Monday, 10 November 2014

The Anti-Migrant Protection Rampart

Last thought on the Berlin Wall. Its misleading official name was the "Antifaschistischer Schutzwall" (Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart). Of course, it was really for keeping potential migrants in rather than keeping non-existent armies of fascists out:
Nearly a tenth of the Soviet sector’s population moved to western sectors of occupied Germany between October, 1945 and June 1946. Thereafter controls were maintained on the border of the Soviet zone, although they were not strictly enforced; a further twentieth of East Germany’s population had relocated westwards by May 1952 ... Over the next nine years, until 1961, another one-fifth of the DDR population moved west, most of it through Berlin... 
And, while it still stood, it worked:
... The wall drastically reduced migration to West Germany from East Germany. During 1962 to 1988 the flow averaged one sixth what it had been during 1949-61. With the erection of the wall, Berlin quickly went from being the easiest place to make an unauthorized crossing between East and West Germany to being the most difficult.
Nothing to do with real external threats and everything to do with social control.

A bit like the Anti-Migrant Protection Rampart, thrown up by the nationalist wing of the "Conservative family" to counter another non-existent external threat, propped up by people who should know better and legitimated by a bit of faux concern for the workers. Like its "Anti-Fascist" counterpart,* the wall in people's minds is a formidable barrier and it's working, for now:
People think 31% of the population are immigrants. It’s not even like that in London. How do you make policy to confront a problem which doesn’t exist. The solutions are already rolled out. The poor can’t marry foreigners. You can’t bring your family over if you’re poor. There is no legal way for asylum seekers to enter the country.

EU enlargement is over for a generation and EU immigration numbers are now dictated by the relative strengths of different parts of Western Europe.
Left Outside

The idea of a "protective" wall which physically or mentally excludes the world outside the reality they've created is great for members of  well-connected elites who are doing rather well out of a status quo characterised by cronyism, looting, dysfunctional dogma and mismanagement. They don't want the little people who keep the show on the road escaping to something better, or realising that that there might be an alternative:
According to current economic theory, fiscal austerity is essential to make QE work, as government spending pushes up the cost of capital (as measured in bond yields or interest rates) that QE is designed to push down. This is true, if you’re satisfied with a policy set that enriches the rich and slowly crushes everyone else.

It is surely impossible not to think that the gargantuan sums spent on QE would not have had significantly more and better effect if they had been applied, through direct state spending, to rejuvenating our health service, expanding the stock of social and middle-income housing, rebuilding our railways, remodelling our security services, abolishing university fees and replacing our ageing, polluting energy infrastructure.
Leo Schulz, summing up the actual threats that the Anti-Migrant Protection Rampart can't possibly protect us from, not even if it keeps out every last plumber, waitress, fruit-picker and car wash attendant whose free movement is no longer blocked by the Iron Curtain.

*This is is the sort of person who should be outside any genuine Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart.