of explicitly feminist and gay critiques.

If you want to marginalize the actual fascists, you have to have some mechanism that allows the public to weigh in on things like immigration policy, and the mainstream parties have to be willing to listen to reasonable concerns.

80

Alex K--- 05.26.16 at 2:37 pm

@93: Actually, the replacement level is slightly above 2, usually assumed about 2.1 for developed countries. In the absence of immigration, sub-replacement fertility with unchanging mortality means a continuous population decline. That’s not a disaster in itself. But with a constantly low (or declining) death rate, the percent of the aged in the total population will keep growing.

True, Germany’s population has been more or less stable since about 1970 – thanks to immigration. The post-war baby boom ended in 1970-75: fertility dropped to about 1.5 around 1975 and has not recovered to higher levels since. In the past decade, the annual natural decline has ranged from 150,000-200,000. This is a rough estimate of how much immigration is needed per year to keep the population constant. From this 2015 projection by Germany’s federal statistical office, I understand that with a fertility of 1.4 and annual immigration of 200,000 from 2021 (and a higher number before that), the share of 65+ residents will still grow from 21% in 2013 to 33% in 2060.

The solution to this would be (a combination of) higher productivity, higher immigration, and higher birth rates. One cannot count on productity gains: technology improvements are unpredictable. They tend to happen but can’t be trusted to happen. The side effects of high immigration are well known. This leaves higher fertility. It may not be attainable but it is hardly “stupid.”

81

novakant 05.26.16 at 3:20 pm

@96

My heart is bleeding. Have you been on the internet recently, or watching TV?

People are ranting and raving all day long about immigration (and the EU) in the most outrageous and dehumanizing fashion as if their lives depended on it. Voices of migrants on the other hand are rarely heard, they don’t seem to be quite human, more like body snatchers from outer space. And now feminists and gays are chiming in? Awesome.

I tell you what: 99% of these concerned citizens are personally completely unaffected by migration, which leaves me with the conclusion that they are a bunch of paranoid, nativist, xenophopic, racist @ssholes.

82

Metatone 05.26.16 at 7:49 pm

There is another dimension at work in Austria.
Clientelism. Historically, jobs in the state bureaucracy and state companies were divided up by the two dominant parties.

The story is similar to many other parts of Europe – as the economy slowed, what this left is an older generation in jobs and power thanks to political influence and a younger generation excluded (largely because of a lack of growth.) And that’s before you factor in the just resentment of the corruption that goes on when things get clientelistic. The Greens and the FPO have both capitalised on resentment about this.

The FPO managed the neat trick of hoovering up votes from 3 constituencies:
1) The traditional far-right (which were the original constituency of the FPO).
2) The “identity voters” stirred up against “Islamic immigration” but who aren’t traditional pan-German far-right.
3) Young people disenchanted with politics who aren’t happy to vote green.

Now, the FPO has been successful before (Haider) so we shouldn’t ignore the fact that Austria just does have a sizeable reactionary vote. But it’s the addition of 2 & 3 that has brought us to this point.

Cat. (2) has to be seen as partly about historical circumstance: the collapse of Syria & Libya and refugee crisis resulting, which allowed some level of hysteria to be whipped up. However, as many others have noted, the failure of the main parties to present any alternative to austerity has fuelled resentments further. And in terms of social and economic class, many of these voters should have been amenable to a left-of-center anti-establishment party, but perhaps the Greens aren’t right for this (largely older, more trad.) demographic.

Cat. (3) These young FPO voters have to be understood as largely center-right. Younger anti-establishment voters largely did vote Green. The key here is that the FPO managed through historical presence as the third party to become the alternative center-right. The lack of a German style FDP has given the FPO an extra boost.

83

Ecrasez l'Infame 05.26.16 at 10:31 pm

Still none of these parties that I know of supports same sex marriage or reproductive choice.

Dutch PVV, Norwegian Progress Party. In general these parties social policies is rightward but close to the social mores in their countries. Of course the Eastern European right are anti same sex marriage, that’s social feeling in East Europe even their centerist parties take that view, but Northern European parties are more liberal.

84

Robespierre 05.26.16 at 10:45 pm

@97: demographic Ponzi schemes fully qualify as stupid.

85

J-D 05.27.16 at 12:23 am

Marc @96

You’ve written ‘@94′ as if it’s a response to an earlier comment — apparently mine, unless there’s been some renumbering. Has there been some renumbering? or was ’94’ mistyped? because I don’t see how your comment relates to mine at all. I wrote nothing that could reasonably be taken (to quote your words) ‘to lump all people uneasy about mass migration into the racist and sexist camp’.

As for the substance of your comment: there are mechanisms that allow the public to weigh in (to some extent) on policy, and mainstream parties do respond to some extent to reasonable public concern. These mechanisms work about as well (or as badly) and are about as effective (or as ineffective) in eliciting a response in the area of immigration policy as in other policy areas. There is a strong case that existing political systems fall short of a desirable level of democratic responsiveness and that they need to be made more democratic, but there’s no case that this is a particular problem in the area of immigration policy that it isn’t in other areas.

86

J-D 05.27.16 at 12:26 am

Alex K @97

It’s true that low birth rates result in an aging population, but the arguments that this is a problem requiring a solution are largely if not entirely spurious. Yes, there is an increase in the fraction of the population made up of the dependent aged, but this does not equate to an increase in the ratio of dependents to workers because of the offsetting decrease in the fraction of the population made up of the dependent young.

87

Doctor Science 05.27.16 at 3:26 am

Native-born Swedes currently have one of the higher birth rates in Europe, in large part because of the concerted government/social effort to spread out the burden of child-rearing from individual women to society as a whole. If any of the far-right parties in other countries were truly natalist, they’d be pushing things like much longer maternity leave, paternity leave, child-care help, etc.

AFAIK, they aren’t. I conclude they’re not actually natalist, they’re sexist.

88

Alex K--- 05.27.16 at 3:32 am

@103: In the Destatis scenario with 200k annual immigration post-2020 and 1.4 fertility, the share of the below-20 young only goes down from 18% in 2013 to 16% in 2060 while the percentage of the above-65 old soars from 21% to 33%. (And the share of the really old, 80 and older, will rise from 5% to 13%.) It does not quite work out your way.

@97: a demographic Ponzi scheme would work with 2.5 fertility and current Western European mortality levels. We are not talking about that. With 1.5 fertility, there’s no way to get that Ponzi scheme to work (although it has to be working over there, in the countries sending the immigrants that keep the population constant over here). The best you can hope for is for the birth rate to approach 2, which would alleviate the aging problem over time.

89

J-D 05.27.16 at 5:22 am

Alex K @105

I carelessly overstated my position. I shouldn’t have done that.

I still think I had a valid point, though. What I should have written is something more like this:

There is a lot of carelessly loose talk about allegedly calamitous consequences from population aging, so it’s important to be careful not to take all of it at face value. One simple but common error is calculating the increased proportion of dependent elderly that will result from population aging without taking into account that population aging will also mean a decreased proportion of dependent young.

90

J-D 05.27.16 at 6:56 am

Ze K @107

‘Per my understanding of nativism, immigration per se is not necessarily threatening or undesirable for them (to compensate for low birth rates or whatever); it’s unassimilated immigration (which is usually a result of mass-immigration) that they object to: ethnic enclaves, erosion of social cohesion, this sort of thing. Is this concern really so unreasonable?’

‘Ethnic enclaves’: if people who have migrated from the same place choose to live near each other, it breaks nobody’s legs and picks nobody’s pockets.

‘Erosion of social cohesion’: does this mean something more than ‘When I see and hear so many people around who look and sound different from what I’m used to, it makes me uncomfortable’? If you don’t feel that you cohere with the immigrants, why is that the immigrants’ problem and not yours? There is no good reason why they should be expected to live their lives in a way that you are comfortable with.

If I pass through a neighbourhood and see that the signs on the shops are in a language I don’t know, I may decide not to go into any of those shops, but then, nobody’s trying to force me to go into any of those shops, are they? so I don’t see how it’s any real concern of mine.

91

Igor Belanov 05.27.16 at 7:31 am

@ J-D

Quite right.

