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Chris Bertram

Sunday photoblogging: Valmagne

by Chris Bertram on July 18, 2021

Valmagne

Tuesday photoblogging: Cirque de Mourèze

by Chris Bertram on July 13, 2021

I didn’t post on Sunday. Although I’ve been taking lots of pictures, I’m separated from my preferred photo-editing software at the moment so a lot will have to wait. But yesterday I took this shot of the wonderful landscape of the Cirque de Mourèze in the Languedoc: wonderful columns of rock risking from a sandy floor. A cloudy day was not ideal for pictures, but it was better for walking there than fierce sunshine would have been.

Cirque de Mourèze

Sunday photoblogging: Swift

by Chris Bertram on July 4, 2021

I have spent much of the week trying to photograph the swifts that screech around and above Pézenas (France) often reminding me of the attack sequence in 633 Squadron/Star Wars as they fly in groups through the canyons formed by the streets. It is very tricky, as the sort of shutter speed you need to freeze movement also reduces the depth of field and everything happens too fast for autofocus to lock on. So I’ve filled memory cards with large numbers of pictures of blue skies and blurry birds, with a very few acceptable shots. They really are extraordinary creatures and it lifts the heart to see them.

Swift

Sunday photoblogging: Albert Dock/Tate, Liverpool

by Chris Bertram on June 6, 2021

Liverpool: Albert Dock/Tate

Sunday photoblogging: Brazil, shop at night

by Chris Bertram on May 30, 2021

Pirenópolis: shop at night

One of the lessons of Branko Milanovic’s work on global inequality has been the realization that location, and perhaps more pertinently, nationality, is a more important explanation of how well and badly off people are than class is. Citizens of wealthy countries enjoy a “citizenship premium” over the inhabitants of poor ones that exists because they have access to labour markets and welfare systems that their fellow humans largely do not. Of course, there’s a sense in which this global difference also represents a class difference, with many of the workers simply located elsewhere while the residual “proletarians” of the wealthy world enjoy a contradictory class location (to repurpose a term from Erik Olin Wright). While it might be that world GDP would increase dramatically if barriers to movement were removed, as some economists have claimed, the relative position of the rich world poor depends upon those barriers being in place. Or to put it another way, free movement could make many poor people much better off and might not make the rich world poor any worse off in absolute terms, but it would erode their relative advantage. And people, however misguidedly care about their relative advantage.

What kind of politics would we expect to have in rich countries in a world like ours, if people were fully cognizant of this citizenship premium? I suspect the answer is that we would expect to see stronger nationalist movements seeking to preserve the advantage of members of the national collective over outsiders and correspondingly weaker parties based on class disadvantage within those countries. Which is, in fact, the tendency we do see in many European countries where traditional social democracy is struggling badly at the moment. In those same countries we might also expect to see some voters who are unthreatened by freer movement, or by the rise of new powers in the world, being more open to a more cosmopolitan politics and more preoccupied by other issues such as climate change and the environment. And this is, in fact, what we do see.

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Restaurant, Pirenopolis, Brazil

The “simple logic” of immigration control

by Chris Bertram on May 19, 2021

In a recent column in the Times (paywall), James Kirkup, Director of the Social Market Foundation and writer for various right-wing outlets, argues that “liberals” should be more accommodating of the state’s desire to enforce exclusionary immigration policies and that, if only they were, a more open policy would be feasible. But, given, public anxieties about immigration and the stubborn refusal of the likes of us to co-operate, the public were going to put people like the UK’s authoritarian Home Secretary, Priti Patel, in charge. Our non-co-peration, or even resistance, is, supposedly self-defeating.

One thing he says is this:

There’s a simple logic about immigration: unless you believe your country should have no borders and be entirely open to anyone in the world, you must accept that the state needs to be able to remove uninvited people. I accept this as someone who has long argued for a liberal, open migration policy.

This rhetorical move gets made a lot by advocates and apologists for immigration control. I remember a similar point being made to a representative of the Stansted 15 on BBC Newsnight. Either the state gets what it wants, or … open borders.

But it is a rhetorical move that needs to be resisted, because you don’t have to be an advocate of open borders to believe that the actual policies being enforced by the state are cruel, unjust and unjustifiable to the point where reasonable people have the right, and possibly sometimes the duty, to disobey, even to resist and sabotage them.[^1] Moreover, when they are sufficiently unjust as a general rule, it is reasonable of people to believe that any particular act of enforcement will be unjustifiable and that the burden of proof is on the other side.

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Sunday photoblogging: Capri – church roof

by Chris Bertram on May 16, 2021

Capri: church roof

Sunday photoblogging: cones

by Chris Bertram on May 9, 2021

Marseillan, cones

Sunday photoblogging: Ashton Avenue Bridge

by Chris Bertram on May 2, 2021

Another iPhone panorama

Three Bridges 3: Ashton Avenue Bridge

Sunday photoblogging: crane reflection

by Chris Bertram on April 25, 2021

Crane reflection

Sunday photoblogging: car reflections

by Chris Bertram on April 18, 2021

Another in a series

Car reflections

Sunday photoblogging: sparrow

by Chris Bertram on April 11, 2021

Sparrow

Sunday photoblogging: flag

by Chris Bertram on April 4, 2021

Flag