After a fierce round of polemic on Mangan’s blog about immigration issues in the US (which I was hysterically attacked for exerting honest and reasonable views for reading the comments through my two slitty eyes), I decided to write something as well about immigration issues, from my small slitty eyes.
Now immigration is never something new to human civilization. Humans are always moving from places to places since pre-historical era. Immigration only becomes a aware issue when people start to build their own community, cities, nations, and develop a sense of identity that mark the difference from outsiders. Hence, the word “immigrant” got created and used ever since. And how did/does immigration affect our daily life? To answer this question, I will briefly discuss with immigration with four different cases.
Wu Hu Rioting in China
The first example, of course, is about where I am from, China. Let’s stretch back 2000 years, back to the good old classic China that I am proud of. Through the glorious power of Han dynasty (206 BC– 220 AD) (the name Han Chinese derived from that dynasty), Chinese were able to open up the silk road to the West and sent envoy missions to Central Asia, Parthia, and even Roman empire. Han had hundreds of years effective control over the Northern steppe and Western oases. It was a golden age, a mighty empire ruling from the southern jungle to the northern steppe, from the western desert to the eastern ocean. However, just like many mighty empires in the history, the problems accumulate long before the empire fell for its demise. One of the them, was indeed the immigration issue. Exactly because Han over ruled vast regions, including Mongolic, Turkic, Tungusic and even Scythian/Tocharian steppe riders, the rich and fertile land of China proper (esp the North) becomes a strong magnet that start to attract those people for immigration. This was further encouraged by the Han government, as they perceived those steppe riders as a potential threat to the security of Chinese border and the control of the silk road (thus the government deliberately assisted reallocate them into China proper to live with the Chinese). Of course this wasn’t really a problem when the empire was strong and powerful. So over hundreds of years, more and more immigrants came from the steppe and desert. I guess the integration process was slow and painful, small frictions always broke out between the Chinese and other nomad immigrants in Northern China. Finally, when Chinese were exhausted in dealing with internal revolt and consistent civil wars (the Yellow Turban Rebellion, then the Three KingdomPeriod, over 100 years of civil chaos), the hidden bomb started to burst into Chinese history in AD304, When the first immigrant nomad groups started the riot, publicly defy Chinese rulers in Chengdu, and declared the independence of Kingdom of Cheng Han in Sichuan and the kingdom of Han Zhou in Shanxi, both China proper. This historical event marked the beginning of the infamous “五胡亂華 (Wu Hu Rioting Era)”, 130 years of total devastation of Northern China from the immigrants’ riot. Of course in the end China managed to digest those immigrants and eventually sinicize most of them over thousands of years, but the damage it caused is enormous: the massive loss of population in Northern China, the extinction of Old Chinese (spoken language of Classic Chinese), and the destruction of arable plantation in Northern China.
The Demise of Roman Empire
The second example I would like to discuss is about the Roman Empire, the most magnificent empire in every white people’s mind. Now I know there are a lot of theories about the demise of Roman Empire. One thing undeniable about the decline of Roman empire was that the invasion/immigration of Germanic tribes, including Vandals, Visigoths etc., which was driven by the oriental Huns from the East in early 400AD. Those groups of people are surely powerful warriors, but it shouldn’t break the empire that easily, as Rome was famous for and built on their military might. What happened? Here is what I think. Since probably as early as in 1st century BC when the great Cesar was sweeping the whole Mediterranean with his intimidatingly impressive Roman Legion, stretching from Britannia to Parthia; when Rome started to build its momentum and confidence as the capital of all people from three continents with the accumulation of all the gold and luxurious goods from everywhere (including silk from China), all different groups of people, Jews, Germanic, Punic, Greeks etc., also flooded in all over the Roman empire, especially Rome (Roman empire was multi-ethnic all over of course). Those immigrants were driven either forcibly as slaves or voluntarily for seeking a better life, or hired by the Romans (like the Germanic tribes). Anyway, very similar story to the first example. Romans live on those immigrants for centuries, small frictions occurred from time to time (e.g. Kitos War being one of the most famous revolt). What happened next was that Romans got trapped into a vicious cycle that the empire heavily replies on immigrants for everything, there was evidence for a drastic shift of demographics within the whole empire from the name of gravestones over the time. So Romans were eventually replaced demographically by others. Economically it was a blast, but Romans indulged themselves into the luxurious and lusty lifestyle based on those immigrants all over the empire and lost the dominance and military superiority. Rome eventually became inundated in other races and the next thing you know was the break of the West/East Empire and then the fall of Western Roman Empire.
Of course you might argue nowadays it’s unlike to cause a war against immigrants and likewise immigrants are unlikely to start rioting and killing locals and replacing you (yet). Let’s see if how the contemporary situation differs from ancient history then.
