You are here

The refugee crisis and Western responsibility

Jul 01,2018 - Last updated at Jul 01,2018

From the dawn of history until the beginning of the sixteenth century, life in all societies and civilizations around the world was basically the same, following a routine pattern of existence with little change.  The rise of Western civilization, coinciding with the Protestant Reformation and its belief in the ideas of progress and change, based on rationalism, changed all that: On this earth, no longer was man’s destiny   beyond his reach, dependent on the mechanical forces of nature or on religion, but within his power to control even the forces of nature to a large extent.

Western civilization changed not only the style of life but even the very process of thought; the relationship between man and nature and between him and God.  While great strides and advances were made in the standard of living and the quality of life, and in arts, letters, science and psychology, Western society also introduced negative aspects that many believe far outweigh its merits:  Nationalism, hitherto hardly known, arose and generated a feeling of racial superiority, which further degenerated into the extreme hate and brutal ideas of Nazism and Fascism, making a clear distinction between the white and other races of mankind, leading up to colonialism and imperialism in the name of the “white man’s burden” and a “civilising mission”.

Quickly, the puritans, the white settlers of North America in particular, found justification for their “superiority” in the Bible, claiming the land for themselves as the “new Israel, the promised land”. In South America, New Zealand, Australia, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, the age of Western exploration ushered in colonialism and not only the rationalisation of Western racial superiority, but capitalism and the transfer of wealth and even people; slavery to enrich the colonial powers and their peoples. Nothing was spared in the subjugation of these territories and their people, they were not even spared biological warfare, the indigenous populations purposely infected with deadly diseases hitherto unknown to them: smallpox, measles and sexually transmitted diseases. Militarily, unheard of weaponry and unimagined means of torture were used. Merchants, settlers, colonisers and even missionaries were commissioned to inculcate the idea of white supremacy.

“America first” as articulated by US President Donald Trump is really an old idea introduced by the white American settlers and given the power and prestige of the United States of America in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which proclaims Latin America and the Caribbean as “a sphere of influence only for America”. Trump is only expanding on this and other later American doctrines espoused by previous presidents — Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan — to include the whole world, lately to include even outer space; Donald Trump ordered the creation of a space force as the sixth branch of the US military.

Europe, America, Canada, Australia and the entire Western world should be reminded of their legacy and ask themselves how it is that the wealth in resources and finances exploited from these less technically advanced nations and transferred to their coffers over the past five centuries can now be denied to the few immigrants clamoring on their shores and at their walls. Have they no responsibility for the impoverishment of Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where they continue to support, without reservation, blatant settler colonialism and apartheid in Palestine?

The few thousands of Latin Americans on the southern border of America, exploited for centuries, like the African, Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants are the victims of historical processes caused, mainly, by the West. Italy, Hungary and other European states, instead of loudly complaining about the influx of refugees should ask themselves why the Iraqis, Syrians, Palestinians and Yemenis are migrating in the first place.

It was Western armies that created the latest waves of desperate refugees to Europe, and the forces of mercantile capitalism that drove their exodus to America.

Instead of complaining, the West should be thinking about ways of sharing the world’s wealth. And, instead of building walls, like Israel, the United States and Europe should start developing these long-exploited lands. Otherwise, the divide will continue to expand — there will be more and more refugees and asylum seekers.

Western leaders and naval, military and strategic planners are, of late, huddled together, worrying about the identity and destiny of their countries, and busily planning ways to ward off the waves of refugees  coming to their shores, by land and by sea, from regions of the world they themselves have exploited and impoverished and, in some cases, still do. Instead, they should begin seriously thinking about ways of developing these countries, paying back some of the debt owed them and sharing the fruits of the earth so that their people need not look for places of asylum from poverty, so that their own countries will be able to provide good living conditions, where they can support themselves and their families, educate their children and live in dignity and peace.

Positive actions should be taken to solve the problems of why people migrate, rather than building walls and barriers to punish them for seeking asylum and refuge.

44 users have voted.

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
16 + 1 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.


Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.