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+1 vote
What with the rising number of refugees fleeing to Europe to escape their home countries, some are saying that Europe is in the middle of a crisis and needs to do what they can to limit the amount of immigrants coming into their countries.

What are you guys' reaction to this? And, hypothetically, if a large amount of people were migrating from what they feel are "poorly-kept" communities into a certain number of other "higher quality" communities and are beginning to overcrowd them, what do you feel would be a good solution to that?

2 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer
I agree with dot that this is in some ways not really a question anarchists can answer without getting into the world of imagining if we had state power (and thus were not anarchists...), I do however find this question to be a timely way to explore some basic ideas I think are important to suss out about anarchism/anarchists (especially for a 101 site).

As an anarchist, I view borders and nations as arbitrary and artificially created concepts that have been imposed upon people and places as a means of control and exploitation. I oppose them, and I oppose state implemented means of restricting the migration patterns of various beings. this includes refugees from Syria, Libya and Iraq being prevented from crossing borders, this also includes salmon being prevented from returning to their spawning grounds by dams, or highways that have cut across the grazing paths of dear, the hunting grounds of wolves, etc.

I also recognize that it would be somewhat ridiculous for a white person in North America (whose family came from Scandinavia/the Baltics, the British Isles, and probably other parts of Western Europe) to wax anti-immigrant. Further, it is sort of silly for me to pretend that I have any sense of what should be done in a place I've never lived and only briefly visited (Europe).

I do think that there are things anarchists can do to show solidarity with immigrants and refugees, especially considering the current climate of protectionism, racism and proto-fascism which we find ourselves in. dot mentioned the work Greek anarchists have done in solidarity with migrant communities (comrades in Greece have a history of showing strong solidarity for migrant communities going back at least a few years to when there were racist attacks on Bulgarian migrants).

In France anarchists (among others) helped to fight against the forced eviction of the massive migrant encampment outside Calais. On the other side of the chunnel, a large and violent anti-fa showing (which most likely included at least some anarchists) confronted the National Front and the cops in a violent street fight.

Here in the Pacific Northwest U.S. anarchists have worked with undocumented people in their struggles against Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), including providing support to the families of detainees at ICE facilities awaiting deportation hearings, and staging noise demos outside these facilities to let the folks inside know that there are people who care about them and that they are not forgotten.

As far as the part of the question about "poorly-kept communities" versus "higher quality communities," I expect any anarchist worth their salt is going to have problems with the idea that we should keep people out of certain areas. This sort of NIMBYism often boils down to racism, and when it doesn't, it is probably classism. In the city I live in, there are some well-to-do neighborhoods that are having this very discussion, but not about migrants (not specifically), but about homeless individuals. They fear the crime, the drugs and the squalor that they imagine goes along with increased numbers of homeless, and in at least two parts of town communities are banding together to hire private security on top of the police. We see increased security cameras and surveillance, sweeps of areas where homeless people live (the idea that because one doesn't pay rent or have a brick and mortar home that they don't have any home is also a problem, but not one I'm delving into here). To this, I don't know what to do. I think about it, I talk about it, but I have no answers.

Some other folks do projects like Food Not Bombs and Homes Not Jails to try to address these things, those sorts of direct action activist projects sometimes help in dealing with immediate needs, but it doesn't change the attitudes of people who believe they are somehow better than people with less material wealth, people from other places, who speak or look different. Then again, neither does throwing bricks at fascists (btw, either can be fun, and just because it doesn't address systemic stuff doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile).
by (22.1k points)
edited by
ingrate, i would hope that throwing bricks at fascists would somehow have strategic value?! :-(

rs666- I think it can have strategic value, but I don't think it necessarily impacts the systemic forces at play in talking about fascism and proto-fascism, as they present now. I would argue that when an openly fascist group like the UK's National Front openly organizes anti-immigrant rallies that a strong and confrontational showing of anti-fascists willing to fight/attack can help to create a spectacular and appealing identity for folks who are looking for such (the black blocs in Seattle '99 or during Occupy did the same thing - by far the most lasting and deepest effect wasn't the windows smashed or cops assaulted, it was the shattering of the myth that transgression of that sort is not possible or desirable. Kids saw pissed off folks in black smashing shit, and were like, "fuck yeah!" and got stoked on trying to break things. Some of them jumped in deeper.

