As elections in Switzerland next week draw closer next week, the polls are forecasting a substantial win in votes for the SVP, the right-wing, populist “people’s” party – this is a trend reflected in many other European countries.
Following the election campaign has been like watching someone suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder: Everything seems to boil down to the fault of foreigners invading the country. One answer to all issues. So easy. And so over-simplified. It is so easy blaming all woes on those who have nothing left to lose and are desperate. So easy to move the spotlight away from the real issues, such as social inequality, government funding cuts affecting primarily low-income citizens, gentrification of towns, to name but a few.
The fact is that a large part of the debate is based upon disinformation: For example, the prevailing narrative has it that Europe is experiencing an unprecedented influx of both economic migrants and refugees. The numbers suggest otherwise: according to authoritative research, labour migration into Western Europe has been falling steadily since 2007. And while refugee numbers have been climbing since the Arab Spring of 2010, they have still not reached 1992 levels, when millions of people fled the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia.
Moreover, when it comes to more complex analyses, there are also surprises. For example, a study published last year found that, since 2000, immigrants in the UK paid more into government coffers than they took out in benefits. That was true both for migrants from Europe and elsewhere. They even managed this during a time of government deficits, when by definition the native majority was a net drain on public resources.
We have said it once and we will say it again – loud and clear:
Every country seems to have its own breed of these groups, UKIP in the UK, SVP in Switzerland, Front National in France, Jobbik in Hungary, NPD in Germany and the list goes on… these groups feed off – and at the same time nourish – the disillusion and fears regarding the future of parts of the populations, serving them with populist, simplistic slogans and apparently easy solutions, baiting them with empty promises and identifying scape goats and legitimate targets for people to vent their frustrations and anger on, e.g. immigrants, Jews, Roma, homosexuals etc., who apparently are to blame for all of this.
We understand that it is not possible to dissociate oneself from theses developments, no one is on the sidelines and there is a necessity to take a clear stand in these matters. It would be deeply wrong to believe that a professional life can be split off from a private, emotional or political life, as we see this as all being an integral part of the definition of one’s self.
Treemagineers stands for a belief in certain core values, such as mutual respect, inclusion and tolerance. For this reason we cannot accept attitudes or ideologies that are racist, fascist, homophobe and/ or sexist.
We believe that by creating strong networks based on these values – mutual respect, inclusion and tolerance – , a better world can be achieved, step by step, starting in small, every-day matters such as how we interact with our families, co-workers and people around us.
We believe these are strong, affirmative messages to send out to all who preach intolerance and hatred by standing up to them and by answering their slogans with a clear “No!”.