In July 2016, the ICC held an open discussion day on the topic of immigration, refugees and populism. We are publishing the following account, written by one of our close sympathisers who attended the meeting.
At the very heart of the great capitalist nations, barbarism is reaching unbearable levels. In a world in chaos, where more and more parts of the globe have been plunged into terrorism and war, Europe has been presented as a haven of peace since 1945. So now the fortress has to be protected by walls and barbed wire from this ‘alien’ barbarism – in reality, the effects of the murderous confrontations in which the weapons and bombs of the great democratic powers have played a particularly active role. But now, like a boomerang, the horror is returning to the historical centre of capitalism. Not only are the world conflicts penetrating the walls of Schengen, but the violence that has been accumulating and internalised in a whole part of the ‘local’ population has exploded to the surface.
“A trial of strength”! A “War of attrition”! “Rising tensions”!
These are the kind of terms the media has been using in the last few weeks to describe the apparent confrontation between the governments and the unions over the “El Khomri” labour law. The conflict has been presented in a spectacular way by the media. It even reached the point where, for a few hours, the government banned a union demo prior to allowing it after all – something that hasn’t been seen for 50 years.
A scene filmed on 24 March on a mobile phone did the rounds of social media: three police holding a schoolboy on the ground and when the young boy got up a policeman punched him violently in the face. And this is only one example among others. Police repression has in fact been ferocious throughout the movement against the El Khomri law. And with the approval of a government that pretends to be ‘Socialist’ but which has for several months been establishing a climate of extra security. Each demonstration, each blockade of school, university or refinery, was the theatre for brutality by the forces of order. The young generation has above all paid the price for these muscular interventions, beatings and provocations of all kinds. It’s as if it has become necessary to impress the children of workers with the force of bourgeois order from a very young age.
Over the last few years in Britain, and especially recently, there’s been a number of ‘independent’ inquiries, parliamentary investigations (often televised live), police, parliamentary and ‘independent’ reports into all sorts of scandals and injustices, some of which go back decades. With several major inquiries in progress or just starting up, those that have been pronounced upon or, like the report on the 2003 Iraq War just out, it appears that the state is ‘cleaning up its act’ and, at last, holding those responsible for unacceptable, immoral or criminal behaviour to account. Senior politicians and top police officers are bought to book and the media, from its right to left wing, as in the Hillsborough case for example, celebrate the ‘justice for victims’. But under capitalism there can be no justice for victims and the primary aim of all these inquiries, reports and investigations is to strengthen the ideology of democracy and its ‘rule of law’ behind which lies the strengthening of the totalitarian state. The bourgeoisie may make scapegoats out of one, two or even more individuals from within its ranks but this itself only serves to reinforce its overall democratic campaign against a presently disorientated and weakened working class. It is only at such times that the ruling class is able to unleash such campaigns because if the working class was struggling in any significant way even the bourgeoisie’s ‘rule of law’ would be lifted and, as with the miners’ strike of 84, the state would be confronting it with all the forces and methods available to it however heinous and brutal.
Duterte declared that he is a “socialist” and a “leftist”. He boasted that he will be the first leftist Philippine President. Almost all the left factions in the Philippines agree with Duterte and offer their support for his regime. And the front runner in this support is the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines and its legal organisations.
Whatever the “socialism” of Duterte, it is certainly not scientific socialism or marxism. For sure it is another brand of bourgeois “socialism” to deceive the masses and revive the lies of the bourgeoisie against socialism/communism. The “socialism” of Duterte is state capitalism.
When 52% of those who voted in the UK Referendum on membership of the European Union chose the Brexit option it was not an isolated incident but another example of the growing international problem of populism. You can see it in the support for Donald Trump in the battle for the US Presidency; in Germany with the appearance of political forces to the right of the Christian Democrats (Pegida and Alternative für Deutschland); in the recent presidential elections in Austria where the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats were eclipsed, and the contest was between the Greens and the populist right; in France there is the continuing rise of the Front National; in Italy there is the Five Star movement; and there’s also the governments of Poland and Hungary.
Blame the elites, they scream: the greedy bankers, the corrupt politicians, the shadowy bureaucrats who run the EU and tie us all up in red tape and regulations. And all these figures are indeed part of the ruling class and play their part in ramping up exploitation and destroying jobs and futures. But “blaming the elites” is a distortion of class consciousness, not the real thing, and the trick can be exposed by asking the question: who is peddling this new anti-elitism? And you only have to look at Donald Trump or the leaders of the Brexit campaign, or the mass media who support them, to see that this kind of anti-elitism is being sold by another part of the elite.
A day of discussion on the migrant/refugee crisis.
Economic migrants and war refugees in the history of capitalism
Populism, national borders: the real interests of the working class
The whole range of imperialist war and conflict in the Middle East, despite various truces, talks and cease-fires, continues to deepen and spread. In these circumstances it is useful to look into the root of these developments within the framework of the decadence of capitalism – the context of imperialist domination and its connection to the formation the nation state in the area of the Middle East; in particular, we want to concentrate on the “Islamic Republic” of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose rivalries are becoming increasingly significant within the overall pattern of conflicts.