‘In creating barbarian war-bands the external proletariat has merely prepared itself for a destructive attack upon the dying civilisation.’
‘Ancient civilisations were destroyed by imported barbarians; we breed our own’
Arnold J Toynbee “A Study of History Part 1”
Scientists have discovered that the Campi Fegrei caldera, off Italy, is heating up again. Over 30,000 years ago, the caldera erupted and spewed almost a trillion gallons of molten rock in the atmosphere, in the process setting of a “volcanic winter” which contributed to the wiping out of the Neanderthals.
Europe is geopolitically and literally sitting on a volcano and we are getting closer to the point when one of the core regions of a declining industrial civilisation disintegrates politically, economically and socially. The election of President Trump marks a sea change in the globalised liberal world order which was already struggling under the impact of the post-Lehman Great Recession, the long-term rise of resource prices, driven by limits to growth, and an increasingly rebellious populace angry about a perceived loss of cultural identity, economic stagnation and rising jihadi terrorism.
Europe has enjoyed a long summer under the benign protection of the US military which has meant that most European nations have been able to effectively opt-out of paying for their own defence. The post-Cold War “peace dividend” has allowed the European political class to focus on that ultimate grand liberal project, the European Union (“EU”), and its ever further integration. That world is now dying.
President Trump, in his inaugural speech, outlined an “American First” manifesto which has horrified the European political class. In it, President Trump articulated a return to neo-isolationism and an end to the certainties of a post-Cold, and indeed, the post WW2 era. Although Prime Minister Theresa May managed to get a grudging confirmation from the president that America is still committed to NATO, it is clearly on the condition that European allies will commit to the minimum 2% defence spending.
I am sceptical whether this will actually happen if the price is further cuts in welfare spending which will be deeply unpopular among continental electorates. It is therefore only a matter of time before President Trump effectively pulls the plug on America’s security commitments to the European continent. A Trump America may form bilateral military protection agreements with traditionally pro-American states like Poland and the Baltic states. However, this will be on the condition that these countries contribute far more to their own defence spending.
The EU itself can be considered a classic case of “sophisticated state failure”, with a Byzantine governance model which even the experts struggle to understand. The Ostrich type position of the Brussels establishment since the Brexit vote in June 2016 is an example of how the European political class is increasingly incapable of thinking creatively on how to restructure the EU.
A creative and bold European leadership would advocate a reformed union with a new class of membership, involving a repatriation of powers back to the member-state, for those countries historically more sceptical of European integration. A re-think on the principle of freedom of movement, internal border controls and a much tougher external border policy on economic migrants from the troubled Middle East and North Africa (“MENA”) region, along the lines of the Australian model, would also be significant moves in shoring up support for the project. As you may have noticed, none of this has happened, to date.
The eurozone itself remains a half botched job with a monetary union without a corresponding fiscal or political union. The single market is in deep trouble as “temporary” border controls pop up around the Continent due to the security threats posed by jihadi terrorists and massive refugee flows from the MENA zone of disorder. Warnings from leading experts that the eurozone is a “house of cards” which could collapse soon are multiplying, reflecting the growing levels of alarm within elite European circles.
My conclusion therefore remains that the eurozone is likely to collapse within the next 5 years, as noted in my post “winter is coming”, and that the migration crisis will accelerate the collapse of the EU itself in the coming decades. The trigger for the coming collapse will be the rise to power of governments with a mandate to withdraw from the eurozone and even the EU itself on the Continent. I have predicted that this could happen as soon as this year, with the up-coming elections in the Netherlands, France and potentially even Italy and Austria.
The migration crisis which has hammered the Continent since the summer of 2015 should be understood within the broader historical context of a declining civilisation. Arnold Toynbee, a little known figure these days, wrote a 12 volume universal history comparing the rise and fall of 19 civilisations. His aim was to see, in this long cyclical story of the rise and fall of successive civilisations, whether common patterns could be discerned.
Toynbee argues that civilizations break down when there is deterioration within the social order, an inability to respond to challenges, and a subsequent loss of that self-determination that had once impelled growth, instead of variety and versatility there is deadening uniformity and uninventiveness. A disintegrating society breaks up into a dominant minority, and internal proletariat, and an external proletariat (barbarian warrior bands).
A dominant minority is the elites of society, the rich and powerful, who run the civilisation but who have lost the respect and authority in the eyes of the rest of the population, the internal proletariat. The Brexit vote occurred despite the fact that the majority of the academic, cultural, political and economic elites of Great Britain advocated for a Remain vote. A majority of the internal proletariat decided that their interests were better off out of the EU. This is a good example of Toynbee’s theory in action. The internal proletariat have lost respect for the judgements, wisdom and “expertise” of the elites and voted accordingly.
