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Blood and Fear at Le Petit Cambodge

with
José Lira
Georg Diez
20.01.16
60 min
60hertz

We met at a café not too far from where it happened. José Lira was calm, composed. He is an architect who has been living in Paris for a few months, working, learning, changing. He is good-looking, he has a beard that is well-trimmed, he seems like somebody you could meet anywhere from Bogota to Beirut, from Bangkok to Bejing. This is the 21st century. But not everybody agrees. Or: What are the reasons, exactly? There was a lot of talking and explaining, some go very far back in history, as far as the 19th century and the story of colonalism and oppression and exploitation and humiliation and broken promises of the West. Some go to the banlieues of Paris. It is all good, it is all important, connecting the dots. But José’s story is different. He just was there. And he wrote down, what he had seen and felt. This is his account: Read it. And listen to the conversation we had.

“These are the times when we are at a loss. We don’t know what to do, what to think, I don’t know what to say, but many friends have written to me, concerned, all the terrible news coming from Paris are amplified through the distance, also thanks to the awful tone of news media, resounding with a public that likes tragedy, blood, fear. There was even someone who made up that a Brazilian architect had died in the attacks… I write to tell you that I am well, and to share a little bit of what I am feeling. Perhaps this might help you and me think some more, perhaps feel more closely what happened. I still have not been able to read much about what happened, and I confess that I am shocked by the way the news are treated, in a way that is sometimes too abstract, sometimes too sensationalist. The fact is that I cannot forget the fragile but serene gaze of the victims by my side yesterday evening.

“I had spent a blissful Friday afternoon in the company of two former students from the School of Architecture at the University of São Paulo; soon other friends, almost all of them Brazilian and architects, joined us. We decided to have dinner at the Petit Cambodge, a delicious restaurant, in a vibrant, youthful part of the 10ème. At around 9:30, when we were almost done eating, the shots began. We were eating at a sidewalk table, the sound of the machine-gun was very close to us, I saw sparks on the other side of the sidewalk. I swear I first thought those were fireworks, perhaps part of a performance in this neighborhood so full of artists and irreverent people, and I thought it was odd that everyone got up and started running. How extreme! But the shots wouldn’t stop and began to hit all the dishes and bottles all around, and impulsively I joined the flow of people who were running from the restaurant to a grocery store next door. Once in there, I realized that only two of my friends were there; we didn’t know where the other five were. Back inside, there were about twenty of us, and no one had any idea about what had just happened. One of my friends was bleeding, perhaps from glass shards on his forehead.

“Ten minutes later, the firemen arrived and we left; then came the police, as always truculent and insensitive. The scene was indescribable. A Holocaust at the level of those back in the day in Cambodia. I didn’t know where to look, there people on the ground, groups of friends comforting the wounded, people crying, some people already dead lying alone, others almost dying. We were looking for our friends. I saw one of them on the ground, assisted by her French friend, also covered in blood. I approached her. A beautiful young woman, her body so small, her skin so fine, very wounded, who spoke to me serenely in Portuguese: “I need to get out of here, I need to get to a hospital.” We tried to comfort her, to embrace her, to stay by her side while waiting for the medical help that had not arrived yet. The firemen helped her with oxygen and a blanket, but they did not know who needed the most help, they did not know what to do.

“Two other friends appeared, in good shape, and took us to one of my former students, an amazing young man, a person from the most precious kind, who was splayed inside the restaurant. He was very hurt, but conscious, my friends surrounding him, helping him as we could, while he kept repeating with us that he would stay strong. Once in a while I trembled, I begged for medical help, I glanced to one side and the other and was met by the serene gaze of the other victims, perhaps the only people who, partly in shock, partly in the humble or resilient manner of vulnerable people, observed all that movement like angels, waiting, processing, looking at the world from up high, perhaps, more than us, stunned by this world which each day becomes more terrible, more intolerant, more filled with hate, with ressentiment, with fear, with despair. I could not move to help the others, the men, the women, their bodies so fragile, more or less wounded, with their eyes attentive to everything that was happening. We were magnetized by the single goal of saving our friends, and the firemen and the police still not knowing whom to rescue first, who was in worst shape, telling us all the time: “There are 10 dead, there are 20 dead, there are 40 wounded, patientez!”

