Immigration and class solidarity. Proletarian Internationalism is the only way to avoid a war among the poor

  • 5/17/20 2:49 PM

0. Introduction

The question of immigration, of displacements of people from the place of origin and usual residence to other countries to escape imperialist wars and the misery caused by capitalism, is extremely topical not only in Italy and in Europe, but throughout the world. The bourgeoisie uses this phenomenon speciously, altering its real dimensions, through a pounding terrorist propaganda on the mass media that literally arouses panic in some sectors of the petty bourgeoisie, but also in the less conscious and less politicized part of the proletariat. The purely political aim is to unload popular anger at the drastic deterioration of living and working conditions on a scapegoat, the immigrants, who have no responsibility for either the capitalist crisis or the anti-people measures imposed by capitalist restructuring, which determine the growing impoverishment of the proletariat.

Communists cannot overlook these problems and must analyze them deeply to find the most effective way to unmask this attempt to split the proletariat.

1. Economic causes of immigration

First of all, we would like to clarify a terminological aspect. The term "migration" means a voluntary or natural act and is therefore completely inadequate to define the phenomenon we are talking about. The abandonment of one’s homeland, of one’s birthplace, is a painful necessity, imposed by objective hostile circumstances that prevent the permanence in the place of origin. Therefore, in the following, we will use the more appropriate terms of "emigration" and "immigration".

The five features with which Lenin defined imperialism (the concentration of production and capital with the consequent appearance of monopolies, the merger of industrial capital with bank capital into financial capital and the formation of a financial oligarchy, the export of capital independently of that of commodities, the formation of unions and international monopolistic alliances for the division of the world, the complete share-out of the Earth among the greatest powers) are fully valid today. Imperialism in the Leninist meaning, as an economic category and not as its aggressive manifestation in foreign policy, has become the globally dominant system, even in former colonial countries, including those that are trying to carry out socially progressive projects. However, these five features have a different degree of intensity that varies from country to country, so, figuratively, we can say that imperialism is configured as a pyramid, at the top of which those countries are, where these five features are more developed, while the weakest countries at the base "sustain" the structure. The fact that the pyramid is not static and that, within it, continuous repositioning takes place due to changes in economic, political and military weight, does not contradict our analysis. In general, but not always, the highest positions in the imperialist pyramid are occupied by countries where capitalism has established itself since longer and, consequently, the proletariat also developed earlier. The dominant position of these countries, as well as the union, social and political struggles by the proletariat and the international correlations of forces, favorable to the working class as long as the Soviet Union existed, led to a change in the labor market, with a temporary growth in the share of wealth distributed to workers in the form of wages and social services and labor laws which, at least in part, protected their rights. These factors have generated the displacement of masses of local proletarians towards richer countries, to escape conditions of misery and inhuman exploitation.

Emigration generally removes human, physical and intellectual resources from the poorest countries and is a consequence of the uneven development under capitalism.

The growing exploitation and impoverishment of the countries at the base of the imperialist pyramid, stripped of their natural and human resources by transnational monopolies and, on their mandate, politically and sometimes even militarily subjugated with the complicity of the local bourgeoisie, is one of the economic causes of emigration. It is important to stress that, differently from the colonialist system of the past, the local capitalists are participating in the plunder of their own countries and peoples and bear a great responsibility for their situation of economic and social underdevelopment and for their involvement in imperialist wars. To consider the least developed countries as colonies and their bourgeoisie as a “national” bourgeoisie, opposed to an alleged “comprador” bourgeoisie is an anti-scientific theory, out of history and definitely wrong.

The tendency to reduce real and proportional wages (also in the form of cuts to public services, which are a form of indirect wage), always active under capitalism, as amply demonstrated by K. Marx, has been increased in recent decades by several factors:

1. the dissolution of the USSR, which led to the full re-establishment of the global domination of imperialism and allowed the bourgeoisie to get back almost all the concessions it had been obliged to make in the years of the opposition between socialism and capitalism;

2. the weakness of the labor movement, due both to the change in international correlations of forces and to the betrayal of trade unions linked to social democracy and opportunism;

3. the capitalist crisis and, above all, the anti-worker and anti-people measures taken to cope with it.

