By Anis Bajrektarevic
There is a claim constantly circulating the EU: ‘multiculturalism is dead in Europe’. Dead or maybe d(r)ead?… That much comes from a cluster of European nation-states that love to romanticize – in a grand metanarrative of dogmatic universalism – their appearance as of the coherent Union, as if they themselves lived a long, cordial and credible history of multiculturalism. Hence, this claim and its resonating debate is of course false. It is also cynical because it is purposely deceiving. No wonder, as the conglomerate of nation-states/EU has silently handed over one of its most important debates – that of European anti-fascistic identity, or otherness – to the wing-parties. This was repeatedly followed by the selective and contra-productive foreign policy actions of the Union.
Paris shootings, terrible beyond comprehension, will reload and overheat those debates. However, these debates are ill conceived, resting from the start on completely wrong and misleading premises. Terrorism, terror, terrorism!! – But, terror is a tactics, not an ideology. How can one conduct and win war on tactics? – it is an oxymoron. (In that case, only to win are larger budgets for the homeland security apparatus on expenses of our freedoms and liberties, like so many times before.) The January assassins in the Parisian Satirical Magazine (and subsequent hostage crises) as well as these of bloody Friday of November are Islamofascists. The fact that these individuals are (again) allegedly of Arab-Muslim origins and seemingly clero-indoctrinated does not make them less fascists, less European, nor does it abolish Europe from the main responsibility in this case. How do we define that challenge will answer us whether we live the real democracy or are blinded by the formal one.
Fascism and its evil twin, Nazism are 100% European ideologies. Neo-Nazism also originates from and lately unchecked blossoms, primarily in Europe. Some would say of today; an über-economy in the center of continent, surrounded from all sides by the recuperating neo-fascism.
(How else to explain that the post-WWII come-and-help-our-recovery slogan Gastarbeiter willkommen became an Auslander Raus roar in a matter of only two decades. Suddenly, our national purifiers extensively shout ‘stop überfremdung of EU, we need de-ciganization’ of our societies, as if it historically does not always end up in one and only possible way– self-barbarization. In response, the socially marginalized and ghettoized ‘foreigners’ are calling for the creation of gastarbeiterpartie. Indeed, the first political parties of foreigners are already created in Austria, with similar calls in Germany, France and the Netherlands. Their natural coalition partner would never be any of the main political parties. We should know by now, how the diverting of the mounting socio-economic discontent and generational disfranchising through ethno engineering will end up, don’t we?)
The Old continent tried to amortize its deepening economic and demographic contraction by a constant interference on its peripheries, especially meddling on the Balkans, Black Sea/Caucasus and MENA (Middle East–North Africa). What is now an epilogue? A severe democratic recession. Whom to blame for this structural, lasting civilizational retreat that Europe suffers? Is it accurate or only convenient to accuse a bunch of useful idiots for returning home with the combative behavior, equipped with the European guns and homegrown anger of the misused?
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My voice was just one of the many that included notables like Umberto Eco, Bono Vox and Kishore Mahbubani –foster moderation and dialogue, encourage forces of toleration, wisdom and understanding, stop supporting and promoting ethno-fascism in the former Yugoslavia and Ukraine. These advices were and are still ridiculed and silenced, or in the best case, ignored. Conversely, what the EU constantly nurtured and cherished with its councils, boots and humanitarian aid starting from Bosnia 25 years ago, Middle East, until the present day Ukraine was less of a constructive strategic engagement and lasting-compromise, but more of a history-rewriting, cult of death, destruction, partition, exclusion and fascism.
(Some of the most notorious regimes on this planet are extensively advertised and glorified all throughout the EU– including its biggest sports events and the most popular sports. No matter, that one of these hereditary theocracies considers as a serious criminal offence– brutally coercing like European Nazis did in 1930s – if the prescribed state religion is not obeyed as the only existing one). On the other side, European temple of multiculturalism – Sarajevo, was barbarically sieged and bombed for 1,000 days – all that just a one-hour flight from Brussels. Still, 20 years after falling a victim of unthinkable genocide, Bosnia remains the only UN member state in the world that does not exercise its sovereignty. It is administratively occupied by the opaque and retrograde international bureaucracy – predominantly overpaid European apparatchiks that institutionalized segregation in this, victimized then criminalized, country.
Illuminating cradles of multiculturalism – some of the brightest verticals of entire human civilization such as Jerusalem, Bagdad and Damascus still suffer unbearable horrors of externally induced, rather ahistorical destruction, hatred and perpetuated purges. With such a dismal ‘export’ record, universal claim of the European political system or even its historic perspective does not hold water anymore.
