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FranceWebSharing & MyNewsCenterNavigator...We are entering a new epoch: the 21st century ..the century of the migrant.This preoccupation, however, runs through the history of Western civilisation.This will be the century of the migrant not just because

We are entering a new epoch: the century of the migrant

Thomas Nail A World of Peace.jpgWishing Peace & Hapiness.jpg

is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Denver. His latest book is Theory of the Border (2016).

 1,000 words

Edited by Sam Dresser


A refugee boat off the coast of Lesbos, Greece. <em>Courtesy Wikipedia</em>
A refugee boat off the coast of Lesbos, Greece. Courtesy Wikipedia

Today there are more than 1 billion regional and international migrants, and the number continues to rise: within 40 years, it might double due to climate change. While many of these migrants might not cross a regional or international border, people change residences and jobs more often, while commuting longer and farther to work. This increase in human mobility and expulsion affects us all. It should be recognised as a defining feature of our epoch: the 21st century will be the century of the migrant.

In order to manage and control this mobility, the world is becoming ever more bordered. In just the past 20 years, but particularly since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 on the US, hundreds of new borders have emerged around the world: miles of new razor-wire fences and concrete security walls, numerous offshore detention centres, biometric passport databases, and security checkpoints in schools, airports and along various roadways across the world. All attest to the present preoccupation with controlling social motion through borders.

This preoccupation, however, runs through the history of Western civilisation. In fact, civilisation’s very expansion required the continual expulsion of migrant populations. These include the territorial techniques of dispossessing people from their land through miles of new fencing (invented during the Neolithic period); political techniques of stripping people of their right to free movement and inclusion with new walls to keep out foreigners (invented during the Ancient period and put to use in Egypt, Greece and Rome); juridical techniques of criminalisation and cellular confinement (invented during the European Middle Ages); and economic techniques of unemployment and expropriation surveyed by a continuous series of checkpoints (an innovation of the Modern era). The return and mixture of all these historical techniques, thought to have been excised by modern liberalism, now define a growing portion of everyday social life.

This is the century of the migrant because the return of these historical methods now make it clear for the first time that the migrant has always been a constitutive social figure. In other words, migrants are not marginal or exceptional figures, as they have so often been treated, but rather the essential lever by which all hitherto existing societies have sustained and expanded their social form. Territorial societies, states, juridical systems and economies all required the social expulsion of migrants in order expand. The recent explosion in mobility demands that we rethink political history from the perspective of the migrant.

Take an example from ancient history: the barbarian (the second major historical name of the migrant, after the nomad). In the ancient West, the dominant social form of the political state would not have been possible without the mass expulsion, or political dispossession, of a large body of barbarian slaves kidnapped from the mountains of the Middle East and Mediterranean and used as workers, soldiers and servants so that a growing ruling class could live in luxury – surrounded by city walls. The romanticised classical worlds of Greece and Rome were built and sustained by migrant slaves, by ‘barbarians’, whom Aristotle defined by their fundamental mobility and their natural inability for political action, speech, and organisation.   

Some of the same techniques – and their justifications – of ancient political expulsion are still in effect today. Migrants in the US and Europe, both documented and undocumented, sustain whole sectors of economic and social life that would collapse without them. At the same time, these migrants remain largely depoliticised compared with the citizens their labour sustains, often because of their partial or non-status. Just as Greeks and Romans were capable of incredible military, political and cultural expansion only on the condition of the political expulsion of cheap or free migrant labour, so it is with Europeans and Americans today.

If this connection seems outlandish, then consider how migrants are described in recent media. The rhetorical connection is as explicit as the architectural one of building giant border walls. In the US, people such as Samuel Huntington and Patrick Buchanan have worried about a ‘Mexican immigrant invasion’ of ‘American civilisation’. In the UK, The Guardian published an editorial on Europe’s crisis that ended by describing refugees as the ‘fearful dispossessed’ who are ‘rattling Europe’s gates’ – a direct historical reference to the barbarian invasion of Rome. In France, the presidential frontrunner Marine Le Pen said at a rally in 2015 that ‘this migratory influx will be like the barbarian invasion of the fourth century, and the consequences will be the same’. Even the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has described the recent refugees with the same ‘dangerous waters’ and military metaphors used by Romans to depoliticise barbarians: refugees are a ‘great tide’ that has ‘flooded into Europe’ producing ‘chaos’ that needs to be ‘stemmed and managed’. ‘We are slowly becoming witnesses to the birth of a new form of political pressure,’ Tusk claims, ‘and some even call it a kind of a new hybrid war, in which migratory waves have become a tool, a weapon against neighbours.’

