EU Opinion Ramzy Baroud

How Europe is Destroying It’s Own ‘Garden’

Europe cannot fix its problems by blaming others, and the European ‘garden’, if it ever existed, is actually being ravaged by Europe’s own ruling elites – rich, detached and utterly dishonest.
European Parliament, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Ramzy Baroud / MintPress News

The European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell is not particularly perceived by the EU’s political elite or mainstream media as a rightwing ideologue or warmonger. But seen through a different, non-western prism, it is hard not to mistake him for one.

Borrell’s recent comments that “Europe is a garden” and that “the rest of the world is a jungle” were duly condemned as ‘racist’ by many politicians around the world, but mostly in the Global South. Borrell’s remarks, however, must also be viewed as an expression of superiority, not only of Borell personally, but of Europe’s ruling classes as a whole.

Particularly interesting about the EU top diplomat’s words are these inaccurate depictions of Europe and its relationship with the rest of the world: “We have built a garden”, “everything works” and “the jungle could invade the garden”.

Without delving too deep into what is obviously an entrenched superiority complex, Borell speaks as if an advocate of the so-called ‘Replacement Theory’, a racist notion advocated by the West’s – Europe especially – rightwing intellectuals, which sees refugees, migrants and non-Europeans as parasites aiming to destroy the continent’s supposedly perfect demographic, religious and social harmony.

If stretched further into a historical dimension, one also feels compelled to remind the EU leadership of the central role that European colonialism, economical exploitation, political meddling and outright military intervention have played in turning much of the world into a supposed ‘jungle’. Would Libya, for example, have been reduced to the status of a failed state if the West did not wage a major war starting in March 2011?

The imagined ‘jungle’ aside, Europe’s past and present reality strongly negates Borell’s ethnocentric view. Sadly, Europe is the birthplace of the most horrible pages of history, from colonialism and slavery to the nationalistic, fascist and nihilistic movements that defined most of the last three centuries.

Despite the desperate attempt to rewrite or ignore history in favor of a more amiable narrative focused on great splendors, technological advancement and civilizational triumph, Europe’s true nature continues to smolder underneath the ashes, ready to resurface whenever the geopolitical and socioeconomic factors take a wrong turn. The Syrian and Libyan refugee crisis, the Covid pandemic and, more recently, the Russia-Ukraine war are all examples of the proverbial wrong turn.

In fact, Borrell’s words, aimed to reassure Europe of its moral superiority are but a foolhardy effort meant to conceal one of the most dramatic crises that Europe has experienced in nearly a century. The impact of this crisis on every aspect of European life cannot be overstated.

In an editorial published last September on the European Environment Agency (EEA) website, Hans Bruyninckx described the “state of multiple crises” that characterizes the European continent at the moment. “It seems as if we have been living through one crisis after another — a pandemic, extreme heatwaves and drought due to climate change, inflation, war and an energy crisis,” he wrote.

Instead of taking responsibility for this impending catastrophe, Europe’s ruling elites choose a different, though predictable route: blame others, especially the inhabitants of the non-European ‘jungle’.

Naturally, ordinary people throughout Europe who are already experiencing this harrowing reality hardly feel reassured by Borrell’s proclamation that “everything works”.

The risk of the resurgence of the far-right movements in Europe is now a real possibility. This danger was relatively mitigated by the setback of the extremist ‘Alternative for Germany’ and the victory of the Social Democrats in last year’s elections. Germany, however, is not the exception, as the European far-right is now back, virtually everywhere, and with a vengeance.

In France, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party gained a record 41% of the total vote (over 13 million) in April. True, Emmanuel Macron managed to hold off the advance of Le Pen’s National Rally, but his coalition has lost its parliamentary majority, and his leadership has been significantly weakened. Currently, the country is rocked by massive rallies and strikes, all protesting the soaring prices and deepening inflation.

Sweden is another example of the determined rise of the far-right. A right-wing coalition, which won the general elections last September now dominates the country’s parliament. On October 17, it elected a new prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, whose government was made possible because of the support of the Sweden Democrats, a party with neo-Nazi roots and a harsh anti-immigration agenda. SD was crucial in determining the victory of the coalition and it is now suited to play the role of the kingmaker in critical decisions.

In Italy, too, the situation is dire. A future government is expected to bring together Giorgia Meloni – the leader of Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) – former right-wing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party, Forza Italia, and the extremist Matteo Salvini’s La Lega. Meloni’s party is rooted in the post-fascist tradition of the Italian Social Movement, which was formed in the aftermath of World War II by fascist politicians after their party was officially outlawed by the country’s progressive 1948 Constitution.

The shifting political grounds in Germany, France, Italy and Sweden have little to do with the ‘jungle’, and everything with the illusory European ‘garden.’ Europe’s extremism is a by-product of exclusively European historical experiences, ideologies and class struggles. Blaming Asians, Arabs or Africans for Europe’s “state of multiple crises” is not only self-deluding, indeed spiritless, but also obstructive to any healthy process of change.

Europe cannot fix its problems by blaming others, and the European ‘garden’, if it ever existed, is actually being ravaged by Europe’s own ruling elites – rich, detached and utterly dishonest.

Romana Rubeo, an Italian journalist, contributed to this article.