“I will not get into this issue now, but it is very strange to see so much security, so many military and police on the streets of Paris, and so little preparedness to deal with the eventual victims of what they most fear. I will not get into this, because I just want to tell you that what really concerns me, and increasingly so in life, is the feeling in the singular, the pain in the singular, people in the singular. Something so hard to convey, to share, as we know; and also (and not only) for this reason so ignored by the analyses, the news, the leaders, their technicians and technologies, by the aggressors, by people and groups, accustomed to speaking of tens, of hundreds, of thousands. I don’t speak of their personalities, of whether they are intelligent or not, cool or square, happy or not so much, successful or frustrated. But I speak of their bodies, their pain, the look in their eyes, their frailty, their smallness, our skin that tears so easily, our bones that break, really, our organs that sometimes fail, our breathing, labored sometimes. Our voice that murmurs, whispers, whines, talks, asks for help if needed, when possible, our bodies which collide, can’t move, can support other bodies, comfort them, protect others at risk, run when threatened, our kind of automatic reactions that proclaim all the time: “I want life,” I want to preserve life, this potency of feeling, acting, thinking. So brutalized today.

“But what I wanted to say is that five Brazilians, among them myself, did not have their bodies hit by shots. Our two friends underwent surgery and are recovering. We are all together. Their fragility and their strength, their serene and vulnerable gaze, their delicate way of saying “I feel pain, I don’t, here, please help me,” all of this will make a difference. Because life does not wait. We will go back to Brazil soon. And well. To this Brazil that has given us so many signs of intolerance—religious, ideologic, ethnic, politic, moral, gender intolerance. But, after all, our home. Thank you for your concern!”

Le texte est paru en portugais sur ce lien: 

http://www.saocarlosemrede.com.br/brasil/ex-professor-da-arquitetura-da-usp-de-sao-carlos-estava-no-restaurante-atacado-por-terroristas-em-paris 

Beton Is Beautiful

with
Paul Feigelfeld
Lukas Feigelfeld
20.01.16
60 min
60hertz

Lukas Feigelfeld is currently finishing his final film school project „Hagazussa“, a dark tale about witchcraft, paganism, social exclusion, sexism, and psychological trauma, set in the 15th century Austrian Alps. With his brother Paul, he discussed film making as a technology of fear and analysis. Going back through his studies and career, they explored his dystopian scifi world of his quantum-reality-drama „Interference“, as well as his rogue handheld and POV shot project „Beton/Concrete“, in which Lukas stars himself as a young unemployed Gabber youth of Vienna, whose exploits with his girlfriend into drugs, violence, and crime spiral out of control. Music plays a major role in Lukas’ projects, with the Greek experimental drone string trio Mohammad composing the soundtrack to „Hagazussa“, Roly Porter of Vex’d collaborating on „Interference“ and Lukas himself producing Gabber speedcore tracks for „Beton“.

On Refugees

19.01.16
6 min
Conversation

Dear Georg
 
Time has quickened its flow along the course of this conversation. The horror of the Paris attack is yet to recede, a fresh round of attacks is underway in Jakarta, and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. Earlier this week it was Istanbul.
 
I also read of the attacks on young women in Cologne over the New Year, the inevitable blowback, and Charlie Hebdo’s controversial illustration suggesting Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian boy who drowned en route to Europe, would have grown up to become a sexual molester.
 
The cartoon has drawn the usual reactions from the usual suspects, but it does signal a macabre closed loop of events that you refer to in your mail: the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the refugee crisis, the Paris attacks, the violence in Cologne, and then a Charlie Hebdo cartoon to round things off. As you conclude in your mail – everything is connected to everything else.
 
Thank you for the reference to Zizek’s piece – I had missed in when it came out; and on reading it now – I was struck by an interesting passage towards the end:
 
“When I was recently answering questions from the readers of Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest daily, about the refugee crisis, the question that attracted by far the most attention concerned precisely democracy, but with a rightist-populist twist: When Angela Merkel made her famous public appeal inviting hundreds of thousands into Germany, which was her democratic legitimization? What gave her the right to bring such a radical change to German life without democratic consultation? My point here, of course, is not to support anti-immigrant populists, but to clearly point out the limits of democratic legitimization. The same goes for those who advocate radical opening of the borders: Are they aware that, since our democracies are nation-state democracies, their demand equals suspension of—in effect imposing a gigantic change in a country’s status quo without democratic consultation of its population?”
 
