XXII. Revolutionary Defeatism and the Struggle for Full Equality of Migrants





As we have outlined above, the increasing share of migrants among the population of the imperialist countries results in the multi-nationalization of the working class. This has important consequences for the class struggle in general and for the defeatist struggle against imperialism and militarism in particular.


As we have stated above migrants coming from poorer, semi-colonial countries constitute a crucial transmission belt between the oppressed people living in their country of origin and the working class in the respective imperialist country. They can help in raising awareness among the native workers in the imperialist countries, they can introduce the militant fighting spirit from their home countries to the North and transmit various skills and experiences from the North to the South. The important role of migrants, and national and racial minorities in general, which they play in various class struggles underlines this fact.


In particular, migrants are a crucial sector of the proletariat to orientate to in cases of anti-imperialist solidarity work. There exists a natural tendency for them to stand in solidarity with the oppressed people under attack of the imperialist power. Prominent examples for this have been the central role of Muslim migrants in the mass movement against the Iraq war in 2003 or mass solidarity mobilizations for Palestine.


We think that, given a lower national identification of migrants with the imperialist state, migrants will also play an important role for the mass work of revolutionaries to undermine imperialist efforts for chauvinist and militarist mobilization. Building links with migrant communities and building a revolutionary party with a strong focus on migrants is therefore a central task for Marxists in imperialist countries.


The issue of racism and migration, by its very nature, touches on crucial elements of imperialist chauvinism. The anti-chauvinist struggle on this terrain challenges the “national” identity of the imperialist national state, it undermines the absolute dominance of the state language, it challenges the legal system which denies citizenship for many migrants (despite the fact that migrants have “the right” to increase the national wealth), it challenges the control of the imperialist state over its borders, etc.


For these reasons, the RCIT considers the policy on migrants and refugees as a preparation and a litmus test for every progressive organization. Its approach to this issue will test if it will be able to withstand the pressures of an imperialist war.


We have always emphasized that socialists must defend migrants and refugees against national oppression and racist discrimination. They must struggle for full equality for migrants and sharply oppose any approach which considers them as “guest workers” or as “foreigners”. The imperialist powers have a long history of super-exploitation, military adventures, colonialism etc. from which the countries, where many migrants originate, still suffer. Today, these powers still gain enormously from the ongoing super-exploitation of the semi-colonial countries. Furthermore, the capitalists of the imperialist countries also profit from the super-exploitation of migrants as they receive lower wages (than the native workers), have less access to social service (than the native workers), etc. So it is self-evident that the migrants must have full equality.


Such equality includes the use of native language in schools, universities, public administration etc. As we have stressed repeatedly, the Bolsheviks called, at their time, for the abolition of state language and the equality of all languages spoken by the different people in Russia. Such a program is fully appropriate today. Another important demand is equal wages for equal work.


The RCIT opposes all social-chauvinist attempts to enforce any “assimilation” of migrants. We want unity on equal basis, mutual interaction and not domination of the native population over the migrants.


Socialists must also call for full citizen rights of migrants which include the right to vote, to assembly, to have access to public services, social security, health, etc. Such a consistent democratic perspective includes opposition against various so-called “anti-terrorist” laws which in effect are used by the police to suppress migrants.


The increasingly open religious discrimination of Muslims demonstrates how important it is for socialists to call for a complete separation of state and religion and the full freedom of all religious groups to exercise their faith.


Socialists should call for a public employment program which would include the building of new homes so that all can have affordable housing. Such a program would ensure the ending of unemployment. The chauvinists and reformists will object: “How should this be financed?” Our answer is to take the money from those who have robbed it en masse from the workers at home as well as abroad – the capitalists! Hence, such public employment program should be financed by massive increases in taxation of the rich and the expropriation of the super-rich.


Faced with the increasing number of racist attacks by right-wing groups as well as state forces, socialists must call for a united front in order to physically defend migrants and refugees against racist attacks (self-defense groups, etc.).


