Monday, October 30, 2006

Nowhere to Put the Trash

[posted by Callimachus]

Europe has a 'White Trash' problem.

But the main thing that sets the modern poor apart from the industrial age pauper is a sheer lack of interest in education. Today's proletariat has little education and no interest in obtaining more. Back in the early days of industrialization, the poor joined worker associations that often doubled as educational associations. The modern member of the underclass, by contrast, has completely shunned personal betterment.

He likewise makes little effort to open the door to the future for his own children. Their language skills are as bad as their ability to concentrate. The rising rate of illiteracy is matched by the shrinking opportunities to integrate the underclass. The Americans, not ones to mince words, call them "white trash."

That's the word from"World War for Wealth: The Global Grab for Power and Prosperity," a current best-seller in Germany written by Der Spiegel editor Gabor Steingart.

Of course, Europe being Europe, its historical view of itself conveniently overlooks inconvenient facts. Like the fact that millions of the poor of Germany and other lands back in the industrial age had the option of going to America and making something of themselves. [Or not: Our "white trash" is the ethnological effluvia of old Europe's agrarian poor.]

And millions took it, and did. "Worker associations" weren't the only or most successful answer. There's this thing called "opportunity." Now, nestled in the mouldy easy chair of a welfare state, what's the point of immigrating?

Questions of fundamental importance are forcing their way to the foreground: Can a democracy tolerate having part of its populace continuously shut out from the rising quality of life? And if that is accepted, will this decision come back to haunt us in our lifetimes?

Will nations again face off against one another because boiling anger seeks an outlet? Or perhaps the underclasses will revolt? Both scenarios are possible. The only outcome hard to imagine is that nothing happens at all.

I can imagine that. As long as the Germans, of all classes, decline to reproduce themselves by having children, there will be no replay of the Spartacists or of World War II. There won't even be enough young Germans left to get up a reasonable weekend battle re-enactment.