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Can Societies Integrate Migrants Peacefully?

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Society
Wordcount: 3672 words Published: 18th Nov 2021

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Can societies integrate migrants peacefully? Should differences between people be acknowledged or a dominant culture be enforced?

This essay will examine whether societies can integrate migrants peacefully and whether differences between people be acknowledged or a dominant culture be enforced by identifying the key moral and ethical frameworks and linking it to contemporary world politics.

This essay will critically assess the moral-philosophical underpinnings of approaches to ethics in the study of contemporary world politics. This essay will apply the theories of ethics currently used in International Relations and engage contemporary real world problems.

Moreover, this essay will define immigration and migration, and exemplify why the use of the term migration is partially incorrect in the use of this essay. This essay will define Liberalism, positive liberty and negative liberty in order to argue that restrictions on immigration violate negative liberty.

The restrictions of immigration is argued in order to exemplify the importance of the host society of the migrants and to apply the ethics currently used in International Relations to assess and engage the migration issue.

Moreover, this essay will assess the argument of open borders from Utilitarianism and expedite that erecting boundaries against migrants leads to inefficiencies.

Moreover, throughout this essay Charles Taylor’s “Thymos” will be assessed critically, by tying it to contemporary real world data and Liberalist ideas.

Additionally, this essay will consider historical examples by using the ethical theory of visual representation as espoused by Roland Bleiker, thus refugee representation will be analysed, whilst espousing historical United Nations frameworks of migration.

Moreover, this essay will critically assess Georg Simmel’s essay “The Stranger” in order to by conceptualising the identity of migrants. Importantly, this essay, after the ‘definition paragraph’ will employ the word “stranger” instead of migrant or immigrant; reason which will be apparent throughout; the term refugee will not be omitted as it is substantial for Bleiker’s section.

This essay will argue that differences between people cannot be acknowledged and a dominant culture cannot be enforced, however migrants can integrate but not to the standard of natives.

Immigration can be described through the process of one person moving from one state to another (Bertram 2015). However, one can be deemed an immigrant only if their stay is indefinite in the new country (Bertram 2015). Therefore, tourists and students studying abroad are not immigrants as the visits undertaken par are comparatively short periods (Bertram 2015). Peoples visiting for short periods can be deemed as migrants, however, societies need not integrate migrants as their visits are temporary (Bertram 2015). Therefore, this essay will deem the issue of societies integrating immigrants instead of migrants.

Nonetheless, as espoused by Georg Simmel, immigrants are considered strangers (Bertram 2015). Throughout this essay the term migrant or immigrant will be referred as “stranger”, another reason why the term "stranger" is used rather than a foreigner in this essay is to highlight the fact that it is difficult for strangers to integrate (Bertram 2015).

Conversely, Immigration is conceptually eloquent due to how it sits against the claims of the state as an entity against the individual rights of citizens and "strangers" (Bertram 2015). The term stranger is used because a citizen cannot uphold a state's right of declaring boundaries for immigration without affirming that strangers have liberal rights, thereof, freedom of movement, which entitles them to move from one state to another (Bertram 2015).

Additionally, it can be stated that people treasure the right to cross political boundaries (Bertram 2015). Whether it be to be with a partner, pursuit of an economic opportunity or the need to escape political persecution back home; these are the three most common examples people have for entering a new state (Bertram 2015).

Moreover, Liberalism is the endorsement of the protection of basic liberties, for instance, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, etc. All liberals, regardless of the theoretical differences, agree for the protection of these policies. (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007) Beyond the policies, liberals agree about how the justification of the policy is structured. The burden of justification resides with who would restrict liberty than those who would exercise it (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007). Stanley Benn states "Justification falls on interference not on the one interfered with" (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007).

In Liberalism, there are two moral statutes, which are positive and negative liberty (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007). Positive liberty is the substantive freedom to form and pursue one's conception of the good, whereas negative liberty is the right of non-interference from government or governmental body (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007).

Although the perceived threat towards people's safety and the state's national security posed by foreign terrorists has led to greater lobbying for immigration restrictions (Wellman 2011), focusing on non-interference this essay will argue that immigration restrictions violate negative liberty which means that it involves coercive interference (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007).

One important reason why coercive interference is wrong in the first impression is that it needs justification which regards the coerced party's judgement to another's (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007). Michael Huemer writes "coercion requires a justification. This may be because of how coercion disrespects persons seeking to by-pass their reason and manipulate them through fear, or how it seems to deny the action any and equality of another person's" (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007).

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Therefore, liberals may argue that the burden of proof rests with the restrictions of liberal rights (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007). However, Rawls states that each person is entitled to the "most extensive total system of basic liberties suited with a similar system of liberty for all. Basic liberty can only be limited for the sake of liberty." Yet, it is important to look at the utilitarian case as it correlates with the differences between people (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007).

