Down with this barbaric capitalist system, which closes borders and turns migrants away!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
June 25, 2018

The Lifeline is a refugee rescue ship, like the Aquarius. Outfitted by a German non-governmental organization, it is stranded at sea off the coast of Libya with 230 migrants on board because the Italian and Maltese governments deny them the right to dock. France, which is so used to lecturing other governments, is refusing them too. Once more we are witnessing the terrible predicament of women, men and children hopelessly knocking on Europe's doors, after having been through hell.

In Italy, the far-right Minister of Internal Affairs, Salvini, is using this affair to make a show of his intransigence. He has already made proposals worthy of the racist laws adopted under Mussolini, for example a law that would oblige all Roma people to be registered.

In France, Minister of Internal Affairs Collomb speaks the same language as far-right politicians. He claims that France is under the threat of “being submerged”. And he boasts of his recent decisions making it harder for refugees to be eligible for asylum status and increasing the number of expulsions.

Asylum seekers wander from one temporary camp or overcrowded reception center to the next. President Macron claims that France “has done her share” and wields economic sanctions against Eastern European countries which refuse to accept more immigrants. But France, the fifth richest country in the world, has only given asylum status to a few tens of thousands of refugees, no more. That hardly allows Macron to give humanitarian lectures to governments that are hostile to immigrants, like Hungary or Poland!

The leaders of Europe are forever talking about “solidarity”. But their solidarity is a reflection of the type of society they stand for! It is based on sordid calculations in order to grant asylum status to a minimum number of migrants and to turn as many as they can away from wealthy Europe. They don't care whether they're adding poverty to misery, as is the case in Niger where tens of thousands of migrants are currently being redirected, or in Lebanon where one inhabitant out of six is a refugee.

In the wake of the European meeting on Sunday 24 June, Macron prided himself for having opposed solutions that were contrary to what he calls “our values”. But he and other self-styled democrats have long since outsourced the role of border guards to a variety of dictators and armed gangs, in Sudan or Libya for instance. They are the ones who subsidize the creation of camps where migrants are tortured, raped or enslaved. In comparison, the proposal to build "sorting" camps in European countries that have a sizable migrant population could almost pass off as a "humanitarian" idea!

The migrants' sad plight is yet another example of the barbarity of capitalist society. In a recent column, writer Roberto Saviano imagined people, in a century from now, discovering thousands of skeletons on the floor of the Mediterranean and wondering "what war was fought here?".

Some of those who die trying to reach Europe by boat are indeed trying to escape wars and massacres more or less directly sponsored by imperialist countries. Others simply want to escape the poor conditions prevailing in their home countries. In fact, no real distinction can be made between those who don't want to die under the bombs sent in by rich countries and those who don't accept the poverty created by the wealthy countries' domination!

Capitalism is a never-ending war between countries but also between economies, as we are reminded these days by the rich countries' protectionist escalation. We are told that protectionism will protect our interests. But on a shrinking market, protectionism means a harsher-than-ever competition whose first victims are always the workers. A tax on imported goods means a higher selling price. In fact, workers are doubly penalized in this system: as consumers of imported goods and as makers of goods which they are asked to produce faster than competitors!

Capitalist wars need workers who will put up with over-exploitation and people who are ready to die. Let's refuse to be opposed to people who, like us, are the victims of this mad system!

Macron says that France can't take care of all the misery in the world. Likewise, he pretends that wages can't be increased, jobs guaranteed, job seekers hired in under-staffed public services, pensions reevaluated, etc. What this stalwart defender of bourgeois interests is saying is basically that there is no alternative to the bosses' logic.

But we must and can refuse it. Only by refusing the pitting of the poor against the poor can we refuse a future made up of more exploitation and more oppression. That is true for us in the richest countries of the planet as it is true for the millions of people who have no solution but to leave their country.