Postcards from Italy: Ethnic raids and the state‘s military interest

“I‘m asking for more commitment in support of the military-industrial complex, in order to obtain additional funds for new armed systems and enforcement the of the European defence with the constitution of new military divisions coordinated with NATO‘s intervention force.”
Minniti in 2006

The 12th of April 2017 the Italian government approved two decrees regarding immigration and security. The laws are signed by the new ministry of the Interior, Domenico (alias Marco) Minniti. Behind them, there is the embitterment of measures driven by the logic that persist in treating migration’s phenomena with police and military instruments of governance and contention; the same logic that persecutes organisations of mutual aid and opposition movements in a warlike manner. The renewed pervasion of intervention of a boosted public force is justified in the name of a securitarianism alarm. The institutions proclaim themselves as interpreters of a “widespread perception of insecurity”.
The profile of the neo-ministry leaves no doubts about the interests linked to his mandate. The curriculum vitae of the “sub-secretary of defence for cooperation with UE, NATO and US and arm industry promotion” during the Amato‘s government (2000 – 2001), has recently been reconstructed.1 It would be enough here to recall that he is also the founder of the agency ICSA (Intelligence Culture and Strategic Analysis) together with the ex-president Cossiga (the repression‘s strategy of which are sorely well known2). A centre of study in matters of intelligence and military defence, this political foundation “boasts” to have as members of its board a high officer of NATO, commandants of specials forces, and permanent members of OSCE. This organisation works in collaboration not only with secret services, but also with the Italian industrial confederation and receives business oriented funding from the private industrial sector.3

Illegalisation and detention

It has recently been shown (by the Antigone association) that the measures of the decree on the matter of immigration will aliment the mechanism of production of illegal individuals.4
With the reinforcements of the French, Austrian and Swiss borders, the electronic taking of fingerprints (perpetuated with the use of force and without legal basis by the hotspots structures) prevent migrants from seeking asylum in other states, landing in a trap situation inside Italian territory.
Among the measures of the decree, there is the abolition of the appeal proceedings in the asylum request procedure. Furthermore, there is no obligation on the part of the judge to listen to the asylum seeker. In short, the refusal of the request by the “territorial commissions” arrives without the right to be heard and is not contestable if not in third degree.5 The government codifies by facts the existence of a juridical system with two different parameters: A distinct juridical apparatus for foreigners that dismiss the guarantees.
The decree reintroduces and potentates the disastrous coercive answer that caused the installations of dis-human structures like the C.I.E. (Centers of Identification and Expulsion). The law establishes new detention institutions (called Centers of Permanence for Repatriation), it increases their numbers and enlarges the typology of forced detentions. The time limits for the permanence are also prolonged.

“The very concrete risk is that it will increase, in dimensions and impact, a specific detention circuit for foreigners that would be deprived of even the minimum of guarantees of the penal sector.”6

The measures of the decree go hand in hand with the police agreements made between the Italian government and some military troops of the Libyan Coast Guard, with Tunisia, and Niger. The agreement with Libyan authorities – the contents of which have come partially to light last February – has as its objective the patrolling of the coasts, the financing of Libyan detention structures and the military support in the closure of the southern border that separates Libya from Nigeria. In synergy with the EU and the Frontex agency, the Italian government trains military units, supplies patrol boats and will provide radar monitoring structures.7
The text of the law also mentions that the allocation of funds aiming to send troops in protection of Italy’s commercial interests in Africa.8
The critiques raised against the immigration decree have denounced its propagandistic character; its purpose to pry the “monopoly of the narrative of the immigrant danger” out of the hands of political forces on the right, in order to cynically ensure the calculated electoral pay-off.
Juridical associations exposed the inadmissibility of the emergency legislation in those matters, they point the finger to the violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the unconstitutionality of the laws.
But on a basic level, much more is at stake: a common design is traced between the two decrees, at the heart of which there is a precise idea of social order. This normativity, strongly exclusionary, is structured in synergy with the interests of military and commercials holdings. It takes shape through a vertical management of social conflictuality and it relies on techniques of disciplinarian and capillary control of mobility.
The targets of the punitive-administrative measures are individuals or categories that are considered politically undesirable; marginalised by the economic crisis or suspects for the economical-productive apparatus as not- extractable forces.

Militarisation and mobility control

The decree in regard to security denies resources to the local administrations, preventing them from implementing social policies in support of the living conditions of the less well-off, instead, it authorises mayors and prefects to persecute the poor segments of the population with police and administrative actions.
It is illustrative, in this sense, that one entire article is about the promotion of the exacerbation of repressive police action against the “arbitrary” occupations of buildings and the legitimisation of the increment of the use of force during the evictions.
Those measures affect the subjects fighting for the right to housing and put them in even greater danger. Subjects to whom the residency (status that ensures civil rights like the access to public health) have already been deprived by previous legislation which prevents those who occupied a place from attaining residency and asking for running water and electricity. The same measures apply to the non-residential occupations, preparing the legal ground for the embitterment of the use of force in situations of organised political dissent and in the persecution of solidarity and mutual aid associations.
The legislation about the “decorum”, contained in the security decree aggravates the punishments for “whoever engages in conduct that prevents the access and the fruition of rail and public transport infrastructures (stationary and mobile) and their appliances, in violation of no-stopping zones”.
It is not hard to understand how any kind of collective demonstration could easily fit within this label. Besides the evident objective of the legitimisation of the use of force as an instrument of contention of political struggles (through the criminalisation of pickets, demonstrations, strikes and every temporary blockage of the flow of production), the mention of “internal areas” of rail stations and other public places likely to provide shelter leads to a further, bitter, reflection: even resting or making a stop can be used in different way by the securitarianism policy.9
If the state is dealing with a docile residential citizenship to reassure, sleep became the good to protect, the pretext for a widespread surveillance of the quarters10; but if it deals with who is leaving with great difficulty, who found himself marginalised, then his rest can be constantly opposed and authoritatively denied.
In the era of “integrated security”, the relief from fatigue is a good in which governance invests, that can be allowed in differentiated ways and became a right for the few. No-stopping zones, orders to leave, red zones and other sanctions are put at the discretion of police forces and local administrations. In this way, those who are subject to those measures are deprived of the guarantees of the penal sector. Those orders have a strategic character.

