The Right’s Favourite Pass-time: Othering Migrants

Jacob Braun

The topics of migration and democratisation stand out to me most succinctly in this week’s readings. In the years following German reunification and the dissolution of the USSR, these topics were on the minds of everyone in the Western Bloc; how to manage the influx of migrants from formerly Communist states, and how to properly integrate those states into the Capitalist free market world order. Combined with the increasing globally-interconnecting environment of the 1990s and early 2000s, issues that arose during this period continue to plague European politics to this day. Most notably, I would like to draw parallels between increased foreign migration to Germany after reunification and increased migration to Europe as a whole resulting from the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011.

As we’ve discussed together in class, racism and “othering” seems to be a constant in the ideology-bundle of right-wing populism. Throughout the Cold War, large numbers of Turkish immigrants migrated to West Germany to rectify their postwar need for labour. Many of them were unable to become German citizens, as West German citizenship law operated under jus sanguinis (meaning your parents must be German for you to be German). It would only be until 2000 when Germany would reform their citizenship law to jus soli (meaning if you are born on German soil, you are German). Yet, the presence of a large non-German population would spark a wave of neo-Nazi resurgence and attacks on foreigners from people desperately trying to keep Germany for the Germans. Come 2011 with the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War and subsequently the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War*, the German right-wing would capitalise on a large influx of non-white Muslim immigrants to popularise their platform. Similarly to the influx of Turks, discrimination and violence would befall these populations.

*This title may now go to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War, which has produced almost 15 million refugees displaced worldwide compared to Syria’s 11 million.

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