The argument for open borders from Utilitarianism is that open borders vie each state to look through the strangers as a whole in intolerable results (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007). In addition to economic inefficiencies, it sustains a global-politic system where the wealthy and powerful states have minuscule incentive to share their wealth with the world's poor or use their political leverage to ensure that dictators do not tyrannise their subjects (Freiman and Hidalgo 2007).

Wellman states that the main worry states have about erecting borders is that it leads to inefficiencies (Wellman 2011). Thus a barrier against the stranger entering the new political boundary excludes them of capitalising on their potential (Wellman 2011). Thus, excluding strangers from the domestic labour market, Wellman expresses is similar to that of excluding men and women into distinct categories of employment (Wellman 2011).

Nonetheless, Charles Taylor expresses moral-philosophical conduct called Thymos, which is expressed in two modules (Fukuyama 2019). The first is "megalothymia", which can be defined as a desire to be identified as superior (Fukuyama 2019). For example, society's pre-electoral democracy rested on hierarchies and the belief in the inherent excellence of a certain class of peoples – aristocrats, royals, which was fundamental to its social community (Fukuyama 2019).

Yet, the issue with megalothymia is that for everyone recognised as superior, far more are seen as inferior, thus receive no recognition of their human worth (Fukuyama 2019). Taylor continues to state that more feeling of resentment comes to light when one is disrespected (Fukuyama 2019). Yet, an equally cogent feeling – "isothymia", makes people desire to be seen just as equal to every other one (Fukuyama 2019).

It is stated that the rise of modern democracy is the narrative of isothymia's succession over megalothymia; societies who recognise the rights of a minuscule community are conceded against the ones who recognize every other one as deep-rooted equal (Fukuyama 2019). However, in liberal democracies, equality under the law does not answer in economic or social equality (Fukuyama 2019).

Yet, with the steady increase of globalisation in the contemporary age, an increase of global inequality, international terrorism; the debate on immigration has become more apparent (Fukuyama 2019). For example, from the beginning of the 1970s to the 2000s the number of electoral democracies increased from 35 to more than 110.

During the same timeframe, the global output of goods and services increased four-fold, and growth incubated throughout all regions of the world (Fukuyama 2019). The segment of global extreme poverty decreased from 42 per cent in 1993 to 18 per cent in 2008. However, the growth fostered benefitted the wealthy and well-educated thus inequality increased in developed democracies (Fukuyama 2019).

Nonetheless, discrimination continues to survive against a large number of communities, and market economies produce large outcomes of inequality. Societies cannot ignore identity.

Identity is an important moral philosophy (Fukuyama 2019). Thymos emancipates a moral idea that the inner selves of people are not recognised thus suggesting that external society may be repressed and false (Fukuyama 2019). To enact a dominant culture on strangers would not be possible as Liberal democracy is built on Liberalist ideas; it also would not be possible as it will lead to their dignity to disappear (Fukuyama 2019).

Liberal democracy is built on liberalist ideas, however, Fukuyama states that the remedy is not to abandon the idea of identity, which is central to the way that modern people think about themselves and their surrounding societies; it is to define a larger and more integrative national identity that takes into account the de-facto diversity of liberal democratic societies (Fukuyama 2019).

Considering historical examples, a broad trend through visual representations of refugees can be traced through Bleiker.

As espoused in Visual Global Politics, refugee representation through visual means changed from the periods of the Cold War to economic protectionism and then to a preoccupation with security (Bleiker 2018).

As a result of these shifts, refugees have become less welcome; they are not seen as brave standing up to oppression but are seen as economic burdens or as security threats (Bleiker 2018). Currently, refugees are seen as disempowered beings in need of charity (Bleiker 2018). Visual representation plays a significant capacity in the acceptance of refugees. The United Nations High commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), formed in 1951 as a temporary measure of three years has become a permanent measure to this day in the global arena (Bleiker 2018).

The mandate was formed in response to the displacement of eight million refugees from the Second World War and the onset of the Cold War (Bleiker 2018). The mandate allowed the framework for the international protection of refugees and the implementation of permanent solutions to the refugee problem, however, it heavily relies on the state willingness to enact upon. Therefore, achieving strong public support in the West is a priority for UNCHR (Bleiker 2018).

Importantly, at the founding of the UNCHR, the images of refugees focused on Europe. The Visual representation focused families and individuals who were identified as being from the "global North" (Bleiker 2018). For instance, images were white bodies and western dresses. The depicted was heroic which had a personal identity, and individual story (Bleiker 2018). The visual representation was reflected in the founding assumptions of the UNCHR, which was European (Bleiker 2018).

