Europe / North Africa: Storm the Gates of Rome!
Open Borders for Refugees! Stop the Imperialist EU-War against Refugees! No to the Preparations for an Imperialist Aggression against Libya!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 22.5.2015, www.thecommunists.net
1. The European Union has approved plans to establish a naval force in order to stop migrants from Africa and the Middle East crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. These plans include military operations, with imperialist Britain in a leading role, in Libyan territorial waters and even the deployment of ground forces on the Libyan coast. Despite open opposition from all significant political forces in Libya, the EU hopes to win a mandate for this military aggression from the UN Security Council – a puppet of the great powers.
2. The hypocritical politicians and media in Europe claim that the continent can’t take any more refugees. What a joke! Let’s look at the facts: Turkey, a country of 77 million people, is home to 800,000 refugees. In Iran, a country of 78 million people, live one million refugees. Lebanon, a country of only 4.4 million people is home to 1.1 million refugees. On the other hand, Europe, with a population of more than 500 million persons, hosts only 1.6 million refugees despite the fact that it is much richer than the countries mentioned above. The EU claims it can’t afford more refugees? In Europe more than 11 million houses are empty. This is enough to give all homeless in Europe a place to live and even then there would still be empty flats to provide space for at least 7 million refugees! But we know: the capitalist system is for the rich and not the poor. Just remember that the richest 80 people – amongst them 16 Western Europeans – hold the same amount of wealth as the world’s 3.6 billion poorest people. Imagine how many people could live in safety if we would expropriate this little group of super-rich parasites! But, in fact, the greedy imperialist rulers of the Europe are doing the exact opposite: they have transformed the continent into a fortress in order to keep out as many refugees as possible. The EU spends millions and millions of Euros to expand the armed Frontex troops waging a war against refugees so that as few as possible reach Europe. In short, the rulers of Europe have closed the gates of their rich and decadent Rome, and are letting the African and Arab peoples rot in front of them!
3. As a direct result of the Frontex Fortress guards’ operations, an increasing number of refugees have died on their way to Europe. According to the investigative project The Migrants Files “29,000 migrants died on their way to Europe since 2000.” And these numbers are increasing dramatically. In the past five months alone, about 1,800 have drowned in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean, according to the UN refugee agency.
4. The imperialist EU rulers justify their military plans with the alleged need to intercept and destroy so-called “criminal people smugglers.” In fact, it is not so much the people smugglers who are the real criminals. In most cases the smugglers themselves are poor people struggling for their own and their families’ survival; hardly any of them are as wealthy as an average European politician. No, the real criminals are the EU monopolies and their minions in the national governments! In addition there is an increasing number of violence against refugees and migrants. This violence is not only coming from the repression apparatus but also from radical right-wing activists.
5. Ask yourself: Why do so many people abandon their homelands?! Do they love their native land less than other people in the world?! Of course not! Do they leave their families in order to find a job in Europe because they want to break off relations with them?! No, quite the opposite: they are taking all these risks in order to take on hard work – what a difference compared to the decadent European bosses and politicians! – and help their families to survive!
6. No, the real reason is that over the past decades imperialist monopolies and government as well as their allied local regimes are systematically destroying the livelihoods of the people in the semi-colonial countries of the South. The so-called “Free Trade Agreements” which the EU enforced upon the African countries have destroyed the existence of millions of subsistence farmers. Imperialist agro-business monopolies – from Western Europe, the US, China and others – are massively engaged in buying up African land for monocultures or speculation. Such “land grabbing” led to the situation that foreign investors acquired between 51 million and 63 million hectares of land in Africa between 2008 and 2010. In addition, the African countries are forced the accept dictates of the IMF and the World Bank and to impose austerity programs to their people.
7. On this background of poverty and super-exploitation by imperialism it is hardly surprising that the local ruling class often rules via open dictatorships – usually supported by the Great Powers. Likewise, many African countries are riddled by civil war under these conditions of misery and decay. This is even truer for countries like Syria or Somalia. Bashar al-Assad, the butcher of the Syrian people, has managed to survive until now only because he gets such is strong support from Russian imperialism. At the same, US imperialism indirectly collaborates with his regime as it bomb only Assad’s enemies in Syria, various Islamist rebels. Likewise, Somalia suffers from years of foreign occupation led by Ethiopian troops – a loyal lackey of Washington. It is no surprise, therefore, that under such circumstances many people see no alternative to fleeing their homeland and finding a better life in rich Europe?! In short, imperialism causes misery and war and this is the reason why more and more people are forced to leave their homes and to look for jobs in Europe.