Another crucial issue, which affects in particular the issue of the power of the imperialist state, is the right of migrants and refugees to freely move across borders and to enter the wealthy countries. As we have elaborated in numerous documents, socialists must fight against racist immigration control in imperialist states and defend ‘Open Borders’ for refugees. We can observe the actuality of this issue in the U.S. with Trump’s attempts of mass deportations of migrants, sending soldiers to the border with Mexico in order to stop the Migrant Caravan [1], his determination to build a massive wall at the border, his “Muslim Ban”, etc..


The same applies in the Europe where refugees fleeing war, hunger and misery are threatened and stopped by the EU’s racist Frontex regime in the Mediterranean Sea and on the Balkans. Refugees who succeeded to enter Europe are harassed, discriminated and often expelled. Similar racist discrimination takes place in Russia against people from the Caucasus and Central Asia.


The strategic goal of such a revolutionary strategy is to work towards the multi-national unity of the working class on an internationalist basis. This means that we strive to unite the native workers and migrant workers living in the imperialist countries as well as the workers living in the imperialist countries with the oppressed people living in the semi-colonial countries of the South. Such a unity is only possible on the basis of consistent working class internationalism. It is only possible if the workers of the privileged, imperialist, countries understand the necessity to reject any aristocratic privileges and prejudices and accept the equality of their class brothers and sisters coming from or still living in other countries. In other words, Marxists must explain that the working class is by its nature an international class and, hence, that its interests can only be defended on the basis of internationalism. Consistent opposition against defending any special rights for a privileged minority of the world proletariat (those living in the rich countries) against the vast majority of the world proletariat (those living in the South) is a pre-condition for building such an international unity. For this reason Marxists have always opposed immigration control by the imperialist states and have supported the right of people to move freely.


As we stated above, the multi-nationalization of the working class creates an objective basis for the emergence an internationalist consciousness. However, this tendency faces important counter-tendencies. These counter-tendencies are first the massive repressive pressure and chauvinist propaganda of the imperialist state machinery as well as the right-wing racist parties. Secondly, there is the tremendous influence of the reformist leaderships of social democratic and Stalinist parties as well as of trade unions which have always preached open or concealed social-chauvinism. In order to transform the spontaneous tendencies towards internationalism into a fully developed anti-chauvinist class consciousness, the intervention of a revolutionary party is indispensable.


Such an international unity between native workers and migrants can not be created by abstract appeals for international solidarity. Neither can it be created by adaption to the national-state. It can only be achieved on the basis of joint struggles for immediate economic and political demands, for democratic rights of migrants and for international solidarity with the liberations struggles of the workers and oppressed in the South.


The numerous joint campaigns to fight against Islamophobia, to oppose imperialist aggression in the South and to support liberation struggles, joint spontaneous uprisings of youth like in London’s district Tottenham and other British cities in August 2011, spontaneous popular initiatives to help refugees fleeing war and misery (like it happened in various European countries in autumn 2015) – all these are examples that such a work in the spirit of anti-imperialist and anti-chauvinist internationalism has a real base to which socialists can relate.


Working towards such a strategy will help revolutionaries to counter the attempts of the ruling class to divide the working class and to promote hatred between its different national sectors via spreading chauvinist hatred against migrants and the hysteria about the so-called “Refugee Crisis”. It will enable revolutionaries to transform such a reactionary polarization into the creation of international unity of workers and oppressed from different countries.


It is on the basis of such a program that revolutionaries try to organize migrants in trade unions and other mass organization of the working class. Most importantly, they must strive to build revolutionary worker parties in the imperialist countries with a strong focus on migrant workers and youth. [2]


Such a program is based on the revolutionary approach as it was developed by the Communist International in the times of Lenin and Trotsky. This position has been elaborated in the "Theses on the Eastern Question," adopted at the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in 1922. This document unambiguously states:


"In view of the coming danger, the Communist Parties of the imperialist countries – America, Japan, Britain, Australia and Canada – must not merely issue propaganda against the war, but must do everything possible to eliminate the factors that disorganise the workers’ movement in their countries and make it easier for the capitalists to exploit national and racial antagonisms.


