mfioretti: xenofobia*

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  1. ’ve interviewed dozens of refugees about why they’re risking death to reach Europe. The most common answer is this: because there is no other option. Many cannot return home, or start new lives in other countries in the Middle East or north Africa. So they have nothing to lose by trying for Europe. This means that they will continue to cross the sea in leaking boats – and a few of them will continue to set up camps at Calais – until there is a safe, legal and realistic means of being relocated to Europe.

    Previous camp clearances over the past decade have ultimately not stopped the flow at Calais. Why would they work now?

    For many, the implications of this will be hard to swallow. But the reality is clear: the only logical, long-term response to the Calais crisis is to create a legal means for vast numbers of refugees to reach Europe in safety. This may sound counter-intuitive. But at the current rate, whether we like it or not, 1 million refugees will arrive on European shores within the next four or five years. Whether they set up camps at Calais depends on how orderly we make that process of resettlement.

    The prime minister thinks that sending home west African migrants will do the trick. But this so-called deterrent won’t put off most of the people at Calais. The majority of migrant arrivals to Europe in the past two years have been Syrians, Eritreans and Afghans. These are not “economic migrants” – they are people respectively fleeing civil war, oppression and religious extremism, and in some cases all three. They therefore have a legal right to seek sanctuary in Europe.

    Promising to swiftly relocate 1 million Syrian, Eritrean and Afghan refugees within a viable timeframe is the only thing that will persuade most of them to stay and wait in the transit countries of the Middle East and north Africa – instead of going by boat, or setting up shanty towns in northern France. Currently the EU has promised to relocate 22,000 Syrians and Eritreans awaiting asylum in the Middle East. But given that there are already a total of 4 million Syrian refugees, this is a tiny, token number – and will do nothing to discourage the tide of people crossing the sea through illegal means, or turning up at Calais. We need to promise to resettle a far bigger number in the long-term in order to persuade them to stay put in the short term.
    Europe could solve the migrant crisis – if it wanted
    Daniel Trilling
    Read more

    Some readers will find this idea unworkable. How could Europe handle so many migrants? But spread throughout Europe’s total population of 740 million, an additional 1 million would have a minimal social impact. It would also still be smaller than the number of refugees currently in, for example, Lebanon – where an indigenous population of 4.5 million is struggling to host a refugee population of nearly 1.2 million. Such a massive resettlement programme also has precedent. After the Vietnam war, western countries resettled 1.3 million refugees from the region. If it was achieved once, it can be achieved again.

    Large-scale resettlement is certainly a more logical response than what has been tried so far. Last October, the EU opted to suspend rescue missions in the Mediterranean, fearing that they were attracting migrants. People came anyway – in record numbers. Then the EU decided to launch military operations against Libyan smugglers. I’ve written elsewhere about how that’s doomed to failure. In any case, it’s already too late: there are now more migrants going from Turkey to Greece, than from Libya to Italy.
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  2. Nelle fredde città svedesi un terzo della popolazione non ha radici locali, ma è arrivata lì con i flussi migratori (160mila le richieste di asilo nel solo 2015) ed è di fede musulmana. Ad Angered, sobborgo nordoccidentale di Göteborg, la proporzione assume valori ancor più sbalorditivi e non si fatica a constatare che i non indigeni sono oltre il 70 per cento e da quelle parti si respira più malcontento che aria fresca.

    La fin troppo evidente carenza di alloggi e le interminabili attese per trovare un appartamento in affitto nel centro della città indirizzano chi arriva a Göteborg a trovare sistemazione ad Angered, realtà ormai difficile da sorvegliare. Quella fetta di città viene considerata addirittura fuori controllo e paragonata a Scampia o ad altre realtà urbane che la polizia considera in stato di costante emergenza.

    I rappresentanti religiosi cercano di controllare la comunità per garantire il rispetto della sharia. Le intimidazioni alle donne sono all’ordine del giorno e puntano a garantire una stretta ortodossia nell’abbigliamento e nei comportamenti. L’abbandono scolastico per gli “under 15” riguarda i due terzi dei bambini e la disoccupazione è dell’11% (valore stratosferico per gli standard svedesi).
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  3. As the negotiations with Brussels approach, it is becoming ever more clear that net immigration is unlikely to fall very much, if at all, as a consequence of Brexit. Addressing the need for extra unskilled workers in particular sectors and regions, Davis has acknowledged: “Whatever we do has to be flexible enough to meet these requirements.” In other words: expect the new system of border control to be complex, detailed, and full of exemptions – not the red, white and blue wall that the nativists crave.
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  4. The rising proportion of children born to women with foreign backgrounds did not surprise Hans Oluf Hansen, professor emeritus of demography at Copenhagen University. He pointed out that the majority of the Syrian refugees who came to Denmark in recent years are just in fertile age. Also, the newcomers tend to be much more prolific than ethnic Danes, whose fertility rate hovers at around 1.7 births per woman despite the government's perennial efforts.