Zizek responds, suggesting that Merkel was correct in not seeking popular consultation. He writes:
 
“Emancipatory politics should not be bound a priori by formal-democratic procedures of legitimization. No, people quite often do NOT know what they want, or do not want what they know, or they simply want the wrong thing. There is no simple shortcut here.”
 
I was interested in your perspective on this issue. What do you think about this limited section I have excerpted above?
 
I agree that popular consultation or a referendum would have made it politically impossible to accept refugees – but I instinctively disagree with his tired formulation that “the people” don’t know what they want, and so we need a principled vanguard to lead the way.
 
In many democracies, significant and irreversible decisions are occasionally solved by referendum; but it is interesting that nation states almost never call for a referendum before going to war – an epic and irreversible decision if there ever was one.
 
So I suppose the question is: Will the arrival of 4 million refugees to a continent of 750 million result in what you call a “metaphysical shift” in Europe – the sort of thing that should require politicians to go back to the people for their views?
 
Am I – by virtue of being far away – underestimating the long-term impact of Europe’s crisis ? As the optimistic resident of crowded chaotic city – 24 million and counting – I am inclined to think that we are simply in the initial “shock and awe” stage of this process, which will eventually culminate in some form of compact of coexistence between those already in Germany and the new arrivals.
 
I am in the midst of reading a fascinating new book – Poverty and the Quest for Life: Spiritual and Material Striving in Rural India – written by Bhrigupati Singh, an anthropologist at Brown University.
 
In his book, Bhrigu offers up the idea of “Agonistic Intimacy” – from the Greek “Agon” or “contest” – to try to understand how “potentially hostile neighbouring groups” might come together to forge a vibrant, yet contested peace by somehow including each other in their respective moral and spiritual worlds.
 
Living together in “agonistic intimacy” involves both conflict and co-habitation, and this subtle balance – Bhrigu reveals – has formed the basis of many human societies across time and space.
 
To extend this argument to the current predicament in Germany: it is possible that Syrian musafirs may not “integrate” immediately and seamlessly; but more likely the communities shall probably forge unexpected and possibly fragile bonds over a long period. Some bonds shall be largely symbolic, influential and fickle – one generation down the line, the child of a Syrian refugee might score a vital goal for the German national team or miss a vital penalty (I suppose here I am thinking of Mesut Ozil). Other bonds shall be less visible but enduring and intimate – like Syrian born workers in factories, Syrian-born nurses and doctors in hospitals. There will also be demagogues – of the likes of Trump, Marine Le Pen, and Nick Griffin, to contest and hinder this process at each step.
 
But is it impossible to believe that, given 20 years, these enduring bonds, prejudices, and encounters, shall converge into a mélange of myth, narrative, and ritual to consecrate the arrival of the musafir and the “recultivation” – to borrow another of Bhrigu’s phrases – of idea of the German identity and people?
 
The problem with Habermas’s “public sphere” – as you point out – is that he assumed that everyone will not just be rational, but will also publicly perform their rationality for all to see. This is demonstrably not the case.
 
A lot of politics, and most of life, is thankfully lived out of this public sphere. We are gradually realizing this in India where every week, a high-ranking government official or minister, says something implausible, violent or outright bigoted, with complete awareness that the national media shall amplify his (its usually always men) statements.
 
I agree that words have consequences, particularly when uttered by seemingly powerful people, but society has a fluid resilience – it coheres even as it transforms. It is this paradoxical resilience that keeps me hopeful.
 
Yours ever
Aman

The Future Was Yesterday

with
Armen Avanessian
Georg Diez
Paul Feigelfeld
Christopher Roth
18.01.16
60 min
60hertz

Christopher Roth, Armen Avanessian, Georg Diez and Paul Feigelfeld talk about Christopher’s upcoming exhibition BLOW OUT (opening at Esther Schipper on January 22, 2016), loops, Theo-Angelo Adornioni, beauty, science fiction, reactors, bunkers, Quentinporary architecture, and more. During the conversation, they wander through the still unopened exhibition, while Armen takes a lot of pictures, before he reads some Adorno to the magical soundtrack of Bobby’s video work.

