Waiting for the Barbarians: Europe’s Refugee Crisis and the Decline of the West

While i write my next one here’s a cogent post from former colleague John Rapley whose forthcoming book is called The Money Cult. It explains the predicament of the West lucidly and engagingly.

“Now, after the Second World War, European countries supposedly saw the light and gave their colonies independence. Yet the state system into which these new countries were born had already been created, with the United Nations regulating relations and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade governing trade. These bodies tended to operate to the advantage of the Western countries. Meanwhile, the initial lack of administrative capacity of most former colonies meant they turned inwards and tended to be rather passive at international negotiations. The end result was that the global economic structure remained more or less imperial, but with the cost of administration in the ‘provinces’ being out-sourced to a new set of what were, in effect, client-states. It was a big win for the West. The world economy continued operating to its advantage, but without the cost of colonial management. Not surprisingly, between 1950 and the turn of the millennium, that income-gap grew from 30:1 to 60:1. How could we honestly persuade ourselves we could maintain such an imbalance without some kind of response from the five-sixths of humanity marginalised by our model?”


The flood of illegal refugees into Europe might be our version of Attila’s march on Rome. But we are the barbarians.

What do you do with a man who slips across borders, puts his life at risk by jumping trains and trucks and crosses a continent to enter your country illegally? Give him a job, of course! Where else will you find that kind of ambition?

UK Prime Minister David Cameron sees things differently. He wants to build better fences, line them with sniffer dogs and toughen security. As he puts it “you have got a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life, wanting to come to Britain because Britain has got jobs, it’s got a growing economy, it’s an incredible place to live”. Of course he would say that, but I understand his dilemma. Still, I think the best his approach will do is stick another finger in a crumbling dike.

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Author: ap

writer, editor and avid tweeter

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