The refugees fleeing during this period were fleeing from states which were hostile to the west, the visual representation communicated to the host states that refugees were not to be feared and could integrate into host societies and shared similar values (Bleiker 2018). However, during the 1960s, just around ten years after the establishment of the UNCHR mandate, events outside of the European sphere lead to the strain of the temporal and geographical limits in the convention (Bleiker 2018). For example, this period included the struggle of independence of third-world (countries not aligned during the Second World War) which generated mass displacement (Bleiker 2018). Thus, these events resulted in the ultimatum of the 1967 protocol; the refugee became a global problem (Bleiker 2018).

Therefore, the visual representation of the refugee was no longer white and heroic; a clashing figure – a victim, poverty-stricken identity emerged (Bleiker 2018). However, since the terror attacks of 9/11, the identity of strangers have joined the figure of the terrorist (Bleiker 2018). Incoming refugees are seen as a potential cover for terrorists (Bleiker 2018). Moreover, refugees being depicted as poor arouses suspicion about their economic motivations which have damaged the credibility of refugee claims (Bleiker 2018).

Nevertheless, as espoused in Georg Simmel's essay, The Stranger; "stranger" is described as a person who is near and far at the same time; "he is not the vagabond who comes today and goes tomorrow, but rather the person who comes today and stays tomorrow" (Simmel 1964).

Throughout Simmel's essay it is exemplified that the stranger is a part of the society he has adjourned in, but at the same time, perceived as different (Simmel 1964). Looking through the lens of Simmel's essay, contemporary society has strangers. These strangers can be identified as migrants, immigrants and refugees, however, they are still perceived as different (Simmel 1964). However, in the contemporary, the strangers need not migrate themselves; being born and raised in the host state as a second-generation, with the same citizenship and language; the social difference continues (Thiel and Seiberth 2017).

Second generations are called British Indian, German Turks or Swedish Somalis. Therein, surveys which ask for culture, ethnicity or background as categories to differentiate people are many. In many of these surveys, peoples whose parents do not have migration experiences are labelled as immigrants (Thiel and Seiberth 2017).

To this day, the definitive subjections of the strangers and natives are still carried. Whether a dominant culture is enforced, the strangers remain as strangers; if the differences between the stranger and native are adjourned to acknowledge both peoples, the integration becomes questionable (Thiel and Seiberth 2017). If strangers from the global South do not share a similar culture therefore they cannot integrate into the host society. The variance of "otherness", is explained through the variance in the attitudes and behaviour of a stranger to its host states culture (Thiel and Seiberth 2017).

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The concept of culture is close-knitted in the nation-state idea. In the beginnings of the nation-state the "national culture" was the centrepiece of state-building; to define those who did not share the same national culture as different, therefore it allowed itself to build its unity and identity. The concept of culture in the nation-state is a mechanism of "othering" (Thiel and Seiberth 2017). However, the problem with this concept in the modern world is that modern societies are characterised by their globalisation and migration process (Thiel and Seiberth 2017).

Homogeneity of the culture of the nation-state idea in the modern world the exception rather than the rule. Strangers do not abide by one culture (Thiel and Seiberth 2017). In Germany, citizens with a stranger background show a high identification with Germany, share its fundamental values even if they do not possess a German Passport (Thiel and Seiberth 2017). If their ancestral home country is relevant to their identity, it does not determine the ethical and moral values that they possess (Thiel and Seiberth 2017).

In conclusion, this essay has examined whether societies can integrate strangers peacefully and whether differences between people be acknowledged or a dominant culture be enforced. This essay has examined whether societies can integrate strangers peacefully by looking at Bleiker’s Visual Global Politics and analysing how refugees were interpreted at the beginning of the UNCHR mandate to modern times, especially after 9/11. Moreover, this essay has analysed whether differences between people be acknowledged and came to an understanding that acknowledging people’s differences leads to unacceptance of them as part of the society.

This essay has looked into whether a dominant culture be enforced and has looked at people’s liberties and suggested that this could not be done without taking away their identity and dignity. Nonetheless, this essay has defined immigration and migration and stated why the term migration is partially incorrect in use of this essay as migrants need not integrate as they are not planning to stay. Moreover, this essay has defined Liberalism, positive and negative liberty, and argued that restrictions on immigration violate negative liberty by the use of coercive interference.

This has tied in with the use of this theory in an ethical stance to assess and engage contemporary real world problems. Moreover, this essay has assessed the argument of open borders from Utilitarianism and critically assessed Charles Taylor’s Thymos, whilst evaluating Georg Simmel’s The Stranger.

This essay argued that differences between people cannot be acknowledged due to liberal principles and a dominant culture cannot be enforced due to identity politics. This essay therefore has argued that strangers can integrate but not to the standards of natives as still second-generations are considered as natives.


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