60pages
People

The Mehringdamned

with
Armen Avanessian
Julia Zange
04.01.16
60 min
60hertz

Gregor Quack and Harald Staun talking about Literary Theory, the editor of Ferdinand von Schirach about his job, Johanna Warsza and Florian Malzacher on the Orbanization of Polish Politics, Anne Waak and Christian Werner on (the impossibility) of Monogamy, Anne Philippi about lipstick as investment, Jeanne Tremsal and Georg Diez about sex addiction, Timo Feldhaus asking the wrong questions, Tom Lamberty declaring Publishing as Love, Christoph Knoth twittering and Annika Kuhlmann still not too drunk to quote Wittgenstein.

No Future pour cette Pipe

27.12.15
4 min
Post

So I think I might have got all the “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” meaning all wrong. 

I’ve recently heard that what it meant is that it wasn’t really a pipe because it was the painting, the image of a pipe, a representation, and not the pipe itself, of course.

All my life I thought it wasn’t a pipe because a pipe being called a pipe is just a convention and not the real thing, like anything could’ve been a pipe, but it ended up being that object. I guess it is the same but with a word instead of an image, I don’t know.

It reminded me of one day, I was standing next to the sink at my first guy’s house. We had a 6 months relationship. Their family was all around the place. Parents and sister, who was originally my friend and the reason I’ve met him. It was always a bit uncomfortable because his parents are German and I was 16 and I didn’t rally know how to behave around them because they would just start speaking in German whenever and they sounded mad or bossy when doing so. Like the first time we we sort of “together”, which was just kissing because I am such a late bloomer. We woke up on the couch together and his mum was shouting in German and I knew it was about him but he made up it was about something else. I guess German or Argentinian, an angry mum sounds like an angry mum all over the world and you just know what it is about no matter the language. Well, back from the flashback, we were in the kitchen, and it was towards the end of our relationship. He wanted to be my boyfriend but I didn’t want that. He seemed awfully depressed that day, he eventually ended up sitting in one of the kitchen’s corner and he just seemed so blue. I asked him kind of in a grumpy way why was he blue. He said he was sad because he thought that when the Sex Pistols sang “No future” they were talking about the inexistence of future because time didn’t really exist, like no past, no present, no future. I thouht it was ridiculous that the Sex Pistols would be that deep regarding the meaning of their songs. So I told him what they meant, like no future because no jobs and no money for their class and the whole England system of classes and shit like that, much more mundane, and he said “Yes, I found that out today, it depresses me so much.” And I’m not sure why, no idea, I think the idea was in the back of my mind already, maybe, but at that exact moment I felt the click. I’ve stopped liking him for good. I was later sitting next to the sink and he would come to me and kiss me and I couldn’t feel it, it felt so weird and he could tell something was off and also I didn’t want displays of affection near his German mum, which is really cool to talk to years later but was kind of scary before (they live a block away from my house). He asked me about it, so I tried to fake the whole thing. Awful. Then a week later, 2 hours before my birthday party, which I always celebrate the night before because mine is always a holiday due to Independece Day, anyway… I felt really uncomfortable and decided I didn’t want to have a boy around during my party so I got together with him. We stopped at this corner with a lovely tree that had red leaves in autumn/winter. This was in July, so winter. There were lovely leaves all over the road in that corner and I told him right there that I wanted to finish it and told him he could still come to the party, which he did. It was so awkward, I felt like a bitch. That night I kinda fell for my best friend’s mate, but that is another story… The next morning, on my birthday, July 9th, it snowed. I was thrilled because that only happens every 50 years or so in Buenos Aires.

What is magic?

with
Helene Hegemann
Julia Zange
Georg Diez
25.12.15
52 min
60hertz

Helene Hegemann, German all purpose Wunderkind, seemed the right person to have along for the first installment of a new venue of 60pages: 60hertz by Julia Zange, Armen Avanessian, Paul Feigelfeld and Georg Diez, generously hosted by Berlin Community Radio at their epic studio right on Weinmeisterpark, where Mitte meets Prenzlauer Berg, every Monday at seven pm and as a podcast for ever here on your very own 60pages site.
Helene had been all over town in the weeks before, she had been shooting the film “Axolotl Roadkill” based on her debut novel which had been first greeted with great enthusiasm and was then damned in a mix of envy and gloating over some allegations of plagiarism. It remains one of the best and most exiting and unique German novels of the last five years, and the filming itself was glamourous and fun enough to promise a movie which lives up to the morbid spectacle of the book.
She was kind of hesitant to talk in English, so we started with an exception to establish a rule of no rules, as is our overall principle. The beauty emerges out of a pattern of thought, ambivalence and fearless forging ahead, rules cannot really help you in that endeavour. The studio was small, it was our first show, so the quality might not be too good. We talked about k-hole and their latest manifesto, we talked about Helene’s work and much more. Enjoy, in German only.

