The New Europeans

A Roadmap for Mutual Integration and Democratic Ownership

by Gerard Kester (Author)
©2022 Monographs 206 Pages


Europe has to come to terms with its increasing cultural diversity. In current debate migration is typically presented merely as a social burden. This book envisions a future in which ‘native’ Europeans and those with a migrant background – together the New Europeans – come to the conclusion that they should build a new society jointly.
An inclusive European society can be generated by launching a common project as an alternative to neoliberalism, developing an economy that is at the service of society. For this, democratic ownership should be the lever. In that process, migrants will be important and resilient catalysts. The book sets out a roadmap for what the future could look like, presenting a vision of Europe at the end of the 21st century as a ‘real Utopia’.
This book bucks the trend of depressing accounts on migration from outside Europe. It offers a promissory narrative for the continent’s long-term future. Drawing on political, sociological, economic and philosophical insights, the author sticks his neck out, provokes perhaps, but always with the invitation for a constructive dialogue.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • A Word on Terminology
  • Outline of the Book
  • Part I Europe Under a Smokescreen of Progress
  • Introduction
  • Outline of Part I
  • Chapter 1. Europe in Search of a Vision
  • Utopia Time
  • The Europe Project
  • Initial Developments
  • Stateless Currency
  • A Europe Illusion?
  • Growing Apart Instead of Together
  • The Need for a Vision
  • Chapter 2. The Illusions of Neoliberalism
  • The Equality Illusion
  • Piketty’s Theory on Why the Rich Get Richer
  • The Acceptance of Inequality: The Paradox and the Resentment
  • The Freedom Illusion
  • Surrender to the Market
  • Privacy Abandoned
  • Freedom of Opinion in the Digital Age
  • The Solidarity Illusion
  • Gemeinschaft vs Gesellschaft
  • The Erosion of the European Social Model
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 3. The Democracy Disillusionment
  • A Democracy Explosion
  • Democracy in the Economy
  • Democracy in the Economy Kidnapped
  • The Employers’ Revolution
  • Stolen Democracy at the Workplace
  • Labour Subjected to the Market
  • Trade Unions and the Democracy Deficit
  • A Society Without Direction
  • Citizens Reduced to ‘Sovereigns for One Day’
  • Part II The Challenge of Migration from Outside Europe
  • Introduction
  • Outline of Part II
  • A Note on Definitions
  • Chapter 4. Migration From and Towards Europe
  • Migration Away From Europe
  • A Migration Museum That Turns Fear into Hope
  • Post-Conquest Mass Migration
  • Every Emigrant Is Also an Immigrant
  • Migration into Europe
  • Migration Since the Second World War
  • Migration Cannot Be Stopped
  • Europe’s Policies on External Borders
  • Beyond Europe’s Borders
  • Reception and Identification Centres
  • UN and EU Migration Pacts
  • Migration Prognoses
  • Chapter 5. The Integration Puzzle: Progressive Mutual Exclusion
  • The Integration Challenge
  • Multiculturalism Versus Assimilation
  • Feelings of Superiority Despite Compassion
  • Tensions on the Labour Market
  • Targeting the Muslims
  • Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan
  • Islamophobia
  • Worlds of Difference
  • Entering the Political Arena
  • Progressive Mutual Exclusion
  • Chapter 6. Building Bridges: Lessons from the Past
  • Al-Andalus: ‘Paradise of Tolerance’
  • Myth and Reality in Inter-Religious Tolerance
  • The Reconquista
  • The Ottoman Empire: Self-Governing Religious Communities
  • Liberal Tolerance
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina: Peace and War
  • Shifting Statehoods
  • Civil War
  • Assessment: The Art of Building Bridges
  • Part III Stepping into the Future Social Europe
  • Introduction
  • Outline of Part III
  • Chapter 7. Progressive Mutual Inclusion
  • Western Arrogance, Eastern Wars
  • Planting Bombs, Harvesting Hatred
  • A War on Culture
  • Re-evaluating the ‘Glorious Past’
  • Two-Way Integration
  • Towards an Open Society
  • Who Is Afraid of Islam?
  • The Forward March of Time
  • Hidden Common Ground
  • Education
  • Assessment: The Need for a Common Frame of Reference
  • Chapter 8. The Enlightenment Revisited
  • The Enlightenment: An Appraisal
  • The Betrayal of Enlightenment Ideals
  • Western Enlightenment as Model for the World?
  • Enlightenment and Religion
  • Religions Unite and Divide
  • Mutual Inclusion
  • Europe as a Laboratory of Inclusion
  • Assessment: Three Anchors: Freedom, Equality, and Solidarity
  • Chapter 9. Democratic Ownership
  • New Avenues for Democracy
  • Social Europe
  • Democratic Ownership
  • Theoretical Foundations of Democratic Ownership
  • Democratic Participation: A Universal Ambition
  • Africa: A Source of Inspiration
  • Economic Democracy as Development Strategy: The African Experience
  • Ambitions for Economic Democracy in Spite of Dashed Hopes
  • Developing Democratic Ownership
  • Reformism
  • The Spearhead Role of Self-Managed Firms
  • From Shareholders to Stakeholders
  • Creating the Conditions for Democratic Ownership
  • A Wake-up Call for Civil Society
  • Chapter 10. The New Europeans: Base for a True European Federation
  • Past and Present Developments: The Current State of European Affairs
  • ‘Coup de Nature’
  • Future and Prospective Developments: A Utopian Roadmap
  • The European Spring
  • The First Full European Citizens
  • The Breakthrough of the New Europeans
  • A New Renaissance
  • The Final Steps
  • The European Constitution
  • Referenda Towards the Federation
  • Farewell to Monarchy
  • The Federal Republic of Europe
  • A Social Europe
  • References
  • Series index

