Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Open the Borders!

/An AWL editorial:/

After hearing news of the latest drowning of migrants in the Mediterranean sea on Saturday 18 April, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi asked, "How can it be that we daily are witnessing a tragedy?"

Why does Renzi ask, "How can it be"? As if the 950 deaths had nothing to do with the Renzi government cancelling the Italian navy's search and rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, late last year, an operation which covered a vast expanse of the Mediterranean and in the year from October 2013 rescued 150,000 from drowning.

As if Renzi had not realised the EU replacement for Mare Nostrum would be a much smaller operation and that this would be about policing Europe's borders, not saving lives.

And did Renzi not listen to the people of Lampedusa who have been saying Frontex Triton "security" mission was pointless, as well as pitiless? As Giusi Nicolini, Lampedusa's governor, said "They don't understand who they are supposed to be protecting us from. These dramatic scenes in the Mediterranean that we have been seeing for the past 20 years are of a pure humanitarian nature. People have to be saved."

The fact is that the 950 deaths, the 400 deaths a week before, and all of the 1,750 deaths so far this year are everything to do with the European capitalist politicians. They are entirely responsible.

They didn't put the people in flimsy wooden vessels and rusty old cargo ships, but they might as well have done.

The policy of refortifying Europe's external borders led to the halting of the search and rescue operation. Their argument? The prospect of possibly not drowning encouraged migrants to attempt the journey. Cancelling the operation was, as one Daily Telegraph writer mordantly put it, about "drowning a migrant to save a migrant".

Now the politicians have been forced by the sheer horror and magnitude of the latest shipwrecks to call an emergency meeting in Luxembourg; so far much ringing of hands and an agreement to do something, if only they could all agree on what that something might be.

If Tory Home Secretary Teresa May has her way no change of tack will contradict maintaining Europe's strong borders. No softening of the line from her. Not for refugees fleeing the terror of Syria's civil war, or for Africans who for generations have lived in conditions of mass working-class joblessness, and casual employment, vastly more immense than has ever been seen in Europe; or for Eritreans escaping modern slavery.

No softening of the line when her party is in the middle of an election campaign.

No softening of the line which has seen the proliferation of technologies of control along the EU's external border in the last ten years. Aimed keeping out "irregular" migrants it has only succeeded in forcing migrants to take more dangerous routes into Europe.

What the politicians don't say is that for all their sniffer dogs, identity checks and racial profiling, border controls do not keep out all migrants. All they do is sort migrants into "legals" and "illegals", citizens and non-citizens. And capitalism, even if the capitalist politicians won't admit it, benefits from the super-exploitation of undocumented migrants. These are some of the most dehumanised people of the working class. As one Ukrainian put it in Sans Papiers, a recent investigation of life as an undocumented migrant, "I always faced crap... at work, you know. 'Why we need tractor for digging, we have illegal?'"

Probably the European powers will try to do something against traffickers in Libya and elsewhere. No one would oppose taking action against people who put so many people onto a boat it is certain to capsize or lock hundreds of people into the hold of such a boat so that they are certain to die?

But European state agencies cannot stop trafficking any more than they can hold back the strong economic and human forces which make people move across the world. A full search and rescue operation must be put in place.

But we also need a working-class and internationalist response.

In the UK, and throughout Europe, workers have powerful trade union organisations that have fought for a hundred and more years to raise the standards of life above meagre subsistence for their members. Those organisations can and should fight to do the same for the people who through absolute desperation make the risky and brave decision to leave their homes and families to come to Europe. That means fighting for the free movement of peoples and ending the conditions which make migration so dangerous.

Open the borders!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

'Solidarity is strengthened by social struggle’

The Militant received the following letter from reader August Nimtz in Twin Cities, Minnesota, commenting on the article "Does 'Broken Windows' Policy Cause Police Brutality?" in the Feb. 23 issue.

The Militant is right on in its article on police brutality and what it will take to eliminate it as well as the daily "crime and gang violence" working people have to live with. "Ties of solidarity among working people are strengthened in times of growing social struggles" — the beginning of a real answer to the latter. At the height of the Black rights movement 50 years ago, the Feb. 1, 1965, Militant reported on a study on how crime in the Black neighborhood dropped during the most intense moments of the mass mobilizations in one of the movement's sites. Militant readers, anti-police brutality fighters in particular, would also benefit in knowing more about how the Cuban Revolution was able to dismantle the police force and replace it with one that serves the interests of working people.

Below we reprint the article Nimtz refers to, with the original headline.

How to Cut the Crime Rate: Mobilize People for Rights
A Johns Hopkins and Howard University study of crime patterns in Cambridge, Md., showed a clear link between "direct action" civil rights activity and a reduction in crimes among Negroes. The study showed that in the months of May through September in 1962 and 1963, during which there was considerable civil-rights activity in Cambridge, the Negro crime rated dropped to 25 per cent of the 1961 rate.
There was no corresponding difference in the crime rate of Cambridge whites.

According to the Jan. 15 Baltimore Sun, the university researchers drew the following conclusions:

"1. Aggressions built up by the system of segregation, instead of being dammed up or unleashed against other Negroes, were channeled into the nonviolent protest movement …"

"2. All levels of the Negro community were affected by the movement. Even Negroes who took no active part in the protests were deterred from crime by a spirit of unity and common concern for the movement."

The civil-rights movement in Cambridge, led by the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee under the direction of Gloria Richardson, was one of the most militant in the country. For several months in the summer of 1963 the National Guard was called into Cambridge to maintain martial law.

Despite this the CNAC won a number of demands in Cambridge, embodied in a July 23, 1963 five point program. These included integration of the Dorchester County schools, appointment of a bi-racial city committee, integration of all public places of accommodation, and the proposal for the building of low-rent public housing.

The university investigation of the effects of the Cambridge movement put its finger on a key point when it concluded: "The most important single fact is that [the Cambridge movement] was conducted almost entirely by lower class Negroes."

Putin glorifies despotic czars as examples of Russian pride

Who your heroes are says a lot. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who appeals to Great Russian chauvinism seeking to boost his regime and its modern-day territorial claims, promotes glorification of the czars and the country's despotic feudal history. Revolutionary working-class leaders Karl Marx and Frederick Engels accurately described the monarchs who ruled the Russian empire for centuries as "the mainstay of European reaction." Their rule was overthrown by the historic working-class-led revolution in 1917....


Support for rights of gays spurs debate on ‘religious freedom’ law

.... these laws have nothing to do with preventing discrimination against the free exercise of the right to worship. Their goal is to legitimatize discrimination against gays and others....


Ukraine ban on free speech threat to sovereignty

Ukraine ban on free speech
threat to sovereignty
In the name of denouncing totalitarianism and honoring independence fighters the Ukrainian parliament passed several laws April 9 that trample on the freedom of speech....


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Join protests for $15 and a union!


Join protests for $15 and a union!  

All out for the April 15 national day of action for the Fight for $15 and a union. Bring your co-workers, your family, your friends.

The protest will be a demonstration of growing confidence as the working class in the U.S. begins to transform itself through resistance to the bosses' attacks.

The fight has spread beyond fast-food and Walmart workers to other layers of the class who work for wages that don't pay the bills — from contract airport cleaners to home health care workers to carwasheros.

The demand for a minimum wage of $15 an hour has gone from a wish to a watchword for millions of workers, forcing big-box retailers and now McDonald's to announce wage increases that, while limited and inadequate, show workers that by fighting you can win. "The bosses are scared of us," they correctly say.

Layers of better-paid workers, including union laborers and janitors, are weighing in on the side of the lowest paid workers, whose persistence and confidence is inspiring. The Steelworkers union has set an example for militancy and taken the moral high ground in fighting for safety, both for oil refinery workers and those who live in surrounding communities. The growing refusal to accept police brutality and racist attacks is another sign of the changing consciousness among millions of working people. The protests since grand juries let cops walk in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York, have reinforced the Fight for 15, and unionists are increasingly showing up at actions against police violence, from London to Smyrna, Georgia.

As they engage with others in struggle, workers broaden their scope and deepen their sense of solidarity. They see themselves differently, not as lone wolves condemned by "human nature" to battle other workers, all looking out for number one, but as members of a class and a movement that can win concessions on the road to ending the dictatorship of capital and building a society based on our morals, not theirs.

More workers will be attracted to the example of the Cuban Revolution, its internationalism and self-sacrifice, and repelled by Washington's 56-year effort to overturn it. And the rise of resistance in the bastion of the empire strengthens the Cuban Revolution.

The Militant is a weapon in the hands of those beginning to resist boss attacks. It tells the truth about their fights, lets them know about others fighting worldwide, discusses the key political questions facing humanity from the working-class point of view and draws the lessons of revolutionary struggles past and present. Join us to help expand the paper's circulation.