With thousands of refugees hoping to be granted asylum in Europe, the continent has responded to the crisis with much resentment. Only recently did anti-migration demonstrators bearing neofascist slogans take to the streets of Warsaw, completely dwarfing the pro-migration rally that had taken place the same day. Their opinions are undoubtedly shared by many across Europe, as we have seen, it’s not only ordinary citizens who are to blame; the use of tear gas and water cannons upon migrants at the Hungarian border shows outright hostility between governments and migrants, and the fact that Swedish opinion polls reveal a far-right, anti-immigration party to be the country’s most popular choice show that mob mentality isn’t just present on the streets.
In an attempt to at least respond to the event, the United Kingdom has agreed to accept a quota of 20,000 refugees. Even a relatively small contribution such as this one was met with disdain, with many fearing for the stability of the nation after such an influx. It’s evident that none of those talking of stability have ever lived in Syria.
One thing is clear: thousands are pouring to our wealthy, stable nations to escape war, poverty and discrimination, and it’s as if we’re doing everything we can to shut off the flow of people and put up our national boundaries. The refusal to accept quotas or the angst about allowing more citizens to one’s country may be justified by a belief that Europe can’t cope with the influx, or that we won’t be able to provide for these people, yet these ideas are almost laughable if you compare the provisional capabilities of France, Britain or Poland with those of the dishevelled states these migrants are flocking from. When we finally realised that we can’t ignore the issue, it’s as though we reluctantly did as little as possible to get around it. Take the UK, for example. I firmly believe it could provide for many more than 20,000. Perhaps not without harming the grossly unequal hierarchy of wealth that dominates in Britain, but some sacrifice of wealth and resources is obviously needed. Unsurprisingly, the wealthy nations of the west are yet again unwilling to sacrifice theirs.
In this respect, the recent migrant crisis is part of a far larger problem, for it is well known, for example, that there is enough food in the world to feed everybody, yet some live in luxury while others starve. This reflects the economic disparity between nations of the first and third world, which remains a necessity for either’s existence, and will always be preserved by wealthy countries simply by their refusal to change it, and jeopardise their affluence. Thus, their refusal to act, to utilise the economy for purposes that contradict their interests, is an inherent evil of the international bourgeois. Europe’s refusal to take more responsibility is only a new manifestation of the same old problem; the unwillingness of the wealthy to change the status quo. We can only hope that, when such change doesn’t come, there are enough voices out there to insist upon it.