The external proletariat is the mass of the population who physically reside beyond the core zones of the civilisation of that time. The fearsome barbarian warrior tribes of the steppes were the external proletariat of the Roman Empire, which the Roman legions kept out, for centuries. Eventually the Roman Empire imploded and these warrior bands, led by charismatic strongmen, plundered, raped and murdered their way around the once wealthy Roman Empire.
In our industrial civilisation, the external proletariat is the mass of the world population who live beyond the core zones of North America, Europe, Russia, Australasia, and parts of south-east Asia. We call this the developing world where a small minority (their own dominant minority) lead a luxuriant lifestyle amidst a sea of poverty. The eruption of the migration crisis is a sign that as the MENA region disintegrates into state failure and lawlessness, the fit young men of the external proletariat, will risk their lives to get to the security and perceived economic opportunity of the West.
It is important to note that just as the bulk of the “barbarians” who were initially allowed to settle in the twilight years of the Roman Empire had no intention of destroying the Roman world, the vast majority of the predominately Muslim migrants pouring into Europe only wish to enjoy the fruits of European prosperity. In an era of economic decline and worsening resource scarcity, the migrants will form part of a growing urban underclass, with little prospects of bettering themselves through legitimate ways. This is illustrated by the fact that approximately 99% of the German migrants are still unemployed.
The rise of Islamist and violent jihadi ideology among the Muslim populations of Europe is a sinister warning that as Toynbee warned, we are breeding our own barbarians. The thousands of trained jihadi terrorists across the Continent are being joined by ever further waves of radicalised Muslim migrants, creating a growing security nightmare for the European authorities.
The terrorists/barbarian warrior bands are already within the cities of the European heartland of our industrial civilisation and their numbers are growing. If history is any guide, we will see ever bigger waves of determined migrants forcing their way into Europe, as the MENA region faces water scarcity, food and energy shortages and protracted state failures across the region. A small but significant number of these migrants will start plundering, raping and murdering Europeans as Attila the Hun and his warriors did to the ancient Roman citizens. The Cologne sex attacks on New Years Eve, the wave of migrant crime in Paris and the horrific suicide bomb attacks in Brussels are an early sign of that grim future.
Should the European elites fail to get a handle on the growing security threats facing the continent and the significant flows of migrants from the external proletariat into the ranks of the pan-European urban underclass, than violence, social disorder and even civil war could erupt. This is the worst case scenario.
The alternative scenario, which I consider more likely, is that starting from 2017 countries across Western Europe will start electing populist and nationalistic political forces to power. These conservative and populist politicians will have a mandate from their internal proletariat to restore sovereignty, border controls and end the creeping Islamification of their societies. This will involve brutal measures, including the shutting down of mosques, deportation of Islamist extremists and refugees and potentially even the mass deportation of non-assimilated Muslim populations. The former conservative German Chancellor Helmut Kohl wished to deport half the Turkish Muslim population from Germany, declassified documents, now reveal. It is not inconceivable that similar conversations are on-going within security, military and political circles within Europe.
Fortress Europe, led by a club of sovereign states, will shut the borders and prevent, if needs be by force, the mass migrations of the external proletariat into the European continent. These political forces, who will be the new European establishment, will align themselves with the bulwark of traditionalism, the Russian Federation, under the de facto Tsar Putin. Russian influence in a post-eurozone and probable post-EU Europe will grow as America withdraws into isolationism and Russian gas, oil and coal become the main energy sources of an energy starved Europe.
The future of Europe largely depends on the electoral choices of the European people over the coming decade. The current liberal elite who run Western Europe are wedded to a set of policies that have failed and are causing more problems than they are solving. As Paul Arbair notes in his essay on Brexit, “The growing popular revolts against globalisation, the EU, or multiculturalism are signs that our societies are already struggling to uphold their level of complexity and are subject to strong forces that are pulling towards a break down to a lower complexity level i.e. localised economies, national governance, homogeneous societies, etc”. The rise of populism can thus be seen as a reaction against a failed system that is now in a systemic crisis and showing growing signs of collapse.
To conclude, Europe faces profound challenges as we enter into the twilight era of industrial civilisation. The drum beats of the barbarian war-lords can already be heard in European cities, the nativist warrior bands are stocking up their arsenals and millions of the external proletariat are planning to pour into Europe.
A certain degree of social disorder and violence is inevitable but how much and on what scale remains to be seen and will depend on how European politics changes in the coming decade.