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Structural Violence and Migration: Explaining Global and Local Total Institutions

Aleš BUČAR RUČMAN , Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor

Abstract

1. Introduction

Sociological and criminological analyses of violence are often limited to the forms of violence we have learned to recognize the easiest, i.e. (direct) physical violence. Some authors extend this aspect to other forms (e.g. psychological violence, economic violence), though only a few present a broader perspective which looks ‘behind the scenes’ and who understand that violence is present in those forms, processes and functioning of structures that we often take for granted and see as universally acceptable and part of regular everyday practice. One of the most important approaches, which provides an alternative and expanded perception of violence and allows us to overcome ideological blindness is Galtung’s typology of violence and his distinction between direct and structural violence. Galtung (1990: 292) understands violence, both structural and direct, as “avoidable insults to basic human needs, and more generally to life, lowering the real level of needs satisfaction below what is potentially possible.” Violence is an attack on basic human needs and reduces the possibility of satisfying these needs below the level that would be achieved by an individual if this violent act had not happened[1].

In explaining the distinction between structural and direct violence, Galtung (1969: 170-171) concludes that direct violence includes recognizable perpetrators of violence, while structural violence does not have such an agent. In this case the violence is integrated in the structure and is manifested as “unequal power and consequently as unequal life chances” (ibid.: 171). “Direct violence is an event; structural violence is a process” (Galtung 1990: 294). The former refers to acts committed by persons, perpetrators, and the latter to cases where though the offender is in the end also a person, his/her guilt extends his/her responsibility (but this does not give him/her absolute immunity from individual responsibility). In this case the perpetrator is merely a tool of the entire system or structure. We can recognise Galtung’s influence on Žižek (2008) – his triangle of violence consists of the division of the subjective, symbolic and systematic violence - who concludes that systemic violence cannot be attributed to specific individuals and their evil intentions as this violence is purely objective, systemic, and anonymous. Žižek (2008: 12-11) sees (or to be precise opens the question) that there is something suspicious and quite symptomatic in the unbelievable obsession of today’s tolerant liberal societies in opposing all forms of subjective violence (in Galtung’s words direct violence) as they desperately try to divert attention from the real problems of other forms of violence.

Nowadays we are more and more sensitive to all visible, clear, easily identifiable and tangible threats and acts of violence, we take a firm stand against them, though on the other hand all invisible threats and risks (which present a bigger danger) are tolerated, accepted, endorsed, advocated, defended, and even more, in the performance of which we willingly cooperate. It is generally acceptable and expected that we condemn killings, rape, robberies and all other socially disruptive and unacceptable phenomena. We expect and demand that institutions with power take action and punish perpetrators of such acts. To be precise, people demand even stricter and harsher punishments, regardless of their inefficiency in crime prevention and reduction (Pratt 2007). At the same time, we accept, condone, support and participate in the actions of a malignant system which legalizes violence, mass casualties and deaths (e.g. we only need to look at how the EU treats refugees who cross the Mediterranean Sea and expose their lives in those dangerous voyages where they have to flee from war and misery). We support cruel structural violence and its consequences with a variety of humanitarian actions and assistance. We help, though we do not recognize that the same mechanism that creates the need for our assistance also victimizes us. We support and learn to realize the maximization of profit at any price which leads to the exploitation of the less developed regions and people ‘there’ as well as people from the lower social strata ‘here’. The system activates the same mechanisms for the implementation of its direct violence and repression ‘here’ and ‘there’. Local (national) victimization is caused by the application of global ideology to the local (national) level. Structural violence counts on existential dependence and hence support of people who are (ironically) most easily recruited among the victimized internals. With the help of the ideological state apparatus they internalize nationalism and racism, which under the guise of patriotism, convinces them that they are defending their country against the exploiters of benefits. They believe this represents the right way to defend the homeland, order and peace, and therefore they have to fight terrorism, oppose immigrants and refugees, yet at the same time they overlook the fact that they are the victims of structural violence and become the frontline soldiers of the exploitive system.

