05/04/2017 by socialistfight
Editorial of SF No.16 (extracts) – March/April 2014:
“Every industrial and commercial centre in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians.
The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life.
In relation to the Irish worker he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself.
He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker.
His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the “poor whites” to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A.
The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money.
He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland.”
Karl Marx London, April 9, 1870
An opinion poll by Ipsos MORI in June last year (2013) on Immigration and Ethnicity found that:
the public think that 31% of the population are immigrants, when the official figures are 13%. Even estimates that attempt to account for illegal immigration suggest a figure closer to 15%. There are similar misperceptions on ethnicity: the average estimate is that Black and Asian people make up 30% of the population, when it is actually 11% (or 14% if we include mixed and other non-white ethnic groups).
The article by London Anti-Fascists opposite makes these points very well. UKIP bigot Nigel Farage claims that the “basic principle” of Enoch Powell’s 1968 River of Blood speech is “right”. And the Labour Party also plays the immigrant game; Ed Miliband said in the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton, “In our first year in office we will legislate for an immigration bill which has secure control of our borders, cracks down on exploitation of workers coming here undercutting workers already here.”
The mass hysteria about Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants about to flood Britain came to nought but the serious business of splitting and dividing the working class so that it turns inward and fights amongst itself and does not challenge the capitalist system itself is the concern of all capitalist political parties and of the Labour leaders and the trade union bureaucracies as the prime defenders of capitalist system within the workers’ movement.
The British jobs for British workers campaign waged by the mass media in 2009 got the enthusiastic support of Derek Simpson of Unite and subsequent campaigns to save the jobs at Bombardier, the Derby train manufacturing factory, was fought on this basis also by the RMT’s Bob Crow and others. This inevitably fuelled the rise of the far-right BNP and EDL.
In 1870 Karl Marx in his famous “Irish turn” analysed this phenomenon and suggested a solution:
After studying the Irish question for many years, I have come to the conclusion that the decisive blow against the English ruling classes (and it will be decisive for the workers’ movement all over the world) cannot be delivered in England but only in Ireland.
But the English bourgeoisie has also much more important interests in the present economy of Ireland. Owing to the constantly increasing concentration of leaseholds, Ireland constantly sends her own surplus to the English labour market, and thus forces down wages and lowers the material and moral position of the English working class.
And most important of all! Every industrial and commercial centre in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians. The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life. In relation to the Irish worker he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the “poor whites” to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money. He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland.
Letters of Karl Marx, April 1870, to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt In New York
Victorian anti-Irish racism justified their super-exploitation in the mills and docks.
And the “turn” was: “Previously I thought Ireland’s separation from England impossible. Now I think it inevitable” because, “any nation that oppresses another forges its own chains”. But the thinking was not taken seriously by the central Marxist party of the next forty years, the German Social Democrats (SPD). This party made fundamental concessions to its own imperialism such that it voted the war credits to the Kaiser on 4 August 1914 to pursue WWI, in the name of defending socialism and the working class, of course.
There were no votes against the motion but one abstention, that of Karl Liebknecht. He was the only member of the Reichstag to vote against further loans in December of that year, against 110 of his own SPD members. His famous leaflet of May 1915 resonates today as powerfully as it did almost 100 years ago with Lenin, with Trotsky and all sincere Bolsheviks and revolutionary internationalists:
In January 1919, Liebknecht joined with Rosa Luxemburg, Leo Jogiches and Clara Zetkin in the Spartakist Rising that took place in Berlin. Friedrich Ebert, the leader of the Social Democrat Party and Germany’s new chancellor, called in the German Army and the Freikorps to bring an end to the rebellion. By 13th January the rebellion had been crushed and most of its leaders, including Liebknecht were arrested and then murdered.
The main enemy of the German people is in Germany: German imperialism, the German war party, German secret diplomacy. This enemy at home must be fought by the German people in a political struggle, cooperating with the proletariat of other countries whose struggle is against their own imperialists.
So simple is it not? And yet so far from the political thinking of almost every current that now calls itself Trotskyist that the name itself is being dragged through the mud and spat upon by the victims of imperialist war and plunder from Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria and now the Ukraine and Bosnia again. Because support for foreign wars waged by clients of your own ruling class fuels anti-immigration sentiments and assists the rise of the BNP and EDL, no matter how they all protest against this.
Of course, direct military intervention by the troops of Imperialism is often ritually decried but the aerial pulverisations of nations by NATO bombers from Yugoslavia to Libya is endorsed by groups like the Mandelite Fourth International, Workers Power and the Morenoite LIT in Brazil. Because there are “revolutions” going on in these countries, albeit led by reactionaries backed by imperialism but nonetheless they are for “justice, peace and democracy” against the vile dictators Gaddafi and Assad whose crimes become so much worst in the imperialist mass media the more anxious they are to seize their oil fields and entire economies.
And now the vilest and most loathsome homophobic dictator of all is Putin of Russia, so Peter Thatchell assures us, and we just cannot let him have the Ukraine and use that for his evil plots against us. The anger of the US at Russia is understandable; following the defeats suffered by Russia and China interests in Libya they have learned something and Russia has managed to inflict three successive defeats on US foreign policy; Putin gave shelter to Snowden and allowed him to expose the vast and illegal spying on governments and citizens carried out by the NSA and the British GCHQ, he has prevented the US bombing Syria and propped up Assad, their regime change target, and now he has thwarted the plans of Germany and US to impose draconian austerity on Crimea and the eastern part of the Ukraine. What a bastard!!
But in imperialist countries the main enemy is ALWAYS at home comrades!