The Uninvited -- Refugees at the Rich Man's Gate. By Jeremy Harding Published by Profile Books, London.
There is a wonderful film, The March. It shows a refugee camp in southern Sudan, and on hearing from a Western aid worker that Europeans have cats as pets which they feed on milk, the starving refugees ask if they too can be pets of the Europeans and like their cats, drink milk.
Against the best advice of their European betters and in a metaphor of what is enacted millions of times across the world, the refugees set off across the Sahara Desert suffering yet further privations (that make their refugee camp appear a paradise on earth), but ever keeping their eye on the bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow -- the privilege of raising themselves to the level of a pet of the Europeans, and live lapping milk.
En route, in unbridled cynicism of a media accurately representing its Northern self-satisfied, complacent host brought up on a diet of "suffering saturation", the pathetic sight of Africans struggling against all the odds across the Sahara for a saucer of milk transforms a genuine "refugee crisis" into a high-profile media event indistinguishable from a circus. TV ratings soar as African lives are sacrificed to hardship, and "reality TV" has never been so "audience-friendly".
And then the real "reality" sets in as it comes as no surprise (indeed to the white audience who have shed their portion of conscience-salving crocodile tears) when the Africans bash their heads up against the unfeeling and uninviting walls of Fortress Europe.
The "End" credits roll up with the safety of Europe intact, while Europe's feelings go out to the suffering of the globe's impoverished masses.
Whether Jeremy Harding ever saw this fictional film, his book adds argument and intelligence to the images.
He paints a picture of battle lines drawn between the North (with its one-fifth of the world's population of which some 60% are over 65, enjoying three-quarters of the world's wealth, energy and resources), defending its hard-won nest egg against the South (with its four-fifths of the world's population of which some 60% are under 15, eking out a subsistence existence on one quarter of the world's food, wealth and energy resources).
As the North-South divide widens to an irreconcilable chasm -- with the wealth of the North escalating logarithmically while the South plunges into ever more poverty -- it becomes increasingly clear to the people...