Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Shadow of Marienthal

In the 1930s two great pioneers of modern political sociology published an extensive "ethnographic study" of a small town in Austria. What Paul Lazarsfeld and Marie Jahoda found, in Marienthal: The Sociography of an Unemployed Community would not reasure those ready to stick their heads back in the sand now that the riots in Paris are "over." (h/t: Roger Simon) The combination of unemployment and "the dole" created a social vacuum into which National Socialism was about to arrive as a savior, so this little book about small-town Austria constitutes what amounts to an early warning that could have prevented a holocaust, had anyone been prepared to read the signs.

But what is really frightening now is that National Socialism had to be largely invented before it could (as Jerrold Post puts it) "fit into German society like a key in a lock." Islamism, which has one parent in common with National Socialism and is therefore a "half-sibling," has been gestating now for generations. The key doesn't need to be invented. It's ready and waiting. And unless Europe can figure out some way to both get their economic engine running productively and integrate/assimilate this brooding population, then these riots are merely the prelude to a coming storm.