Saturday, November 30, 2019

Migrant Misery in Africa

A hospital that finds its patients so burdensome that it denies them medical care. A homeless hostel that throws its residents out on the streets. A refugee agency that refuses to provide food for those under its care. All might seem implausible but there are credible reports that this happening in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is a body that, as its name suggests, is entrusted with the care and protection of refugees. Yet it is apparently trying to shut down a centre that it opened just last year, and to “starve out” the people still inside to force them to leave. Starving refugees out of a place of safety is a fair metaphor for western policy towards unwanted migrants. The EU, in particular, has been adept at using suffering as a policy lever.
Central to the EU’s strategy over the past decade has been the outsourcing of immigration control, paying countries from Libya to Sudan, from Niger to Turkey, to deter potential migrants to Europe. In this process a new form of imperialism is emerging, whereby rich nations, in the name of protecting their borders from migrants, trample all over the borders of poorer neighbours.

Niger, on the southern edge of the Sahara, is now, in the words of one European ambassador, “the southern border of Europe”. Whereas immigration controls are usually about stopping people entering a country illegally, the new imperialism requires African nations to prevent people leaving their territory if they might be coming to Europe. It’s the 21st century’s version of the Berlin Wall slung across the African continent.
What is really being outsourced, as Mali’s former presidential candidate Aminata Traoré observes, is “violence and instability”. Europe has turned migrants into commodities to be haggled over in a brutal new marketplace. It presents its policies as “a response to criminality”, a recent report on EU strategy notes, but in reality it is “fuelling predatory and criminal behaviour by generating perverse incentives in ‘partner’ countries”.
The EU does not particularly care who its “partners” are, so long as they willing to stop migrants reaching the Mediterranean. Sudan’s former president, Omar al-Bashir, overthrown in a military coup this year, has been indicted by the international criminal court for war crimes in Darfur. His regime was part of the “Khartoum process”, an EU initiative to cut off the migrant route from the Horn of Africa. One of the most effective instruments in policing migrants is Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries. Until 2013 they were known as the Janjaweed, a vicious militia that pursued almost genocidal violence in Darfur. Earlier this year, the RSF was responsible for massacres against anti-government protesters in Khartoum. It also plies its trade on behalf of the EU.
Nor does the EU particularly worry about whom its “partners” lock up, so long as they lock up potential migrants to Europe. In the Sahel, 80% of migration is not to Europe but is regional, involving people who for decades have moved around an area in which borders are naturally porous. Militias and security forces don’t care to sift through different kinds of migrants, so all become targets for the new kidnap and detention industry. The result is the disruption of traditional trade routes, growing economic instability and rising discontent – feeding the desire for migration.
he EU turns a blind eye to the treatment of detainees, too. European governments are not just aware of the torture, sexual abuse and extortion to which detainees are subject but also, in the words of Amnesty International’s John Dalhuisen, “complicit in these abuses”. The whole point of outsourcing is to pay others to do Europe’s dirty work. The more hostile the climate for migrants in countries such as Libya or Niger, the more effective the policy of keeping migrants away from Europe.
The consequences of EU migration policy should, as the charity Médecins Sans Frontières puts it, “shock the collective conscience of Europe’s citizens and elected leaders”. Yet it is barely discussed. For those hostile to immigration, it’s a price worth paying. For liberals, it’s a touchy issue, for they fear feeding hostility to the EU. For Brussels, the policy is a political success. For dictators and warlords, it’s a means to riches and power. And so, the biggest scandal of our time has become an outrage that dare not speak its name.
From Here

Who are the Gypsies?

It’s election time again. That means the all too familiar image of a “get tough” government ministers such as  Home Secretary Priti Patel announcing a “crackdown” on Gypsies and Travellers who has promised to change the rules on trespass, which is currently a civil law offence, a step that would criminalise any encampment of more than two vehicles, potentially resulting in Travellers being arrested and their property seized.

The document outlines plans to give police new powers to arrest and seize “the property and vehicles of trespassers who set up unauthorised encampments, in order to protect our communities”. It could be the biggest crackdown on Gypsies and travellers by any government.

Although they have been living in our own continent for over eight centuries,  this is a question still widespread among European people, as an inexplicable enigma. In their  travels - often running away from the hostility of who, not knowing them, fear them and doesn’t  want to be their neighbours - when Gypsies arrive in a city and decide to settle in a district, people  immediately watch them with open hostility. In those eyes full of distrust and fear there is always  the same question: who are you?