One of the things about the ‘erosion of social cohesion’ argument that annoys me is the fact that people pick on immigrants not absorbing themselves in ‘our’ culture, but forget about the effects of such economic factors as high youth unemployment, job insecurity, antisocial and casual working hours, loss of social facilities in local areas, etc. One can only deduce the fact that banging on about immigrants and national identity is an excellent way of diverting attention from more tangible problems.

Indeed, one notable feature of nationalism tends to be the way in which the ‘we’ of their ideology proves to be a stubbornly abstract concept, as they tend to ignore or actively discourage any equality and fraternity among the ‘we’ when it comes to practical measures.

92

J-D 05.27.16 at 8:34 am

Ze K @109

If you don’t want to make the effort to explain your meaning to me (or to anybody), there’s no reason why you should; you don’t need my agreement. On the other hand, that’s no reason why I should desist from trying to explain my meaning.

Social cohesion depends on people feeling that they’re on the same side. To the extent that people in society feel that they’re on the same side, society coheres; to the extent that they don’t, it doesn’t.

One major factor in undermining people’s sense that they’re on the same side, and hence social cohesion, is social inequality. Therefore, if you want to increase social cohesion, one good strategy is to try to reduce social inequality.

93

dax 05.27.16 at 9:33 am

In Switzerland there is a recent ruling against two Muslim boys who refused to shake the hand of their teacher because, she being a woman, it was against their religion.

In the U.S. the religious right has tried to enact laws against transgenders using the wrong bathroom because it is against their religion.

I’m intolerant in both cases; religious freedom must have limits. I guess I would respect someone who says that religious beliefs trump everything in both cases. But I’m surprised by the number of people who favour the Muslim boys and disapprove of the religious right, or vice versa.

94

Layman 05.27.16 at 11:24 am

@ dax, in neither case is the religious bigotry pleasant, but in the first case, the teacher is not harmed by not getting a handshake; while in the second case, the transgender is harmed by not being able to use a bathroom. It’s a question of whether one’s religious convictions should be honored beyond the point where they harm others.

95

Guy 05.27.16 at 11:43 am

@Layman, I think I actually shuddered at your argument.
If I have to sit at the back of the bus because of my color or gender, I don’t suffer any harm either?

96

dax 05.27.16 at 11:47 am

” the teacher is not harmed by not getting a handshake; while in the second case, the transgender is harmed by not being able to use a bathroom. “

Of course the teacher is harmed, indeed is harmed almost in the exact way as the transgender is harmed not being able to use a bathroom of their choice.

97

novakant 05.27.16 at 12:09 pm

112

Are you living in North Korea by any chance?

OK I give you Japan, maybe, though I don’t know what it is really like there.

But very few societies fit your description – and I wouldn’t want to live in them.

In e.g the UK, France or Germany you will find massive differences regarding all the aspects you mentioned and they don’t have anything to do with immigration but with class and level of education.

98

Layman 05.27.16 at 12:23 pm

@Guy, I think you’ve grabbed the wrong end of the stick, which might explain the shuddering. Of course you’re harmed by your example, I should have thought that was obvious from my statement.

@dax, I said both cases were unpleasant bigotry; but harm is relative, and varies by degree, and I don’t think the degrees of harm here are the same, and it strikes me as wrong to redress the harm to the teacher by compelling people to shake her hand against their will.

On the other hand, the transgender person is being prevented from using any bathroom at all – that’s the effect of the legislation, regardless of the claims of those promoting it.

99

dax 05.27.16 at 12:29 pm

@Layman. OK, suppose you are in the 1960s south, and a white owner of an ice cream parlour says, it’s against my religion to serve ice cream to a black person. Forcing the owner to serve the black person seems pretty near equivalent to forcing the boy to shake the teacher’s hand. No?

It’s one of the great mysteries to me that, because the boys are basing their decisions by gender, some people think there’s no big harm. But if the boy refused to shake the hand of a Jew, or a black person, suddenly people see the harm.

100

Layman 05.27.16 at 12:42 pm

dax: “Forcing the owner to serve the black person seems pretty near equivalent to forcing the boy to shake the teacher’s hand. No?”

In a word, no.