These factors demonstrate that the worsening of the living and working conditions of the proletariat and of most of the middle classes in the most economically developed countries is absolutely not attributable to immigration, not even considering its role as an "industrial reserve army", but is the effect of an objective law of capitalist development combined with very specific political choices, imposed by capital in its own exclusive interest, not least those implemented by EU directives, which severely affect the workers' rights.

Moreover, if emigration were a choice of convenience and not the effect of a dramatic necessity, the crisis, which is also taking place in the most developed countries, should have discouraged immigration, something that did not happen also because one of the answers of the capitalism to its own crisis was precisely the intensification of robbery and military aggression to the detriment of the peoples of the least developed countries, determining their further impoverishment.

If it is true that emigration flows are determined mainly by economic reasons, that is by the growing exploitation and impoverishment of the weaker countries, and by imperialist wars, it is equally true that the its manipulation by the bourgeoisie has as its political aim the split-up of the proletariat on the basis of nationality, religion and culture.

This allows the bourgeoisie to hide its responsibility for the worsening of the proletarian condition, making it appear as a consequence of immigration, to divert the people’s discontent from the revolutionary path to the xenophobic and racist way and to continue oppressing and exploiting both the proletariat of its own country and that of the least developed countries.

However, immigration plays an economically functional role in the development of capitalism.

On the one hand, it increases the ranks of the so-called "industrial reserve army", contributing today not so much to the reduction of wages, that are already low for the reasons set out above, as to calming the struggles for the claims of the indigenous workers, largely precarious, with the threat of their replacement by foreign labor force. It is not immigration itself that increases downward competition among producers. The deceptive and misleading manipulation by capitalism in the given conditions transforms the competition among individually taken workers, which was always existing, into a competition among collectively taken ethnic groups, between natives and foreigners.

On the other hand, the wages decrease, the cuts in services and public social expenditures, the increase in real working time and pace, the deregulation of the labor market by atypical contracts, that leave employers ample room for fraudulent maneuvers, and the demographic decline led to staff shortages in many sectors of industry, commerce and services. Wages are too low, working hours too long and conditions too precarious to be accepted by native workers, given the socially average cost of reproduction of their labor power and the level of their needs in today's society. In Italy it frequently happens, especially in agriculture (rural workers) and in hospitality, food service and personal care service sectors, but also other services (logistics, as an example) and even industry are affected by this phenomenon. The labor supply shortfall should lead to a growth at least in nominal wages in the sector where it occurs, but it does not occur because of the fragmentation of the working class and the guilty passiveness of opportunist labor unions, that sign downward agreements as the lesser evil, giving up the fight.

The escalation of protectionism, with the introduction of customs duties and the application of reciprocal sanctions are the sign of a commercial war among the main imperialist powers that will worsen the unevenness of capitalist development. Economically less developed countries, not only the ex-colonial ones, often are exporters of raw materials and importers of manufactured products. They will be forced to sell off their resources at ever lower prices, imposed by the monopsonist transnational monopolies, which dominate the raw materials market, and to buy finished products at prices, increased due to the reciprocal protectionist measures by the competing powers. The gaping of these “price scissors” will lead to greater foreign indebtedness and to a sure worsening of the economic situation of these countries, pushing their population to emigrate.

 

2. The political manipulation on immigration

The question of immigration is exploited and used by the bourgeoisie as a "means of mass distraction" for various purposes.

Firstly, to hide the responsibility of the dominant class for the worsening of the living and working conditions of the proletariat and of substantial sectors of middle people’s strata. By branding immigrants as the origin of all the disadvantages that afflict workers, the bourgeoisie tries to split the labor movement on an ethnic-cultural basis, hindering the formation of a united front of struggle that would put its domination at risk.

Secondly, the terrorist propaganda on an alleged "invasion" of immigrants, economically unsustainable, which would jeopardize the very survival of the native population, creates panic and is used for the people to accept the implementation of "security" measures that are clearly directed to the repression of class struggle and social protest. This is what happened in Italy, with the law decrees on "security" imposed by the government coalition League-5SM[1] under the pretext of an alleged “immigration emergency”. In addition to the criminal closure of the Italian ports, they mainly establish strong restrictions of the right to demonstrate and the tightening up of penalties for those who violate the new rules during political and labor union demonstrations.

