The Threat of Civil War in Europe
Social crises in Europe face escalation this winter.
While 2022 has already seen its fair share of horror in the ongoing Russo-Ukraine War, this winter might see the further rise of a new specter: civil war. German social researcher Piotr Kocyba expects a new, violent wave of protests as the continent turns colder. Kocyba, who works at the Chemnitz University of Technology and is a member of the board of the Berlin Institute for Protest and Movement Research, claims that right-wing extremists are already heating up the mood, but the left also wants to call citizens to street demonstrations. "If the crisis lasts longer, it cannot be ruled out that terrorist groups will form, as was the case during the anti-refugee protests," the researcher explained to German media.
Kocyba is not alone. "Europe's wealthiest nations face rising risks of civil unrest over the winter, including street protests and demonstrations, due to high energy prices and mounting costs of living, according to a risk consultancy firm," writes Reuters. And according to Verisk Maplecroft's principal analyst Torbjorn Soltvedt: "Over the winter, it wouldn't come as a surprise if some of the developed nations in Europe start to see more serious forms of civil unrest.” This was before Reuters reported that Europe might have to brace for mobile phone outages, as currently there are not enough back-up systems in many European countries to handle widespread power cuts.
The authorities are not optimistic either. Stephan Kramer, president of the domestic intelligence office for the state of Thuringia, told German broadcaster ZDF that he expects “legitimate protests will be infiltrated by extremists…and that it is likely that some will turn violent.” They will likely be worse than what has already been seen. “What we have experienced so far in the Covid pandemic in terms of partly violent confrontations on social networks, but also in the streets and squares, was probably more like a children’s birthday party in comparison,” Kramer said.
John Laughland, a visiting fellow at Hungary's Mathias Corvinus Collegium, while skeptical of the "power of the street," anticipates that "we are going into uncharted territory. If there are power cuts, if people are cold, if there are breakdowns in food supplies, if the mobile telephone networks break down...because they have batteries and if there are power cuts for too long, they might not work,” the results will be “unpredictable.”
These warnings might come as a surprise for those not paying attention to the social disintegration of Western Europe in the past decade. But Europe has seen a series of escalating social crises in the past ten years, from major cost-of-living increases, to mass immigration, to the pandemic lockdowns. A winter without energy might prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Back in 2018, the Yellow Vest movement in France brought 300,000 people to the streets in more than a thousand protests against the rise of the price of diesel fuel, which had risen to an average of €1.51 per liter (today the price stands at €1.65 per liter). They lit fires, tore down street signs, erected barricades, pulled up paving stones and hurled them at police while shouting slogans against liberal President Emmanuel Macron. The Yellow Vest protestors were middle-aged white Europeans from working class neighborhoods. Is France ready for the revolt of immigrant Muslim youth from the ghettos when the heaters go cold and the phone batteries die?
The “protest culture” of immigrant youth has become well-documented over the past twenty years. In France, thousands of cars burn every New Year's Eve, and in the autumn of 2005, more than 8,000 vehicles were destroyed. Of course, the liberal media has trouble dealing with this. One article from the Local's French edition almost reads like a piece from the Onion: "Why do the French set fire to cars on New Year’s Eve? ... That’s because of a longstanding French tradition that sees youths in certain parts of cities torching scores of cars." Notice the use of the term "youths" here, without an adjective, is newspeak for "immigrants."
Meanwhile, the news from Sweden this April can hardly be masked by such creative use of words: "Several days of unrest in Sweden, sparked by a far-right group's burning of the Koran, have injured at least 40 people, police said on Monday, calling for more resources to deal with the violence," France24 reported. Dozens of police cars were burned. Christian Swedes rarely set their neighborhoods on fire to defend the Koran: this was obviously done by immigrants. But it was merely a repeating of previous occurrences: in 2018, 80 cars were set ablaze across the country by "youths,” and similar events transpired in 2013.
These riots are so commonplace that they have even been depicted in TV and movies. Recently, the French action movie Athena told the story of a mass revolt of immigrants against French police following the death of a young group member. It is receiving wide release via Netflix (see the trailer here). But the German series Dogs of Berlin from 2018, also now on Netflix, perhaps gives an even better picture. The television show calls attention not only to the possibility of immigrant gangs rebelling, but also to the neo-Nazi groups ready to capitalize on such a crisis that is slowly growing beneath the surface of a liberal utopia. (You can see the trailer here.)
