Orange County Register
The massive, ongoing surge of migrants and refugees into Europe has brought up horrendous scenes of deprivation, along with heartwarming instances of generosity. It has also engendered cruel remembrances of the continent’s darkest hours. But viewed over the long term, this crisis may well be the prelude to changes that could dissipate, and even overturn, some of the world’s most-storied and productive cultures.
Some may prefer to ignore the long-term impacts of huge migration from the often-chaotic developing world – where 99 percent of the world’s population growth will be taking place – to the more orderly, prosperous and low-fertility richer countries. Separated from the daily drama, the human movement from Syria, the rest of the Middle East and Africa can be seen as potentially changing European society forever by breaking its already-weak Christian foundations and threatening the future of Europe’s elaborate welfare states. In many ways this invokes the vision laid out in the 1973 French novel “Le Camp des Saints,” which envisioned a Europe overwhelmed by a tide of poor refugees.
These concerns, of course, are not simply European. The flow of generally lower-income people from Central and South America has emerged – largely courtesy of the demagogic Donald Trump – as a key political issue in the Republican presidential race. Claims, based on federal employment data, that immigrants have gained far more jobs in the recovery is the kind of thinking that keeps Trump in business. Concerns about other transfers from the Third World to the First World have also surfaced in a host of other countries, including Canada, Australia and even orderly Singapore.
Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. He is also executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is also author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.