Trump points to Sweden’s problems with migrants. Then they riot, again.

Summary: While America grapples with its irrational debates about immigration, Sweden grapples with the consequences of massive immigration from failed states. Their experience is rich with lessons for America, as Sweden seems unable to see — let alone understand — what is happening. This also provides another example of how the US press automatically declares Trump wrong, even when there is some truth to what he says.

Aftermath of riot in Rinkeby, Sweden
Policeman at aftermath of riot in Rinkeby, Sweden on 21 Feb 2017. © TT News Agency / Fredrik Sandberg, via REUTERS.

Slowly Trump’s performance as president becomes clear, how he handles the complex multi-dimensional aspects of the role. Uniquely he has become our Court Jester. Much of what he says is entertaining nonsense. But occasionally he says unmentionable truths that we need to hear. Such as the recent chatter about Sweden’s open borders policy, which reveals much about our inability to clearly see the world — and our push-back to news about it that disrupts the approved narrative.

 

The reaction was swift. Automatic mockery from the Left, and an interesting response from Sweden’s official Twitter account.

Reality quickly pushed back, hard, with stories about a new riot in an area of Stockholm with a large migrant population — with notable riots in 2010, in 2013, and 2016. See “Police intervention in Rinkeby was followed by riots and looting” in Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers (see Wikipedia).

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“PARIS 2016: Scenes from the Apocalypse”

Summary: The effects of mass immigration are undernews, ignored by the mainstream media. This looks at the streets of the Paris that tourists seldom visit, home to generations of immigrants. Here they live, many in poverty, some without hope, most alienated from French society (famous for its inability to assimilate foreigners, as the Jews learned).

 

“PARIS 2016: Scenes from the Apocalypse –
Mass Immigration ruins streets of France.”
Source: unknown.

“The Paris you know or remember from adverts or brochures no longer exists. While no part of Paris looks like the romantic Cliches in Hollywood movies, some districts now resemble post-apocalyptic scenes of a dystopian thriller. This footage, taken with a hidden camera by an anonymous Frenchman in the Avenue de Flandres, 19th Arrondissement, near the Stalingrad Metro Station in Paris as well as areas in close proximity, shows the devastating effects of uncontrolled illegal mass immigration of young African males into Europe.

“If it weren’t for the somewhat working infrastructure, the scene might as well have been the setting of movie shooting – or a slum in Mogadishu. The streets are littered in garbage, the sidewalks are blocked with trash, junk and mattresses, thousands of African men claim the streets as their own – they sleep and live in tents like homeless people.

“If no portable toilets are in reach, open urination and defecation are commonplace. Tens of thousands of homeless Illegal immigrants, undocumented or waiting for a decision of their asylum application, waste away trying to pass the time in the city. Although their prospects of being granted asylum as Africans are bleak, they’re hoping for a decision that would grant them an apartment, welfare and make France their new home.

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“California lets illegals vote!” A typical story from the Right’s misinformation machine.

Summary: The Right-wing misinformation machine is both effective and profitable. However implausible its products, they meet the need of conservatives. Here is a typical example — the exciting news that California has made it easier for illegals to vote!

GOP sunrise
GOP sunrise, from “Right Truth” website.

 

Which side lies the most, Left or Right? I would like to know. But I believe the Right makes more money doing so from their high-traffic and often professional news services and websites. They produce a stream of fact, exaggerations, misinformation, and outright falsehoods. These keep the people on the right excited, generating clicks. And clicks are money. Here is an example of how they work.

On 11 October 2015 California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB60. Conservatives went into a frenzy. “Jerry Brown Signs Bill That Could Let Illegal Aliens Vote” by William Bigelow at Breitbart. Fox News ran a series of shows (It will “Provide Shelter For Illegals To Vote”). Their analyst Andrew Napolitano (retired NJ judge):  “if you are an illegal alien in California, get a driver’s license, register to vote, you can vote in local, state, and federal elections in California and those votes count” (video here).

The far-right websites went hysterical. “Illegals in California Could Decide Election” by Brendan Kirby at Lifezette. “California Allows Non-Citizens to Vote, Which is Illegal, So Every California Vote should be Disqualified” at Eagle Rising. Google shows scores, perhaps hundreds, of these.

