Sunday, October 17, 2010

Integration, of course, is a two way street

The world is getting smaller and the nation-state is slowly becoming a bit of an anachronism.

"Separate but equal" was only struck down as a legally sanctioned social form of ethnic balkanization in the US in the 1950's. Guambat grew up with the idea that perhaps the world might some how integrate, like the Star Trek crew, which had a decidedly Anglo-Saxon dominant trait.

It soon became obvious that a total blend of peoples rendered a mud-like, culture-less social norm that soon lost its appeal. So multi-culturism was born as an alternative.

It's an idea that is even more utopian, but still, to Guambat, offers the possibility, over time, of keeping remnants and strains of unique culture, moving at warp speed through the fabric of society.

For it to work, though, both the newly immigrated and the established incumbents must find some way of adapting their own histories to the new reality.

It ain't easy, and it seems to go against human nature, to some extent, even if fed by genuine and enthusiastic human zeal. It is a process that can only ebb and flow, since the social topography is not the same everywhere.

Germany is currently, it seems, feeling a need to ebb.

German multiculturalism 'utterly failed': Merkel
Angela Merkel said Saturday that the concept that different cultures can live happily side by side does not work.

She stressed that immigrants need to do more to integrate, including learning to speak German.
Immigration issues have become a hot topic, and a recent survey by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think-tank indicated more than 30 per cent of Germans believe the country is "overrun by foreigners."

Read more:

Merkel says German multicultural society has failed
Mrs Merkel told a gathering of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on Saturday that at "the beginning of the 60s our country called the foreign workers to come to Germany and now they live in our country."

She added: "We kidded ourselves a while, we said: 'They won't stay, sometime they will be gone', but this isn't reality."

"And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other... has failed, utterly failed."

In her speech in Potsdam, however, the chancellor made clear that immigrants were welcome in Germany.

Mrs Merkel said: "We should not be a country either which gives the impression to the outside world that those who don't speak German immediately or who were not raised speaking German are not welcome here."

Earlier this month the chancellor held talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which the two leaders pledged to do more to improve the often poor integration record of Germany's estimated 2.5 million-strong Turkish community.

The debate first heated up in August when Thilo Sarrazin, a senior official at Germany's central bank, said that "no immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare state and crime". Mr Sarrazin has since resigned.

Such recent strong anti-immigration feelings from mainstream politicians come amid an anger in Germany about high unemployment, even if the economy is growing faster than those of its rivals, our correspondent says.

He adds that there also seems to be a new strident tone in the country, perhaps leading to less reticence about no-go-areas of the past.

Guambat sees the signs of economic distress in actions such as these. And, he must say, this disturbs him.

When times are good and there is plenty to go round, the social problems of human liquidity don't seem so paramount.

Sort of like the economic problems associated with financial liquidity.

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