The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Migrants:
Our Fellow Humans and Class Brothers

Sep 14, 2015

This article is a translation of the editorial in the September 11 issue of Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

The surge of solidarity supporting the refugees is heartwarming. In Germany, where Chancellor Merkel has let them in and where refugees poured in all weekend long, people massed at the stations to receive them with warmth. Have these demonstrations of sympathy cut into the climate of hostility toward migrants? We hope so.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t be taken in by the European leaders. Behind their humanitarian speeches and their change of policy in favor of the Syrians, there are all sorts of sordid calculations.

By opening the doors of her country, Merkel appears almost as a saint. But she is only doing this because the influx of new manpower is very convenient for the German bosses! As for French President Hollande, he is using this wave of sympathy not to open the borders, but to justify air strikes against ISIS in Syria – that is to say, to reinforce his war policy!

He told a press conference, “It does France honor that it has always received the persecuted,” before announcing that 24,000 Syrians could come in over the next two years. Compare that to the 20,000 that arrived in only one weekend in Germany. Holland puts “France’s honor” very low. Much lower than his predecessors in office who received 450,000 Spanish refugees in 1939 and 130,000 Vietnamese and Cambodian boat people beginning in 1979.

The migrant tragedy isn’t the result of a natural catastrophe. It’s the result of the Great Powers’ imperialist policy which consists of pillaging the poorest countries of the planet while exploiting their natural resources and strangling them through debt to the profit of the big bourgeoisie. It is the result of their maneuvers, their political rivalries and their wars.

The European leaders have contributed to transforming a part of the planet into a hell for their populations, and those leaders do everything so that people can’t escape it. By transforming Europe into a fortress, they are responsible for the death of thousands, people drowned in the Mediterranean, asphyxiated in trucks, or electrocuted near the entrance to the tunnel under the English Channel.

And this repellant policy is going to continue. For if the Syrians will officially have the right of entry, so-called “economic” migrants will have the right to barbed wire, billy clubs and deportations. As if being killed by poverty is more acceptable than being killed by bombs! As if the millions of children, women and men condemned to poverty aren’t also part of the persecuted!

In all of this, what are the interests of the workers? Certainly not to reject the migrants. And it’s not only a question of being humanitarian. It’s due to the general interest of the working class. For the migrants make up part of the working class. Even if a fraction of the refugees were doctors, lawyers or merchants in their country, in their immense majority, what awaits them is the life of a worker, a life of exploitation, our life. And the workers have an interest in making them allies.

The migrants ask for freedom to move from one place to another and to settle in Europe. The working class of France must support this demand, which is valuable for all workers.

Many ask if it’s possible to receive the migrants with dignity in the context of the crisis we’re living through. But unemployment, insecurity and low wages don’t depend on the arrival of immigrants. They depend on the relation of force between the workers and the bourgeoisie. Because the more money is allowed to accumulate in the hands of a tiny minority, the more poverty there is in France and Europe.

There are six million people today who are looking for work, which has nothing to do with the arrival of migrants. And all those who spend time pointing a finger at the immigrants would be better off taking on those who lay people off.

How many workers could live with the 16 million dollars in the golden parachute severance package of the CEO of Alcatel? By using only half of the profits of the big capitalist corporations for the creation of jobs, hundreds of thousands of the unemployed could have a job. With the billions planned for the Olympic Games, tens of thousands of homes could be built.

But for that, the workers need to reject the false claim that “we can’t receive all the world’s miserable,” to say instead, “we can no longer sacrifice for the bourgeoisie.”