This is, of course, bogus. It’s astonishing that anyone believes it. But probably millions of Americans do, conditioned by years of conservative “news” to believe implausible things. The bill states that a driver licenses of an illegal “does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits.'” See for yourself.

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Stratfor: Is the West Being Overrun by Migrants?

Summary: People often compare today’s waves of immigration with those that played a large role in the destruction of the Roman Empire. Here Stanford Professor Ian Morris describes, the similarities, the differences, and the lessons this history holds for us. Morris focuses on the danger of migrants as organized military forces; he gives little attention to their disruptive domestic effects. For another perspective see America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s falling like Rome’s Republic.

Stratfor

Is the West Being Overrun by Migrants?
By Ian Morris at Stratfor on 7 September 2016.

Are the barbarians at the gates? Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, has no doubt that they are. “Without any action,” she told a rally at Amiens last year, “the migratory influx will be like the barbarian invasion of the fourth century, and the consequences will be the same.” That would be bad. According to St. Orientus of Auch, who lived through the original event, “Throughout villages and farms, throughout the countryside and crossroads, and through all districts, on all highways leading from this place or that, there was death, sorrow, ruin, fires, mourning.”

The Parisian political establishment turned up its collective nose at Le Pen’s analogy (being France, the newspapers concentrated on correcting her chronology: The invasions came mostly in the fifth century, not the fourth). And despite all his talk of building a wall to keep invaders out, Donald Trump has so far resisted likening himself to Emperor Hadrian. Not since Pat Buchanan, in fact, has an American presidential hopeful called Mexicans barbarians.

The internet, however, is full of comparisons between the end of ancient Rome and current events in the United States and European Union, and I find that when I give public lectures I regularly get asked how much the two periods have in common and how much we should worry about it. (Being both an immigrant and an ancient historian, I probably get this more than most people.)

The answer to both questions seems to be “not much.” But that said, they remain worth asking, because the details behind the answer are rather revealing. Just what was it about the Germanic migrations into the Roman Empire that made them so different from the contemporary Arab migration into Europe and Mexican migration into the United States?

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An anthropologist explains the disruptive politics of immigration

Summary: Immigration is one of the central political issues of our time, challenging the current ideologies and parties. It meets several needs of western elites, and so has bipartisan support. But its destabilizing effects have become obvious as the list of losers from immigration grows. Opposition to it brought Trump the nomination (before he abandoned it for sideshow comedy), and that opposition will survive his defeat. To understand why, read this brilliant essay by Professor Maximilian Forte. It’s essential reading to understand social, political, and economic developments shaping western nations.

Immigration

Immigration and Capital

By Maximilian C. Forte.
From Zero Anthropology. Reposted with his generous permission.

Immigration, rightly or wrongly, has been marched to the frontline of current political struggles in Europe and North America. Whether exaggerated or accurate, the role of immigration is situated as a central factor in the Brexit referendum in the UK, and the rise of the “America First” Trump movement in the US. It seems impossible that one can have a calm discussion about immigration today, without all sorts of agendas, assumptions, insinuations and recriminations coming into play.

Staking a claim in immigration debates are a wide range of actors and interests, with everything from national identity and national security to multiculturalism, human rights, and cosmopolitan globalism. However, what is relatively neglected in the public debates is discussion of the political economy of immigration, and especially a critique of the role of immigration in sustaining capitalism.

Before going forward, we have to first dismiss certain diversionary tactics commonly used in public debate, that unfortunately misdirect too many people. First, being “anti-immigration” does not make one a “racist”. One does not follow from the other. Being a racist means adopting a racial view of humanity as being ordered according to what are imagined to be superior and inferior, biologically-rooted differences. Preferring “one’s own kind” (whatever that means) might be the basis for ethnocentrism, but not necessarily racism as such.

It’s important not to always lunge hysterically for the most inflammatory-sounding terms, just because your rhetorical polemics demand an instant “win” (because you don’t win anything; you just sound like someone who doesn’t know what he or she is talking about). Also, xenophobia neither implies racism nor ethnocentrism, because it can exceed both by being a fear or dislike of anyone who is “foreign” or “strange”.

