Theater of Cruelty

Bleak dystopia, flimsy hope

The Four Icebergs: The world's greatest challenges
Forfatter: Per Stig Møller
Forlag: Gyldendal (Danmark)
Denmark's former Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller has authored a book on the world's challenges. It is deeply dystopian, but Møller also comes up with suggestions for solutions.


Cultures come and go. Just as peoples come and go. For a moment they are here, magnificent and dominant – and then drift away. Like the snow that dries or leaves that fly away in the wind. This is how the Roman Empire went. This is how the Egyptians, the Ottomans and the East
rich Hungarian Emperor. This is how Hitler's millennial and British empire went. Mighty Soviet Union also disappeared. And China disappeared – just to rise again some time later. Everything has its time, the dominant point seems to be in the first pages of former Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller's latest book, which deals with the greatest challenges the world faces today. But if everything has its time, should we just leave? A resounding no sounds the answer, for the challenges are now to an extent where not only cultures and peoples are at risk, but where the entire globe and thus humanity are staring into a possible downfall.

European starting point

Møller is based on Europe's stagnant position and changing role in the world community. With this in mind, he then goes into the four "icebergs" that he sees as the greatest challenges the world faces.

The first iceberg is the demographics. Møller is trying to draw a clear connection between population growth and the heyday. If the population grows, yes, then the wealth, creativity and with it the technology, development, the military and the thought business grow. Many people become equal to long, good times. Conversely, a declining population only hurts and creates discouragement and poverty. Seen from a European perspective, the population continues to grow, but the primary growth comes from immigrant people who have more children than the ethnic groups.
to Europeans, Møller points out, thus emphasizing that not all population growth is equal. Because if the immigrant people are not integrated, major conflicts will ensue.

Furthermore, Europe's population growth is marginal compared to territories such as North Africa and the Middle East, which is likely to increase immigration pressure on Europe. A similar situation is facing the United States, because although the population of the United States is also growing in strength, it is not happening with the same force as in the countries of Latin and South America. And as the world no longer offers sparsely populated territories, where especially young people filled with longing and perhaps driven by poverty and lack of prospects can take to, it will be Europe and the United States that must accommodate them. It is these kinds of prospects that make Trump build walls and proclaim that now Europe must fend for itself. It's pretty dys-
topical reading, as Møller largely refrains from offering solutions.

After reading about the first iceberg, one might be led to believe that Møller was (still) an old drug addict with a penchant for xenophobia, but this is put to shame while reading the second iceberg, which is the economy. This is where Møller begins by praising immigrants for having largely saved both Europe's and the USA's economies. Møller also has a strong point when he emphasizes that we can not both demand assimilation of our own immigrants, while we demand that, for example, the regime in Myanmar protects its Muslim minority. That kind of double-entry bookkeeping does not work. But good integration requires a balance in the amount of immigrants, and here we are then landed in the economy. Because without a good economy and thus just a reasonable future prospects, immigration will escalate, especially from the African countries. And here Møller is more solution-oriented than was the case with the first iceberg. He calls for major cooperation agreements with the EU and the AU (African Union) that European companies should move their production from Asia to Africa and encourage the involvement of women, as this will reduce fertility and thus reduce the demographic imbalance between Europe and Africa.

Ecology and growth

Ecology is the next focal point of the book and is projected into a natural extension of the economic iceberg. Thus, economic growth is required to solve the ecological problems, reads the slogan from Møller. And here some will probably disagree. For is the eternal demand for growth not exactly part of the ecological problem? Basically yes, says Møller, but this does not change the fact that we must seek growth – albeit in a more sustainable form – to be able to mobilize the necessary investments in technology, education and innovation that are needed to pattern a green revolution and thus just fairly deal with the climate changes that everything else being equal seems to be at least partially man-made.

In conclusion, it is about democracy. Møller takes up Edmund Burke's formulation from the 18th century that man should enter into a contract between the living, the dead and the still unborn. So we have to think several generations ahead. Think about having a planet that is also habitable for the great-grandchildren and their children. That is why support for democratically elected governments is essential, and that is why it is extremely necessary to think long-term. And it is precisely with the inclusion of this democratic element that Møller strengthens his analysis. Long-term thinking is precisely to that extent challenged by populist politicians and not least by the electorate who want to see results here and now, and that still means that they want to see their own life situation improve.
justice and immigration diminished. It is therefore the battle between the populist and the long-term that will determine the outcome of our time to such an extent.

Insightful reading

The four icebergs is a concise book with a lot at heart. It is written in a well-crafted and at times poetic, almost sensuous language. One clearly senses that the politician Per Stig Møller is also a literate. However, the book could have benefited from a slightly tighter editing. For example, it seems as if the book begins itself two to three times during the first 30 pages with some fairly uniform sections on the development of world history in rough outline. However, this does not change the fact that the work is insightful reading that can be recommended to those of us who have this world and its future in mind.

Steffen Moestrup
Steffen Moestrup
Regular contributor to MODERN TIMES, and docent at Denmark's Medie- og Journalisthøjskole.

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