←14 | 15→


Books are the result of a collective effort. Along the road of writing, colleagues, friends, and family come into play sooner or later, with constructive remarks, encouragement, advice, and good ideas.

Niki Best, freelancer at Clermont Ferrand in France, went very attentively through various drafts from the beginning. Later, I benefited of the comments of Georgios Trantas (Centre for Intercultural Communication, Stavanger), Godfrey Baldacchino (University of Malta), Torsten Geelan (University of Copenhagen), Michael Gold (Royal Holloway, University of London), Akua Britwum (University of Cape Coast, Ghana), Darcy Dutoit (University of West Cape, South Africa), and Vera Vratusha (University of Belgrade). I also benefitted of the many constructive comments made by anonymous peer reviewers. I thank them all.

Special thanks go to my dearest friend, the late Henri Pinaud (University of Paris); I was not spared the criticism, which he always presented constructively, of his sharp mind.

All these resources exhausted, I passed my manuscript to wordsmith Hannah Austin, whose editing skills made my text not only understandable but also elegant and more pertinent.

As this book envisages the future, I also solicited the support of my studying grandchildren, Maite and Charlotte, taking them along to academic conferences on the future, in Warsaw, Lille and Amsterdam, and sending them drafts. They surprised me with many pertinent suggestions.

Most of all, I thank my dearest Sonja. With her down-to-earth wisdom she remains my best critic. And her generosity allowed me to withdraw for longer periods of time to write in paradise-like environments in Buenos Aires.

←15 | 16→

None of the persons mentioned above are an accomplice to the weaknesses in this book, for which I take full responsibility.

Leusden, the Netherlands

October 2021

←16 | 17→


As a researcher and policy consultant in an international academic institution (the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague), I have behind me a life of studies of socioeconomic development in many parts of the world – mainly Asia, Africa and Europe – specialising in democratising labour relations and the economy in general. Criss-crossing the world, I became sort of a nomad, taking up numerous shorter and longer residencies, always on the move. I had to adjust to many ways of life, and my colleagues and friends to mine. I learned that people from different cultures can work together in mutual understanding and respect.

Upon retirement, my grandchildren encouraged me to braid the strands of my personal experience into a story. At their insistence (and with some reluctance), I wrote a memoir. To tell the truth, though, I found writing about my own history to be somewhat boring . The further I progressed through my memoir, the more I wanted to look forwards instead of backwards. As soon as I finished that book, I decided to write another one applying my life experience to the future of Europe – a sort of preview of times ahead. That is the book you now hold in your hands.

This book aims to offer a new, positive way of thinking about Europe and a long-term vision for a continent that is currently in a downward circle of fragmentation and prejudice. It advocates positive responses to three paramount challenges: integration of migrants from outside Europe on equal terms, democratisation of the economy, and unification of Europe.

Such a book demands a comprehensive view, and is therefore broad and idiosyncratic in its use of sources, which span several disciplines: philosophy, political economy, migration studies, human rights, policy studies, sociology, and labour relations. I admit I am not an expert in all these fields, so I make ample reference to seasoned writers of works I consider pertinent for the themes I address, including Thomas Piketty on ←17 | 18→the economics of inequality, Pierre Rosanvallon on the present democracy deficit, Ulrike Guérot on the future of the European Union, Amine Maalouf on multicultural citizenship, Herfried and Marina Münkler on migration and integration, Steven Pinker on the Enlightenment, Alain Badiou and Marcel Gauchet on democracy in the economy, and Pankaj Mishra on us arrogant Europeans.

