I often find it interesting to read foreigners who observe and comment on your own behaviour. In Peter Schwartz’s recent book Inevitable Surprises there is a chapter on the great flood of people who are moving and challenging societal systems everywhere. Among other things he is contrasting United States which is built around immigration with Europe which is not. He notes that Europeans have much more trouble with assimilation of immigrants and suggests that one of the reasons for this is the basic social model which is built around the idea of a small closed society, not unlike a large family, where everybody is involved, via the state, to help the less fortunate members. Immigrants are then shifting the balance and change the gameplan and are consequence not viewed as being part of the society. Most European countries keep immigrants separate from the balance sheet for as long as possible. Maybe hoping that the problem will disappear by itself. This has resulted in large groups of sometimes even well educated people not being able to enter the labour markets, which in turn has created a massive segregation.
Dramatically increased immigration into a society which is regarded as a balanced and closed system is shifting the balance and is therefore predetermined to generate a lot of problems. Schwartz points at the possibility that the immigration problem could be one of the biggest uncertainties when it comes to keeping EU together. A possible sequence of events for an EU collapse could look like this
- The tension between immigrant groups and society increases to the point that violence erupts (terrorism or civil unrest)
- Quick and firm police action aiming for a quick end to violence
- Negative reactions to police brutality increase the violence
- The ultranationalist forces gains support and suggests drastic measures against immigrants – which will gain support in many camps
- The reactions spread across borders to other groups in similar situation who will react in sympathy
- One or two countries will vote for closing their borders to immigration
- If one country closes the borders others are soon forced to do the same thing unless they want to have all the immigrants from their neighbor countries – it will cause a chain reaction
- When this happens the trust between the countries is damaged to a point where EU negotions break down
Could the last weeks events in France be part in this particular chain of events? Today five cars has been set on fire in Berlin as well… Is it spreading? It is hard to say how bad it is, but the French will probably continue to use force. Which in turn will create more hate and anger…
Howard Rheingold has already warned us about the new form of emergent organizational patterns he calls Smart Mobs (http://www.smartmobs.com/) where modern digital technology is helping groups to self organize in a scale and in a speed never seen before.
Is this conflict a direct result of the emerging horizontal society where the layers don’t communicate and therefore not understand each other?