2. Research methods and research questions

In this paper, I will focus on the correlation between structural violence and migration. Structural violence is understood in Galtung’s perspective as policies and social practices – both are realized in society through formal and informal structures (institutions) – which enable, legalize and normalize illegitimate and unfair acts that knowingly seriously harm others. The definition of international migrations accepted in this paper is influenced by UNESCO’s definition presented in The Glossary of Migration Related Terms (UNESCO 2015) and explains international migrations as “territorial relocation of people between nation-states”. However, specific forms of relocation are excluded from this definition, i.e. territorial movements between states which do not result in any change in social ties and therefore remain largely inconsequential both for the individual and the societies of origin and destination. The clearest example of such exclusion from the definition is tourism (ibid.).

Research questions to which I seek answers are: Is there an interconnection between international migrations and structural violence? What are the forms of this connection and what are their consequences? Is it possible to recognize them on global, regional, national and local levels ? In a search for answers to these questions, I used the literature review method and analysis of selected legislation relating to immigration policy in the European Union. Special focus is put on the analysis of social conditions and relations between immigrants, their offspring and the local population.

3. Structural violence and migration

The link between structural violence (and its consequences) and migration can be recognized in cases where the structural and consequential direct violence represents a cause for migration. Castles (2003: 14-23) and Delgado Wise (2009: 767-784) showed various problems caused by economic globalization and economic imperialism, and its connection with forced migrations. Castles (2003) argues that although it may be relatively easy to identify the impact of globalization on economic migration, it is harder to recognise its impact on forced migration. However, it undoubtedly exists. Post-industrial Western countries have a dominant role in the globalization process which guarantees them power and protects their economic and political interests. Despite the formal abolition of colonialism, dominance still exists in the guise of neo-colonialism. Although many poorer countries on the periphery enjoy de jure sovereignty, they are de facto subordinate to the interests of large, economically powerful countries, or to be precise the elites in these countries, which are becoming more and more transnational. To promote their interests, Western countries skilfully use soft political power of international financial and political institutions under the domination of the West (the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization). However, the consequences of these actions are no less devastating then direct violence.

Economic globalization represents the political tool – the mechanism of structural violence – of Western countries and more precisely of the transnational capitalist elites (Beck 2000; Chomsky 2005; Delgado Wise 2009; Stiglitz 2006; Wallerstein 2006 et al.). Although it cannot be overlooked that when all political means fail to bring results, they can be upgraded by the use of hard power in the form of blockades, isolation and even military intervention. As Wallerstein (2006: 28) puts it, although we are scandalized when we learn of it, there still exists much plunder in the modern world-system. Western countries import everything they need for their development and profit from the periphery ranging from raw materials to people (workers). On the other hand, they export back everything they do not need or what benefits their interests, or even more ironically, what benefits the interests of the transnational (non-state, private) big businesses. This also means exporting neoliberal policies with the idea of a (selectively) free market and the movement of capital, low-paid work, protective economic policies in the form of patents, quotas, restrictions on migration movement, hazardous industry and hazardous wastes etc. When ‘importing’ workers, (which are reduced to the pure level of the work force) economically developed countries are, of course, selective. They allow and encourage the arrival of desirable and necessary workers who possess economic or cultural capital (knowledge, experience), and when there is a need for unskilled workers they also encourage their immigration. Though, at the same time they try hard to keep all the unwanted and unneeded on the other side of the wall of the Western fortresses. A key role in the management of these processes is the comprehensive system of migration control, in which national borders function like a membrane, allowing global flow, while keeping the unwanted out (Franko Aas 2007: 33).

Globalization has led to changes in the treatment of “global human waste”[2]. Now we need to look for “local solutions to globally produced problems” (Bauman 2005: 92). Modernization, technological and economic development have created a waste population in those parts of the world which were until recently the target destination for the export of Western human waste. The response of post-industrialized countries to these changing circumstances and growing waste population at home and around the world – we can also call it local responses to global problems – is the implementation of repressive mechanisms of exclusion. Bauman (2005: 97) argues that responses include stricter segregationist policies and new extraordinary security measures. They are presented as necessary measures in the fight (war) for a healthy society and normal functioning of the social system. Since the waste populations from home (here) can no longer be exported elsewhere (there) and in addition in the meantime new global waste populations have emerged, the local solution to this problem in the West is the design of new forms of isolation and exclusion. As Bauman (ibid.: 98) puts it, “since the human waste can no longer be removed to distant waste-disposal sites /…/ it needs to be sealed off in tightly closed containers”.

