‘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.
8 thoughts on “Europe’s coming Campi Flegrei explosion”
Assuming the claims of growing Islamization are not vastly overstated and possibly even paranoia (which I think they could well be), neither alternative is acceptable. Also worth noting the so-called liberal world order is essentially capitalist and bourguois-normative in character. Which is where I think much of the real anger lies. It’s easy to demonise the other and make lazy comparisons with the fall of the Roman empire.
Islamization is a very real threat and I recommend that you read the British government report into integration (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-casey-review-a-review-into-opportunity-and-integration) and this spectator article on a similar trend in France (http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/01/unlike-merkel-trump-understands-islamist-threat-west/). These are just a number of quality sources which document the spread of Islamist enclaves within European cities over the previous generation.
My central assertion is that our industrial civilisation is in decline and economic contraction and ever worsening resource scarcity will lead to growing internal and external tensions within and between societies. Already, in a relatively prosperous and stable period, there is a deep cleavage between Muslim and non-Muslim populations.
Forecasting isn’t about predicting what we would like to happen but rather what is likely to happen. Based on the polling data, the trends and the political shifts going on, my forecasts are based on what I think is likely to happen in the coming decades and whether it is considered “acceptable” is fundamentally irrelevant.
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While I would not count the second source as a particularly high quality one (looked up the author) the first should qualify. If you look at page 70 in https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/575973/The_Casey_Review_Report.pdf it says:
[…] Nevertheless, we concluded that the results were valid and representative of the views of British Muslims living in areas of 20%
or more Muslim population (accounting for nearly half – 45% – of all Muslims in Britain).
39% of Muslim respondents agreed that wives should always obey their husbands
(compared with 5% of the British population)
31% agreed that it is acceptable for a man to have more than one wife (compared with 9% of the British population)
52% did not agree that homosexuality should be legal in Britain (compared with 11% of the British population)
47% did not agree that it is acceptable for a homosexual person to be a teacher in a school (compared with 14% of the British population)
23% supported the introduction of Sharia law [translation would be: Law law – by the way] instead of British laws in some areas of Britain.
32% refused to condemn people who take part in violence against those who mock the Prophet.
34% would inform the police if they thought somebody they knew was getting involved with people who support terrorism in Syria
(compared with 30% of the British population)
That said, I would like to add that it is on very thin ice to extrapolate to Europe from what is the case in Britain. It is also highly questionable to lump Islamic societies together. Doing that as a basis for future action makes an undesirable outcome far more likely. I’d strongly suggest to get translation plugins so you can appreciate the nuances better.
Also you could look at people who have put in significant(ly more) work into the topic (regarding the radical / violent angle): https://twitter.com/PeterRNeumann
There is of course also the issue of the creeping change of mores. I’d like to point out though that more Muslim immigrants are located in cities. Cities are fundamentally different from are different from the countryside (also in culture). They generate far, far less people than they absorb. They are culturally much more adaptive and integrate people faster. Their economy is more supportive of and in need of diversity.
So I’d say: Yes, do watch the numbers, But don’t get overexcited as cities are mostly machines that turn people into goods (often times intangible). As long as cities function and don’t (financially) burden the countryside due to Muslim immigration or antagonistic spread things are likely under control.
My own reading of the polling indicates that Muslims in Europe hold similar views to British born Muslims.
Of course, the Muslims from the MENA region will have a different set of attitudes in relation to homosexuality, women’s rights and freedom of religion/speech and over a million have come to Europe.
Whilst I appreciate your comments the overall trend seems to be going a certain way and that is what I base my forecasts on, meta-trends based on underlying data, demographic shifts and research.
I appreciate that you are trying to remain neutral and simply forecast likely scenarios. I also broadly agree with your central premise, and note the possibilities. Bear in mind that my initial comment was written at around 2am and unfortunately I do have a tendency (especially at that time) to comment without always reading or thinking through thoroughly what is being commented on, for which I apologize. What I will not however apologize for (and would hope you would not think I need to) is that I do choose to express my own opinion in such comments, and further would suggest that (whilst I do not agree in all respects with the man) the words of Karl Marx in his Theses on Feuerbach might well be borne in mind: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” Surely the point of analysing trends for likely outcomes, likewise, should be as a starting point for action to mitigate the worst possible scenarios, or at least try to create more favourable ones.