This will be the century of the migrant not just because of the sheer magnitude of the phenomenon, but because the asymmetry between citizens and migrants has finally reached its historical breaking point. The prospects for any structural improvements in this situation are hard to imagine, but alternatives are not without historical precedent. Before any specific solutions can be considered, the first step toward any change must be to open up the political decision-making process to everyone affected by the proposed changes, regardless of status. The only way forward in the long march for migrant justice and social equality is status for all.

Dear Hillary… a philosopher’s guide to coping with disappointment, Wow, what a year you’ve had! I’d guess that “colossally disappointed” would be a fair description of your feelings towards 2016

A World of Peace.jpg BONNE ANNEE 2017.jpeg  Dear Hillary Wishing Peace & Hapiness.jpg

Wow, what a year you’ve had! First the FBI investigations, then the health scare, and then to cap it all, after years of waiting and hoping, and despite all expectations, you lost your best chance at becoming America’s first female president to a man like Donald Trump.

I’d guess that “colossally disappointed” would be a fair description of your feelings towards 2016. And it got me thinking about how you might be dealing with everything.

There are, of course, numerous phrases that we have coined over the years to help people get over big disappointments. But “chin up” and “every cloud has a silver lining” are the sort of platitudes we use to make ourselves feel better – for not being able to help in a practical way – rather than improve other people’s situations. So I will spare you those.

And given the scale of disappointment we are dealing with here, I think you need a strategy that goes a bit deeper and has a better track record. Thankfully, many great thinkers of the past have produced an array of practical ideas for how to deal with disappointments. The ancient Greeks were especially good at this.

 Learn from a mouse…

Take Diogenes of Sinope, for example. In the fourth century BC, Diogenes worked as a banker in his home city, but was forced into exile after defacing the city’s currency. He fled to Athens only to find that there were no lodgings for him to rent. He ended up sleeping in a barrel – and his servant, presumably not happy with the new arrangements, ran away. This was a guy at a seriously low ebb.

It was at this point that he saw a mouse running around without a care in the world. Like him it had no bed to go to, no possessions, and no status, but it got along just fine without any of these things. That mouse taught Diogenes that he didn’t need a bed – or any of the usual things people strive for – to be happy. A simple, self-sufficient life would suffice. Even today, Diogenes’ prescription is mooted as the path to happiness.

… or a dog

If Diogenes’ prescription doesn’t appeal, then you might like to consider Stoicism. The Stoics were a group of Greek and Roman philosophers who claimed that what causes us disappointment and distress are not events themselves (like not getting a promotion, getting dumped, or losing an election) but the judgements we make about them. As the Stoic thinker Epictetus put it: “People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.

The Stoics claim that we should concern ourselves only with our own thoughts and actions, as these are the only things over which we have true control. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we feel about it. To illustrate, the Stoics suppose that every human being is like a dog which finds itself tied to a moving cart.

A time for Stoicism. EPA

The dog can either run willingly wherever the cart goes or be dragged along unwillingly. Either way, it is going to be moved in the direction the cart goes. The idea is that while human beings, like the dog, cannot control the circumstances of their lives, they can choose whether to go along with them willingly or not. That much, at least, is within our power. In this philosophy, feeling disappointment (or being angry or upset) is a choice, and one we can avoid making.

Or a Vietnam POW

There is evidence that Stoicism works in even the most extreme circumstances. Just consider the case of James Stockdale, who employed the philosophy of Epictetus as a coping strategy while being held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. For more than seven years in captivity (many of them in solitary confinement) and throughout routine torture, the Stoic philosophy kept him going.

After being released, he sought to spread the Stoic message through books and lectures. The Stoic philosophy is so effective at enabling us to deal with life’s vicissitudes that it remains popular today. You could always pop along to the annual meeting of Stoics, called Stoicon, or read the fine defence of Stoicism in the new book by British illusionist Derren Brown.