One of the characteristics of present global conditions is the appearance of two types of zones of confined space. They exist ‘there’, outside the post-industrial economically developed parts of the world, and include entire countries, regions and even continents. At the same time they are also present ‘here’, within the so-called first world. We can see them in the form of closed areas such as ghettos, slums or similar excluded settlements, prisons and detention centres for illegal immigrants. Residents of these areas are excluded from basic achievements of civilization. They have limited or no chances of obtaining adequate education, employment, health care, social security, personal security and, consequently, in many cases pure survival. These two forms of confined spaces resemble Goffman’s (1961) total institutions. He defines them as:

…a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life (ibid.: xii).

In addition, he describes their appearance with the following words:

Their encompassing or total character is symbolized by the barrier to social intercourse with the outside and to departure that is often built right into the physical plant, such as locked doors, high walls, barbed wire, cliffs, water, forests, or moors (ibid.: 4).

Similarity between total institutions and the consequences of immigration policies of economically developed countries can be seen in the emergence of firstly, global total institutions, which include countries or entire regions of economically less or underdeveloped countries. The majority of the population of these countries is locked in by immigration rules. They cannot leave their regions and enter economically developed countries, at least not legally. Secondly, local total institutions within the economically developed countries, which include physical spaces such as immigrant neighbourhoods, ghettos, prisons, detention centers for foreigners, as well as social spaces of exclusion in which immigrants are put due to discrimination and stereotype. It has to be stressed that the connection between migration, immigration policies and total institutions must not be understood as an actual and literal overlapping, though we can see a high correlation among conditions and processes in total institutions (prisons, psychiatric hospitals, concentration camps, etc.) and global and internal places of exclusion. The clearest similarity can be seen in identical mechanisms and processes that divide ‘our’ place from ‘theirs’ and separate ‘us’ from ‘them’. Locked doors, high fences, barbed wire and corresponding procedures described by Goffman, could also refer to the description of the border between the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa and Morocco, parts of the border between Greece and Turkey, Bulgaria and Turkey, new fences between Hungary and Serbia, the border between the US and Mexico, detention centers for asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, the control of ships and turning of or even towing of boats back out to sea by the Australian navy, etc. The similarity between Goffman's total institution and places of exclusion is not only visual. What is more important is that they have an identical purpose. Their mission is the containment of undesirable people in specific areas. They keep ‘them’ away from ‘us’ by preventing ‘them’ to leave these isolated, locked and separated spaces – total institutions.

4. Global total institutions

The system of panoptic surveillance of migration and the exclusionist immigration policies of Western countries exclude entire regions and their populations. Western fortresses have established electronic, physical, social and economic borders and use protective zones abroad for the management of migrations. They separate our world from theirs, and by this means create vast total institutions in ‘their’ world. People are locked in them and not allowed to leave places of misery, poverty, unemployment and existential threat. These are conditions which are in many cases co-created by western exploitative economic policies. Most of the people in global total institutions live in similar situations. They are not separated from their community, though they are detached from opportunities to develop their potential and often even possibilities to ensure survival. Their chances of legal immigration in the developed world depend primarily on economic and cultural capital. Gates that close people in global total institutions are selectively closed. They allow, encourage and even welcome the immigration of people with economic capital, and people with needed cultural capital (e.g. specialists of certain professions), though unskilled workers are allowed in occasionally, if there is a demand for them on the labour market. In Goffman’s words, some of the “inmates” of global total institutions are privileged and allowed to engage in global migration. This proves that the exclusionist policies and locking of people in the global total institutions is not linked solely to a physical space (country of origin), but complemented by social and economic criteria. This argument can be supported by Bauman’s (2008: 9) conclusion, that mobility has become the strongest stratification factor that determines the social, political, economic and cultural hierarchy.

