Fences

Fortress Europe: a wall to keep foreigners out?

gc2smOff the keyboard of Ugo Bardi

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Published on Resource Crisis on September 14, 2015

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"….. the buffer zone has disappeared. The geographical transition from civilization to barbarism is now no longer gradual but it is abrupt. To use the appropriate Latin words, which bring out both the kinship and the contrast between the two types of contact, a limen, or threshold, which was a zone, has been replaced by a limes or military frontier. Across this line, a baffled dominant minority and an unconquered external proletariat now face one another under arms; and this military front is a bar to the passage of all social radiation except that of military technique – an article of exchange which makes for war and not for peace between those who give and take it. ….. the cardinal fact (is) that this temporary and precarious balance of forces inevitably tilts, with the passage of time, in favour of the Barbarians." From Arnold Toynbee, ""A study of History." (image above from Wikipedia)
 
 
The more I look at what's happening in the world today, the more it seems to me that we are following an already beaten path: we are going along the same way that the Roman Empire followed a couple of millennia ago, only faster. For every event that takes place today, you can find a parallel event that led the old Empire to its end. So, the present refugee crisis in Europe has a parallel in the crisis of the 1st century AD that led the empire to lock itself inside a set of fortifications. Is that the destiny that Europe faces today? Are we going to build a wall to keep the invaders out? A look of what happened to the Romans may tell us something about this point.
 

It all started in 9 A.D., when three Roman legions were destroyed by a coalition of German tribes in a battle in the forest of Teutoburg. It was an epochal defeat, a sign that something was badly wrong with the Empire that, up to then, had easily defeated every enemy. And, as a consequence, the Romans panicked.

You probably know the story, told by Suetonius, of Emperor Augustus walking at night in his palace, asking the dead general who had led the legions at Teutoburg, "give me back my legions". But that was only a symptom of a general fear that the Barbarians would soon march all the way to Rome.

Fear often leads to overreacting, and there is no doubt that the Romans overreacted. It would take four centuries after Teutoburg before Rome was besieged and taken by a Barbarian army. But, at that time, fear reigned in the Empire. A few years afterward, the Romans invaded Germany again with no less than 8 legions; without accomplishing much more than demonstrating that there was no way for them to conquer and subdue the Germans.  Then, they changed their strategy: if the barbarians couldn't be defeated, they could at least be kept out of the empire.

Border fortifications around the Roman Empire had been existing even before the battle of Teutoburg, but, after the battle, they were greatly expanded and strengthened. The final result was the system of border fortifications around the Empire that we call today "limes" (even though the Romans didn't use that word). A series of walls that started at the Northern border of Britannia and circled the whole Empire, even though not continuously.

Were the fortifications useful? For one thing, it is true that they kept the Barbarian armies at bay for a few centuries. But it is also true that they must have been atrociously expensive. So much that, eventually, the economy of the Roman Empire became engaged in only two activities: cultivating grain and maintaining the border fortifications. Unfortunately, we lack the data we would need in order to quantify these expenses, but I think it can be proposed that the border fortifications were such an economic burden that they were a major factor leading to the eventual demise of the Empire.

The fortifications had another problem; perhaps even bigger: in the effort of keeping the Barbarians out, the Romans had locked themselves in a no-win situation. They badly needed slaves for their agriculture and soldiers for their armies, and this manpower, during the late years of the Empire, would largely come from Barbarian people. But how would Barbarians came in if the borders of the Empire were closed? The wall, in principle, should have kept Barbarian armies out, but let Barbarian workers in. However, the Romans never could convince the Barbarians that it was a good idea for them to come into the Empire to become slaves in the name of the free market. It is possible that the walls were not only too expensive for their purpose, but even counterproductive as they kept out manpower that the Empire desperately needed.

Over time, it became impossible for the Empire to maintain the fortifications and, with the beginning of the 5th century, they were abandoned. According to Gibbon, it was in the winter of 406 AD that the frozen Rhine made it possible for a large number of Barbarians to cross the river and to march into the Empire unopposed in a crisis that resembles very much the flow of refugees pouring into Europe today. A few years later, in 410 AD, Rome was sacked for the first time in the Imperial age by the Visigoths. Then, in 455 AD, Rome was sacked again by the Vandals and, this time, it was truly the end of the Western Roman Empire. For a few decades afterward, some individuals still claimed the title of "Roman Emperor"; but nobody was paying much attention to them. The walls had not helped Rome to survive.

Is this what's going to happen to Europe in our times? Are we going to make the same mistake the Romans made and ruin ourselves by building an expensive wall to stop invaders from entering
Europe?