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What you haven’t been told about the July jobs report

Summary:  Another jobs report, more clickbait headlines about the monthly noise. Here’s a look beneath the glitz to the important news. The US economy continues slow steady growth, with continued signs of slowing. Also, 47% of new jobs went to foreign-born workers during the past year. Important matters. Too bad neither the candidates, journalists, or Americans care about such things. On to the next astounding soundbite!

Contents

  1. The noise: monthly changes in jobs.
  2. The important news about the trend in number of jobs.
  3. A clearer trend: total number of hours worked.
  4. Where were the new jobs?
  5. What about the info sector jobs machine? Let’s all become programmers!
  6. A red flag: growth in temp workers has slowed to almost zero.
  7. It’s not a “Starbucks Economy”. See the slow but steady wage growth.
  8. Explosive news: 47% of new jobs went to foreign-born workers.
  9. Conclusions and For More Information

Here are the monthly numbers that generate the exciting headlines!
It’s noise. The trends are almost impossible to clearly see.
Graph of the monthly change in jobs since Jan 2013 (SA).

New Jobs by month through July 2016.

Here is a more useful graph. Employment is still growing, but slowing.
Do you see why the monthly outpourings of joy or despair during the past 4 years?
The real story is the stability of the slow growth in the US economy.
Graph of the year-over-year percentage growth in jobs (not seasonally adjusted).

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An anthropologist looks at the empty identity politics of America’s Left

Summary: Here is the last chapter of anthropologist Maximilian Forte’s series about America’s New Victorianism. It explains many of the otherwise baffling aspects of Campaign 2016. This essay is worth a ton of journalists’ reporting about the sound bite circus that dominates the news.

Queen Victoria and family by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1846)
Queen Victoria and family by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1846). It could be a modern campaign portrait.

The Working Class, Identity Politics and New Victorian History

Against the Labouring Classes: Identity Politics in the New Victorian Age.
By Maximilian C. Forte. Part 4 of 4.
From Zero Anthropology.
Reposted with his generous permission.

The New Victorianism serves to not only divert politics into issues of morality and identity, it works to obfuscate the bases of increasing inequality. Focusing on the Democratic Party, and its abandonment of the working class over the past forty years, Adolph Reed Jr. (professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania) would appear to have seen from early on how these issues are linked — though he does not use the phrase “New Victorianism,” he describes it in other words. Speaking of Democrats and liberals in general, he wrote of,

“their capacity for high-minded fervor for the emptiest and sappiest platitudes; their tendencies to make a fetish of procedure over substance and to look for technical fixes to political problems; their ability to screen out the mounting carnage in the cities they inhabit as they seek pleasant venues for ingesting good coffee and scones; their propensity for aestheticizing other people’s oppression and calling that activism; their reflex to wring their hands and look constipated in the face of conflict; and, most of all, their spinelessness and undependability in crises”.

— “Liberals, I Do Despise” by Adolph Reed, Jr. in The Village Voice, 12 November 1996.

Twenty years ago he criticized “their refusal to face up to the class realities of American politics” and how liberals “avoid any linkage of inequality with corporations’ use of public policy to drive down living standards and enhance their plunder”. Instead, when it comes to the marginalized within the US they opt for a maudlin “save-the-babies politics” that demonizes working-class parents, much the same way that the right-wing has done. He concluded that liberal politics are “motivated by the desire for proximity to the ruling class and a belief in the basic legitimacy of its power and prerogative. It is a politics which, despite all its idealist puffery and feigned nobility, will sell out any allies or egalitarian objectives in pursuit of gaining the Prince’s ear” (Reed, 1996).

Reed’s critique later expanded beyond the confines of the Democratic party, moving to include left activists and the labour movement, raising an issue that I recently touched upon when I wrote that, “it now seems clear that every single sector and shade of the US left has made some sort of peace with neoliberalism, with the basic structure of the status quo, from which their hopes hang even if by the thinnest of humanitarian, cosmopolitan and reformist threads”. This is how Reed argued the point…

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