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The fate devolved to the word “sol­i­dar­i­ty” these days resem­bles that to which the notion of “sec­u­lar­ism” has been subjected.

If one argues from a uni­ver­sal­ist stance based sole­ly on a col­o­niza­tion wish of good gain­ing the upper hand against evil, one eas­i­ly falls into the inquisi­to­r­i­al val­ues of supre­ma­tists for whom the non-white becomes an object of sus­pi­cion, equat­ed with the intrud­er, the invader.
In short, de fac­to racism is “excused” in the name of “com­mon val­ues”.

Thus, while an exo­dus of mil­lions of Ukraini­ans is unleashed by the bru­tal and unscrupu­lous aggres­sion car­ried out by the regime in pow­er in Rus­sia, the expressed “sol­i­dar­i­ty” can be “nat­u­ral­ly” devi­at­ed by the strong influ­ence of this supre­ma­tist ide­ol­o­gy in Europe and else­where. “Sort­ing of migrants” will con­tin­ue at the bor­ders and, as a con­se­quence, these “new migrants” “so sim­i­lar to us”, will replace the old­er ones in the greet­ing centers.

The huge sol­i­dar­i­ty express­ing itself does not go so far as to destroy the racist and xeno­pho­bic ide­ol­o­gy dic­tat­ing the clos­ing of bor­ders to migrants “from else­where” by Euro­pean lead­ers, as has been the case for years. None of these lead­ers will explain why a war vic­tim from over there, weighs more or less than anoth­er from the Mid­dle East or Afghanistan or, worse, anoth­er who is flee­ing the con­se­quences of colo­nial pil­lag­ing and cli­mate changes…In the case of Ukraini­ans, the rea­sons invoked will be “urgency” and “prox­im­i­ty”.

As far as prox­im­i­ty goes, the recent exploit­ing of migrants on the bor­der of Belarus, with the total clos­ing off of the EU along with the start of con­struc­tion of walls, inval­i­dates the argu­ment, except for dis­plac­ing it to the field of “ori­gin”. In terms of urgency, by mov­ing the cur­sor to the Mediter­ranean, one imme­di­ate­ly sees how sea res­cues done by the NGOs are delayed, incrim­i­nat­ed, obstructed.

Hail­ing the “sol­i­dar­i­ty” shown by local col­lec­tiv­i­ties, asso­ci­a­tions, indi­vid­u­als and even admin­is­tra­tions, does not mean clos­ing one’s eyes to a “dou­ble stan­dard” that changes every­thing, even if the human­is­tic urge impelling most peo­ple at the onset is devoid of such dou­ble standards.

In Calais, see­ing some­one who is a reg­u­lar pro­po­nent of the dou­ble stan­dard rush to meet the media is enough to make this clear. And if tomor­row, because this aggres­sion in Ukraine con­tin­ues, and a greater num­ber of Ukraini­ans seek refuge, wish­ing to take their chances because Eng­lish-speak­ing, will their tents get lac­er­at­ed? Who will han­dle the triage? Based on what cri­te­ria? Because visa pro­to­cols con­tin­ue to apply in Great Britain.

Mid-March, a “spe­cial sta­tus” direc­tive for “tem­po­rary pro­tec­tion” was estab­lished urgent­ly, and with good rea­son, based on exist­ing agree­ments between mem­bers, dat­ing back to 2001, yet nev­er acti­vat­ed dur­ing the peak peri­od of exo­dus by the vic­tims of the war in Syr­ia. This sta­tus gives the new arrivals the right to remain in any coun­try of the EU as well as an access to the labor mar­ket, to health care and school­ing. It is renew­able for three years. The ones request­ing it must jus­ti­fy of their “Ukrain­ian citizenship”.

A huge num­ber of these refugees are women and chil­dren. School­ing for the chil­dren is a giv­en. So is their imme­di­ate pro­vi­sion of a shel­ter. Being allowed to work in order to insure one’s sub­sis­tence is a min­i­mum. So why is this not the rule for all migrants? Why is the right to free set­tle­ment for all peo­ple vic­tim of war, per­se­cu­tions, pover­ty and des­ti­tu­tion caused by cli­mate change and the pil­lag­ing of resources, con­sid­ered foul lan­guage while chat­ter con­tin­ues unchal­lenged in TV stu­dios about the “great replacement”?

