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Settler Colonialism, Not a Nation of Immigrants

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/09/2021 - 2:34pm in

Review of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Not "A Nation of Immigrants": Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion.

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The post Settler Colonialism, Not a Nation of Immigrants appeared first on New Politics.

Are White People Really in Decline?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/09/2021 - 10:00pm in

Photo credit: rblfmr / _____ When the United States Census Bureau released its 2020 census on August 12, 2021, the news...

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Kukathas on Immigration and Freedom

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/2021 - 9:17pm in



I just finished reading Chandran Kukathas’s book on immigration, Immigration and Freedom, (Princeton: 2021) and I recommend it strongly. In some respects it is a quirky book and Kukathas is coming from an intellectual home that most of the left-leaning readers of Crooked Timber are not friendly to. Hayek gets a lot of mentions, and I’m guessing that many with social democratic or Rawlsian sympathies won’t share Kukathas’s scepticism about the bounded state being a locus of political community and justice (though cf James C. Scott). Kukathas’s basic argument, though developed in detail over many pages, is that to control immigration, states need to monitor and control migrants. But in order to do this, states also need to monitor and control their own citizens. Because one thing human beings are prone to do is to associate with other human beings, independently of their immigration status. People love, befriend, work with, create with, employ others and some of those people are immigrants. So to stop immigrants from doing the things the state doesn’t want them to do, the state also has to monitor its citizens who want to do those things with them and if necessary to pass laws preventing them from doing those things.

In the UK, the whole of the “hostile environment” that caused the Windrush Scandal is premised on such control. To enter into employment, or to rent a place to live, or to open a bank account or acquire a driving licence, you have to prove your right to live in the country. Naturally, this requires not only that immigrants are monitored but the establishment of a clear notion of who counts as an immigrant and who doesn’t and a requirement on everyone to prove their status and eligibility. The freedom of citizens is compromised in other ways: if they want to invite non-resident foreigners to visit their houses or to attend academic conferences or sporting events with them, then a bureaucrat (acting on behalf of the state and beholden to public opinion) must certify that this is ok. If a citizen wants to marry a foreigner and live with that person on the territory of the state, they have to prove to the authorities that their relationship is genuine and conforms to official stereotypes of what a loving relationship should be, as well as having to demonstrate sufficient income to support the other person. Those lucky enough for the state to permit them to love may well find, as they cross borders with their non-citizen family members, that they are delayed for a lot longer than “regular people” and are subjected to intrusive questioning by border guards. Citizens who follow the very human impulse to rescue those in danger run the risk of criminal penalties if those they assist are unauthorized migrants.

One thing that Kukathas finds shocking, as do I, is that much of this system of surveillance and control has been rendered normal and hence invisible. People are treated in these ways but that is just the way of the world. The mental compartmentalization of immigration control leads to stark inconsistencies. In the UK, politicians on the libertarian right of the Conservative party have been angered by the controls on freedom of movement and association required to control the COVID pandemic and are now outraged by the possiblity of vaccine passports. But these same MPs have voted over and over again for immigration measures that are far more drastic restrictions on human freedom, including on the freedom of citizens, and to avert a much less harmful outcome, indeed outcomes that may even be beneficial. An entire carceral archipelago focused on detention and deportation (often of citizens incorrectly classified as immigrants) can grow up with self-styled libertarians not noticing.

Not only does this system of control and classification deny us our freedom and erode our sensibility, it also costs us a great deal of money. Some of this is obvious and is publicly stated in the budgets of government agencies that police borders, review visa applications, detain immigrants, charter planes to deport them and the like. But much of the expense is simply unaccounted for. Sometimes this is inevitable as we cannot know what the missed opportunities from immigration control have been (Freddie Mercury and Jimi Hendrix would not have been able to contribute to the British music scene under today’s laws). Much of it, though, consists of expenses imposed on civil society by the state’s requirements to check and monitor on pain of financial sanction or even criminal penalty: every university in the UK now has compliance units to surveil the attendance of overseas students while their human resource departments check the passports of employees. When all such costs are multiplied across the public and private institutions, firms, individuals in a society, the cost must be enormous. Nobody knows what it actually is.

Unusually for an academic treatise, Kukathas finishes the book with a poem imagining what the world would be like if you needed a visa to fall in love. It sounds cheesy, but it works.

Australia: A Laboratory of Empire with Lowkey & Aamer Rahman

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 31/07/2021 - 12:59am in

The new MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations that are in the public interest to know about including intelligence, lobby, and special-interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media. 

