The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move by Sonia Shah - 2020
An Autodidactic Corner Selection
“The militarized borders that bar human movement today are not sacrosanct. They’re not fundamental to our cultures or histories. People in Europe started drawing borders around their countries only a few centuries ago. The British lawyer who established the borders around India and Pakistan marked them out over the course of just a few weeks. Even the highly contested border between the United States and Mexico was mostly permeable until just a few decades ago. Throughout much of our history, kingdoms and empires rose and fell with blurry edges, each culture and people shading gradually from one to the next. It’s not that borders were open or closed. They didn’t exist at all. If we were to accept migration as integral to life on a dynamic planet with shifting and unevenly distributed resources, there are any number of ways we could proceed. The migration ratio will continue its inexorable approach, regardless. People like Sophia and Jean-Pierre and Ghulam will continue to move. We can continue to think of this as a catastrophe. Or we can reclaim our history of migration and our place in nature as migrants like the butterflies and the birds. We can turn migration from a crisis into its opposite: the solution.” - from The Coca of The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move by Sonia Shah
After Reading this amazing, profound and beautiful l work I was completely convinced this was the truth. Shah’s book proves it.
This book should be required reading for all government officials who set Immigration policy. Sonia Shah’s book demonstrates beyond any doubt that anti-immigrant policies espoused by leaders are based on long ago refuted science and completely false Ideas about the impact of mass Immigrations of people from so called third world countries into Europe and America. It exposes total the ignorance and cruelty of much of American and European Immigration policy.
She begins her narrative with an account of her parents, both medical doctors, moving from Mumbai to New York City in a time when America needed more physicians. She talks about her feelings growing up. From this in chapter two, Panic, she talks about how a fear of immigrations became an important part of American foreign policy, first popularized when national security expert Robert D. Kaplan wrote about in a 1994 Atlantic magazine article called “The Coming Anarchy”, in
which he suggests events brought on by climate change and the end of the cold war will cause massive inflows of immigrants, with darker skins, to lighter skinned countries, taking jobs, causing disease, increasing crime and a mixing of the races. This article became required reading in the American state Department. Shah totally reduces Kaplan’s Ideas to intellectually clothed racism with no factual support. Here was Kaplan’s thesis
“The magnetic poles of the United States and the Soviet Union, he explained, had held a number of destabilizing forces in suspension. Nobody had noticed, because we’d been so preoccupied with the stockpiles of missiles and the creepy binational taunting. Now, with those two poles deactivated, suppressed elements would be unleashed. Instead of improving the prospects for peace and security, the end of the Cold War would do just the opposite. The problem: people would start to move. As deserts spread and forests were felled, Kaplan wrote, masses of desperate, impoverished people would be forced to migrate into overburdened cities. With no great power regimes to prop up weak states, the tumult caused by migrants would result in social breakdown and “criminal anarchy.” There’d be bloody conflicts. Deadly diseases would rage. Already, across West Africa, he said, young men moved in “hordes,” like “loose molecules in a very unstable social fluid” on the verge of ignition. Others would soon follow. A new era of migration, he wrote, would create “the core foreign-policy challenge from which most others will ultimately emanate.... There’d likely be 50 million on the move by 2020, experts at the United Nations University projected. Two hundred million by 2050, the environmental security analyst Norman Myers announced. One billion the NGO Christian Aid projected. People moving around, in their telling, was an exceptional and future threat, “one of the foremost human crises5 of our times,” as Myers put it. In fact, as any migration expert could have shown, migration was just the opposite: an unexceptional ongoing reality. And while environmental changes shaped its dynamics, they didn’t do so in a predictably simple way.”
Americans saw the impact of these theories in the political rhetoric of trump screaming about a wall along the southern border to keep out dark hordes of rapists, murders, future welfare mothers. Americans, 70,000,000 of them believed this nonsense. Shah details what does happen when a large number of immigrants entered an American City. The immigrants have less crime than natives, get and keep jobs, start businesses, rely less on Public Assistance after a brief transition and educate their children.
In a fascinsting chapter “LINNAEUS’S LOATHSOME HARLOTRY” we see how The idea that animals, plants and people belong where they are was dervived from his religious idelogy. A bias against migration became part of the idelogy of western thinking. One of the most fascinsting aspects of Shah’s book is the numerous examples she gives of birds, butterflys and mammals moving in mass due to climate change. Linnseus’s theories, for a very long time excepted as gospel are completely destroyed. Sadly long after scientists saw this Linnseus’s s Ideas were used by politicians to suggest people should stay where they belong.
She employs a two pronged attack on anti-mass inmigrations. Going back into the scientific theories she refutes them step by step. She also looks at immigrants to see if they destroyed their new countiries and finds just opposite.
In a very powerful chapter, “MALTHUS’S HIDEOUS BLASPHEMY” she shows How his viewes on the horrors of population growth in non-western societies are still being used by demogogues preying on fears of immigrant hordes. Historically she shows us idea of national borders is itself a relatively recent construct.
She gives us numerous examples of migrants, explaining why they are motivated to leave their birth countries. We see the hardships immigrants take for their children, risking death. She talks about her own experiences as a volunteer helping recent immigrant mothers.
This is an elegant briiliant book I am very glad I read.
Sonia Shah is a science journalist and prize-winning author of critically acclaimed books on science, politics and human rights. Her latest book, The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move, explores our centuries-long assumptions about migration through science, history, and reporting, predicting its lifesaving power in the face of climate change. A finalist for the 2021 PEN/E.O Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, it was selected as a best nonfiction book of 2020 by Publishers Weekly, a best science book of 2020 by Amazon, and a best science and technology book of 2020 by Library Journal. Author and activist Naomi Klein calls it a “dazzlingly original picture,” “rich with eclectic research and on-the-ground reporting,” and a “story threaded with joy and inspiration.” From https://soniashah.com/
Her website has numerous valuable links.
I have added her prior books to my Amazon wish list.
Sonia Shah, Thank you for this wonderful book.