Thirdly, the spread by real provokers of legends about imaginary subsidies on charge of tax payers or alleged preferential housing assignments to immigrants tries to transform the people’s just anger into xenophobia and racism, distorting the goal of struggle. Instead of the fulfillment of social needs or rights for everybody that the bourgeois state does not guarantee, fascists and other reactionary parties and groups whip the petty bourgeoisie and the most backwarded sectors of the proletariat up against immigrants, refugees and even Italian citizens of different ethnicity. In our country, these facts led to a strong increase in acts of racially motivated violence, for which not only fascist groups are responsible, but also such parties as the League, which uses the specter of immigration for electoral purposes.

We want to stress the great responsibility of bourgeois governments for the lack in infrastructure and the miserable living and hygienic conditions in the refugees camps, managed by cooperatives and NGOs that often speculate and make money, increasing tensions with the inhabitants of the areas they are located in.

A great responsibility also lays on the bourgeois left, which prefers to do politics in the salons and the parliament, rather than in factories and suburbs, does not link refugeeism and immigration to their real causes and supports the oppressive policy of the EU, giving ground to racist and xenophobic forces.

On the one hand, bourgeois left-centrist governments, led by the Democratic Party, have been implementing anti-workers and anti-popular policies that produced disorientation and anger in the proletariat and the people’s strata, whose working and living conditions were harshly hit. On the other hand, they have supported imperialist plans of destabilization in various areas, interfering in their internal affairs and participating in military interventions that cause the exodus of refugees. Despite the rhetoric of "humanitarian welcome", in facts the immigration and refugeeism policies by the Democratic Party do not differ much from those of the reactionary right, as evidenced by the decree of "regulation of flows", launched by the former DP Minister Minniti forerunning the much harsher law decrees by the former League Minister Salvini.

To fuel the panic and the alarm among the native population, the reactionary propaganda deliberately fosters the confusion between different phenomena, between regular and irregular immigration, between immigration and sea arrivals, between immigrants and refugees. On this issue it is necessary to clarify and define the phenomena with precise terms and data.


[1] Acronym of Five Stars Movement
 

3. The regular immigration

Immigration in the strict sense is composed of foreign citizens and their families, residing in the host country with a valid residence permit. The Italian Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) reports that, as of January 1st, 2018, in Italy there were 5,144,440 foreign residents, including foreigners born in Italy (second-generation immigrants), equal to 8.5% of resident total population, with an increase of less than 10,000 units compared to the previous year[2]. “The comparison of the data of the last few years shows, however, a slowdown in the growth of the foreign population, due both to a more restrained number of incoming flows and to a growing number of foreign people who are granted the Italian citizenship each year (less influence have mortality and cancellations to move abroad)[3].

Also according to ISTAT, as of January 1, 2019, foreign regular residents in Italy were 5,255,503, equal to 8.71% of the total population, with an increase of + 2.16% compared to the same period of the previous year, mainly due to newborns from foreign Italy-residents. Tab. 1 shows the composition by geographical origin of immigrants regularly residing in Italy. These data clearly show that the majority of immigrant residents in Italy originate from European countries (1,583,196 originate from EU countries, equal to 30.12% of the total). The absolutely largest foreign community comes from Romania, with 1,206,938 regular residents, equal to 23% of the total, followed by Albania (441,027 equal to 8.4%), Morocco (422,980 equal to 8%), China (299.823, equal to 5.7%) and Ukraine (239.424, equal to 4.6%)[4].

Tab. 1 – Resident immigrants by geographical origin as of January 1, 2019

ORIGIN QUANTITY %
Europe 2,639,447 50.23%
Africa 1,140,012 21.70%
Asia 1,092,840 20.80%
North and South America 380,146 7.23%
Australia and Oceania 2,236 0.04%
WORLD TOTAL 5,255,503 100.00%
Source: ISTAT, Dati e Indicatori su Immigrati, our elaboration

As of the first quarter of 2019, 46.7% of total resident immigrants were employed, as shown in tab. 2.