Today, The Watchdog is talking about Australia, immigration and racism with Australian comedian and activist Aamer Rahman. 

Rahman is a stand-up comedian and one half of the comedy duo “Fear of a Brown Planet.” Originally born in Saudi Arabia, he moved to Melbourne at an early age. Although he trained as a lawyer, he found his calling on stage. His comedy deals with overtly political topics like race, imperialism and terrorism. 

When thought about at all, Australia is usually presented as a friendly, like-minded nation; a welcoming democratic, and stable state. This is certainly how many Americans who visit experience it. However, underneath that veneer lies a darker past.

Established by the British as a penal colony and later, a settler-colonial state, genocide of the native population has been central to Australia’s story from the very beginning. As British colonization gathered speed in the 19th century, so did the attacks against its Aboriginal peoples. Wherever the Europeans went, massacres followed. 

Until well into the 1970s, the Australian government maintained a policy of removing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, placing them into spartan boarding schools in an attempt to destroy native culture forever.

Taking their land were Europeans. Until 1973, the country’s immigration laws were formally described as the “White Australia policy”, barring Asian and other non-white populations from settling in the world’s sixth-largest nation. To this day, immigrants are regularly discriminated against, while the country maintains a particularly harsh policy on refugees. 

Australia maintains close political ties to the United Kingdom, with British Home Secretary Pritti Patel seeing the country’s offshore migrant detention centers, referred to by some as “concentration camps” as a model for the U.K. to follow.

Many of the changes to Australia’s overtly racist policies were brought in by the government of Gough Whitlam (1972-1975). Whitlam began to recognize Aboriginal land claims, moved the country closer towards the Non-Aligned Movement and opposed nuclear weapons testing. Yet he did not last long, as a British and American plot to remove him from office succeeded, an event that, for many, effectively ended Australia’s brief run as an independent state and turned the country into an outpost of the American empire.

MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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The post Australia: A Laboratory of Empire with Lowkey & Aamer Rahman appeared first on MintPress News.

“Community Sponsorship” Is Diversifying the Refugee Resettlement Process

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/07/2021 - 6:00pm in

This story was originally published by Prism Reports.

When Sofia Khan walks into a room full of Syrian Muslim refugees, she utters “Assalamualaikum” and notices the anxious pairs of eyes that instantly take in her hijab. After months or sometimes years spent navigating the refugee resettlement process and ending up in a foreign country, meeting someone familiar with their culture and customs is a welcome reprieve for refugees. But more often than not, they are greeted by someone who looks nothing like them and doesn’t speak their language or understand what they’ve been through. Around the country, community-based organizations with people of color at the helm are working to change that.

“Having a person in your volunteer group that is the same background as the refugee community helps them feel comfortable,” explains Khan, the founder of KC for Refugees, a Kansas City-based interfaith organization dedicated to coordinating support for refugees. “Going in there with a person of color or a person that speaks their language fluently is really important.”

KC for Refugees serves as a model of community sponsorship, a form of resettlement support that can supplement the more centralized work of U.S. resettlement agencies. In the majority of cases, upon arrival in the U.S. refugees are greeted by a representative of one of the nine domestic resettlement agencies, which receive funding from the Reception and Placement Program administered the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migrations (PRM) to help cover expenses for refugees’ first three months in the country. Refugees are then connected with the local resettlement office, which arranges their housing, basic furniture, appliances, clothing and food. Each of the nine agencies has a nationwide network of local affiliates or sub-offices that provide resettlement assistance and services to refugees at the local level. Currently, there are approximately 200 resettlement partners operating across the country.

In contrast, “in community sponsorship, refugees are paired with groups (e.g. faith communities, groups of individuals, businesses, civil society organizations, clubs) who provide clearly defined financial and/or in-kind contributions and volunteer services to support their welcome and integration over a set period of time,” explains Jessica Chapman, director of community engagement at the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC), one of the nine national resettlement agencies.

Also referred to as co-sponsorship, this form of community sponsorship facilitates greater local community involvement in resettlement. KC for Refugees, for example, has been greeting refugees with flowers and gifts, setting up their new homes before they arrive and following up after they’ve been through the resettlement process to help with signing up for food stamps, jobs and other necessities. There are also organizations like the Rohingya Cultural Center in Chicago, led by Executive Director Nasir Zakaria, a refugee from Myanmar. RCC isn’t involved in resettlement yet, but instead helps support refugees navigating life in the U.S. after assistance from the State Department runs out.