Global mobility of socially deprived groups (classes) of population in global total institutions is limited by selective immigration policies (visas and other legal boundaries) and also by economic and social capital. Castles and Miller (2009: 56) conclude that international migrations (regular and irregular) are selective, because they include only people who have (at least minimal) financial resources to cover the travel costs and social capital which enables them to connect with opportunities abroad. Regarding this, it is obvious that the poorest people do not even have the possibility to leave the global total institutions and are condemned to live in poverty and existential threat. Their lives are marked by war and other conflicts, corruption, violence of local war lords who are supported by the economically developed countries and transnational corporations (e.g. see UN OHCHR 2010 report for the connection between the trade with minerals and timber and violent conflict in the Congo), natural disasters (drought, floods), industrial destruction of the environment, negative effects of structural economic adjustments, etc. People who cannot afford international migration try to improve their lives by internal migrations to the outskirts of nearby bigger cities, where they frequently end up in slums and become a double-excluded population; “the waste of the waste population”[3].

By keeping people in the global total institution, Western countries and transnational corporations set up their own global reserve army of labour which can be mobilised when needed. How this reserve army is included depends on which services and goods are produced. There is a difference between nomadic goods and services which can cross borders and take place in different territories, or sedentary, which take place in a single territory and stay locked within domestic borders (Giraud 2006: 41). In the case of the former the reserve army of labour is used in the global total institutions; ever since the 1970s labour-intensive activities migrated to the area of technologically advanced countries with low wages. The use of this strategy enables corporations to lower the costs of production and at the same time also puts pressure on domestic workers who are forced to accept a decrease in their standard (for more, see Beck 2000). As a result of this, over the last decades, we are witnessing the continuous disappearance of nomad jobs in Europe and the United States. This has forced millions of people into sedentary activities, mostly in low paid service jobs, and at the same time many of the richest nomads who exploited this global situation have increased their wealth (Giraud 2012). A reserve army of labour is also included in sedentary sectors ‘here’, especially in the so-called 3D jobs (dirty, dangerous, difficult), which traditionally employ immigrant workers (more on this in the following part of the paper). The described characteristics show that local problems can be solved only with action on the global level.

An analysis of integration of globally excluded groups of people reveals that mobilization of the global reserve army of labour does not include all parts of the waste population in the global total institutions. Those at the bottom, who represent the double-excluded population, (“the waste of the waste population”) are totally excluded and condemned to misery. Davis (2006: 200) argues “there is no official scenario for the reincorporation of this vast mass of surplus labour into the mainstream of the world economy.” Global economic flows do not want to include them even in their exploitation. This is the dominant social, political and economic spirit which influences the policy making process, thus it is not hard to understand the EU restrictions in asylum policy and avoidance in receiving refugees. Events and reactions of EU countries after the increase in the number of refugees in the spring and summer of 2015 are a clear demonstration of such avoidance of the double-excluded population. Conditions in periphery countries (economic devastation, war, political violence, etc.) force people to leave their homes – or to use the terminology of total institutions – escape from global total institutions. More people are coming to EU countries than needed by the local economy and they are far from welcomed. Regardless of the situation in their home countries, they are expected not to run away from their global total institutions.

5. Local total institutions

An important feature of the postmodern world is the existence of two conflicting groups of people within individual countries: the group of excluded and the group of included. Western post-industrial countries are no exception. Even in the economically most developed countries we can find neighbourhoods with excluded and marginalized groups of the population; and vice versa, even the poorest countries include elite neighbourhoods and protected areas for tourists, etc. Young (1999: 19-20) concludes that inside European nations there are two worlds: the central core and the out-group, though there is an additional specific sanitary cordon in-between the two. The central core includes individuals with stable employment and career advancement, social security, access to health care, education, personal security, etc. However, the scope of this privileged group is rapidly shrinking.

