Modern politics—whether left or right—has a vexed relationship with the migrant … and the citizen.
It seems odd that frustration with global migration and global frustration with mass democracy could signify opposite sides of the same coin. Yet, these two antipathies find their condition of possibility under the banner of modern political philosophy, which no longer inspires new ideas for political action.
On one side, modernity’s vexed relationship with the migrant requires a dogged belief that all people are categorically the same. The assumption of sameness underpins traditional politics across the spectrum and positions one’s politics toward the migrant according to the category invoked: nationalism (all citizens are the same; all migrants different from us); socialists (all workers are the same; all migrants are exploited like us); and liberals (all humans are the same; we must save the migrants). The issue is not whether the ideology holds a hostile or sympathetic stance toward the “migrant.” Rather, none of these ideologies holds a place where a migrant speaks for him/herself.