Russia: Stop the Attacks on Migrant Workers Rights!

The Marxist position on migration

By the Editors of the Bulletin "Movement to Socialism“ (MAS), 13.2.2014, (The RCIT collaborates with the MAS)


The Russian authorities continue their policy of social genocide against migrant workers. Time and again, the Duma (Parliament) of the Russian Federation has passed laws restricting the labor rights of foreign workers. Currently, the Duma is considering legislation that would amend the country’s Labor Code. Among other things, the proposed amendments would require employers to dismiss foreign workers when their temporary or permanent residence permit expires or in the event that such a permit is either cancelled or not presented to the authorities within a month of its having being issued.

In this way, all migrant workers are actually turned into laborers working on the basis of fixed-term contracts. This is in contrast to citizens of Russia who, in accordance with the labor laws of the state, as a general rule are employed under unlimited-term employment contracts. In this way, the bourgeois-bureaucratic regime continues in its attempts to drive a wedge between the two components of the working class in Russia: Russians and non-indigenous migrants. This is done to perpetuate the status of migrants as "second class" workers, separating them from privileged employees, turning them into a caste of pariahs.

The Russian regime consciously and intentionally nurtures the growth of nationalist, racist, and xenophobic attitudes among both the citizens of Russia and the migrants. When the working class is fragmented into warring sectors on the basis of ethnicity and privilege, it is most conveniently turned into an object for both capitalist exploitation and state oppression.

The Marxist position on the issue of migration has no relation whatsoever to abstract humanism. Marxist politics are class-based, and strive for a clear understanding of the dialectical relationship between classes. The ultimate goal of socialists – the destruction of bourgeois society – involves both strategic and tactical objectives which are defined and executed in the context of the various phases and areas of revolutionary activity, together with the specific ways and means of the revolutionary struggle.

For capitalism, particularly in its imperialist stage, the migration of labor is in essence the same as the international flow of capital, and is inextricably linked with it. Any attempts to restrict or prohibit migration, to "close the borders," are merely calls for a reactionary utopia. It is only natural that the predominant flow of migrating labor is from the poor, semi-colonial countries to richer and imperialist centers.

Migrants are economically, socially, and politically powerless. The low cost of the reproduction of migrant labor power is, for the capitalists, a huge boon for increasing the rate of accumulation of surplus value – i.e., profits. In addition, by reducing the price of labor in the national labor markets, migrant workers objectively fill the role of strikebreakers for capitalists. Combined with racial, national, and cultural differences of migrant workers, the inherent role of migrants as scabs is vital to the capitalist’s splitting of the working class. Thus, labor migration is beneficial to the bourgeoisie, both economically and politically. Modern economies, including Russia’s, are in principle no longer possible without the use of migrant labor. Migrant workers have become part of a big army of the working class in Russia.

For us, Russian Bolshevik-Leninists, the primary strategic objective is the destruction of the Russian bourgeois-bureaucratic state and the expropriation of the entire class of Russian capitalists and its lackeys, whose interests are served by the ruling regime and its replacement by those who truly oppose it. We have no allies among the bourgeoisie. For us, the so-called parliamentary opposition composed of liberal bourgeoisie elements is the same as the enemy in power – the oligarchs. We rely only on one class – the class of wage earners – the working class, the proletariat.

The realization of our goals is not possible without, among other things, first achieving the unity of the working class in its struggle against the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois state. Such unity can only be achieved on the basis of voluntary mutuality and equality, mobilized towards a general, organized class struggle. This, in turn, is not possible without a consistent advocacy of internationalism and the struggle against racism and nationalism and for full and complete equality of democratic rights for migrant workers.

Therefore, our revolutionary Bolshevik struggle against the oppression of migrant workers is based on the following principles:

1. Without exceptions all migrants in the territory of Russia should be legalized. Without exception, all migrant workers must be granted full citizenship rights.

2. All special legislation pertaining to migrants should immediately be lifted.

3. All persons who are currently in custody for the violation of immigration laws should immediately be released.

4. Any discrimination – particularly labor-related discrimination – against migrants must be recognized by law to be a criminal offense.

5. The most commonly used languages of migrants should be given the status of state languages.

6. Migrant workers should be legally granted the right to form defense groups to protect themselves from racist, nationalistic, and fascistic aggression.

7. The state border should be opened to all who want to work in Russia.

The racial and national oppression of migrants is a necessary component of capitalism. Therefore, such oppression cannot be completely eradicated without overthrowing capitalist society by means of a proletarian and multinational socialist revolution.

Workers of Russian citizenship and migrant workers must not succumb to provocations by the racist Russian regime. Workers of Russian citizenship and migrant workers are class brothers and sisters who have common enemies – the capitalist-serving bureaucracies and the bourgeoisie of all nations, states, and races. The workers of Russia and the world have a common historical mission – the destruction of capitalism and the overthrow of the capitalist states. Workers of Russian citizenship and migrant workers need to jointly fight to achieve equal rights and opportunities for all workers. To do so, they need to be united in professional and revolutionary organizations.

Workers have no fatherland. The only fatherland of workers is their class – the proletariat. Workers of all countries, unite!