Tab. 2 – Employed immigrants by position and macro-sector

SECTOR

Employees Self-employed TOTAL
thousands % thousands % thousands %
Agriculture and Fishing 151 7.04 5 1.61 156 6.35
Industry 602 28.08 79 25.40 681 27.74
Services 1,391 64.88 227 72.99 1,618 65.91
TOTAL macro-sector 2,144 100.00 311 100.00 2,455 100.00
position 87.33 12.67 100.00
Source: ISTAT, Dati e Indicatori su Immigrati, our elaboration

Tab. 2 shows that:

  • the specific employment rate[5] (59.80%) is substantially in line with, but higher than those of the total population (58.50%) and of Italians (58.20%)[6] and proves the lie by reactionary theories on the parasitic nature of immigration and on the alleged "theft of jobs" by immigrants;
  • most of the working immigrants are employees, while there is only a small part of self-employed, among whom, given the employer's possible blackmail, a further number of workers might be hidden, officially classified as autonomous, but in fact employed with no social security nor labor union protection; the same happens to many Italian workers;
  • most of the employed immigrants are concentrated in the services sector and only to a lesser extent in industry and agriculture, in line with the same data referring to the total population and to the Italian one.

Tab. 3 shows the data related to working immigrants by professional qualification, as of the 1st quarter of 2019.

Tab. 3 – Working immigrants by professional position as of the 1st quarter of 2019

PROFESSIONAL POSITION QUANTITY
thousands %
Qualified managers and technicians 187 7.62
Clerks, trade and services 722 29.41
Qualified workers and craftsmen 729 29.69
Non qualified workers 817 33.28
TOTAL 2,455 100.00
Source: ISTAT, Dati e Indicatori su Immigrati, our elaboration

As a result, from a class point of view, most immigrant workers are proletarians, at least 60% of the total with approximation by default, due to the classification criteria applied by ISTAT.

As for immigrant employees, 78.03% are employed under permanent agreements, while only 21, 97% are under fixed-term agreements, with a tendency to decrease[7]. Here too, percentages are slightly lower than those referring to total employees (84.05% under permanent agreements, 15.95% under fixed-term agreements) and to Italians (84.78% under permanent agreements, 15.12% under fixed-term agreements)[8]. The comparison between these data shows how immigrant workers suffer, on the whole, a situation of greater instability and job insecurity. This condition of greater disadvantage is confirmed both by the unemployment rate[9], equal to 15% for immigrants compared to 10.6% total and 10.2% for Italians, than by the inactivity rate[10], equal to 29.6% for immigrants compared to 34.4% total and 35% for Italians (for this last figure, the gap is determined by the greater presence of individuals in non-working age among the Italian population).

It should also be noted that the first employment of immigrants in Italy is characterized by a significant professional downgrade compared to their country of origin, more marked for females, originally more qualified, than for males (49.5% of females against 36.5% of males). Employment opportunities after arrival are concentrated in a few and specific employments which, alone, absorb 1/3 of the positions of first employment in Italy: construction jobs and agricultural day labor for men, domestic work, sales professions, personal care services and non-qualified jobs for women. Two professions, carer (36%) and domestic worker (20%), alone absorb 56% of the first employment of immigrant women in Italy. The transition from the first job to the following ones shows that the professional downgrading of the first job tends to be persistent[11].

From the said so far, which concerns the so-called “regular immigrants”, foreign residents in Italy with a regular stay permit and their descendants who have not acquired the Italian citizenship yet, some conclusions can be drawn:

