Showing posts with label immigration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label immigration. Show all posts

Saturday, August 15, 2015

One World, One People - For World Socialism

The Tory prime minister declared he has no regrets about his recent use of the “swarms” to characterize migrants trying to reach the UK. David Ca-moron goes on to criminalise them further by alleging that they are trying to “break-in” to the UK although as refugees many have a legitimate and legal right to seek asylum in the UK without going through the proper channels and by any means possible. The government is purposefully trying to create an atmosphere of fear by stigmatizing vulnerable people as a threat to the UK’S security and sovereignty.

In a corner-shop near the Scottish Home Office, the Unity centre has been fighting for several years to protect refugees and asylum seekers who have made their home in Glasgow. Asylum seekers come in and report to Unity before signing in at the Home Office building nearby. If they are detained during their visit to the Home Office, activists can swing into action to try and get them released. It’s a system that has helped hundreds stay in Scotland since asylum seekers started arriving in Glasgow at the end of the 1990s.

“Glasgow has stood against the Home Office in lots of ways,” said one Unity activist. “We help anyone in their struggle for papers, it’s about emotional solidarity as well as practical.” He talks about a flight full of migrants that has only this morning left Heathrow for Nigeria, stopping en route in Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. “Charter flights are a way of expelling people en masse, where nobody can hear you scream. We know several of the people who have been sent out on this flight and many of them have legal processes open, they have families and children here. The Home Office just grab as many people as they can,” the activist added.

The Unity centre is only one part of a vibrant network of support for migrants and refugees across Glasgow, rooted in local communities and bringing together people from around the world with their Scottish neighbours. When the Home Office decided to start sending asylum seekers out of London to cities around the UK, Glasgow city council was the first to sign up.

The asylum seekers were placed in empty flats in long neglected high-rise estates. Neighbours appointed by the council to welcome the new families took the job seriously, bringing the new arrivals from Kosovo, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, into their communities, holding parties, bringing families from across the world together. When families were told they would not be given asylum their Scottish neighbours refused to let the Home Office remove them from the UK. Immigration officials who arrived in the early hours for “dawn raids” on families were met by enraged Glaswegians who refused to let the Home Office take their new friends away.

The demonstrations became widespread and saw the end of the dawn raids. Many thousands of people who had been threatened with removal, including many families, were allowed to stay in Scotland.

Remzije Sherifi runs the Maryhill Integration Network where people from around the world come together in award winning dance and music projects.
“We have established great links between new arrivals and local people. This grows organically from the heart if people can understand why someone would have to flee their country. It’s still hard, there are still people struggling, but there are always doors open where they can get a cup of tea.”

The world is on the move. Tens of millions are displaced. Around the world much the same question is being posed: “How are we going to absorb all those hordes of immigrants?” All across the globe nationalist, xenophobic groups and movements are busy attacking and intimidating defenseless refugees. George Orwell defined un-Christian, un-white and un-Western people simply as “un-people”, in the eyes of the West.

The overwhelming majority of the refugees are forced to leave their homelands because of political and economic consequences of capitalism. Only a few Europeans or North Americans are capable of detecting connection between their continents’ wealth, those hundreds of millions of ruined lives all over the world, and the latest wave of immigrants. Glasgow's commercial wealth was built upon the slave trade, for example. Great Britain, responsible for the loss of millions of lives worldwide through its colonial genocides and triggered/orchestrated famines, is now pretending that it is facing a serious “refugee crises”.  While tiny Lebanon is now a host of over 2 million Syrian refugees, one of the main global bullies, the UK, has lesser than 25,000 registered asylum applicants on its territory. Immigrants are being portrayed as some menace, or pest, not as a group of desperate human beings – victims of the British Empire and the neo-colonialism that followed it. Much of the blame can be placed on the politicians and the toadying media. Even the liberal voices only offer concessions out of charity and not recognise solidarity as an obligation and so they do little to throw open the gates or knock down the walls of Fortress Europe.

As long as capitalism reigns supreme, as long as profit-seeking rules over the planet, the refugees will be crossing dangerous seas to seek safety and security. Many will die in the process but some will make it to be defined as “illegal” and persecuted and where victims will have to lie, in order to just survive. The Socialist Party as part of the World Socialist Movement stands with the exploited and the oppressed of all parts of the globe.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The immigration Issue

Migration is but yet another symptom of the bankruptcy of capitalism, yet another contradiction that cannot be solved on a capitalist basis. The only way to solve this, like all the other issues, is the socialist transformation of society which would remove the need for migration. The answer to people fleeing conflict, deprivation and brutal regimes is to remove the root causes of such nastiness—minority ownership and control of productive resources which generates rivalry for the upper hand, and restricts provision of, and access to, goods and services according to available profits and ability to pay. It is this exclusive possession and control of resources that also divides the world into separate competing countries and blocs, and the need for associated borders to prevent others from attempting to acquire these valuable assets by armed force, subversion or, in the case of migrants during economic downturns, "excess" demand (i.e., too many unemployed and unemployable people burdening state finances). And since these means of production responsible are possessed and run by ruling classes in all countries worldwide, worldwide socialism is the only solution. Then we will be able to truly live in peace, and all our brothers and sisters, wherever they may be in the world will be able to make a positive and meaningful contribution to the world we all live in and live as one, free from the exploitation and the barbarity that so blights the lives of so many of our fellow human beings at the present time.

When asylum seekers – children, women and men who have to flee their homes and families and make the hazardous and often outright dangerous journey across the globe – arrive in this state, their ordeal is far from over. Rather than being given the opportunity to rebuild their lives, they are often isolated from society. We live in a period in history where war and conflict are a more permanent feature affecting a huge proportion of the world population as never before.  Millions of people are displaced from their homes because of this, those who make it onto these shores should be guaranteed the opportunity to rebuild their lives. People want to move to improve their family’s finances, escape poverty or flee from war and persecution. In the same way, British people choose to live and work abroad, either where the money is, or to retire and where their meagre pensions go further.  Would those who want to restrict migration into Britain also want to stop British people moving abroad?

The legal system has always reflected the class interests of the ruling class, and indeed the need for laws reflects the tensions between the classes. Socialists support campaigns to reform oppressive laws, such as the Asylum Act, whilst pointing out these are preliminary skirmishes in the war to overthrow the rule of the capitalist class. Immigration law has always been determined by the requirements of the capitalist economy. Initially the needs of the British capitalists for extra labour in their expanding industries was supplied by dragging the rural poor to the growing towns, and then from their oldest and nearest colony, Ireland. We oppose the capitalists’ immigration laws for many of the same reasons the capitalists support them. Our interest are opposite. Most people who try to come to Britain are refugees from terror or economic migrants escaping poverty at home. They are mainly working people, and they will strengthen our class here. They will strengthen our links with workers and socialist parties in such places as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Caribbean. The capitalists oppose their entry because they are poor, and if they don’t require the extra labour see them only as a drain on their economy.

If all of the world’s refugees were to form one independent country, it would be the 24th largest, just behind Italy and ahead of South Africa. Capitalism produces unmanageable waste, human included. The reserve army of labor has long been filled, and so the remaining population is superfluous. Precarious, low-wage labor is the international norm, even increasingly so in the industrial north, where social-democratic protections are under steady assault. Nonetheless, conditions remain superior enough in these countries to attract millions of migrants each year. Some migrants wind up in camps that are essentially prisons, often for protracted periods.

In Dabaab, Kenya, there are three migrant towns operated by UNHCR, primarily housing refugees from the Somali Civil War. There are currently about 450,000 people in an area originally designed to handle only 90,000, and some have been there since the formation of the settlement in 1991. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 3.7 million refugees, with most coming from Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. The catalyst for these migrations is the growing instability of African states amidst civil war and regional sectarian conflicts, and the concomitant proliferation of terrorist organizations throughout the region.

