Putting The Walls Back Up
At the end of the film ‘The Big Short’, the narrator explains what actually happens after a credit crisis; the banks make more money and the blame passes onto the poor and immigrants. With Donald Trump now exposing his true identity as a lunatic fascist and one in three French votes falling to the equally insane Far Right, a situation is developing unseen in my lifetime but known all too well to my parents.
This is Budapest (above) in the grip of the immigrant crisis, part of a perfect storm of factors joining Al Qaeda, ISIS, economic collapse, the ripples from the sub-prime mortgage scandal and a dozen other factors which previously only conspiracy theorists would ever link.
At the heart of the problem is the Schengen Area, comprising the 26 European countries that have abolished passports and any other type of border control at their common borders, or internal borders. Only the UK and Ireland have opted out of the zone – even countries which are not officially part of the EU have joined. In fact, even micro-states like Vatican City and Monaco have opted in. The area currently has a population of over 400 million people. It’s a situation that has arisen because it’s the last thing anyone expected; opening borders was meant to increase trade and create a freer society.
It’s hard to imagine that trust can be rebuilt in my lifetime, and tragically this is exactly what Syria wants; if governments listen to private individuals like the Le Pen clan and Trump, they’ll play right into the hands of terrorists. In some ways the tragedy of the Paris bombings has been more damaging than 9/11 as the spectre of Balkanising Europe returns.
It’s a thought that haunts me this weekend – I’m in the city of Strasbourg on the Franco-German border, where armed soldiers are now guarding the town, which is closed to all traffic – and the intended effect of a terrorist campaign appears to have worked.