“It’s one of the great mysteries to me that, because the boys are basing their decisions by gender, some people think there’s no big harm. But if the boy refused to shake the hand of a Jew, or a black person, suddenly people see the harm.”

Perhaps this mystery is entirely in your head, since you don’t consider the possibility that some people would not compel anyone to shake hands with anyone against their will.

Suppose a group of people meet. Some shake hands, but some don’t. Some kiss on the cheek, while some don’t. The reasons for the variable behavior are cultural. Who has been harmed? If you didn’t get a handshake, or a kiss on the cheek, from one member of the party, should we compel them to redress that wrong?

101

dax 05.27.16 at 12:57 pm

“Who has been harmed? ” Sorry, now you’re going back and forth too much for me. First you wrote (114), “The teacher is not harmed.” Then in 118 you wrote, “redress the harm to the teacher.” So there’s an admission there is harm. Now you’re writing, “Who has been harmed?” as if you’re reverting to your original position that the teacher is not harmed. Which is it? As to redressing the wrong, not serving ice cream is – I suppose you would grant – a wrong. Why redress that wrong but not the wrong of shaking hands?

102

Layman 05.27.16 at 1:06 pm

dax: “Sorry, now you’re going back and forth too much for me.”

Again, maybe that’s a problem with you. Suppose I simply dislike you, quietly, in my own mind, and so, passively, tend to avoid your company. Are you harmed? Arguably, yes. But are you harmed in a way we should try to redress, by changing the contents of my head?

There’s a spectrum of ‘harm’, right? Human sacrifice is near one end, and social rudeness is at another. Can we agree that there are some levels of harm that, as a matter of law and custom, must be treated as not-harm, because redressing them through coersion is fruitless and actually more harmful than the original harm? Can we not agree on that in principle even if we can’t agree on where to draw that line?

103

dax 05.27.16 at 1:17 pm

Actually, I don’t think it’s a problem with me. I think it’s a problem with the way you expressed yourself. “The teacher is not harmed” means, well, the teacher has not been harmed, not that the teacher has been harmed in a way which you think can be ignored.

Anyway this discussion is fruitless. I am still surprised as I said in 113.

104

Layman 05.27.16 at 1:24 pm

dax: “I think it’s a problem with the way you expressed yourself.”

This notion of yours harms me, but it harms me in a way that can’t practically be redressed, and the harm is slight, so we might as well agree that, as a matter of law and custom, there’s no harm.

105

J-D 05.27.16 at 2:00 pm

Ze K @112

Does that mean that if I don’t follow the same unwritten rules as other people, I’m a threat to social cohesion? and if so, what should be done about that?

106

J-D 05.27.16 at 2:04 pm

dax @113

The whole time I was at school, I was never required to shake hands with a teacher. If Switzerland has a rule that requires students to shake hands with teachers, it’s a bad rule, and should be repealed. Physical contact between students and teachers should not be mandated.

107

J-D 05.27.16 at 2:45 pm

Ze K @128

If I don’t conform to society’s norms, what should society do to me?

108

Layman 05.27.16 at 2:57 pm

“Similarly, the black person is not harmed, if she can buy ice cream at the next corner. But the society is harmed nevertheless: society’s norms have been violated.”

There are multiple things wrong with this. First, it was this particular society’s norm that black people could not be served in white establishments, so no social norm was being violated. Second, because it was a social norm, it was often not the case that the black person could be served elsewhere. Third, the denial of service at an ice cream parlor was, if anything, a symptom of a broader problem, which was a systemic denial of service of any kind to black people, with the services denied including both commercial and governmental, with the result that the black person was most certainly harmed. Note that the redress requires that service not be denied – getting at the cause of substantial harm – but does not require the server to shake the hand of every customer, because the harm in that case can’t redressed without undue coersion on the part of society.

“You ought to start conforming to the social norms, obviously – or accept the consequences…”

No matter what those social norms are? Frightening.

109

Marc 05.27.16 at 4:20 pm

@130: If I enter a society and violate the local social norms there are always consequences. I contend, for instance, that I shouldn’t get to decide that I’m going to harass women dressed in ways that they wouldn’t be dressed in my home country because that would be OK where I came from. This would be a pretty concrete example of the sort of “social norms” that you appear to find so troubling.