Ultimately, there is a problem with using the romanticization/ spectacularization of insurrecto-politics... My experience of the way this cycles is that anarchy kinda becomes like the locker room before a high school wrestling meet - lots of folks pumped up about how ultra they are. I am all for all the people breaking all the windows, but there is a one upsmanship that starts to happen that I find personally troubling and often alienating (even while I am easily prey to it).

Ultimately, you can be the best, most accurate brick thrower in the world, and you can throw more bricks at more fascist faces than anyone who has come before; there will still be fascists.

Should those who want to fight fascists in the street not do so because it might not change that fascism exists? Certainly not. I just hope that when we meet to do so we don't lose sight of the reality that many of the real underlying causes of fascist sympathy lay deeper than a brick or twenty can dislodege.

Alternately, we could organize more effectively... if we started coming up with lists of fascists, their friends, their sympathizers, those who know them, and started keeping close tabs, perhaps detaining some and liquidating the most unreformable or those from the sections of society and political formations most likely to harbor bad or incorrect thoughts...

your thinking on this subject is pretty much the exact same as mine: It sounds cool, and generally destructive chaotic behavior can feel REALLY good, but i really hate the macho thinking that comes along with it sometimes, and as you noted in the last paragraph, getting ultra-strategic about violent hatred has a very dystopian feel about it, so if your looking for strategy, it's generally best not to get involved in that kind of crap...sometimes i get irritated with anarchists writing about these kinds of things for this reason, but then again, there's a time and a place for everything...

this is why i play videogames, lol

edit: i did want to add that i haven't had a problem with the violence-towards-fascists thing because the strategic good ultimately boils down to intimidation, which is actually something that people use much more often than they like to admit in general. I consider "discipline" in the sense that parents do that to their children just to be intimidation.

Have you read any of the stuff about the shit that went down in Phoenix a few years back? Anarchists and indigenous folks banded together to militantly confront (and intimidate) neo-nazis. It might be of interest.

Doug Gilbert wrote a bit about it in his book I Saw Fire that LBC put out, there was also stuff out on Anews at the time (2011? I don't remember). Phoenix Class War (the anti-civ class warriors!?!) was one of the players that I think put out both call-outs and report-backs.

Again though, hindsight and properly written reports can serve to color the memories or interpretations of things like this, and I wasn't there, so I can't speak to veracity.

ill check it out right now, i was gonna buy i saw fire  from them at one point but didn't for whatever thing was going on in my head;-)

just watched a youtube video about that, pretty typical crap, news anchor/cops/neo-nazis repeats "PEACEFULLY interrupted....PEACEFUL PEACEFUL PEACEFUL" while the anarchists/concerned citizens got fucking pepper sprayed, so creepy the relationship between cops and nazis, i don't even pretend to understand them
0 votes

the question you pose is one of state-craft, and hence not one that many anarchists would find it useful to address (if anarchists were in positions to do something about the refugees, then they'd be in a position to do something about the things that are causing the refugees to leave their homes, which would be addressing more of the root problem. --edit: but not enough at the root to be anarchist--which is to say that anarchists are attempting to get at the root of many social problems, including the ones causing so much  misery to these (and other) immigrants, and that we don't believe that the reform of working with (or as) the state, is a long term solution.) they'd also be part of the state, and so we'd have to stop calling them anarchists).

for the situation on the ground(s), you could check out the refugee squats that anarchists are doing/helping in greece (as one example of an anarchist response to the situation).

by (53.1k points)
edited by