“The battle for decorum has to be read in strict connection with others political conflicts in which the implementation of administrative instruments is common. Oral advises or expulsion orders delivered in val Susa and in other cities with active social movements are illustrative. Besides the gap between declared aims and effective objectives, they also show the improper use of those measures.”11

The interdiction of the territories “of interest” has important precedents in the governmental measures aiming to hit oppositions movements as the No TAV fights in val Susa or the movement against the construction of the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) in Salento. In 2012, Berlusconi‘s government labelled the territories of the TAV as “areas of strategic national interest, in which access is denied in the military interest of the state”. With Renzi‘s governmental measure of 2015, the prohibition was also applied to the zones of construction of the TAP, as territory “characterised by nation priority and strategic interest”.
The synchronicity of administrative measures and territorial militarisation against a population treated as “internal enemy” is not entirely new. Those mechanics are activated in favour of multinational consortium and industries and follow a purely police logic that establishes “a singular hierarchy of importance between the safety of things and the safety of people”.12
The effects of this management of order and decorum didn’t wait long to show up. Some administrations even acted pro-actively, as in Bari where the communal administration tried to crackdown on activists and collectives before the G7 finance summit. In Bologna, the G7 on Environment has been preceded by the delivering of expulsion orders. In May 2017, under the order of the prefecture, the police (with helicopters and mounted troops) blocked the exits of Milan‘s train station and executed searches of people and controls on all the subjects of non-Caucasian racial groups. During the same month, in Rome, Niam Maguette lost his life in the attempt to escape from a police raid. His crime? He was a street vendor.

This text put together press review and personal reflection of the author. While analyzing the discriminatory assumptions and the catastrophic effects of the new Italian law regarding security and migration, this text wants to rise attention to the connections existing between economical interests and control of mobility. The author of this article grew up in Italy. Like many people of her generation, after fighting against the cuts in education and social spending following the economical crises, she left the country in search (maybe illusory) of better conditions.

What did I really want from migration?

Migration may occur because of many different reasons. Often its aim is to improve one’s life quality and/or to gain basic human rights. It is a form of geographical relocation. It is not always a matter of social status. It may also be a desire to reach freedom of will and choice.

In 2015 thousands of people from Asia and Africa risked their lives in a journey with the aim of reaching, at minimum, a simple and peaceful life. In 2015 -16, the world witnessed a wave of humans in their thousands, who did not have basic personal security and possibilities in their native countries. They walked hundreds of kilometres, crossed many roads, these in worst possible physical and physiological conditions, often on empty stomachs. They slept anywhere they could, in the mountains, train stations, under bridges or just simply in open fields.

They risked everything, exposed themselves to endless dangers day and night, across seas and mountains, to find their lost future and destiny. Many of them to this day have not found what they were looking for. This human wave on the move to Europe in search of better life shocked the world. Many of them died during this journey, in ships, in trucks or in seas. They knew they are risking death, but to them dying once were better than dying every day. The destiny of many of them is still unknown and even for those who did manage to reach their destination. The subsequent waves are following in the meantime. The future for these migrants is ambiguous. In addition to uncertainties of being allowed to stay, there is the identity crisis. Many of them are still not registered as normal citizens. They have a foreign identity and status and must search and fight for a time and place where they could say I am myself and I belong.

Migration, internal or external, takes place due to many different factors. The most common of these is the desire to improve. However for those from war zones, who in the meantime build the majority of migrants, it goes beyond that. Their escape is not just about migration. It is often result of physiological scars and search for basic human rights. To have the basic human right is what they are fighting for. That was what I expected from my migration. The first and most important of the human rights is the right to live, to survive. All other rights such as the right to security, identity, education, work, marry, freedom of speech, freedom of ideology etc. are secondary to this.

Many humans are still in search for the right to live. War and destruction are at their highest level in many countries. To survive is becoming increasingly difficult in many places. Since years, every day in the news we hear about loss of life in various wars and conflicts. This is the main reason for migration. What most humans want from migration is to survive. Only once that is secured do they look for other human and social needs that every citizen of the earth should be entitled to. This is no easy task in a society where you migrate to. Once the basic security is achieved, the struggle for other rights is just beginning. Through migration to a new society one often losses ones identity and beliefs. Your family and friends, with whom you have lived and grown for years, are all of the sudden no longer with you and you might never see them again in your life. People with whom you make new acquaintances such as new friends behave very different to what you are used to and on top of it perhaps differently towards you compared to the people they consider as the same to themselves. As mentioned before this is no easy task!

The fact that your civil status and hence the society considers you as second or third class citizen, and your civil rights are accordingly also more limited, (e.g. You are not allowed for a long time to choose which city or state you would like to live / work in) is a very painful and difficult thing to get used to. In effect they cause even more psychological scars and may lead to decline of joy and quality of life. In a social sense, it is not possible to compare yourself with the original citizens of the place you end up living in. You will never feel equal. This challenges social justice.
Therefore one can conclude that phenomenon migration is an ethical and human crisis. Humans running away from other humans, trying to establish new base in new society. On an emotional level to lose the sense of not belonging is a very difficult thing to do.

This article describes my personal experiences as migrant. It explains why human ran away from other humans’ prejudices. I am criticizing the factors that shaped my experiences.

Thoughts about the anonymous publication of texts in FIASKO

The articles in the FIASKO are written by individuals and then critically discussed in the collective. We could never completely agree if and in what form we should mention the names of the authors* in the journal. In a common understanding of the media, the name of an author* serves to make a text more reliable and serious, particularly because it serves as an address for questions and criticism. Nevertheless, there are some important reasons to renounce the statement of author names in the context of this journal. On the Wone hand it is about protection. Some authors* prefer for their own safety, not to be related directly with this journal. Asylum authorities could put pressure on people in the process and some contents could be problematic in legal terms. On the other hand, none of us wants to distinguish oneself by writing these texts and the name of the author* should not be of more interest than the content. Finally some of us are just uncomfortable with seeing their own name published in a journal. To estimate, with which motivation and from which position a text is written, we decided, to add a contextualisation at the end of a text. There are also the discussion evening and an e-mail address. We are looking forward to receive reviews through these channels, to stimulate the discussion and continue our debate together.

The expansion of Bässlergut

The Bässlergut Penal and Deportation Prison is being expanded with a second building. The new building will provide 78 places for regular punishment, which means that the “old” building will now have 73 places for pre-deportation detention. With the expansion of Bässlergut, the current developments of increasing control, surveillance, and the categorization of people are demonstrated.

