Migration – Emigration – Fleeing
So many missed chances

Correspondence | Photo: © Colourbox.de/Goethe Institut Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi

Dear Aman,

That’s a fantastic idea. Everyone should move around every few years, to a new country, in a different culture. That could possibly be a solution for a lot: Frenchmen in Bangalore, Indians in Namibia, Italians in Memphis.

I’m realizing how my brain is changing here, how I’m changing, how my view is changing, every day, each time the new, old question: Who am I, here, in this place, at this moment, and altogether?

That is what a stranger does, with me at least, in this very very privileged place, Cambridge, Harvard, with all its elite foreigners and natives that come together into a cosmopolitical super-mass.

It’s as if you can watch the world in thought. Impressive. But of course it also makes you skeptical, since the way people think here quite obviously has certain limits.

Limits of reason, for instance, when it comes to Donald Trump in a post-truth age, as it’s now called. You can now be as liberal and enlightened and worldly as you want, you still won’t reach large parts of the population for the foreseeable future.

Quite the contrary. It’s the fear of globalization that drives voters to Trump. They’re the losers when it comes to this. Yeah, what is it, reality or ideology?

This connects them to so many other losers, and segregates them even further. They have something to loose, hence their aggression. Those who have nothing to loose are their opponents, more than the people who have everything.

This is the strange, the terrible logic of our days. It’s the inception of war and violence. The irrational fear of the other and its actual reasons and consequences.

In Germany, it seems to me from afar, they’re still in the process of figuring out what happened back then, a little over a year ago – and it’s sad to see how large parts of the mainstream media and politics have taken on the rhetoric of the right.

And yet everything is functioning more or less fine. It was recently reported, that just as many refugees have come as was predicted, 890,000 in the year 2015, less than the more than a million, which had been declared – an anxiety-inducing figure.

And due to the hardline policies ever since, it’s considerably fewer this year than claimed by the conservative-right CSU – which seems to not matter at all, since politicians and some in the media are simply carrying on with their crazed hunt for Angela Merkel.

It almost seems as though they wanted to take vengeance on the woman that they trusted for so long – they want to see her fall, regardless of whether their alleged reasons add up, regardless of whether chaos would ensue thereafter. It’s not nice to watch a mob with bloodlust.

The aggression and irrationality, which came out of the fringes of the right-wing, have pushed their way into the middle. The refugees are the medium through which the hate is transported. These are archaic sights, and you have to ask yourself if it will ever stop.

The 21st century will intensify this rift. Those who have and know will have more and know more; those who have nothing, will in desperation do everything and anything to get a chance.

That is also something that you can sense here in this place. Many here are thinking about how things could be different, but the power of the real seems to be so much stronger. On the other hand, you learn this here too: Optimism is possible.

The sad thing about last year’s discussion was that, yes, so many chances to constructively, openly, radically or ludicrously think about what was unfolding were missed. First, the hardship of the people who came was distorted, then the hate of the people who were already here.

In the process, it isn’t just possible, it’s necessary – the way you guys did it at the symposium: A global Schengen. I don’t know, to me, Schengen just has such a hollow ring to it, since it’s been quite closely related to the Dublin mechanism, which de facto established two classes for freedom of movement within the Schengen Area.

This Dublin Regulation altogether. It determines that any asylum-seeker can only request asylum where he or she originally arrived – usually, almost always, meaning in one of the Mediterranean countries.

It’s so obviously wrong, this regulation. It so obviously benefits countries like Germany, Austria, Hungary, all the countries with no access to the Mediterranean, that you have to ask yourself how the EU could have accepted this misguided mechanism.

But, then again, the EU is not just part of the problem, it’s also a very essential reason for why the crisis unfolded the way it did. It is a failure of politics and of values that we can marvel at. The end of Europe will not come from the outside, it will come from within.

Of course that’s one view of this old continent, which perhaps gets clearer – or crueler – from a distance. You must have a similar experience, when looking at Europe from India, I suppose.

What do you see?

I would very much like to know that. And we should write each other more often again, more routinely, so that we’re faster in thought.

So much is happening.

From my heart, as always, I look forward to your response.


Cambridge, 17th of October 2016