Few subjects are as controversial as the prospect of civil war between immigrant groups and neo-Nazis in Europe. The topic is a minefield. Anyone who does not condemn far-right violence in strong enough terms can easily find herself accused of "whitewashing" the perpetrators. At the same time, many conservatives in Europe are so sick of everyone and everything being labeled “far-right” that they do not want to hear about the real neo-Nazi threat anymore.
Of course, in a moral and legal sense, the responsibility for any violence lies solely with the perpetrators and the instigators. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that various social phenomena are in constant interaction with each other, and mass migration is described in sociological literature and international journalism as one of the main reasons for the strengthening of extreme right-wing views. This also cuts both ways.
Some have theorized that European Muslim communities might be attacked by far-right terrorists in response to the international attacks of Islamist terrorism, and that such violence may lead to further radicalization of the immigrant Muslim communities. After the 2015 attacks in Paris, journalist Jeff Guo noted in the Washington Post that many Muslim communities in Western Europe and North America had been threatened after the jihadist attack; this was significant because, as the title of his article put it: “Hating Muslims plays right into the Islamic State’s hands.”
In the years following the migrant crisis of 2015, the possibility of a civil war between Islamic and far-right terrorists in Europe has been increasingly discussed by researchers and politicians. In a rare case of bipartisan consensus, libertarian Islam-critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, British “anti-fascist” NGO Hope not Hate, and French President Emmanuel Macron all admitted that the prospect of a “civil war” between Muslims and the far-right was dangerously close: granted, Macron spoke of a “civil war” in relation to the burqa-question. In a 2019 presentation, Péter Keresztes, the head of the Hungarian civil intelligence agency, summarized the situation: "as anti-Islamism grows in the West, the Muslim community is being attacked, and the jihadists may want to take revenge."
Other European authorities seem to agree; the Dutch National Coordination Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism has long decried the growth of both far-right and Islamist extremism (see here and here). Apparently, one cannot flood a nation of 17 million with 100,000 migrants without sparking some tensions. It is worth noting that after the most infamous far-right attacks in Germany in the recent period, such as the shooting in Hanau in 2020 and the ramming attack in Volksmarsen in February 2020, the authorities have strengthened the protection of Muslim community facilities. Following the March 2019 shooting in Utrecht, where a Muslim perpetrator killed passers-by, the Dutch police also closed the city's mosques, clearly out of fear of a far-right counter-attack.
But the Utrecht attack points to an even more worrying trend. This Islamist attack was itself a response to a massacre in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the same month, which, in turn, was a response to attacks on Christians by Muslims in the Far East. From the actions of the European authorities, it appears clear that they are afraid of a back-and-forth series of terror attacks, in which, responding to attacks in various parts of the world, jihadists and neo-Nazi terrorists stage a bloodbath for innocent Christians and Muslims in Europe.
So, are the cities of Europe set to burn this winter? While it is impossible to know exactly what will occur, mass protests and civil unrest appear all but inevitable: in fact, protests are already happening in Czechia and Germany. Here I would love to quote some mainstream newspaper reporting on the unrest, but alas, the establishment seems to be blind to these protests. Meanwhile, Steve Hanke of the Cato Institute has posted a video of them.
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In other places, too, the general breakdown has already begun. In January, before the start of the Ukrainian War, the Kazakh government almost fell because of violent protests sparked by rising inflation. "Inflation-related discontent has spiraled rapidly in Kazakhstan, where violent unrest has led to the deployment of foreign peacekeeping troops. The speed with which Kazakhstan’s fuel-price protests escalated into a broader challenge to the regime will concern other governments in the region, wary of a demonstration effect on their own citizens," Economist Intelligence explained.
Even by March of this year, high energy costs had already triggered unrest in parts of Europe. As reported by the Associated Press, in Spain, "Picketers threw burning tires onto a highway overnight. ...Police arrested six people and placed 34 others under investigation, the Interior Ministry said. Striking truckers also have been accused of throwing rocks at trucks that are still working this week, tearing cargo tarps, puncturing truck tires, and threatening working drivers with violence."
Perhaps time will prove Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán right yet again. "It is therefore no wonder that people who are angry and feel cheated, replaced one after another the governments that introduced the [anti-Russian] sanctions," he said a few weeks ago in a speech to the Hungarian parliament, in reference to the devastating loss suffered by the Italian left during the recent elections. Considering the coming cold, and hot tensions between far right and Islamist extremists, it could very well be that before winter is over, several other globalist European governments will follow.