The history of Bässlergut

Bässlergut Prison was named after the Bässler family, which until 1962 farmed the estate as farmyard Otterbach. After the land was purchased by the state, a reception center for asylum seekers was established in 1972 and in the year 2000, the present-day Bässlergut deportation prison with 48 prison cells. As a result, the history of the Bässlergut property is relatively young and should be understood here as a product of a policy that excludes and criminalizes people who don’t conform to the norm. This is evident in the growing political will of Switzerland to categorize people -in this case migrants- more consistently into desired (useful) and undesirable (useless) people and to quickly get rid of the latter. This categorization of migrants went together with their criminalization, which was pushed forward with the 1994 Foreigner’s Statute (Ausländergesetzrevision 1994). At that time, a majority of the voting population advocated the integration of the coercive measures found in the Foreigner’s Act, which legalized imprisonment as a preparation for deportation (administrative detention). This development has been driven not only in Switzerland, but also internationally. Thus, readmission agreements have strengthened cross-border cooperation in the fight against people without permits.1 While the legal foundations for the expansion of imprisonment was created, so was the bureaucratic burden of conducting the implementation of expulsions. As a result, the preparatory period lasted longer, while the political agenda also increased the number of people to be deported.
The places reserved in the prisons for deportations – ‘Schallenmätteli’ for men and ‘Waaghof’ for women – were no longer suited for the new situation: new places had to be created. These demands for the expansion of the prisons were associated with the (spatial) devision of prisoners. Since people in deportation prison are in administrative detention (so not deprived of freedom due to a crime), the conditions of detention should differ from those in prison or pre-trial detention, according to the reasoning. In order to make this distinction between prisoners, the construction of separate prisons was suitable. Even when in reality the conditions of imprisonment hardly differ, (see below) this critique of deportation prisons was used to legitimize new prisons.2 Nevertheless, in 2011, there was a change in the use of a station for a regular prison sentence in Bässlergut I, due to a lack of space in the Waaghof prison. In 2012 and 2013, an additio- nal station was put into operation. Since then, Bässlergut I has accommodated 30 prisoners in pre-deportation detention and 43 prisoners in the ‘criminal’ prison. At the same time, the current reception and procedural center (Empfangs – und Verfahrenszentrum (EVZ), which offers space for up to 500 people, was opened from the original receiving center for asylum seekers. These two developments were accompanied by increased privatization. In both places, the private company Securitas is responsible for security. In the EVZ, the Austrian company ORS is also experimenting with profitorial support. In prison, the inmates worked for 6.50CHF/2h for private companies in de facto forced labor for pro t. Since the Spring of 2017, the expansion of Bässlergut has been under construction, providing space for 78 more prisoners and will be operational by the end of 2020. The current penal places will then be used again for the purpose of deportation, whereby the separation and categorization of the prisoners is again respected. Consequently, new prison cells are currently being developed which will have to be filled with humans in the future and further de ne the repressive developments of the last two decades.

Camp with special laws

In the context of the Asylum Reform 2016, the EVZ will be converted into a federal camp in the future. In Switzerland, 16 federal camps are planned with space for 5,000 people. A distinction is made between procedures, departure, and special centers. In the departure center, deportation is prepared, with at least 100 days planned and mostly concerns people who are to be deported to other European countries under the Dublin Agreement. The 2 planned, special centers are specifically for so-called ‘renegade’ asylum seekers, whereby it remains undefined from which unadjusted behavior is regarded as unruly. In processing centers, surveys, legal counseling, return counseling, as well as accommodation and employment of migrants is managed. The time of these procedures is to be broken down to 140 days, thus reducing the timespan for complaints from 30 days to 10 days.3 The concentration of asylum seekers anchored to the Asylum Law Revision 2016 should make the handling of future applications “efficient, cost-efficient, and fair” (Federal Council of Switzerland).4 This efficiency that is spoken of, means in reality that migrants will be concentrated and isolated in a camp. Through the acceleration of the procedures, the categorization of migrants into desired and undesired is implemented in a more radical and reckless way. For it will be more dif cult to meet the criteria, as well as to resist a decision. Additionally, readmission agreements with third countries will be linked to economic agreements (see Fiasko Nr. 1/2017), which will allow forced deportation from Bässlergut I to be carried out more smoothly. The second point of the more favorable procedures is to be achieved by the centralization of personnel and infrastructure. For migrants in the process, this means everyday life spent within the camp. This practical limitation is additionally reinforced by barbed wire, surveillance cameras and exit controls. The spatial proximity of the various buildings also reflects the reality: from the processing center directly to the neighbouring deportation prison, from the Prison II because of illegal residence via a builtin corridor directly into Bässlergut I. In order to implement the last core criteria of the “fair” reforms, so-called independent jurists were highlighted. The fact that their independence is doubtful has already been stated several times. The short appeal periods, the proximity of the lawyers to the workers of the immigration of ce, and lump payments are only a few critical factors.5 However, what is rarely addressed is the basic context
Beginning with the mere existence of a ‘foreigner’s law.’ A law which has existed since 1934 and is directed only at a specific social group. It is therefore in its existence racist and exclusive. Just like other parts of Swiss law, it is created to protect the privileges of individuals and their property. If one speaks of the rights of migrants, they are always granted only if an economic bene t can be drawn from it, or if Switzerland wants to maintain the image of a nation in which human rights are unconditionally adhered to. We refer here to a frequent objection, namely, that human rights are also taken into account in the asylum system. In reality, it is much more their instrumentalization. Thus, NGOs such as the Swiss Refugee Aid, Caritas Switzerland, Amnesty International, the Salvation Army, HEKS, Schweizerische Arbeitshilfswerk SAH, and the Organization of Swiss Jewish Welfare (Der Verband Schweizerischer Jüdischer Fürsorgen/Flüchtlingshilfen (VSJF) support this humane policy farce.6 On a human, individual level, their support services can in uence the situation of certain individuals and this can also be valued. When looking at a structural level, however, the problem behind this support is quickly apparent. With support, whether legal or everyday, the SEM can cover its administration of migrants into a humanitarian farce. We see the current developments, such as the imprisonment (in the procedural center or jail), the compulsion to work in employment programs, isolation and death (whether eeing or fainting in asylum structures), as part of a „humane asylum policy“. Volunteer work/social work within the prede ned structures of the camp, also when they mean well, are still part of the camp. They will, on the one hand, help in the public debate to legitimize the camp as a humane place. On the other hand, they assume a de-escalating function, in which they help the “embedded” soothe and de ect from reality.

Solidarity is extremely important, as well as individual support, but self-reflection should be carried out about one’s own role, and ways should be found to break the camp structures and thus, the isolation and lack of self-determination. NGO’s, such as Swiss Refugee Aid, are an example for all those organizations that do not address the fundamental problems and provide guidance in shaping the management of misery. The new structuring of Swiss migration policy is therefore aimed at concentrating, isolating and managing migrants more intensively. The descriptive keywords of “efficient, cost-efficient, and fair“ thus try to sell a camp policy as democratic and fair. In reality, however, it describes a suppressive and exploitative system. Finally, it is important to note that these are not new tendencies. The only thing new about the latest developments is that the infrastructure for the already existing processes of migration policy is now being built. This infrastructure will make it even harder to move, organize and live independently. As the agencys aggressiveness increases, the fullfillment of regulations will be even more difficult – and will be more consistent with deviations.

