[Previously by Rafael Koski The Sweden Democrats—Alone Against Establishment Extremists]
It all began on a warm August day. Thilo Sarrazin, a former Social Democratic Party elected official and a board member of the Bundesbank, the German central bank, had been causing increasing controversy with statements on Muslim immigrants in Germany. Then, in an interview, he used the words "Jew" and "gene" in the same sentence. This led to not just an ordinary anti-racist witch-hunt, but one more like exorcising the Devil himself: denunciations from Chancellor Angela Merkel and other politicians and by the Central Council for Jews in Germany.
All summer, Sarrazin had been giving interviews to various German newspapers to promote his new book, Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab ("Germany Abolishes Itself"), in which he discusses the breakdown of German society and the threat from immigration. The public denunciations and his dismissal from the Bundesbank seemed like a concentrated effort by the powers-to-be to shut him up.
But it hasn`t worked. Sarrazin has forced himself back into public debate by his book sales. Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab sold out its first print run, over 200,000 copies, the week it was published. (I had to buy the downloadable version). Sales are now reported to be over 650,000—in a country of 82 million.
So the treatment of Sarrazin moved to the next phase, familiar from many European countries where opposition to mass immigration has grown so large that the elite can no longer pretend it doesn`t exist: the call to "open up a debate on integration without taboos" (Merkel in Der Spiegel). Suddenly, all journalists talk like the problems have been discussed for years.
But the main theme of this "official" debate: Germans must look into themselves to find what has gone wrong with the "integration" of Muslims. It`s blatantly an attempt to control the damage caused by Sarrazin by turning the discussion to favorite liberal themes like education—instead of asking whether Middle Eastern and North African peoples have the capacity to support a prosperous industrial society.
Indeed, perhaps the single most politically explosive claim in Sarrazin`s book is that the immigration of Turks into Germany (there are now about 3-4 million) has economically been only negative for Germany. The first Turkish Gastarbeiter came to work in German factories—but their progeny have been drawing in welfare benefits much more that what the original "cheap labor" was worth.
Economic matters are taken very seriously in Germany. After World War II, Germany has had no other (positive) national identity than being a prosperous, tidy country that produces the best cars in the world. If the economy does badly—like now—Germany faces an existential question.
The German political elite has already experienced one popular uprising this year. Despite explicit provisions in the Treaty of Rome, Germany and the governments of the European Union decided to create a huge 950 billion dollar rescue plan to bail out member states that had adopted the Euro and now faced bankruptcy. This bail-out was hugely unpopular in Germany. German citizens questioned, quite rightly, if their politicians were cared about Germany`s national interest at all or were just trying to keep their beloved EU from dissolving. Many Germans decided to just bail out of the Euro themselves and buy gold.
For ordinary Germans, this was a unifying experience. Everybody in Germany knew that everybody else was mad as hell about the bankster-bailout of 2010.
Sarrazin`s message could spark an awakening of the German right. The major themes of his book—national dumbing-down due to immigration; the natural inequality of man; the alien character of Islam; the sexual behavior of the underclass; German national self-hatred; the fatal influence of the "Class of `68" radical generation—are themes that could be used to launch a new nationalist party. According to a recent poll, a Sarrazin party could gather 18 % of the national vote. (Most Germans also told the pollsters that Arabs are Turks are "not willing and not capable of integrating" into German society.) This would only bring politics in Germany closer to those of other European countries, where anti-immigration parties of the right have blossomed everywhere.
So what is in Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab? The first thing to know about Thilo Sarrazin is that he is in no way a radical. Like any normal person who has lived a prosperous life, he presumes the society he grew up in is good and worth preserving. But he is a conservative only in a relative sense. He was, after all, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party.
In his introduction, Sarrazin speaks of Germany`s "golden years" after WWII, where a national pride grew based on the continuing rise of the standard of living, the industriousness of the people, and the successful welfare state. His book should be seen as an attempt to wake the ruling elite to desperate problems in the wake of those Golden Years.
Germany is still a very successful society, with beautiful cities and world-class industry. But the Germans are not reproducing themselves. The numbers of births has sunk from 1.3 million in 1965 to just 650,000 in 2009. Further generations will likely be even smaller. At present trends, Germans will become a minority in their own country during this century. For Sarrazin, the national question is whether in 100 years Germany will exist at all.
Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab is very personal. Sarrazin is an economist and loves numbers and analysis, but he is also a man with an axe to grind. He has been known for many years in Germany because of his outspoken comments on the moral hazard and cost of welfare. (Like the Charles Murray of Losing Ground rather than The Bell Curve.) He gained international attention when he was interviewed on immigration and answered in the same frank manner as he had on welfare. His book shows that he refuses to be intimidated by the resulting controversy, but wants to prove in 400 pages that he has the facts to back up everything he has said.
After his introduction, Sarrazin reviews the development of societies in history. He looks for some way to measure which society is better and why, irrespective of climate, some countries are more agreeable to live in than others.
Sarrazin argues that various political orders can be successful, but that all require not merely economic security but also something beyond the individual, whether a religion or ideology. Here Sarrazin shows some kind of rudimentary conservatism, understanding that political order based on pure self-interest tends to chaos or tyranny, and that "human rights" as a rallying cry is hopelessly vague.
The success of West has spread itself to all parts of the world, leading to higher living standards and an explosion in global population. The big question for Germans, and Europeans: will the social systems that have been built on Western prosperity now endanger that prosperity? Sarrazin is worried about economic competition with Asia. He sees the German demographic trends in Germany as the biggest problem.
Sarrazin doesn`t even think Germany is doing that well right now. German household incomes have stagnated and even sunk over the last 20 years. German worker productivity and living standards are now below neighboring countries.
Sarrazin also argues that German innovation in mathematics, physics and engineering will probably wane in the future. The younger generations of students will be smaller, there won`t be enough talent around. German students show a decreasing interest in the hard sciences.
Sarrazin doesn`t see a bright future for German education. His main point: diversity is weakness. He notes the recent worldwide PISA study, which was a national shock for Germany. Three of the test winners, South Korea, Japan and Finland are ethnically very homogeneous. Canada also did well, but it is known for its skill-oriented immigration policy which favors high-achieving Asians. Sarrazin says that Germany is not ethnically homogeneous anymore and it cannot expect immigration of high achievers: Eastern or Southern Europe do not produce children, and Indians or Chinese won`t come because of the language. All that Germany gets are immigrants who come mainly to live on welfare.
The immigrants that cost the most, do the worst in school and cause the biggest social problems are also those that proliferate the most. This means that Germany will in the future be less competitive in science and technology. It will also develop a permanent underclass. Its meritocratic education system will pick the high performers from all social classes, leaving the working class poor with less intellectual capacity in the next generation. The underclass will lose faith in social mobility and be more inclined to cause problems.
This leads Sarrazin to the topic of the dysgenic dynamic of modern societies. Differential birth rates cause either eugenic or dysgenic effects, as intelligence is between 50 and 80 percent hereditary. Currently, conditions in Germany are dysgenic. German educated women are well known to have fewer children than the rest of the population. The biggest families are also the poorest.
Sarrazin notes the case of Protestant clergymen breeding the German scientific elite of the 19th century. He also notes the scientific achievements of German Jews. At 0.8 percent of the population, they received 10 of the 32 scientific Nobel prizes granted to German citizens until 1931. Contrary to his media image, Sarrazin`s book is marked by what Paul Gottfried has called "gushing Philosemitism" and urges more Jewish immigration to Germany.
Sarrazin also feels obliged to show that inheriting intelligence is not a Nazi idea. He cites the Berlin-born Jew Wilhelm Stern as the inventor of the concept of Intelligence Quotient. He notes it was disparaged at the 1938 Congress of the German Society of Psychology as a "Jewish intelligence test" that was "made according to an intelligence type strongly present among Jews". And he points out that that the Soviet doctrine of Lysenkoism proscribed any discussion on hereditary traits in the Soviet empire until the 1970s.
Sarrazin says he has to use the rhetorical trick of the denial of hereditary intelligence with totalitarian regimes because the prevailing egalitarianism is so emotionally resistant—it insists on looking for the causes of inequality in social and political conditions. He advocates policies to encourage academic achievers to breed more.
Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab also includes a thorough critique of the welfare state. Some of Sarrazin`s comments were ridiculed in the German media: now he shows with statistics that, for example, the German welfare recipient has easily a remarkable half of the purchasing power of the average German worker. Ironically, you get the impression that Sarrazin`s main concern really is the welfare state and its unexpected consequences—just as Murray`s Bell Curve was really more about intelligence than race.
Egalitarianism in education is another topic that gets Sarrazin really excited. He criticizes of education optimists who think that human beings are malleable—that No Child should be Left Behind. These optimists believe that, by educating everyone, social problems will go away. They refuse to take into account that education might just be correlated with success—that the real reason for success was there already before education.