Right now, walls don't seem to be in the plans, also because European didn't experience an equivalent of the defeat of Teutoburg (yet). So, it seems that the European governments are seeing the refugees from abroad as cheap manpower that Europe desperately needs – just like Rome did, long ago. But it is also clear that the situation can't remain the way it is for a long time, with millions of refugees pushing at the borders of Europe, chased away from their lands by a combination of wars and climate change. At some point, someone will start panicking and call for a defensive wall.

Modern Europe has seen already a wall separating it in two halves, the one that was called "the Iron Curtain". Also that wall didn't bring good luck to those who built it, whose economy collapsed among other factors also under the weight of maintaining the walls. A new wall to keep North Africans and Middle Eastern people out would probably cripple Europe forever. Will it be built? We can't say, right now, but one thing that we learn from history is that we never learn from history

Rant Regarding Refugee Relief

logopodcastOff the Microphone of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on September 10, 2015

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TAKE THE REFUGEE SURVEY HERE

gc2The Refugee Crisis has been "Topic of the Week" in the Collapse Doom-o-sphere.  Everybody's Talkin' about what to DO about this growing problem, with few plausible solutions being offered up anywhere, be it on the Blogs or from the Political class running the show here.  From Zero Hedge to Donald Trump, from Jim Kunstler to Nazis in Hungary and the Czech Republic, EVERYBODY'S TALKIN'.

To add more grist to the mill, I ranted on this topic last night, detailing some of the complete STUPIDITY that is ongoing here as the crisis escalates.  Sad to say, the discourse is unlikely to get any smarter as time goes by here.

We also have up a new Collapse Survey TM for readers to drop down their opinions on how to handle the Refugee Clusterfuck.   Below, I'll also include a few of the current Text Responses to the Survey.  Also another LINK to the Survey of course.  Did I remind you enough times to TAKE THE FUCKING SURVEY?  lol.

It's a Wicked Problem.  How would you handle it?

Snippet:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CJZV9EnVEAM7v6a.jpg…However, there is a rapidly escalating issue worth Ranting on, the Refugee issue. I wrote my first article on this issue a couple of weeks ago, and this week I published a new Collapse survey to find out what the Kollapsniks think we can or should do about this problem. Here you get all sorts of apocalyptic ideas which come up in the commentariat of the blogs, along the lines of shooting anyone who tries to cross a border. Even our own leading POTUS Candidate The Donald has come out in favor of Deporting everyone who doesn't have their papers in order.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c2/Buchenwald-bei-Weimar-am-24-April-1945.jpg/260px-Buchenwald-bei-Weimar-am-24-April-1945.jpgHowever, while we have a long standing issue with illegal immigration along the border with Mexico, these days the main focus for the Western Industrialized Nations is on Europe, where refugees from all over MENA are trying to escape escalating warfare and ever depleting supplies of water and food at ever higher prices they can't afford to try and make it to the “promised land” of Germany, of all places. You do know I am sure that when the Jews got kicked out of Russia during the Pogroms in the 1800s, where they ended up migrating to were places like Germany and Poland, and you also are aware what happened to 6M of them in the 1930s. Uncle Adolf handed them all a First Class Ticket to the Great Beyond TM, that's what happened. Do you really think the Germans of today will behave any differently than the Germans of the 1930s when Depression hits in full force?…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!

This story came out on Zero Hedge after I recorded the Rant, but before I published.

It escalates rapidly…

Following Hungarian cameramen kicking 10-year-old girl refugees, and Czech police hauling immigrants of trains and writing numbers on their arms, it appears the horrors of the past are quickly forgotten when it comes to 'solutions' for the present. As The Jerusalem Post reports, the leader of the Czech 'nationalist' National Democracy Party, has called for refugees to be placed in Terezin – a former Nazi concentration camp"Why build tent camps for the aliens? We have the beautiful fortress town of Terezin where the aliens could concentrate before they are taken home by trains." Police are investigating whether his comments constitute a criminal act and Czech Jewish leaders have refused to comment on the incident.

As The Jerusalem Post reports, police in the Czech Republic are investigating comments made on Facebook by an extremist politician calling for refugees to be placed in Terezin, the former Nazi concentration camp.

Adam Bartos, the leader of the fringe yet vocal far-right nationalist National Democracy Party, published the comments about the site, located in the central European country, on Monday.

Reacting to the establishment of a refugee camp near the country’s border with Slovakia, Bartos wrote, “Why build tent camps for the aliens? We have the beautiful fortress town of Terezin where the aliens could concentrate before they are taken home by trains.”

