Sunday, January 10, 2021

the last book I ever read (Anne Applebaum's Twilight of Democracy, excerpt nine)

from Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism by Anne Applebaum:

What factors, in the modern world, might provoke people to react against complexity? Some are obvious. Major demographic change—the arrival of immigrants or outsiders—is a form of complexity that has traditionally inflamed that authoritarian impulse, and it still does. It was not a surprise that the migration of hundreds of thousands of people from the Middle East to Europe during the Syrian war of 2016—some arriving at the invitation of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel—inspired a rise in support for political parties in Europe that use authoritarian language and symbols. In some countries, especially those with Mediterranean coastlines, these large numbers really did create a set of genuine problems: how to house and care for people arriving by boat, how to feed them, what to do with them next. Elsewhere in Europe, especially Germany, there were also real issues of housing, training, and assimilation of new immigrants. In some parts of the United States and the United Kingdom, there is evidence that new immigrants create unwelcome competition for some jobs. In many countries there have been serious outbreaks of crime or terrorism directly associated with the newcomers.

But the relationship between real immigrants and anti-immigrant political movements is not always so straightforward. For one, immigration, even from places with a different religion or culture, does not always cause a counterreaction. In the 1990s, Muslim refugees from the wars in former Yugoslavia arrived in Hungary without causing undue distress. Muslim refugees from Chechnya caused no major backlash in Poland either. In recent years, the United States absorbed refugees from Russia, Vietnam, Haiti, and Cuba, among other places, without much debate.

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