Over the centuries Roma people have been defined by many names. Their assumed Egyptian origin is the reason of the name “gypsies”. Historians and linguists now agree on the Indian origin of Roma people. The Romani (or Romanes)  language is a neo-Aryan language related to the ancient Sanskrit, and it is now spoken, in different  dialects, in several Asiatic and European countries. It is undeniable that Roma have been subjected to prejudice and slander, sources of discriminatory  attitudes and violent persecution. Since their arrival in Europe, they have been received with  suspicion and irrational fear. Observing their nomad life, their  ethnic traditions and their religious costumes, they were assumed people with no law and no moral  code. They were supposed worshiping Pagan Gods and devoting themselves to divination and  witchcraft. It was said that, as the  Jews were responsible of Jesus’ death, the Gypsies, excellent smiths, forged the nails used to crucify  him; for this reason they were damned people, doomed to travel forever, without any homeland. Roma, as reported in the ancient chronicles, were greeted by European citizens with initial  suspicion mixed with curiosity, but soon their appearance, their clothes, their mysterious language  and their customs aroused irrational fears, followed by intolerance and rejection, as it still happens today.

In England, in 1530 the first laws  allowing the expulsion of Roma motivated only by their race were introduced. King Henry VIII was  not in a good mood that year, when the Pope forbade him to marry Anne Boleyn and demanded her  expulsion from the court. It was the straw that breaks the camel's back: Henry VIII declared himself  head of the Church of England and married Anna. It was one of those "epochal" changes, and it gave way to the Lutheran Reformation. However, this innovative spirit did not light the king when  he faced the issue of Gypsies. To correct what he considered an emergency, he forbade the  transportation of Roma to the UK, imposing a fine of 40 pounds for the master or the ship-owner  who would have disobeyed the decree. The penalty for Roma immigrants was the hanging. Some  years later, in 1547, Edward VI of England, after the death of his father Henry VIII, listened to his  advisers and changed the laws concerning Roma. The new rules, however, were equally ruthless, but the death penalty was cancelled: Gypsies had to be arrested and branded with a V on their  chest, and then enslaved for a period of two years. If they tried to escape and were caught, they were marked with an S and made slaves for life. On July 25th 1554, the day of  the marriage between Mary Tudor and Philip II of Spain, the terror of the Inquisition materialized  for the gypsies living in England and Ireland. Bloody Mary's commitment to restore Catholicism  also targeted Roma living in the territory of the kingdom. An act was issued which established the  capital punishment not only for Roma but also for anyone serving in their communities. Eight years  later, under the reign of Elizabeth I, a new law was enacted, under which the Gypsies born in  England and Wales had to leave the country, or waive their traditions and dissolve their  communities. All others Roma would have had suffer the confiscation of land and property and the  death sentence. In 1596, during the reign of Elizabeth I 106 travellers were sentenced to death in the city of York, with no indictment out of belonging to a race hated by the authorities and the public. Nine sentences were executed, while the  others managed to prove that they were born in England. Executions on the basis of race continued  until 1650, the year after the execution of Charles I, when the era of Oliver Cromwell began and the  English interregnum, first with the republic called the Commonwealth of England, then with the  Protectorate of England, Scotland and Ireland. Despite the atmosphere of political and social  change, that year a Roma was executed in Suffolk, while others were deported to America.

Scotland,  that in 1540 had allowed Roma to live within the country while maintaining their traditions, had a  sudden afterthought and the following year enacted laws against the Gypsies. In 1573, the Gypsies hiding in Scotland were ordered to get married and develop a  stable working activity, otherwise leave the country.