As a personal exploration, however, the book also expresses my concerns, hopes, empathy, criticisms, doubts, irritations, and even anger. In other words, it is not a traditionally academic title. I resist the confines of dry academic writing, and add a personal touch. In the text, as well as in personal intermezzos, I take the reader along in my search for information, exploration of literature, and visits to places like the Balkans, Al-Andalus in Southern Spain, and various museums. I also make use of non-academic sources, including magazines – particularly the Dutch weekly De Groene Amsterdammer, which provides comprehensive and well-informed coverage of migration and integration.

This book is meant as a positive narrative for young people, students, and activists; for both ‘native’ Europeans and Europeans with a migration background. It is also intended to be an inspirational reference for policy makers, including civil society, enterprise bosses, and political leaders at national and international levels, particularly in EU institutions.

Most forecasts of Europe’s future are negative, cynical, and fail to consider the potential positive impact of migration, in particular. This book seeks to fill that gap. It argues that migrants will become an increasingly important section of the European population – they will have to live with us, and we with them. We must therefore build a mutually inclusive society together; one that accepts and celebrates diversity, connects cultures, and seeks common grounds and a shared feeling of belonging, defeating the ‘clash of civilisations’.

Ultimately, then, this book is an invitation to a positive debate on Europe’s future. I am aware that, when exploring the state of European society in times to come, impressionistic and tentative inferences or assessments cannot be avoided and that these may give rise to controversy. I stick my neck out, without claiming to have the right answers. My ambition is to offer a beacon of hope, encouraging the reader to think differently and providing a lens through which to imagine a brighter future; one in which Europe becomes a ‘real Utopia’. Is this not a future worth fighting for?

←18 | 19→


While the start of the 21st century has certainly not been short of debates about Europe, they have largely focused on quick fixes for its perceived problems – or on abandoning the union altogether – and have lacked a long-term vision. Public and political debate about refugee migration and the European Union present a gloomy picture of both, and focus on the current situation to the detriment of offering a long-term vision for a brighter future. National borders and reducing immigration, have been emphasised at the expense of Europe’s real problems: growing inequality, population decreases, an increasing inability to bring the economy under democratic control, and internal divisions. This book extends an invitation to think positively about Europe and offers a vision for the continent’s long-term future; one in which younger generations of native Europeans and those with a migration background – the New Europeans – will play a central role.

The first theme of the book is that Europe has to come to terms with its growing cultural diversity; otherwise, parallel communities will entrench themselves and, when major conflicts arise, barbarism will be waiting around the corner – as Europe has experienced too many times. The liberal-democratic model has to face the coexistence that characterises Europe’s new social order, not by trying to mould migrants from outside Europe into Western culture but by accepting, and welcoming, their diverse cultures. Migrants are often not respected as equals in Europe, yet vital to the continent’s future. In most discussions, migrants are typically presented merely as social burdens, or as marginal or passive actors, rather than as architects in their own fortune and that of a future progressive society more broadly. Contemporary debates on migration are missing two crucial components: a long-term vision and a positive narrative. It is these lacunae that this book attempts to fill. Once the undeniable presence of people from different cultures and religions in Europe is accepted – with or without enthusiasm – the next logical ←19 | 20→step will be finding the best formula for how to live together. The challenge is to endorse a society in which different cultures live side by side, peacefully, on equal footing and in mutual respect and in community. Migration can be a long-term enrichment (culturally, economically and socially) rather than a short-term burden. Migrants can play an active role in bringing about this future society – one in which they may even act as a catalyst.

This leads to a second major theme of the book: finding an alternative to neoliberalism, in the context of European unification. It will be argued that present neoliberalism suffers from illusions of equality, freedom, solidarity and democracy, when in fact it is characterised by growing inequality, fake freedom, the breakdown of social security systems and ineffective democracy. This book proposes how, in the long run, Europeans and those with a migration background can share a new vision of society and can work together to launch a common project: building an alternative to neoliberalism, the common enemy of many, and developing an economy that is at the service of society – not the other way around – respecting the environment and the Earth’s resources. Democratic ownership can be the lever: exert effective democratic influence over decisions affecting citizens in their workplace, community, region, and country, as well as getting democratic grip on grand economic and financial decision-making, and building a more effective and meaningful European cooperation. This will trigger an élan for a new Europe with the values of freedom, equality and solidarity at its core.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (March)
Bruxelles, Berlin, Bern, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 206 pp.

Biographical notes

Gerard Kester (Author)

Gerard Kester is emeritus associate professor of social sciences at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. He was a director of international research, education and policy advice programmes on democratic labour relations – in Europe, Asia and Africa. In particular, he worked with universities and labour organisations in France, Malta, Yugoslavia, India, Ghana, Guinée, Mali, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Argentina. He is the author/ co-author of 14 books, and numerous chapters in collective volumes.


Title: The New Europeans