Yesterday, I published an article about the rise of far-right parties in Europe. In this text I mentioned the absurdity of Golden Dawn's pro-Greek and anti-immigration rhetoric, since the Greeks were the first Europeans to promote multiculturalism.
However, the Greek nationalists are not the only ones who “forget” the history of their own nation. Their counterparts in other European countries, especially former European colonial powers like France and Britain, seem to be oblivious to the fact that immigration is a result of globalisation: a phenomenon that was started and supported for centuries by the Europeans themselves.
With the great European colonial expansion, Europeans became masters of the globe. Ever since Columbus and other explorers set foot on other continents and colonized them exploiting these lands and their people, globalization was in full mode.
But they did not just colonize, they promoted their culture, religion and language to the native population. They ruled, intermarried with, exploited and converted the native populations.
And in many ways, they still do. The British Commonwealth of Nations and The International Organization of the Francophone for example, are making sure that the former colonies remain close to their former rulers, by language, culture and economic ties.
Then why do Western Europeans complain when immigrants from their former colonies are arriving in their countries? Is it their fault that they find these countries so attractive, after being educated as French, British or else?
Not to mention the economic monopoly that Europe has over other regions of the world, hindering their development and the creation of a more equal planet. Of course Europe is not the only one to blame. But since we are one of the most affluent countries in the globe, it is only natural that others will want to live here.
The reality is that we need a certain amount of immigrants. How many Europeans would aspire to work for the minimum wage, doing jobs such as kitchen porters, or cleaners?
Why we do not feel angry when we are served by these people, yet we complain when they start demanding equal pay and treatment? If the farmers in Manolada in Greece for example, did not want to pay foreign workers to do their job, they could have easily hired Greek workers and paid them.
Yet the hypocrisy of the Greek and other European employers is that they want immigrants to do the work for very little money, or if they could get away with it with no money at all. The native population will seek and ask for their worker’s rights and that is expensive for the greedy European employers.
Our economies are based on the service industries, property markets and banking, with a weaker than in the past industrial sector. They also rely heavily on immigration. The migrants are generally getting paid less and they have to pay higher taxes, visa entry fees and often bogus college subscription just to stay in the country. Immigration is in fact a profitable business.
The migrants have to endure terrible working conditions - the native workers would not work under such circumstances. We must realize that they are overall being exploited and very few find loopholes to take advantage of the system. These same loopholes are there for native Europeans to exploit and they are happy to keep them in place.
On the other hand it will not be wise to allow every immigrant in, as this will create more problems in a continent battling high unemployment at the moment. If a nation believes that there are too many migrants in their country, all they have to do is revise their immigration laws and allow only the number of immigrants that they need. It is that simple.
Ideally, Europe as a whole must agree on and create a comprehensive common immigration policy, which will first of all establish how many immigrants each country needs, in which industries they are needed and from which regions of the world they should be from.
Secondly, this policy must end the exploitation of the immigrant communities and should promote the facilitation of the integration of these communities, as well as safeguarding and promoting the equal rights of all minority groups across the EU. Every legal migrant worker must have the same rights as any other European.
This will benefit both communities; the migrants will be safe from exploitation and the native workers will not face unfair competition, when employers prefer hiring migrant workers with lower wages and no social security.
Europe must once more look in its past and focus on its Greco-Roman roots to find inspiration. There can be no sliding back in nationalism, racism, xenophobia and protectionism.
Our continent must remain an open and progressive society, a union of nations where the cosmopolitanism which the ancient Stoic philosophers were discussing, should be taught in our schools across Europe.
Education is the key for battling the bigotry that nationalism brings, as well as creating a cosmopolitan European continent - united, prosperous and diverse.