The revival of imprisonment

The current developments do not only affect people without valid residence permits. With the extension of Bässlergut, prison places for people with regular prison sentences are also being expanded. These places are reserved for short prison sentences of up to one year. The new sanctioning law, which will come into effect in January 2018, provides for easing the possibility of short-term imprisonment of less than 6 months. This is to be taken into account when there is a risk that the perpetrator will be sentenced again or on the basis of the financial situation of a convicted person not being able to comply with the punishment imposed. This conversion from a monetary punishment to a prison sentence is often the case of a conviction based on illegal residence. The prison in our society takes a deterrent function. For many people, threats and the possibility of a deprivation of freedom and the consequences, for a time determined by the state, to be completely alienated and robbed of any autonomy, is the reason not to defend themselves against the existing order and to instead accept their own position and function in this society.

On the term ‘Camp’

The Federal Camps fulfill the characteristics of all camps. This characteristic entails the spacial concentration of a specific social group as well as the subordination and control of the group. This is the result of either the goal of reintegration into the society or the definite exclusion/expulsion from it. Camps are not limited to migrants, but diverse social groups. For example, in Switzerland, there are camps for people with disabilities, people with mental illnesses, or elderly people; with the same function of exclusion from a low economic value.

Of course, the consequences of a prison sentence and the perspectives at the end of a penal term differ for people with Swiss papers from those of people without Swiss papers, but the social function of the prison remains the same. Resistance Since its construction, Bässlergut has been fought by various people from inside and outside. Rebellions within the prison’s everyday life in the form of insulting the staff, hunger strikes, and refusal to work while different networks of the prison practice are documented and vehemently criticized. In 2008, some prisoners set a re, expressing their anger. As a result, they were severely sanctioned (i.e. a with a ban on visits). In 2010, it went public that an underage man was held in isolation naked.7 The then director had to leave his position. After that, many things were “politically correct,” since harassment and oppression were inherent in imprisonment. Furthermore, prisoners within Bässlergut empower themselves, even when the psychological pressure and scope for action within the walls are a heavy burden. Hunger-strikes, threats, denial of compulsory exit and / or prison work are now part of daily resistance. There is an attack on the practice of isolation (people are still partially naked), as well as poor food and inadequate medical care. All this is known through talks with imprisoned people. In addition, small and large demonstrations have been taking place for years in front of Bässlergut, paint attacks, and reworks symbolized the solidarity with the prisoners. Bässlergut developed into a place in Basel where people expressed their resentment against the existing system, but also where the state sent its „friend and helper“ in battle march and thus demonstrated its power. In 2015, a demonstration against the Basel-based CONEX military exercise in front of Bässlergut led to a violent conflict between some demonstrators and the cops, with the latter being decisively attacked. In 2016, various attempts were made to directly prevent deportations by manipulating the entrance gate and blocking the entrance. In addition, there were several prison walks, where the people behind and in front of the bars expressed their mutual solidarity and short dialogues were possible. Since the construction of Bässlergut II began in March 2017, there have been various acts of sabotage on small and large companies, which are directly involved in the construction process and enrich it. A demonstration with the end point of Bässlergut, was dissolved by the cops after a failed attempt to kettle the people. However, critical discussions, information events and practical actions are not restricted, but are rather widespread. Bässlergut has become a place that brings together many people and diverse forms of resistance in order to make a fundamental criticism of current developments and social conditions. This is because the three interrelated levels of the administration of migrants in the federal camp and imprisonment in separate prisons, the increase in imprisonment penalties, and the role of humanitarian organizations, which are clearly evident in the Bässlergut project. In addition to the place where migrants arrive inside deportation prison, which in turn is connected to a corridor to the prison system. The infrastructure is co-ordinated, as is its social function: people who do not conform to the norm, who do not provide the economic bene t, or even defend themselves, are criminalized, concentrated and imprisoned. Due to the broad dimension of the developments around Bässlergut, a range of resistance forms become possible and necessary. Whether autonomous support structures, dissemination of a basic criticism, pressure on executive actors or other forms of displeasure – is important that we are loud, creative and disruptive!

We are two women who grew up in Basel – and have grown up with the privileges of having the Swiss passport. Through personal contacts and our own experiences, we are angry at the prevailing conditions and the society of which we ourselves are a part.

People only hear what they understand

A confontration with the essay from Gayatri Chakratorty Spivaks „Can the Subaltern speak?“

The text in an imposition. But basically the questions seems important: Who is talking? Who is not heard? And Why (not)? In this magazines editorial says ,,Here, critical and self-determined texts are to be found by people […] who have enough of a privileged and marginalized society and want to raise their voices …“ When we speak out against exclusion and at the same time open a room for people who want to raise their voices – it is important to question this and to consider: Who is talking? Who is not heard? And why (not)?

What voice is loud in the essay, which is used here for discussion?

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak was born in Kolkata, India. She studied literary sciences and later in America pursued a career at university. Her work was concerned with dealing with Western philosophy, as well as marginalized people. „Can the subaltern speak?“ Was published 1988 and is considered a basic text of the postcolonial theory. In this, scientists are dealing with the consequences of imperialism. The question is: what in uences have colonies left to date in the actions and experiences of people and societies? In Fiasco, we are facing various facets of the migration regime. The awareness of possible colonial imprints is important because migration often crosses borders of imperialist structures of power.

What is written?

Various reviews, interpretations, and critiques understand Spivak‘s text differently and set their own priorities. They represent and reduce. Here is my attempt to break down Spivak‘s text to a few statements: We can not always understand the experience of others. We are living in different circumstances and communicate differently. Within a global power structure, oppressed people are not heard when they are deprived of preconceived notions of how something feels and how to communicate. When people talk about them in general statements about the oppressed or as individuals speak for many, they are not beeing freed from their position in the society.

What does Subaltern means?

The term subaltern was first used by Antonio Gramsci. The Marxist has spent his last years in jail – where he has introduced „subaltern“ into his vocabulary. Now comes a first definition: „Subalterns are those who do not belong to a hegemonic class.“ In order to understand subalternity, we must also understand the concept of hegemony. Hegemony means the domination of countries, institutions or other actors over the political, religious, cultural or economic actions of others. Where these others have no or only limited possibilities to carry out their interests and ideas. Others represent them. Others speak for them.

Can the subaltern speak?

Subalterns can speak but they are neither heard nor understood. Speaking does not refer exclusively to verbal utterances. Their practices of resistance are not perceived or misunderstood. This way, they are excluded from political and social discourse. The hegemony realizes its unity institutionally and / or in the state – the subalterns are a fragmented grouping that lacks self-consciousness as a class. Their political practices are not given any importance because they are expressed at a local level, spontaneously, sporadically, inconsistently and unorganized.