8. Many refuges try to enter Europe from Libya via the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, the increasing number of refugees coming via North Africa is a side-effect of the Arab Revolution. While the Arab workers and fallahin (*) did not succeed in concluding the revolution and taking power in their own hands, they achieved one or more democratic gains. One of these was the destruction of the ultra-repressive state apparatus of Libya’s dictator Gaddafi which was subsequently not replaced with a follow-up of similar size. When Gaddafi was in power, he was a loyal collaborator with the imperialist EU in guarding the coast against refugees (in addition to his collaboration with the CIA program in hunting, torturing, and killing so-called “terrorists”). Gaddafi’s troops were notorious for torturing many refugees and sending them back into the desert to a certain death. Despite his pseudo-“anti-imperialist” credentials, which until today fool many so-called leftists, Gaddafi promised the European Union to suppress the flow of migrants reaching Europe from Libya. In October 2010, the Libyan dictator and the EU signed a deal “to combat the flow of illegal migrants to Europe” for which Gaddafi received 50 million Euro. As a result of the collapse of Gaddafi’s regime, many refugees can now try to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe relatively freely. The imperialist EU rulers can not tolerate the present situation where they have no reliable “strong man” in power. As is well known, since the autumn of 2012, the great imperialist powers have had all to close down their embassies after Islamists killed the US ambassador. Bringing Libya back under imperialist domination is a chief priority of the EU. In order to achieve this goal, they are preparing for a military intervention under the pretext of fighting so-called “criminal people smugglers.” The Libyan people rightly see the EU plans as a pretext for foreign intervention and protest against it.
9. The EU plans are nothing but a declaration of war against the refugees in particular and the poor people of Africa and the Middle East in general. Furthermore, they are veiled preparations for subsequent imperialist military aggression against Libya. We predict that the EU rulers will create panic by claiming that the “Islamist terrorists” are coming to Europe pretending to be refugees and therefore a military attack on Libya is a absolute necessity. The RCIT declares its support for the resistance against the racist and imperialist EU plans.
10. We stand in solidarity with any military resistance by Libyan forces against the EU navies. The workers and armed rebels should unite and organize independently of their national bourgeoisie in order to fight against the European invaders. The RCIT calls upon socialists in Europe to stand for the defeat of the EU naval forces and in solidarity with all efforts to undermine and sabotage their anti-refugee military operations by any necessary means.
11. Likewise activists in the Maghreb and Mashreq should – taking into account the increasing repression by the pro-imperialist regimes of their legal public agitation – denounce the collaboration of “their” regimes with the imperialist European rulers who are waging war against the African and Arab refugees. The revolutionary struggle against “their” governments for democracy, for the expropriation of the imperialist monopolies and local corrupt elite as well as for a workers and fallahin republic is the most important contribution they can make in the global struggle against the imperialist world order.
12. We similarly support progressive and democratic initiatives which help refugees in this tragic situation. There are numerous examples of heroic Italian fishermen who, on their own initiative, have taken on board shipwrecked refugees and have brought them safely to Europe. Similar humanitarian initiatives have been organized by Médecins Sans Frontières as well as by Migrant Offshore Aid Station. There are also numerous initiatives in solidarity with refugees who help them stay in Europe, illegally if necessary. An example of such popular solidarity is a village in Austria in which the entire population has successfully organized to hide six Syrian refugees which the police are trying to arrest and deport.
13. However, what is currently missing is the solidarity of the workers’ movement. As a matter of fact the official leadership of the trade unions and social democracy wholeheartedly support the imperialist anti-refugee policy. While the ex-Stalinist and neo-social democratic Party of the European Left verbally opposes these plans, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – the party’s most important representative – in late April showed his true pro-imperialist colors when he signed a joint declaration with the butcher of the Egyptian people, General al-Sisi. In this declaration the signatories promised to cooperate in the struggle “against terrorism” (i.e., all those who are considered as such by the Egyptian military dictatorship)! They also expressed their support for the sectarian regime in Iraq as well as for Yemen’s pseudo-government in exile which serves as a puppet for the Saudi monarchy and currently is waging a war of aggression against the people of Yemen. The Party of the European Left is a slightly more “left-wing” version of reformist social-imperialism.