TAKE THE REFUGEE SURVEY HERE

The FULL TEXT of the Rant will be available HERE in a few days

A Selection of  Early Responses to one of the survey text questions:

If you were in charge, what policies would you put in place now to try and stem the tide of refugees all over the world? (text response)

Educating women seems to be the best way to lower the birth rate. I'd try to educate and empower women in 3rd world countries. Too little too late, though.
As King of the World. Migration is a fact. It will happen as climate change begins to bite. Develop soft population growth controls and alter national boundaries/resource consumption to accomodate as many people as possible while working to decreace total population to a sustainable number through natural reductions. (Like this ever has a chance in hell of happening).
There effectively is no way to stop people from trying to get to places that seem better than where they come from. The only thing that can be done is resolve some of the military conflicts; its the only thing about which we have any control (climate change is probably no longer in out control for the short term, anyway). Unfortunately, the conflicts continue to multiply without any end in sight. The last round of interventionist policies of the early 2000s caused even more instability than the previous round of interventions in the mid 1990s. Is there anyone that seriously thinks more intervention is going to solve the conflicts.

America’s Refugee Crisis: On Its Way

gc2smOff the keyboard of Tom Lewis

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Published on The Daily Impact on September 9, 2015

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Syrian refugees in a camp in Turkey proclaim their reverence for the Koran being held aloft, and their hatred for Syrian dictator Hafez Assad. (Photo by Freedom House/Flickr)

 

Syrian refugees in a camp in Turkey proclaim their reverence for the Koran being held aloft, and their hatred for Syrian dictator Hafez Assad. (Photo by Freedom House/Flickr)

Hideous choices now urgently confront the countries of Europe as they flounder in deep waters, borne down toward drowning by the inexorably growing weight of human misery cascading into and over them from Africa and Asia. Solutions are not even imaginable, especially when so few recognize the root causes. [See “The Choice Worse than Sophie’s,” “A Tsunami of Climate Refugees is Drowning Europe.”] What even fewer will admit is that a refugee crisis of similar intensity is coming to America. In a sense, it is already here.

The refugee crisis now gestating in the United States is not one of desperate brown people pouring over our southern border,

nor even of desperate snow bunnies crashing our northern boundary, although one of the candidates for Captain of the Titanic thinks we should consider a wall on the Canadian border. The people who will constitute our next tsunami of misery, its like not seen since the days of the Dust Bowl, are citizens, already here, their misery steadily approaching the intolerable. Soon, because they have to, they will start to move.

If you want to count them, get to know them, begin with the 94 million people who have vanished from the American work force. Each month, the don’t-worry-be-happy bean counters of our government report, as they just did for August, the “creation” of a robust 173,000 jobs, resulting in a healthy contraction of the unemployment rate — the proportion of those who do not have jobs compared with those who are available for work — of 5.1%. The economy is coming back! It’s morning in America!

Except that while 173,000 jobs became available, 251,000 adults left the labor force. A minority of them retired, or went to school, but for most of them the move was not voluntary. Their unemployment benefits ran out, they are too discouraged and broke to continue the fruitless duplication of resumes, and so, by government definition, they have vanished from the pool of potentially available workers. They are un-people now.

There are 94 million of them. Their number has increased by nearly two million in one year; by almost 15 million since the last good year, 2007.

I met one of the non-people a while ago, gave him a ride to town, seven miles from his trailer home. For months he had been walking there — he could not afford to license his ancient pickup truck — every single weekday, looking for work. He had been a heavy equipment operator in construction, but has not had a regular job in seven years. He has no front teeth because he could not afford the root canals that would have saved them. His wife is ill, and while that does bring them a disability pittance once a month, they experience hunger every month. One of their close friends and neighbors takes her to medical appointments, and grocery shopping, when necessary — and charges her $30 for the favor. I came to know him as a good, reliable and knowledgeable worker. His desperation has not yet turned to anger. Not yet.

Did I mention there are at least 94 million of him?

People who “vanish” from the labor pool, and/or become homeless, mail-deprived and often phoneless, often become invisible as well to the agencies and institutions that are designed to help them. A recent book documenting the lack of a safety net for such people identified 1.5 million households, inhabited by 3 million children, whose total cash income per person per day during 2011, including public assistance, was no more than $2. For those disconnected from the job market, the authors say, there is virtually no help.

Then there is the thing we in America share with all the countries of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia whose people are now crashing into Europe: growing, spreading, intensifying drought. The western third of the United States is experiencing the worst drought in a millennium, and a consequent water crisis worse than anything in our history. Large agricultural areas (California’s Central Valley, to name just one) and some major cities (Las Vegas and Phoenix, to start) are seeing the water supplies that make them habitable vanish. When the water is gone, like the farmers of Syria after 85% of their animals dies of thirst, the population of these places will start to move.

Where are you going to build that fence, Donald?  

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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