What is there to do?

Gramsci imagined the subaltern as a potentially revolutionary force and tried to overcome their fragmentation through organization. This criticizes Spivak. Subalternity is not an identity, but the designation of a position within society – the opposite of hegemony. If a heterogeneous group is organized within this position, one merely strengthens the position. The situation of people does not change, because one does not encounter them but their position in society. Essentialists assume that there is something that is common to all of the same kind. Essentialism is a philosophical position. Spivak accuses „the western left“ of applying the latter to the subaltern. Because they confuse position and identity. Once again, it is not a solidarity, a culturally uniform group but people with different interests.

So we turn to the individual person?

Limits of understanding: To understand how it feels to bite into a lemon, we must bite into a lemon. But can we understand how it feels for a lemon to be bitten?

Do we understand person as an unbound, self-determined individual – or do we assume that the methods of work and the political structures in uence the desires and interests of a person? Marx thought of person in the second version. He made an example: „By the lack of collective consciousness of the French small farmers, they choose a political representative who is not really interested in them and their representation.“ The real interest of the person and the subsequent desire for concrete action in the world does not correspond. According to Spivak, Foucault and Deleuze (the „Western Left“) de ne the subject as a self-determined, self-contained unity in accordance with interest and desire for action. But this sovereign subject is an assumption that can not be assumed. The attempt to give voice to individual subalternates in order to free them from their position fails to recognize that the functioning human in the structure of the international division of labor does not have to know the connections and mechanisms of exploitation. That is why he may argue against his own interests. Speaking does not have to be an expression of sovereign subjectivity. Without mediation, according to Spivak‘s subaltern can not be understood.

Why should it be mediation when Spivak enters a world in which people can speak and be heard for themselves? Are we in a paradox?

Spivak does not try to give a voice to subalternes, but criticizes others who have made this attempt. It says that these have maintained the structure of hegemony and subalternity through their approach. It wants to break the structures rst, in order to be more differentiated and thus open to a social reorganization.

Is this only part of an inter-university discourse?

I ask myself that all the time. Spivak writes about post-colonial societies – the long-term implications of imperialism. India was already characterized by a class and box system in the pre-colonial era. In addition to the patriarchy and the order of the colonies, colonization led to a further ruling power, which intensi ed the disregard of the subaltern. They were either represented by the colonizing or by the national hegemony. Similar to the assumption that, starting with the establishment of women‘s voting rights, the discussion of gender issues would be irrelevant, it would be the opinion that with the national independence of colonized states, the legacy of imperialism had dissolved. The attitude, the prejudices, the images, the assumptions about normality, the limits of one‘s own horizon – they are still there and concerning all of us.

To understand how it feels to bite into a lemon, we must bite into a lemon. But can we understand how it feels for a lemon to be bitten?

Someone can not speak because he can not speak-or have nothing to say-or understand-or be shy-or afraid of something. Yes, we can imagine different reasons for this and we know some of them ourselves. That could be described as individual. We also know of structural, institutionalized exclusion mechanisms such as national boundaries or performance requirements with exclusion criteria, which make social participation impossible for all. Spivak does not discuss the problem only that subjective experiences can not always be shared, or exclusively political and economic power structures. By showing the complex situation of subalterns, especially those of the subaltern women, she tries to reject this position and the hegemonic understanding of the language, which contribute to the one-sided speechlessness.

So what does Spivak do?

Irritation – different focus. If only micropolitics, focused on local resistance informations, macro political lines of con ict, caused by globalized capitalism and national-state alliances would have been ignored. Spivak proposes to describe more precisely what different living realities of humans constitute. The questi-on would be: What does it mean to be a person in certain circumstances? This counteracts the representation of an undifferentiated group, a product of colonization. Spivak incorporates heterogeneous liberation struggles into their scienti c analysis. These are, for example, subsistence, disorganized, propertyless workers, indigenous illiterates and illiterates who live in the metropolises on the streets or just on the land or in the peripheries, as well as the women‘s movement, the peasant uprisings or the struggles of the indigenous people.

And what does this brings us now?

Spivak is to be understood as a scientist in science discourse and I do not want to scare anyone to read their text to understand other aspects and to use their examples to understand what they mean. There are enough applications of thought in our everyday life in Basel. In Switzerland, there is the practice of credibility in asylum seekers. This requires that people have to talk about their reasons to come to Switzerland – so that it meets the criteria set. This presupposes that people have a corresponding awareness about their own position and political connections. To criticize this practice, Spivak‘s criticism of the sovereign subject can provide arguments. We can ask ourselves questions: Do we meet positions or people? Do we want to take mediating roles? What role does the Fiasco play in this regard? Are we a singled unheard voice? Are we understood? Do we want or do we need mediation? And how do we deal with communication that we do not understand? Are we talking about others or directly with those concerned?

The thoughts of Spivak have been following me during the last few weeks and have given me an inspiration and interpretations in many discussions. Her analyzes and their representation of the structures of society, the situations of the people, as well as the discussion about who is talking, hearing, and thus shaping society is important to me. However, their position that it needs mediation is difficult. Theoretically, structures are also given the same structure or a certain form of communication is favored. At the same time, the agreement on a common form of communication is an important basis for living together. Nor do I find their argument against the sovereignty of the subject simple. Their assumption that people do not always act according to their interests is plausible. But what is self-determination? Are some people more confident than others? If so, who decides what is sovereign? If no – why should one mediate and the other not?

What I experience in Switzerland as a black refugee immigrant

Swiss life is full of prison, even you didn’t commit any crime – no love and respect for immigrants, no freedom no peace for immigrants, no human rights at all for immigrants. I am innocent, they treated me like a criminal and I feel powerless – justice and liberty not for immigrants, political division based on color. Rights are associated with political and economical subordination – but a minority can follow the rules and have no access to rights anyway. Rights are an important statement about the nature of power-relations in any society.