France has closed the border near Ventimiglia, prompting Italian police to forcibly close a camp of mostly Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees. The Italian state is desperate for help from its European partners to absorb the flow, as some 57,000 displaced people have landed in the country so far this year. For its part, France has played a particularly disgusting role in this saga, which is hardly surprising given its recent history of treatment of minority communities within its borders. This is the land of the burka ban, where Nicolas Sarkozy rose to power on promises to hose the scum (“les racailles”) out of the streets of the suburban ghettos, and both he and his Socialist successor, Francois Hollande, forcibly expelled Roma communities in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Likewise, the French government has broken down several makeshift camps in recent years in the port city of Calais, and Human Rights Watch has documented widespread police abuse and harassment of migrants living there. Reports include unprovoked beatings and deployment of pepper-spray, even on people obeying orders. Volunteers have found evidence of physical abuse, including scars and broken bones, which victims claim were inflicted by French authorities.

The Socialist Party opposes the prejudiced populist attacks on asylum-seekers. The Socialist Party supports the rights of workers to be able to move freely around the world. We condemn and oppose the entire reactionary framework of ‘border controls’ and anti-immigrant legislation. The scapegoating of asylum seekers is rooted in the exploitation of nationalism for short term political ends. This politicking plays into genuine fears people hold for their own future and anger at a system that doesn’t work for them. The growing gap between rich and poor is being felt by many and they are looking for someone to blame. Socialists point people away from blaming those who are themselves victims of a rotten system and towards genuine solutions.

 In arguing for the right of complete freedom of movement for all people we must remember that ultimately it is capitalism which has created emigration system which often threats those who suffer its worst abuses as little better than animals. This is why the fight for refugee rights needs to go beyond simple appeals to people’s humanity and generosity. The strongest argument as to why people should support rights of migrants is because it is in their interest to do so. The Socialist Party will challenge workers who cannot see beyond the existing divisions of the world, and who believe in measures against labour from other countries. Marxists will continue to press for socialist internationalism. Workers of the world unite in the fight for world socialism!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Open Borders or Closed Minds

Capitalism's 'use-by' date is way overdue. We can enjoy a much higher standard of living because we're far more productive than ever before. When we argue for the abolition of private property, what we are referring to is the common ownership of the means of production (all the stuff such as machinery and raw materials) so that people have a better means to generate wealth, and thus diminish inequality. Socialists have no desire to take the clothes off your back, commandeer your car or squat in your house.

More people cross borders today than ever before. Historians, archaeologists, biologists, and the tales that people tell all point to the fact that around the world human beings have always moved and that they have done so for reasons not dissimilar to the reasons people move today. To be human is to be mobile.  For us, to be alive is to move.  We are not plants, rooted to a single place from which we grow and expand in more or less constrained or restricted ways.  Our defining capacity as a species to creatively and purposefully transform our surroundings and productively and consciously modify our circumstances -- our existential vocation for labor, if you will -- is inseparable from our fundamental freedom of movement.  This likewise means that our inherently social character as a species is also contingent upon our mobility.  Hence, the freedom of movement of the human species is an absolutely basic and non-negotiable aspect of our most general mode of life.  This is not merely a philosophical predilection or a theoretical conceit, much less a dogmatic political position -- it is an indisputable and immutable objective fact.  To be human and alive, under any semblance of natural or normal or healthy circumstances, is to be mobile. Hence, our freedom of movement as a species has ultimately manifested itself as a freedom to move around the entire globe, (and even beyond). The free movement of people around the world therefore would not be utopian; it is already a proven fact. What is utopian is the statist delusion of border policing. The development of capitalism creates the conditions for the solidarity and contact between workers to overcome the national boundaries established by capital. 

Borders are one of the great contradictions in the era of capitalist globalisation. The world has become a much smaller place because of advances in technology and transportation, global production chains and the lightning-fast movement of capital around the planet. In this regard, the globalized economy is borderless to those with billions of dollars or euros or yen to invest. But borders are still there to keep the vast majority of us apart. While borders are permeable to some privileged people, they are impermeable to most others. Migrants who cross national borders without permission are often criminalised and de-humanised, frequently lose their social, economic and political rights and, as a consequence, experience disproportionate exploitation and abuse. Capitalism has always needed workers to migrate across borders. For example, tens of thousands of Irish workers were central to England's Industrial Revolution. Once in England, the Irish got the worst-paid jobs, lived in slums and were caricatured as slothful drunks. Borders are designed to control workers in the interest of capitalist accumulation. The most successful way to defeat low pay and conditions is to unite and organise against exploitative employers. The demand for undocumented migrant workers is greater as long as employers can get a higher return on investment through the exploitation of a cheap labour force. If migrant workers are allowed to flow freely between borders, with the same rights as indigenous workers, they would be entitled to the same pay and conditions. As a result, we could strengthen our organisations and unions, united in our struggle for just and fair conditions in employment and education. It is easier for employers to undercut wages if they have access to a cheap labour force, but equipped with the same rights as the indigenous workforce, a migrant worker would no longer be susceptible to exploitation because of their status. In Istanbul, employers are already taking advantage of an educated Syrian working class, to provide high standards of service in hospitality during the tourist season, whilst paying them less than indigenous workers.

When workers unite for fair pay and conditions, it strengthens the position of all workers.

There are no such matters as ‘national interests’ only the interests of different classes. Borders are never natural, never a product of nature. They are political. Capitalism views workers both as units of production and as a market. Socialism, on the other hand sees us all as human beings. A world without borders, without states, would clearly require a global revolution. Abolition of immigration controls and the opening of present borders even within one country such as the UK would also require a revolution.  The long-standing socialist slogan ‘Workers of the world unite’ means what it says. It does not mean ‘Only workers with the correct immigration status unite.’ Immigration controls are inherently racist as they are premised on the grossest of all nationalisms – the claim that one group of people has a franchise on a particular piece of the world. All immigration controls however they are defined and to whoever they ‘allow’ free movement, inevitably result in the restriction of movement for others. This is why they must be opposed in principle. Every struggle against deportation is at its very basics a denial of the state to determine who can cross borders.

A huge number of the world’s population are on the move and are voting with their feet for no controls. Across the world, national states, especially in the so-called “rich world,” are imposing ever more restrictive immigration policies. Such state efforts are being enacted at precisely the time when migration has become an increasingly important part of people’s strategies for survival. These may be a new livelihood or escape from untenable, even murderous, situations, such as persecution and war, as well as the opportunity to experience new people, places, and situations.

Throughout the world those designated as ‘illegal’ – the unwanted, the undocumented – are literally scaling fences in assertion of their right of freedom of movement. More restrictions will never stop migration--the economic imperative for workers struggling to feed themselves and their families will force them to cross borders, no matter what the risks. But the restrictions can make this much more dangerous and oppressive, by forcing the most vulnerable people in society into relying on smugglers and human traffickers, not to mention the exploitative businesses where they end up working. There can be no question of socialists supporting anything that would make it impossible for Polish, Romanian or any other workers to migrate to and remain in the UK. Nor can we ignore the deployment of security forces, the use of courts and detention centres to enforce immigration policies.

The idea that the acceptance of foreign workers would threaten native workers' jobs is one dimensional. Of course, it can't be denied that even in times of non-recession, the low wages of foreign workers appear to Japanese workers as competitors. However, the position which opposes the acceptance of low wage foreign workers based on the idea that they steal jobs and cause the worsening of working conditions, dazzles the eyes with apparent interests, but cannot understand the essence of things, and spreads xenophobia and divisions among the workers. Capital introduces all sorts of discrimination among the workers: main company and subcontractors, temporary and part time workers, etc. Capital uses "disposable" part time and temporary workers as a control valve for business fluctuations. When the business climate worsens, the first ones to get the sack are these low level workers, and those working for small subcontracting companies. It is the rule of capital that makes the workers' lives unstable. This instability will not end if the rule of capital continues, regardless of whether or not foreign workers are prevented entry.

