Thinking about Anarchism

Immigration


We live in a world in which Capital flows with immeasurable speed from one extreme of the globe to the other; in which the soldiers of the US and the UK can invade anywhere in the planet in the wink of an eye; in which products manufactured in distant lands, by unknown toilers, flood our markets; in which food from across the oceans satisfies our appetites; in which hoards of tourists can safely cross the Atlantic Ocean, the Sahara or the Indian Sea in a few hours.

But the flip side to this world of freedom of movement for the wealthy and their commodities is that there are massive restrictions on the freedom of movement for those seeking to escape the poverty of the third world. They are left to rot in war zones or have to risk travelling illegally in precarious ships to reach the shores of "abundance", escaping their misery at risk of their own survival. Is this just? Certainly not. Then why does this happen?

There are many reasons for this, but a major one is that the much-vaunted "globalisation" is not something that benefits everyone equally. Big business investment in the third world doesn't mean rivers of profit for the locals, but rather for the Transnational masters.

The globalisation of Capital and business generates inequalities in the distribution of wealth. And this causes migration. Immigrants don't come because they are mean barbarians that want to steal our jobs. Immigrants come here because their countries (usually former colonies) have been ravaged by imperialist rule, have been drained of their wealth by multi-national companies, or have become ruins after war. In those countries they are facing difficult times: haunted by the ghosts of starvation, war and poverty and they live under brutal regimes.

Immigrants are people just like you and me, concerned about their future and about the future of their children. So many make the hard decision of leaving behind their home and the ones they love to go to an unknown county to realise their dream of a better future. Large parts of the world today are as devastated as Ireland was at the time of the famine. People fleeing these countries are like the millions who had to leave Ireland from the 1840s right up to the 1990s in order to seek a better life elsewhere

It's also good to remember that there has never been an absolutely isolated human community, and that interaction between different cultures has always resulted in social progress and cultural development for everyone. Racist prejudices are born out of ignorance and nurtured by the rulers who benefit from divisions amongst working people everywhere.

Rulers, both of the political and business variety, oppose open borders for people for two main reasons. First, because they intend to keep the vast majority of the poorest people of the third world in the third world so they can always count on huge masses of unemployed who will be desperate enough to work for even the most pathetic of wages. This exerts a negative pressure on wages everywhere as bosses will threaten workers of one region that they will move production to wherever is cheapest at that moment.

Secondly, because they know that some people will always come to Europe to work, but that by keeping them illegal they can easily exploit them far more than is permissible under the law. An immigrant worker will always be wary of complaining of terrible working conditions. After all, the boss can blackmail them with the threat of deportation.

Our opposition to the immigration restrictions of Fortress Europe is based on the recognition that immigration is a phenomenon produced by Capitalist globalisation that makes life unbearable in many areas of the world. It is based on our recognition that every human being has the same right to happiness, to the opportunities and good things of life no matter what their skin colour or place of origin. It can't be a fair world in which there are more travel rights for Capital, bank accounts and commodities than for people.

See also

Refugees & Asylum seekers in Ireland
A collection of articles from Workers Solidarity about racism against refugees and Asylum seekers in Ireland and the struggle against it

Deporting our neighbours - Government plays race card to divide and rule
It suits the Irish elite to scapegoat refugees for all the problems that their mismanagement of society causes. The ruling class wants to set Irish workers against immigrant workers so as to prevent the workers from seeing that their interests are the same regardless of nationality


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This edition is No80 published in March 2004

Workers Solidarity No80