Sunday, July 12, 2015

Defend Fellow Workers

There are those on the Left who oppose immigration and seek strong immigration controls being imposed on foreigners seeking to live or work in the UK. They offer three reasons. Firstly, employers use them to put a downward pressure on wages by creating continuous competition on the job markets.  Likewise they add to the demand for the limited services such as school places and housing. They then add the “altruistic” motive for their opposition by saying it perpetuates economic problems on countries which the immigrants come from through a “brain drain” and reduces class conflict in those countries because workers in each country should unify to change their respective situations and better their own positions. They argue we should be put on helping other countries develop rather than helping people immigrate. This all sounds very reasonable commonsense but only when you look at a small part of the picture and leave out some important details. The problem is that people easily fall prey to extremist reactionaries when they coat themselves in moderate colours.

It really doesn't matter if there is a huge influx of immigrants. The exploitation remains the same, except now, the immigrants are designated as enemy instead of capitalism itself and capitalists continue to make increasing profit margins and continue to enrich themselves at an increasing almost exponential rate. Those profits are deprived to the working class, non-immigrants and immigrants alike, and extracted from them. Of course the capitalist class uses workers from other lands to try to maximise their profits by reducing wages, working conditions etc. But let us suppose there is no immigration...what then? The capitalist class will still continue using workers from other lands by exporting their capital and jobs to take advantage of cheaper labour. If there is no inward immigration, there will be outsourcing. Capital will seek the lowest possible price for labor regardless of the nationality of the worker. All this negative focus on workers who are guilty of nothing more than being from somewhere else and trying to have a better standard of living is sickening because the capitalist class is ignored. It's one-sided and anti-worker.

What immigration restrictions and laws have historically done is not to prevent migration, but to manage and create a lower caste of workers from the migrants. In the US this was true from the restrictions on Chinese workers to Latino migrants today. The same dynamic of creating divisions in the working class also is true for internal migration from the Okies in the US to the Californian fruit fields as the John Steinbeck’s 'Grapes of Wrath' ably depicts. Or the rural Chinese moving to the new industrial centres. Capitalism destroys the small farmers and their capacity to support themselves and so people seek out wage work. In parts of the world it means moving from the country to the cities within a country but right now, this also means crossing borders.

Supporting these laws or restrictions on migration in general weakens the ability of workers to organize and helps pit different groups of workers against each-other by restricting rights and the ability to organize (for fear of deportation or so on) for part of the working class, while helping to create an illusion on common cause between native workers and their native ruling class. it is precisely because of the border controls that capitalists are able to play workers off against one another.

The basis of the exploitation is the economic system itself. Pitting workers against other workers is what it does. It creates a system of competition in order to be able to survive to detract attention from the true problem: the system.

Immigration should be free for everyone. A socialist cannot be anti-immigration because socialism eliminates borders. The working men and women have no country, no nation. People should be allowed to freely immigrate and emigrate. The world will be united, not divided into states, when there are states there is hierarchy and class struggle, and if class struggle exists there is no socialism. To the genuine socialist who favours the empowerment of the organised working class, immigration restriction is seen as a tool of the ruling class to enforce cultural norms, secure domestic institutions, and to simply express irrational xenophobia and racism. The topic of immigration and especially "illegal" immigration is the venue for the most acceptable articulation of modern racism. Our struggle is an international one, and so is our goal. Because some of our fellow workers are against immigrants doesn't mean socialists should be. We don't idealise workers. If they are acting against their interests, and this anti-immigration is not in their interests we state clearly that those workers are wrong and their actions self-defeating. We don’t pander to their prejudices for popularity. All those who have settled and work here in the UK are members of the British working class. If we define socialism as the destruction of capitalism and the state in favour of a globally united and free working class, you can't promote keeping "foreigners" out or discriminate against “foreigners” who have crossed the border.

The problem at the moment in the UK is that not enough workers are properly unionised, so they are disorganised and not challenging the bosses or fighting against the capitalist system.

Meanwhile, the alarmists are, in case you didn’t know, claiming jihadists are coming to Europe and the UK disguised as Muslim refugees and they are “hell-bent on committing atrocities.” Thus the necessity of bombing them over there so we don’t have to bomb them here. If you don’t want hordes of refugees, then don’t bomb their homes; that’s the simple truth that is lost on NATO warmongers. NATO is using the ‘concern’ about the refugee crisis it created to continue to ‘manage’ the Middle East in a way that ensures Western control of the oil. In 2011 NATO carpet bombed Libya. Now four years later, and the same Western leaders are telling us they need to ‘do’ Libya again. The EU has agreed with itself that it should still take military action against the refugees it created: According to the EU foreign policy chief, the operation will consist of three main phases – intelligence gathering, inspection and detection of smuggling boats, and destruction of the captured vessels. How much of a coincidence is it in which “terrorists” pop up in a foreign country and threaten the West just as Western governments are proposing to bomb that country. The pattern couldn’t be more obvious after so many interventions justified in like manner since 9/11.

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