Refugees are nothing new on planet earth. All great political upheavals, as well as natural disasters, have driven “hordes” of human beings from one part of the world to another. Migration is the human method of renewal. To bring it down to the personal: my grandfather walked, in 1905, from his home village in what is now Ukraine to Austria – the southern province of Bukovina, now Romania – probably to escape recruitment into the Tsar’s imperial army at the time of the Russia-Japan war. In Bukovina, he married and my father was born. Sometime in 1911 or 1912, the family moved across Europe to settle in Glasgow. They were part of the great tide of Jewish – and other “migrants” – flowing from the oppression of the Russian Empire to western Europe and America. In Glasgow, Jews became a major new community which developed its own Glasgow-Yiddish patois (such as in “gebtsech a wee dram, Jock” etc). Many of the communities settling in Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool were those who might have intended to take the ships to America, but lacked the money for the passage. Others felt comfortable in their new setting. In England, hostility to migrants was more noted, led by the right wing and racist press, which denounced them as dirty, evil beings who carried the poison of revolutionary politics. It is a fact, indeed, that of the six or seven Anarchist journals printed in London at the turn of the 20th century, most were in Yiddish! The great source of the “foreign virus” was of course already in England, Karl Marx having been given asylum years before. WHAT ELSE IS NEW???

My grandfather, however, was neither Marxist nor Anarchist, but passed on to my father early Zionist tendencies, which were less frightening for the English upper classes as that might prod Jews into emigrating out, to Palestine – or at least deflect part of the eastern tide of refugees (particularly from the horrors of the First World War) to somewhere else (“The Balfour Declaration for Dummies”). In the fullness of time, my father did go to Zion, with wife, self and two brothers, in 1949, but not before doing his bit in the British army in World War Two. I think he paid his debt to Britain, which gave him a home and education. What followed in the next generation, i.e. yours truly, is extant in a series of novels, re this website…

Governments cannot stop the migration of refugees, economic or otherwise. They can choose to utilise this historical phenomenon to benefit their existing population or to run about screaming, heaping scorn on the migrants, terrify their “native” people so as to gain support for their own political interests – in the immediate, short term. We are living this truism now. For my generation, seeing Germany, the dark villain of the first half of the 20th century, morphing into the humanitarian state of our time, is astonishing – but someone has to show the way! I see no need to repeat the obvious comments on the UK government at this juncture – chickens with their heads cut off come to mind. Why would anyone with the merest whiff of historical sense or simple compassion wish to emulate the current Hungarian fascism? Don’t we know where that leads????

For those wondering what they should or could do, I am no agony aunt – you can figure it out for yourself. I advocate what I call F.E.A.T.Y.A. – From Each According To Your Abilities. Nobody’s testing you. There are tons of options in the new global connections. We can talk endlessly of principles and obligations, as long as everyone understands that involvement with other people is personal, not theoretical. You become involved with a someone, not a something. History is not standing still, even under Condom Cameron.

And if you are involved with the specific matter of Labour Party elections, we’ll soon see… as far as the Resurrection of J.C. goes, to paraphrase Jack Kennedy: “Ask not what your Jeremy can do for you, ask rather what you can do for your Jeremy…”

More episodes of this rant to follow, coherent or otherwise…

By The Eternal Pen.