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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.

Thus, in brief sum­ma­ry, are some of the recent facts, with­out even men­tion­ing what is hap­pen­ing on the Belaru­sian bor­der. Con­cern­ing this sit­u­a­tion, fol­low these links.

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.”

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)

Translation from French by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…