The delayed and despicable reactions of politicians from the foot-dragging David Cameron to the racist, "radical right" Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán to the current refugee crisis have resulted in a global upsurge of activism, with tens of thousands signed up to rally in central London and across Europe this Saturday as part of #EuropeSaysWelcome: European Day of Action for Refugees. The continent’s conscience has been moved as people all over the world upturn the racist, exclusionary narratives of politicians and the liberal and right-wing press with acts of compassion, generosity and everyday solidarity.
We have put together a reading list intended to better our understanding of the underlying causes of the crisis, including: racism, political inertia and capitalist war.
Update — Calais refugee library flooded with thousands of books: "Creator of Jungle Books urges people to donate money, not books, so refugees can cook – and read – in safety"—Guardian, 7th September 2015.
Verso London is sending books to Jungle Books (or Livres de la jungle in French), the makeshift library at the Calais migrant camp known as the Jungle. Mary Jones, who set up the library, wants to add more books in the native languages of the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and hopes that eventually, the camp inhabitants will run the library. Besides stocking around 200 books, the Guardian reports, “the library supports a school that offers classes to the refugees and asylum seekers that live in the camp.”
In January 1978, Margaret Thatcher, then leader of the opposition, gave what became one of her most quoted television interviews. "People," she told ITV's World in Action
, "are really rather afraid that this country might be swamped by people with a different culture." Those words gave birth to a tenet of modern British politics: that Margaret Thatcher stole the far right's thunder by addressing the tricky subject of immigration. But is it true?
The background to her interview was public hostility to immigrants from Britain's former colonies. This wasn't exactly new: racism had shadowed the arrival of Commonwealth citizens from the 1940s onwards, peaking violently on occasions such as the 1958 Notting Hill race riots. But from the late 1960s, that racism had begun to find a growing political expression, in the form of the National Front.
Out in the UK this month, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and Steven Speilberg's Lincoln has energized interest in a period of American history defined by race. Rather than make our own critiques or slap downs, we present these books to fill the gaps left by Hollywood.
Labour MP Jon Cruddas looks back on a very different Olympic year, 2000, in his review of Daniel Trillings Bloody Nasty People
in this weeks New Statesman
. Rather than the "positive national story" of this year's games, instead we saw the opening days of a decade of political and racial antagonism fostered by the far-right, unwittingly colluded in by both Conservative and Labour politicians who "swerved around the question of modern national identity and triangulated instead between the nationalist right and the liberal left".