Many people—many nations—can find themselves holding, more or less wittingly, that ‘every stranger is an enemy.’ For the most part this conviction lies deep down like some latent infection; it betrays itself only in random, disconnected acts, and does not lie at the base of a system of reason. But when this does come about, when the unspoken dogma becomes the major premise in a syllogism, then, at the end of the chain, there is the Lager. Here is the product of a conception of the world carried rigorously to its logical conclusion; so long as the conception subsists, the conclusion remains to threaten us. The story of the death camps should be understood by everyone as a sinister alarm-signal.
“Levi’s warning haunts us. The refrains of lifeboat ethics are ready-made to rationalise and naturalise these horrors. Lifeboat ethics beget lifeboat states and the death-worlds of their border regimes. In the second piece of this two-part series, we will try and understand the current anti-migrant populisms in Europe and the US, and what this implies for undermining pro-borders politics while building a no borders politics within the likely habitable zones of the future. The latent infection diagnosed by Levi demands anti-fascist inoculation.”