110

Layman 05.27.16 at 4:32 pm

Marc: “This would be a pretty concrete example of the sort of “social norms” that you appear to find so troubling.”

Are you talking to me? If so, maybe you can point to something I’ve said which justifies your claim that I’m troubled by social norms against harassment?

111

Layman 05.27.16 at 4:40 pm

Ze K: “First it was, and then it wasn’t. And at that latter point this practice would be harmful to the society.”

This is simply wrong. It was a social norm within a particular society which was (quite rightly) overruled by law, with enforcement of the law (quite rightly) imposed as an exercise of force on the part of the state. I say ‘quite rightly’ because the extant social norm, before intervention, was demonstrably harmful both to a substantial portion of that society and to the society as a whole.

112

Marc 05.27.16 at 4:48 pm

No, I’m not claiming that anyone is endorsing harassment.

There is a whole string of comments verging on sophistry that appear to be making the claim that there is no such thing as a social norm, or certainly that they are vaguely threatening and suspicious and wrong. I’ve given a concrete example of a social norm that I suspect people would agree on. Treat it as an existence proof.

Seriously, what the devil are the last dozen comments intended to be even establishing?

113

Layman 05.27.16 at 5:01 pm

Marc: “There is a whole string of comments verging on sophistry that appear to be making the claim that there is no such thing as a social norm, or certainly that they are vaguely threatening and suspicious and wrong.”

Well, you pointed at 130; which part of 130 claims that there is no such thing as a social norm, or that all social norms are vaguely threatening and suspicious and wrong? If you mispointed, then, please, point at the offending post.

114

Igor Belanov 05.27.16 at 5:29 pm

There has to be a difference between a ‘social norm’ and base prejudice.

The case of the pupils not shaking the hand of the teacher would be OK if you could say that not shaking hands with anyone was a ‘social norm’ in their community/culture or just as an individual preference. However, if the justification is that you refuse to shake hands with a woman (or a black person, or a gay person, etc.), then it is a clear case of discrimination, and as such potentially harmful.

The existence of a ‘social norm’ cannot be the justification for abusing other people’s rights. It is fortunate that those discriminated against have stood up against this and social norms have radically changed.

115

novakant 05.27.16 at 6:00 pm

abb1 is an idiot

116

TM 05.27.16 at 8:33 pm

J-D 103 is right. Demographic doomsday scenarios always neglect to mention that the share of dependent young used to be much higher than it is in our “aging” societies. AlexK respond with a scenario saying that the share of young won’t decline as much as the share of older people increases. That depends on the assumptions of the scenario, of course, but even if it is true, it completely misses the longer view. I’ll rake Japan as an example because I have analyzed that some time ago (http://www.slideshare.net/amenning/the-human-population-challenge, slides 46 ff). Received wisdom among the “more is better” crowd has it that Japan is a basket case of demographic decline. But actually, the working age share is slightly higher than it was in 1950, when 35% of the population were children under 15. (1950: 35% under 15, 60% working age; 2012: 13% under 15, 63% working age; projection for 2050: 10% under 15, 51.5% working age).

Until mid century, the working age share is projected to be 8 percentage points lower than in 1950. That doesn’t sound dramatic at all. Labor productivity will be many times higher than it was in 1950. Furthermore, women labor participation has of course increased and since most people in their 60s and even early 70s are still in good health, many of them will continue to be economically active. There is no plausible scenario in which the demographic development would lead to an actual labor shortage and society will be economically unable to provide for the elderly. There just isn’t.

The data make it clear that the average Japanese worker supported more economic dependents in 1950 than today, yet paradoxically, the demographic doom crowd dream of the 1950s model, when the population pyramid was still shaped like a pyramid. This is not based on rational science but on a totally anachronistic frontier ideology.

117

TM 05.27.16 at 8:56 pm

The Swiss handshake case is really bizarre. It is apparently a local custom that the teacher greets every pupil in the morning with a handshake. It seems a nice gesture but hardly something that can or should be mandated. As an aside, the cheek kiss greeting has become customary in Switzerland only in the last 20 years, although it’s reserved for closer acquaintances. That shows how “traditional” customs can be.

