Friday, November 6, 2015

The ultimate migrants (1997)

Editorial from the March 1997 issue of the Socialist Standard

Capitalism is a naturally expansive system which has migrated to the four corners of the Earth, pushing aside every obstacle in its way. Whether it be the classical nineteenth-century imperialism which built many empires and destroyed the lives and cultures of many indigenous people, or the latter-day domination of the world market by a handful of corporations—capitalism has recognised no boundaries in its search for profit.

With this in mind it has always been ironic that capitalist politicians complain about immigration or the "influx of foreigners" coming into "our country". The workers of the world have no country—we are global. All of the countries are owned by a tiny fraction of the world's population—the capitalist class, who are international. The logic of the profit system is that the capitalists will invest wherever they can get the best return on their capital. One of the major factors has always been low labour costs combined with potential access to a particular market. Hence, capital flows travel the world over, and suddenly patriotism is no longer a factor!

Just recently, we heard the outcry among the ruling class when a leading Japanese industrialist said that his corporation would have to think twice about any further investment in Britain if it failed to join the single currency in Europe. Amongst other things this led to John Major claiming that Britain's record on attracting inward investment was second-to-none in Europe. Indeed, one of the more attractive features was Britain's "flexible" labour market. At the same time there was the dual discussion going on about possible immigration from Hong Kong and the question of "false" asylum-seekers.

Basically, as usual, it's one rule for capital and another for the working class. Obviously, in the case of a labour shortage the rules may be suspended or even reversed, but the normal practice for the ruling class is to warn about the dangers of immigration thus setting worker against worker whilst, at the same time, being the ultimate immigrants and migrants themselves.

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