From nine to twelve million Roma are currently living in Europe. In Romania the estimated Roma  population is between one million and a half to two and a half; in Bulgaria from 700,000 to  800,000; in Spain - where they are called Gypsies or Kale - around 600,000; in France half a  million. In 2006, about 160,000 Roma lived in Italy, then reduced to less than half due to the  indiscriminate evictions and the institutional persecution, which forced them to seek refuge in other  countries, causing in the meantime a high degree of mortality within the settlements. Roma from  Eastern Europe constitute about 85% of the total, Kale - or Gypsies - 10%, Sintis (in France called Manouche) 4% and Romanichal in UK 0.5 %. In Europe Roma are primarily sedentary, although  the persecution often oblige them to a form of forced nomadism. The stereotypes on Roma community during a thousand years are always the same: they are  children rapers, thieves, lawless and dirty people etc. Most European citizens are frightened by misinformation concerning Roma people, and the role the  media play in this case, cannot be considered negligible. For centuries the marginalization and mistrust towards Roma people have not changed and Roma communities are quite always and everywhere discriminated, ghettoized and kept away from  citizens, mass media and often from public administrations also.The decades spent in this situation of neglect have brought communities to a complete isolation  causing distrust and rancor towards the host countries.

The Truth about Over-Population

The size of population is held to be an important factor in the misery and suffering of the people. The problem is not too many people. If people could decide what they produce, there would be more than enough food and accommodation for many times the present world’s population. The problem is that only a minority decide – a minority who want to organise production for their own benefit and for no one else’s. 

That’s why the ruling class, even the “philanthropists” among them, promote ideas to prove that hunger and poverty are not the fault of the rich for deciding not to produce what people need, but the blame of the poor and hungry for over-breeding and being too many. The Socialist Party denies actual over-population except the excess of class parasites over producers. There is plenty for all in this world of ours – plenty of food, plenty of everything that goes to offer us a healthy and happy life. At this very time, the power of new technology and its capacity can produce more and more with a less and less. Every improvement and advance in science means that all mankind could gain greater security and greater leisure. Yet working people do not benefit by this. They are forced to compete against one another for a bare subsistence. We are told it is Utopian to urge that the workers should turn the technology and the land to the advantage of the whole community.

It is an old disproved argument that the world is destined to explode because of too many people fighting over rapidly diminishing resources. Most ‘natural’ disasters such as famines are cleated by economic policy, not population pressures and it is not ordinary working people to blame for the environmental degradation. Famine itself occurs in a world with an abundance of food that it is routinely dumped and left to rot. Even in countries racked by food “shortages” there is always food to alleviate the famine was available on the market. But the starving were too poor to purchase it. 

We have the technological power to prevent hunger. But who holds the key to this technology? The multinationals are motivated solely by profit. The idea that hunger is caused by too many people in the world is just another of the capitalists’ tricks. We all know that people are starving, but the reason is that a few corporations control food supplies and use them to make profits for their shareholders. The population scare is just another way to turn us on each other, to make us think of each other as the enemy. We need to concentrate instead on how to look after each other. A healthy and well-educated people controlling the wealth and technology of society will be able to figure out how many children we should have.

The capitalists concoct pseudo-scientific “theories” that the planet already or soon will have too many people for its possible food supply which is completely bogus. The issues of ecology, poverty and hunger are completely isolated from the social relations which produce them— capitalist relations of exploitation and oppression. Instead, Paul Erhlich, author of the Population Bomb and a founder of Zero Population Growth, calls for compulsory systematic sterilization programs to control the poor “breeding too much. , some environment activists are infected by the ideas of Erhlich and his predecessor, Thomas Malthus, and fear over-population as an imminent danger. When the Socialist Party upholds the freedom of reproductive choice and family sizes it is accused of fostering rabbit-like propensities within the human species and unlimited procreation of children. The question is: do people multiply indefinitely, and do they wish to? The facts are these. The global fertility rate is falling and many nation’s actual populations are dropping.

 A better understanding of the nature of capitalist society would change their opinion. In “Capital” Marx says: “Not only the number of births and deaths, but the absolute size of the families also is in reverse ratio to the height of the wages, that is, to the means of subsistence at the disposal of the various categories of labourers.” Marx furthermore quotes another writer who says: “If the whole world lived in comfortable circumstances, the world would soon be depopulated.” In contrast to numerous environmentalists the Socialist Party maintains that an improved standard of living does not increase the number of births, but diminishes them.

 Businessmen teach us that we have too much food viewed from the standpoint of the world market and that makes the production of food unprofitable. The madness is obvious. When the crops have bumper harvests,  speculators in grain intentionally allow a part of it to go to waste and ruin, because they know that the price increases at the same rate at which the supply diminishes.

Socialism unless it means the transfer of economic power from a small, greedy and irresponsible elite to the democratic control of the majority means nothing. There is not a lack of food, but a superabundance of food, just as there is a superabundance of the fruits of industry. Just as millions are in need of manufactured products, but cannot satisfy their needs under the existing conditions of property and production, so millions are in need of the most essential articles of food, because they cannot pay for them, although there is food in abundance. 