On Refugees

10.12.15
8 min
Conversation

Dear Aman,
 
I was in Paris for the second time. I was there after the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and saw people standing together, night after night at the Place de la République, because they were shocked, angry and sad – and thereby forgetting that they were only one portion of the city. The other portion of the city wasn’t at the Place de la République; they were outside, on the other side of the city walls, which have taken on the form of a highway today, but are similarly as insurmountable as they were in the Middle Ages. They were in the banlieues and they weren’t invited to the celebration of self-assurance. And some of them were openly celebrating the dead cartoonists and the dead Jews.
 
The mood was different ten months later. There were more deaths, but in a certain sense, it was the group of people who had lit candles at the statue of Marianne in January, who had become the target this time around. It was their friends or they themselves who sat in Petit Cambodge or in Belle Équipe, a few meters away from the Place de la République; it was their friends or they themselves who danced in the Bataclan. And, since it’s easier to mourn others than it is to mourn yourself, they were more quiet, more baffled, less angry and less solidary. They really were hurt, because they could feel in their gut where terror comes from: from their country, from their society, bypassing the war in Syria and fueled by the Islamists’ murderous mania. Nevertheless, they were kids that were born here.
 
I think it’s important to understand that. Because an attempt was immediately made of course to make that connection, between the terror and the refugees. That is cynical and wrong, and Mao has nothing to do with it. The people coming to Europe happen to be fleeing exactly the kind of people who killed in Paris. If there are a few terrorists among the hundreds of thousands of people coming, then that’s both statistically a strong probability and is absolutely a problem in terms of its implications for security; however, it’s not a problem that can be fixed by putting a fence up right in front of the refugees’ faces and thereby punishing the masses for something they’ve already been the victims of. 
 
I think Slavoj Zizek said it quite clearly:  “The greatest victims of the Paris terror attacks will be the refugees themselves, and the true winner, behind the platitudes in the style of je suis Paris, will be simply the partisans of total war on both sides. This is how we should really condemn the Paris killings: not just to engage in shows of anti-terrorist solidarity but to insist on the simple cui bono question.” He also wrote that the terrorists are “the Islamo-Fascist counterpart of the European immigration racists.”
 
And so both things actually do correlate – the terror and the refugees –, but not as plainly as a faked Syrian passport would suggest. Both fundamentalism and racism are extreme answers to a reality that is perceived to be increasingly complex. What gets lost here are the reasons for social tensions, economic inequality and tendencies towards societal breakup. I don’t mean that in a sweeping and overarching way. And a lot of the things that both fundamentalists and racists attack are things that I love and are important to me: freedom, individualism, hedonism. But there are also forces in the essence of capitalism that reveal themselves in this reciprocal violence. And Zizek also points this out: “We can’t address the EU refugee crisis without confronting global capitalism,” he writes.
 
What does this have to do with Lageso, with the Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales [Office of Health and Social Affairs Berlin]? You were right to point out the strange circumstance, in which a agency for public health is responsible for the question of refugees. And this is perhaps where the problem begins. Your association with Foucault was also very right. Because evidently what’s happening here, day for day in fact, is one thing: Discipline and Punishment. A veritable biopolitical regime reveals itself here; Giorgio Agamben would be appalled at how validated he has been now. The state manifests itself here in its contemporary biformity: as the administrator of conditions it created itself without laying blame – each individual is just an official in the machine; and as the dysfunctional extension of a system, which isn’t prepared for the almost metaphysical shift that awaits Europe. 
 
Metaphysical? Maybe you’re right, I’m probably exaggerating. But that’s the mood at the moment – the insecurity, a bewilderment, that’s created with a specific goal in mind and is being exploited. The events aren’t metaphysical, they just appear to be so in the eyes of Europeans, which have adjusted to a few calm centuries. What’s happening right now between North Africa, the Middle East and Europe is rather routine in many parts of the world. And that’s exactly why what  you can observe in Lageso, night after night, is so severe and alarming. The image of Europe is being deliberately destroyed here; the image, that Europe had of itself, as a continent of civilization or at least of civilizedness. Now you’ll say, Yes but at whose cost? Who were the victims of colonialism that were necessary for this civilizedness? Or you’ll say, There’s another whiny self-deprecating European, who enjoys nothing more than self-hatred.
 