I fear I need to study the situation more if only for my own personal benefit, and therefore such links as you have provided will be useful. As such, whilst my existing opinions need to be much better informed (even if it is not within my abilities or at least wishes to conduct rigorous analysis), it is my surmise that whilst the Islamist threat is very real, it is probably vastly overstated by the “dominant minority” (in the shape of news media, certain political interests and think tanks, etc.) in importance compared to the reality, in order to shift blame away from themselves and the system they perpetuate, for causing the greater crisis in the economy, resource scarcity, environmental damage etc. Moreover the threat posed by Islamism is in large part not simply because of such crises but being the result, however indirect, of the foreign policies of the major world powers (supporting extreme/militant regimes and groups; playing various sides against each other for their own geopolitical advantage), plus the prejudices that exist against foreign countries and immigrant populations. Even one of the sources you cite seems to suggest that the threat could be contained if certain measures are taken. What does seem true is that actual terrorist attacks to date have resulted in far less of an actual threat than most day-to-day threats to life and property, though as things get worse, and tensions mount, this may not be true forever.
It is also my surmise that the underlying anger by proletariats “internal” and “external” alike is a manifestation of their fears concerning the deeper crisis. As you suggest, it is easy to fall back on old belief systems, traditions and prejudices than it is to come up with anything constructive. Ideally if there is to be tension, it would be far better directed against the system that produce such crises and the class in whose interest it is to perpetuate them. If not, for there to be constructive reform which overcomes these divisions and begins the serious work of transitioning away from the old economic, political and social systems into a society fit to handle the coming crisis. (Perhaps this is my new-found socialist tendencies coming through and I will admit this is wildly idealistic; the chances of it happening seem less likely than I would wish, hence why I say I do not always agree with Marx, even if he himself might have thought his prediictions objective.)
And again I reckon that a lot of that is based on my own lack of understanding of the situation.
I would broadly agree with your comments and I certainly think that you will see a revival of socialism in the coming decades. Although what form of socialism remains to be seen.
I think the Islamist threat can be contained and it is one of the lesser challenges facing us. I would place climate change and resource scarcity as the most difficult issues facing our civilization and it is already too late to “solve” them although much can be done to mitigate their impact. At least with the Islamist threat and man-made climate change, there is at last some awareness of the threat and modest steps taken to contain and mitigate against these challenges.
In regard to resource scarcity there is no such awareness, whether at the mass level or in elite circles. That is why the limits to growth mega-trend will be the most damaging in the coming decades since our industrial civilization is heading into this storm blind.
You wrote: “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.”
If Marine Le Pen wins the French presidency, is the above what you would expect her to do? Or do you think you would follow a different course in some ways?
Thanks for the feedback! Please note that FI is an attempt to forecast the likely future, based on my analysis, research and intuition and I try and keep my personal views/politics separate, as far as it is possible, from the art of probabilistic forecasting. So please don’t interpret my article as an endorsement of any political viewpoint or political leader as I try and keep it as “non-political” as possible.
My views on what Marine Le Pen is likely to do, if she manages to win the French presidency, are largely based on what she has stated she intends to do as well as my own reading of her as an individual.
Le Pen will move aggressively in confronting Brussels on massively repatriating powers (on industrial policy, border control and the end of freedom of movement etc) from Brussels back to Paris. She has said she will give it six months, and if her demands aren’t met, she will prepare a advisory referendum on leaving the euro zone and the EU. One thing to factor in is that the legislative is unlikely to have a NF majority so she will have to work with opposition parties. Le Pen will campaign on the basis that only leaving the EU will allow the French state to restore the industrial base of France, control the borders, keep the refugees out and crush the threat of jihadi terror. I suspect that she could win it. Polls show that the French are more skeptical of the EU than the British! Whilst the French elite would be horrified by Frexit, should the majority of its citizens vote to leave, it will be hard for them to ignore the vote and prevent President Le Pen pushing through article 50 and the formal process of leaving the EU.
Regarding the jihadi threat, I think Le Pen will carry on and extend the policies already being implemented by a Socialist government (e.g. state of emergency, house arrests and the proposed removal of citizenship of convicted French born terrorists). However, Le Pen will take it a step further, sending in the army to the predominately Muslim suburbs, arresting and deporting extremists and clerics and probably the internment of known jihadi suspects on the infamous S list. What happens from there depends on how much resistance such moves will emerge from within the Muslim community and whether the silent majority of moderate Muslims quietly celebrate the removal of extremists from their communities and assist the authorities in crushing the remaining cells of extremist Islamists across the country.
Alternatively, the narrative of Muslim versus non-Muslim will triumph, violence and urban unrest will explode and the prospect of far worse scenarios start coming into play. France could spiral into a very low-grade urban civil war although that is certainly the worse-case scenario and not my baseline forecast.