Denmark charts an alternative way for integration and secularism

   Release date: 2018-09-27     Hits: 446    Comment: 0    
Note: A tourist stands on the stairs of a church in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark. [File photo/Xinhua]Over the last couple of
 

 

A tourist stands on the stairs of a church in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark. [File photo/Xinhua]

 

Over the last couple of years, the story in Europe has been one of backlash. There's a massive right-wing surge, which includes traditional social conservative positions like Hungary and Poland, to ultra-far right gaining strong parliament positions, in Germany, Italy and Sweden. 

The primary reaction is one of good intentions gone wrong, as idealist politicians opened the floodgates to mass migration, destroying the high trust-based social welfare society to which Europe was accustomed, an increase in crimes and violence, and a resultant surge to the right of middle class Europeans. It also resulted in the consistent crushing of social democratic forces across Europe. 

A recent report, however, suggests there's a counter leftist movement that started in Denmark. Emulating the old statist secular left, instead of the current liberal left, the country's social democrats have adopted policies determined to assimilate the vast swathes of newly-arrived immigrant population into the host culture. 

The current center right government and center left opposition are, therefore, unified in an approach that is statist and centrally implemented. It also has huge public support. 

The measures are a combination of sanctions and support, depending on the response and resistance that may emerge. Children in the immigrant communities will be compelled to undergo 25 hours of daycare to learn Danish values, language and culture, including Danish history and traditions. 

Crimes in the immigrant community will face more severe punishment and people who travel around Europe with their extended families and take their children back to the land from which they supposedly fled due to its troubles for an extended stay will be stripped of their residence permit along with any buildings they may have put up. In a surprising twist, this center right plan was criticized by the left as being too weak. 

The social democrats of Denmark, also wanted to place immigrant children under State protection, ban facial veils and other Islamic signature items, and confiscate jewelry and valuables from the migrant community to fund their schooling and social welfare. 

The idea behind this was to create a unique Danish identity, based on equality, secularism, and to stop parallel societies emerging and focus on a single cultural identity. 

Naturally this has created a leftist schism in Western Europe, especially in the Anglosphere where liberty is the defining principle of politics, and not authority. However, for a country as traditionally homogenous and egalitarian as Denmark, it is understandable why Danes have started to value old 1920s-style leftist integration ideas. 

Interestingly, all the opposition is coming from the Anglosphere and Northern European left, which is steadily losing ground to far right movements due to its own inability to deal with the migration issue. The intense vacuum remaining in the discourse is being rapidly filled by the other extreme selling xenophobia. 

It is instinctive that humans tend to fall back to border safety and a siege mentality when the situation gets tougher; however, it is also a lesson for left wing movements across the world. It's easy to critique a country for how it seeks to force integration, but it is also a fact of polity that, without integration, some countries risk falling apart. 

The Danish left, therefore, is moving back to an old form of leftism that is aggressively secular, and statist. The fundamentals of a viable country lie in integrating foreigners and maintaining an independent identity. Liberalism and individualism without authority and community cannot provide that. 

That's a lesson the Danes are trying to teach other countries. It would be interesting to see how this experiment pans out. 

Sumantra Maitra is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:


 
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