Leo Sun The following is a classic story, often used by socialists to highlight the "evils of a capitalist society" - the small town grocer gets mercilessly taken out by the new Wal-Mart in town. Being a large national company, Wal-Mart has the sprawling global resources and is willing to sacrifice margins to take out local competitors. In the end, customer loyalty means nothing and the grocer goes bankrupt, decades of hard work decimated overnight. This is a well-known anecdote referring to the impact of globalization on small businesses.
Instead, an honest assessment of the economic and regime-change policies that fuel migration is needed, reports Andrew Spannaus. By Andrew Spannaus Anti-establishment political forces in the both the United States and Europe have seized on the issue of illegal immigration, seen by many voters as a threat to both economic well-being and cultural identity, as a key component of their electoral strategies.
While Donald Trump has made the wall with Mexico one of his priorities and has worked to uphold a ban on immigration from a number of Muslim nations, in Europe, numerous political parties have been following this script for many years. Main irregular border crossing routes into Europe.
European Union Drawing on the economic anxiety of the middle class, tied to fear of being undercut by low-wage work and worries concerning terrorism and cultural changes, anti-immigrant sentiment has become a key weapon of right-wing populist forces.
These forces have drawn on the narrative of governing elites that pursue their own, limited interests, while seeking to hold down the majority of society through policies that rob them of both economic opportunity and their cultural heritage.
The sentiment is significant and growing, contributing to the growth in support for populist causes in a series of recent elections in Europe — including in Germany and Austria — as well as a noticeable shift in attitudes towards immigration in the past two years, even among more moderate segments of the population.
International organizations that deal directly with the management of undocumented migrant flows are working actively to combat this perception.
They stress not only the importance of defending the human rights of migrants under international law, but also that even with the recent peak — that exceeded one million inbut dropped back to belowlast year — the numbers involved are manageable.
Further, migration should not be seen as a threat, but rather as an opportunity, international organizations stress. In opening a high-level panel discussion on Dec.
This involves highlighting the positive contributions of migrants in economic terms, based, for example, on the circulation of skills and knowledge among different countries. Immediately afterwards, Gervais Apparve, Special Policy Advisor to the IOM, waded into the thorny issue of the relationship between migration and globalization.
Apparve lamented that this interconnectedness has not yet been extended to the area of unrestricted mobility, which for the most part remains the province only of the well-to-do.
With this comment, the IOM representative inadvertently exposed the weakness in the approach taken by international organizations: Globalization, Migration and Paranoia There is a widespread, and understandable, reaction against the disappearance of barriers in areas such as trade and the transfer of capital, which have had negative effects for many in the Western world.
The reduction of regulations on commerce and finance has often allowed large corporations to exploit low-cost labor and prioritize short-term financial gain over stable investment.
The result has been a race to the bottom in numerous sectors, entailing job losses, instability and poverty for the former middle class.
Yet, the attempt to create a positive attitude towards migrants from impoverished areas by linking their plight to globalization can inadvertently stoke fears that migration is part of a deliberate process to lower the living standards of wide segments of the population, creating competition for scarce resources among those who are unable to access the massive wealth being concentrated near the top of society.
The organizations that seek to combat negative views of migration seem reluctant to recognize that aiming to build a positive narrative by emphasizing benefits rather than risks is not enough.
Indeed, changing negative views without dealing with the underlying political and economic problems that fuel the current turmoil could prove impossible. In political terms, the relationship is obvious. Indeed almost all of the populist groups that promote anti-immigration views also draw on economic discontent.
Although their solutions may be circumspect, it would be a mistake to call anti-establishment forces insincere, or to dismiss them as lacking serious policy proposals. Instead, the issues they raise should be tackled directly.
If governments ignore the issues, they contribute to the image of a political class refusing to admit mistakes, an image all too easily exploited by right-wing populists.
Seeking to shift the overall view of migration from negative to positive, the new narrative of the international community is based on several assertions: Indeed, the overall number of migrants to Europe, including those who move for work, study or family reasons, remains at a level of over two million per year; thus a few hundred thousand undocumented arrivals should be entirely manageable in this context.
The goal expressed by many participants in the Vienna event, for example, is to eliminate the distinction made between those who come through official channels, and the migrants who arrive undocumented, making the dangerous journey through Northern Africa and the Mediterranean Sea.
This brings us to another argument: An influx of younger workers from other nations contributes to rebalancing the workforce in demographic terms, thus avoiding a situation in which the ratio of active workers to retirees becomes so low as to call into question the sustainability of pension and welfare systems.
Improving the financial prospects of young workers, or getting them out of the ranks of the unemployed, could have a rapid impact on birth rates and population trends in general. It is also somewhat cynical to claim that poor immigrants provide a positive economic contribution based on the fact that they are willing to work low-wage jobs.
This contradiction brings the discussion back to the economic policies associated with globalization, putting both low-wage European workers and migrants in the same boat, so to speak. Playing destitute migrants against unemployed Europeans is not a recipe for social cohesiveness; rather, it shows the deeper policy problems facing the Western world as a whole.
A return to an approach based on promoting a decent standard of living even among those doing labor-intensive jobs, could go a long way towards reducing the fears in European nations regarding the arrival of undocumented migrants. Extending such an approach globally, by making a serious commitment to combatting poverty in the least developed countries around the world, would also change the equation for many migrants, making migration a choice rather than a necessity in order to survive.
Andrew Spannaus is a journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He is the founder of Transatlantico.Globalization Partners is a Global PEO and Employer of Record, helping companies grow their business in over countries.
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