The end of a myth

The USA and France are two countries with very different histories, social structures and political strategies. Yet they are united by common national myths that have acquired the dimension of a secular religion: the heritage of the two greatest bourgeois-liberal revolutions that brought down the tyrannies of the pre-modern era and faith in the future of a multicultural society, whether in the form of the American «melting pot» or that of equality before the law and integration under the flag of the French Republic. As happens with all religions, secular or otherwise, the reality never rose to the heights of the original myths. For some months now, however, the model of a multicultural society on both sides of the Atlantic has not only been under attack; one could say it is being demolished. On Wednesday the US Senate passed, by an overwhelming majority, a law providing for the construction of a triple wall, hundreds of kilometers long, along its border with Mexico. Earlier, President George W. Bush had announced the deployment of 6,000 National Guardsmen along the Rio Grande to repel waves of illegal immigrants. The same day, the French National Assembly passed a law decreeing harsh measures against unskilled immigrants and incentives to attract scientists and technicians. The question is this: If countries such as America and France are faced with such huge problems, what can one expect from Greece, a country that was transformed from an exporter to an importer of migrants just a few years ago? Surely the stereotypes spouted by belated proponents of the «multicultural model» – who resemble people going to a birthday party after the host has died – are no answer.