  • the majority of immigrants are socially configured as part of the proletariat and, as such, must be in the focus of attention and activity of communists, aimed at creating a united front of anti-capitalist struggle for the growth of class struggle, the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism;
  • immigrants are in a disadvantaged position compared to native workers, due to both linguistic-cultural and social-economic barriers, therefore being twice oppressed by capital, both socially and nationally;
  • the data about immigrants are in line with the values and the trends in place also in respect to the native population and, therefore, they are not an anomaly, nor an imbalance in Italian society; on the contrary, immigration is functional to capitalism, since without it entire sectors would suffer from a shortage of labor supply;
  • the employment rate of immigrants, higher than that of Italians, unmasks the lie on their alleged parasitism to the detriment of Italians; it should not be forgotten that the social security charges paid by immigrants make a decisive contribution to the INPS[12] financial statements;
  • resident foreign employees are mostly employed under the same permanent agreements, as Italian workers are; therefore, it is false that this kind of immigration affects wage levels; wages decrease is an endemic trend of capitalism that equally affects both immigrant and native workers, just as it is true that "the industrial reserve army" consists of both native and immigrant workers and that downward wage competition, in reality, exists not between different ethnic groups, but between producers, employed or unemployed, regardless of nationality, beliefs or skin color;
  • the ethnic composition of regular immigration shows a large predominance of Europeans; this demonstrates how false and irresponsible the alarm is, demagogically created by the League for electoral purposes, on the alleged "invasion from Africa" and the related "emergency situation".

 

[2] ISTAT, Vita e Percorsi di Integrazione degli Immigrati in Italia, p. 18, in https://www.istat.it/it/files//2019/05/Vita-e-percorsi.pdf
[3] Ibidem
[4] ISTAT, Dati e Indicatori su Immigrati
[5] The Employment Rate is calculated as the ratio between the employed population in working age and the reference population. (ISTAT, Glossario)
[6] ISTAT, Lavoro e Retribuzioni, Offerta di Lavoro, Tasso di Occupazione, in http://dati.istat.it/
[7] ISTAT, Dati e Indicatori su Immigrati, in http://stra-dati.istat.it/
[8] ISTAT, Lavoro e Retribuzioni, Offerta di Lavoro, Occupazione, in http://dati.istat.it/
[9] The Unemployment Rate is calculated as the ratio between job seekers and the corresponding labor force, defined as the sum of employed and unemployed. (ISTAT, Glossario).
[10] The Inactivity Rate is calculated as the ratio between people not belonging to the labor force and the reference population. (ISTAT, Glossary).
[11] ISTAT, Vita e Percorsi di Integrazione degli Immigrati in Italia, in https://www.istat.it/it/files//2019/05/Vita-e-percorsi.pdf
[12] Italian National Social Security Authority

 

4. The “irregular” or “illegal” immigration

So far we have talked about regular immigrants. However, some consideration must be given to the so-called “irregular immigration”, which includes foreigners with expired residence permits, illegally working foreigners with valid residence permits, unemployed foreigners without a residence permit, etc. Due to the very nature of this phenomenon, statistical surveys are extremely difficult. Furthermore, the very definition of "irregular immigration" can be different from time to time. For example, some sources classify the refugees who debark on our shores as irregular, but when they request asylum, they cease to be irregular unless they are rejected; almost always the data do not take this into account, thus inflating the extent of the irregular immigration phenomenon. Moreover, in common language, the term "irregular immigration" takes on a negative meaning, as if it were a criminal action. In reality, it is enough for a regular immigrant to lose his job or to let his residence permit expire in order to enter a position of "irregularity" and be prosecuted or expelled from the country, even without having committed any crime. The latest estimates for Italy by the OECD and the ISMU Foundation date back to 2017, indicating that the phenomenon is actually marginal and does not worry the ruling class. In fact, the percentage of “illegal immigrants” is estimated at around 0.9% of foreign residents and around 0.7% of the entire resident population[13]. It is clear that the two estimates are inconsistent and, furthermore, they are not comparable to the EU average, as the latest estimate for the EU27 dates back to 2008.


[13] https://www.infodata.ilsole24ore.com/2018/07/14/immigrazione-irregolare-quanti-clandestini/

 

5. Sea arrivals and refugees.

The insistence and the way in which the bourgeois media presented this phenomenon helped to exaggerate and distort it, thus favoring the propaganda of the League and the fascist groups and helping to create an unjustified climate of alarm and emergency in the country to provide the people’s approval to the Security Decrees, wanted by the former minister of domestic affairs Salvini.

The closure of ports and the debarkation prohibitions, being useless as well as unnecessarily cruel measures, are also legally inapplicable, as they conflict with the Italian Constitution, the international treaties and the rules of navigation law on sea bailouts. It is a cynical electoral demagogy, made through the blood of the desperate, a kind of "strategy of tension", aimed at introducing further repressive and authoritarian measures, directed mainly against social conflict.

