Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/892/22359

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 March 2016

Editorial of the Socialist, issue 892

Refugee crisis: cruel capitalist regimes responsible

Refugee in Calais, photo Paul Mattsson

Refugee in Calais, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

As the European Union (EU) referendum campaign gears up, the issue of migration has been put centre stage by the pro-big business campaigns on both the 'remain' and 'exit' sides of the debate. Some of those who are rightly repelled by the 'little Englander' nationalism of the capitalist 'leave' campaign will be tempted to vote to remain in the EU in the hope this would mean a more humane attitude being taken to refugees fleeing war.

The truth is very different. As arguments over refugees threaten to tear the EU apart it is highlighting how capitalist politicians - in or out of the EU - are incapable of offering a solution to the refugee crisis. Instead they all attempt to offload the problem onto other countries while leaving refugees living in appalling inhuman conditions.

Capitalist politicians continent-wide pose as being 'tough on migration' and play on workers' genuine fears about the ability of public services to cope with an increase in the number of refugees. Public services, of course, that have been cut to the bone by those same capitalist politicians.

Contrary to the propaganda of capitalist governments most of those trying to reach Europe are only doing so as a result of the truly desperate situation they face at home. Of those who arrive first in Greece (currently more than half of the total) more than 85% have come from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

All of these are countries where Western military intervention has helped to create the nightmare situations from which people are now being forced to run. Most never reach Europe - for example around six and a half million Syrian refugees are displaced within the country.

Iraq war

Britain's New Labour government took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, despite massive opposition from the population, which was the beginning of the hell on earth that has since engulfed large parts of the Middle East - above all Syria. Now the current government has joined in the US-led bombing of Syria alongside France and other countries. This will do nothing to bring peace to Syria, but will only increase the death, misery and the number of refugees forced to flee for their lives.

And it costs a fortune - 438,000 per raid according to the Metro newspaper. Yet while a fortune is being spent raining death on Syrians, hardly any are being granted asylum. In the last quarter of 2015, after Cameron had been forced under public pressure to promise to help Syrian asylums seekers, only a measly 339 were granted refugee status by the UK government.

But nor is the EU a haven for refugees: it is not known as Fortress Europe for nothing. The tragedy of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean has been caused by EU policy over recent years.

The building of huge walls, guarded by armed soldiers, stopped people crossing into Europe by land, so they took to the sea. The capitalist politicians of Europe, including the British government, responded by cutting back the rescue boats. The barbaric logic of the argument was that, if more refugees drowned, it would convince others not to come.

This unbelievable cruelty didn't work of course. Instead the numbers drowning increased exponentially. In April 2015 1,308 migrants are believed to have drowned compared to 42 in the previous April when the Mare Nostrum rescue boats were still in operation.

In the summer of last year capitalist politicians temporarily changed tack in the face of the public outcry following photographs of a drowned Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi. A number of countries - particularly Germany - relaxed the borders and allowed more refugees to enter. That phase, however, did not last long.

Quickly the different countries of the EU started squabbling among themselves as they tried to offload refugees onto others. The Schengen agreement, which previously allowed free movement within large parts of the EU (but not Britain), has effectively been suspended as country after country reintroduced national border checks.

Turkey

The latest ruse to emerge from an EU summit is to try and pay the Turkish government to act as the border police holding back refugees trying to reach Europe. In return they have promised 6 billion in aid to Turkey (although the previous pledge for 3 billion has not actually been paid) and to speed up EU membership talks.

In addition, for every individual returned to Turkey the EU has agreed to take one Syrian refugee from Turkey (where there are currently more than 600,000). This desperate plan will be a logistical nightmare to try and implement.

Nor will it actually give Turkey an incentive to try and stop boats of refugees setting off for Greece. On the contrary, the Turkish state may conclude that allowing the boats to set off will force the EU to take more Syrians from them.

In their desperation to dump the refugee crisis on Turkey the EU has brushed aside the highly undemocratic character of the Turkish regime and the war it is conducting against the Kurdish people. Yet just last Friday the Turkish government stepped in and took over the largest circulation national newspaper because it had dared to criticise them.

And the Turkish government has been carrying out a brutal civil war against the Kurdish people in south-eastern Turkey, resulting in hundreds of deaths. It has also been bombing Kurdish controlled villages within Syria - effectively aiding Isis. Yet EU powers have done no more than gently chastise Erdogan, Turkey's president, for this crime.

The EU's proposals also turn Greece into a giant holding pen - in reality a prison camp - for refugees. There will soon be an estimated 70,000 refugees trapped in Greece following the closure of Greece's border with Macedonia. This decision was not taken by the Macedonian government alone, but as a result of a 'mini-summit' of Austria and central and eastern European states. Greece was not even invited.

