Migrants and workers condemned by fortress Europe

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
July 2, 2018

European heads of state and government recently gathered in Brussels with a view to finding a solution to the so-called "migrant crisis". An agreement was reached, but it only confirmed the measures that have already brought shame on the Europe of the rich. This agreement is designed to force migrants to stay in the poorest countries of the world and to ensure that women, children and men who try to escape misery and war continue to be treated like criminals.

Governments hosting far-right ministers went home triumphant from the summit. But what about the political leaders who, like Macron, claim to defend a European ideal? Their hypocrisy is despicable! They make resounding speeches exposing the dangers of nationalism and xenophobia but the words they use to justify their rejection of migrants are the words of the far right.

For instance, Macron refuses to open French harbors to NGO-sponsored rescue ships. He claims that the NGOs which look after migrants are aiding and abetting human smugglers while, in fact, those who trade in human lives are helped first and foremost by the policies of the great powers who lock their borders and make fleeing poverty a crime!

The migrant crisis is clearly a political crisis. Many European governments don't offer migrants a decent welcome, not because they don't have the means to do so (Europe is rich and the number of migrants has dropped since 2015) but because they have nothing left to sell to voters apart from anti-migrant measures. In Italy for example, Minister of the Interior Salvini heads a far-right political party. His political spin is that ever-tougher policies towards migrants will make life better for Italians. This from a man who explains that the government he belongs to is willing to fight against Italy's high level of job insecurity but will refuse any measures that could be seen as a threat by Italy's entrepreneurs. Italian bosses understood his message perfectly. Workers would be well-advised to understand it too.

Left- and right-wing European politicians are using unemployment and deteriorating living standards as a justification for hunting down migrants. They pretend to defend the interests of the poor from Europe to justify the rejection of even poorer people from elsewhere. They are responsible for the measures that have been increasing worker poverty for decades now and they claim to be protecting workers with measures that are in fact beneath contempt!

But turning Europe into a Fortress Europe that bans immigrants from entry won't protect workers from unemployment or job insecurity. Rejecting migrants won't protect working-class families from not being able to make ends meet. Our worsening living conditions, here in some of the richest countries on the planet, is a direct result of the social warfare that successive governments have waged against us to help capital-owners reach their goal: to make and to increase their profits.

Profits are extravagant and sales in France's top 40 businesses are shooting up. As a result, the CAC 40, the main French stock market index, is thriving. So yes, the big corporations' shareholders and capital owners are now lining their pockets more than ever before. But this economy is still in crisis and productive investments are still not back to their pre-2008 level. Workers are footing the bill through the loss of the few rights they had managed to acquire in the richest countries and through the increase of exploitation everywhere.

Society is being plunged into chaos by the crisis of capitalism. Across the globe, the major capitalist companies are waging an economic war that condemns 75% of humanity to abject poverty. France is the fifth economic power in the world but, even here, workers are having to face the collapse of their living conditions.

In some regions of the globe, economic war has turned into just plain war To maintain their domination and to protect the interests of their capitalists, the great powers act directly or through a variety of armed groups.

Yes, society is sick. The grim odyssey of many migrants is a dramatic indication of the social catastrophe that is threatening all working people.

We must recognize who our enemies really are and not allow them to play us off against each other, poor against poor! Some of us may be living in abject poverty, under bombardment, forced into exile; others may have been born or have lived for a long time in a rich country. But our interests are the same. We must all engage in the same struggle against the domination of a capitalist minority that is pushing the whole of society towards the abyss.