My experience as a black migrant in Switzerland

(part one)

Swiss life could be de ned as a prison life. I am in prison just because I don‘t have documents. If you don‘t have documents, life here is full of tension, because if you are controlled by the police, you are going to be in prison. We immigrants living in Switzerland have no peace and there are no human rights for us. We also don‘t have freedom – especially we black people. Could you imagine, that a policeman will walk in where many people are and controls only blacks and leaving others because of their skin color? Is that not a racist practice? Meanwhile there is no love and respect for immigrants, especially black people. Switzerland have one of the most racist policemen in the world, but you wouldn’t know this if you are real Swiss. From all my ndings as an African black migrant living in Switzerland, some laws here are mainly for migrants but people outside prisons don‘t know this, because swiss police and government paint a good picture in the public eye and everybody will think that their government or police is correct. Meanwhile I was hearing this from people before I experienced it here in prison by myself. Nevertheless my experience here as a black migrant in swiss prison is, that they treat us here as SLAVES. The security men will wake us up in the morning at 7h15 by unlocking doors and they will make sure the doors are widely open, so as to disturb and wake you up from sleep. If you ask why do you do that, the answer you will get is: „this is a prison and not a hotel“. When you have visitors according to the law, if you were alone with your visitor in the guestroom, your are going to be naked by prison guards. But randomly they do it even when you had many visitors. If they search you and you ask why, they will still tell you they must naked you and that you as a person can’t say no. If not they will take you to a place called „Bunker“ – that is a very bad place where you will be locked up alone in a room and would be tortured by them. Perhaps you could be there like one week without seeing or going outside. They don‘t care about us at all here in prison. To be frank, many people I met here in prison did not commit any crime, some have been in prison for two years, while some others have six months and there are some cases of more than that. And when you ask them, you will nd out that it is only because of not having papers or documents. Another thing I experienced here in prison is when you are brought to the prison the police takes all your money, so that you are forced to work in prison. There is a work they provide here in prison, which ought to be two hours but they will use us to do the work in 2 hours and thirty minutes. Meanwhile the work is too big, but for the whole day they give you 6 Franks. Coming to the aspect of the food, we eat here in prison only two times a day. They give us food at around 11:am and the dinner is at 5:pm. There is a small kiosk here in the prison, where the things are sold for the double price as outside and the kiosk is open only fridays, that is once in a week and it’s only 20 minutes. So if you miss that minutes of shopping time you have to wait till the next week friday. Remember I have earlier stated, that the money you came with, they collect it from you, so you have to work while you are in prison. If you refuse to work here in prison they will hate you and you won‘t have access to many things here in prison. They make sure you are punished. Moreover you have to be well sick before they will take you to the hospital. If not it is not possible because they treat you like a SLAVE in prison. Even if you are taken to the hos-pital your legs and hands must be handcuffed by the police while the treatment is going on, unless the doctor instructs the police to remove the handcuff. If not the handcuff will be there from the time you are going to the hospital until you are back in the prison. And before you are allowed to go inside the prison you will be naked. Meanwhile, if you go to court, when you are back you will be naked by the prison guards or anywhere else you go to, when yo are back they must search you before you could be allowed to go inside the prison. If you ask them, they will tell you, it is because you are in Switzerland. Another thing here in prison ist, that you have the right to see a lawyer – either they give you one ore you are allowed to get a lawyer. But they deny you of that, then if you ask the answer you get is: No, that you are in Switzerland. All these treatments exerted on us are all about not having papers or documents – what they call ILLEGAL. Furthermore if you are controlled by the police or border guard, and you don’t have the right papers, they will take you to the police station, take your fingerprints to see if you have been ngerprinted elsewhere in Europe. If you have you will be sent where you were registered, but if you don’t have anywhere in Europe, immigration police will force you to seek for asylum in Switzerland and after three months you will be rejected with a negative decision and they send you to prison. There in prison you are brought to the court and get three months for illegal stay, then after three months, they will give you another three months till maybe 18 months and after you will be deported to your country of origin. For instance, if you have a negative swiss decision and you go to another country, when the country calls Switzerland, they tell them to send you back. And back in Switzerland the immigration police will take you to prison, then after two days they bring you to the court – imagine for being illegal, without giving you a lawyer and they will be against you and ask you, why did you travel out of Switzerland. If you tell them, it ist because you have got a negative decision, they tell you that you don’t have any right to go anywhere except your country of origin without even allowing you to express yourself in front of the court. There in the court you will be given three months until eighteen months before you are deported back to your country. Outside the prison Most at times here in Switzerland police normally go to african shops to control black people buying something to eat or to drink, what sometimes could scare away the customers of the shop owners. That is why I said, we blacks or black immigrants walk in fear in Switzerland more than in other countries in Europe. We are meant to understand that we don’t have rights as a black immigrant living here.

(part two)

Swiss life is full of prison, if you don’t have documents, because once you get controlled by the police, they will put you inside prison. But if you have other european countries documents, they will try to give you what they call „Verboten“, which means, you won’t be allowed to come to Switzerland for so many years, depending on the years they give the person (a man I know had an Einreisesperre until 2099). For instance, there was a case like that, where Police went to an african shop and after they controlled, they left with one black person and the black guy was asking them „why should I go with you when I have document?“ and they answered, that he has VERBOTEN in France and he answered „Yes, but here is not France but Switzerland“. Could you imagine he slept in a police cell for three days before they took him to court and the judge was asking the police „what did this man do?“ Police said to the judge, that he has VERBOTEN and the guy immediately asked the police where, when and which country, because according to the person, he said he only has VERBOTEN in France for the past ten years and he has never been to France since then. Meanwhile, after the whole explanation the presiding judge told the police, that he has not seen any offense he committed and gave the police one week to nd the place he has VERBOTEN since they could not say or mention the place at the moment, because after one week they should release the man. Furthermore, a day after immigration called the man out of prison and said, we called France and they said the VERBOTEN is only in France and we have searched in our system we didn’t nd anything bad against you. After some hours he was released. This is what we blacks or immigrants experience here in Switzerland. Another one is, that if you are working in prison, if the immigration want to deport you back to your country of origin, they will not give you the money you worked for. Because there is a job, they usually give people in prison but when taking the person back to Africa or his country they will not give the person his money back, which is very BAD. They treat us as if we are ANIMALS. Therefore if your wife or girlfriend visits you and when you guys are holding each others hands while sitting in the guest room, could you imagine that the security guards would walk in and tell you people not to hold each others hands and that if not the girl or your wife or you will have problems with him. Imagine the kind of insults we are tolerating from them, you can’t hug your wife or girlfriend again because you are in prison for being ILLEGAL. This is what I call VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS! Meanwhile these things I have written here is little to compare to what we are seeing here in swiss prisons on a daily basis.

Of privilege, guilt and solidarity

An examination of the migration apparatus of Switzerland demonstrates, more clearly than other forms of government, the violence with which our society can treat people. Legitimized by a bureaucratic apparatus, under the guise of democracy, people are crowded into camps and categorized according to their future utilization, all whilst having any possibility for independent action severely restricted. There are countless reasons for criticizing and rejecting our current migration regime, as well as for standing up against it in support of migrants. At the same time, an examination of the migration regime forces us to confront our own privileges and the contradictions in our lives, and raises the issue of what it means to be in solidarity.