The out-group represent “the people that modernity has left behind, pockets of poverty and deprivation in the affluent society” (ibid. 20). After the Second World War, the main political and social agenda for decades included the idea that it is necessary to provide the inclusion of the marginalised and the excluded. However, with the rise and global dominance of neo-liberalism, this perspective has vanished. The excluded remain excluded, left to themselves and their ingenuity, which in the absence of legal chances of survival also leads to criminal activity. The concern of the included and privileged is no longer how to include this group of people, but how to keep them excluded. Young argues that this out-group includes a high number of members of ethnic groups, which leads to ‘scapegoating’ and confusing the correlation with causality – blaming the race and ethnicity instead of the social conditions. A common characteristic of western societies is the incarceration of socially marginalized groups and the criminalization of poverty. In the US victims of such policies are African-Americans, and in Europe immigrants and their descendants. Wacquant (2008: 104) understands this as the criminalization of immigrants, which is further inflamed by the media and some politicians who exploit the xenophobic sentiments of many European citizens. In situation, intensified by the decline of social rights of the domestic population and the fear of terrorism, the presentation of migration, crime, and even terrorism in public discourse is confused and shows minimal difference between these phenomena. Franko Aas (2007: 78) notes that political and media discourse of most Western countries includes the image of the “deviant immigrant”. This involves various forms of crime allegedly connected to immigration (violent asylum seekers, smugglers and traffickers, Muslim terrorists, Nigerian and East European prostitutes, gangs of youths of different ethnic descent, etc.). In other words, the boundary between migration and crime, migrants and criminals in public discourse is becoming increasingly blurred. Foreigners, immigrants and those who do not share the collective identity of the majority and who represent the ‘other’, represent a threat to ‘us’. Stereotyping of ethnic minorities has a significant impact on every day practices of social control (Franko Aas 2007: 83), and provides legitimacy for harsher and intense policing and control of immigrants and their offspring. The police tend to act reactively, they do not consider themselves to be at the service of the local citizenry but represent their warders (Young 1999: 51).

In the past, many low-skilled migrant workers had a chance of slow progress to middle class. Today, this is becoming more and more difficult. And it is not just immigrants who are exposed to these changed conditions, but also a wide group of domestic workers. Bauman (2005: 52) notes that the need for labour will decrease, and the small proportion of the “old type” (fordistic) jobs will demand a temporary, highly flexible and on demand labour force. The position of domestic and immigrant workers is threatened by the same element – the global capitalist race in which competitors try to achieve the highest possible profits. One of the commonly used measures in this match is a relocation of production to regions with low wages. It is obvious that workers’ rights are under attack, irrespective of their country of origin, nationality, and ethnicity. Ironically, most of them do not recognize this. Instead of realizing that immigrant and domestic workers share membership in the same social class, the proletariat, they are divided. The barrier between the two groups derives from minimal privileges of domestic workers, intense exploitation of immigrants and also from legal, political and social factors (discrimination, prejudice, etc.) (Castles 2000: 35). This leads to the formation of (internal) local total institutions within the post-industrialized countries. These are spaces of confinement inside the Western fortresses. They grasp the “local waste population” and exclude them from the common spaces and the majority. The most explicit forms of such institutions are ghettos and immigrant neighbourhoods. The list can be extended to prisons, where foreigners represent a high proportion of the population, detention centers for foreigners and asylum seekers, and housing facilities for migrant workers.

Social and ethnic segregation in cities and their connection to migration were already analyzed by researchers of the Chicago School of Sociology at the beginning of the twentieth century. Burgess (1925/1967) concluded that Chicago was divided into five areas, the so-called concentric rings. The worst conditions were in the transition zone, so-called slums, which represented (internal) local total institutions. They were characterised by poverty, deteriorating housing and poor living conditions, disease and crime. These were the areas where immigrants settled and created Jewish, Italian, Greek, Chinese quarters. The situation was better in each ring outwards from the center. When workers (including immigrants) improved their social situation, they moved from the slums to areas away from the center. Consequentially, the center hosted the poorest population and the area on the outskirts the middle class (for more, see Burgess 1925/1967). These findings suggest a link between the social situation and the place of residence and do not apply only to the American cities, but are confirmed also in Europe. Immigrant groups are concentrated in ethnic communities or in mixed immigrant neighbourhoods in urban centers. The UN-Habitat (2003: 2) report shows that the majority of (legal and irregular) immigrants settle in urban centers, close to their ethnic communities and their support network (family members, friends, acquaintances, etc.). They live in an environment characterised by their culture, access to religious places, shops, and most importantly they are welcomed in this environment, without doubts about their culture and prejudice from their neighbours.

