The Advantages of Isolation: War on Terror and European Refugee Debate

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:55
Location: Hörsaal 16 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Krzysztof SWIREK, Institute of Sociology, Poland
In European debate on refugee crisis in 2015 several Eastern European countries protested against the quota system. In Polish public debate on the problem, right wing politicians and journalists often used the argument, that letting refugees in would be an act of „importing terrorism” into country. The language and imaginaries of war on terror was used not as a government's tool for rationalization of greater surveillance or security oriented politics, but rather became disseminated in broader public sphere and among right wing activists as a way of arguing for isolation and no-solidarity stance.

That way the semiotics of war on terror became a part of larger discourse, in which the community is shown as a fortress under siege. I will try to draw connections between these occurrences and an observation made by Fredric Jameson several years ago, that in times of late capitalism the middle classes of affluent societies are more and more perceiving themselves figuratively as closed in a fortress encircled by hostile surroundings.

I will further argue, that in times of late capitalism, certain (representational) 'politics of isolation' became necessary structural counterpart of global situation of multidimensional and disorganized conflicts: it provides a comfortable mapping tool and excuse for inaction at the same time.

Furthermore, I want to observe, that discourse of isolation in face of uncertainty is not produced only at the level of nationwide politics. The isolation of individual, constantly under threat in face of growing uncertainty, finds its reinforcement and justification in discourse of entrepreneurial self. Discourse of community under siege is an allegorical equivalent of the latter on the national level.