SPIEGEL: But France has always been a country of immigrants. It was not until after the bloodletting of World War I that the borders were largely opened.Finkielkraut: We are constantly told that immigration is a constitutive element of the French identity. SPIEGEL: Immigration has had more of a formative influence on France than on Germany.But multiculturalism does not mean that cultures blend.Mistrust prevails, communitarianism is rampant -- parallel societies are forming that continuously distance themselves from each other.The Americans don't have this European adherence to a national uniform culture.Finkielkraut: The US sees itself as a country of immigration, and what is impressive about this truly multicultural society is the strength of its patriotism.There used to be mixed marriages, which is crucial to miscegenation. Many Muslims in Europe are re-Islamizing themselves.
They are not afraid of the others, but rather of becoming the others themselves.Alain Finkielkraut is one of France's most controversial essayists.His new book, "L'Identité Malheureuse" ("The Unhappy Identity," Éditions Stock ), has been the subject of heated debate.He was interviewed in his Parisian apartment on the Left Bank.Finkielkraut: I am pained to see that the French mode of European civilization is threatened.They are turning their backs on society because they feel excluded.Finkielkraut: If unemployment is so high, then immigration has to be more effectively controlled. But just ask the teachers in these troubled neighborhoods -- they have major difficulties teaching anything at all.Social inequality does not explain the anti-Semitism, nor the misogyny in the suburbs, nor the insult "filthy French." The left does not want to accept that there is a clash of civilizations.SPIEGEL: The anger of these young people is also stirred up by high unemployment.SPIEGEL: Aren't you giving in here to the right-wingers' fears of demise?Finkielkraut: The lower middle classes -- the French that one no longer dares to call Français de souche (ethnic French) -- are already moving out of the Parisian suburbs and farther into the countryside.