From a legal point of view, the prohibition of disembarkation, forcing the refugees to stay on board for long periods against their will and in poor health conditions, appears as a kidnapping, a crime punishable by law.

According to the statements of the Minister of Domestic Affairs of the new government, depicted as a “technician” being a former prefect, it seems that there will be no substantial changes of course with respect to the policies of the previous government.

The data of the UN High Commissariat for Refugees (UNHCR) and of the Ministry of Domestic Affairs itself contradict the terrorist demagogy of the League former minister.

First of all, let us try to shed light on the swirl of figures and numbers, often deliberately used inappropriately.

Refugee arrivals have mainly affected 5 EU countries: Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Malta. Overall, throughout the Mediterranean basin, the arrivals on an annual basis at the maritime and land borders of these countries, detected by the UNHCR, decreased from the peak of 1,032,408 in 2015 to 141,172 in 2019, with a downturn by -86.33%[14]. In October 2015 alone, there were 220,000 arrivals, a figure in fact equal to the annual sea arrivals of 2014 and higher than the yearly data of both 2017 and 2018, but it is worth remembering that the greatest impact was on the borders of Greece, where it more than 211,000 refugees arrived, while less than 9,000 people arrived in Italy[15].

As we can see, the drop in Sea arrivals in Italy is not the result of the League's policies, but reflects the general trend towards their decrease that is recorded throughout the Mediterranean and in all EU maritime border countries. As for Italy, sea arrivals have steadily decreased since October 2017[16], going from 99.126 in 2017 to 5.085 in 2019, with a decrease of -94.87% (data updated to 08/30/2019), well before the decrees wanted by Salvini and the League[17].

Still limited to Italy, the UNHCR detects a drop in deaths and missing at sea on the central Mediterranean route, which has always been the most dangerous. From 2,887 in 2017, the deaths fall to 1,247 in 2018, with a decrease by -54%, less than proportional to the decrease in sea arrivals, however the mortality rate on this route has increased significantly, from 1 death out of 38 sea arrivals (2.63%) in 2017 to 1 death out of 14 sea arrivals (7.14%) in 2018, with an increase of almost five percentage points, due to "the significant reduction in the overall search and rescue capacity"[18]. This is the only real and tragic result of the Security Decrees by the League-5SM government.

The cynical arm wrestling on the issue of sea arrivals between the NGOs and the Italian government, both players of a game, played on the skin of the refugees with another wager at stake, deserves a separate discussion.

From summer 2018 to summer 2019, in fact, a confrontation was taking place between the EU and the Italian government on the overrun, by Italy still in recession, of the limits set by the EU for the public finance main parameters (deficit/GDP ratio, debt/GDP ratio), that intensified after 2019 European elections, at a time when the next appointment of the highest offices of the EU bodies was approaching.

European financial capital, despite the repeated concessions by the League and the 5SM to the claims of the EU, used different means of pressure, from the bid/ask spread, to the intransigent application of the Dublin Treaty, to the media campaign on the closure of the ports to the NGOs ships, in order to ensure its plans the success.

In particular, the Dublin Treaty, which the international communist movement has always opposed, provides for refugees to seek asylum and remain in the first country of arrival, where they are deported if they fail to comply with this provision. In Germany alone, 4,602 orders of deportation of refugees to our country are being processed, and 1,114 deportations were actually carried out from November 2018 to March 2019[19]. As a further demonstration of the demagogy of the League and the 5SM, it should be underlined that “when voting on a revision [of the Dublin Treaty] on November 17, 2017 in the EU Parliament, the government forces voted against (5SM) or abstained (League) and in 6 cases out of 7 the minister of domestic affairs deserted the European Councils where the issue was being discussed[20].

NGOs have been tools of the EU pressure and, in the context of an invasion panic artificially created by the League, have actually favored the growth of the consensus to the League itself and to the counter-measures against sea arrivals, implemented by the Italian government. The artificiality of the contrast between the NGOs and the Italian government is proved by the fact that, while on the media harsh debates were taking place on whether to let or not to let debark, for example, the 53 castaways of the NGO ship Sea Watch, in the same period 1,644 irregular entries were registered, including "phantom sea arrivals" and terrestrial border crossings, 31 times more than the human load of the Sea Watch[21].