Our party stands vindicated

The Socialist Party shows why socialism is inevitable and necessary, and it describes what it is and how it can be achieved. Capitalism uses a new and much more efficient method than the lash to make the workers slave. That is hunger. We are told that we are free and the bosses are free. He is free to offer us terms of any kind – we are free to starve unless we accept these terms.

As we work, we create profits, such huge profits that even in their wildest extravagances the bosses cannot spend them. So there proves to be no more market for that commodity we are hired to produce; no more profits can be gotten so the free boss lays off the free worker to freely starve in the midst of a land of full warehouses which the worker filled. Capitalism, greedily demanding more and more profits, puts faster machines into the shops which produce goods and profits at a faster and faster rate. More workers are thrown on the streets. Capitalism will be replaced by employment and plenty for all. The struggle of the masses for a new life, for a socialist society of plenty for all, will go on until victory is won.

As a socialist party devoted to the abolition of the capitalist system of profit and exploitation of the people, we defend the interests of oppressed people the world over, showing how these interests were common to all who labour. The Socialist Party will continue its great aim: to help raise workers consciousness to a socialist level, to seek the abolition of the rotten system of capitalist exploitation, to end poverty for the millions. It will fight for a socialist society of plenty for all. The principal task of our organization is EDUCATION and AGITATION, that putting forward of the single idea of socialism to the largest possible section of the working class. They are aimed at raising the class consciousness of our fellow-workers

Socialism cannot be introduced without a well-organized public opinion supporting the Socialist ideal. Whether that support is won at the ballot box or via another method is not so important as that it be won. One thing is very evident. If we cannot get people to vote for our party, there is little hope of getting them to take up force on behalf of our cause. It may be too early to decide definitely what course we shall finally have to pursue to gain the socialist commonwealth. But there can be no harm in getting as many votes at the ballot box as possible. Good socialists elected will certainly advance the cause meanwhile. It is absurd to claim that the Socialist Party is merely an organization designed to win votes on election day. We have never taken that position either publicly or privately.

 But, when it engages in an election campaign, that is its primary task for the moment. On every occasion we stated our case for socialism. as long as the ballot can be used, even under difficulties as it is today, it should be used. That is why we look forward to bigger and better socialist election campaigns. And that is why we ought to begin now to organize for work on the political field. And if that method proves ineffective, or is withheld from us in the future, we shall still have to go forward until we do gain the socialist commonwealth by the best means at our command.

Nature has spread a great table bounteously for all of the children of men. There is room for all, and there is a plate and a place and food for all, and any system of society that denies a single one the right and the opportunity to freely help himself to Nature’s bounties is an unjust and iniquitous system that ought to be abolished in the interest of a higher humanity and a civilisation worthy of the name. As long as a relatively few men own the transport, the media and communications, own the oil and the gas fields and the steel mills, in short, the sources and means of life — they will corrupt our politics, they will enslave the working class, they will impoverish and debase society, they will do all things that are needful to perpetuate their power as the economic masters and the political rulers of the people. Not until these great agencies are owned and operated by the people can the people hope for any material improvement in their social condition. Nothing is more humiliating than to have to beg for work, and a system in which any man has to beg for work stands condemned. No man can defend it. The world is just beginning to awaken, and all the signs of the times are cheering.

The Socialist Party proposes that society in its collective capacity shall produce, not for profit, but in abundance to satisfy human wants; that every person shall have the inalienable right to work; that every man and every woman can be economically free. They can, without let or hindrance, apply their labour, with the best machinery that can be devised, to all the natural resources, do the work of society and produce for all; and then receive in exchange a certificate of value equivalent to that of their production. Then society will improve its institutions in exact proportion to the progress of invention. Whether you work in the city or on farm, all things productive will be carried forward on a gigantic scale. All industry will be completely organised. Society for the first time will have a scientific foundation. Every person, by being economically free, will have some time for him or herself.

The Socialist Party envisages a society in which there will be no classes and no state. Marxism regards the state as the instrument of class rule. The state, in its essential features, is the instrument of one class for the suppression of another. Capitalism has exhausted its progressive role; now it must leave the stage to a higher system. Capitalism has done its work.