By Alan Gao, IV Form
Explaining the Immigration Crisis with Confucianism
In recent years, news of immigrants and refugees flooding into Europe along with reports of violence and terrorist attacks have spread rapidly. As a result, many people have become more hostile towards immigrants, especially as Donald Trump appeared on the political stage. In Europe, which has been affected most by the refugee crisis, there was a rise in anti-immigrant supporters that led to an increase in support for many populist right-wing political parties. France, for instance, saw the National Front rise to be the second largest party in the nation. In Hungary, the leader of its current ruling party, Fidesz, has claimed that “[f]or us migration is not a solution but a problem … not medicine but a poison, we don’t need it and won’t swallow it” (The Guardian). In Netherlands, the “Dutch Donald Trump” Geert Wilders, led the Party for Freedom to be the second largest party in the nation as well. Not to mention, there are many countries, like Denmark, that have already instituted a strict immigration process in the past dozen years. What is the cause of the rise?
A quote of Confucius might be able to point a clear response to this question. Many ancient Chinese philosophers praise the Doctrine of Mean, or moderation. “Going beyond is the same as falling short,” as Confucius has said. Previously, the European society has been actively promoting concepts of open borders and social welfare. Acceptance of immigrants was considered to be beneficial to the economy. Of course, this is not a bad thing, but only to some degree. The commitment to a strong social welfare system has also brought great burdens to various European nations. Greece’s debt crisis is just a beginning, indicating the severe consequences when the nation’s economy cannot afford the welfare anymore (Chinadaily). Moreover, the loose border control of the European Union made the sudden wave of refugees uncontrollable.
Before the overthrow of the Gaddafi government, a large number of refugees was blocked by Libya (Business Insider). The small amount of immigrants that finally reached Europe made it possible for them to be more exposed to the local majority, helping them to integrate with the new nation. However, the sudden increase of immigrants now totally exceeds the manageable limit. Immigrants are not able to fully interact with the local community and are more clustered with other immigrants of their own background (Prospect Journal). This can only cause the gap between immigrants and locals to grow. As the gap increases, misunderstanding and hatred have arisen, all of which could evolve into extremism on both sides – the immigrants could be influenced by Islamist extremists, while the local Europeans could be swayed toward neo-nazism. At the same time, governments cannot reject immigrants since this would be against the liberal policies they have pursued and the ideology they have promoted. This has made the local people frustrated and anger, forcing them to seek hope in the powerful claims of right-wing populist parties.
Confucius has said, “The virtue embodied in the doctrine of the Mean is of the highest order. But it has long been rare among people.” Every behaviour of a group or individual of going beyond the Mean might lead to extremes. If not repaired in time, it could disrupt the whole community. It might not always be good to be liberal; instead, a balance between liberal and conservative leads to a better solution.
Alan Gao is a IV Form boarding student from Shanghai, China.