Europe still defies the obvious. There is no lasting peace at home if the neighborhood remains restless. Ask Americans living at the Mexican border, or Turks next to Syria. The horrific Paris massacre (and related shootouts that did not fade away even days after the initial assault last time in January, as it might be unfortunately the case this time, too) is yet another a painful reminder of how much the EU has already isolated itself. For unreasonably long, Europe promoted in the Middle East and Africa everything but the stability and prosperity of its own post-WWII socio-economic model. No wonder that today, instead of blossoming neighborhood, the EU is encircled by the ring of politico-military instability and socio-economic despair – from Ukraine, Balkans to MENA, and countless refuges pouring from there. (How many times is history to repeat itself? – The colonial overstretch/economic chauvinism, yesterday abroad – means a moral overkill, today at home. In this context, one should understand also the recently released Oxfam study ‘Wealth: Having it All and Wanting More’, /January, 2015/. It documents into a detail, all the enormous wealth accumulation on the side of 1%, as well as the further acceleration of wealth gap. Rather mistakenly, many would consider 99% as a principal victim, although 99% themselves are primarily, sustained and for years, responsible for this cleavage by ignoring and silencing it.)
As the saying goes, when there is no opportunity, give at least a lame hope. That is what Europe keenly helped with in the Middle East: The very type of Islam Europe supported in the Middle East yesterday, is the version of Islam (or better to say, fascism), we are getting today in the Christian Europe as well as in the Christian neighborhoods of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Thus, in response to the Balkans, MENA and Ukraine crises, the EU repeatedly failed to keep up a broad, single-voiced consolidated agenda and all-participatory basis with its strategic neighborhood. The EU missed it all – although having institutions, WWII-memory, interest and credibility to prevent mistakes – as it did wrong before at home; by silently handing over one of its most important questions, that of European identity, anti-fascism and otherness, to escapist anti-politics (politics in retreat) dressed up in the Western European wing-parties. (It leads the so-called western democracies into the deadlock of perpetuated cycles of voters’ frustrations: elect and regret, vote against and regret, re-elect and regret again… A path of an ongoing trivialization of our socio-political contents or formalization of substantive democracy.)
Eventually, the ‘last world’s cosmopolitan’ – as the EU is often self-portrayed – compromised its own perspectives and discredited its own transformative power’s principle. The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, EU did so by undermining its own institutional framework: the Nurnberg principles and firm antifascist legacy (UN and CoE), Barcelona Process as the specialized segment of from-Morocco-to-Russia European Neighborhood Policy (EU) and the Euro-Med partnership (OSCE).
The only direct involvement of the continent was ranging between a selective diplomatic de-legitimization, satanization in media, false-flag or proxy assaults, and punitive military engagements via the Atlantic-Central Europe-led coalition of the willing (the Balkans, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine). This naturally results in a massive influx of refugees, a consequence to which Europeans usually respond by criminalizing migrations and penalising the immigrants’ way of life. Confrontational nostalgia prevailed again over both that is essential for any viable future: dialog (instruments) and consensus (institutions).
The consequences are rather striking and worth of stating once more: The sort of Islam that the EU supported (and the means deployed to do so) in the Middle East yesterday, is the sort of Islam (and the means it uses) that Europe gets today. Small wonder, that Islam in Turkey (or in Kirgizstan and in Indonesia) is broad, liberal and tolerant while the one in Atlantic-Central Europe is a brutally dismissive, narrow and vindictively assertive.
Our urgent task – if we are any serious about Europe– is denazification. Not a one-time event, but a lasting process. Let’s start from Bosnia, Ukraine and Paris at once.
Back in November 2011, reflecting on the tragic events from Norway, I wrote for the Oslo’s Nordic Page the following: “No doubt, just as the cyber-autistic McFB way of life is the same in any European and Middle Eastern city, so are the radical, wing politics! Have you spotted any critical difference between the rhetoric of Norwegian serial killer Breivik and the Al Qaida Wahhabi ‘Islamists’? ‘Just like Jihadi warriors are the plum tree of Ummah, we will be the plum tree for Europe and for Christianity’– many news agencies reported these as words allegedly written by the Christian Jihadist Anders Behring. The European (rightwing) parties opposing e.g. Muslim immigration are nothing but the mirror image of the MENA’s Islamist parties. In both cases, there are: (i) Socio-political outsiders (without much of any coherence, integrity and autonomy) that are denouncing the main, status quo, parties as a ‘corrupt establishment’; (ii) Extensively exploiting domestic economic shortcomings (e.g. unemployment, social inequalities, etc.), but they themselves do nothing essential to reverse the trend; (iii) Making ethnic and religious appeals (preaching the return to tradition), attacking foreign influences in their societies and otherwise ‘culturally purifying’ population; (iv) Generally doing better in local rather than in national elections (the ‘Rightists’ win on the national elections only when no other effective alternative exists to challenge the governing party/coalition block); (v) More emotionally charged populist movements than serious political parties of the solid socio-economic and socio-political program (per definition, these parties have very poor governing score).”