Rescuing human lives is a duty, but one cannot hide the "dirty role" that many NGOs have played and continue to play, favoring the blackmail and the plans of imperialism and, sometimes, agreeing with the traffickers of human beings.

To fully understand the causes of the refugees arrivals, it is useful to consider their origin. Basing on the available data of the Ministry of Domestic Affairs, the EUROSTAT and the UNHCR, we can see that most of them come from Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, while only a minor part comes from Asian countries. The reasons that push refugees, even pregnant women and minors, to head out on the "journey of desperation" at the risk of their lives, to endure violence and torture in Libyan concentration camps waiting for a shipment, paid by their latest resources, may be the most various, but they are always, directly or indirectly, caused by the intervention of imperialism in the refugees’ countries of origin.

The refugees flee from imperialist wars, but also flee from non-belligerent countries, afflicted by underdevelopment, absence of prospects, mass unemployment, poverty and hunger to which capitalist exploitation condemned them. They flee from the oppression of bloodthirsty bourgeois dictatorship and religious obscurantism, which imposes medieval lifestyles and stifles any dissent, supported by imperialism in order to destabilize those countries that oppose its plans. They flee from ecological disasters, caused by the senseless exploitation of their countries’ natural resources by domestic and transnational monopolies, which destroy their living and working environment with the complicity of the corrupt and anti-popular local bourgeois governments. Italian imperialism is no exception: just let us think of what ENI has done and is doing in Nigeria and the Niger delta, where the forced expropriations of large areas of that territory for oil and gas extraction, based on the corruption of local officers, have ruined the local population, causing a mass exodus.


[14] Source: UNHCR
[15] https://www.agi.it/data-journalism/morti_migranti_mediterraneo_dati-5605198/news/2019-06-05/
[16] Source: UNHCR
[17] Source: Ministry of Domestic Affairs of the Italian Republic
[18] Source: UNHCR
[19] Source: Il Sole 24 Ore, 06/26/2019
[20] Source: Ibidem
[21] Source: Ibidem

 

6. The position of the Communists

First of all, the communists clearly and firmly reaffirm their class solidarity with immigrant and refugee proletarians. The refugees cannot be left at sea, they must have the health care they need and they must be fed and placed in adequate reception facilities in humane and dignified conditions, under public responsibility, without any NGO involvement. Asylum applications must be accepted and granted in a short time. The state, regions and municipalities must not restrict themselves to "cultural mediation" alone, but must have structures and personnel, able promote the inclusion of the refugees into society and into the job’s world, utilizing also the fact that many of them have a university or higher education degree.

The possession of a degree should not become a discriminating factor for refuge. The communists oppose any form of selective welcoming that accepts only those who can be more harshly exploited by the system, while everyone else is rejected, without taking into account the state of necessity in which refugees are. This is the substance of the policies of "regulation of migration flows", which take into account exclusively the interests of capitalists and not the needs of human beings.

Those measures must be canceled, that entrap refugees against their will in the so-called "first-landing countries" and imprison them in inadequate shelters. Their direct transit to the countries of destination must be ensured. Therefore, we claim for the abolition of the Dublin Treaty, the Schengen Treaty and all the other EU repressive regulations.

We also oppose any international police agreement with the authorities of the countries of embarkation, which would mean an increase in the Italian military presence abroad, aimed at blocking embarkations and therefore at transforming the refugees into prisoners of the detention camps, where they are victims of violence, torture, rape and summary killings.