    According to Poul Christian Matthiessen, population researcher and professor emeritus of demography at Copenhagen University, such developments will shape the Danish society in years to come. Matthiessen expects immigration to Europe to continue, not least from asylum seekers looking for better living conditions. Matthiessen called immigration from non-Western countries a particular challenge for Danish society, both economically and culturally.
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  5. Why did voters who by and large benefit from social democracy turn against the parties that most strongly support it?

    It’s a hard question to answer if you believe people cast their ballots principally on the basis of their perceived economic interests. European social democrats have been proposing ideas that more objectively speak to the material interests of voters, particularly in the working class, for decades. In virtually every country in Western Europe, however, it hasn’t been enough to help the parties maintain their historic levels of public support.

    Ironically, that could be because the European left is the victim of its own success. Ronald Inglehart, an eminent political scientist at the University of Michigan, argues that the combination of rapid economic growth and a robust welfare state have provided voters with enough economic security that they could start prioritizing issues beyond the distribution of wealth — issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and, most crucially, immigration.

    So it’s not that European social democrats failed to sell their economic message, or that economic redistribution became unpopular. It’s that economic issues receded in importance at the same time as Europe was experiencing a massive, unprecedented wave of nonwhite, non-Christian immigration.

    That, in turn, brought some of the most politically potent nonmaterial issues — race, identity, and nationalism — to the forefront of Western voters’ mind.

    How comfortable were they, really, with multicultural, multifaith societies?

    The traditional social democratic message didn’t really speak to these cultural anxieties. But the right’s did.

    What this suggests, then, is that a party’s stance on economics isn’t very important to right-wing populist voters. People choose to back those parties because they want someone to shut down immigration and restrict the rights of Muslims, not because of those parties’ stances on trade or welfare spending.

    Kai Arzheimer, a professor at Germany’s University of Mainz, studied data on working-class voters, the traditional base of social democratic parties, between 1980 and 2002. He found that the stronger the welfare state, the bigger the gains for far-right parties among the working class. The top third of countries — that is, the ones with the largest welfare states — saw roughly four times the rate of far-right support among the working class as the countries in the bottom third did.

    You see a similar sort of pattern inside countries. Right-wing populists typically have gotten their best results in wealthier areas of countries — that is, with voters who experience the least amounts of economic insecurity.

    It’s important to bear in mind that the rise of the far right isn’t solely, or even mostly, the result of social democratic decline. The far right has pulled in some working-class voters, but most of its supporters are petty bourgeoisie (like shopkeepers) or low-educated, fairly high-income people (like successful plumbers). Swaying these voters through economic proposals will be difficult.

    “They social democrats » shouldn’t be purely focused on winning back the voters who went to the radical right, because when push comes to shove, a significant part of that electorate is deeply nativist,” Cas Mudde, a scholar of the European far right at the University of Georgia, tells me. “They want a party that is nativist; the only way to win them back is pretty much by becoming radical right or radical right-light.”

    “What Reagan had succeeded in doing was tarnishing liberalism as a giveaway to people of color,” Ian Haney López, a professor at UC Berkeley who studies race and American politics, says. “Investment in our cities, investment in our schools, investment in social welfare programs, all of that was branded as giveaway to undeserving minorities.”

    The uncomfortable truth is that America’s lack of a European-style welfare state hurts a lot of white Americans. But a large number of white voters believe that social spending programs mostly benefit nonwhites. As such, they oppose them with far more fervor than any similar voting bloc in Europe.

    In this context, tacking to the left on economics won't give Democrats a silver bullet to use against the racial resentment powering Trump's success. It could actually wind up giving Trump an even bigger gun. If Democrats really want to stop right-wing populists like Trump, they need a strategy that blunts the true drivers of their appeal — and that means focusing on more than economics.

