Expulsion and Exile

We must not fail to see that the logics of expulsion which are mulitplying the end products of chains of transactions in the dynamics of our age, are the producers and factories of refugees, of  calls for border walls, of wild claim-justifications for abductions, and expelling of low-income or unemployed persons from social welfare and health care. This cannot be held at bay or held in denial on behalf of advocacy for our children’s cause. We seek relief of the acute burden of expulsion – of ourselves and our children from law, from security, from access, from regimes of protection – which has infected the body politic.

At the dawn of the regimes of neoliberalism, there were displacements and de-industrialization, which were intense and brutal in their devastation. Depradation struck whole cities; whole sectors and whole economies were despoiled. Ever and always as it has been with such grand-scale transformations of the structure of urban, regional, and global environments as they have functioned under capital, the assault was both preceded and tailed by legal regimes that altered and ratified massive social effects. The tidal waves and tsunamis that washed millions into streets, subway stations, onto curbs and into tunnels, were accompanied by agreements, legal arrangements, sovereign rights of property and territory that held at bay the defense of dispossessed children, parents, workers, and tenants; colonized lives were rendered technologically superfluous, deportable, and expellable.

Once necessary and skilled labor, from oil processing workers to port loaders and shippers became deportable excess populations, lacking in or severed from local ties. Whole conurbations of industrial labor could be expelled, and the services funded by their activity, ended. Whole regional economies were lain waste, as it became a strategic advantage of operations of global business to render locally employed labor as deportable and socially expendable as possible. And what was needed to shore up this regime of expulsion? Alterations, justifications and continuities in the rule of law.

Now come the scouring, reinterpretations and adaptions of treaties and international “trade agreements” which facilitated the globalization of labor resources, and degraded the protections required of sovereign states. It was a small step from there, to the sectoral specialization of the assault on previously supposedly “sacred” grounds of social relations. They came for our parents and changed their names. They came for our towns and emptied them of value and population. And then, our children fell into the abyss of the unprotected, the expelled, the “concentrated” for ease and facilitation of expulsion.

It is hard to look at our children and those of the most abject of refugees and victims of social abandonment and see their connected plights; but the links are real.  It’s difficult to arouse an equally deserving level of sympathetic empathy for the eliminated family members stolen from us with those of the vast floods of drowning, suffering, cold and embittered lives of the refugees of the spectacle of border camps, fleeing from guards and nationalist mobs across the globe. But to fail to perceive the connectedness of our lost children’s plight with theirs may be the greatest failing of all. If we can’t see how intimately the formal elements are comprised of similarities of law which deprive persons of their humanity, then how can we hope to have our wishes redeemed? Are they so private and unrelated to our little sisters and brothers in the muddy tents? I think not.

This is my blood, and my son’s, on the doorpost. This is our Passover. A utopian dream that would do the impossible: redeem us, turn time to run backward, and restore to us the loss of our humanity, and make us worthy of our children. We have to make common cause with the dispossessed, the disparaged, the disdained, and the disrespected fellows of our species. The time for that is now.

Rui and Daddy, New York Passover
Refugees – Federation des Societes Juives en France – Passover 1947
Rui on Passover
Berlin 1946 – Distribution of Passover foods

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