Monday, September 7, 2015

Adam Blanden on the refugee crises and anti-refugee sentiment in Central and Eastern Europe

"The quiescence, and in some cases participation, of European social democracy in immigrant bashing can only precipitate its decline. If there is to be a future for the European left, the organization and defense of migrant workers must be its top priority".
Adam Blanden

Adam Blanden is a Prague-based writer on politics, history, and culture who writes regularly  about events  and views in  Central and Eastern Europe.

His writing is always informative, insightful and challenging.

In a recent blog piece  about the upsurge of anti-immigrant and racist feeling in Hungary Adam Blanden argues that Europe has allowed Hungary to get away with an authoritarian, anti-migrant, anti-Islam regime inside the European Union. Blanden writes that Hungary is  the EU's most seriously authoritarian regime. All social and political opposition had been defeated, the media is under strict controls and civil society has been quashed.

Blanden writes that the  Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban  is:

'defending Europe from a "Muslim influx" by shutting down train stations and detaining refugees in camps. Hungary puts up a wire fence to stop migrants entering from Serbia. In turn Serbia steps up its patrols of its border with Macedonia......Orban is a Magyarising fantasist of the old school, a burly nationalist intent on defending Hungary from western cosmopolitanism as well as Muslim fanatics. The mystery is not his belligerence, which he has been sharpening for years, but the EU's quiet tolerance of him"

Blanden notes that  the upsurge in anti-immigrant and racist feeling is not limited to Central or Eastern Europe and can also be found in the UK Cameron Government's fear mongering.

However, Blanden argues that the particular quality of Eastern and Central European anti-immigrant and racist feeling  can be traced to Central and Eastern Europe's contradictory and tenuous  integration into the European Union. Blanden describes it as a state form that mirrors the west without quite matching its liberal tone.

Blanden concludes:
'Germany, France and Italy are seeking to introduce balanced quotas of refugees across the EU, while many of the smaller states are in outright rebellion. Despite the geopolitical manifestation - between an intolerant east and a more circumspect west - the split is more properly conceived as one internal to European ruling ideology. Orban is no more extreme than le Pen or Farage. The only difference is Hungary now finds itself on the frontline, with the authoritarian right in power and a neo-fascist party (Jobbik) snapping at its heels.

The EU has tolerated Orban's authoritarian xenophobia, Tamas argued, because it pays its debts, keeps taxes low, has decimated social welfare, and disciplines labour.  Migration and/or asylum controls, usually understood as demands of native working populations, are also means to control the labour-force. Up to a point all these things are quite tolerable for mainstream European opinion. It is only when Orban bangs his fist on various Brussels tables that his aggression really becomes a problem."

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