FIGAROVOX / GREAT INTERVIEW - The migrant camp at the Porte de la Chapelle was dismantled this Friday. Pascal Bruckner takes stock of the migratory situation of France and Europe, and calls on the President of the Republic to combine ethics and responsibility.
Pascal Bruckner is a philosopher, essayist and novelist. He has recently published Wisdom of money (Grasset edition, 2016) and An imaginary racism (Grasset edition, 2017).
FIGAROVOX.- More than 2700 migrants have been evacuated from the camps located in the north of Paris. In recent months, the migratory chaos had settled door La Chapelle: scabies epidemic, heaps of waste, almost daily tensions with the police. What does it inspire you?
Pascal BRUCKNER.- What you call migratory chaos did not start with the 2015 crisis or the one we are experiencing today. Already ten years ago, France has seen a massive influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe, who are referred to by the categorisations as Roma. They created shantytowns around Paris and turned most of our sidewalks into dormitories where entire families begged to show off infants, young children and pets. At the same time gangs of young people, girls and boys, with a know-how often remarkable, ransom tourists and passers-by.
What did the authorities of the right and the left do? Very little, if anything. It would have been enough to ban begging in most of our cities in order to put a stop to what is an unarmed trafficking by mafias from central and eastern Europe, including prostitution, brutality, corporal punishment of those who do not bring in enough money. How can we be surprised when the question of refugees, of other significant numeric and symbolic importance, is not dealt with, including in Paris? Thousands of Africans, Kurds of Afghans languish in the streets in abject conditions, unworthy of our country and the state discards the town hall that defers the fault on the prefecture.
This evacuation is the 34th since June 2015 in Paris. Is the problem insoluble?
This is indeed the paradox: France, rightly scalded by the attacks of 2015 and 2016 has hosted very few refugees from the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa and yet we speak of "submersion". In figures, and in comparison with Germany or even Italy or Greece, it is a drop of water, barely 30,000 I believe against more than a million in our big neighbor. This comes, in my opinion, from a policy of denial peculiar to our rulers: we have pretended that it does not concern us, as if the flood of men and women flocking into Europe touched only Italy, Greece or Spain but spared us miraculously. We consoled ourselves by explaining that they wanted to leave only in England.
The problem must be tackled and welcomed, for example, that the interior minister refused to build a new camp in Calais and evacuated the young men in distress from the Porte de la Chapelle. But we are not in the competition of the heart with Germany, whatever we think of the policy of Angela Merkel opening the borders of her country to a million Syrians: it is necessary to start by distinguishing political refugees and economic migrants, to treat , help the first and if necessary encourage their repatriation home if they express the desire but categorically deny others.
In her book "The Wave", Élise Vincent, a journalist World writes: "The government has been overwhelmed to submersion during these three years." However, according to some observers and some associative France would have received a derisory number of migrants compared to Germany ... During the presidential campaign, Macron himself had declared in Berlin that Angela Merkel had "saved the honor of the Europe "and that the reception of migrants was" a duty "for France ...
It is wrong to approach the question under the sole angle of compassion, or generosity by remaining in the field of affects. Never has the Weberian division between the ethics of conviction and the ethic of responsibility been as relevant as in this field. In this debate, we only hear beautiful souls who have pure hands but have no hands. They are not the ones who live in Calais for years or door of the Chapel. On the individual level, we can not prevent, in a country of Catholic culture like ours, private citizens, associations to come to the rescue of "travelers of misfortune" (Erri de Luca).
To see women and children running aground on the beaches, drowning in the waves, shivering with cold, incites nothing but solidarity and help. It is uncomfortable to see magistrates condemning private individuals for helping wanderers, homeless people, transporting them from one country to another through mountain ridges or in the trunks of their cars. That said, pity is an admirable feeling but to a certain extent. In no case does she forge a policy. But this policy, we expect from the leaders; it will no doubt be firm and perhaps hard in some respects, but it must allow Europe to regain control of these migratory flows that can ultimately overwhelm it. That is why it will inevitably be necessary to restore borders to the East and to the South to dry up the flow of the newcomers as it is already the case between Spain and Morocco, Eastern Europe and Turkey by an agreement, that some consider it shameful, but which constitutes a lesser evil.
It is now with Libya that will play the game. Borders are not what separates men but allows them to live in good intelligence. Doors are needed to build bridges between peoples. Otherwise, the world becomes a room not lost, a station hall without unity or consistency. It is necessary to discourage, by agreements with the local governments, the candidates to the exile rather than to make false promises to them that one will not be able to hold. Imagine conversely that millions of Europeans want to land in makeshift boats in Africa or the Middle East? How would one describe these people? Invaders, colonials, no more and no less.
Can we really blame France and the French for not being generous enough? How to combine ethics and responsibility?
Two things to get back to reality. As the demographer Hervé le Bras aptly points out, migrants do not leave their families to escape "misery", those who leave are already the most educated, the best trained and have a small nest egg to pay for their long journey. The disinherited, the damned of the earth do not even have the strength to leave their native country. Finally, according to some predictions and given the demographic boom of sub-Saharan Africa, it is several tens of millions of people who are likely to land on the shores of the Old World in the years to come.
Are we ready for this demographic, cultural, linguistic and religious shock? Do we believe that men are atoms without a soul or tradition that can be transplanted, to be cut down elsewhere without any problem? Moreover, immigrantism overlooks a detail: it is that the policy of systematic openness, advocated by a certain "humanist" left, is part of a new treaty that enriches thousands of slavers, smugglers no less cruel, rapacious than those of past centuries. Wanting to welcome all potential migrants is to commit a double fault: not to give ourselves the means to make them live decently at home, for lack of work or housing, to participate in the brain drain, talents that weaken even more countries of origin.
I do not forget what the authorities of Iraqi Kurdistan told us two years ago: they were cursing the Western powers to attract all Kurdish youth home by emptying universities and families. Notice to contemporary humanists: Are you not, in your good conscience, accomplices of contemporary slavers guilty of emptying Africa and the Middle East of their most able children?
Since his election, Macron has been discreet about the issue. What should we expect from the President of the Republic?
We must wait for President Macron to speak the double language of dignity and reality. He must not give in to the blackmail of the victim, to the marketing of the affliction used and abused by the media. But deploy a long-term vision of drying up flows while demanding public authorities a humane treatment of foreigners present on our territory. If he succeeds in this bet, he will be the hero of Europe.