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Archiv - AssoziationEn//Agora: Critique of Refugee Policy

Already prior to the founding of the association, some of the current members of Assoziation:E associated themselves in the form of Agora Munich, an open dialogue format in which the intolerability of the prevailing conditions was reflected upon and discussed on the basis of various scientifically founded contributions. In other words: the forerunner of Assoziation:E:n! With a corresponding archive series, we want to make some of the topics discussed in 2018 - 2020 accessible again and keep them present.

As a basis for an event on the question of asylum and flight, we chose the text "Critique of Refugee Policy" by the "Redaktion Polémos", which appeared on the AG Kritische Theorie blog in March 2016:

Against Refugee Policy

There is no such thing as a good refugee policy. At least not if the good that is recalled here does not have a particular or instrumental sense, but a moral, and that can only mean universal. The difference between the one who thinks he has to have a say in questions of refugee policy and the one who is the subject of this policy, the difference between the refugee politician - no matter whether he really has to decide something or not - and the refugee, is that the former lives (and as a rule is allowed to live) in a country in which living is not a matter of course for the latter, but has to be applied for. The German refugee is allowed to live in Germany "as a matter of course" because he was born in Germany - unlike the Syrian, Kosovar or Congolese. From a universal point of view (and who does not like to speak of morality here, may also call it truth or reason), however, nothing at all can follow from the coincidence of the place of birth: no moral justification to decide who is allowed to live in a certain place and who is not. Refugee policy, then, is neither an intrinsically neutral thing that is pursued only by the wrong people, nor a "neutral" policy area that can be good or bad - it is intrinsically index of wrong. Nor is asylum law the nice and humane side of state violence, but as a set of criteria about who is rightly or wrongly allowed to stay in a country, it is a perennial scandal.

Since the world is unreasonably arranged into competing, particular states, it is only possible to discuss at all who is allowed to live in Germany or Europe and who is not, provided that the basis of this discussion is suppressed: the violence of the states. The position of the left-wing refugee politician who argues with "our" moral obligation to help "these" people who are coming feeds on this violence no less than the right-wing politician who fears for "our" culture or "our" prosperity. The condition of the possibility of the first person plural is the unearned privilege of birthplace, defended by nothing but force. The more philanthropic the refugee politician believes himself to be, the more he represses the violence that is the irrevocable basis of his philanthropy. Still his compassion, the lack of which the more left-wing accuses the more right-wing refugee politicians of, feeds, like their coldness, on the position of being able to be subject, not object, of the "refugee question". Spinoza probably did not wrongly suspect that pity and envy feed from the same source - depending on whether one possesses the coveted object or not, (and he also saw that whoever cannot be moved to help another either by pity or, as he puts it, by reason, is rightly called inhuman). That is why the light and the dark Germans are not at all so far apart from each other as their mutual contempt for each other methinks.

The self-celebrating readiness to help the refugees, as could still be observed in the summer, was probably fed not least by the desire and the certainty that nothing will change so quickly in the social hierarchy between the alms-giver and the alms-recipient. This desire paints the refugee as the per se good refugee who either tends to be permanently immature and in need of help, ideally coming to Germany as a family, child or wife (as documented, for example, by the high number of donations of children's toys, and linen) or as the well-educated one, whom one immediately grasps as a chance to remedy the nursing shortage, as if they were all nurses or wanted to be nurses - no less a distorted image than the envious view of the dark Germans on the refugee, to whom everything is supposedly carried after. So it would hardly come as a surprise if some of those who applauded on the train platform in the summer now belong to those who peddle the confession on the Internet and in circles of acquaintances that enough is enough.

If reason is universal and something other than the instrumental reason of the particular interest of a citizen, then there is no reasonable reason to refuse entry and residence to even one person, indeed there is not even a position that can be reasonably taken from which it could be discussed. This is certainly an ideal that is not very suitable for politics and reality for the asylum politician. Less out of touch with reality seems the principle that "we" cannot take in "everyone" after all. It does not suggest an abstract ideal, but concrete and appropriate to reality. But who is everyone in this sentence? All of the nearly seven billion people worldwide? All those who are fleeing somewhere? All those who want to come to Germany or only all those who will make it to Germany? The "all" is an abstraction that simply stands for "too many": "We cannot take in too many", however, is only seemingly concrete, in truth itself an analytical sentence, since the "too many" already contains the "not able" and vice versa. It only asserts suitability for reality, but without really referring to reality. Which criterion makes from many, even from historically unique many suddenly "too many"? And "too many" for whom or what? Too many to maintain the level of "our" Federal Republic's prosperity? A prosperity that is based on the historical and geographical coincidence of having entered the capitalist world market at a relatively early stage (and the poverty that accompanied it in the 19th century led to a mass emigration of "economic refugees" to the USA). A prosperity based not least on unpunished war, forced labor and extermination of Jews, including the devastation, for example, in Southeastern Europe by the grandfathers and great-grandfathers, whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren deny the descendants of even those devastated as "economic refugees" today a share in the prosperity of the Federal Republic. The threat to this prosperity may well be real in principle, and yet it is richly abstract. There is no direct causal link between the number of refugees and what someone can buy with his wages each month.

Continue reading on critique of asylum law, German and European asylum policy in and outside Europe, welcome culture and panic, Notes at

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