What Shall We Do When the Borders Close?
What Shall We Do When the Borders Close?
By Benjamin Julian / refugeetrail.wordpress.com

We have been cooking soup, distributing blankets, giving information, warmth, food and hope. It has been fun, it has been tragic. We’ve tried to bring a human face to the Balkan route. It has been intense, rewarding, invaluable. The support has been staggering, seeing the solidarity has been beautiful. But I am afraid we are on the wrong track. While we are providing aid and saving lives on the ground, politicians up high in the glass towers of Brussels have been hard at work getting over their differences in order to contain, regulate, close up and slow down the arrival of foreigners in Europe. They are doing it by means of savage bureaucracy, with the tidal waves of history propelling them forward, coming down on support movements as well as visitors to our continent, breaking up solidarity, isolating refugees from us and society. Migrants are step by step being put away in camps and prisons, contained like a disease, to protect Europe from exposure. This is the brutal face of bureaucracy and order, regulation and isolation, which tolerates no independent assistance, no independent information, no independent contact.

The shock of a million foreigners has set European racists reeling. It has made bureaucratic machines crack and sputter. The micromanaging states of Europe want this disaster of irregularity, chaos and non-registration to end. Better a drowned refugee than a non-registered one. Better an imprisoned child than a smuggled one. Keep THEM in those white boxes and keep those white boxes in barbed-wire fences and have volunteers – registered, of course – keep refugees in line. Sort them by nationality, gender, age, vulnerability, take their fingerprints and check just HOW MUCH they suffered, because we don’t accept just anyone here, you know. Write their number on their hand, tag their fingernails, count the cups of soup they get, stamp their papers, give them thirty days to get to Level 2 or it’s Game Over. Then their journey begins again, and when they get here next time, the open camp will be a detention center, the food-distributor a prison guard, the registration will be for a flight back home. And where will we, the soup-cookers and clothes-distributors, be then?

The incompetence of Greece and Europe has made people believe this can’t happen. But this is an illusory hope. Sure, Greece is incapable of managing registration, let alone keeping a million people detained. But Big Brother Europe has plenty of force to spare. Frontex-officials are coming to the islands like a plague of black locusts, gnawing apart nonconforming support structures, ridding the Balkan route of the insufficient Greek Coast Guard and insubordinate volunteers. In due time, tent camps will have disappeared and there’ll be a clean, white wall with a roll of barbed wire on top for us to graffiti edgy slogans on. Wet and fearful people will be brought in, and they will be “processed”, and when they will come out a magical transformation will have happened. They will either have the luck of having become a Second Class Temporary European, ready for deportation as soon as Their Disaster is over, or be an Economic Migrant, a worthless rightless leech on our goodwill, a disgusting rapist opportunist Muslim that can’t be deported too early. And where will we, the blanket-distributors and soup-givers, be then?

The weather is cold and windy, and still the boats bring thousands of people every day. What will it be like this summer? We are not the only ones wondering. The showrunners of Europe say they have two months to “save Schengen”, to hold together a thirty year old project, which is now crumbling under the weight of a million undocumented people – 0.2% of Europe’s population. More refugees are residing in Lebanon, a country of four million! If this is what refugees have brought us so far, what next? The infinitely rigid structure of European law, order and bureaucracy, carefully and painstakingly built on top of fivehundred years of colonialism, slavery and oppression, is completely and utterly freaking out over this miniscule disturbance in the continent’s demographics. Europeans have built their collection of states like a kid builds a house out of toothpicks – on the assumption that nobody comes in and disturbs it. Now the smallest gust of air is making it collapse. “We cannot cope with the numbers any longer”, the Dutch prime minister says. Just imagine what he’ll be saying in June, when the Aegean sea will be warm and still.

We have to prepare for this. Europe is freaking out already, and it has given itself two months to save itself from the refugees. Only its boundless incompetence and disunity have allowed migrants to travel for this long. But with a near-fascist government in Poland, a straight-out racist ruling Hungary (with an even worse opposition), and the whole of Central Europe just waiting for an excuse to shut their borders, we can’t rely on hope or prayer anymore. Even the Empress of Europe, Angela Merkel, tried and failed to open the doors to refugees. She was sailing against the storms of five centuries, against the waves of populism, xenophobia and terror that rule the states around her, and even her own party.