    The upshot is that a significant shift to the left on economic policy issues might fail to attract white Trump supporters, even in the working class. It could even plausibly hurt the Democrats politically by reminding whites just how little they want their dollars to go to “those people.” One can only imagine what Trump would tweet.
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  6. ESODI è una mappa web interattiva realizzata sulla base delle testimonianze di mille migranti dell'Africa Subsahariana raccolte in quasi tre anni (2014-2016) dagli operatori e i volontari di Medici per i Diritti Umani (Medu). Racconta nel modo più semplice e dettagliato possibile i motivi della fuga e le rotte affrontate dai migranti dall'Africa subsahariana all'Italia, le difficoltà, le violenze, le tragedie e le speranze attraverso le voci e le informazioni dei protagonisti. E' rivolta a tutti coloro che vogliono comprendere e approfondire la vicenda umana che più sta segnando il nostro tempo. In questo senso ESODI è allo stesso tempo una mappa con le tappe e i percorsi, un report con i dati e le statistiche ma soprattutto una testimonianza con le storie di vita. E'un mappa web dinamica e in progress che si arricchirà periodicamente di nuove testimonianze raccolte da tutti coloro che vorranno raccontare la storia del loro viaggio. Le informazioni sono state raccolte in particolar modo in Sicilia, nei centri di accoglienza straordinaria (CAS) di Ragusa e nel Centro di accoglienza per richiedenti asilo (CARA) di Mineo (260 testimonianze approfondite), e a Roma nei luoghi informali di accoglienza (686 schede socio-anagrafiche e 52 testimonianze approfondite). Testimonianze sono state raccolte anche a Ventimiglia (14 testimonianze approfondite) e in Egitto, ad Aswan e al Cairo (40 testimonianze approfondite). In tutti questi luoghi Medu opera portando supporto socio-sanitario ai migranti, prima assistenza medica, servizi di riabilitazione medico-psicologica per le vittime di tortura e trattamenti inumani e degradanti. Esodi racconta anche le conseguenze del viaggio sulla salute fisica e mentale di un'intera generazione di giovani africani; un viaggio in cui, come ha detto un testimone, "non sei più un essere umano".
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  7. in strong contrast to the Scottish ‘Yes’ movement – Brexit was not fuelled by hope for a different future. On the contrary, many Leavers believed that withdrawing from the EU wouldn’t really change things one way or the other, but they still wanted to do it. I’ve long suspected that, on some unconscious level, things could be even stranger than this: the self-harm inflicted by Brexit could potentially be part of its appeal. It is now being reported that many Leave voters are aghast at what they’ve done, as if they never really intended for their actions to yield results.

    This taps into a much broader cultural and political malaise, that also appears to be driving the rise of Donald Trump in the US. Amongst people who have utterly given up on the future, political movements don’t need to promise any desirable and realistic change. If anything, they are more comforting and trustworthy if predicated on the notion that the future is beyond rescue, for that chimes more closely with people’s private experiences. The discovery of the ‘Case Deaton effect’ in the US (unexpected rising mortality rates amongst white working classes) is linked to rising alcohol and opiate abuse and to rising suicide rates. It has also been shown to correlate closely to geographic areas with the greatest support for Trump. I don’t know of any direct equivalent to this in the UK, but it seems clear that – beyond the rhetoric of ‘Great Britain’ and ‘democracy’ – Brexit was never really articulated as a viable policy, and only ever as a destructive urge, which some no doubt now feel guilty for giving way to.

    Thatcher and Reagan rode to power by promising a brighter future, which never quite materialised other than for a minority with access to elite education and capital assets. The contemporary populist promise to make Britain or American ‘great again’ is not made in the same way. It is not a pledge or a policy platform; it’s not to be measured in terms of results. When made by the likes of Boris Johnson, it’s not even clear if it’s meant seriously or not. It’s more an offer of a collective real-time halucination, that can be indulged in like a video game.

    The Remain campaign continued to rely on forecasts, warnings and predictions, in the hope that eventually people would be dissuaded from ‘risking it’. But to those that have given up on the future already, this is all just more political rhetoric. In any case, the entire practice of modelling the future in terms of ‘risk’ has lost credibility, as evidenced by the now terminal decline of opinion polling as a tool for political control.

    One of the complaints made most frequently by liberal commentators, economists and media pundits was that the referendum campaign was being conducted without regard to ‘truth’. This isn’t quite right. It was conducted without adequate regard to facts. To the great frustration of the Remain campaign, their ‘facts’ never cut through, whereas Leave’s ‘facts’ (most famously the £350m/week price tag of EU membership) were widely accepted.