Described characteristics apply to the situation in France where the majority of immigrants are settled in neighbourhoods around large cities such as Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. The situation is only slightly different in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, etc. (Bade 2005). Such conditions are a result of official housing and settlement policies which led to the concentration, and consequently the exclusion, of ethnic minorities and immigrants, as for example in the UK and Sweden (Castles, Miller 2009: 262); an inadequate housing policy that promotes private ownership of housing accessible only to the members of the privileged and included group. Excluded populations do not possess capital to purchase their own home and are forced to rent cheap and low quality housing facilities. This happened, for example, in Belgium, in Brussels (Dujardin, Selod, Thomas 2008: 89-113). Migrant workers initially planned to immigrate only for a limited period of time. However, after many years in another country, inclusion in the labour market and more or less successful integration into the host community, they decided to settle for longer. This was in their interest and also in the interest of their employers who did not want to let go of trained and skilled workers. Some years on they were re-unified with their families and this was usually the time when they left immigrant worker housing and moved to neighborhoods with low rents (Lucassen 2005: 186-187).

The link between the place of residence and social status does not take place only in the direction where a social position determines the place of residence (as described above), but also vice versa. Various authors (e.g. Dujardin, Selod, Thomas 2008: 103; Korsu, Wenglenski 2010: 2, 298-2, 300) show, that a place of residence may impact on the social status of individuals or whole groups in the neighbourhood. Residence in a specific part of the city can cause stereotypical judgments which lead to discrimination of inhabitants of these neighbourhoods. They are in a disadvantaged position especially when seeking employment. In the analysis of unemployment in Paris, Korsu and Wenglenski (2010: 2, 300) conclude that the negative impact of residence in a poor neighbourhood has a stronger influence on long-term unemployment than many other factors. The frequency of unemployment, lasting for more than one year, is, in the poorer districts, 70% higher than the average. In addition to the exclusion from the labour market, the inhabitants of these excluded areas – local total institutions – are also deprived and excluded in other fields, such as when applying for tenders, in need of the health care service, conducting business with banks and applying for credit, access to high quality education, and especially when dealing with institutions of formal social control.

Places of exclusion, such as immigrant neighbourhoods, are more determined by social barriers than physical ones. Ethnicity, nationality and race have a similar influence on (un)successful participation in the labour market as residential area. In the UK, among the group of young people aged 16-24 years, 20.8% of unemployed are whites, 22.4% are mixed race, 26.7% Asians and 47.4% blacks. The difference is even greater when comparing young boys, where 23.9% of the unemployed are whites and 55.9% blacks (Office for National Statistics UK 2012). The situation is rather the same in France. French citizens born in France are less likely to be long-term unemployed than French citizens born abroad (Korsu, Wenglenski 2010: 2, 299). In Belgium, young Belgian citizens whose parents are foreigners, are more likely to be unemployed than their peers whose parents were born in Belgium (Dujardin, Selod, Thomas 2008: 103). Nationality is obviously not the only measure of inclusion, since formal exclusion is also compounded by informal.

The cycle of poverty, low education, and unemployment, which is the result of formal and social exclusion, makes it possible that ghettos lock and immobilize in their locality the “waste population” (Bauman 2004) and take on the role of local social dumpsite. Internal local total institutions separate people with specific borders. These appear in various forms, from symbolic, direct to physical. Symbolic borders, which separate local total institutions from the external world, can be seen in the form of rituals, specific dress styles, unusual or among the excluded population unacceptable and immoral behaviour, violation of rules, law and order, vandalism. The symbolic borders warn the individual, who is not an ‘inmate’ of this total institution, that he has entered into a new, different space. Bauman (2008: 22) explains that residents in these neighbourhoods use aggressive self-defense at the borders to put their symbols and signs which read “no entry”. They just follow new rules to fight for territory. Approaches used by the ‘excluded’ for marking their territory are not different from the ones used by the privileged elite of ‘included’. The clearest example of such actions of the latter is a design of so-called gated communities in which Franko Aas (2007: 70) sees the replication of fortified continents. They represent fortresses inside a fortress. Mechanisms and processes used to keep the unwanted outside are similar to those used by Western countries to keep the unneeded in global total institutions. They include everything from social exclusion with stereotype, prejudice and discrimination, to physical boundaries and technical control.