US miracle (成也蕭何，敗也蕭何）
US is what I consider as the miracle of modern civilization. One has to give credit to what US has influenced all over the globe since the WWII. Simply no single great empires could match the same influence and glory of the United States of America in the 20th century, for its profound impact on almost every one living in this planet. And what is even more miraculous is the fact that such a wonderful empire was purely based on immigrants.
Unquestionably, US was founded on immigrants. Settled by the Puritans at first, the immigrants brought the modern technology and society directly from Europe, while avoiding all the old territorial/religious/feudalistic constraints from the old continent. Of course the slave trade gave US a firm support in his agricultural production and the continuous arrival of European immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and other European countries gave the country a huge boost in its development of the whole country and especially the rapid industrialization process and technological advancement of America. The descendants of those European immigrants latter became the majority of the US and magically assimilated into one single racial identity over the years (American White), which is beyond imagination to make it happen in Europe since the Roman time. Basically US’ glory results from the contribution of those immigrants. Those immigrants were seen as the owner of the country and indeed were on average more intelligent than other groups in North America. Did history make an exception this time about immigration and racial mix? Wait for it. While after WWII when Europe no longer produced any significant excessive population for the US, the immigration in US did not stop. Instead, the source of immigrants start to shift to the developing countries, especially from the Latino America (while US was exerting its invincible power at the hilltop). They brought endless cheap labor to the US, and also their Spanish and Latino culture. And what’s more is that on average Hispanics still remain in the lower economic condition compared to other groups in US (individual exception occurs of course, for I have known a lot of smart and successful American Hispanic friends). Then there it goes, all the history comes back once again. Social conflicts, racial tensions, clashes were just as predicted as the massive budding in early spring. the old immigrants, now seen as the locals, were of course not happy to see other people speaking different languages and behaving differently, and most of all, stirring all the social issues in their own country. This is quite understandable. So after certain period of escalation of the momentum, white people can’t hold any more. That’s how the Arizona SB 1070 came from. However, sadly, modern western civilization is no longer as pragmatical as it used to, especially after WWII, holocaust, and de-colonization, modern liberalism/leftism prevail and redefine the moral code of white people that accusing minorities is wrong and majority should always protect minority, even if minority misbehaves or underperforms. Either way, then next thing you know that Arizona law was blocked by other White people, and the immigration cycle continues. What will eventually happen to US is a very interesting question, I have my theory and would very much like to observe its future. One thing for sure is, US got empowered by immigrants and at the same time, got dwarfed by immigrants as well. Though the term applies to different group of immigrants. The very nature of immigration didn’t change.
Post-WWII European stagnation
The last example, the post-WWII Europe as a whole, has way more to whine about immigrants than the US. Post-war Europe suffered from a direct labor shortage, which resulted in a massive scale of immigration from their former colony to Europe. Of course you also have the case of Turks in Germany, Moroccans in the Netherlands. But the idea is the same: Europe needs fresh labor to rebuild the old continent. But immigration continues even when European economy started to get saturated and recede. Simple economics, people in poor areas would very much like to seek job opportunities in developed region, and since Europe has a much much better social welfare system than the US, why on earth do those people wouldn’t want to migrate to Europe? So there it goes. Huge immigrant community in every major Western European countries, the number of immigrants (illegal/legal) is an urban myth in Europe (google it and I am sure you will find lots of info about it). All I could feel is that the continual arrival and utterly high fertility rate of those immigrants and the failed attempt of assimilation really scare the heck of the good old Europeans. Albeit being the birthplace of modern liberalism/leftism, Europe is very much doing real actions to openly discourage those unwanted immigration and immigrants (French ban on burqa, Swiss ban on Mosque minarets, Dutch ban on Halal etc.). This is pretty much what is happening right now. And with the rise of right-wing leaders all over Europe (which is going to happen pretty soon), I am sure those measures would see an effective impacts on immigrants in Europe. My view is, if Europe really gets rid of all the unwanted immigrants, it is unlikely that Europe would retrieve back its glory again. With its pathetic fertility rate, huge social welfare burden, and immense economic stress, Europe could at most experience major recession and get kicked into the infinite cycle of stasis, stagnation, whatever you name it…
So much for the illustration of the four cases (I am actually rather lost when I wrote at this point…2000words already!). All I am trying to show here is to prove that immigration is indeed a very tough problem that troubles every powerful country, and so far I haven’t seen a real real effective and harmless solution that could pay off in short term (China case being the best scenario, but it takes hundreds of years; or Europe stasis prediction). Struggling pain is a necessity. Great political entity attracts immigration by nature, and history confirms, so the prediction on the short term future? There’s no easy way out! One thing for sure, it’s important that smart people are ruling the country, a great country should always be smart-people majority, it is not really about certain races. Smart people always think alike and could integrate well.
Now I feel exhausted writing and would post it on right now. Revision is definitely needed, but later. What’s your view on it?