    What is a ‘fact’ exactly? In her book A History of the Modern Fact, Mary Poovey argues that a new way of organising and perceiving the world came into existence at the end of the 15th century with the invention of double-entry book-keeping. This new style of knowledge is that of facts, representations that seem both context-independent, but also magically slot seamlessly into multiple contexts as and when they are needed. The basis for this magic is that measures and methodologies (such as accounting techniques) become standardised, but then treated as apolitical, thereby allowing numbers to move around freely in public discourse without difficulty or challenge. In order for this to work, the infrastructure that produces ‘facts’ needs careful policing, ideally through centralisation in the hands of statistics agencies or elite universities (the rise of commercial polling in the 1930s was already a challenge to the authority of ‘facts’ in this respect).

    This game has probably been up for some time. As soon as media outlets start making a big deal about the FACTS of a situation, for instance with ‘Fact check’ bulletins, it is clear that numbers have already become politicised. ‘Facts’ (such as statistics) survived as an authoritative basis for public and democratic deliberation for most of the 200 years following the French Revolution. But the politicisation of social sciences, metrics and policy administration mean that the ‘facts’ produced by official statistical agencies must now compete with other conflicting ‘facts’. The deconstruction of ‘facts’ has been partly pushed by varieties of postmodern theory since the 1960s, but it is also an inevitable effect of the attempt (beloved by New Labour) to turn policy into a purely scientific exercise.

    The attempt to reduce politics to a utilitarian science (most often, to neo-classical economics) eventually backfires, once the science in question then starts to become politicised.
    Tags: , , , , , by M. Fioretti (2016-06-27)
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  8. abbiamo permesso a noi stessi di dimenticare perché stiamo costruendo un’Europa unita.

    L’Europa fa molte cose. Produce standard, per esempio, come GSM per i telefoni cellulari. Gli standard sono utili. Permettono innovazione e crescita, e riducono il rischio di impresa. Ma non sono un fine in sé. Sono solo il mezzo per costruire il mercato unico europeo. E il mercato unico stesso è solo un mezzo. Il suo fine è prevenire le guerre in Europa.

    Il fine dell’Europa è la pace. Ci sono state molte iniziative di pace nel corso della storia, ma l’Unione Europea è progettata in modo da essere irreversibile.

    Nel corso dei decenni, le istituzioni europee hanno permesso a noi, i cittadini, di costruire una fitta rete di rapporti che ci unisce. All’inizio abbiamo fatto commercio internazionale. Poi integrato i sistemi educativi (diplomi e lauree riconosciuti in tutta Europa; Erasmus); poi partenariati negli affari; poi migliaia e migliaia di amicizie e matrimoni. Gli “altri” sono diventati i nostri clienti, partner, amici, famiglia. La guerra è diventata impossibile, impensabile.
    La vision appannata dell’Unione Europea

    Questa visione del mondo non si ferma ai confini dell’Unione. Pace e prosperità attraverso il commercio sono il cardine anche della nostra politica estera. Ai paesi con cui confiniamo questo piace, e quindi vogliono entrare nel club. E noi li abbiamo fatti entrare.

    Un continente pacifico dove muoversi liberamente è il nostro dono al mondo. Ci rende unici; fonda la nostra identità. Con i loro discorsi di spezzettamenti e limitazioni, i politici in Gran Bretagna e altrove possono guadagnare un po’ di visibilità mediatica, e forse consensi a breve termine. Ma si stanno giocando l’anima. E non la loro: la nostra.
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  9. noi invecchiamo in misura maggiore che altrove non solo per la caduta dei tassi di natalità e per l'aumento della mortalità, ma perché l'emigrazione colpisce anche noi. Sono partiti dall'Italia quasi 95mila italiani nel 2013 (secondo il Rapporto della Fondazione Migrantes), poco meno di 80mila nell'anno precedente. Molti più degli stranieri arrivati in questi anni. Si tratta, soprattutto, di giovani (fra 18 e 34 anni). In possesso di titolo di studio elevato. I nostri giovani, i nostri figli. Soprattutto se dispongono di un grado di istruzione elevato. E ambiscono a occupazioni adeguate. Se ne vanno. Praticamente tutti. Perché l'Italia non riesce a trattenerli. A offrire loro opportunità qualificanti. Così invecchiamo sempre di più. E ci sentiamo sempre più soli. Anche se ci illudiamo di restare giovani sempre più a lungo. Per sempre giovani. Basti pensare che (secondo un sondaggio dell'Osservatorio Europeo sulla Sicurezza, curato da Demos-Oss. Pavia e Fondazione Unipolis, di prossima pubblicazione) il 19% degli italiani pensa che la giovinezza possa durare anche oltre i 60 anni. Il 45% che finisca tra 50 e 60 anni.

