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Scientific paper


Migrations in the Paradigm of Growth

Jean-Louis Aillon, Elena Dal Santo, Maurizio Cossa, Laura Quassolo, Marta Domini

Entry type:
Scientific paper

Year of publication:

Degrowth Conference Venice 2012


Abstract: Migration flows are, in a measure, the consequence of dominant economic models, namely the growth paradigm that currently permeates the world. Migrations are the result of different human needs, first of all the need to survive. Naturally, the decision to move towards an unknown destination is also influenced by cultural models: nowadays, the collective imagination of the North is built on the image of an enormous richness in consumption goods. This conviction also applies, on a smaller scale, to the Asian and African megalopolises, that attract masses of poor people pushed by a mirage of well-being. The result is the increase of migration flows both at national and international levels. At the national level, an increasing number of farmers is pushed to leave the countryside, often poor but based on local subsistence economies and rich in social connections, to move to miserable suburbs, surrounded by draws and waste (often imported by the rest of the world).
Migrations towards rich countries are often hindered by national governments but secretly supported by businessmen, pleased by the arrival of unskilled workforce which permits to reduce the labour costs and negatively affects the collective force of national workers. Nevertheless, legislations make it difficult to cross borders. Fences or warships are put in place to stop the flows, thus making the "journey of hope" more expensive and less human: lots of migrants lose their life in the attempt to reach the Western paradise or are subjected to inhuman treatments. If they succeed in reaching the destination, migrants are usually employed in dangerous sectors, underpaid or unpaid or become another puppet in the market of sexual exploitation. By a lucky chance, they might also be employed as domestic help, even though this often means becoming part of the black market. Not even the attempt to escape from inhuman dictatorships guarantees a secure status in accordance with the right of asylum, as demonstrated by the barriers encountered by the refugees landed in the past years in Italy from Libya.
Italy represents an excellent example when referring to migrants and the growth pattern. The legislation is mainly shaped on the model of the liberal economy based on growth: the access to the Italian territory is allowed only in function of economic needs and the permit of stay is strictly connected to the working status of the applicant. Thus, if the migrant is dismissed, he/she will lose the permit of stay, consequently losing all the relationships and the achievements built during the stay. The permit of stay is characterized by a sense of insecurity and precariousness, which makes the migrant weak and unprotected from blackmail arising from the employer, the landlord, even the partner. Migrants easily pass from being a source of profit to becoming waste. Moreover, the legislation hampers the family reunification, the issue of the citizenship as well as the access to the school and the health system. De facto, migrants in Western countries result to be guests, welcome with suspect but strongly exploited to produce useless goods that invade the market at limited prices or to become a good themselves, as in the case of prostitutes. If the migrant succeeds in escaping from this vicious circle, he/she easily becomes part of the criminal system.
Migrants indirectly allow the survival of the economic system, even because they often turn into willing consumers, not extremely wealthy but little conscious and critical in consumption. Moreover, they also import this life-style into their native land. They tearfully become ambassadors of an unreal, shining world, thus unconsciously contributing to the demolishment of the last local economies.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.

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