Being confronted with the misery of others can lead to feelings of impotence and guilt. These stem from the awareness that the privileges enjoyed by Swiss citizens are completely arbitrary, and based on the oppression and exclusion of thousands of people; and further, that the lifestyle we lead is only available to a very exclusive part of our society. Guilt is a response to how we (don‘t) act, to how we lead our own lives. These feelings are often tackled with actions of charity, by trying to share one‘s privileges and make use of them by helping others – be it by teaching the language, providing material aid, or making complaints heard, against the system which is oppressing them. It is certainly not my aim to dismiss these forms of support as useless, per se. Still, before taking action, a critical confrontation with one‘s own position and privileges should take place. The examination of one‘s own position presupposes an analysis of social power structures, as well as the political and legal institutions maintaining these power structures. While these institutions can only work with the implicit support of every member of society accepting them as authoritative, in the end they also strongly influence every individual’s life. If one comes to the conclusion that this kind of society needs to be rejected, this should automatically entail a critical investigation of one‘s own way of life and the rejection of any position designed for them by the state. By simply rejecting this society and all participation in it, we would all become oppressed, as we would therefore have no say in the conditions in which we would find ourselves. Being privileged in comparison to others, in this case means being comparably less subjected to oppression and exploitation than others. Many would argue that in Switzerland we live in a relatively „progressive“ country. If by „progressive“ we mean that technical and economic innovations enable a higher consumption for its citizens, this might be true. Switzerland is certainly a country where you can enjoy a life of material safety and consumerism – given that you occupy a social position which enables you to do so. However, if progress is a term measuring the extent to which we can form free alliances with others, seek selffulfilment and follow our own initiatives, then we live in an unfree and backward state, a country of (self-)discipline and restrictions which permeate every aspect of our lives. We need to ask ourselves, to what degree is every one of us living a conformist life, integrated into this society we have; to what degree we criticize the conditions which our society produces, while not being able to let go of the privileges we hold. Of course, no one can just give up the privileges he*she has, but one can reject them, by stepping into conflict with structures and mechanisms which categorize and subordinate people, making a personal conflict part of the fight against the migration regime. The rejection of one‘s own position in society is not a purely individual act; it should be undertaken in collaboration with others. Nevertheless, the individual decision, to dismiss and fight the very institutions creating the given power structures, is the first decision to make. To come back to the topic of resistance against the migration regime, the question arises: what different forms can solidarity take in this case? In no case should solidarity be viewed as a service based on guilt. It is not the individual who is guilty before others; it is the social order that forces their roles on them. We only become guilty by accepting the social order as it is, by simply filling the space predetermined for us by society. If, however, solidarity means living with our fellow human beings as equals, and finding ways to meet our common needs and interests, solidarity must also mean the rejection of those conditions which still prevent a life based on voluntarism and mutual disposition. As long as there are states, laws, norms and an economy which de ne and regulate our actions, the relations between people will always be awed. As long as power structures in uence our actions, as long as categorizations separate us, we cannot speak of self-determination. A basic prerequisite for active solidarity with less privileged people is the personal clash with this society, a clash which should manifest itself in daily life, as well as in the search for ways of standing up to oppression. Solidarity naturally also means being aware of, and permanently taking into account, the different situations we are in. It means breaking the isolation of the excluded, and searching for ways of joint action; it is nding a practice which is not based on integrating excluded people into a society we, in fact, reject, but a method which refuses and challenges this society, whilst experimenting with other forms of living together.

The intention of this articles is to raise the discussion about how solidarity translates in the context of migration struggles support. The author of this text came in contact with this struggles through differents supportive groups which often lack of reflexion of ones privileges. The author is a swiss citizen, born an raised in Basel.

To include and to exclude

on the mechanisms of a judgmental categorisation of people

Mohamed Wa Baile is a commuter: as a documentalist he commutes daily between Bern and the ETH in Zurich. He is married to a Swiss woman and has two children. He is committed to the “Fachkommission für Integration“ (expert body for integration) based in the city of Bern and is one of those idealist-min- ded Swiss people, who we are all happy about.

…. by Fredi Lerch, in “Journal B“

Mohamed Wa Baile does not sell drugs. The born Kenian studied English Literature at the University of Freiburg, and Islamic Studies at the University of Bern. He is currently working as a documentalist at the ETH in Zurich. But this becomes rather unimportant. Whoever meets him on the street does not see an academic, but a dark-skinned person and thus a potential criminal.

…. by Fabian Christl, in „Der Bund“

I am Swiss, father of two children, live in Bern and work as a librarian. I was part of the expert body for Integration of the city of Bern and today I am a member in a support group to realise the municipal acti- on plan “Integration konkret“ (integration made speci c).

… by Mohamed Wa Baile in the “Bulletin solidarité sans frontières“


Those three quotes are all at the beginning of a text which portrays the case of Mohamed Wa Baile1 – the way he is suddenly stopped by the police in the middle of the stream of commuters at the Zurich train station to have his documents checked. He refuses to state his personal data, respectively to show his docu- ments and as a result gets reported. He has faced such random stop-and-search operations without any speci c occasion or rea- sonable suspicion of a crime dozens of times already. It is obvious that he was shed out of the masses from the main station by the police as the only one with dark skin. This practice of identity checks is called “racial pro ling“. They are done solely based on physical appearances like skin tone, foreign look or religious clo- thing. Mohamed Wa Baile lodged an appeal against the ne he got and so in November there was a trial at the district court in Zurich — a trial which the defendant, together with a solidarity group2, made use of to raise the topic of “Racial Profiling“ and to speak up on those random and racist police controls.

But this should not be the topic here. What irritates me is actually what those rst couple of lines of all three accounts entail. That the checked person of darker skin is described with positive attributes and thus it is clear: this is a legalised and to be positively assessed black man. Why is that necessary? Would a racist practice be legitimate, if it was an immigrant without papers, a person applying for asylum, a welfare recipient or a drug dealer? Are there any such preconceptions behind those words and are the authors perpetuating them by making it clear that there are “others“ and that they do not want to include those “others“ in their campaign? Or is it just a strategy to raise sympathy in the audience so that at least someone will take notice of the mentioned subject matter and does not see themselves confronted with their own xenophobia?

The reason why I looked into such phrasings was a letter of an organisation which campaigns in solidarity for migrants. On the occasion of the eviction of Matthäuskirche3 the group started a campaign of defence of the sanctuary asylum. But about what really happened in the church and about the occupants and their requests the letters said next to nothing. Instead, there was a detailed report on a Chechen family from Kilchberg who was loo- king for sanctuary in a church and in the end had to leave Switzerland under the pressure of the public authorities. The letter read that the family of six was a hardship case, the father was tortured, their escape took several weeks, the family was well in- tegrated and a widely supported citizen’s initiative even campa- igned for the family to let them stay in Switzerland.