How many more have to die before we accept and acknowledge the inevitable – Denazification process is urgently needed in Europe!
Notes and references
- Lasting conflicts in the multireligious and multinational countries nobody can win. Therefore, the severity and length of atrocities as well as the magnitude of suffering of civilians in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine are meaningless from the military or any logical point of you, unless the very objective is something else. What if war is used as an instrument of mass torture, not for a geostrategic advancement but for a social reengineering, e.g. Nazification? The conduct is as follows: (i) destabilized central authority; (ii) systematic and prolonged sectarian violence to the point of ‘we cannot forgive, we cannot live together anymore’; (iii) partition, hysteria, further atomization; (iv) ethno-fascism; (v) permanently dysfunctional government, easily controllable on remote control.
- It is worth to recall my warnings against destruction of the most successful African state, one of the very few MENA countries that generously offered a universal health, universal schooling and universal housing to its citizens and permanent residents. This is my voice from autumn 2011: “To conclude with the Huntingtonian Clash of Civilizations wisdom: When the predominantly Christian air-force is bombing a predominantly Muslim country for 4 consecutive months and keeps doing so all throughout the ‘Muslim Christmas’ – the holy fasting month of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr – it surely will not help to maintain secularism and introduce democratization locally, nor will it assist the war against Islamist radicals regionally… The nomadic tribes that got its first nationhood in 1951, and were effectively united only under Gaddafi, have finally managed to overthrow the only indigenous governing structure they have ever experienced. It has been done after nearly six months of armed struggle and with the help of over 7,000 NATO air-raids deployed against their own country and the properties built for generations. Deliberately or not, the current momentum of Libya– with the infrastructure devastated, police force dismantled, properties plundered, and the streets full of civilians (of minor and older ages, but some with the previous criminal prison dossiers, sporadic racist killers or looters) of many nationalities, armed with long guns (including the air-defence mobile rockets) without any visible command – does not create a context for any political debate or any promising future. With its social cohesion brutally fractured, and society deeply traumatized, Libya may sink into the limbo and a lasting, bloody interregnum.” (Bajrektarevic, A. (2011), Libya – The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Africa, Addleton Academic Publishers CRLSJ, 3(1)2011).
- While the cacophony of European contradictions works more on a self-elimination of the EU from the region, Turkey tries to reinsert itself. The so-called neo-Ottomanism of the current (Anatolian, eastern rural power-base) government steers the country right into the centre of grand bargaining for both Russia and for the US. To this emerging triangular constellation, President Erdoğan and its PM Davatoglu wishes to appoint its own rhythm. Past the ‘Arab Spring’, neither will Russia effectively sustain its presence in the Middle East on a strict pan-Arabic secular, republican and anti-Islamic idea, nor will the US manage to politically and morally justify its backing off of the absolutistic monarchies energized by the backward, dismissive and oppressive Wahhabism. Ankara tries to sublimate both effectively: enough of a secular republican modernity and enough of a traditional, tolerant and emancipating Islam, and to broadcast it as an attractive future model across the Middle East. Simply, Bosporus wakes itself up as an empiric proof that the Islam and modernity goes together. In fact, it is the last European nation that still has both demographic and economic growth. Moreover, Ataturk’s Republic is by large and by far the world’s most successful Muslim state: It was never resting its development on oil or other primary-commodity exports, but on a vibrant socio-economic sector and solid democratic institutions. This is heavily contesting, not only for Russia, but primarily for the insecure regime of the House of Saud (and other GCC autocracies), which rules by the direct royal decree over a country of recent past, oil-export dependent and fizzing presence and improbable future. No wonder that on the ideological battlefield, the two belligerent parties will be dominating the Middle East, which is currently in self-questioning, struggling past yet another round of hardships. The outcome will be significantly beyond the Arab world, and will reverberate all across the Sunni Muslim world. Ankara is attempting to justify that the Saudi-promoted Islam is actually a toxic, separatist/sectarian Wahhabistic ideology that self-constrains Muslims, and keeps them on a wrong side of history by hindering their socio-economic and political development. It does so, Turkey claims, by holding Muslims on a permanent collision course with the rest of the world, while Turkey-promoted Islam is not a weaponized ideology, but a Modus Vivendi, which permits progress and is acceptable for all (including the non-Muslims), with the centuries-long history of success.
- Tim Lister Europe’s resurgent far right focuses on immigration, multiculturalism, CNN (July 24, 2011).