14. Progressive workers and democratic and socialist activists in Europe should work towards rallying the lower strata of the working class, the migrants and proletarian youth, i.e., the broad masses of the working class, to protest against the anti-refugee plans of the EU. They should oppose the wave of reactionary chauvinism against refugees and should call for the opening up of all borders for refugees. Against the hysterical shouting of the racists and social-chauvinists that the “boat is full,” they should call for the expropriation of the super-rich as well as for a program of public works so that jobs can be created both for European workers as well as refugees. Likewise, socialists should support the immediate legalization of all refugees as well as their being given full equality in their countries of residence. Socialists have to explain that the growing numbers of refugees and migrants mainly exist because of the aggressive war policy of the imperialist countries as well as the consequences of the exploitation of the workers of the South by the multinational corporations. It is hardly surprising that live in poverty and war is forcing so many people to flee even if they might lose their lives during their journey.
15. Socialists in Europe should call for a broad united front of all workers’ organizations, migrant organizations, and democratic pro-refugees initiatives in order to coalesce resistance against the European rulers. They should denounce the leadership of the social-chauvinist workers’ movement which, unfortunately, is controlled by the thoroughly pro-imperialist labor bureaucracy and dominated by the privileged top layer of the working class – the “labor aristocracy” as Lenin called them. The struggle against imperialism in Europe must go hand in hand with the struggle against the reformist labor bureaucracy. Internationalist working class policy on the other hand must orient itself not towards the labor aristocracy but rather towards the non-privileged lower proletarian strata. It is crucial that a workers’ movement in Europe dominated by the lower strata is educated from the start in the spirit of internationalist solidarity and understands that the struggle for liberation is impossible without the closest bonds with the proletarians and oppressed from the South.
16. The RCIT states that a final solution to the refugee question will only be possible when the working class and the oppressed rise up and overthrow the ruling class. Only the creation of workers’ and fallahin republics in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as of workers republics in Europe, can eradicate the roots of misery and wars and therefore the roots for the flow of refugees. Such an African-European socialist federation would elaborate a joint plan for massive material aid for the poorer countries in order to adjust the living conditions towards European levels as soon as possible. A socialist Europe would also open its borders for the citizens of workers and fallahin republics of Africa as well as of the Maghreb and Mashreq.
17. Such a perspective may sound very far away. But, as a matter of fact, the old imperialist world – including Europe – is in decay. The EU is marked by increasing economic and political contradictions. Its population is overaged. The European rulers and their right and left hands of the devel – from the right-wing populist parties to the reformists – are full of arrogance but also of fear when they look at the “barbarians” from the south. In fact, the present situation resembles the final period of the Imperium Romanum which survived from the exploitation of its slaves and its conquered people. But all its brutality could not avoid its decay and ultimately the “barbarians” stormed the gates of Rome in the year 476 AD. Likewise, the days of the modern Imperium Romanum – the imperialist EU – are numbered. Sooner or later the slaves and the barbarians – the lower strata of the working class in Europe and the oppressed people of the South – will unite and rise up against the imperialist rulers and storm the gates of modern Rome. Then the Fortress Europe will collapse as its historic predecessor did nearly 1,550 years ago.
* No to the EU anti-refugees plans!
* Down with the EU naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea! Defend Libya against any foreign intervention!
* Open Europe’s Borders for Refugees!
* For the right of refuge and immediate legalization of all illegal migrants and asylum seekers! For the right of asylum for all those fleeing war, oppression, and poverty in their countries!
* For full citizenship rights and the abolition of all discriminatory laws against migrants – regardless of nationality, race, religion or nationality! Equal pay for equal work!
* We call on the labor movement: Build an international solidarity movement with the refugees and migrants! Fight against discrimination of refugees (equal access to housing and the labor market, etc.)! Defend refugees against the state apparatus! Help hiding refugees who are threatened with deportation! Build armed self-defense units to fight against police brutality and racist thugs!
* For a revolutionary migrants movement as part of a new World Party of Socialist Revolution – the Fifth Workers International!
(*) Fallahin is the Arab plural noun for peasants.