The same thing is true for the problem of increased crime or the creation of slums or increased competition for social security and welfare. The greatest responsibility for the occurrence of these problems lies with the discriminative low wages and horrible working conditions capital imposes, and is not the fault of foreign workers. The results of research by the French researcher Gaspard clearly show the groundlessness of bourgeois "public opinion" which scapegoats foreign workers by saying that they are a hotbed of crime. According to her research, French people are the ones who commit the vast majority of serious social crimes, whereas the overwhelming number of crimes by foreign workers are petty crimes which come from unavoidable poverty related to their terrible treatment by capital. ("The France of Foreigners"). The xenophobic position deflects attention away from the rule of capital as if the responsibility lies with the foreign workers, is a reactionary stance which propagates prejudice against foreign workers.

Those on the left who call for "orderly” admittance understand that these conditions of establishing presuppose a return to the home country. This position is essentially the same as the capitalist’s  which denies foreign workers the right to permanent stay, and attempts to "use" foreign workers for the convenience of capital, and avoid social problems from the permanent residence of foreign workers. They want to thoroughly squeeze these foreign workers and then send them back to their home country. In other words, they aim to introduce freely disposable "labor power". The left nationalist standpoint is the same as that of the ruling class. This regulated immigration policy reflects the interests of medium and small capital which is suffering from a labour shortage.

One of the things Lenin did get right was when he explained:
"Capitalism creates the particular form of national migration. Countries in which industry is rapidly developing introduce more machinery, drive other countries out of the market, and attract wage workers from foreign countries through their above average wages.
 In this way hundreds of thousands of workers move far away from their hometowns. Against their will they are drawn into the orbit of advanced capitalism. They are drawn out of their remote villages to become participants in the movement of world history, and come face to face with a powerfully united, international industrial class.
 Certainly, only extreme poverty causes people to abandon their homeland, and capitalism exploits migrant workers in a completely shameless way. But only reactionaries can shut their eyes to the progressive meaning of the modern national migration. Emancipation from the heavy pressure of capital cannot occur apart from the increasing development of capitalism, and the class struggles based on this development.
 The bourgeoisie tries to incite the workers of one nation against the workers of another nation, and cause splits between them. Class conscious workers understand that it is inevitable and progressive to knock down all of the capitalist walls between nations, and work in order to help the organization and enlightenment of comrades from other countries." ("Capitalism and the Migration of Workers")

Workers must recognise the progressive meaning of the movement of workers, and strive for solidarity with the workers of other countries from an internationalist standpoint.

The government spreads the anti-migrant ideas that the admission of "unskilled workers" would widen discriminatory consciousness, and lead to the breakdown of the social order. But the evidence is that it is the government and capital who are inciting discrimination and prejudice against foreign workers, with fears that the entrance of unskilled foreign workers will enlarge the slums and increase crime.

Workers support the freedom of foreign workers' employment. The illegal conditions of the employment of foreign workers means that capital can impose horrendous working conditions, brokers are active and in-between exploitation takes place. Of course, as long as the rule of capital continues this would not end even with the legal employment. But the legality of employment would at least ease these conditions somewhat. Furthermore, workers must oppose all discrimination, and demand equality for foreign workers and their rights as workers. Only supporting the legality of employment, is no different from the bourgeois desire for cheap labour. For foreign workers to defend their own lives, they must secure their rights as workers. Workers as workers must oppose discrimination by capital against foreign workers, and struggle in solidarity to support their rights and lives.

However, the international solidarity of workers is not merely limited to supporting the demands for their rights. Above all, workers must develop the class struggle against the system of capital, and overthrow this system. What must be sought is the overthrow of the rule of capital  and the realisation of socialism established on the power of the workers.

Our solidarity recognises no borders. We must do everything we can to support the right of workers to live and work where they so wish. Socialists want world where borders have become a relic of the past. The world that the Socialist Party envision is one in which national boundaries no longer exist, in which you can move from one country to another with the same ease in which we can move from Newcastle to Newquay, a world without passports or visas or immigration quotas. True globalisation in the human sense, in which we recognise that the world is one and that human beings everywhere are the same. It would be a world in which the boundaries of race and religion and nation would not become causes for antagonism. Even though there would still be cultural differences and still be language differences, there would not be causes for violent action of one against the other. In a world like that you could not make war because it is your family. It would be a world in which the riches of the planet would be according to human need. True community can only be established with the abolition of classes and the state. If we are to fight world capitalism, then we cannot resort to nationalism. The only way forward for working people is the struggle for class solidarity and world socialism.  Class unity is about solidarity, which recognises no borders. The workers' cause and the Revolution knows no borders.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Have labour power, will travel

From the August 1997 issue of theSocialist Standard

Inside a feudal, pre-industrial society it could be said of the majority of those who worked that they would live, work, marry, procreate and die within walking distance of the place in which they were born. Modern capitalism has changed all that.

The needs of the market have torn asunder all the old social ties of community. Families are spread all over the world as workers desperate for employment seek to sell their labour power wherever possible. They enter into competition with resident workers and thus the seeds of suspicion and hatred are sewn.

The driving force of capitalism is competition. Capitalist against capitalist for a bigger share of the product of labour. Worker against worker in the search for a job.It is into this desperate struggle for a job that various politicians spread the poison of nationalism and racism.

This poison is world-wide. In France at the recent election, one-in-ten voted for the openly racist, anti-immigration National Front. Every European country has its adherents of the same political poison. In the United States of America various America-first groups scream abuse at Mexican and Central American immigrants.

In Africa tens of thousands of refugees cross borders escaping the growing tribalism that mirrors the ethnic cleansing of eastern Europe. Everywhere you look modern capitalism presents the same awful tragedy of lives ruined by the obnoxious hatreds of xenophobia.

Inhuman nature
So widespread is this nationalistic nonsense that many defenders of capitalism can claim that it is an innate human trait. These people talk glibly about "human nature" when dealing with such horrors as Zaire or Serbia.

Socialists do not share that view. Far from being innately murderous and competitive human existence itself was only possible because of a history of co-operation and tolerance. In order to survive in a hostile environment human beings had to be theuniquely social animal.

We do not deny the existence of such horrors as Hiroshima or Buchenwald, but we know that these are the products of a property-based society that alienates and destroys all decency in its drive for more and more profit.

The product of a Glasgow slum does not travel to a remote island in the South Atlantic to maim the slum product of Buenos Aires because of some genetic urge. Behind all these atrocities lies the capitalist imperatives of markets and sources of raw materials.

A world to win
It is but one of the many paradoxes of capitalism that it has shrunk the world only to divide society into smaller and smaller fragments. That it has progressed at breakneck speed in the fields of travel and communication yet it has divided and alienated us from our true humanity.

Technically we can travel half-way round the world in a day, communicate instantly with almost anyone on the planet; and yet find ourselves artificially divided on the basis of differences of custom, language, diet, culture and skin colour. Capitalism is a frightening, hate-filled system that turns everyone's hand against everyone else.

Inside socialism, where the whole Earth is the common property of the whole world's population, we will all be able to travel our planet to work wherever we desire, safe in the knowledge that our brothers and sisters will welcome us on whichever shore we land.

That is the aim of the World Socialist Movement. Shouldn't it be yours?

Richard Donnelly
Glasgow Branch

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Don’t blame newcomers

Capitalism is a system based on divide and rule, male versus female, young against old, employed pitted against unemployed and successive governments in Britain have played the race card (in Northern Ireland it was religion) or resorted to xenophobia to try to set workers against one another. The slogan of “British jobs for British workers” deflects from the possibility of solidarity and reflects a “divide and rule” situation in which fearful workers turn on “foreigners”. One section of the ruling class does not benefit from migrant workers and therefore does not want to bear the costs, while another section has been keen to defend the benefits of immigration. Political parties in Britain have once more begun to talk about immigration during this 2015 general election campaign. Unfortunately the debate is usually an ill-informed one and typically just a cover to introduce nationalist notions about the impact of immigration.

