After having hosted adverts for David Beckham’s underpants, Carlsberg beer and Ninjago warriors, last night we wanted to project something more meaningful on to the white cliffs of Dover. Working with guerrilla projectionists Feral X, we lit up the cliffs with the 5 metre high words ‘Refugees Welcome,’ as a riposte to the network of racist, far-right groups who are planning on marching in Dover tomorrow.
These far right groups are coming to Dover to fan the flames of hatred and xenophobia, often generating a lot of media coverage in the process. But across the UK thousands of groups and communities are acting in many different ways to offer practical and personal support to refugees who have fled desperate circumstances to get here. Last night’s projection, alongside these efforts across the country, presents an alternative vision of the UK, one built on compassion, solidarity and recognition of common humanity.
There is no migrant crisis. It is true that thousands of people die every year attempting to cross the Mediterranean and the Aegean. Over 30,000 migrants have died in their attempt to reach or stay in Europe since 2000, while refugees and migrants spend over €1 billion a year to reach Europe.
But this is not a crisis caused by migrants. It is a crisis caused by war, poverty and inequality. Rich countries, with the help of the highly profitable security industry, have tried their best to use cruel immigration controls, fences, walls and even guns to force people to accept lives of violence and destitution. This is not the solution. No matter how high the walls of Fortress Europe become, the only way to solve this problem is to deal with its root causes.
In fact, freedom of movement can help us defeat poverty and inequality, developing knowledge, skills and understanding, as well as very large flows of remittances from the global north to the south. What’s more, most people in Europe and North America believe that they have a right to free movement. Given that our economy depends upon an unjust economic system that extracts resources from the global south, shutting these people out of our societies is little better than perpetuating apartheid on a global scale.
We need to argue for a better system. We must work towards free movement for everyone.
Part of the blog has been adapted from a forthcoming briefing putting forward the case for opening borders. Solidarity with all those mobilizing on Saturday against the far right.