“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx
Nov 22, 2021
Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.
What is happening on the border between Poland and Belarus is appalling. Almost 3,000 migrants are massed at this border, wandering and sleeping in the forest, hoping to enter Poland without being turned away. A dozen people have already died, exhausted from days and nights out in the cold. Each new day threatens to claim new victims.
European leaders accuse the dictator of Belarus of facilitating the arrival of migrants at the border to destabilize Europe. They are outraged that he “instrumentalized and manipulated migrants.” This is true. But what are they doing, if not letting migrants suffer and die?
When they do not let migrants perish at the gates of the European Union, they arrange for them to stay locked up in the barracks making up camps in Lebanon, Libya, and Turkey—or for them to remain prisoners of their own homelands, like war-torn Afghanistan. Famine there drives families literally to sell their children.
Yes, the prize for cynicism goes to European leaders. Would-be immigrants only ask to enter and seek asylum using secure and legal means. Instead, they find themselves dependent on unscrupulous smugglers and hunted down like criminals.
There’s no need to go as far as Poland to see that the European leaders do not care about the fate of migrants. It’s enough to go to Calais or Grande-Synthe in northern France where thousands of migrants trying to cross over to England are constantly hunted down!
Among the millions of Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans driven from their homes by wars, destruction and poverty, only a small fraction try to reach Europe. But this fraction is enough for xenophobic demagogues like Eric Zemmour, Marine Le Pen, and many others to talk about an “invasion.” In this crisis, migrants are presented as “weapons launched against Europe.” These words allow any delusion, painting migrants as future delinquents and terrorists!
But these women and men are workers, secretaries, technicians, engineers, or doctors. Tomorrow some will work in hotels, restaurants, or construction. They will be drivers, caregivers, or temporary workers in food service or manufacturing. Others will help run hospitals or schools. Among their children, there may be future sports or chess champions—like undocumented 14-year-old Syrian Leen Yaghi, who won the French championship. Accompanying those who will become famous this way, are those who will work alongside us. These women and men are our kind. They need to feel welcome in the working class.
There have already been too many deaths, shipwrecks, and tragedies. Migrants need freedom of movement and settlement. We need to open the borders for them. The gates are wide open for rich foreigners, even financial sharks. But for workers who ask only to be useful to society, they are closed.
Some workers are worried because there are already a lot of people unemployed. But unemployment, underemployment, and low wages are not caused by migrants. They result from the balance of power with the employers, and from the level of struggles the working class is waging against layoffs and all these rapacious capitalists.
The bourgeoisie and their politicians pit private workers against public workers, temporary workers against permanent workers, and French against immigrants, in order to dominate and enrich themselves at the expense of all. To confront them, workers must unite to defend themselves.
Europe has become a fortress. The crisis and the anti-worker policies led by all governments, left and right, have let anti-immigrant sovereignist parties flourish.
The far right, champion of retreating into national identity, pushes politicians in an increasingly reactionary and even racist direction. The evidence is the rise of anti-immigrant proposals from presidential candidates on the right and even on the left.
If we are not careful, the barbarism of this society, its xenophobia and wars, will win us over. Nationalism and widespread mistrust of others have already become current. Conscious workers must oppose this poisonous tendency.
Capitalism exploits workers all over the world. We can become a force if we are aware that we are on the same side, the workers’ side—whose interest is to revolutionize society from top to bottom.