What does the accentuation of hardship case, torture and the scale of integration imply? Is it to illustrate that a deportation in this case would be a scandal and the Chechen family quali es for sanctuary? And why is the indignation only focused on the intrusion of the police in a church and their tough course of action against the protesters? Did the authors consciously refrain from reporting the occupants of Matthäuskirche and why is that? Is it because they don’t meet the criteria of mercifulness as much or because they do not af rm the middle-class world in the same way? All except one were young, healthy, strong, independent and courageous – everything else than in need for help or espe- cially worthy of protection. The only thing that they lacked were the proper papers. For me, this letter reproduced exactly the news coverage, in which there was not much more to read than the count of arrestees.

Later I have learnt more on the suit against Mohamed and the campaign of the alliance against racial pro ling. There again, I had this discomfort of something not beingquite right and it beca- me clearer and clearer why. The way Mohamed and the campaign of the alliance is being led, the lack of connec- tion to the current situation of refugees, who are looking for their future in Europe, is evident. The connec- tion to all those, who do not have a Swiss passport or any other documents they could show at an identity check by the police and so have to anticipate arrests, prison and deportation. The campaign is not consistent enough in lifting the borders between the included and the excluded but simply demands a shift of this border for some chosen individuals. Which will – at most – lead to some Swiss citizens „of colour“ who have managed to get on the side of the middle-class privileged. However, in a political struggle for the rights of those who are barred from most freedoms, one cannot simply ignore capitalist class relations, or even reproduce it without questio- ning its core principal. Because without naming those relations the structures in the background cannot be recognised. And, to me, without illustrating the background of racial pro ling, the improvement for all people concerned will stay a naive hope – hope and aspirations that deviates from the fact that identity checks by the police are more than racist selection.

At the Basel meeting on Racial Profiling I met R, a man „of colour“ from Haiti, and experienced, how he presented his si- tuation and his views very emotionally and erce, and how he concluded: The state, the police, the society are at war against black people, they terrorise, they torment and they offend them systematically – here in Switzerland, in Europe, in the US! I can follow that line of argument well and want to add that also at the xternal frontier of Europe, in Idomeni, in Como, on the Mediterranean sea, in Ceuta, and Melilla, as well as at the US-Mexi- can border there is war against migrants. And there is violence against the Maghrebi teenagers in the suburbs of Paris, too, and against the residents of slums of numerous Southern big cities – especially against those who do not want to endure it any lon- ger, who stand together and ght. As long as I cannot nd a bet- ter term, I will call it „class struggle“. In an interview with the WoZ4, Rasul O, living in Switzerland, puts it like this: „To call the police would be the last thing I ever did if I had a problem. The police only exists to protect the rich from the poor. And the blacker, the poorer – that is a global phenomenon. The problem lies beyond Raci- al Pro ling.“ Yes, it goes much deeper and the pro- blem is on a structural level. The criticism on Racial Pro ling however, is direc- ted rst and foremost at the selection due to physical appearances. This is not thorough enough. Becau- se neither are the police controls put into question nor is the state legitimacy criticised that, because of missing residency papers, people are imprisoned and deported. Thus the oppressive socie- tal mechanisms cannot be revealed with such a campaign.

To come back to the rst question, I notice that there is a lack of basic criticism on the structural relations – the relations, which are at the bottom of the categorisation and repression of migrants. Additionally, there is a lack of criticism on the struc- ture that enables exploitation, oppression, destruction of Lebensraum and one-sided enrichment and thus advance migration. I nd it striking, how defensive the SP, the Green Party, the Church, the WoZ, relief organisations, unions – to only mention a few – are acting, when the topic of Migration is raised. I doubt that this is only strategic. It is simply a try to prevent being vulnerable to the majority of opinions. Such a discrepancy between the humanistic idea of man and the reproduction of repressive structures has to have deeper sources. This discrepancy will be perpetuated as long as there is no conscious choice to factor in that migration is a battle about involvement and that, on the side of the privileged, privileges are being defended as much as pos- sible. As long as no one takes a rm stand and factors in that all privileges may fade, nothing will change these imagined phra- ses, because the perspective stays the wrong one.

Those phrases are also fed by the fact that our political, econo- mical and societal structure is routinely and without further reection assessed as positive. Moderate critique comes with the territory, as well as super cial suggestions for improvement. This results in time in a lack of awareness of that perspective — a perspective that always implies that our system is to be assessed as positive and thus needs to be preserved, even that other places in the world should aspire to copy this system. Simultaneously no one explicitly points out that our wealth and ful lled world only exists at the expense of a “third world“ and not everyone can be part of it. Thus, the result is selection. And this coercion of selection, or of defence of territory respectively, permeates every possible proposal for solution to overcome these migration dif- culties. This is especially true for the use of language, which I have tried to show with the chosen phrases above.

Solutions which come out of this are thus always solutions that are good for us, that t in our system, and make sense in our thought pattern. Such approaches have rarely anything to do with reality and the experience of a majority of migrants. Suggestively, people are not systematically excluded, devalued and categorised as illegitimate. The wish to help is in the forefront, to be humane, to create a fairer world and not the want to uncover violent structures or the readiness to refuse any cooperation with an exploiting, repressive system. Or in other words – there are also those circles that see themselves as progressive, open-min- ded and socially responsible that show no willingness let alone positive vision to overcome capitalist class relations. Because to do this, it rstly needs to be acknowledged that there is no legi- timacy for separating the world into excluded and included and moreover to enforce this separation and their correspondent ter- ritory respectively with violence and perpetuate it as well, while wares, capital, required resources and requested work force is moved around at will of the powerful. This however is exactly the violence of the current migration-regime working against subalterns. A regime which is the expression of the power rela- tions and that serves the protection of rich and satis ed Europe’s privileges. Which is why I conclude that we have to work on change, which will bring unconditionally legalised migration. What that would mean for a campaign on Racial Pro ling, is something we should further talk about.

While writing this I was consternated and realised how small this group of political activists is who generally criticise the migration-regime and other racist structures. And only in the discussion with the editorial team I have noticed my own temptation to complain about the ignorance of those „left circles“ whom I relied on to have a clear position of solidarity.


This is box title

The group „Stop Racial Profiling Basel“ is an association of individuals who are affected by systematic selection and racist identity checks in different ways. We got together to stand up against random (police) identity checks. This group exists since 2016. It is in contact with the Alliance against Racial Profiling ( and part of a growing movement connected all over the country. Our group’s goal is to raise awareness on racial profiling and fight against any kind of racist practices of public authorities. This goal is pursued in different task groups – exchange of experiences, public view, documentation, reflection, awareness and action – with a great diversity of forms and ideas.

StopRaPro meets every other Monday a month at the „Gewerkschaftshaus“ at Claraplatz. We are happy if the movement grows. You can also contact us via email: