The Paradigm of Difference
Humanitarian crisis is not something new, we just have a name for it now. It has always been so, with every exodus, every spread out disease, every natural event that altered a seemingly save environment.
Somewhere along the line people “signed” the Social Contract. And, as it happens with every contract, it has rules. Security, family, division of labor, all these things are, in one way or another, defined by said contract. But the major rule is the one that divide us from the others. That’s what really matter.
The idea of division, la distinction, becomes the mother of all social interaction. It’s a physical force; one body cannot occupy the same space of another. Nor can a belief, a color, gender, language… That’s when lines are drawn, borders.
Nowadays this can be seen in action in a place that, give or take, has always been so: Middle East versus Occident (both as constructs of an ideia). The historical examples are as vast as the conflicts themselves. This time around is no different. A civil war, sparked by internal and external conflicts, forces people to migrate, causing yet another conflict on the lands they arrive.
The conditions could not be worse: precarious means of living and transportation may kill as fast as the conflict these people are trying to flee from. News of drownings, people dying from cold and exhaustion are common place now. And the situation doesn’t get any better at the final destination. Europe, even before Syrian civil war, was already in crises too, one caused by a political and economical system that is fated to cause these types of imbalances.
Shortage of labor, decreasing birth rates, droughts and floods, and now, hundreds upon hundreds of migrants, trying to share what little is left of the Welfare State. This was bound to cause yet another crisis. The solution seems nowhere close. The world is built with dominoes, push a piece and the ones along the line can only watch in desperation as the crumbling wave approaches.
The economic issues will eventually be solved or, at least, be contained.
What doesn’t appear to be having any solution are the lines (or walls) that separate the people. Even if economic stability returns (if it ever existed), people will continue to segregate themselves. Black people are not white people, white people are not all white people, men are not women, men are not even men. Police officers are not “civilian”. Unfortunately, the list goes on. Everyone has suffered some kind of social barrier at some point in their lives, others, died for it. That was the Contract; they are not us.
If this equation is ever to be solved, there has to be another article, another line in the Contract, one that addresses the difference. Not as something outside the thought pattern, but as the pattern itself. There is only the distinction, its physical. One body cannot occupy the same space of another, but they do coexist in time.
La Pensée Saulvage – Claude Levi Strauss
The Social Contract – Jean Jacques Rousseau
The Capital – Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels
Politics as a Vocation – Max Weber
La Distiction – Pierre Bourdieu