Politicians of left and right have condemned the increased xenophobic abuse and physical attacks on immigrants since the referendum, and indeed do not want the tensions in society to explode in ways that disrupt the exploitation of the working class. They may also recognise the role of referendum propaganda in encouraging the increase in these attacks. But they will never acknowledge the extent to which their capitalist system and their state are responsible for the very attitudes which feed xenophobic and racist populism. It is the nation state that defines who is a citizen, or subject, and who is an outsider, an illegal, or to be accepted on sufferance provided their work is needed and sent away afterwards, which encourages immigration when labour is scare, and turns away refugees when it is not wanted.
The list of crimes against humanity in the last hundred years often bears the name of a city: Guernica, Coventry, Dresden, Hiroshima, Sarajevo. Today the historic city of Aleppo in Syria, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, has joined the list.
At a time when the French government has just extended the state of emergency to 2017, when an atmosphere of suspicion and fear is pressing hard on a population still feeling the shock of a series of terrorist attacks, a new and highly demagogic ‘debate’ is reinforcing the current anti-Islam campaign. It’s been in the national headlines and has had considerable international coverage. We’re referring to the ‘burkini ban’ on a number of beaches. This retrograde controversy has engaged the whole political class, from local mayors in coastal towns to the highest state authorities, all of them, right and left, plunging their hands into the whole ideological mess.
The internal response to the July 15/16 attempted coup was, according to Turkish President Erdogan, a “Gift from God”. He insisted that the “cleansing” would continue and the “virus would be eradicated” along with terrorists wherever they were. Sure enough, a Stalinist-like purge, with lists of names already drawn-up, was implemented with force and the war against the Kurds in south-east Turkey immediately stepped up.
In this article, we return to the work of the Italian communist left, which before the war, in the shape of the Fraction in exile, had made such an irreplaceable contribution to our understanding of the problems of the transition from capitalism to communism, and to the inter-action, and often the opposition, of two leading militants of this current – Onorato Damen and Amadeo Bordiga.
The article that we are republishing here first appeared in World Revolution 21 in 1978. In the first paragraph it establishes the framework in which ‘national liberation’ struggles should be seen. “The 'small nations' like Ireland, which wanted to grab something for themselves, would have to try and exploit for their own interests the conflict between the big imperialist powers.”
How the failure to understand that changing conditions invalidated the Second International's stand on democracy and the national question led the internationalist James Connolly into support for the Irish nationalist uprising in Dublin, 1916.
The political instability created in Britain by the "Leave" vote in the Brexit referendum, and in the USA by the Donald Trump presidential candidacy, provide graphic illustrations of the ruling class' loss of control of its own political apparatus.
This article aims to give a broad general framework for understanding the whole problem of the rise in populist parties and movements. It is still under discussion in the ICC.
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.