Some decades ago, Western culture institutionalized a political dynamic of victim classes and privileged classes, the latter of which owe the victims “benefits,” preferences, apologies, public expiation, etc. – or at least pride themselves on “volunteering” to provide these things.
Basing politics and community life on this dynamic has never worked well. It steadily enlarges the supply of “victims,” for one thing, while shrinking – relative to the “victim” classes – the supply of the “privileged.” It makes “victimization” a lifelong condition. It takes the positive result of Western, Judeo-Christian beliefs and practices, and turns them, irrationally, into a great evil that must be deconstructed and avenged.
It removes hope about the future, substituting for it anger about the past. It’s destructive and dangerous, all in all.
But possibly the greatest danger lies in something the average Westerner didn’t foresee very well, if at all. That danger is that the West would one day begin importing its victims.
It’s one thing to look around at your own past and identify victims. It’s dangerous and destructive as a basis for politics, but it’s a relatively boundable problem.
When you start importing victims in the hundreds of thousands – victims from outside your local system; victims whose only claim to victimhood, in most cases, is that they aren’t members of your locally designated “privileged” classes – you’re setting in motion something you won’t be able to control with politics.
That’s what’s happening in Europe today. It’s closer than not to what could well be happening in the U.S. too, depending on what we do about it. But the sheer numbers in Europe, and the advanced state of victim politics there, make its potential as an existential watershed for the civilization more immediate there.
So now we find 13- and 14-year-olds in a German school, in Lubeck, in northern Germany, being sent to do community service in a refugee shelter.
The Kiel Ministry of Education has made it clear that starting this week, 13-14-year-old eighth-graders from one school in the city of Lübeck have been putting fresh linen on refugees’ beds, helping out in the kitchen of the asylum seekers’ center and sorting clothes collected for the migrants. The chores last from 8:30am till 1:30pm.
RT notes that parents and many other commentators are upset about this. (Note: according to the original notification to parents, in the Facebook image in the article, the service time is on Tuesday. It’s not clear how often the kids are taken to the center, but the instance mentioned in the note is on Tuesday; i.e., the morning of a school day.)
Another reason could be the sense of entitlement being shown by refugees and migrants. Reportedly, a litigant group of 20 Syrian migrants has filed a suit in German court, alleging that it’s taking too long for the Germans to start extending state benefits to them.
Around 20 Syrian migrants have filed a case against the Berlin state Government demanding immediate access to shelter and benefits after waiting for more than a week to be registered by the authorities. …
Hundreds of asylum seekers are still waiting to be registered due to huge backlogs at the city’s main refugee centre.
A week is a long time to wait, after all.
Germans could be reacting as well to things like the increase brought by the migrant influx in unprosecutable crime. Local residents probably feel the same sense of frustrated indignation we would, about soaring petty theft committed by 16- and 17-year-old migrants – and the young migrants’ celebration of it with selfies on social media.
Refugees are reportedly taunting police by posting pictures of stolen goods including cameras and laptops on social media.
The pick-pocketing teenagers – dubbed the ‘klau-kids’ by German media – have also shown off designer sunglasses, cameras and cash on Facebook. …
[T]he crimes are unlikely to affect their applications [fro asylum] because they are considered to be minors under German law, according to reports.
Bodo Pflazgraf of Germany’s police union said it is “incomprehensible” that serial offenders are not detained.
But legal official Martin Steltner said it is difficult to have a credible witness to back up claims made against alleged thieves.
It could also be, say, the confiscation of property to which German authorities have been resorting, to find housing for the human tidal wave hitting their nation. The specific examples here are just some of what’s being done:
With existing shelters filled to capacity, federal, state and local authorities are now using legally and morally dubious measures — including the expropriation of private property and the eviction of German citizens from their homes — to make room for the newcomers. …
In Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, municipal officials on September 23 introduced an audacious bill in the local parliament (Hamburgische Bürgerschaft) that would allow the city to seize vacant commercial real estate (office buildings and land) and use it to house migrants. …
In February 2015, officials in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) seized a private resort in the town of Olpe to provide housing for up to 400 migrants. The initial plan was for the town to purchase the resort from its Bavarian owners and rent it to NRW, but NRW officials decided to confiscate the property instead.
Gatestone’s Soeren Kern observes:
German taxpayers are also being obliged to make colossal economic sacrifices to accommodate the influx of migrants, many of whom have no prospect of ever finding a job in the country. Sustaining the 800,000 migrants and refugees who are expected to arrive in Germany in 2015 will cost taxpayers at least at least 11 billion euros ($12 billion) a year for years to come.
The cost is clearly not just the monetary cost of benefits. What happens with the hundreds of thousands of people – especially young men – who have no prospect of finding jobs, and who aren’t going to assimilate into Western culture?
Throughout the Cold War, Western Europe had an organized sense of how to react to something like an attack from the Communist East. But the influx of migrants from a deeply foreign culture is a problem too far.
Germany is trying, as most Western liberal states would, to apply the remedies of a faux-Christian victim politics to the enormous social problem migrating almost overnight into the country.
Consider just one aspect of this: the community service being organized for teenagers. When there are people who have genuinely been harmed and made destitute, the conscience sees that, and it is a Christian approach to want to offer simple service to them: service without conditions, service without political expectations. It’s a Christian principle to offer service even if the recipients aren’t grateful and don’t treat you very well.
But the state can’t successfully take that spiritual motivation of Christianity and make it a general, non-spiritual obligation of citizenship. The offer of service, without expectations, isn’t within the capacities of government at all – because government is inherently the realm of coercion and enforcement.
It’s invariably a faux-Christian approach, to take the sacrificial aspects of Christian principles and use government to make them obligatory. The West has been trying to do it for years, and it hasn’t worked. Now millions of migrants are coming to claim their entitlement to this state-mandated “sacrificial service.”
Can the West recover its earlier, hard-won wisdom on these matters, before it’s too late?
One important question is, can the West stop worshiping government power, and acknowledge the truth of where compassion and generosity come from?
Another: can the West break the link between negative, destructive victim politics and political success, which now keeps too many factions entrenched in power and privilege in Western nations?
If the West can’t answer these questions in the affirmative, there is no hope for its civilization. Exit question: what path is there to the transformation we need, other than Westerners finding God again – this cannot be a government project; it must be a critical mass of individuals – and acknowledging God, not government, as the source of generosity, blessing, forgiveness, redemption, equity, and peace?