An explosive burst of laughter would be the proper response to all the serious “issues” that the present era likes to bring up so much. To start with the most brutally suppressed of them: there is no “immigration issue.” Who still grows up where s/he was born? Who lives where s/he grew up anymore? Who works where s/he lives? Who lives where his or her ancestors lived? And whose kids are these, the kids of our era; the children of their parents, or of television? The truth is that we’ve been torn wholesale from all belonging, that we aren’t from anywhere anymore, and that as a result we have at the same time an unusual penchant for tourism, an undeniable suffering. Our history is one of colonization, migration, wars, exile, the destruction of all roots. It is the history of everything that’s made us foreign to this world, guests in our own families. We’ve had our language expropriated by teaching, our songs by variety, our flesh by mass pornography, our cities by the police, our friends by wage labor. Add to that, in France, the ferocious and secular work of individualization done by a State power structure that notes, compares, disciplines, and separates its subjects from the youngest age, that instinctively sniffs out any solidarity it might have missed so that there’s nothing left but citizenship, the pure, fantasy state of belonging to the Republic. A Frenchman is more than anything a dispossessed, miserable man. His hatred for foreigners melts together with his hatred for himself as a foreigner. The jealousy mixed with dread he has towards the “cities” only proves his resentment for everything he’s lost. He can’t stop envying the so-called “ghetto” neighborhoods where there’s at least a little community life left, a few links between people, a bit of non-state solidarity, an informal economy, an organization that’s still not totally detached from those who organize it. We have come to such a deprived point that the only way we can go on feeling like Frenchmen is to curse the immigrants, and those who are in a more visible way foreigners like me. The immigrants are in a strange position of sovereignty in this country; if they weren’t there, the French would perhaps not exist either.
—From The Coming Insurrection.
[Still from The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009).]