I don’t know. All I know is that Lageso has made it into the New York Times by now, that there are online petitions and segments in the national news, that leading politicians are going there and writing open letters, that Berlin’s governing coalition could break up over it – and that none of that matters to me. Because it’s already taking too long. And because I’ve seen it for weeks and months, and couldn’t change anything. I wrote about it in my column and many people who agree with me read it. The others wrote vitriolic comments. I was there again after writing you; it was during the day and it seemed more calm and organized than it did during my first visits. But nothing had changed, as we now know. There was still the same chaos and the same arbitrariness. They were playing with people there.
 
And yes, it makes me angry. It may well be that Berlin’s government will fall in the end because of what it tolerated or created in Lageso, this intentional and inhumane mess in which children are lost and peoples’ hope, the most precious thing they still have, is destroyed. It’s the moment that will inform their image of Germany; and if they don’t arrive here, then they will withdraw back into themselves, and that in turn means that there will be parallel societies. But here it is the German state creating this situation of ostracization. Some lawyers in Berlin are filing charges against the senator of social affairs, and they are right in doing so. The pressure must grow. But it’s both sad and sobering that this situation had been tolerated for so long already.
 
The Front National just won in France’s regional elections. Donald Trump just uttered a few exceptionally dumb sentences: No Muslims should be allowed to enter the US. He’s a clown; but he’s a clown that wants to be president. And with each of his utterances of hogwash that get applauded, the measure of rationality slides a bit further to the right. And when somebody makes the suggestion of maybe only registering all Muslims, as Trump himself said a few days ago, then they even seem rational in comparison to the insanity of latter statements. It’s a sick cycle that can be observed here, a study of communicative dysfunctionality. Jürgen Habermas, the great theorist of communicative democracy, always started from the premise that participating parties are rational. But what happens when they simply denounce reason? How does legitimacy through communication work then?
 
These are the questions I’m concerned with right now. I’ll tell you about the history of gastarbeiter [guest laborers] in this country next time. With pleasure. And again about Lageso. Because everything is connected to everything else.
 
Sincerely yours, as always,

Georg

On Refugees

30.11.15
7 min
Conversation

Dear Georg,
 
It seems Europe has changed since we last corresponded: Paris is stricken, Brussels is in lockdown and if early intelligence is to be believed, at least one of the attackers in the Paris attacks this November was traveling on a forged Syrian passport and breached Europe’s borders, to use a Maoist phrase, like a fish amidst a sea of migrants. 
 
Islamic State’s use of a forged Syrian passport appears to be strategic – to make it easy for their agent to slip through borders, while simultaneously preying on European fears about Syrian immigrants. In sections of the public imagination, the figure of the migrant/musafir transforms once more: from one who flees terror into one who perpetrates terror. Some in Europe were waiting for this moment – Poland has already announced its intention to seal its borders.
 
France, the country that gave us the Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen, the rights of man and citizens (which didn’t apply in the colonies), is in a state of emergency where many of these rights stand suspended, and the question of citizenship is open to question. Earlier this year, French courts ruled it lawful to rescind the citizenship of dual-passport holders convicted of terrorism, effectively creating two classes of citizen. This interpretation of the French civil code was applied to man originally from Morocco, a former colony.
 
The journey of the musafir has suddenly become still harder. Does this mean, as some have suggested, that the terrorists are ‘winning’? I don’t think so, but let us set that imprecise question aside for the moment, and turn to your vivid account of your visit to the Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales, or Lageso – it offers us some ideas to think with.
 
It is fascinating that the Office for Health and Social Affairs is responsible for the registration of refugees. 
It reminds me of Panopticism, the third chapter of Discipline and Punish, where Foucault describes how transformation of Power’s dreams can be read in the difference in its response to leprosy – which gave rise to rituals of exclusion – and the plague – which gave to disciplinary projects.
 
Those afflicted by leprosy are excluded from society; those with the plague are registered, numbered, quarantined to their quarters and continuously monitored by authority. 
 
In this new form of power, which relentlessly partitions and subdivides itself down to the level of the individual, Focault writes, “The registration of the pathological must be constantly centralized.”
 
