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Writing yet again about migrants, walls, barbed wire and borders – is this akin to kicking down an open door?
No, not at all, and such an oxymoron has no legitimate basis.
Mobilizations surrounding migrants, their salvaging at sea, the ceaseless work of associations that greet, provide supplies, support them, those who stand by others put on trial for doing so, nothing of this should fade into indifference or worse, none of it should be considered “marginal humanism’, shunned by politicians or instrumentalized around incidents generated for electoral purposes.
Mimmo Lucano, one time mayor of an Italian township in Calabria that was experiencing demographic and economic decline, had encouraged the greeting and the settling in of migrants in Riace in the years 2000, interpreting Italian legislation favourably as thus allowing for the re-opening of the school, of the stores, of the meeting places, revitalising the agglomeration of some 2 000 residents. He has since been sentenced to 13 years in prison for having, among other things, encouraged marriages allowing for the “regularisation” of migrants’ administrative standing. An appeal is ongoing, but the extreme right wing in Italy has gone after him, aided in this by the Italian Government. Greeting has been criminalised.
On the Spanish border, migrants were hit by a train when they turned to a train crossing to avoid police controls. In the Roya Valley and surroundings, migrants coming from Italy take to mountain roads on foot, risking their lives to do so because at existing border crossings they are pushed back systematically. French authorities there also criminalise helpers while the identitarian and xenophobia extreme right organizes well publicised illegal push-backs.
In Calais where migrants wishing to access Great Britain congregate, the so-called “Touquet Agreements” have set the border in France. Every day, people are chased out of temporary encampments. Men, women, children are treated like plague-carriers by the police and the “helpers” are subjected to daily harassment. “Window dressing “ minimal aid and “distancing” centers are there for appearances’ sake in a municipality that doesn’t hide its phobia concerning migrants. This situation, in which there is nothing new, leads to a heavy death toll for clandestine crossings of the Channel, through drownings, just as is the case in the Mediterranean.
Yet, we are very far removed from what prevailed in 2015 when migrants numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
But ever since “agreements” of non-reception were signed with countries such as Turkey, walls of barbed wire have gone up, Frontex has been reinforced while so-called “public opinion” has been raised to a fever pitch by xenophobic identitarianism, throughout Europe, on a background using Islamist terrorism as an alibi.
One cannot mention a single government of a European country that does not, in fact, apply the same policy as does Poland on matters of migration, to some extent or other. Hungary, Austria, France on its Basque, Spanish, Italian or British borders, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Italy and let us not forget Germany today, all share the same reticence and a priori jusdgments in some cases, the same State xenophobia for the others. You are welcome to sort them out into the relevant pigeonhole, if you can.
If you want an example, it is a French one, and utterly ignoring the demonstrations of support like those occurring on the Belorusian border. It is found in the following tweet by the French Minister of the Interior:
Gérald Darmanin : “We manage to control the migratory flows in a difficult geopolitical and sanitary context. We expel three times more persons in irregular situations than do the British, twice as many as the Italians and 50% more than do the Spaniards.”
Nous arrivons à maîtriser les flux migratoires dans un contexte géopolitique et sanitaire difficile.
On expulse trois fois plus de personnes en situation irrégulière que les Anglais, deux fois plus que les Italiens et 50 % de plus que les Espagnols.
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) November 21, 2021
hat a fine exercise for those who direct and organise the harassment of migrants, than to emphasise what amounts to a recognition of a failure to welcome and shelter, a failure shared by the entire range of politicians, not applying international commitments, in favour of a purely electoral tallying policy aimed at the xenophobic and identitarian segments of the French people, a segment that has always existed.
Following the latest drowning of migrants, this same minister congratulates the forces of repression rather than the associations of helpers in Calais. “Smugglers” are pointed out as the sole culprits, with associations helping the migrants targeted as helping them, while the police forces, every morning remind the migrants of the urgency of crossing in order to avoid a permanent repression.
The matter becomes a byzantine dispute between France and Great Britain, in which a policy of welcome and asylum is not mentioned, each party stroking the xenophobic section of its public opinion. And rare are the French politicians who venture into openly pronouncing the word “welcoming” preferring to switch over to branding the “smugglers” and the “causes” of exile. The identitarian pressure is such that the very notion of migration becomes that of the “Great Replacement” bugaboo; even on the left, old rancid speeches reappear from times we though reserved to the Stalinist period.
But France is not the navel of the world and migrants today are even more stigmatised, despite being a hundred times less numerous here than in the regions close to war zones, repressive regimes or where climatic changes are immediately apparent.
Without wishing to dilute anything whatsoever, Europe barricading itself and whose leaders keep their eyes glued on the thermometer of the xenophobia of their public opinions, encouraged to rise by sovereignists and identitarians, are in fact only expressing an ideology of entitlement by those eager to maintain their white privileges, regretting the good old days of the colonies, when the colonised were exploited at home, or imported solely for use as cheap labor.
Here also, worldwide capitalism contains a major contradiction. Not only does taking advantage of economic differentials through massive delocalizations lead to permanent movement of merchandises across the planet, with the threats and inner perversions carried by this system, but it also moves Capital, thus modifying slowly the profits to be accrued, as the advantages of colonialism disappear. Economic wars and wars plain and simple become symptoms of the infection, added to the disruptions caused by the predatory nature of the system. Other blocks of interests take shape.
That human beings are suffocated, reduced to fleeing this capitalist plague because of one or other of its causes is but the result of this, also at a global level. Each and every person is born and raised somewhere and no one leaves the homeland at the peril of life itself, like some tourist seeking to make more money elsewhere.
Everyone knows this. But failing all other project than that of competition, in the absence of all commonalities other than nationalisms, it becomes extremely difficult to demonstrate how the capitalist system, adulated and worked into a pervasive consciousness is the power crushing humanity, while migrations flow from it like human grain spreads, to which brotherhood is refused.
Yes but, I also speak of “causes” and project onto a glorious future a time when these problems would disappear, thanks to improbable miracles at the ballot boxes.
But, while awaiting this highly praised institutional miracle, people are dying, life projects are annihilated and we have no excuse for allowing the sea, the rivers, cold weather, trains, handle the necrophagous business, as if this were a law of nature.
There are no small struggles in favour of migrants. From denouncing situations to being active in an association, from the fight against identitarian sovereignist appeals, to the struggle in favour of decent reception procedures, ever measure is a step forward out of this brown identitarian quagmire in which we are plunged by proponents of privileges, and those who finance or protect them.
I also know that, these days, to write “freedom to circulate and settle” sounds like a flight straight over the moon – and how about mentioning “hands off the right of asylum”? That’s enough to win you an S (security) rating – despite the fact this is no longer anything other than a washed-out “universalism” from those proclaiming their high-society version of secularism and anti-racism, be it on the left or on the right.
“This Europe that never ceased talking about man, never ceased proclaiming it was concerned by nothing other than man, we know today of what sufferings humanity has paid each victory of its spirit.” (Frantz Fanon)