    Io, che, a 63 anni compiuti, mi considero (almeno) anziano, senza rimpianti e, anzi, con una certa soddisfazione, per aver conquistato il "privilegio" di una maturità avanzata, mi devo rassegnare. Alla condanna di non invecchiare. O meglio (peggio...), di non diventare adulto. Una minaccia che, come hanno rammentato di recente Ezio Mauro (su Repubblica) e Gustavo Zagrebelsky (in un saggio pubblicato da Einaudi), incombe su di noi. In particolare, sugli italiani. Abitanti di un Paese che non c'è. In un tempo che non c'è. Per questo dovremmo fare appello alla demografia. Leggerne le indicazioni e gli ammonimenti. Ma per non estinguerci, per non finire ai margini, dovremmo
    davvero chiudere le frontiere. Verso Nord. Per impedire agli immigrati - come ai nostri giovani - di andarsene altrove. E di lasciarci "a casa nostra"
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  10. In a long article, Charlie Stross breaks down the way that climate change, human reactions to climate change, and economics are turning the world into a place overrun by heavily armed racist kooks with the power and willingness to destroy everything in their race to get rich enough to buy a mountaintop retreat before the seas rise.

    A good parallel read is Bruce Sterling's "general health-check for our world's many regions and peoples," which includes such nuggets as "Iraq remains a catastrophic mess. Since they're so visibly keen on sectarian ethnic-cleansing, they ought to abandon the shell of the national order and form balkanized mini-states. It makes sense, but I don't think even that would help them."

    Oh, and "Russia is so lastingly humiliated by their failure to globalize that they've become a 'troll state... Americans used to have all kinds of practical "reform" advice for Russia, but that's worse than useless now. If you show up in Russia and tell 'em to follow the American Dream, it's like showing up with whooping cough at a house party for tuberculosis."

    Restricting transnational mobility for the proles/serfs/99.9% is part of the program and plays well to the nativist strand in climate change politics, which is why unless you've got a few million burning a hole in your back pocket you'll find it really difficult to legally immigrate into the UK or USA or other top-tier countries from outside the developed world. And why all our corporate-owned media (that is, 95% of them: Reddit is owned by Conde Nast, The Times and Fox News and 90% of the newspapers in Australia are owned by Rupert Murdoch, and so on) are banging the drum against immigration, at the behest of their (investor visa equipped) owners.

    But anyway, here's my summary of the next decade:

    1. The weather's going to get worse.

    2. We're going to see more and more unscrupulous huckster types leading revanchist, nativist right wing political movements and banging the anti-immigrant drum, world-wide. Civil rights include the right to free movement; this makes civil rights an easy scapegoat and target for the angry populist nativists. Sensible media capitalists (those with a sense of self-preservation) will pander to these assclowns. Courageous media capitalists (those with the odd ethical bone in their body) will stand up to them and get themselves assassinated or imprisoned. Luckily we have the internet except, oops, Facebook owns it and FB will do whatever they're told. (And if not Facebook, Google. The internet is infrastructure, and if annoying dissidents are drinking from the pure tapwater of honest news and you own the pumping station ...)

    3. This is going to happen both in nominally/formerly Christian countries and in the Muslim world. Both sides will see each other in a mirror and hiss like cats, but it doesn't really signify anything. Fear of terrorism is a rallying point, so expect unscrupulous politicians to use crack-downs on their local minorities to bolster their popularity. This will of course include crack-downs on civil rights because nothing annoys a political entrepreneur trying to posture as a strong leader like a civil rights lawyer with a good case.

    4. The ongoing 1300-year Sunni/Shi'ite cold war will continue, sometimes hotter, thanks to climate-induced disruption in the Middle East and the eventual collapse of the Saudi petrochemical economy. The ongoing Saudi succession crisis isn't going to help (as we just saw).

    6 None of this political posturing is going to do jack shit to roll back the already-in-train effects of climate change so the immigration pressure will continue, driving trends (2) and (3).

    7. Don't buy long term coal or oil futures.
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