Global Migration and Imperialist plunder

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30/08/2015 by socialistfight

By Frank Conroy


Rohingya migrants on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman sea on 14/5/2015.

Some comrades claim that WWIII has already begun. Certainly there are more refugees today than at any time since WWII, over 50 million in ever increasing areas of conflicts. There are 232 million ‘international migrants’ living in countries not of their birth and up to 740 million internally displaced people, the United Nations tells us.

There are three main paths of flight and several more minor ones where the plight of these refugees is increasingly desperate. Those from Africa, Syria and the rest of the Middle East are perishing in huge numbers in the Mediterranean in ramshackle craft provided by unscrupulous people smugglers, who set them afloat knowing these boats are likely to sink. But they are so desperate that they are willing to risk these obvious perils; what they are leaving behind is far worse. Hope for themselves and their children’s future drives them on.

The second victims are the 80,000 Rohingya refugees from Burma in the Andaman Sea, fleeing from racial violence. Imperialism’s favourite, Aung San Suu Kyi, remains silent on the Buddhist chauvinist murderous attacks on this Muslim minority, thereby indicating her support for the slaughter.

The third are the refugees from Mexico and Central America, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, victims of US transnational companies who journey north into the USA and try to cross the river, border and the deserts to get a better living for themselves. Many die in the attempt. There are now 13 million ‘illegal’ immigrants and 46 million ‘international migrants’ in the USA.
Whilst not defending the appalling ghouls that engage in human trafficking and people smuggling the real criminals are those who cause these people to flee their homes in the first place; those political leaders who rule the planet on behalf of finance capital and the global transnationals. They live in Washington, London and Paris, Berlin and Tokyo. They have a pliant media to protect them from criticism and point the finger of blame at petty dictators and local criminals.

These are the war criminals who went to war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Ukraine, either directly or via their paid proxy armies. Jeremy Corbyn suggesting he would have Tony Blair tried as a war criminal for the bogus claim of weapons of mass destruction which justified the Iraq war. This raises some expectations that revolutionary justice may one day be meted out to these criminals.

Children ride in the back of a pick-up truck with their luggage as they flee Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen, on April 6, 2015.

No distinction between ‘economic refugees’ and ‘genuine asylum seekers’

Let us make no distinction between ‘economic refugees’ and ‘genuine asylum seekers’ — they are all victims of imperialism, of the transnational corporations whose will is imposed on the planet via the IMF, the World Bank and the US military. There are ample resources of food, medicine, doctors, nurses, teachers and every other profession necessary to care for and provide a decent living for every human being on the planet right now.

But the profits of transnational capitalism as decided by Wall Street and assisted in their own interests by London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo and the other lesser imperialist powers means humanity cannot have them. Instead the US military prepares yet new wars against Syria, Iran, the USSR and China. And this will mean yet more refugees.

When the colonial world began to challenge their status from the late 1950s many of the new nations attempted to protect their home markets and build up native industries to reduce their dependence on imperialism’s manufactures goods and capital. But imperialism fought brutal wars like the British in Kenya, the French in Algeria and Vietnam as the US was establishing its global hegemony; it has invaded 50 nations since 1945. And these were supplemented by MI5 and the CIA assassinations and regime change plots for example; 1949 Syrian coup d’état, 1953 Iranian coup d’état, 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état, 1959 Tibetan uprising, 1961 Cuba, Bay of Pigs Invasion, 1964 Brazilian coup d’état, 1973 Chilean coup d’état, 1976 Argentine coup d’état, 1979–89 Afghanistan, Operation Cyclone, 1980 Turkish coup d’état, 1981–87 Nicaragua, Contras. France was equally brutal with its colonies.

Though most former colonies were free from their direct colonial masters by the late 1960s a no less exploitative but more ideologically challenging and invidious system of neo-colonial exploitation replaced them. Economic crises like the oil price hikes after the Six Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur war of 1973, and the Iranian revolution of 1979 were used by the US and Europe via the IMF and World Bank to impose policies which converted practically all the economies of Africa, South Asia and Latin America into debt colonies. This opened them up the penetration of US and European finance capital and manufactured goods; the wolves of the free market ravaged these lands. The USSR provided some protection in their own cynical interests until 1991, China almost none at all. Modern imperialism destroys native industries from Puerto Rica to the Philippines far more effectively than Britain de-industrialised colonial India from 1757 to 1947.

Via ‘structural adjustment programmes’ they impose privatisations of industries and services, force then to abandon protective tariffs and import substitution programmes as the price of their bail out. Modern industry depends on technological sophistication and vast capital expenditure available only from finance capital. The hopes of the 1960s evaporated into the brutal reality that they were forever condemned to be suppliers of primary raw materials, single crop economies totally at the mercy of market forces and therefore libel to regular periods of hunger and famine.

The term ‘developing economies’ became a sick joke to describe this brutal neo-colonialism. US-dominated finance capital is a far more efficient weapon of exploitation than colonialism ever was, ripping the heart and soul out of these economies. This, together with the wars to impose these policies, is why there are refugees. You should become a socialist and fight to end the appalling scenes you see on your television every night by identifying and fighting the central enemy, US dominated imperialism and its main ally, our ‘own’ British ruling class.

These are illustrations from the BBC article Migration: Are more people on the move than ever before? 28 May 2015,

Some of the world's many migration routes

Syria refugee numbers

Routes through Africa

Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal routes

Graphic scenes of the suffering experienced by Rohingya refugees afloat in the Andaman Sea have drawn international attention to another desperate story of people smuggling and human deprivation.

Central American migrant routes

Journeys north through Mexico to the USA

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