The “situation” with the two boys has blown totally out of proportion due to relentless media coverage. Now the government has decided that schools can punish pupils for refusing a handshake, which will turn a trivial matter into a major court case, which the government might well lose, in which case it will be more fodder for the islamophobes claiming that the “social cohesion” of society is threatened by 15 year old boys who don’t follow all the school rules. How crazy is that.

Switzerland also has a constitutional amendment banning minarets. I highly doubt that you dax @119 have gotten your analogies right.

118

TM 05.27.16 at 9:17 pm

Further to 140: I recently read an interview with the German demographer Wilkoszewski who claimed that the Total Dependency Ratio in Europe was currently unfavorable and was projected to decline “even further”. I looked up the numbers and found that the German Total Dependency Ratio is currently close to its most favorable level ever! (http://www.bib-demografie.de/EN/Facts_Figures/Pop_Balance/Figures/a_02_13_quotienten_d_1871_2060.html)

I contacted him and he admitted that I was right. His excuse was that he had meant to refer to the elderly dependency level, not the total dependency level, which he was clearly quoted with in the interview. In any case his statement was unscientific. The doomsayers can get away with it because journalists and politicians are notoriously number averse and the charlatans rarely get called out on their manipulations.

119

TM 05.27.16 at 9:24 pm

I should explain the figure linked above. The quotient is the number of dependents divided by the number of working age adults, in percent, so a lower level is more favorable. The graph shows the total dependency (solid), youth and old age dependency ratio. The most favorable level was recorded around 1990 but it is still close to its record low.

120

TM 05.27.16 at 10:42 pm

128: “You ought to start conforming to the social norms, obviously – or accept the consequences…”

I was taught in school that conformism is outdated. Now what do I do?

121

J-D 05.27.16 at 11:57 pm

Ze K @131

If you observe people failing to conform to society’s norms, how do you want other people to react? how do you want to react yourself?

122

Layman 05.28.16 at 12:17 am

“I was taught in school that conformism is outdated. Now what do I do?”

Shake that teacher’s hand! Quick, before they arrest you…

123

Alex K--- 05.28.16 at 11:40 am

@TM: My opponent is right about what exactly?

This is what the argument was about: My opponent said that nativist calls for higher fertility are “sexist and racist as well as plain stupid.” I see no point arguing over what is sexist or racist. I only pointed out that higher fertility was one way to counter the aging of the population.

I don’t think anyone has yet been able to disprove this claim. From the context, it should be clear I’m not talking about a return to growth à la 1950-60: rather, a modest increase from 1.4 to the 1.8-1.9 levels observed in Scandinavia. It’s low fertility vs. moderately low fertility.

My opponent, if I may rephrase his/her argument, countered that the inevitable aging would not be a disaster. The total dependency ratio (TDR) would not rise significantly because the growing number of the non-working old would be offset of the dwindling number of the non-working young.

I pointed to the latest study by the German statistics agency, Destatis, which suggested that with 1.4 fertility and immigration (from 2021) at 200k per annum, the TDR would rise from 39/61, that is about 64%, in 2013, to 49/51 or 96% in 2060. That is, from one of the most favorable ever – as you rightly note – to the level of 1900. The correctness of your point does not destroy the doomsayers’ point – yet.

To demolish the doomsayers, you are using Japan as an example. But from numbers you are quoting, Japan – like Germany – has yet to experience significant TDR growth. Your numbers suggest that the TDR in Japan was 67% in 1950, fell to 59% in 2012, but is expected to grow to 94% by 2050. So far – you’re right – Japan has not been close to a basket case. But we’re talking about the future: as the trend continues, the dependency challenge is yet to be faced. And some of the remedies available in 1950 are not at hand any longer, for example the pool of stay-at-home women.

Regarding Japan, you also wrote, “Until mid century, the working age share is projected to be 8 percentage points lower than in 1950” and commented: “That doesn’t sound dramatic at all.” If you insist on using TDRs, it does sound dramatic: from 40/60 = 67% in 1950 to 48.5/51.5 = 94% in 2050: 27 percentage points. Even more dramatic if you compare 2012 and 2050: from 37/63 = 59% to 94%: 35 points. It means that 100 working Japanese have to support 59 non-working people but in 2050, 100 Japanese workers will have to support 94 non-workers.

