Rising Inequality has many dimensions – allow me to select but one of them, which most recently and most vividly brought to our attention the enormous injustices and inequities of our planetary cohabitation: the masses of homeless people knocking to our apparently safe and well-provided homes.
Massive migration accompanied the modern era from its very beginning (though changing, and occasionally reversing, its directions); “modern way of life” includes the production of “redundant people” (locally “inutile” – excessive and unemployable – due to the economic progress, or locally intolerable – rejected in the effect of unrest, conflicts and strife caused by social/political transformations and subsequent power struggles) as a “structural phenomenon”. On the top of it, however, we bear currently the consequences of the profound, and seemingly prospectless destabilization of the Middle-Eastern area by miscalculated, foolishly myopic and admittedly abortive policies and military ventures of Western powers.
It has been officially announced that “Statistics updated today revealed that, as of last month, at least 1,001,910 main applicants and dependants had sought international protection in the 28 member states in 2015 (…) In the latest indication of the unprecedented scale of the international refugee crisis this year, the number of asylum applicants and family members registered in the bloc so far this year is already 60% higher than for the whole of 2014. It is also by far the highest tally since comparable records started in 2008”.
In a little book titled “Strangers at Our Door” to be published by the Polity Books in May I wrote that “as things stand now and promise to be standing for long time to come, mass migration is unlikely to grind to a halt – neither for the lack of prompting nor for the rising ingenuity of attempts to stop it. As Robert Winder wittily remarked in the preface to the second edition of his book – ‘We can park our chair on the beach as often as we please, and cry at the oncoming waves, but the tide will not listen, nor the sea retreat’. Building of walls in order to stop the anguish of imminent tragedy short of entering our own backyards comes eminently close to the story about the ancient philosopher Diogenes rolling the barrel in which he lived to and fro through the streets of his native Sinope. Asked by the reasons to his strange behaviour, he answered that seeing his neighbours being busy barricading their doors and sharpening their swords, he wished also do something to defend the city from being conquered by the Macedonian troops of Alexander.”
“What has happened in the last few years, is enormous leap in the contribution of refugees and asylum seekers to the total number of migrants knocking to the doors of Europe; that leap was prompted by the rising number of “falling” or rather fallen states or – for all intents and purposes – stateless and so also lawless territories, stages of interminable tribal and sectarian wars, mass murders and daily banditry. To a large extent this is the collateral effect of the fatally misjudged, ill-starred and calamitous military expeditions to Afghanistan and Iraq, ending in the replacing of dictatorial regimes with the 24/7 theatre of unruliness and frenzy of violence aided and abetted by the global weapon trade unleashed from control and beefed up by the profit-greedy arms industry with a tacit (though all too often proudly displayed in public on international arms fairs.
The flow of the refugees, escapees pushed to abandon their homes and cherished possession by the rule of arbitrary violence, people seeking shelter from the killing fields, only dramatised and floodlighted the routine outpouring of the so called “economic migrants” pulled by the all too human wish to move from the barren soil to where the grass is green – from haunted by poverty lands with no prospects to those rich in opportunities. On that steady stream of people seeking condition of a decent life standards (a stream flowing steadily since the beginning of humanity, and only accelerated by the modern industry of redundant people and wasted lives, Paul Collier has the following to say:
The first fact is that the income gap between poor countries and rich ones is grotesquely wide and the global growth process will leave it wide for several decades. The second is that migration will not significantly narrow this gap because the feedback mechanisms are too weak. The third is that as migration continues, the diasporas will continue to accumulate for some decades. Thus, the income gap will persist, while the facilitator for migration will increase. The implication is that migration from poor countries to rich is set to accelerate. For the foreseeable future, international migration will not reach equilibrium: we have been observing the beginnings of disequilibrium of epic proportions.
Between 1960 and 2000, as Collier calculates with only the statistics up to 2000 available, “what took off, from under 20 million to over 60 million, was migration from poor countries to rich ones. Further, the increase accelerated decade by decade (…) It is a reasonable presumption that 2000 continued this acceleration”. Left to its own logic and momentum, we may say, population of poor and rich countries would behave as the liquid in corresponding vessels. The number of immigrants will go on towards equilibrating until the levels of well-being are even in both. And such a result will, in all probability, need many decades to be reached – even that barring the unanticipated turns of historical fate.”