Although nearly 75 percent of refugees coming to the U.S. in 2010 were people of color, eight out of nine of the resettlement agencies are white-led, and ECDC is the only resettlement agency that works primarily with local organizations created or led by former refugees or immigrants. Given the makeup of refugee populations, advocates argue that community-based organizations led by people of color, like Rohingya Cultural Center and KC for Refugees, need to be involved more deeply with resettlement and sponsorship.

“Refugees are placed in different communities across the United States and each community is different in terms of its capacity, engagement and overall openness and welcome to newcomers,” Chapman said. “There is a growing number, but still relatively few former refugees and immigrants in senior leadership positions across refugee resettlement agencies and affiliate organizations. Their lived experiences and insights are critical for successful resettlement and long-term integration related programming and approaches.”

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Critically, community sponsorship can increase opportunities for refugees to connect with people who share their lived experience and culture. Now, with the U.S.’s resettlement program in a rebuilding phase after the Trump administration’s historically low refugee caps, a recent executive order from President Joe Biden might make more room for refugee- and immigrant-led community groups to expand their support of refugees. The executive order stated that “to meet the challenges of restoring and expanding United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), the United States must innovate, including by effectively employing technology and capitalizing on community and private sponsorship of refugees, while continuing to partner with resettlement agencies for reception and placement.”

Private sponsorship is another form of community sponsorship where individuals, communities, interest groups, companies and other entities lead and fund refugee resettlement efforts separate from the Reception and Placement Program. For example, private sponsorship might potentially allow refugees who are already lawfully in the U.S. to sponsor their family members without waiting in limbo for years and sometimes decades to be reunited.

“Community sponsorship and private sponsorship are important ideas that could help improve and expand the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program,” says Devon Cone, senior advocate for women and girls at Refugee International. “If the U.S. adopted some of these models as Biden suggested in his executive order … I think it would be a win-win.”

Earlier this month, a coalition of advocacy groups comprised of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), and the Niskanen Center offered formal recommendations in a report to the Departments of State and Health and Human Services as they design an expanded community sponsorship system that includes a new private sponsorship program for refugees, slated to be rolled out early next year.

Although private sponsorship has been wildly successful in recent years in Canada, Australia, and Europe, the recommendations note that it hasn’t existed in the United States since the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan launched the Private Sector Initiative, which allocated 10,000 spaces for privately-supported refugees each year and facilitated 16,000 refugees’ admission. In 2016, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard announced a new private refugee sponsorship pilot program, but plans were derailed when the Trump administration came into office a few months later.

“Advocates are hopeful that the U.S. will rebuild a bigger, bolder system than exists anywhere in the world,” says Denise Bell, researcher for refugee and migrant rights at AIUSA and one of the architects of the report.

The recommendations argue that any private sponsorship program re-started in the U.S. should increase the number of refugees resettled here, serving as an addition to those resettled using government funds — not a replacement for government-supported resettlement.

The report encourages the White House to co-design a sponsorship model with a spectrum of stakeholders, including refugees themselves. It recommends including a strong monitoring and evaluation component and program iterations that center refugees as key stakeholders in their own resettlement process and integration plan. They also drive home the significance of equity, inclusion and diversity as guiding principles.

“The impact of community has to be at the center of it,” Bell says.

While both private and community sponsorship programs can be a way to increase capacity and safeguard resettlement from administrative changes, they are challenging to manage and often present power imbalances. There are also questions around the “white savior complex.”

“This is a threat that runs through the social welfare world,” says Elizabeth Foyde, IRAP’s private sponsorship program director. “We have to address that at all levels of the resettlement structure. A big part is the training and the resources.”

According to Chapman, leadership and management staff at refugee resettlement organizations and agencies need to proactively develop strategies and policies to engage POC in their community outreach and community sponsorship efforts. That includes placing former refugees and immigrants in leadership and senior management positions.

In addition, advocacy groups such as Amnesty International are creating training resources such as an allyship guide for sponsors to reference as the White House rebuilds the resettlement structure. It delves into cultural bias, language implications and managing racial micro behaviors. Chapman is also leading the development of a training toolkit, called the “Wider Welcome,” for ECDC’s network and others in the resettlement field, focused on engaging communities of color in their community sponsorship programs.