124

J-D 05.28.16 at 11:51 am

Ze K, you wrote earlier ‘Per my understanding of nativism, immigration per se is not necessarily threatening or undesirable for them (to compensate for low birth rates or whatever); it’s unassimilated immigration (which is usually a result of mass-immigration) that they object to: ethnic enclaves, erosion of social cohesion, this sort of thing. Is this concern really so unreasonable?’

Do you have any view of your own on that question, on whether those concerns are unreasonable or not? or are you still looking for an answer to it?

125

TM 05.28.16 at 7:53 pm

148: “The correctness of your point does not destroy the doomsayers’ point – yet.”

I think it does and maybe we’ll have to agree to disagree. But just to reiterate the main point, yes TDR will be less favorable in future than it is now, but society has dealt with similarly unfavorable demographics in earlier times, when society was much, much poorer. There is no reason why highly affluent, highly productive societies should be afraid of an increase in TDR over thewi next decades (and no I don’t consider it dramatic). I’m not denying that there are challenges associated with that development, but frankly, the future will hold challenges either way. Our biggest challenges will be due to climate change and the huge migration movements that will likely result, which by the way will make any demographic projections based on current trends highly dubious. I think it’s pretty safe to predict that people in 50 years would be grateful if demographic aging were their biggest challenge.

A bit more on the technical aspects of the debate. The demographic transition (from high birthrates to low birthrates with rising life expectancy) must by mathematical necessity result in a significant demographic aging, there is no way around it. The result is that the bulk of the population distribution will move upward and the share of old people will increase until the boomer generations have died (to put it bluntly). Even a fertility rate closer to 2 wouldn’t change this fact (it would slightly change the speed of the transition). You simply cannot have a demographic transition without aging. To pretend otherwise is unscientific. On the other hand, humankind has no plausible future that doesn’t include a global demographic transition. Again, to pretend otherwise is unscientific.

The demographic transition is a necessity. It’s not without challenges (it would unscientific too to pretend that) but it is clearly overall a positive development that any rational person should embrace. The challenges are small compared to the misery and instability that are currently caused and exacerbated (*) by high fertility in many parts of the world.

(*) Exacerbate is more to the point. Misery, lack of resources, unemployment, environmental degradation are not primarily caused by population growth but incessant growth makes it so much harder to solve these problems.

126

TM 05.28.16 at 8:00 pm

150: So you are not a native but you are trying to understand the natives, like an anthropologist? That is awfully generous of you but let me caution: rarely do anthropologists succeed in understanding alien cultures through google searches and online news sources.

127

J-D 05.28.16 at 11:18 pm

Ze K @150

‘It seems perfectly reasonable to me. If I felt like a native of some society (it so happens that I don’t), I would probably share it, at least to some extent.’

It appears from the syntax of that second sentence that you don’t actually share the view under discussion. Is that correct?

128

J-D 05.28.16 at 11:22 pm

Alex K @148 wrote:

‘My opponent said that nativist calls for higher fertility are “sexist and racist as well as plain stupid.” I see no point arguing over what is sexist or racist. I only pointed out that higher fertility was one way to counter the aging of the population.’

and

‘My opponent, if I may rephrase his/her argument, countered that the inevitable aging would not be a disaster. The total dependency ratio (TDR) would not rise significantly because the growing number of the non-working old would be offset of the dwindling number of the non-working young.’

The opponent referred to in that second quote must be me, because I did write those things (although I’ve since acknowledged that I overstated my position). The opponent referred to in the first quote is not me. I didn’t write those things, and I wouldn’t, because I don’t hold those views.

129

TM 05.29.16 at 12:37 am

No, that was me at 93: “Nativist claims that German women need to get it over with and start breeding more are sexist and racist as well as plain stupid.” And the context to that was given in 77: “AfD leader Frauke Petry has stated that a “normal German family” should have three children (in order to ensure the survival of the nation, “das Überleben des eigenen Volkes, der eigenen Nation sicherzustellen“), and wants to restrict legal abortion.”

