Workers unite! Down with Fortress Europe !

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
November 15, 2021

The situation at the border between Poland and Belarus is appalling. Nearly 3,000 migrants are massed there, drifting aimlessly, sleeping in the forest, hoping to gain entry to Poland without being stopped. Exhausted from days and nights spent in the cold, with nothing to eat, about a dozen people have already died. With every day that passes, the likelihood of more deaths grows.

European leaders are accusing the Belarusian dictator of facilitating the arrival of migrants at the border in order to destabilize Europe. And they are acting outraged because he “instrumentalized and manipulated the migrants”. While that is true, what have they done other than allow migrants to suffer and die?

They leave migrants to die at the entrance to the European Union or they ensure that they stay locked up in camps in Lebanon, Libya and Turkey where they are likely to die; or that they remain prisoners in their own country, like Afghanistan, ravaged by war and where the only solution to famine that families find is to sell their children.

The prize for cynicism is well-deserved by the European leaders. Immigration candidates want nothing more than to reach Europe by safe and legal routes so that they can request asylum. Instead of which, they find themselves hunted and completely dependent on unscrupulous traffickers

And there is no need to go as far as Poland to see that the European leaders do not care what happens to migrants. You can just go to Calais or Grande-Synthe where thousands of migrants are trying to reach England and are continually being hunted!

Among the millions of Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans who are driven from their home country by war, destruction and poverty, only a small fraction tries to reach developed Europe. But that’s enough for the xenophobic demagogs like Zemmour, Le Pen and many others, to talk of “invasion”. In the current crisis, migrants are considered to be “weapons hurled at Europe”. This sort of talk encourages outrageous theories, such as saying that migrants are future delinquents and terrorists!

But these women and men are workers, secretaries, technicians, engineers and doctors. And tomorrow, some of them will be working in the hotel, catering and building industries. They will be truck drivers, nursing aides, temps in agri-business and other industries. Some will help hospitals and schools to function. Among their children, there are perhaps future footballers or chess champions, like the 14-year-old Syrian illegal immigrant, Leen Yaghi, who won the French championship. And there will be some who will be out of the spotlight but working alongside us. These women and men are from our class. We need to tell them that they are welcome on our side, the side of the working class.

There have already been too many deaths, too many shipwrecks and tragedies. Migrants must be allowed to travel and settle freely. Borders must be opened. For rich foreigners, even financial sharks, the doors are wide open. For workers who ask for nothing more than to be useful to society, they are closed.

Some workers are worried because there are already so many unemployed. But unemployment, job insecurity and low wages have nothing to do with migrants. They depend on the balance of power with employers and the struggles that the working class is capable of leading against those who fire people and all the greedy capitalist groups.

The bourgeoisie and its politicians set workers in private companies against public service workers, temps against full-term contracts and the French against immigrants so that they can dominate us and get rich off everyone’s back. Workers must stand together to face them in order to defend themselves.

Europe has become a fortress. The crisis and the anti-worker policies enforced by all governments, left- and right-wing, have encouraged the rise of sovereignist anti-immigrant parties.

The far right, champion of insular attitudes, is pushing politicians in an increasingly reactionary and even racist direction. This is clear from the way the presidential candidates, right-wing and even left-wing, are outbidding one another in anti-immigrant measures.

If we are not careful, the barbarity of the world, xenophobia and war will overcome us. Nationalism and general mistrust are already present. Conscious workers must counteract this poisonous evolution.

Capitalism involves workers from across the world. We can make this our strength on condition that we are aware of being on the same side, the side of the workers, whose interest is to completely revolutionize society.

Nathalie Arthaud