The Social Democratic government of Denmark has proposed limit ing “the number of ‘non-Western’ residents in neighborhoods to up to 30 percent to ‘reduce the risk of religious and cultural parallel societies’.” Basically this proposed measure would outlaw the formation of ethnic enclaves by putting a quota on how many non-Danish residents can live in a neighborhood.
The measure’s sponsor, The Social Democratic Party, is center left but has adopted a more restrictionist stance on immigration with Denmark carving out a niche as having the strictest immigration laws among Northwest European nations. Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is one of the few left-leaning immigration restrictionist in the Western World and the Danish Parliament has passed strict laws on the intake of migrants, chain migration, and approved a measure to ban the foreign funding of Mosques.
The Danish government’s objective is to combat parallel societies and uses the definition of “ghetto” to legally designate neighborhoods of 1,000 or more people where more than half are of non-Western origin, and meet certain criteria such as more than 40 percent unemployment, crime rates three times higher than the national average, and a per capita gross income 55% lower than the regional average.
The moral outrage from the media and woke activists is expected and the practicalities of enforcing these policies will likely be challenged on civil rights grounds over state imposed restrictions upon where one can live based upon one’s demographic background. Despite the measure’s controversial and draconian elements, it is based upon assimilation rather than ethnocentrism.
There has been a backlash in Europe against mass immigration, multi-culturalism, and radical Islam with Switzerland recently passing a citizens referendum to ban the burka. With concerns about losing votes to nationalist parties—dating back to global surge of nationalism in 2016—some establishment politicians, such as French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron, have taken up harsh stances against political Islam on assimilationist grounds with Denmark’s new policies going the furthest in that direction.
The most extreme example of this liberal assimilationist ideology is from the former Center Right, and recently indicted, French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy who called for a new blended French citizen of European, African, and Arab admixture. The conservative former prime minister was making the case that this future blended France was necessary to prevent balkanization. On the one hand, this would seem to be the neoliberal vision where all are blended together as one and share the same centralized institutions and atomized consumerist culture. The main problem with this assimilationist model is that it is naïve to assume one’s own group will always be demographically dominant and able to impose one’s policies and values upon others. Then again this vision might be much more feasible in those nations of Europe which remain more culturally and demographically homogenous than the United States.
The Danish measure goes much further than anything the American GOP would propose but is not viable within the American framework or in any nation that is already very diverse. If that paradigm of liberal assimilationism does become the dominant strain in the West it could be used against Europeans and European Americans who form their own enclaves or parallel institutions.
The ideal of assimilationism such as the American concept of the melting pot demands that all must sacrifice their own history, culture and traditions for the good of one cohesive mass society. This applies to immigrants but also to natives whose presence are diminishing in many society and could be expected to assimilate into the new mass society that is a blend of all groups. A vision for the future that is in opposition to both European culture and the traditional cultures immigrants bring.
Denmark’s measure is racist from the framework of American liberalism but could ironically help migrants by granting them greater opportunities to live in safer neighborhoods with better educational and economic opportunities while bringing about greater exposure to diversity for the natives.
While this measure is controversial due to it’s draconian nature it actually has parallels to the American left’s plans to move inner city people of color to the suburbs for the purpose of diversity and racial equity. This model could work for Denmark, which is still very homogenous, but only if non-Western immigration is kept very low. Certainly it would have very different ramifications if applied in more diverse locations such as London, Paris, or any major American cities
Also the anti-parallel society measure could have long term implications on freedom of association. It is one thing to reject parallel societies in Denmark where the dominant society is fairly functional but what about in the US where mass society is broken and parallel societies offer an alternative that is high in social trust and economically resilient.
For nations that are diverse such as the US a new model needs to be put forth for the future. America is past the point of no return for one cohesive national identity and must learn to embrace diversity. Unlike with Denmark which still has a chance at maintaining a high trust homogenous society, for Americans the only solution is a kind of right wing multi-culturalism that allows for enclavism, autonomy, and freedom of association for all.
Centrist-assimilationism seems to be an ongoing trend for Europe. It is interesting to compare the way establishment politicians in Europe have reacted to the global upswing in nationalism versus those in the United States. The centrist European approach of taking a moderate, assimilationist stance on immigration, while upholding some revised notion of national identity may in the long run only serve neoliberal economic interests, but nevertheless indicates the comparative health and homogeneity of most European Nations when compared with the United States. In the United States, much more radical notions of identity seem to hold sway. Competing tribalism seems on track to lead the United States to its demise, but it remains to be seen whether American Politicians can devise their own version of a “Denmark plan” better suited to the United States’ fragmented national character. This, I suggest, would be a plan founded in pan-enclavism as opposed to assimilationism.