Us and Them: The Problem with Europe (Part II)

17 Jan

Humans are intensely tribal creatures.

Think about it. We automatically separate the world into people like us and people who aren’t like us. Manchester United supporters, for example, see themselves as separate from any other particular group of fans. This ranges from various SF fandoms to race, religion politics and sex. The tribes define themselves both by what they are and by their opposition to everything else.

It also tends to colour our thinking. We see ‘us’ as a group made up of individuals and ‘them’ as one vast hive mind.

Cold logic, of course, will tell us that that isn’t so. But when emotions are running high, cold logic has little to do with it. A British citizen may consider himself to be Scottish, rather than English or Welsh, but he may not recognise the difference between a Frenchman from Paris and a Frenchman from Toulon. But that Frenchman might be able to tell the difference between himself and someone born in Toulon, yet not be able to tell if the Briton is Scottish, English or Welsh.

In our groups, we tend to be sensitive to nuance. A Scotsman is not an Englishman and we recognise the difference, then determine it to be immaterial when laid against the French, Germans or Americans. But we are not so inclined to be sensitive to differences between Prussian Germans and Bavarian Germans. They are all, well, German.

This is how national stereotypes come into existence. Again, cold logic should tell us that stereotypes are at best misleading and at worst insulting, but they still exist. Why? Because it is much easier to regard ‘them’ as being all the same, at least on one level. British citizens see Frenchmen as inherently different from us, French citizens see Germans as not-French, Germans see Poles … etc, etc. The curse of European unity is that there is really no such thing.

Humanity’s willingness to tolerate differences has always been limited, not always without reason. Someone who was different could not be trusted to put the interests of ‘Us’ ahead of ‘Them’ or even work for both ‘Us+Them’. This tolerance reaches its limits when there is a real or perceived threat to ‘Us,’ hence the old phobia of black uprisings in the USA and the more modern bouts of Islamophobia. Generally, the greater the difference between ‘Us’ and ‘Them,’ the less willingness to tolerate differences.

This is pretty much the human condition. Smart groups think ‘me and mine first.’ People who think of others after themselves – when they have the luxury to think of others – are smart; people who are investing in others at the expense of their own people are dumb.

Can this be changed? One theory, put forward by well-meaning people, is that greater contact between the different tribes will slowly wear away those old stereotypes. There’s some truth in that, I must admit, but it can also reinforce them. Indeed, because we are conditioned to take pain more seriously than pleasure, encounters with bad ‘them’ can colour our thinking permanently, even though (once again) cold logic should tell us differently. A slap, as the old saying goes, is remembered longer than a kiss.

This is not fair. A hundred members of Community A who live next to Community B, a hundred people who are decent, friendly and hard-working, will have less impact on Community B than a single moron who acts badly. But it will happen, because humans are tribal and our instincts tell us to believe the worst of other tribes. The greater difference between Community A and B, the greater the chance for misunderstandings, obnoxious behaviour and ‘get them before they get us.’

How does this relate to Europe?

Historically, Europe was one of the most tribal places in the world. Indeed, Europe’s expansion overseas was powered by tribalism, both through a desire to outdo the other European tribes and simple inability to crush them. No would-be conqueror, not even Napoleon or Hitler, held Europe under their sway indefinitely. The sheer fury and bloodshed of both world wars, and the later war in the former Yugoslavia, pay testament to the depth of tribalism within Europe. No matter what the elites do, those currents remain below the surface.

And, when times are bad, they begin to surface.

The elites bear a large part of the blame for this problem. Their attempt to bury the hatchet of tribalism under a mountain of EU rules and regulations might not have been ill-intentioned. However, there was no attempt to either come to terms with the past or to examine the reasons behind tribalism. Instead, people who acted tribally were told to shut up, stop speaking and were often threatened with legal action. Charges of racism were hurled around freely.

And it was disastrous.

What people believe to be true is often more important, politically speaking, than what is actually true. If people believe that one tribe is being elevated above another tribe, they rapidly start to resent that tribe, even if it isn’t actually true. If people believe that their rights – like the right to protest – are being taken away, they give credence to those feelings. When people feel that their taxes are being spent to benefit someone other than themselves, they start hating the elites whose decide where the money goes. And their resentment, fuelled by a kind of helpless rage powered by a simple inability to tell people that the Emperor has no clothes, can be channelled into madness. What happens when that resentment finally finds a voice?

One thing we are told as writers is that it is better to show, rather than tell. A reader who notices the discrepancies between what we are told and what we are shown is a reader who will give up in disgust. If we consider Left Behind’s two heroes, we can see that we are told that Steele is a brilliant airline pilot, while Buck Williams is the greatest investigative reporter of all time. However, what we see is very different; Steele is someone of dubious competence, while Buck Williams seems not to have the faintest idea of how to do his job.

It’s a sad thing for a book, really, when the villain (the antichrist himself!) seems better than the designated heroes for the first three volumes.