In some sectors of the bourgeois left the idea is widespread that the exodus from economically underdeveloped countries can be contained by the so-called "supportive fair trade" and the so called "cooperation between states”, based on the hypocritical and reactionary principle "let us help them at their home". Apart from the marginality of the “fair supportive trade”, whose volume is certainly not able to solve the problems of those countries and whose "fairness" is very doubtful, we must consider that, in conditions of dominant imperialism, any form of international cooperation is actually uneven in favor of the richest country and can only have an imperialist character, which aggravates the exploitation, the underdevelopment and the indebtedness of the poorest countries, thus increasing emigration from them. An example of this is Somalia, a former Italian colony. After decades of "international cooperation" with Italy, Somalia is one of the most devastated countries in Africa, with problems of famine, war of gangs with a religious background, chronic underdevelopment and, obviously, this has increased the exodus of refugees through Libya toward the Italian coasts. Imagining a different outcome under imperialism is an illusion that we leave to the salon left, against which we must fight.

Communists must raise a political action in depth within the working class, the other working people and the unemployed, explaining the causes and dimensions of immigration and refugeeism, to make it clear that immigrants and refugees, oppressed like and more than them, are not the real enemies, but capital and the bourgeois state are.

We as well must strengthen our political work within immigrant workers and their communities, helping them to overcome cultural and religious conditioning, providing them with the theoretical and political tools to understand their rights and to join the class struggle.

The political-cultural action within the class and among immigrants is necessary but not sufficient. It is also necessary to develop our activity on the labor unions and mass movements level. If the purpose of the class enemy is to divide the labor front, to exacerbate downwards competition among the workers, to unleash a "war among the poor" in order to preserve profit and the political domination of capital, then the tasks of the communists must be the restoration of class unity and the launch of a cycle of struggles, which unites native and immigrant workers and claims for the generalization and the extension to everybody of social and trade union protections, wage increases and access for everybody to services, education, health, culture, housing.

It is necessary to develop platforms of struggle that are able of uniting workers with watchwords, based on their immediate and common needs.

As an example, the establishment of a sufficient minimum wage guaranteed by law, structured by category, job task and professional seniority, with such restrictions as not to allow a lowering to the minimum by law of the wage levels achieved through national and corporate collective bargaining, would limit the competition among workers. This point should be placed in a broader context of struggle for generalized wage increases to recover what has been lost in the last decade and for restoring the wage indexation, measured on real inflation and on a realistic basket for the calculation of the cost of living index.

To solve housing emergency, depriving thus the reactionary parties and fascist groups one of the main racist arguments they use to oppose Italians and immigrants, it is necessary to promote the struggle for the expropriation without compensation of vacant houses, owned by banks, financial entities, big realtors and the Vatican, and for the relaunch of the public council housing, understood not as a wild overbuilding of the suburbs, but as the redevelopment of the territory according to the needs of the workers and the people’s strata. These are partial, but immediate, concrete and shareable goals of struggle, on which the interests of all workers can objectively converge.

Furthermore, we should develop an effective fight against the involvement of Italy and its military forces in imperialist interventions and wars, to forbid the use of Italian territory, airspace and territorial waters for aggressive purposes, to close US bases in Italy and to withdraw from NATO.

We must be aware that no interest or right of the working people can be fully and definitively achieved under capitalism, however, if these immediate and other important economic goals were inserted in a framework of revolutionary political struggle, they could help to restore unity and class consciousness, overcoming the pretexts, used by the bourgeoisie to divide the labor front.

By retrieving the substance of Karl Marx's letter of April 9, 1870, to Siegfried Meyer and August Vogt regarding the situation of Irish workers, we highlight the dialectical connection between the emancipation of the proletariat in the most developed and the least developed countries. The growth of the revolutionary movement in poor countries, where there is a strong proletarian presence, can only favor the socialist revolution in rich countries and vice-versa, confirming once again the common interest of the world proletariat.

Religious charity, mutualism, the "fair supportive trade" and the other illusions of the bourgeois left do not free the proletariat of those countries from emigration and the chains of imperialism. Instead, we need to strengthen the ties and the spirit of proletarian internationalism, for overthrowing capitalism and the bourgeois power in every country, particularly in our own. The struggle against "our home" imperialism and the interests of the monopolies of our own country, as well as against the imperialist war, for the breakup of imperialist alliances like the EU and NATO, is an integral part of the revolutionary class struggle, whose internationalization responds to this dialectical relationship and favors the progress of the proletarian revolution for a socialist society of free and equal human beings, in which nobody will be forced to leave their home to emigrate.

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