Migrant workers play a distinct role in capitalism as a “reserve army of labour” Employers use special schemes in agriculture and the so-called “hospitality” sector to import workers on a temporary basis. Advanced capitalist economies regularly poach workers with particular skills, such as nurses, teachers and social workers, from developing countries.
 The use of migrant workers also allows the receiver country to externalise the costs of renewing the labour force. The state uses migrant workers to fill gaps in the labour market but does not pay any of the costs of them or their families settling.
 Migrant workers are especially useful as part of the reserve army of labour because they can quickly be expelled. Nigeria expelled two million immigrant workers from other West African countries in the wake of the collapse of the oil market in the early 1980s, for instance.
 Employers do not simply want to obtain additional labour. They also want to get workers who can be used under specific conditions to raise the rate of exploitation. In some cases bosses will try to employ migrant workers even when indigenous workers are available because they assume that migrants’ status will make them easier to exploit. The vast majority of migrant workers have been used to fill the worst and most badly paid jobs. The use of migrant workers is inextricably linked to increasing labour “flexibility” to ratchet up the rate of exploitation. This is driven by increased competition between capitals.

Research puts a strong case against linking immigration to depressed wages or increased unemployment and suggests little or no evidence that immigrants have had a major impact although it is conceded that there is a limited negative effect on the lower skilled and the lower paid. While there is pressure on the wages of the worst paid workers, it is not the case that migrant workers are responsible for this. The drive for “flexibility” and lower wages goes back much further than the influx of workers from Eastern Europe. Privatisation, outsourcing and subcontracting have intensified competition over the past two decades in industries such as cleaning and other badly paid service sector jobs as well as construction. It is expensive for employers to invest in the infrastructure to train workers, so the exploitation of an already highly skilled labour market is utilised. When there is contraction in the market, the pushing back of migration occurs and vice versa. During these times the scapegoating of migrants and refugees is prevalent. Worker's fears are stoked by an austerity driven government, successfully deflecting people’s attention away from a lack of job prospects and cuts to services by pointing the finger at migrant workers.

Undoubtedly some employers in individual workplaces have sought to employ migrant workers on poorer pay and conditions of service. It is easy to see how employers could seek to employ workers on worse pay and conditions. The lesson to learn is in the importance of uniting indigenous and migrant workers, and of the role of trade unions. Not to organise these workers would weaken the movement as a whole. We are rightly fearful that migrant workers will be used as scapegoats. It is bosses who try to hold down pay to make bigger profits. They want workers to blame each other because it keeps them divided. Workers who resist this division can win better pay for all. It is crucial to argue in their workplaces and unions that blame does not lie with the migrant workers but with the cut-throat competition of capitalism that sets one person against one another in dog-eat-dog rivalry.  The most successful way to defeat low pay and conditions is to unite and organise against exploitative employers. When workers unite for fair pay and conditions, it strengthens the position of all workers.

Many of the above arguments are a rehash of ideas which opposed the movement of women into the work-force and even supported pay differentials, restricting their wages relative to men. Same with the employment of younger workers who once were placed on a pay-increment scale based upon age. Migrants and refugees are the scapegoats for people’s anxieties and fears about their livelihoods and quality of life. Migrants are not only being blamed for unemployment, but they are also being blamed for taking advantage of free healthcare and other welfare benefits.

Immigrants are also being blamed for the housing shortage. Rents are going up, and homes are becoming harder to find. But who is to blame? It’s certainly not migrants, who end up with some of the worst and most overcrowded housing. There is a shortage of housing because not enough is being built. And those being constructed are luxury flats aimed at the well-off and unaffordable to those on average wages.

“Health tourism” and “benefit tourism” are myths. The NHS would grind to a halt without migrant workers. It has relied on migrant labour from the time Enoch Powell as Health Minister invited West Indian nurses to staff the wards. Many say Britain is already “full up” and this seems to chime with a certain common sense—surely, more people means less to go round. But that isn’t how it works. Wealth is not shared out either fairly nor rationally. And the pot of wealth is not fixed. Our labour creates wealth. Yet the rich get more than the rest put together.

 In reality the debate on immigration in Britain is not about the economic causes and consequences of immigration at all. It is overwhelmingly a ‘debate’ that allows politicians and others to whip up xenophobia while posing as being concerned about the interests of workers or the poor. Borders are designed to control workers in the interest of capitalist accumulation. Immigration laws turn people into criminals.  Threats by employers who use immigration status to keep workers from organizing unions or protesting illegal conditions should be a crime. We have many big cities with scores of different nationalities living within them and as socialists we celebrate that rich tapestry of life. Some of us are waking up. We are finding out what is wrong with the world. We are going to make it right.

Friday, November 28, 2014

For a World Without Borders

The large-scale movement of people has a long history. Migration has always been high on the agenda of the ruling classes, particularly in the core capitalist economies, as they have sought to balance the need for migrant workers to fuel expansionary periods of capitalism against picking up the bill for reproducing and maintaining these workers. The use of migrant workers also allows the receiver country to externalise the costs of renewing the labour force. The state uses migrant workers to fill gaps in the labour market but does not pay any of the costs of them or their families settling. Migrant workers play a distinct role in capitalism both as a “reserve army of labour” and as a means of raising the rate of exploitation for some employers will try to employ migrant workers even when indigenous workers are available because they assume that migrants’ status will make them easier to exploit. There is nothing new about the idea of a reserve army of labour. In 1845 Federick Engels wrote, “English manufacture must have, at all times save the brief periods of highest prosperity, an unemployed reserve army of labour, in order to produce the masses of goods required by the market in the liveliest months”. Under capitalism, immigration will always be a tool of the capitalists to maximise their profits. This has not always taken the form of encouraging freer movement. Sometimes it has meant the opposite. For example, in Capital, Karl Marx refers to the Lancashire cotton manufacturers successfully preventing starving cotton workers from emigrating to the colonies, to keep them as a ‘reserve army of labour’ and thereby hold down wages.

Migrant workers are especially useful as part of the reserve army of labour because they can quickly be expelled. The use of migrant workers is inextricably linked to the agenda of increasing labour “flexibility”. In the UK the supply of migrant workers from outside the European Union is turned on and off like a tap to provide flexible, seasonal, low cost labour. With the free movement of labour within the EU the stop-cocks to control the flow of workers has proved more difficult to turn. One section of the ruling class does not benefit from migrant workers and therefore does not want to bear the costs, while another section has been keen to defend the benefits of immigration. These tensions between different capitalists, with different labour market needs, creates difficulties for states as they attempt to manage migration. The capitalist world market developed in a contradictory fashion, from the nation state. At some stages, the importance for capitalism of ‘freedom of trade’ was to the fore. At others, the importance of national barriers. Today the productive forces have long outgrown nation states, and yet still remain partially constrained by them. Capitalism’s attitude to migration reflects this contradiction. This split was evident in the example of two reports. A Home Office report, citing the support of the Institute of Directors and British Chambers of Commerce, puts a strong case against linking immigration to depressed wages or increased unemployment. Another study tells yet another story, concluding that immigration has a positive effect on the wages of higher paid workers but lowers the wages for those in lower paid jobs. While there is pressure on the wages of the worst paid workers, it is not the case that migrant workers are responsible for this. The drive for “flexibility” and lower wages goes back much further than the arrival of workers from Eastern Europe. Privatisation, outsourcing and subcontracting have intensified competition over the past two decades in industries such as cleaning and other badly paid service sector jobs as well as construction. Undoubtedly, though, some employers in individual factories and workplaces have sought to employ migrant workers on poorer pay and conditions of service.

