MIGRANT CRISIS: Another Shameful By-product of Capitalism
MIGRANT CRISIS: Another Shameful By-product of Capitalism
Amidst debates and concerns about the growing migrant crisis, Lanre Arogundade hereby offers a working class socialist perspective and analysis of some key issues involved.
By Lanre Arogundade
WORST THAN WORLD WAR PERIOD
The figures commonly bandied in the world’s leading elite media about the number of migrants or refugees seeking asylum or refuge in Europe are about half a million. But the reality on the ground and perhaps the untold story reveal a grimmer picture that point at the worst form of human migration in recent decades if not century; not to mention the dire fate of millions of internally displaced persons across the globe.
This is the often unstated fact that ‘Fortune’, an American capitalist online journal, interprets as meaning that “the current number of refugees and displaced persons are at levels unseen since the end of World War II”. But it is fact that is further supported by photographs and various conventional and social media accounts of the untold hardships faced by migrants desperately seeking to escape from internecine wars, economic hardships and human deprivations in the Middle East, South-Eastern Europe, Africa, etc.
It is no wonder that ‘Eurostat’ claims that between January and August this year, the top-ten origins of people applying for asylum in the European Union include Syria, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Ukraine and Nigeria. In terms of details ‘Fortune’ describes the Syrian crisis as the most visible because it affects an estimated 12 million people; 4 million of who are refugees and 8 million internally displaced persons.
Also arising from the Syrian crisis, more than a quarter of Lebanon’s population of 4 million are now said to be composed of Syrian refugees. However long before the images of migrant seekers in Europe shocked the world, thousands of migrants had perished and are still perishing in the Mediterranean Sea in desperate bid to reach Europe from Africa at all costs. For a period when there is no world war, it is an understatement to say that the migrant crisis is shameful.
More shameful perhaps is the impression by European governments and other world capitalist powers that their welcoming of the migrants should be considered an humanitarian act.
In truth, they were initially reluctant to offer concrete help until pressures from the local population grew following daily pictures of those drowning in the seas. Activists and ordinary citizens across Europe and elsewhere were particularly enraged, when it was revealed that the family of a five-year old Kurdish boy whose dead body was washed ashore along a Turkish beach had been denied asylum by the Canadian government early September.
“Galip Kurdi, aged five, and his three-year-old brother Aylan died along with their mother, Rehan, and 10 other refugees died when their boat capsized as they were trying to reach the Greek island of Kos. The family was fleeing Kobane in Syria, which Islamic State (Isis) has attacked repeatedly”, the International Business Times had reported.
But even while some of the migrants were being admitted into Europe, they were subjected to violent repression, physical assaults and other forms of harassment especially in the border countries of Hungary, Greece, etc who were fearful that most of the migrants headed for Germany could decide to stay back in their respective countries. It was the resistance of the thousands of migrants that ultimately proved the difference as they embark on long treks to reach their destination.
In a country like Australia, the intending migrants were actually being kept in a ‘detention’ type of centre outside the country, which equally sparked outrage among layers of activists. On the flip side, most of the European governments have also been known to take regular reactionary measures against immigrants already resident in their countries, with Britain for example, recently rolling out a policy of ‘deport first, appeal later’ that could lead to the deportation of thousands of so-called illegal immigrants from the United Kingdom.
Of course, there are enough fears within the populace to exploit: sometime the fears of the local population about foreigners taking their jobs, creating housing shortages and sometimes the hysterical fear around the issues of religion especially in the wake of the September 11 attacks and the later emergence of the Islamic State.
LAYING THE BLAME WHERE IT BELONGS
It is therefore important to lay the blame for the migrant crisis where it properly belongs. First, the so-called war on terror has created more problems than it has been able to solve with the noticeable outcomes being the collapse of dictatorships in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the societies left behind are often much more fragmented with the succeeding governments unable to solve any of the fundamental problems confronting the society. It is this context that there has been unexpected rise and growth of the Islamic State, which unlike Al Qaeda actually seeks to take over states and political spaces hence the spread of its activities across vast regions including but not limited to Iraq, Libya, Syria and even Nigeria where it has found willing partner and tool in Boko Haram.
In all of these, Syria represents a kind of theatre of the absurd where the imperialist powers are engaged in cynical if not proxy wars without due consideration for the mass of suffering peoples. Syria, today is therefore a nation of many armies – that of Assad and Hezbollah and by extension the Iranians backed by the Russians; that of anti-Assad rebel forces backed by America, Europe, the non-Islamic State jihadists backed by the likes of Turkey and Saudi Arabia and, finally, Islamic State itself.
The destructions, violations of human rights and various atrocities perpetrated by these ‘armies’ could not but have led to the huge migrant crisis currently confronting humanity.
On the other hand, it is common knowledge that decades of neo-liberal policies especially subservience to IMF and World Bank policies of privatization and commercialization of the commanding heights of the economy in sub-Saharan Africa have largely exacerbated poverty. Although, there are underlying national and religious questions here and there in the region, what cannot be denied is that terrorism has found deeper roots in the poorest areas. Thus, the base of Boko Haram in Nigeria is the north-east renowned for its mass of poor and uneducated youths.
FRESH IMPETUS FOR WORKING CLASS SOLIDARITY
Across the continents and quite significantly in Europe the sympathy and support expressed for the migrants should serve as a fresh impetus for building international working class solidarity that seeks a united class action to end terrorism, destructive wars and ruthless capitalist exploitation. Only through such initiatives basing itself on the need to have peoples and working class democratic control and management of society can the foundation be laid for democratic discussions and actions on ending the migrant crisis.