How does this apply to real life? Simple. We are told that multiculturalism is right, tribalism is wrong, that immigrants do not pose a danger to Europe, the elites are always right … and anyone who suggests otherwise is a worthless racist/nationalist/sexist/etc. But real life tells us something different.

And the discrepancy between ‘show’ and ‘tell’ will eventually rip us apart.

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7 Responses to “Us and Them: The Problem with Europe (Part II)”

  1. R Godfrey January 17, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

    Show for tribalism got us centuries of war, including the two most devastating wars in history.

    • Hans February 8, 2015 at 7:20 am #

      We should thanks the left for the WWII as Nazism and Fascism were expression of that and Mr. Godfrey if you say the contrary (as I think you will) go back to school make a lot of research and prove us I’m wrong.

      All the left parties in Europe are just trying to destroy our culture and civilization. Hopefully my country (Switzerland) has mechanisms to deal with that. We, the people, can present propositions to change our Constitution so no politician or party has the last word. An example: The leftist have passed a deal to accept open our borders to all Europeans (it’s true that we, the people we voted that and accepted at the that time) but immigration turned out to be a problem so one party proposed that the immigration from no matter what country should be limited and guess what? we, the people accepted that and now all your “friends” from the left can do a thing but respect the decision. Well they are smart enough to stall the application of our decision but they can’t do a thing.

      Mr. Nuttall, You’re absolute correct in your vision about multiculturalism, at least in my opinion. Multiculturalism has its limits. Switzerland was the FIRST undeniable multicultural country in Europe. Why and how? Easy: We have 4 official languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh) We built our country slowly from the XIII to the XIX century, the first for German cantons in 1291 and the last (Geneva) in 1814. Our country has a mix of German, French and Italian cultures, all of them very different and the most interesting is that, except for the French side, they don’t like to be treated as Germans or Italians. They are Swiss.

      This multiculturalism works fine (well not much) because we had centuries to build it but what the leftists are trying to do is destroy our culture. What’s happening now in France is just a symptom of the laziness of the different governments. Politicians are not there to defend the People’s interests but to get rich, the faster the better. I use to say the the only good politician is the one that is already dead because he/she can’t do any damage to the people.

      I have a question for you Mr. Godfrey: How can you read and be a fan of Mr. Nuttall books if in the Universe he created the fall of a leftist government is always present? Oh, don’t tell me you didn’t notice. Central senate, Emperors being puppets, looks to much like UN, EU and other 3rd worlds countries.

      Because of you and people like you, Mr. Godfrey, it’s inevitable that the USA, the Europeans countries and all Central and South America will fall.

      Western countries gives billions if not trillions of dollars every year (thanks to people like you) to 3rd world countries and all we see is that year after year they didn’t progress they still have the same problems, the only difference is that their politicians get richer every year.

      It has been proved that immigration will not resolve the poverty in the 3rd world. They give birth faster than we can assimilate them.

      Mr. Nuttall, despite the fact that you have reason when you talk about first generation immigrants don’t want to give up their traditions, I should point out that it’s the 2nd and 3rd generation that commit the most of the atrocities in western countries. Don’t ask me why it’s just a fact that you can read in the press. Most of them were even born in the country they have committed terrorist acts.

      In Switzerland we don’t have much trouble, except the left wing young mens that likes to destroy private property just because it’s not theirs. I think that this peace can be explained. I think that this can be explained by the fact that Switzerland has something like 45 guns per 100 inhabitants, and I’m not talking about revolvers or pistols but military guns (You can keep your gun after your military service). This keep your terrorist neighbor in check because he knows that he/she can be shot down by anyone even before he/she achieve his/hers objective. Shooting is a national sport very appreciate even by the youngs. If you check our criminality hate you’ll see that it’s proportionally under any other western country in Europe.

      I saw in first hand when French muslims came to my city to protest because one of theirs were in prison (car theft) and they decided to throw everything they had in the Central police station (I just live in front of the office), I saw them brake the glass door from my window and thanks to the leftist government of my canton no one went to jail for that. The police was not even there. Do you read me Mr. Godfrey?

      I dare say that we are living in trouble times, and that we are very near a WWIII that will surely star at the Middle Eastern and have consequences in Europe and US with little nice civil wars (People against government).

      I’d like to finalize thanking Mr. Nuttall for his excellent books ( I have almost all of them — except for the fantasy’s book that I don’t like the subject). I like specially your afterthoughts that I use to read and re-read to analyze one point or another of our current days.

      Thanks Mr. Nuttall.

      H

  2. terry January 18, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    pretty much sums up the war on terror…well said Sir!

  3. Austin January 19, 2015 at 1:58 am #

    On a related note, I recommend you read this, Chris:

    View story at Medium.com

    I think it complements your thinking quite nicely.

    • Austin January 19, 2015 at 2:01 am #

      That was meant to be a link, not an embed. Weird.

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