The ruling class have always used, and will always use, whatever means are at their disposal to divide the working class. This is done to control them and to increase exploitation and profits. We need to be cognisant of this at all times.
Since the defeat of the Soviet Union, capitalism has gone into overdrive in a class war around the world that they are winning hands down.
There is no doubt that the open-border policy within the expanded EU was not done in the interest of workers. Its aim was to “increase competitiveness,” i.e. to slash wages in a neo-liberal race to the bottom in fortress Europe. The rest of humanity, the global south, which was plundered and pillaged to finance the development of the western world, was abandoned on the high seas.
This plunder goes on through globalisation, with 83 per cent of all goods being manufactured in the global south for slave wages and the profits flooding back to the west. Free movement of capital but enslavement for people.
44 per cent of workers in the European Union today do not have permanent employment contracts. 50 per cent of workers in Ireland earn less than €30,000 per year. 50 per cent of women workers in Ireland earn less than €20,000 per year.
This is in an Ireland where there are more people working than at any other time in history. Capitalism has no problem with near full employment so long as wages are at poverty level.
8 per cent of Irish people live in consistent poverty. 23 per cent of non-Irish people live in consistent poverty. 29 per cent of non-EU people live in consistent poverty. 51 per cent of young Irish people have a third-level education. 73 per cent of young non-EU citizens have third-level education.
81 per cent of western EU citizens have a third-level education. This is reflected in the fact that western EU citizens have a higher employment rate (76 per cent) than Irish citizens (66 per cent); but the non-EU have a much lower employment rate: Africans 45 per cent, Asians 64 per cent. 16 per cent of Africans are unemployed, compared with 4 per cent of people from western Europe. The total unemployment rate is 5½ per cent.
We live in a very divided and unequal society.
The reason the Irish unemployment rate is low is the large numbers who are retired, children, students, etc. This puts the figures askew.
If you are European there is no problem getting a job in Ireland, but if you are from Africa or Asia it is more likely that you will not. We too are building a wall against immigrants, but it is hidden.
Donald Trump may physically build a wall between the United States and Mexico; he may authorise the border security troops to shoot people attempting to cross into America, or to ban all people from Muslim countries. At least Trump ditches the veneer of humanity and, unlike our Blueshirt regime, does it openly.
He fails to mention, of course, the imperialist wars that NATO and its allies have unleashed in every corner of the world, creating massive numbers of refugees, or how capitalism has forced millions of people all over the planet to flee poverty, environmental catastrophe, and starvation. Given a choice, the vast majority of people choose to live at home.
There is an endless portrayal of immigrants by the ruling class as being scroungers and freeloaders. But the same ruling class are happy to exploit them by paying them lower wages than local workers, causing division between different groups of workers. But it is not the immigrants who are driving wages down but the capitalist class—the same bosses who exploit Irish workers.
Restrictions on immigration never work. All they do is at best force the most vulnerable people into the black economy, slave wages, and tenements, like the Irish in America, or, worse, to die in the oceans in the present-day equivalent of coffin ships.
Lenin wrote: “The bourgeoisie incites the workers of one nation against those of another in the endeavour to keep them disunited. Class-conscious workers, realising that the break-down of all the national barriers by capitalism is inevitable and progressive, are trying to help to enlighten and organise their fellow-workers from the backward countries . . .
“Only reactionaries can shut their eyes to the progressive significance of this modern migration of nations. Emancipation from the yoke of capital is impossible without the further development of capitalism, and without the class struggle that is based on it.”
Unfortunately, we do not live in a class-conscious society; but it is up to us as communists to strive to bring about this class-consciousness and unity.
We must expose and fight against the reasons why people are forced to move from their homelands, namely globalisation, poverty, and war, which are products of the capitalist system.
Those who shout for restrictions on immigration should struggle in the fight to end forced displacement, not to punish the victims of capitalism. There is no country in the developed world that has not benefited from the plundering of the poorest nations in the world. The most developed countries plundered the most. It’s called imperialism.
Our trade unions must organise all workers, with or without papers, for equal rights—not a two-tier employment system of local and foreigner. We are not here to solve the problems of capitalism: we are here to challenge it, expose it, defeat it.
We need unity of the working class to smash capitalism and not be fooled and allow ourselves to be divided and conquered by it.
When we finally win socialism in Ireland, should we reject it if the struggle is led by a Swedish person or a Cuban? Will only an Irish man or woman do? In the words of Che Guevara, “in my veins flow the blood of Irish rebels.” Cuba had no problem with a foreigner leading them.
Wolfe Tone singled out Catholic, Protestant, and Dissenter. In today’s Ireland only unity of the working class will be able to take power. Instead of Irish, Syrian, or Pole, let us substitute the common name of proletariat.