AlexK states that he would prefer a fertility rate of 1.8 or 1.9, “obviously”, he says (but it’s not obvious for the nativists). Still one has to ask what is meant by a statement like “we should increase the fertility rate”. The fertility rate is not set by public policy, not in our society. It may be influenced by conditions amenable to policy, although in Germany it has been remarkably stable for decades. It is result of the choices that millions of individuals have been making and there is no evidence that they are unhappy with the outcome. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence in the world that many pregnancies are unwanted and that many million women and men would like to have better access to contraceptives. I can’t help but reading appeals for having more children as paternalistic and disrespectful of reproductive autonomy. The same is of course of true of appeals for having fewer children. All individual reproductive choices should be respected but first, people need to have the choice and too many don’t yet have it.

One more technical point that I neglected earlier. “I only pointed out that higher fertility was one way to counter the aging of the population. I don’t think anyone has yet been able to disprove this claim.” Of course I agree with the claim. My objection (first made by J-Ds) is that children also impose significant costs on society. If German fertility increased from 1.4 to 1.8, in the short term the total dependency ratio would increase faster; society would have to provide more resources for the care and especially education of additional children. I observe that throughout the affluent world, education expenses are being cut with the insane argument that “we can’t afford this” (really, the richest society in all of history can’t afford to keep up its commitment to quality education). Good luck trying to get the nativists (who are overwhelmingly neoliberals) to approve higher taxes to pay for higher birth rates.

In short, my criticism is that it’s unscientific to only highlight the old age dependency rate while ignoring the youth dependency rate.

130

ZM 05.29.16 at 5:39 am

From Ingrid’s OP — “Either way, those of us who see the European radical right-wing parties as dangerous for values such as toleration, solidarity and international cooperation, have an uphill battle to fight…. we should not forget that half of the Austrians prefer a radical right-wing president. Too much of this reminds us of the toxic political climate we had in Europe in the past. And I find it increasingly hard not too worry that there are too many signs of some of that returning.”

On the 23-24 of May the United Nations held the World Humanitarian Summit, as a response to escalating conflict and crisis numbers of displaced persons and refugees.

Our local group that tries to raise awareness and fundraise for refugees called the Prime Minister’s office and Leader of the Opposition’s office, leader of the Greens party as well, and we couldn’t get a response about anyone representing Australia at the Summit.

You can access a list of participants in the Leaders Segment here http://www.worldhumanitariansummit.org and no leaders from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada, or the USA are listed as attending. I think Ireland is the only “Anglo” country who had a leader attend (this is probably not quite the right way to described Ireland, but you know what I mean).

Australia and New Zealand hosted an event as co-chairs of the Pacific Regional Steering Group, “Collaborating for Resilience in the Pacific”. USAid co-hosted an event. And some non-government organisations from these countries participated.

Possibly people who work in the public service in Australia, NZ, the UK, Canada, and USA attended. I can’t find a list. It is very disappointing no leaders attended from these countries though.

131

Brett Dunbar 05.30.16 at 5:20 am

Austria had a presidential run off between a far right and far left candidate. Greens originating on the more moderate end of the left anarchist tradition. It is quite possible that a moderate candidate would have done better in the run off. If both choices are crazy then you might vote for the slightly less crazy one, even if they are someone you would never normally consider.

132

Alex K--- 05.30.16 at 5:24 am

@J-D 154: I apologize for misrepresenting your position. I should be more careful in the future.

133

TM 05.30.16 at 7:39 am

(:rolleyes) Enough of this trolling.

134

hix 05.30.16 at 5:39 pm

“1) The traditional far-right (which were the original constituency of the FPO).”

Would not say that. Its “Freiheitlich” (liberty/freedom) right in the name after all. The FPÖ was not that far right before Haider and gay Haider never was traditional far right.

With regards to “anti clientelist” constituency, id say thats broader than just perceived corruption. They get the entire anti corporatist vote, which is in no way limited to alleged corruption, that also includedes people e.g. unhappy with mandatory membership in a Wirtschaftskammer and things like that.

135

J-D 05.31.16 at 1:13 am

hix @161

‘The FPÖ was not that far right before Haider …’

Possibly; but it’s hard to believe it’s a coincidence that its first and second leaders were both former SS officers.

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