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Why Many Europeans Long for the Nation State and Borders

By: Letter to the Editor - Jan 2, 2015, 9:16 am

EspañolI have noticed in some articles on the PanAm Post that the authors are pleading in favor of open-border immigration and consider the European political discussion about limiting mass immigration as a bad example. The political parties in favor of limiting immigration are often labelled as right-wing or xenophobic parties.

As a Dutchman and European, I have observed the gradual disappearance of the nation state in favor of the ideal of a Pan-European state — although formally we still live in a nation state. The first step was the open-border politics within the European Union (1995); the second big step was the creation of a single currency, the euro, in 2002.

Today, immigration policies in countries like the United Kingdom or the Netherlands are determined 90 percent by EU and UN regulations. The nation state has very little control over it, and there is no democratic way for people to express their discontent.

This is probably the most important reason — besides the failure of the euro — why we see the rising of nationalist parties such as the UK Independence Party in the United Kingdom, the PVV and VNL in the Netherlands, and the National Front in France.

To describe these parties as right wing or xenophobic, however, is in my view based on inadequate analysis. Many of these parties are in favor of solid social policies, and they are not xenophobic by nature. See this picture of a multicultural gathering of UKIP members with their leader Nigel Farage. All these parties want is to take back control of their own borders.

ft-open-borders-ukip
Jan Gajentaan: “All these parties want is to take back control of their own borders.” (@UKIP)

Personally, I consider myself a liberal in the European sense of the word (in the Anglo-Saxon sense I would probably describe myself as a free-market conservative). I was not against open borders in 1995 (Schengen Agreement); nor was I against the European currency.

Today, facing an economic disaster in Europe, largely due to the euro, with unemployment rates going as far as 25 percent in Southern Europe (50 percent youth unemployment) and a strong feeling we are not in control of our own immigration, I have come to change my mind.

I belong to the baby-boom generation (I was born in 1959). Some people might argue that I suffer from nostalgia and am longing for a forgotten past when the Netherlands was still a great nation. However, many young people have exactly the same feelings. The nationalist parties are leading the polls now in many European countries and have the support of many young people, who are often the first victims when unemployment hits due to failing pan-European policies. They are cheaper to fire, so they go first. It is as cynical as that.

Also an increasing number of young intellectuals are standing up for the nation state. One of them is the eloquent Dutch (in spite of his French name) historian, writer, and media personality Thierry Baudet, born in 1983. In his book, The Significance of Borders, Thierry makes a strong argument about the degradation of national sovereignty and its consequences.

Baudet describes how the nation state over the centuries became a stable, solid, and understandable unit of political (democratic) organization. He then presents his arguments of an assault on the nation state by supra-nationalism as well as multiculturalism in the latest decades (although this is not new). In his view, if the nation state disappears, so will democracy and the rule of law, because these are linked closely together. In other articles, he has pointed out that earlier attempts to create a pan-European state were carried out by Napoleon and Hitler, and failed miserably.

With regard to open-door immigration, being myself married to an immigrant, I would like to state that I am not against immigration. However, I do believe that the nation state has the right to protect its borders and to regulate immigration.

I also believe that it is not only in the interest of European nations, but also in the interest of the African continent that people living over there build strong nation states themselves, instead of forever trying to escape to a European El Dorado, which only exists in their dreams and in the false promises of traffickers of human beings — an El Dorado which by the way is slowly but surely disappearing, thanks to the destructive policies of the European Union and the Eurozone.

Jan Gajentaan
Independent human-resources consultant
Rotterdam, Netherlands

Editor’s note: we go to great efforts to avoid calling political parties right wing or left wing and seek to use more precise and accurate descriptions.