“This toolkit is designed to help resettlement staff understand issues of race and racism among the communities they work, both among the refugee communities they serve and the communities of color they hope to engage in their refugee resettlement efforts,” Chapman says. “In order to successfully help refugees integrate into their new communities, recruited Community Sponsorship volunteers, regardless of their ethnic background, need to be able to talk about race and racism, and understand similarities and differences between different communities’ experiences, in order to support the refugee family or individual they are paired with.”

This story was originally published by Prism Reports. It is part of the SoJo Exchange from the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous reporting about responses to social problems.

The post “Community Sponsorship” Is Diversifying the Refugee Resettlement Process appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Immigration’s brexit is only just beginning..

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 19/06/2021 - 6:30am in

This is a great article on Byeline Times from Jonathan Portes – and that is an almost surprising sentence for me to suggest. Although I’m not in favour of his interpretation of Labour’s economic policy this article seems entirely on the button. It concludes: What difference will it make if, in 2030, nearly one-tenth of... Read more

Immigrants’ Rights Struggle: A Socialist Priority

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/06/2021 - 9:44pm in



In his primer on the DSA convention, Andrew Sernatinger incorrectly states: “A priority campaign over immigration received overwhelming support from delegates [at the last convention, two years ago] but never materialized.”

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The post Immigrants’ Rights Struggle: A Socialist Priority appeared first on New Politics.

The Truth About the U.S. Border-Industrial ComplexThe story...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/06/2021 - 8:30am in

The Truth About the U.S. Border-Industrial ComplexThe story you’ve heard about immigration, from politicians and the mainstream media alike, isn’t close to the full picture. Here’s the truth about how we got here and what we must do to fix it.

A desperate combination of factors are driving migrants and asylum seekers to our southern border, from Central America in particular: deep economic inequality, corruption, and high rates of povertyall worsened by COVID-19.

Many are also fleeing violence and instability, much of it tied to historic U.S. support for brutal authoritarian regimes, right-wing paramilitary groups, and corporate interests in Latin America

Some long-term consequences of this U.S. involvement have been the rise of violent transnational gangs and drug cartels, as well as the internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. 

And thanks to lax U.S. gun laws and export rules, a flood of firearms that regularly flows south makes this violence even worse.

In other words, the United States is very much part of the root of this problem. 

Meanwhile, climate change-fueled natural disasters like droughts and hurricanes have led to widespread food insecurity in Central America, forcing thousands to migrate or risk starvation

Some politicians want you to believe the way to address this humanitarian tragedy is to double down on border security and build walls to deter people from coming. 

They’re wrong.

Several administrations have tried this approach. It’s failed every time. A recent study found that  increased prosecutions and incarceration did not deter migration, but instead clogged courts, shifted resources from more serious cases and stripped people of due process.  

The expansion of this militarized border apparatus and the increased criminalization of crossings has forced immigrants and asylum seekers to take riskier routes where they face extortion, assault, and even death.

The true beneficiaries have been the corporations who profited from the militarization of the border

Between 2008 and 2020, the federal government doled out an astounding $55 billion in contracts to this border-industrial complex. Billions have been spent on everything from Predator drones to intrusive biometric security systems. Immigration enforcement budgets have more than doubled in the last 13 years, and since 1980, have increased by more than 6,000%.

Let’s be clear: What’s really out of control at the border is our spending on the border-industrial complex, which has done nothing but increase human suffering without dealing with the root causes of migration.

So what can we do?

Begin by acknowledging the role U.S. policies have played, and build a positive, sustained relationship with our Mexican and Central American neighbors to reduce economic inequality, uplift the marginalized, and uphold democratic ideals.

Donald Trump’s abrupt and arbitrary cancelling of crucial aid to the Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador is the opposite of what we should be doing.

We must also ensure that aid doesn’t benefit transnational corporations and local oligarchs. Our goals must instead be aligned with the calls of local labor unions, environmental defenders, and agricultural movements to improve conditions so people are not forced to migrate in the first place.

And we should seek to reverse the militarization of borders in Central America, and instead help build a system that respects the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees.

Here at home, this means shifting away from the wasteful and violent militarization of our own borders, and ending the corporate profiteering it enables. 

We need more asylum specialists, social workers, lawyers, and doctors at the border — not soldiers and walls.

And we must never again allow the inhumane and ineffective policies that resulted in the separation and detention of families and their children. 