6. Conclusion

International migration and structural violence are interconnected on the global and the local level. It is structural violence which creates two types of excluded areas which I call global and local total institutions. Western countries have established a system in which people are considered as pure objects of immigration control, and the immigration policy (generally) differentiates between wanted and unwanted immigrants – included and excluded population. Such an attitude is the direct reflection of broader social changes in recent decades. Their common denominator is the implementation of economic logic to all aspects of social life and the subordination of socio-political process to market principles. Changes in domestic social conditions, increasing pressure on the labour market, were accompanied by the spread of intolerance towards immigrants and all the ‘unwanted’, ‘unneeded’ and ‘unnecessary’ by the mainstream political decision-makers and the media. Marginalized groups easily become scapegoats for various problems and victims of generalization. The characteristics of individuals are lost in the stereotypes and prejudice about ‘the other’. The public demands strict control of borders, limitations in asylum and immigration policy. On rare occasions, usually after a tragedy with many casualties, there is minor discomfort and bitterness among all those responsible – including every politically passive individual in the western fortresses – but the very next moment they all support and continue with the established practices. It does not matter if people are forced to leave their homes because of war, violence, famine and unsustainable living conditions. Under the labels of patriotism and fear for ‘our’ people, hide the simple facts that such people are seen as a “waste population” and are not welcome.

In his profound analysis of the causes of the Holocaust, Bauman (2006: 21) concluded that the attitudes towards the Holocaust reveal key information about society. The same applies to post-modern societies and their attitudes towards immigrants, especially irregular migrants and refugees. In historical context and with the distance of time, we will see in the present dark episode and uncivilized attitudes towards the “waste population” a clear reflection of contemporary developed, civilized, democratic, tolerant, inclusive societies. Fortification of economically developed countries is illegitimate, especially because it is exactly these countries (to be precise their economic and political elites), who have significantly influenced conditions in the global total institutions. People who are forced to leave their homes are later victimized and even put into prison-like facilities (detention centres). Furthermore, in ‘defending’ the fortress, Europe cooperates with anyone who is willing to become a ‘partner in crime’. Former violations of democratic principles, human rights abuses, dictatorship, and support of terrorism are not an obstacle. The former cooperation of the EU in the management of migration (i.e. retention of migrants in North Africa) with the Gaddafi regime in Libya confirms this conclusion. There is incredible irony in the fact that a quarter of a century after the fall of the Iron Curtain new, similar fences have appeared at the borders of Europe and other economically developed countries.


* This paper is based on the research programme Security and safety in local communities (P5-0397, 2015-2018, financed by the Slovenian Research Agency) carried out by the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor, Slovenia.

[1] Galtung (1990: 292) divides needs into four categories: survival needs, well-being needs, identity needs and freedom needs. Harm can be a result of direct violence or structural violence in the form of an attack on these needs. Both can cause death, mutilation, suffering, hunger, imprisonment, ban on movement, denial of cultural expression, etc. (for more on this, see Galtung 1990: 167-191).
[2] Bauman (2005: 91-96) explains that the result of modernization and an inseparable companion of modernity is also a production of “human waste” or more precisely “wasted humans”. They represent the “excessive”, “superfluous”, “supernumerary”, “redundant” population for whom it was not possible, desirable or allowed to stay inside their countries. The emergence of such groups in the population of economically developed countries was the result of establishment of internal order (those who violated it, automatically became unwanted or waste) and economic and technological progress (old type workers became redundant and waste). In the past, Western countries “solved” the problem of “human waste” by using “global solutions to local problems” (ibid.: 92), which in other words meant export and removal of unwanted “waste populations” to the new colonised territories.
[3] For more on this, see Davis (2006) Planet of Slums and UN-Habitat (2003) The Challenge of Slums - Global Report on Human Settlements 2003.

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