The vast majority of refugees are not aiming to settle in Greece, but to travel through to northern Europe. Now they are left - starving and homeless - on the streets of Greece. Greece is already suffering vicious austerity at the hands of the EU - with over 50% youth unemployment and average wages having fallen by more than a third - now the country is being expected to somehow look after the bulk of the refugees who manage to reach Europe.

Control of decisions whether to grant asylum cannot be left in the hands of the Tories, or the equally callous governments of the rest of the EU. The workers' movement across Europe should demand that elected committees of ordinary working people, including representatives of migrants' organisations, have the right to review asylum cases and grant asylum.

Many working class people - in Greece but also Britain and other countries - feel that, while they sympathise with the suffering of the refugees - their countries' public services and housing supply cannot cope with the numbers that are looking for shelter. This idea is whipped up by the right-wing politicians who are constantly telling workers that the reason they are not paid enough, or cannot find decent housing, or a job, is because of the migrants.

Poorest

At the same time it is usually the poorest sections of society whose communities are expected to house refugees. In Britain, for example, the private companies onto which the government has offloaded responsibility for housing refugees have a 'business model' reliant on housing refugees in the parts of Britain with the very lowest rents.

Meanwhile, in the richest boroughs of London there are an estimated 75,000 empty residential properties, mostly owned by speculators interested only in making a fat profit. If homes owned by speculators alone were requisitioned by the government it would go a long way to providing housing both for the 68,000 households currently registered as homeless in Britain, and to providing houses for refugees.

Refugees and migrants are not responsible for the endless austerity we have endured both in Britain and across the EU. In Britain 80 billion was cut from public spending under the Con-Dem government, coincidentally the same amount as the bankers have received in bonuses since the economic crisis began.

If we allow the governments of Europe to falsely lay the blame for austerity with migrants instead of with the crisis-ridden capitalist system and the bankers and billionaires who benefit from it, then the capitalists will succeed in grinding our living conditions into the dirt. It is vital that the workers' movement offers a way forward, otherwise the far right can make gains.

It is a condemnation of the capitalist EU - with a population of 500 million - that it is facing an existential crisis over its inability to cope with the million or so refugees. Yet, according to the Guardian, there are eleven million empty homes in the EU - enough to solve the housing crisis of existing citizens as well as to house the refugees.

The wealth exists to provide help for refugees - but it should not come from those already suffering austerity - but from enormous riches of the 1% - both in Britain and internationally. It was left to Abdullah Kurdi, the bereaved father of the toddlers who drowned in the summer, to point out that the regimes of the Middle East are doing nothing to help refugees, not even recognising the right to asylum in their countries.

EU referendum

Vast sums owned by the billionaire elites of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern regimes are salted away in Britain and other European countries. Over 80% of properties worth over 2 million in London are owned by overseas business people, many from the Middle East. The Middle East elite's wealth in Europe should be seized to pay for looking after the refugees from their regimes and wars.

The Socialist urges its readers to vote for exit in the EU referendum on a socialist and internationalist basis. The EU, as its treatment of refugees demonstrates, is not internationalist.

In essence it is a coming together of big business across Europe in order to maximise markets and profits. Far from resulting in European harmony, as the current refugee crisis shows, any serious problem leads to an increase in nationalist tensions as the different capitalist classes of Europe attempt to make sure they are not the ones to carry the burden.

EU laws and treaties are designed to assist the capitalist classes of Europe at the expense of the working class and poor. As a result the modest proposals in this editorial to make the 1% pay for the crisis would be illegal under EU law. Of course this would not prevent a determined socialist government implementing such policies, but they are an extra difficulty to overcome.

At the same time any government which implemented socialist policies would not be isolated. It would be enormously popular, not just at home, but internationally. It would be able to make an international appeal for support from workers across Europe and the world.

The only way to permanently end the refugee crisis is to fight for a democratic socialist world. On the basis of capitalism, there will always be people forced to flee their country, not by choice, but out of desperation as a result of war, environmental catastrophe and starvation.

A socialist society would harness the wealth, science and technique created by capitalism in order to meet the needs of the majority worldwide. Only on that basis would it be possible to have a world where people are free to move if they wish to, but are not forced to do so by the nightmare they face at home.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 9 March 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Housing crisis: can't pay, will stay!

TUSC names first 2016 election challengers

Young people could have to work to 75

Union confirms TTIP will boost EU NHS sell-offs

'Heathrow 13' climate activists avoid jail time

Osborne's 10.4 billion tax lie

Benefit fraud: 85% of allegations untrue

Them & Us


Workplace news and analysis

"Our wages have been frozen for nine years" - a day in the life of a court worker

"Pay the rate" demand construction workers

Thousands to strike in defence of sixth form colleges

Yorkshire union reps and members share experiences

Workplace news in brief


Junior doctors

Junior doctors: striking to win

Junior doctors' strike: organise to kill off Hunt's contract

Solidarity with junior doctors!


