Peace in Africa might be a solution to racism in Europe. The argument goes that racism is a reaction to, but not created by, immigration. And yet, immigration comes from African and Middle Eastern countries in difficulty. It follows then that racists are heartless and do care not to help their fellow humans.
But reducing emigration to Europe implies that our involvement in Africa is for selfish social ideas about protecting our society. This might even argue for the National Front unless we can choose between a logical limit to open border immigration and limitations based on race.
Helping Africa then is a good thing if Africans survive and prosper even if a little motivated by self-interest. Trade is a part of a social solution to poverty and hardship in all countries. But we can both protect or way of life and be humanist. Solutions in Africa are humanist when we recognize that it is right to help others. We must also balance helping others with eliminating poverty and homelessness on our doorstep. Europe has a generous welfare system but Africa often experiences great hardship.
How then can we limit immigration and be humanitarian? Immigration is not exclusively an issue for the right or the far right. And perhaps it is possible to understand Brexiteers desire to control immigration even if leaving the EU is a high price to pay.
European Immigration Policy
Europe should have a clear policy on immigration, with closed and controlled external borders to account for the concerns of the right, but also to protect and consolidate a European identity. The danger is not to fall into nationalist extremism.
Much of the Brexit argument has been about numbers control. While this may seem appealing, but includes too much talk of race and culture, who is in and who is out. If we control our borders, we cannot also refuse our humanitarian mission.
What about the maintenance of European culture? Does a European cultural identity exist? Should it be maintained and promoted? Therein lies the danger of falling into the white-Christian trap. Which bits of culture do we want to retain? What is the selection process? Focusing exclusively on religion does not help. It is not logical for Turkey to join the EU – it should remain our main and most valuable partner.
What then is the culture to maintain in Europe? What is Europeanism? It is not the seemingly increasing racism and xenophobia of the Baltic states, who like Hungary and Poland attach strong allegiance to Christianity and oppose Muslim influence with a certain violence. The wall on the Hungarian border shocked westerners, secure borders are perhaps the solution to a strong and effective Europe. But it should be one who refrains from violence and maintains its roots in humanitarian values.
Europe has to work hard to build its identity, it is a great shame that it will be doing so without Britain. France and Germany are good leaders but they benefited from the balance of the level-headed British. It is a great shame that Britain has chosen to abandon the European project. But what does Britain think about the future development of Europe from outside the Union? Many Britons did not vote for Brexit and would like to remain. But how do we consolidate views across 27 nations?
European relations with Russia
If surrounded by an external ‘threat’, European identity is more than what it is not (not Russian, not Muslim, not Christian) and try to heal the post-war trauma from which it is still suffering.
What is the vision of European relations with Russia, especially as it is on a war footing? Russia has cyber-attacked the US in favour of Trump, taken unilateral action in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria. Russia is intent on creating a bad-boy image, but also a strong one which, to our advantage, keeps the Russian mafia under control. But the prospects for trade and prosperous exchange with Russia are at their lowest – especially in the face of fears of Russia seeking to intervene in European politics.
The political integration project has received a vote of no-confidence in Britain’s vote to leave the EU. So what remains? How do we integrate? Who are we? Who are Europeans and what do they stand for, with or without the British? Cultured and inventive but still trying to find our way, hampered by our history and yet striving for a better world.