We must embrace the values we claim as our own, and never again allow a presidential administration to arbitrarily shrink the number of refugees accepted into the U.S. each year to almost none. 

Congress should expand legal avenues of immigration, along with a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already here — a policy with broad public support.

It’s not enough to roll back the cruel and xenophobic policies of our past. Most of us now living in America are the descendants of refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants. This new generation should be treated in ways that are consistent with our most cherished ideals.

Now is the time to act.

It’s been 12+ months since international tourists have been permitted in this town due to the...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/06/2021 - 10:10am in

It’s been 12+ months since international tourists have been permitted in this town due to the pandemic of Covid 19, which has been all but eliminated in Australia, due mainly to its isolation from the rest of the world and being an island nation. Domestic air travel is now picking up, but it will never replace the 4 million overseas visitors who usually come to Sydney every year. Any business that principally relies on that trade is now surely sunk, despite being propped-up by lengthy Government assistance to retain their workers, but that’s now over. Then there’s the enormous impact of the thousand legal immigrants who routinely used to arrive every week and settle in Sydney for good. They’ve gone. Hard times.

1. Absolute flight path. Coming into land at Sydney Airport last week. 2. Idle tourist vehicle. 3. Chem trail over the Inner West. A rare sight in 2020. Marrickville.

Social democracy is bound to struggle in a world of nation-states

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 26/05/2021 - 8:09pm in

One of the lessons of Branko Milanovic’s work on global inequality has been the realization that location, and perhaps more pertinently, nationality, is a more important explanation of how well and badly off people are than class is. Citizens of wealthy countries enjoy a “citizenship premium” over the inhabitants of poor ones that exists because they have access to labour markets and welfare systems that their fellow humans largely do not. Of course, there’s a sense in which this global difference also represents a class difference, with many of the workers simply located elsewhere while the residual “proletarians” of the wealthy world enjoy a contradictory class location (to repurpose a term from Erik Olin Wright). While it might be that world GDP would increase dramatically if barriers to movement were removed, as some economists have claimed, the relative position of the rich world poor depends upon those barriers being in place. Or to put it another way, free movement could make many poor people much better off and might not make the rich world poor any worse off in absolute terms, but it would erode their relative advantage. And people, however misguidedly care about their relative advantage.

What kind of politics would we expect to have in rich countries in a world like ours, if people were fully cognizant of this citizenship premium? I suspect the answer is that we would expect to see stronger nationalist movements seeking to preserve the advantage of members of the national collective over outsiders and correspondingly weaker parties based on class disadvantage within those countries. Which is, in fact, the tendency we do see in many European countries where traditional social democracy is struggling badly at the moment. In those same countries we might also expect to see some voters who are unthreatened by freer movement, or by the rise of new powers in the world, being more open to a more cosmopolitan politics and more preoccupied by other issues such as climate change and the environment. And this is, in fact, what we do see.

But the citizenship premium has existed for a long time, perhaps for most of the twentieth century, so why is it only now that class-based parties are struggling and that a new cleavage between cosmopolitan and national populism has emerged. There are, I think, a couple of reasons that are important. The first is, that people are not very well informed, focus on internal and national conditions and so misperceive class, the old division between workers and capitalists, as being more important than it is in explaining how well and badly off they are. This misperception — which is not entirely a misperception since locally at least the capitalists are still pursuing their advantage over their fellow-citizens who labour — continues to the present day. But in a world of globalized manufacturing and much freer trade, where rich country workers are feeling more anxious and insecure, the shift of jobs and factories to places where people are paid much less is eventually going to impinge on the consciousness of the locally poorer. And even if immigrants have little to no impact on rich country wages, perceived competition from those immigrants in labour markets may be seen as a threat by workers who see increased labour supply and who don’t hear or don’t understand or don’t believe the debunking arguments from economists.

The second reason is that, for a long time, populist nationalism was taboo and some limits on how human beings can be treated were widely accepted in official discourse, even if often breached in reality. The heaps of bodies at Auschwitz and Belsen and the idea, however problematic, that the Allied aim in the Second World War was to defeat the Nazis because of their racist character, made an overtly racist conception of nations harder to sustain that it had been in an earlier period (when countries like Canada and Australia imagined themselves as exclusively white). The international declarations of human rights issued after the war also drew strength and sustenance from Cold War competition: “we” were the respecters of human rights and “they” were anti-democratic tyrannies which recognized the dignity and equality of everyone. Of course this oversimplifies: to get to being a simulacrum of colour-blind, rights-respecting liberal democracies, the UK and France had to divest themselves of empire and the United States had to go through a battle for civil rights. But two or three decades after the war, not unassisted by dramatic rises in living standards, those countries could tell Rawlsian stories about themselves, and then, with communism vanquished in 1989, the end of history could be declared.