We have to be prepared for Europe to try, haphazardly and fumbling, but with the determination of a mad drunkard, to lock up refugees and stop their coming here. Europe’s two ventricles of racist society and control-freak bureaucracy reinforce each other, pumping their insidious ideology across the continent. It spews forth in the utterances of everyday people: “There’s no space for them here”, “they don’t fit in”, “they’re all rapists”, “open borders just wouldn’t work”, “there has to be some order to this”, “they’re after our jobs”, “if we save them, more will come”. Europe has built itself assuming it was safe from foreigners. Now it’s in existential crisis. And as a rat stuck in a corner, it will rip apart anything and everything to save itself. It won’t spare any right, it will break any refugee, that stands in its way.

We have to be prepared for this. The state has benefitted from our providing wet arrivals with dry clothes, giving hungry camp-dwellers food, distributing blankets to freezing people sleeping under the starry sky. But now we are in the way. We are giving people a reason to care. We are building relations with those who are not supposed to be here. We are fighting for them, sometimes one person at a time, to make it through the next border. Now we are the targets.

We have to unite, communicate, know our strenghts, and attack the racism, exclusion and separation that the state is imposing on us. Europe is giving itself two months to save itself. What will we do?

4.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
F*ck That: A Guided Meditation for the Realities of Today's World
2 min · 10,913 views today · Just acknowledge that all that sh*t is f*cking b*llshit — you're here now, in this place, with your inner stillness. Take in a deep breath ... now breathe out. Just feel the...
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 8,387 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 7,215 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Who I'm Voting For...
3 min · 5,215 views today · Prince Ea announces who he's voting for. It's probably not who you think.
25 Mind-Twisting Optical Illusion Paintings by Rob Gonsalves
Dovas · 4,310 views today · The beautiful and mind-bending illusions in Canadian artist Robert Gonsalves’ paintings have a fun way of twisting your perception and causing you to question what in his...
Free Trade Explained In An Excellent Comic
Michael Goodwin, Illustrated by Dan E. Burr · 3,491 views today · The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are the latest in a long line...
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 3,069 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
Open Up - Have the Difficult But Important Conversations With Loved Ones
5 min · 2,311 views today · “The biggest casualty of humanity is the lack of communication, it’s the thing that breaks most relationships. It just feels so much better to talk and get it out.” There is...
#Hypernormalisation - Why Heathrow Plan Is Proof We Exist in a Catastrophic Fantasyland
Matthew Adams · 2,167 views today · The British government recently gave the green light for Heathrow airport’s third runway. It was heralded by its supporters as a vital boost for jobs and growth – and proof...
The Empire Vs. The People - Police Attack and Arrest Peaceful Protestors at the Dakota Access Pipeline
6 min · 1,554 views today · On October 22, just before dawn, hundreds of people, including many families, gathered and prepared to march toward the Dakota Access pipeline construction site near Standing...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,497 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,451 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
'Maritime Graveyard': 2016 Deadliest Year Ever for Refugees Crossing Mediterranean
Deirdre Fulton · 1,316 views today · "From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiraled to one in 88," says UNHCR spokesman
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 1,208 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
The Burden of the New Story
Adebayo Akomolafe · 1,207 views today · The 'new story' - that longed for milieu when all is right with the world and things are set straight - seems to be taking its sweet time coming. Why?
These Incredible Stories Remind Us of Our Better Selves
36 min · 764 views today · #WhoWeAre is a campaign to share the stories of people whose actions show us compassion and to send a message of empathy, hope and optimism. These videos will automatically...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 727 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Ode to Lesvos
5 min · 694 views today · An inspiring story of a few remarkable heroes on the Island of Lesvos who helped almost half a million refugees in 2015 has been documented in a new short film called Ode to...
No Moral Superpower: Arundhati Roy, Edward Snowden, and the Crimes of Empire
Jake Johnson · 489 views today · When Arundhati Roy was preparing, in 2014, for a trip to Moscow to meet Edward Snowden, she was troubled by two things. One of them was the fact that the meeting was arranged...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 467 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
What Shall We Do When the Borders Close?