Last month the ugly face of capitalism came into the public glare when thirty-nine people froze to death in the back of an Irish juggernaut, having been smuggled into Britain from Viet Nam.
Later on, as November came to a close and the Christmas shopping frenzy was in full swing in the streets, on television and radio and in the newspapers, sixteen people were discovered in the back of another juggernaut, on its way to Rosslare. Mercifully, they were alive.
Only a few days earlier Verona Murphy, Fine Gael’s candidate in the Wexford by-election, suggested that immigrants should be “deprogrammed” on arrival, as many of them are terrorists, even going so far as suggesting that this applied to children as young as four years old. She eventually apologised, saying that she had used a “very poor choice of words.” This pseudo-apology was fully accepted by the taoiseach and the tánaiste; there was no need for any further action or explanation, and Fine Gael were happy to have Verona Murphy as their candidate in the election.
There was no attempt to explain or to build empathy about why people are risking their lives to travel to Ireland and Europe, or why those who survive this perilous journey are then forced to spend years in our present-day Magdalene laundries, “direct provision.”
But that would not be in the interest of the establishment, because the reason is at the core of their capitalist ideology.
Imperial wars—facilitated by Ireland by means of Shannon Airport—are a major source of refugees, as hundreds of thousands of people are displaced in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and anywhere else that has resources that imperialism wants to get its hands on, or any people who dare to stand up against the imperialist hegemony. Refugees are not looking for what Gemma Doherty (by-election candidate in Fingal) might call “our jobs”: they are fleeing our bombs, many of which pass through Shannon Airport unhindered on their way to create death and destruction around the world.
Of course all immigrants are not refugees. Some are economic migrants. The mainstream media put a capitalist spin on this, that “these poor people are fleeing wretched conditions in the poverty-stricken countries they come from.” What they don’t tell us is that 83 per cent of all products made in the world are produced in the self-same poverty-stricken countries, by First World corporations, which pay poverty wages for these products, which are then sold here and in the rest of the “developed world” at a massive profit made from the hard labour of workers in the global south. It is the poverty wages of capitalism that force people to migrate. The “developed world” has been developed at their expense.
The global south is not naturally poor: it is unnaturally impoverished, by colonialism in the past and by global imperialism today.
Leo Varadkar accepts Verona Murphy’s apology, as it suits the interests of Fine Gael to have a divided people here, where one worker distrusts the other—the old method of divide and conquer that served the British so well in the past and serves their lackeys today.
Where is the céad míle fáilte that Ireland is so famous for? There seems to be no welcome in Achill, Oughterard, or Ballinamore. We are not naturally racist in Ireland: we ourselves have travelled the world as economic migrants, have endured British rule in the past and the neo-liberalism of the counter-revolution today. Racism is taught to us: we are not born with it. It is very subtle but facilitated by governments to serve their interest: capitalism.
It is not immigrants who drive down wages, it is employers.
These attitudes can be traced right back to the foundation of the state. Fine Gael was born out of the fascist Blueshirts. Éamon de Valera, founder of Fianna Fáil, was the most right-wing IRA commandant, the only one who refused to allow women in his ranks during the rising, and the only one the British did not execute. They knew well who to take out and who should survive to serve their interests.
If Lorraine Clifford-Lee picks up a few extra votes for Fianna Fáil in the Fingal by-election because of her anti-Traveller and racist tweets, Mícheál Martin will not complain. They are happy for such views to be expressed. They will condemn the comments and apologise in time to gain some votes and will not lose others as a consequence, but the seed is planted.
The question has to be asked: If Murphy and Clifford-Lee are expressing these opinions on Twitter and in public interviews, what are they saying behind closed doors? These were not a “poor choice of words”: they were racist statements, made by two women from the two largest political parties in Ireland. The apologies were accepted wholeheartedly, and no explanation given of why they were wrong: just a slip of the tongue.
It is no accident that right-wing and fascist parties are growing once again around the world.
Capitalism is the cause of people fleeing their homelands through exploitation and war. Other capitalist parasites profit by smuggling people; when they arrive here other capitalists profit from the vile conditions that they have to endure in direct provision.
As Fidel Castro said, “capitalism is repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating . . . because it causes war, hypocrisy, and competition.”
Capitalism has neither the capacity, the morality nor the ethics to solve this crisis for humanity—because it is the cause of it.