The existence of migrant workers offers the possibility of divide and rule, bosses have not always been successful in their unbridled exploitation of migrant workers. It is worth recounting a dispute in Sweden when Latvian workers were brought in to refurbish a school by the subcontractor on 9 euros an hour, rather than the nationally agreed 15 euros. The Swedish Byggnads union picketed the site and drew accusations of xenophobia from bosses and the Latvian government. The response of the Swedish union was not to demand “Swedish jobs for Swedish workers”, but to place a full statement in the leading Latvian newspaper inviting workers coming to Sweden to join the trade union. Solidarity between workers is not automatic AND the existence of separate racial and ethnic groups could lead to either unity or fragmentation, depending on the role played by workers associations. The disputes in the UK construction industry and in oil refineries in January 2009, under the slogan of “British Jobs For British Workers”, were a salutary lesson in the importance of uniting indigenous and migrant workers, and of the role of trade unions. While it is true that some sectors are dominated by these migrant workers, for instance in agriculture and food processing, they are also employed alongside British workers as bus drivers and on building sites. Where Polish workers have been in organised workplaces they have been on strike alongside British workers.

We should we see migrants in the way that employers do, as simply units of production:They don’t only migrate to work. The categories – asylum seeker refugee, economic migrant, long-stay tourist, family member, business visitor, student - merge one into one another, and people impose their own wishes on the system. All of them, apart from the very rich, need some means of material support, but this is not necessarily the only reason why they move, or stay. Capitalism is a system based on divide and rule, and successive governments in Britain have resorted to xenophobia to try to set workers against one another. Workers are rightly fearful of the attacks on their working conditions and standards of living  but the danger is that migrant workers will be used as scapegoats. It is crucial for socialists to argue that blame does not lie with migrant workers. The imposition of austerity across Europe has created cut-throat competition, which is compounded by a capitalist system with anarchy at its heart. History shows that migrant and indigenous workers can fight alongside each other for a better world and can win. As socialist internationalists we argue for the end of borders. A socialist one world would be one without passports, much less detention centres and deportations. It would also be a world without what is described as ‘push’ factors pressurising people to move to different countries: war, environmental disaster and poverty. A democratic socialist world plan of production would be able to harness the enormous science and technique created by capitalism, and the world’s natural resources, to meet the needs of the population in every part of the world. Those deciding to move to other parts of the world would therefore do so out of genuine choice.

While Tory and Labour Party politician talk ‘tough’ on immigration there can be no question of socialists supporting anything that would make it impossible for Polish, Romanian or any other workers to migrate to and remain in the UK. No capitalist government can implemented completely open borders, which would be too politically destabilising for them to contemplate. Capitalism is not capable of overcoming the limits of the nation state. Only by fighting for a world socialism is it possible to overcome the barriers of the nation state and to create a world without borders.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Scots are Anti-Immigration

A decade ago Scotland had the fastest falling population in Europe, with the birth rate at an all-time low and more people leaving the country than were arriving from overseas. The population of Scotland was hovering just above five million at the end of 2003 after a decline of almost a quarter of a million in the previous 30 years. All the projections said the decline would continue but since 2004 there has been a dramatic change which has seen the Scottish population grow past its 1974 peak to its highest level ever.

Economists say Scotland's population needs to grow by 24,000 people a year just to keep pace with European economies.

The majority of immigrants to Scotland have traditionally been from Pakistan and India but over the past decade the number of people from Poland has risen from just a couple of thousand to about 60,000.

Despite the rise over the past decade Scotland still has a relatively small immigrant population relative to England, especially London. About 7% of Scots were born outside the UK, whereas the figure for the rest of the UK is almost 14%.

Robert Wright, professor of economics at the University of Strathclyde, says Scotland has not really been tested with mass immigration. "So the fact I think there is more tolerance here is because there has been less of it. That does not mean there will be tolerance in the future when there is more immigration, so this will be a hurdle we have to jump later."

Professor Christina Boswell, professor of politics at University of Edinburgh, says that tolerant immigration policies do not tend to be vote winners.  "It is really quite easy and quite tempting for political parties to tap into those political concerns about immigration and try to mobilise support on the basis of an anti-immigrant position, or at least of a less liberal position on immigration. You don't win votes by adopting a liberal progressive labour migration policy and, in fact, the Labour government in the UK has found that in the past few years and it has obviously had to backtrack on its more expansive policy of the early-2000s." Prof Boswell says there is much research to show that immigrants do not create high unemployment and generally do not create a high burden on the welfare state. However, she says: "Immigration is often used as a lightning rod for channeling a lot of anxieties about employment, about welfare, about social cohesion."

Prof Boswell adds: "It is much easier to sell the benefits of labour migration where an economy is facing very tangible acute shortages in particular sectors or regions. It is much easier as well to sell labour migration when it is about recruiting highly-skilled migrants. I think it is much more difficult for governments to make a case or sell the case for recruiting semi or low-skilled migrants. If it were to become a major issue of concern, for example with Romanian or Bulgarian immigration, then I would expect the SNP to water down its claims about a more liberal immigration policy, at least not to emphasise those in the election campaign because it clearly would not be a vote-winner."

58% of people in Scotland wanted to see immigration reduced a little or a lot.(The figure for England and Wales was 75%.)
45% of people thought an independent Scotland should be less welcoming to immigration. When asked if they thought Scotland would actually be less open to immigration just 22% said it would.
12% of Scots think of people coming from England as immigrants.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Scotland needs more immigrants

Scotland’s ageing population will struggle without the help of younger immigrants from other European countries. The Scotland of the future will need more immigrants. This is going to be true regardless whether an independent country or not. Scotland has a workforce which is ageing. Before long, the need to pay for the ever growing numbers no longer working by the efforts of the shrunken proportion still working will become a big social problem.

One answer would be a greater rate of increase in the native population, though it is hard to see how the long-term trend towards smaller families can be halted. Another answer is that emigration  could be diminished though that again seems unlikely to happen. Another alternative would be to increase participation in economic activity by people such as young mums or OAPS. The white paper on Scotland’s future proposed a scheme of childcare is presented as a social measure but its real rationale was economic.

 These measures, even in combination, would have more than a minor effect on the age-profile of the population and so of the workforce. The only thing that can change that reasonably quickly is immigration.  At the turn of the 21st century the population of Scotland was stagnating in the way it had been for most of the 20th century. The total hovered just above five million, but threatened soon to plunge below that level and to carry on down. Only a few years later and we find not just that the population has kept above five million but also that it continues to rise and within a couple of decades is forecast to reach 5.7 million, the highest number that has ever lived in Scotland in the whole of its history. Immigration is what has made the difference. If we needed to rely only on the natural rate of increase, that is, the excess of native births over native deaths, then the population would still be stagnating, if not falling.

Adapted from here

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

"I'm not racist, but....”

Scotland’s immigrant population is 369,284 -7% of the total population. Edinburgh has the highest number of immigrants with 75,696, but Aberdeen’s 35,436 is the largest proportionately, representing 16 per cent of the population. And Glasgow has seen the largest increase in numbers, up by almost 40,000 in a decade. 55,231 Poles were living in Scotland in 2011, more than 20 times higher than in 2001.

Europe as an ethnically homogenous nation-state is just a dream, and a pretty nasty one at that.  The free movement of labour is one of the basic premises of EU membership. It is always the way with  nationalists to hide racism under a cloak of caring about social conditions and forget that these were just as bad before any influx of immigrants. As the recession continues to bite, negative attitudes towards foreigners are becoming more common. Integration is often regarded as the key factor, but immigrant advocates say the whole burden of adjustment should not be borne by migrants themselves. Integration is the Holy Grail of immigration policy, accepted and promoted by all major political parties. There is the expectation  that they have to become like us and many are against cultural diversity.