What we think

Refugee crisis: cruel capitalist regimes responsible

A chance for the trade unions to lead the EU referendum debate


Housing crisis

We need socialist policies to end the housing crisis

Life on Cameron's 'sink estates': "This is my home!"


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Take out a May Day greeting!

Thousands march in solidarity with Kurds in Turkey

Far right frustrated and embarrassed in Newcastle

Glasgow council use scare tactics under pressure to fight cuts

Enthusiastic reception for anti-austerity ideas in south Wales

Campaigns round-up


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Film review: 'Trumbo' - from the red carpet to the blacklist and back again

Theatre: 'Tinned Goods' - women during miners' strike

TV: 'Deutschland 83' - spy thriller's capitalist bias

Letters


 

Home   |   The Socialist 9 March 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Refugees:

triangleHundreds of torture victims wrongly detained

triangleGerman elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance

triangleBrutal repression of Rohingya people sparks massive humanitarian crisis

triangleDerby Socialist Party: Solidarity with refugees - defend the right to asylum

triangleG20 betrays refugees created by its own policies

Refugee:

triangleManchester Socialist Party: The Rohingya refugee crisis

triangleHuddersfield Socialist Party: The refugee crisis

triangleRefugee rescue

triangleMarch against racism: Refugee Rights has lively bloc

Capitalist:

triangleWhy I joined the Socialist Party: "I started to question whether there was a better way"

triangle'Paradise' for billionaires - austerity for us

triangleSocialism 2017: ideas to change the world

EU:

triangleTories on the brink - kick them out!

triangleWhat we saw: May on Facebook

Greece:

triangleSolidarity with Athens bus cleaners!

Britain:

triangleEast London & Tower Hamlets Socialist Party: 2017 - From Trump to Paradise Papers; a year in review

Turkey:

triangleLondon: Support event for education workers in Turkey

War:

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

Syria:

triangleKurdish referendum declared illegal

Asylum:

triangle40% of England's psychiatric wards are 'unsafe'

Middle East:

triangleThousands march in London for Palestine

Iraq:

triangle'From Militant to the Socialist Party' - new book now available

Migration:

triangleWest London Socialist Party: 70 years since partition of Indian subcontinent

Homeless:

triangleHomelessness and evictions soar under the Tories

Capitalism:

triangleWhat we saw

Isis:

triangleShocking insight into Isis

Capitalist system:

triangleRussia, October 1917: When workers took power

European Union:

triangleTories torn - bin them now

Unemployment:

triangleCapitalism and human progress

Far right:

triangleBending the knee v Trump

Austria:

triangleAustria: Far right temporarily halted

France:

triangleFrench Labour reform protests

International

International

15/11/17

Minneapolis

USA: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis

10/11/17

Minneapolis

US: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis

8/11/17

Sweden

Sweden: 'Revolution2017' success

8/11/17

Spain

Spain: Madrid rally celebrates October revolution

8/11/17

Minneapolis

US: Minneapolis Socialist chimes with voters

8/11/17

Ireland

Ireland: rail workers demand share of 'recovery'

8/11/17

Ireland

Ireland: dangerous ideas for the ruling class

31/10/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Rajoy's furious response to proclamation of Republic

25/10/17

Kurdistan

Kurdish referendum declared illegal

18/10/17

Hong Kong

Campaign against political repression in Hong Kong

11/10/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

4/10/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia - the people have the right to decide

4/10/17

Catalonia

Eyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events

2/10/17

Catalonia

Exemplary resistance by the people of Catalonia

27/9/17

Germany

Germany: Election results in political earthquake

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle15 Nov March for free education! We demand a future!

triangle15 Nov Tories on the brink - kick them out!

Socialism 2017

triangle14 Nov Socialism 2017: Organising to fight back

triangle13 Nov Strike wave continues with 49 walkout days by housing workers

triangle10 Nov US: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis

triangle10 Nov Strikers picket the South Western Railway network

triangle10 Nov Europe in crisis, revolutionary winds in Catalonia

More ...

triangle20 Nov Birmingham Central Socialist Party: How can socialists support upcoming strikes?

triangle21 Nov Cardiff Socialist Students: Socialism and the struggle for LGBT rights

triangle21 Nov Birmingham South East Socialist Party: NHS in Meltdown - What can be done?

triangle21 Nov Sheffield North Socialist Party: The causes of capitalist crisis

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2