These factors are the immigration question and the question of cheap coloured labour.


Most of the coloured workers brought from China and India to work on the sugar plantations in the southern part of the Pacific are still recruited under the system of indentured labour. This fact has led to workers in the imperialist countries demanding the introduction of laws against immigration and coloured labour, both in America and Australia. These restrictive laws deepen the antagonism between coloured and white workers, which divides and weakens the unity of the workers’ movement.


The Communist Parties of America, Canada and Australia must conduct a vigorous campaign against restrictive immigration laws and must explain to the proletarian masses in these countries that such laws, by inflaming racial hatred, will rebound on them in the long run.


The capitalists are against restrictive laws in the interests of the free importation of cheap coloured labour and with it the lowering of the wages of white workers. The capitalists’ intention to take the offensive can be properly dealt with in only one way – the immigrant workers must join the ranks of the existing trade unions of white workers. Simultaneously, the demand must be raised that the coloured workers’ pay should be brought up to the same level as the white workers’ pay. Such a move on the part of the Communist Parties will expose the intentions of the capitalists and at the same time graphically demonstrate to the coloured workers that the international proletariat has no racial prejudice." [3]


Such a communist approach has not lost its actuality!


[1] See on this e.g. RCIT: Central America / Mexico / U.S.: Solidarity with the Migrants’ Caravan! 01.11.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/central-america-mexico-u-s-solidarity-with-the-migrants-caravan/

[2] For a more detailed elaboration of the RCIT's position on migration and the internationalist program of revolutionary equality we refer readers to various documents which we have published and which are accessible on our website. See e.g., Michael Pröbsting: Patriotic "Anti-Capitalism" for Fools. Yet Again on the CWG/LCC's Support for "Workers’" Immigration Control and Protectionism in the US, 30.5.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/cwg-lcc-us-protectionism/; Michael Pröbsting and Andrew Walton: The Slogan of "Workers’" Immigration Control: A Concession to Social-Chauvinism, 27.3.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/workers-immigration-control/; Michael Pröbsting and Andrew Walton: A Social-Chauvinist Defence of the Indefensible. Another Reply to the CWG/LCC's Support for "Workers’" Immigration Control, 14.5.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/cwg-immigration-control/ RCIT: Marxism, Migration and Revolutionary Integration, https://www.thecommunists.net/oppressed/revolutionary-integration/; Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South, chapter 8.iv) and 14ii), https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/great-robbery-of-the-south/; Michael Pröbsting: The British Left and the EU-Referendum: The Many Faces of pro-UK or pro-EU Social-Imperialism, August 2015, Chapter II.2, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/british-left-and-eu-referendum/part-5-1/, RCIT-Program, chapter V: https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit-manifesto/fight-against-oppression-of-migrants/, RCIT-Manifesto chapter IV: https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit-program-2016/chapter-iv/; and various actual statements and articles here: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/articles-on-refugees/. See also Michael Pröbsting: Migration and Super-exploitation: Marxist Theory and the Role of Migration in the present Period of Capitalist Decay, in: Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory (Volume 43, Issue 3-4, 2015), pp. 329-346. We have also published a detailed study on migration and the Marxist program in German. See Michael Pröbsting: Marxismus, Migration und revolutionäre Integration (2010); in: Der Weg des Revolutionären Kommunismus, Nr. 7, pp. 38-41, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/werk-7

[3] Communist International: Theses on the Eastern Question, Fourth Congress of the Communist International, December 1922, in: Jane Degras: The Communist International 1919-1943. Documents. Volume I 1919-1922, pp. 391-392, http://marxists.org/history/international/comintern/4th-congress/eastern-question.htm