We recently had Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South, offering his tuppence-worth in the Daily Telegraph which i am sure all his constituents read. He repeats all the usual stereotypes about the Roma, such as aggressive begging, even though laws presently exist  to stop that sort of thing and plenty of other laws against  all  the other alleged anti-social behaviour from happening. But par for the course as a Labour MP he never asks why the Roma are begging, appearing to believe its a comfortable desirable occupation to walk cold, windy, wet  Scottish streets, pleading for charity. It is because Romanians and Bulgarians are stopped from working and are refused benefits, legislation brought in by his government  that many beg as an alternative to starving.
He says "my constituents become angrier and more resentful, because the lives they have worked so hard to build for themselves and their families are being impinged upon by people whose culture, way of life and attitude to authority and those around them are utterly alien" [my emphasis] Then he goes on to associate accepting different cultures with the custom of female genital mutilation. He then implies that Labour should follow the Tory policy of further cutting benefits to migrant workers because "[Cameron] is speaking to a lot more people than just his own party’s Right wing."
So, his argument is not one of let us not challenge attitudes and try to change them, but rather, let us make sure we agree with the racists because it is not nice to call them prejudiced - especially if they are voters!!

We need people who want to make things better rather than scare-mongering MPs out to court popularity. Harris tries a mealy mouthed get out that he is not being racist and a xenophobe but he conveniently forgets that almost everywhere in Europe the Roma are exposed to a growing discrimination, ranging from exclusion from education and employment to racially motivated attacks. If we keep reading and hearing all the same tired old images of beggars and poverty it reinforces the prejudices. We'll fail to see the normality that are the experience of huge swathes of Romani society who are happily integrating - not to mention the common threads that bind us all.

 What people don't understand they tend to fear. There is a cycle of suspicion and hostility that generates anti-Roma sentiment, which in turn deepens prejudice and further pushes the community from the society into which we expect them to assimilate. Groups of men and socialise in the street, noisily chatting in Romani and gesticulating while their children play in the street. You can see how that is intimidating to a society that no longer know their neighbours in the same tenement building!

 The Roma distrust of authority is understandable, given their history of persecution and attempted genocide. In Eastern Europe there have been increased instances of firebombing, shooting, stabbing, beating and other violence towards the Roma community. France, Germany and Italy have expelled thousands of Roma.

Fotis Filippou of  Amnesty International said:
"Roma across Europe are being pushed to the margins of society as a result of forced evictions; they are attacked on ethnic basis, used as a scapegoat for wider societal problems, denied access to education and basic rights. The language used by media outlets across the region when reporting stories on Roma and the stereotyping rhetoric often used by politicians and public figures could have serious repercussions for the Roma all over Europe. It may further fuel the already existing prejudices against them and lead to stigmatisation and discrimination. Amnesty International calls on national and European authorities and media outlets to refrain from intentionally or unintentionally targeting Roma as an ethnic minority – and creating the perception in doing so that ethnicity can be linked to criminality – this is directly and unambiguously discriminatory, the effects of which could be disastrous.”
There is little chance of the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express of heeding such cautionary advice but let us not be mistaken even the “liberal” media has enthusiastically joined in the scape-goating of the Roma. Malcom X said “ If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing”

 "Man tae man the world o'er shall brithers be, for a' that"

Monday, December 02, 2013

Migrant workers rules

Nearly 37,000 foreign nationals are said to have settled in Scotland in 2012, with migrants from Poland the largest group. This is followed by nationals from India and Spain, where youth unemployment is on the rise. There are about 150 languages in use in Scotland, although many of these have only a few speakers. The General Register of Scotland estimates that 11,000 people from outside the UK now live in Dundee, while as many as 9,000 live in Perth and Kinross and a further 17,000 in Fife.

Tayside has been the cultivation of soft fruit and field vegetables, for many years and have had to depend on non-UK migrant workers. Their importance was highlighted in the summer of 2008 when a real shortfall in migrant workers meant that farms struggled to bring in certain harvests.

These are the rules that the Cameron government wish to remove or amend.

People coming to Scotland from an EU member state have every right to be here in the same way that  we have the right to go to their country or to other member states to work or retire. Migrant workers often fill jobs in the manual labour  workforce that are poorly paid or seasonal, and which  will not attract local people who want greater stability. The majority of the migrants come over from their country where there are either no jobs or very poorly  paid employment. Migrant workers come to Scotland  to earn money for themselves and their families before  returning to their own country. Sometimes migrant  workers will settle on a permanent basis and their  families will join them over here. If migrant workers are members of the EU they have every right to be  here as we have the right to go to their country or to other member states. Migrant workers have the same rights to  minimum pay, holidays etc as everyone else and pay taxes etc like everyone else. All foreign nationals must have a NI number to claim  benefits. Some EU citizens are entitled to claim as  long as they are working or actively seeking work and  have a NI number. People from other countries must have special work permits and cannot generally claim  benefits. They get no extra benefits. Nationals from EU member states who were part of  the union before 1 May 2004 and are employed or  self employed will be eligible to register for housing. Nationals who are not working have to establish that they have the right to reside before being admitted onto the housing register. A8 (new member states that were accepted in 2004) migrants who are employed or self employed enjoy the same rights after  one year providing that they have been in continuous employment with a Home Office registered employer. Once admitted onto the housing register all EU Nationals are considered for housing in the same way and no differently as for UK residents. Council housing is in short supply in and priority is given to  people in the most need of housing. Housing needs are assessed against the categories of medical need, unsuitable accommodation, lack of or insecure  housing, social/welfare need, and unsatisfactory accommodation Generally migrant workers have the right to register as  an NHS patient with a doctor. If migrant workers are  here for up to 3 months they can attend the doctor as a temporary resident without having to register. If emigrant workers are planning to be here for more than 3 months they can go and register with a practice.

Information taken from here

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The welcomed immigrants

With training numbers cut, budgets frozen – it costs on average £70,000 to educate and train a qualified nurse in England – and the winter coming, foreign nurses represent a quick fix. Public spending cuts combined with nursing training places falling from almost 21,000 in 2009 to fewer than 18,000 this academic year means there is a significant shortfall in hospitals.

 One NHS employee said: “If you need a lot of nurses quickly, then the best thing to do is jump on a plane and bring them back from an EU country. They’re happy and the hospitals are happy.”

Howard Catton, RCN director of policy, said: “When employers are getting on planes to recruit nurses, you know you have a crisis in workforce supply. That is happening right here, right now.”

Forty trusts have already recruited from overseas in recent months, resulting in more than 1,360 nurses coming to work in England. A further 41 hospital trusts will follow suit. Spain and Portugal are the most popular sources. As more than 10,000 nurses fight for only 460 jobs in Spain because of its economic recession.

This story is nothing new. The NHS has always relied significantly on foreign workers. In 1963 the Conservative Health Minister, Enoch Powell, who later led the call for stricter controls on immigration, launched a campaign to recruit trained doctors from overseas to fill the manpower shortages caused by NHS expansion. Some 18,000 of them were recruited from India and Pakistan. Powell praised these doctors, who he said, 'provide a useful and substantial reinforcement of the staffing of our hospitals and who are an advertisement to the world of British medicine and British hospitals.'

Under the proposed new legislation for charging migrant workers for using the NHS, these nurses may end up having to pay for using the services of the doctors and fellow nurses in the very same hospitals as they work!!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Buying a nationality

Malta set a price tag for acquiring citizenship: 650,000 euros (£548,000)
Spain grants residence to foreigners who spend at least 500,000 euros on real estate or invest at least 2m euros in Spanish government bonds.
Hungary grants residence to foreigners who invest at least 250,000 euros in government bonds.
Cyprus cut the amount of investment required to be eligible for citizenship, from 10m euros to 3m, in its existing "citizenship by investment" programme.
The UK also offers a fast-track residence scheme for foreigners prepared to make a big investment.
Wealthy foreigners can settle permanently in the UK if they have been officially resident for at least two years. The continuous residence requirement is two years for individuals who have at least £10m in personal wealth in the UK; three years for those with at least £5m in the UK and five years for those with at least £1m.
Netherlands plans to give residence to foreigners with more than 1.25m euros in their bank account.

