Today is the first day of the Jewish festival of Passover (Pesach) which is one of the most widely celebrated festivities in Jewish year. Passover marks the biblical event of exodus from Egypt. It is a celebration of the Jews journey from Egypt of tyranny to the promised land of freedom and equality. Passover enwraps strong cultural symbolisms and stands for a rejection of slavery and a celebration of freedom. One need not be a religious devotee to appreciate the importance and relevance of this cultural message.
Freedom and equality in our society are rather complex and convoluted concepts. Nonetheless, in spite of its’ practical complexity, borne of profound structural disparities, equality is a foundational prerequisite for a civil and free society. Unfortunately, however, in the context of an increasingly confrontational politics, the political and politicising binaries of haves and have nots, deserving and undeserving, citizen and migrant and so on, only exacerbate the pains and exploit the wounds of a divided and fatigued society.
This financialisation of society and monetisation of individual value based on economic return/productivity is a reflection of an impoverished humanity.
Cameron states: “I see it like this: immigration and welfare reform are two sides of the same coin. Put simply, we will never tackle immigration properly, unless we tackle welfare dependency. So we can control both legal and illegal immigration as I hope I have demonstrated. What is required is the political will to make sure that this agenda runs right across government.”
Conflating the need for welfare reform with immigration policy is an attempt to confound the real issues with government’s ideological priorities and to bulldoze its’ agenda through parliament. In fact, although the U.S. has never had anything similar to U.K.’s welfare system, the problems of immigration and immigration policy have remained a persistent challenge for that country.
Therefore, Cameron’s claimed causality is a rash generalisation based on dubious observations and exaggerated tenuous correlations. In practice, the drivers and dynamics of migration are much more diverse and complex than Mr. Cameron’s simplistic causalities and categorical reductionisms. Unfortunately however, such rationalisations confuse public’s perception and cloud our judgement.
Although, migration is a profound and complex human experience driven by a multiplicity of factors, given the government’s preference for economic indicators, Mr. Cameron may wish to heed the economists’ analysis of migration which state that the underlying drivers of migration are economic and productivity differentials between migrants’ countries of origin and destination. Therefore, if we wish to counter illegal immigration then we must combat its underlying drivers, commencing with the great social inequities both in our society and the societies of migrants’ originating countries. We must adopt a more ethical approach in our decision making both at home and in our international partnerships. We must stop our instrumental judgementalism and politics of convenience which categorise the rulers of less friendly nations as “dictators”, while, “friendly dictators” and their kingdoms and dynasties are supported by our Dollars, Pounds and Euros and left unrestrained to continue their atrocities against their “subjects” and even against their neighbours.
The forced migrants of today, are the children of globalised hegemonies that seek exodus from “neo-Pharaohs” autocracies. Sacrificing life and limb in search of the “promised land” of equality and prosperity.
Criminalisation of migration, labelling of those who do not work as idle, division of society into deserving and undeserving, and purposeful manipulations of social psyche are the hallmarks of a reactionary politics aimed at an ideological regimentation of society.
Freedom may mean different things at different times and to different people, however, for most migrants freedom signifies a “dream” and a “hope”, a dream of the “promised land” of peace and prosperity, and the hope of an equal and equitable society.
So for those celebrating over the coming days/week be it Passover, Easter or the Spring Solstice, or simply celebrating the joys of Spring, I wish you freedom, peace and equality.
Author: Claudia Megele