The question of identity (national, cultural, etc.) also plays a central role in the debate about immigration. To begin, two observations must be made. The first is that there is much talk of the identity of the host population, but, in general, there is much less talk of the identity of the immigrants themselves, who nevertheless seem, by far, the most threatened by the fact of immigration itself. Indeed, the immigrants, insofar as they are the minority, directly suffer the pressure of the modes of behavior of the majority. Pulled to disappearance or, inversely, exacerbated in a provocative way, their identity only survives, frequently, in a negative (or reactive) manner by the hostility of the host environment, by capitalist over-exploitation exerted on certain workers uprooted from their natural structures of defense and protection.
The second observation is the following: It is striking to see how, in certain ways, the problem of identity is situated exclusively in relation with immigration. The immigrants would be the principal “threat,” if not the only one, that weighs on French identity. But that is tantamount to overlooking the numerous factors that in the whole world, both in the countries with a strong foreign labor as in those without it, are inducing a rapid disintegration of collective identities: the primacy of consumption, the Westernization of customs, the media homogenization, the generalization of the axiomatic of self-interest, etc.
With such a perception of things, it is too easy to fall into the temptation of scapegoating. But, certainly, it is not the fault of the immigrants that the French are apparently no longer capable of producing a way of life that is their own nor to offer to the world the spectacle of an original form of thought and of being. And nor is it the fault of the immigrants that the social bond is broken wherever liberal individualism is extended, that the dictatorship of the private has extinguished the public spaces that could constitute the crucible in which to renew an active citizenry, nor that individuals, submerged in the ideology of merchandise, turn away more and more from their own nature. It is not the fault of the immigrants that the French form a people increasingly less, that the nation has become a phantasm, that the economy has been globalized nor that individuals renounce being actors of their own existence to accept that there are others who decide in their place from norms and values that they no longer contribute to forming. It is not the immigrants, finally, who colonize the collective imagination and impose on the radio and on the television sounds, images, concerns, and models “which come from outside.” If there is “globalism,” we say too with clarity that, until proven otherwise, where it comes from is the other side of the Atlantic, and not the other side of the Mediterranean. And let us add that the small Arab shopkeeper contributes more to maintain, in a convivial way, the French identity than the Americanomorphic park of attractions or the “shopping center” of a very French capital. Read more »