Maybe it was God’s will

Now Hillary, if you are religious, as I gather you are, then you might like to know that a religious version of Stoicism was developed by the great 18th-century German philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

He posited the existence of an all-perfect God, who acts providentially but in ways that are often unknown to us. This meant that sometimes things might turn out in ways we didn’t expect or want, but if we believe in God’s providence then we shouldn’t be disheartened by it. Leibniz took this to heart to such an extent that he claimed that he was perfectly content even when his projects were not successful, “being persuaded that … it is for the best, as currently God does not want it.” So while the Stoics would say that we can get over disappointments by aligning our will to fate, Leibniz would say that we get over them by aligning our will to God.

However you decide to come to terms with the events of 2016, do remember to keep the positive events (like your victory in the popular vote) in sight, and take solace, as you mentioned, in the simple pleasures of a sofa and a good book.

Take care in what could be quite an eventful 2017.

With best wishes, your pal,



Désinformation : «On se fait rouler dans la farine à Alep ?», s'interroge Yves Calvi sur LCI (VIDEO), FranceWebSharing, Il n’y aura pas de partition de la Syrie & MyNewsCenterNavigator

Il arrive parfois qu'une voix différente parvienne à passer les filtres du paysage audiovisuel français, c'est la démocratie. Sur LCI, Eric Denécé, un spécialiste du renseignement, surprend Yves Calvi : à Alep, une autre réalité est possible.

Aperçu sur LCI : sur le plateau d'Yves Calvi, longtemps présentateur de l'émission C dans l'air sur France 5 et figure de RTL, Eric Denécé, directeur du Centre français de recherche sur le renseignement (CF2R), décrit une situation à Alep pratiquement à l'opposé de la version portée par les médias officiels.

A Alep, «on est à mon sens sur une falsification de l'information qui est énorme», explique l'ancien officier-analyste et ex-professeur au collège interarmées à un Yves Calvi circonspect mais de bonne volonté :«La population française de plus en plus en prend conscience, [même si] nos élites et nos gouvernants restent bloqués.»

«Bien sûr qu'il y a une guerre civile en Syrie», poursuit Eric Denecé, «mais ça ne concerne que 30% d'Alep. Ca concerne soit des civils qui sont pris en otages par les djiahdistes soit des gens qui refusent de quitter les quartiers parce qu'ils soutiennent ces mêmes djihadistes. On ne vous parle pas de tout ce qui se passe ailleurs en Syrie». «On se fait rouler dans la farine avec Alep ?», en conclut alors Yves Calvi, mais, se rappelle-t-il, «il y a bien une ville qui est détruite ?»

Vérités trop dures à entendre

Et le spécialiste du renseignement de répondre à Yves Calvi : «il y a un tiers des quartiers d'Alep, seulement un tiers, qui sont victimes des bombardements, et – j'insiste – c'est un tiers de la ville où des djihadistes dangereux sont présents et ce sont ces djihadistes qui depuis des années tirent sur les quartiers chrétiens et sur le reste de la ville ce dont on ne parle jamais».

Un peu plus tôt dans l'interview, Eric Denécé a expliqué le double jeu de l'Arabie saoudite, promoteur du wahhabisme d'une part, mais qui «démantèle régulièrement les cellules terroristes» d'autre part. «Mais en réalité c'est parce que le monstre qu'ils ont créé est en train de se retourner contre eux», a-t-il détaillé, au risque de détruire la Weltanschauung, (la vision du monde) du journaliste. «Vous comprenez que c'est incompréhensible pour la plupart de ceux qui nous écoutent, c'est à la fois énorme, monstrueux, contradictoire et difficile à accepter», s'inquiète alors Yves Calvi. Heureusement, l'audience n'était pas celle du «20 heures» de TF1.

Lire aussi : Ces journalistes français qui dénoncent le traitement médiatique sur Alep

Il n’y aura pas de partition de la Syrie

Les néo-conservateurs frénétiques et les interventionnistes libéraux insistent sur l'idée de «partition» – faisant peu de cas de cinq années de pronostics erronés...

Vengeance et pétrole : «La guerre en Irak était la solution pour éviter d'instaurer une démocratie»


En arrivant, Donald Trump peut annuler «chacun des décrets du président Obama»

Vladimir Poutine a aussi révélé un secret, à savoir comment chaque Russe peut «devenir un peu magicien pendant la nuit du Nouvel An». Selon lui, «il faut traiter ses proches avec amour et gratitude, entourer ses enfants, sa famille, d’attentions et de soins, respecter ses collègues, chérir l’amitié, défendre la vérité et la justice, savoir pardonner, aider ceux qui espèrent du soutien.» «C’est tout le secret», a-t-il glissé.

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