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Ramzy Baroud
Ramzy Baroud

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

12 comments

  1. Thank you Dr. Baroud for calling out this European ethnocentrism which you correctly identify as racist and fundamentally white supremacist. Sadly, the truth is that Europe, Canada, the USA and all NATO members are responsible for failed states all around the world not just Libya which was devastated by a Canadian led NATO mission led by General Charles Bouchard. He now sits on the board of Lockheed Martin Canada trying to procure more warplanes for Canada’s air force this is a sad example of this arrogance. The western war mentality infects everywhere it goes and leaves nothing but death and destruction in its wake and when the refugees from these disasters try to flee to western countries they are vilified and blamed for their situations. Citizens of these countries need to wake up and turf NATO and all the warmonger leaders from office. Unfortunately this will not occur as most of our citizenry are too brainwashed and complacent to even see the danger they too are now in, if we were aware the streets would be filled day and night calling for the rejection of everything these warmongers stand for.

    1. Europe has a much greater issue with migrants than the proxy war. The Clash of Civilizations is not much different than America’s fearing the Browning of America. Trumpism is the result of the fear. Europe is destined to have their own Donald.

  2. Europes ancient trbilsmn & hatred is never far away.
    Looks like the World is now getting another dose of it.
    The arrogance of these self appointed custodians of the
    “World Based Rules Order” is outrageously shown here.
    Their affinity with Nazi Facist White Supremacists regime’s
    is part of their DNA ,as they again impose their will on the World.

  3. Espléndido recordatorio a Borrell y a la UE. Solo ha faltado recordar el golpe de estado de la UE contra Grecia y también que el ascenso del fascismo, que nunca se fue ya que Alemania nunca se desnazificó, es un resultado de la propia politica de la UE al servicio de las grandes corporaciones.
    Además, no se olvide que Antonio Tajani, actual ministro con Meloni, fue Presidente del Parlamento Europeo, Comisario y varias cosas más………….es decir, que el fascismo era, hace décadas, provocado y bendecido por la propia UE.

  4. Sounds like sour grapes from a bunch of losers who are desperately trying to escape the jungle and live in the garden.

    1. Heike: I spent most of my life in San Francisco, where everyone thinks they live in a garden, and I fully agree with this article. I would remind you that plenty of residents of Germany were desperately trying to escape your garden for the jungle not that long ago; and even before the Holocaust Africans wanted Germans to just go home and take their genocidal ‘civilization’ with them.

  5. ‘Europe is the birthplace of the most horrible pages of history, from colonialism and slavery ” This is nonsense, these things existed all over the world long before the Europeans colonized Africa and Asia. Has the author(to name just a few examples) ever heard of Genghis Khan, Shaka Zulu, Tamerlane the trans saharan slave trade, or the Arab East African slave trade?

    Do not get me wrong Europeans have committed ( and still do) a lot of atrocities over the eons and yes the “Great Replacement Theory” is a far right conspiracy theory demonizing non europeans. That being said Dr Baroud has proven himself to be almost a xenophobic as Mr Borrell and some of the very far right wing pundits that he claims to despise.

    1. None of your examples matches the 500 years of barbaric European conquest and destruction, and the creation of a racial hierarchy that still operates and shapes events on the planet.

      Yes, these were barbarians — recently released from centuries of ignorance and privation after the fall of Rome, they stumbled on industrial might and wreaked havoc on the world and its civilizations. Their technical advantages were an instrument of their barbarism and savagery. Their Renaissance was materially aided by the Silk Road — opened by the Pax Mongolica.

      Well, many of these people, thanks to the rise of China — are returning to the world stage in force.

      Payback is — you know — a Hillary.

      1. Actually my examples of Tamerlane and Genghis do indeed fall in the same category as the various European conquerors, in fact the two of them inflicted far more damage on humanity than all European Empire with the exception of the Nazis. Tamerlane’s campaigns caused the deaths of 17 million people roughly 5% of the worlds population at the time. Genghis Khan and his sons killed around 37.5 million people roughly 11% of the world population.
        Moreover social and racial hierarchies existed all over the world long before the European conquest of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Just look at the Arab enslavement of the Nilotic people in the Sudan or the native people in East, or the Central Asian Brahmins enslaving the native people of the Indian subcontinent
        You are therefore negating history just like Dr Baroud.

  6. Mr. Smith: Your comments falsely ascribe an absolutist account of history to Dr. Baroud. He does not argue for purity of peoples, simply more generally about cultural patterns in response to Josef Borrell’s ‘garden and jungle’ narrative. Despite your ability to cite examples that contradict the article’s overall thesis, other examples of its validity overwhelm yours. Indigenous Americans were the victims of the largest colonization in history, and did nothing on the scale of what Europeans did. In spite of slavery happening throughout history, the slavery of Africans to work in the Americas likewise have no parallel. The industrialized genocide of the Third Reich has a lesson that when practical skills are acquired absent a humanitarian instinct to not apply them to such an endeavor, the worst depravity is possible. In between, the calculated genocides in Congo and other African regions, along with the European conquest of the U.S., prove the point: Europe has shown us the worst of humanity’s possibilities. Whether other peoples would have done the same with the head start of metallurgy will always be a debate among anthropologists. We have an obligation to understand the magnitude of what we did and strive to teach our fellows who do not, lest it be repeated with civilization ending weapons. Your callous dismissal does a disservice to that cause.

    1. You clearly have not read my comment, where did I deny that Europeans or those of European descent have not committed atrocities?
      I was not criticizing the argument that Europeans have committed more atrocities than people from other continents. I was pointing out that he was wrong to say that slavery and colonialism originated in Europe.You pointing out that Europeans have committed various genocides does not in any way refute this and nothing else that you have said in your comment does.

  7. EU has succumbed to americanism something many feared— Heidegger, Ellul, Zinoviev etc…sanction vs Russia have only harmed EU economies now all in contraction–but benefitted the Russian economy

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