All those who pro­claim defend­ing human rights in true uni­ver­sal­i­ty, at the very oppo­site of ori­en­tal­ism, or the shar­ing of “com­mon occi­den­tal chris­t­ian val­ues” can make use of the strong and spon­ta­neous emo­tion caused by the mur­ders and exac­tions of an occu­pa­tion force sent by the Russ­ian regime, in order to explode this hypocrisy…

In French the word “sol­i­dar­i­ty” has the fol­low­ing def­i­n­i­tion: “rela­tion­ship among peo­ple cre­at­ing a moral oblig­a­tion of mutu­al assistance.” 

Both in law and in fact this prin­ci­ple is total­ly flout­ed, both through the pres­sure exert­ed by racist and xeno­pho­bic ide­olo­gies and through spe­cif­ic eco­nom­ic inter­ests linked to capitalism.

Today’s Ukrain­ian refugees may become tomorrow’s “replace­ments” of work­ers already held in con­tempt and under­paid in a racial­ized social sec­tor based on “ori­gins”.
This class-dri­ven soci­ety has always inte­grat­ed ’migra­tions’ into the poor­est social lev­els. The col­lapse of the colo­nial mod­el pro­vid­ed man­pow­er to the pow­er­ful. Wars com­plet­ed the pic­ture. Some suprema­cists con­sid­er we have reached a “break­ing point”. We’ve been hear­ing this dis­course for half a cen­tu­ry and it has great­ly pen­e­trat­ed west­ern soci­eties, to the point of spring­ing forth as “evi­dent” in the mouth of elites forged in this cap­i­tal­ist system.

Yet, fight­ing against this does not even appear to be a neces­si­ty any­more, judg­ing by the polit­i­cal joust­ing filled with “yes, but…”

And when in anoth­er aspect of “sol­i­dar­i­ty” and in the name of a cer­tain notion of “peace”, one even denies the Ukrain­ian peo­ple the right to resis­tance, we are legit­i­mate­ly enti­tled to won­der if tomor­row, there won’t be the same kind of quib­bling around the “refugees”, once the imme­di­ate joust­ing will be over.

So let’s not fall into these traps oppos­ing refugees and migrants the ones against the oth­ers, as one would oppose mis­eries and des­ti­tu­tions the bet­ter to exon­er­ate their causes.

None of these migrants car­ry a greater weight of vic­tim­hood than anoth­er. Col­or or ori­gin have noth­ing to do with it. Nor does the nature of the aggres­sor, or mat­ters of cul­tur­al and reli­gious proximities.

This impe­r­i­al war by Putin will leave no one unscathed, this mas­sive exo­dus of pop­u­la­tions will have pro­found reper­cus­sions in the com­ing years. Nation-States, always quick to “assim­i­late” will no longer be able to sat­is­fy them­selves with their nation­al nov­els woven around the names of illus­tri­ous ancestors.

More than ever, this ele­men­tary sol­i­dar­i­ty with Ukraini­ans should be an oppor­tu­ni­ty to take on the entire debate about human migra­tions, their caus­es, their dura­tion, and all the efforts they require and will require in the future.
Cap­i­tal­ist glob­al­iza­tion has man­aged to orga­nize world move­ments to its advan­tage when it comes to the cir­cu­la­tion of mer­chan­dise and the prof­itable divi­sion of labor. But we can­not rely on it to resolve the con­se­quence brought on by its own crises and wars.

At a min­i­mum, by exer­cis­ing sol­i­dar­i­ty with those dis­placed by war, it is pos­si­ble to apply con­crete pres­sures on politi­cians even on those who claim to be “left­ists”, “ecol­o­gists” or “pro­gres­sives”, in order to break through the glass ceil­ing imposed until now con­cern­ing all migrants.

Final­ly, return­ing to a sor­did Fran­co-French elec­toral debate, and know­ing how rais­ing this ques­tion will not pro­vide elec­toral­ly-mind­ed div­i­dens, except where it fol­lows the trend of the cur­rent dom­i­nant ide­ol­o­gy, one can only wish that, if brought up in these terms, it might allow for a sec­ond round of bal­lots from which the hard right would be exclud­ed, bar­ring any­thing better.

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…