Thursday, October 17, 2013

Workers have no borders

The public hysteria against migrants is being fuelled by government practices. Nazek Ramadan, the director of the charity Migrant Voice said moves like the Go Home posters and the proposals in the hard-line Immigration Bill are leading to a “toxic atmosphere and the development of increasing hostility, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance towards immigrants”.

In Russia, nationalists cleverly exploit the fear that exists, arguing that crime is mainly related to undocumented migration, so they present a seemingly easy solution: get rid of foreigners. After riots against migrant workers in Russia, Putin's regime launched a round-up of migrants.

The head of the Federation of Migrants warned migrants about the potential for random attacks by nationalists across the city. The violence has sent a chill through migrant communities, many of whom fear the police could carry out far-reaching checks on migrants in order to pacify nationalist outcry. Groups of nationalists were said to be patrolling Moscow and attacking anyone who did not have ‘Russian looks’. The police did nothing, preferring to raid the homes and workplaces of the local immigrant population – 1600 of whom were in custody before the end of the night. The head of Vladimir Putin's human rights council criticised law enforcement bodies for not doing enough to prevent the attacks on businesses employing migrants yet adding ambivalently "On the one hand, I completely understand resentment among Muscovites who see people getting killed on our streets and law enforcement officials doing nothing," Although Mikhail Fedotov then added "But that in no way justifies … this pogrom."
Putin has said Russia needed migrant labourers in industries such as construction. But in a nod to anti-migrant sentiment, he suggested their numbers could be restricted in some other sectors.

Meanwhile in France a 15 year old Roma refugee schoolgirl is removed from a bus by police during a school-trip and deported back to Kosovo. She had lived in France for five years and was fully integrated in the French way of life. In Kosovo, she reports that “Now, with my family, I am sleeping on a bench. I have no right to go to school here because I am a Roma.”

While in Italy Cecile Kyenge, Integration Minister advises “We must reflect on the absurdity that the survivors of a shipwreck are put under criminal investigation,” Under Italian law illegal immigration carries a fine of up to 5,000 euros ($6,800) and forced repatriation.

“Without money or access to public housing, refugees are often forced to drift between places where they can stay for only a night or two. These can range from church halls and charity-run accommodation to parks and bus shelters. At best, these options might be uncomfortable and humiliating – at worst they can be traumatic and dangerous. With little or no money, buying food is a real problem too. Some refugees skip meals or miss out on nutritious food in favour of cheaper, unhealthy options – making them more likely to get sick...Destitution grinds people down. Their days can become filled with worry about where the next meal is coming from and where they will sleep tonight. Life becomes a day-to-day battle for survival.” Mike Adamson, British Red Cross managing director of operations, explained about the situation facing many seeking sanctuary in the UK.

We want to spell out the dangers of the ‘the planet is full’ argument and argue against that ‘overpopulation’ case  which disregards the nature of the problem and lets capitalism off the hook. We should be attacking capitalism, not children and families. The cost in human lives is rising. At least 19,144 people have died since 1988 along the European borders. Between 1993 and 2000 an estimated 2063 people died trying to get into Europe. In the Straits of Sicily since 1994 to 2011, at least 5,962 people have died. This rate of death is accelerating. The first eight months of 2011 saw 1,674 people  disappear in the Strait of Sicily, 239 deaths per month, 8 per day. 2012 and 2013 has witnessed this human massacre continuing. Unless we can live with hundreds of people dying year after year from the people smuggling, the deportations and other tragic events we must pose the choice of socialism.

 Migration has always been a part of human history but population borders and the nation-state are a relatively new development. According to UN estimates roughly 35 million people from the third world, including 6 million "illegals" have immigrated to Europe between 1960 and 1990. Though this figure seems relatively large it amounts only to 1% of the 1990 population of the third world moving over the entire 30 years and increased the population in the receiving countries by only 0.2% each year. The truth is just because people can go doesn't mean they will. Between 1950 and 1980 when borders were closed only 0.6% of the Caribbean population moved to the US and England, despite the obvious economic attractions.  In general no matter how bad things are, very few people have the desire, the ability or the wherewithal to just uproot, leave every thing and move. Often the pattern is small groups of young able bodied men (usually) who can get the fare move over for a number of years, send money back and then return home in their old age.

It is undeniable that the UK population is growing primarily because of immigration and that world-wide migration puts pressure on  resources such as water, energy, food and countryside. Or that new migrants initially tend to have more children than the native population thereby accelerating the problem. These arguments have relied upon an analysis of national resources as closed and finite systems and exaggerating rates of migration. Proposals for the closing of borders are contrasted with images of swarms of migrants exhausting national resources like locusts. The ‘too many people’ argument asks not for a new form of social organisation that would see land and resources accessed and shared more evenly, more sustainable lifestyles and fewer wars.

Many are clearly in favour of immigration controls and deportations, although those of a liberal bent will argue for a policy a little more humane and generous. The Socialist Party, however, opposes migration controls and the persecution, detention and exploitation of asylum seekers and other migrants often described as economic refugees. We express solidarity with all those resisting oppression, exploitation and the global division.  From the perspective of the capitalist politician no borders is an idealist position because under capitalism it’s unmanageable and  not practical.  But for us, no borders is an established principle of socialism, recognizing our class solidarity in struggle irrespective of origins. It is this principle of equality which distinguishes our  position from the ideology of free-marketeers, of whom it is said also advocate the removal of controls on movement and only advocate the removal of controls on the movement of labour-power - which only means people insofar as they are the bearers of a potential to work, or more precisely, be exploited,  so long as it is profitable.  Socialists are opposed to all borders and frontiers. These things could never form any part of a free society. In the UK,  fingerprinting, ID cards and "entitlement cards.have been introduced for asylum seekers.

The problem with borders is that they are used to restrict access and capitalist society encourage us to think of people as them and us, us on  one side of the border and them on the other side. The capitalist state control of what goes in and out as a means of maintaining its power unless we, the working class, remake a world with no borders, unless we see class spirit prevail over national spirit. We want a society where workers run everything in the interests of the world's workers. They will share in decision-making, including the production and distribution of goods and services according to society's needs. We want a system where every worker is involved in running society; where everyone  acts for the common good and do not look out for “number one;" a system that opposes placing selfish interests above the social  needs. We want society to help each person grow and develop their full potential. The wage system forces each worker to think of his or her work in selfish terms. Socialism will abolish the wage system. In  a socialist society, the principle "to each according to need" will be as basic as the principle "every man for himself"  is to capitalism. People will work because they want to. The workplace will become the centre of education. The measure of work will have nothing to do with what people receive. People should and will get what they need, within the limits of what everyone can produce. Socialism will not succeed unless people understand it, agree with it, and vow to make it succeed.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain opposes all nationalism. By nationalism, the bosses mean that workers must respect  capitalist borders. These borders are artificial; they exist to divide workers and keep different sets of bosses in power.  Workers need no borders. Workers in one part of the world are not different from or better than workers in another.  Nationalism creates false loyalties. Workers should be loyal only to other members of our own class and never to the employer class. We endorse the  revolutionary slogan: "Workers of the world, unite!" . Marx said over 100 years ago that, "the worker in white skin can never be free as long as the worker in black skin remains in chains."

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