While the riots seem to be subsiding somewhat in France, vandalism is spreading in Belgium. In Hoboken, a southern suburb of Antwerp, a truck and a bus went up in flames last night. In Antwerp-North, Lokeren, Sint-Amandsberg (a suburb of Ghent), Saint-Ghislain (a suburb of Mons) and the Brussels neighbourhoods of Molenbeek, Vorst, Anderlecht, Elsene and Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe cars were torched. The authorities say that these are “isolated incidents.” There was no rioting, though in Anderlecht and Molenbeek molotov cocktails were thrown. In Germany eleven cars were set ablaze in Berlin and Cologne. All this is peanuts, however, compared with France, where in the 13th consecutive night of violence some 620 cars were set alight. That number, however, was half the number of the previous night (Steven Den Beste thinks that attrition might bring the French riots to an end).
In Belgium the authorities say they do not expect large-scale rioting as in France. The reason is that the appeasing Belgian authorities have been pursuing a policy of “dialogue” with the “youths” for years. In particular Philippe Moureaux, the socialist mayor of Molenbeek, a Brussels suburb with one of the largest concentrations of North African immigrants, prides himself on this. Moureaux has abandoned certain areas of Molenbeek to the “youths.” Last month he declared that it was “not expedient” for the police to patrol and he prohibited the officers from drinking coffee or eating sandwiches on the streets during ramadan. Moureaux hopes to get the Muslim vote during next year’s municipal elections.
As the Belgian authorities have made no “incendiary” statements and do not intend to reclaim the Muslim territories for the state, there are unlikely to be serious disturbances. Remember that the electrocution of two foolish teenagers which sparked the rioting in France on October 27 was only a pretext. The territorial war over the suburbs was inevitable when Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy declared on October 19 that he was going to wage “total war” against “urban violence, burning cars, the gangs occupying income halls of apartment blocks, the underground economy in the suburbs.” He announced: “I want to see clear results within the next six months.” He got his results within a week.
In Germany large-scale rioting is not expected because German immigrants are predominently Turkish, unlike those in France who are overwhelmingly North and West African. Belgium and the Netherlands have a mixed population of Turks and Moroccans. It is true that Turks tend to be more law-abiding. Turkish immigrants are also more inclined, if they do not find jobs, to start their own businesses.
This brings us to the issue of cultural differences. The latter is a taboo topic in Europe, where those who dare to discuss it are often decried as “racists.” In Politically Correct thinking, culture is almost a synonym for ethnicity or race. Hence one is not allowed to say that certain cultures are better than others. If the “youths” in the suburbs riot, it is not because they are North African or Muslim, but because they are “discriminated against” by “racists” and “capitalists” (say the Socialists) or because socialist welfare policies do not allow upward social mobility (say the Libertarians). The latter certainly have a point but it does not explain everything. Many French of European origin also have to live in the so-called “social” housing in the suburbs and experience the same lack of opportunities, victim to the same welfare policies that block upward social mobility. They, however, do not riot. In Belgium and the Netherlands, the Turks live under the same conditions of “discrimination” as the Moroccans, but while the latter complain that they are “victimised” by joblessness, the former set up businesses. Some cultures simply place more emphasis on individual responsibility and personal initiative, while others do not. Though socialism undermines responsibility and initiative, its effects are more destructive in some cultures than in others. It is my impression that people from a Judeo-Christian background, where the relationship with God is basically a personal relationship, are more immune to being perverted by socialism than secular people and Arab Muslims.
This, of course, is hard to prove. Friedrich Hayek, who was an agnostic himself but who gave the topic of cultural survival great thought in the final chapter of his book The Fatal Conceit – The Errors of Socialism writes:
Like it or not, we owe the persistence of certain practices, and the civilisation that resulted from them, in part to support from beliefs which are not true – or verifiable or testable – in the same sense as are scientific statements and which are certainly not the result of rational argumentation. I sometimes think that it might be appropriate to call at least some of them, at least as a gesture of appreciation ‘symbolic truths’, since they did help their adherents to ‘be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it’ (Genesis 1:28). Even those among us, like myself, who are not prepared to accept the anthropomorphic conception of a personal divinity ought to admit that the premature loss of what we regard as nonfactual beliefs would have deprived mankind of a powerful support in the long development of the extended order that we now enjoy, and that even now the loss of these beliefs, whether true or false, creates great difficulties.
It is the breakdown of our “extended order” – in other words Western civilisation rooted (whether one likes it or not) in the “symbolic truths” of Judeo-Christianity – that we are witnessing today in France. This breakdown was caused by the secularisation of Western Europe, which led to a demographic implosion because people no longer wished to be “fruitful” and to “multiply.” Secularisation has left both a religious and a demographic vacuum in Europe. This vacuum is being filled by a new people and a new religion. The latter religion, being of a more fatalistic kind (as it is originally the religion of a desert people), is less inclined to “replenish the earth and subdue it” because it accepts that the existing world is “the will of Allah” (Inch'Allah).
Islam is on the rise in Europe. According to some this is exactly the reason why its faithful are rioting, but the Muslims cannot be blamed for Old Europe’s problems. These are completely self-inflicted. Islam is not the cause but the consequence of the problems.