But what he writes next is even more insightful and beautiful, “Behind the disciplinary mechanisms can be read the haunting memory of ‘contagions’, of the plague, of rebellions, crimes, vagabondage, desertions, people who appear and disappear, live and die in disorder.”
 
So it is very important to document this process, as you have in your letter. The immigrant – a person who appears and disappears, lives and dies in disorder – is always a troublesome subject for a nation, because she destablisizes the category of the “citizen”. 
Thank you for sharing this, and I look forward to more news and details of your visits to Legeso.
 
You ask, “Aman, how do you see an ideal order? What do you see for the future? What can Europe learn, from India, from other parts of the world?”
 
These are interesting and difficult questions. 
Let’s start with the last one: what can Europe learn from India and the rest of the world? 
 
I’m not sure if this particular email is the right place to delve into this in great detail, but in 1947 approximately 14 million people were displaced when the Indian sub-continent was divided into India and Pakistan. 
 
There were riots, massacres, transit camps and incidents of compassion on both sides of the new border. My grandparents were part of this mass migration – they came from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and settled in New Delhi. In time, in their new surroundings, the shock and horror of the partition lessened and presumably gave way to more banal and ordinary skirmishes, arguments and ultimately some sort of truce. 
 
The memory of partition and the existence of Pakistan continue to inform a significant part of public discourse in India. Of late, supporters of our current government have taken to telling their critics to “go to Pakistan” if they express dissatisfaction with the policies and (in)actions of the ruling party.
 
This insult is often hurled by Hindus, who came from present day Pakistan, at Muslims who actually chose to remain in present day India. It is an interesting dynamic where those who chose to move challenge the patriotism of those who chose to stay: revealing the fragility of terms like “culture”, “migrant”, “original inhabitants” – terms that are used with great frequency, but with little sense of history, in current discourse.
 
My brief description of the Partition is a gross simplification of a long and messy process; but I think the broad lesson is that the current situation in Europe is far from insurmountable.
 
You ask – is the nation state breaking up? I don’t think the administrative frameworks of state-form are in too much danger, but I think the “nation-state” as a lens for understanding the world, movement of capital, interests of “people”, the deployment of labour, the assessment of fair wages etc, is becoming less and less useful. 
 
Populations appear less interested in the nationality question, as is evident from the millions of people from the developing world trying their best to acquire a new passport. Rather than view the march of the musafir as the emigration of Syrians/ Iraqis/ Libyans/ Gambians/ Somalis to Germany/France/Austria/ Greece; let us view this as the march of labour to the citadel of capital in an effort to secure a new deal. 
 
What if we consider this current process as a logical extension of the “Occupy” movements that we have witnessed across the world post “Occupy Wall Street”.
 
If the world is a single, increasingly integrated, economic unit (as we are often told it is), and every person is evaluated on her economic worth as a potential worker in this economy (as is usually the case) – then perhaps this summer was an instance of a global workers revolt, involving workers from Africa and the Middle East.
 
Adopting such a worldview may result in more useful solutions; particularly since the rest of the world is already viewing the migration along these terms.
 
Here’s an excerpt from a news report from the recently concluded emergency meeting on migration between the EU and African leaders at Malta.
 
“African leaders such as Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou say that $2 billion — which comes in addition to more than $20 billion that the EU and its members already contribute to Africa — is not enough. There should be less aid and more investment, they say, and multinationals should pay their taxes. The African Union estimates that the continent loses $50 billion annually through tax fraud and illicit practices by such companies.
“If we could combat tax evasion, that would stop us calling for aid,” Sall [Prime Minister of Senegal] said. “Terrorism is an issue, wherever war is waged people flee — where there’s less development people flee towards development.”
“We have to look at migration serenely, take the drama out of it,” he added.
 
Of course the pronouncement of African leaders reflect their own domestic compulsions – it is easier to explain out-migration from your country (say Senegal) if you can blame it elsewhere (say Europe) – but the suggestion to look at migration “serenely” suggests a realistic assessment of the limits of governance and coercion.
 
I’ll end here with some questions of my own. I am interested in knowing more about West Germany’s “guest worker programme” that saw millions of Turkish citizens come to work in German factories in the post-war boom. Looking back, how did this program play out, and is there any way in which the experiences of the 1960s may inform our thinking of the present?
 
As always, I look forward to your reply
yrs
Aman

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