Rich people who want to get abroad and can 'buy' a residence permit for Canada, Singapore or the USA [and Thailand.]

What immigration problem?

From here

Saturday, November 09, 2013

In Defence of Migrants

The Scotsman carries an article that tries to repudiate the xenophobic scare-mongering against Eastern European immigration.

She promotes the idea of the EU free movement of labour a little bit naively, however, instead of advocating the case for workers solidarity, regardless of nationality - and that also includes the right of non-EU citizens to seek a better life in the UK. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

We are All One

Capitalism is as much to blame for the death of migrants as human traffickers. Were the  fortification of borders not a priority, the value of the service offered by migrant traffickers would plummet along with their ability to detrimentally affect individual fates.

The New York Times notes: "European Commission officials expressed sadness about the Lampedusa accident and blamed criminal syndicates and human smugglers for exploiting desperate people. They called for a crackdown on the smugglers”

Yet in 2011 the Guardian's reported on a  'left-to-die' boat in 2011, in which 61 migrants were left to slowly perish  at sea, despite distress calls being sounded and their vessel's position being made known to European authorities and NATO ships".

Human Rights Watch researcher Judith Sunderland explains: "'What we really don't see is a presumption of saving lives; what we get instead is every effort to shut down borders, said Sunderland, who pointed out that security crackdowns on land crossings such as the Greece-Turkey border only displaced migrant flows and often forced more boats into the sea."

Disturbingly, many [white] Europeans view themselves as the real victims of the migration process, egged on in this perception by the xenophobic rhetoric of politicians.

Italy's recurring affliction, Silvio Berlusconi, for example, once complained that, "It is unacceptable that sometimes in certain parts of Milan there is such a presence of non-Italians that instead of thinking you are in an Italian or European city, you think you are in an African city."  The then-Prime Minister went on “Some people want a multi-coloured and multi-ethnic society. We do not share this opinion."

The Guardian reported: "In August the Italian authorities ordered two commercial ships to rescue a migrant boat in the sea and then demanded the ship's captains transport the migrants back to Libya, a move that experts believe could discourage commercial captains from attempting rescues at all and may be in breach of international law."

Marine Le Pen, president of the French far-right National Front party,  claims that, "No country in the world ... would accept to go through the fast and sizeable immigration of people who, without a doubt, have a different religion and culture."

The condemnation of Europe-bound human movement also conveniently overlooks the legacy of colonialism, imperialism, and attendant discord and economic oppression in determining migration patterns.

In an essay "The Case for Open Borders", J A Myerson discusses the reality of globalisation: "Multinational free trade agreements, supranational financial institutions, and transnational corporations ensure that capital can float between nations with all the ease of a monarch butterfly. Labour, on the other hand, remains under the jurisdiction of border-obsessed states." hE argues that "The emphasis on 'strengthening the border' should be tempered by an understanding of the political and economic decisions that have altered that border's characteristics", Myerson focuses on another global entity known for wildly erecting anti-migrant barricades: the US, where immigration was given a considerable boost by NAFTA's destruction of - among other things - the livelihoods of over a million farm workers in Mexico.  Myerson reasons: "When post-national North American capital created the conditions that made mass migration inevitable, it entered into an ethical contract with the migrant victims of its wealth accumulation scheme."

 According to Myerson, the establishment of "universal human rights" requires "globalising labour" and "eliminating borders", which merely convey arbitrary rights. Among the many "problems with defining rights with respect to the nation-state", he notes, is the fact that "most people consider rights more eternal than laws, which are merely expressions of momentary social attitudes. Wouldn't we say that enslaved black Americans had a right to freedom even before legal emancipation?"

Taken from here

 About 100 "high value" foreign executives will be invited to join the new club, to ensure their immigration checks are completed "swiftly and smoothly". They will be offered personal support in navigating the immigration system, including their own "account manager". Theresa May said it would enable the UK to maintain a "competitive visa system that can innovate in order to serve the ever-changing needs of business and ensure Britain succeeds in the global race". "We will continue to listen and respond to the needs of high-value and high-priority businesses so that we can provide them with a service that supports economic growth. The number of countries benefiting from a priority visa service - which enables eligible applicants to have their applications fast-tracked on paying a fee - will rise from 67 to 90 by next April. plans to impose visa restrictions on Brazilians were put on hold earlier this year amid concerns that it would damage commercial links with Brazil's fast-growing economy.

Business rights trumps human rights. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

An injury to one is an injury to all

Ignorance leads to indifference. If somebody suffers and I don’t do anything to diminish his or her suffering, something is wrong with us. One can be raised in ignorance and educated that eliminates others’ suffering. Entire populations can be psychologically shaped this way, with those doing the shaping being the truest of the true believers. Such conditioned ignorance lays the foundation for indifference to the fate of others.

It is all too easy to blame immigrants for causing problems such as unemployment, bad housing or crime. Whether it is Eastern Europeans or Asians, a finger can always be pointed at “them” for making things worse for “us”. Some cannot contain their indignation that immigrants should try to come here at all and talk about foreigners undermining “our” culture. It is bulls**t. The problems facing working people and their families are not caused by immigration or immigrants and will not be solved by the Fortress Britain or a policy of "British Jobs for British Workers". They are caused by capitalism.

 The immigrants who now try to settle in Britain come at the bottom of the social scale, taking the worst houses, accepting the worst conditions. Migrants are rarely well off in the country they move to, forming an underclass with little if any security of employment or housing. Immigrants often receive low paying work in the service industry (the 3-D jobs - dirty dangerous and difficult), once they enter the developed capitalist system and they can never afford the education to gain higher paying jobs. As a result they stay in the service industry their entire lives, being some of the most lowly-paid members of the working class of wage and salary earners. Selling the Big Issue on the streets may not be everyone's idea of escape from poverty but for many it may be a lot better than where they have come from.

At the behest of politicians in search of scapegoats the he mass media choose to concentrate on perpetuating urban myths about the arrival of foreign workers, furthering divisions and mistrust.  Without doubt some English or Scottish workers may have seen their pay lessen from the competition of newcomers. From this point of view, then, immigration might be a minus for British workers. We should not, however,  blame another worker for our poverty, whether migrant or not, whether illegal or legal. Those travelling long distances through fear or desperation are people no different to ourselves. Instead of falling for the divide and rule tactics which weaken us all, workers should recognise who their real enemy is and work together to defeat the system that enslaves us all. Employers needs a reserve army of unemployed, to exert a downward pressure on wages. A  labour shortage threatens the growth of the economy because it puts the working class in a strong position and clearly the employers wish to counteract this. All things being equal, a labour shortage causes wages to rise and thus puts workers in a comparatively stronger bargaining position.

 Naturally, the bosses will always seek to counteract such a situation by importing (often cheaper, more compliant) workers, which in turn intensifies competition among workers, potentially fermenting xenophobia and racism. For workers fighting over crumbs in lower wage unskilled jobs, the temptation to blame  unemployment or low wages on foreign labour may be strong. But nevertheless such views are false. The blame lies with the   employers’ demands for cheap labour. In the nineteenth century, capitalists in Britain welcomed many thousands of Irish immigrants to  keep wages down. These days it is the influx of Eastern Europeans which  had the effect of increased unemployment for existing workers and putting a downward pressure on their wages in some sectors.

