Being asked on FB, why there is so much talk about ‘refugees’, when only a part of the migrants are (indirectly) fleeing the war in Syria, I’ve posted the following spontaneous comment after my (spontaneous as well) experiences with ‘the wave’ (of migrants) on the island of Lesbos, in Greece:
YES, there are Syrian refugees too, of course! I can’t estimate it, but maybe 30-40% of them, maybe 50% – it depends… Still, i’d estimate a 50% from other countries. As I’ve said in an earlier posting: This is NOT about refugees from Syria only. It is not about economical refugees only. It is this as well, BUT IT IS MUCH MORE THAN THIS.
Seeing the constant, apparently endless mass of people arriving from the East in the camps that I’ve seen so far (Croatia, Serbia, Greece) and departing westwards, I’d simply say that it is PEOPLE’S MIGRATION, like in what we name late antiquity, early middle ages
Waiting for the ferry to Athens (or Kavala) at the terminal in Mythilini, Lesbos/GR
As a consequence of all this, one may approach the issue from two opposite directions and ask two ‘opposing questions:
1. WHY RIGHT NOW? Possible answer: Apart from the wars in the region (traditionally fueled, influenced by Western countries as well), some emerging powers with imperial background (RUSSIA, TURKEY) are testing their new force against the WEST. In a worst case scenario, these powers (and some others, whoever it be) have made an alliance to simply, thorrowly and ‘sustainably’ F_CK THE WEST (they wouldn’t do it for the first time!) and put an end to its hegemony.
It might be as simple as that. These countries and their authoritarian, yet informed and intelligent rulers feel/know that the demographic and economic future is theirs, there is enough collective frustration in their societies with the Western hypocrisy and colonialist, arrogant, exploitative, partly criminal politics – so now they might have said: WE will make the agenda of the FUTURE, not only ‘THEM’ (the Westerners) anymore. So, let’s just do what the West has done with us in the past (wrapped in narrations about liberty, ‘democracy’, human rights which generally went hand in hand with practices of war and resource exploitation): DISRUPT ‘THEIR’ CULTURE, SOCIETY, WAY OF LIFE.
The West is dominating know-how, technology, the international institutions, communication networks, the money system, the industrial standards and even ‘rules’ outer space, but the East has the demography. Not very much more than that – but it might be enough for a sustained, generalised revolt against ‘us’. And since human life is extremely cheap in the East, ‘they’ can afford to invest much of it in the rebellion against ‘us’, to make it last and finally somehow change the unfair game that we are playing in the still Western dominated globalised society… So, from ‘their’ point of view, let’s fight Western technological power with Eastern demographical power and see who’ll win the battle.
The opposite approach:
2. WHY NOT MUCH EARLIER? Actually, for years and even decades there has been intense migration around here, since the WEST has been for many, many decades a place of big economic appeal, etc. So, it is almost a wonder that this mass migration did not start much earlier.
Possible answer: There weren’t enough factors in the past to trigger what we see now – but in present days the ‘constellation’ is just right: More and more failed states and less and less hope in those areas for tens of millions of (many young) people, better communications, internet, GPS, smartphones, more and cheaper mobility, new generations who have grown up with information and implicit promises that there is an apparently much, much better way of life somewhere far away West.
So, now the moment has come to try it all out. Young guys in their early twenties like Amir or Ruin (nomen es omen) have simply nothing to lose, ‘apart’ from their own lives – but it seems worth the risk to just give it a try… They have seen more than ‘enough’ death in their ‘life’, so the risk of dieing does NOT hold them back to try to live a life worth its name…
It has been similar with us, who have lived in communist countries before 1989… Many have tried to cross the border illegally (Romania, Bulgaria, GDR) – and got shot! Then, as soon as the borders opened, it was just normal and unavoidable that so many of us flooded out of the former prison like, poor country… I have been a part of this. I have been an East-West migrant (too), in 1990.