The education philosophy that became fashionable around 1968 is all about feel-good and egalitarianism. In contrast, Sarrazin says learning hard and requires a lot of practice and repetition. Not all have the capabilities to really learn. But egalitarianism in education means the temptation to relax standards so that even the weakest seem capable. Education should be much more discriminatory and competitive.
Education gives Sarrazin another reason to mention immigration. Turkey was one of the worst performers in the PISA test. Their Turkish presence might be why big northern cities in Germany did worse than Bavaria in the test. Sarrazin shows that the composition of school population explains the differences within Germany. He actually cites the work of Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen on the correlation between average national intelligence and living standards.
As a good Social Democrat, Sarrazin still has some statist suggestions for education reform: special intervention in school or pre-school for at-risk children. But he also favors more competition between schools, with private schools offering an alternative.
After discussing all the various social problems in Germany and their immigration dimensions, Sarrazin has a separate chapter on immigration and integration. His argument is common sense: Man is a territorial and group-oriented being. Claims on territory are the greatest cause of large-scale violent conflicts. And loyalty to one group excludes loyalty to a competitor. Group loyalty is the basis of the ability to cooperate—which, together with intelligence, is the source of human flourishing.
Any serious country has to defend its borders against invaders, whether in large or small numbers. Sarrazin sees current European immigration policy as nonsensical. If overpopulation in the Middle East or Africa causes the inhabitants to migrate, Europeans will have to defend their territory—otherwise they will be overwhelmed.
Sarrazin notes that most of Germany`s immigrants—some 14 million—have actually been Germans from the territories lost in 1945 and from Eastern European countries from which they were expelled. (Discussion on the treatment of the Germans by the Allies in WWII is heated in Germany, and some aspects of it are simply verboten. German nationalists generally deem it important to speak of the atrocities that were committed by the Allies—to point out that Germans are not the incarnation of Evil, as in anti-fascist propaganda. Significantly, Sarrazin doesn`t delve really far into this divisive debate.)
After the fall of the Soviet Union, more people with German ancestry have moved to Germany from Eastern countries. They have become productive citizens. Sarrazin also thinks that Germany has some good experiences of Mediterranean and Eastern European gastarbeiter, who came to work and mostly went back home. But Muslims don`t integrate, but just proliferate and create parallel societies.
Sarrazin shows that Islam, besides being a religion, is also a political ideology. This makes it incompatible with Western European Enlightenment values. In this respect, Sarrazin is very near to European critics of Islam like Geert Wilders.
Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab`s last chapter brings together all the various themes. Of demographic trends, Sarrazin says the most worrisome is the higher birthrate of people from Middle East and Africa. These immigrants have currently 13.5 percent of children in Germany. Although the number of births per woman falls in the second and third generation, this demographic effect is neutered by the practice of importing wives from the countries of origin. On current trends by 2100, there will be 20 million Germans and 35 million Turks living in what now is German territory. Sarrazin`s dystopia is where affirmative action to empower Turks has destroyed what was left of education and science, where medieval cathedrals are being "leased" to be mosques by the Ministry of Culture, and where balkanization has gone so far that German isn`t even the official language anymore.
In contrast, Sarrazin offers a positive political program that is quite short: ending immigration; instituting pro-family policies for the educated; and school reform to favor hard sciences. Cutting welfare benefits would eliminate the excessive fertility of the underclass, and Turkish and Arab neighborhoods would eventually dissolve.
Overall, it`s a surprisingly moderate and relatively liberal policy to keep Germany as a serious nation-state.
Sarrazin could readily be criticized from the right for his whole-hearted acceptance of Enlightenment liberalism, and for his failure to discuss repatriation of immigrants. His solutions might not be effective enough to turn the tide. But that he is being castigated on such a scale for his moderate opinions means only that Europe`s multi-culti elites are on the path to the complete destruction of their own civilization.
It remains to be seen what will become of the Sarrazin scandal. He has currently resigned from the Bundesbank and there are threats that he might be kicked out of the Social Democratic party, although it hasn`t happened yet. He has said he doesn`t want to leave the SPD, so it`s unlikely that he will join get involved in a right-wing party, which anyway would take years to be effective.
But Thilo Sarrazin is the most interesting political figure in Germany right now. His book shows that he is not just a flake, but deadly serious in what he thinks and does. And its sales prove that, in Germany, he has the audience.
Rafael Koski (email him) is a Ph.D student living in Northern Europe.