The Spark

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

When the World’s Barbarism Catches Up with Us

Nov 9, 2015

The following editorial appeared in the October 30th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Bombing, devastated neighborhoods, terrorist attacks, killings, torture, people terrorized by bloody regimes, refugees surviving in revolting conditions: each day television and the press bring us these barbarous images.

This is going on in Syria, Turkey, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. It’s also happening in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Nigeria and Afghanistan. It occurs thousands of miles from here. But even those who don’t want to see can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

This is because hundreds of thousands of the victims of these wars have fled and now are knocking on our doors.

This isn’t an accident: our government is among those responsible for this hell. Because it bombs Iraq and Syria; because it supports the Israeli state, the Turkish government and the Gulf dictatorships. And because it maneuvers in Africa so the French bourgeoisie can continue to exploit the riches of that continent. This barbarism can only be reflected back onto us.

For years now this barbarism has aggravated the reactionary direction in which Europe is going. Throughout Europe, the economic crisis, mass unemployment, and anti-worker policies are carried out by all governments, of the Left and the Right. All this weakens the governmental parties to the benefit of the nationalist, anti-immigrant parties.

These Far Right parties, with all their differences, still all support themselves on fear and prejudice and stir them up. They are profoundly reactionary and anti-worker.

But the Far Right isn’t the only political force pushing us to retreat behind our borders. All the leaders of Europe say they want to reinforce the borders of Europe, deport those who aren’t “true refugees,” and even reestablish national borders within the Shengen zone (an area within which Europeans can travel and work freely across borders). Here in France, on top of the National Front, which plays on the worst prejudices, how do the mainstream Right and the Socialist Party present the migrants? Not as victims, but as undesirables! Not as women and men who resemble us, but as burdens! We must express a spirit of solidarity, kick the lying and shameful propaganda to the curb, and make solidarity real, not just hot air.

Everything is done to silence our sentiments of fraternity. Everything is done to convince us that migrants represent a threat to us and our children. Everything to openly or hypocritically push the idea that salvation comes from protectionism, mistrust of foreigners, borders, even barbed wire.

France and Great Britain, two rich countries that could easily absorb tens of thousands of migrants, are blaming one another for developments in Calais (the town in France at the entrance to the tunnel under the English Channel, where thousands of migrants have flocked). In Germany and Sweden, Far Right minorities are organizing to burn down refugee housing. How many other racists, carried away by the current climate, will feel authorized to attack immigrants?

In the 1990s, in Yugoslavia, anti-foreigner demagogy led to the construction of militias, and then to civil war. Two years ago, in the east of Ukraine, we saw how the same reflexes degenerated into a warlike escalation.

If we aren’t careful, world barbarism, anti-foreign sentiment and wars will catch up with us. Nationalism and generalized mistrust are already here. Conscious workers need to speak out against this destructive evolution.

We won’t protect ourselves from the scourges of unemployment, competition and world poverty by barricading ourselves behind borders. These ravages don’t come from abroad but from inside our own society. They are due to capitalism, and we can only get rid of them by overthrowing this system.

Bombs there, and exploitation and unemployment here, go together. They have a common source: the race for profit and the domination of a capitalist minority over society. The only force capable of overthrowing this domination is the working class, conscious of its interests and organized on an international level. That consciousness begins by understanding that all the victims of capitalism have the same fundamental interest in putting an end to this unjust and inhuman system.