There’s something else too, which the proponents of national class politics as “normal” often choose to forget, namely that the division of the world into nation states makes the nation permanently available to people as a source of collective identification and entitlement, and one that too readily trumps class as a focus of solidarity in times of stress. The key moment after which this ought to have been clear to socialists was August 1914, and the global proliferation of the nation-state form has only made this pressure to a counter-class identification more intense since then. But too often the national forum in which class politics has played out has appeared to people as a kind of neutral and natural background to that contest rather than as something which always has the potential to sabotage class.

I have a memory, which I’ve been unable to verify, of someone telling me in about 1990 that Jean-Marie Le Pen, the notorious French far-right leader had declared that with the fall of the Berlin wall, “the Second World War is over”. What Le Pen meant was that in the new post-post-war era, a politics that had been toxic, a politics that prioritized nationalist grievance over human rights and equal concern, would become progressively detoxified. He wasn’t wrong about that. The nation is now back, and, with it, a predictable drive to define it in ways that make clear who, in the eyes of nationalists, is of it, and who is not. Just as Maurras distinguished between the “pays réel” and the “pays légal”, our contemporary nationalists, whether MAGA-fans or Likudniks or Brexiters with their concern for the “white working class” have reasonably clear if deniable conceptions of who doesn’t really belong among us. And if “human rights” are an obstacle to doing what needs to be done for the nation, then “human rights” will become a term of derision and abuse: after all, as Michel Foucault put it, “society must be defended” and against its internal enemies too.

It is clear now that social-democratic parties that put class at the centre of their appeal are going to struggle in nationally-bounded wealthy democracies in a world where nationality dominates class as a determinant of income. So what are such parties to do. Up to now they have largely soldiered on, with their activists pretending to themselves on the basis of a mixture of muscle memory and dogma that it is all “really” about class and that phenomena like racism are epiphenomena of class exploitation rather than also being central to ideas of national belonging. Lexit fans and the supporters of La France Insoumise are typical in this respect: with a proper national economic plan and a bit of 1970s revivalism it is all coming back. There’s a lot of this among Bernie Sanders fans and the Jacobin brigade for that matter (often cosplaying workerism from an Ivy League desk or a Washington think tank). Another option is “Blue Labour” or the full Danish, namely to follow their “traditional supporters” down the rabbit-hole of nationalism, clamping down on immigration and demonizing minorities for “failing to integrate”. According to this approach, the parties exist to represent people of a certain sort, those people are resentful that the jobs went and apt to blame the foreigners and the immigrants, so that’s where the party should be too. If you are professional politician, with an eye to the electoral short-term then this all makes a certain amount of sense: you need to defend you heartlands. But the kind of people who join and work for left-wing parties tend to be idealists with a strong sense of justice, committed to anti-racism, and internationalist in outlook. To the extent to which you try to beat the nationalists at their own game, your “left wing” party will atrophy from the inside.

It would be nice to finish a piece like this with “the answer”, but I can’t do that. What I can do is to suggest first, that climate change, anti-racism, feminism, defence of basic human rights, form the basis for an alternative coalition within wealthy countries, one that stresses global solidarity with workers everywhere rather than seeing the rest of the world as a threat. Second, although nationality dominates in-country class as a determinant of individual prosperity, there’s still quite a lot can be done locally in terms of class politics, given that within wealthy countries life can still be pretty miserable for those at the bottom, especially if we look not at globally-indexed income but at housing, health outcomes, job security and other capability measures. So an alternative to social democracy, such as various Green parties, can and should still make the case for local redistribution. But we need to be clear-eyed about the fact that a normality of class being the dominant axis of politics is not coming back because it never was normal in a world of national division. It merely appeared so because the disasters that nationalism had twice brought to the the wealthy world suppressed the natural expression of its extremism here. No longer.

Note: there’s much in this blog that I wouldn’t have written without having read Nandita Sharma’s magnificent Home Rule: National Sovereignty and the Separation of Natives and Migrants (Duke, 2020). There’s more about the citizenship premium in Branko Milanovic’s recent books Global Inequality and Capitalism, Alone (both Harvard, 206, 2019)