No ruling class is ever completely unanimous. Capitalism creates conflicts within each ruling class since no two capitalists have interests which are exactly the same. The question of immigration causes disputes within the British ruling class. Some want to establish the principle that when a particular industry or trade is short of workers, its owners have the right to bring in workers from any other country, and thus help to counteract the danger of having to raise wages and salaries. Some other members of the capitalist class feel it would be a mistake to let in too many workers from other countries. Some members of the capitalist class take advantage of any "foreign" immigration to whip up nationalist feeling, using the perception among workers (who have the votes) that there is some threat to themselves from competitors from overseas. Those who are in possession of little are easily frightened by the threat of some other coming to take it away. The appearance of jobs going to these “foreigners” whilst their “own” go without work reinforces the illusion that migration causes unemployment.

Some capitalists have pointed out that this policy of importing migrant labour put an intolerable stress  on housing and welfare service such as education and health. Now that the economy is going through yet another of its inevitable cyclical crises, a crisis which makes migrants unwanted on the labour market, it now  puts the very same  politicians under maximum pressure to keep migrants out so to minimise state expenditure. So while many of those seeking to enter the UK might be well-qualified machine operators, engineers, builders, doctors etc (as they are), if the capitalist economy is going through yet another of its inevitable cyclical crises, there'll be no employers or money to pay for these much-needed workers. Public spending reduces the nation's profitability the bigger it gets, and is especially disliked when making profits is increasingly difficult. Racism and nationalism become more likely as high unemployment and poverty produce considerable social suffering, provoking the pained to find and lash out at those they think responsible, and politicians in need of scapegoats, chauvinistic bigots and money-mad tabloids all eager to finger some other victim as the cause .

Yet some dispute this negative side of immigration. The Government's fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, said higher levels of immigration would help the economy to grow faster and ease the pressure to cut spending. The OBR said that an ageing population would put pressure on state finances through increasing health spending, higher state pension costs and rising social care bills. The OBR also forecast that if net inward migration were cut to zero over the next five decades, the scale of the public austerity facing Britain would need to be three times larger. Instead, a higher net migration than in our central projection would put downward pressure on borrowing and PSND [public sector net debt], as net immigrants are more likely to be of working age than the population in general.

Those who today argue for “fair” or “just” immigration controls ought to realize that over a century ago trade unionists were fighting controls in principle. They rejected all notions of “fair” controls and instead appealed for workers solidarity against a system that exploits all workers. The problems we face are not caused by workers from other parts of the world migrating to this part, but by the capitalist system of class ownership. What an extraordinary idea it is that members of the human race should be forced to remain on that small section of the earth's surface in which they happened to be born. Who gave the world's rulers the right to tell us which bit of land we should live on? How much longer are we willing to sit around and let a tiny minority divide us? Socialists understand that the thing which makes workers leave behind their communities, and go to a place where their language is not spoken, the same food is not eaten or the same clothes are worn , is the wages system itself.

Unique amongst all political parties, left or right, the Socialist Party has no national axe to grind. We side with no particular state or government. We have no time for border controls. The world over, workers must do what they can individually and collectively to survive and resist capitalism. In many parts of the world that means escaping political tyranny or economic poverty. Workers should try and resist taking sides.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Here to work, here to stay, here to fight !

 As the global crisis reduces living standards and conditions throughout the world the everyday reality for millions of people is to flee its effects by migration. It goes without saying that socialists are opposed to all borders and frontiers. Migration has always been a part of human history and population border controls are relatively new. Only in 1905 did the UK pass an Aliens Act, and only during the First World War were passports first introduced. Immigration controls are by their nature racist in that they always aim to exclude particular distinct groups and in doing so promotes racism. It causes massive human suffering and tragedies. The newspaper headlines that men and women would arduously travel thousands of miles, sometimes risking their lives, pay over every penny they have to the people-smugglers just to "milk" our benefits system hardly merits serious discussion. Immigration, for sure, generates problems and can strain the social services but it isn't the cause of the indigenous population's poverty.

The UK population density is 650 people per square mile, well below Japan (836), Belgium (889), the Netherlands (1259) and utterly dwarfed by places like Hong Kong or Singapore (18,000+). The issue of shortage of housing is a completely red herring. There is already a housing shortage and widespread homelessness, and there always has been, regardless of the population. This is due to housing being constructed largely for profit than for need. It is not profitable to build housing for people who can't afford it! And of course scarcity of housing is vital for the profitability of house building as it pushes prices up.

And what about jobs? The working class is global, so we can't just look at its effect in one country. Immigration is not a one-way system because an immigrant is an emigrant from somewhere else. Immigration cannot be assessed or addressed in terms of merely its impact directly on the host population. Workers in the host countries feel their wages are being devalued by immigrants but it is surely in their interests firstly to argue for full union membership and to fight for equal terms and conditions and also border controls that results in the situation where people can be made "illegal" and subjected to sweatshop conditions. Those who are criminalised in this way are forced to operate in working conditions well below legal requirements. If you threaten to start to organise against this, your employer can sack you and you have no recourse to unfair dismissal. And if you actually got anything organised, a quick call to immigration gets you jailed to await deportation.

People who say they want what's best for the working class are only thinking about the native host working class. When Algeria gained independence in 1962 - 900,000 white settlers moved back to France. Unemployment in Marseille rose to 20% within in months but was back down to 6% within a year and 4% in two years.

It is better to see immigration as a trend or contradiction developed though processes of globalisation. Any attempt to simply curtail those forces leads to a lot of hardship and draconian politics. In todays society we are told its acceptable that investment and goods can pass from poor to rich countries without burden, enriching capitalists but poor foreign people can't do likewise. Capital will move to areas where it can maximise profit. It's always done this and the capitalist of any nation or colour can live wherever they choose so, in practice. immigration is essentially a class issue. If international capital can cross borders, so too should labour.

Capital chooses when it needs one’s labor. The ruling class relies upon immigrant workers, legal and illegal, to fill low paid jobs that are not attractive to native workers, to serve as a reserve army of unemployed and underemployed workers to depress wages for the entire working class and to fill workforce shortages created by aging populations and declining native birth rates. Immigration controls currently are largely set out in the interests of businesses.  In 2011 the OECD calculate that by 2050 the ratio of working people to over 65s will be 2:1 to keep this ratio at its current level of around 4:1 Italy would need 2.2 million immigrants - Germany 3.4 million. But we should not talk about the capitalist economic benefits of immigration, because immigration can indeed have a negative economic impact. It should be about right to migrate and to live where we wish.

The people that benefit from the anti-refugee and anti-migrant campaigns are the same people that benefit from the real causes of bad housing, long hospital waiting-lists and declining education standards. It is the financiers and industrialists. They support running down public services and selling them off . They want to limit and reduce government spending. So they make scapegoats of migrants. They did the same thing in the 1900s when they blamed the Chinese, in the 20s and 30s when they blamed the Jews, in the 1970s when they blamed black and Asian people, and today, they blame asylum seekers and the influx of Eastern Europeans.

From a traditional working-class perspective, workers from another country are little different from female workers or younger and unskilled workers, or even workers from a different area of the same country. In the past, letting women into the workforce was questioned and challenged. They were accused of working for "pin-money" depriving the traditionally male provider of jobs by working for less pay. Younger workers were also accused of undermining pay since they would work for less since they had no family to support. Incomers from the countryside or another region of the country were also accused of stealing locals jobs. The point is, as socalists, we do not set the interests of one part of the working class against another. Socialists try to improve the lot of the working class as a whole. We fight against descrimination and pay differentials based on sex, age and nationality or race. We organise together to fight the bosses for better wages for all and better conditions for all. A united working class is in our own interest as opposed to one that is divided along national/gender/racial lines.

The socialist argument on immigration is always to get together with migrants to fight together for decent working conditions but we must go beyond the demand for the right to work or fair pay, but fight for the right to a decent life. We demand freedom from the market, not a free market.

The slogan is "workers of the world unite!", not "workers of the world unite unless you're a foreigner".