This Saturday a huge demonstration swept through the streets of London, with around 300,000 people marching from Marble Arch to Parliament Square to show solidarity with refugees, and to demand better treatment for asylum seekers in Britain and across the EU. The protesters were addressed at Parliament Square by Jeremy Corbyn, as his first official act as the newly elected Labour Party leader, proclaiming his support for the plight of the refugees.
The conscience of the British people has been moved by the picture of the tragically drowned 3 year old Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi, lying on a Turkish beach, along with his mother and brother, while the family was fleeing from the horrors being inflicted in Kobane by the terrorist ISIS organisation – spawned by Anglo-American imperialism in its attempts to overthrow Syria’s legitimate elected government headed by President Assad.
As the British people came to realise that these deaths were only the tip of an iceberg of death and suffering visited upon fleeing refugees, they petitioned the government in huge numbers to welcome refugees, and the British government has responded by promising to take in some 5,000 a year, though it was soon made clear that this grudging minimalist concession is to be curtailed in every way possible, with those admitted under the age of 18 to be deported as soon as they reach that age.
In actual fact, although the British government has appeared to respond to the humanitarian demands of the British public that refugees should be welcomed, were it genuinely to do so this would fly in the face of the constant anti-immigrant, anti-asylum seeker propaganda that characterises all EU governments, regardless of the party in power. Normally these governments and the imperialist media warn of impending societal breakdown, and bourgeois politicians talk of hordes of invaders. All this rhetoric would make you think that Britain is faced with armed invasion, when in fact it is a question of defenceless refugees fleeing from the chaos and misery that British imperialism and its allies have created with their aggression in the Middle East and elsewhere. Presently a significant number of refugees are from Syria, where marauding proxy jihadi armies have been tearing the country apart.
While this supposedly ‘worst refugee crisis since world war two’ is indeed a humanitarian catastrophe, millions of people have for a long time suffered violence at the hands of imperialism and its lackeys. What is different now is that more and more (though it is still a very small number compared to those seeking refuge in neighbouring middle-eastern countries) are making their way to Europe in order to survive.
And this is what is increasingly laying bare the reactionary, inhuman nature of the European Union, supposedly a beacon of peace and prosperity in this world. The reaction of this gang of imperialists to its victims turning up at its doors has been an increased militarisation of the outer borders, with barbed wire fences going up and increased, and increasingly aggressive, police and army presence.
Those lucky enough to make it to central and western Europe without drowning in the Mediterranean, may still suffocate in the back of a lorry or be beaten and sent packing. The rest are herded into massive prison camps, or end up in makeshift slums as in Calais. And after all this they face brutal attack from neo-Nazi mobs and other thugs.
The Limitations of Social Work
In the midst of hysteria and outright violence against refugees there have also been positive reactions. People are offering to take in refugees and others are flocking to the camps and prisons to offer material aid.
But however positive such well meaning gestures and wanting to ease the immediate suffering of the victims of imperialism, it also highlights the limits that plague left liberal thinking and much of ‘the left’.
For if we are serious about helping to end the horrible conditions that refugees and all oppressed peoples of the world find themselves in, we must not stop at aid work but strike at the root of the problem. It is the system of capitalist imperialism that creates misery throughout the world and forces people to leave their homes and embark on greatly perilous journeys in order just to survive. Even where there is no open war, imperialist exploitation forces people to move in order to survive.
“Bomb Syria – For Aylan”
In a perverse twist politicians, supported by the media, are now starting to use the refugee crisis to step up their open aggression in Syria. Just as ISIS, which was itself built up by western imperialism and its allies in the first place, was used as an excuse for direct attacks, certain politicians and commentators have started arguing that the best way to help the refugees is to drop even more bombs on Syria!
In fact the bombing has already begun, on the pretext that it is targeting the terrorists responsible for the refugee crisis. Unashamedly the media have been hailing British drone strikes which killed some ISIS jihadis originating in the UK with great enthusiasm.
However, any British imperialist campaign to rid Syria of ISIS is completely overshadowed by their continuing imperialist determination to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government, a project in which ISIS is its ally. If imperialism was anxious to put an end to the psychopathic ISIS organisation, then why did Washington demand of Greece last week that it should prevent Russian aircraft overflying its country to send military support to the Syrian government in its fight against ISIS!
There was no crisis of refugees from Syria, Iraq or Libya until imperialism undertook its campaigns to overthrow their governments. Indeed, these countries offered its citizens a high level of security whatever their religious beliefs and a good standard of living. Even a relatively honest bourgeois journalist, such as Matthew Parris of The Times is prepared to admit that imperialism is responsible for the crisis, although in his position he has to blame ‘neocons’ rather than imperialism in general:
“No wonder the neocons are flapping their arms today. They gave us this crisis, with their lordly confidence that removing Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad — indeed, … Najibullah in Afghanistan — would make things better. Would the world actually be worse today if those men had been left alone? We are dealing with the consequences of liberal adventurism “. (‘Stop crying if you are serious about migrants’, 5 September 2015).
The British imperialists try to distract from their warmongering by putting on a ‘humanitarian’ façade – making a u-turn and declaring themselves willing to accept more refugees. Considering that it is the imperialists relentless attempts to overthrow the Syrian government that has made many of the people coming to Europe today refugees in the first place this, playing the humanitarian card now is nothing but adding insult to injury!
Furthermore, the proposed plans will focus mainly on taking young Syrians from what amount to terrorist training camps near the country’s borders and sending them back once they reach the age of 18. It is blatantly obvious that the imperialists are not intent on solving the refugee crisis but are merely using it in their continued pursuit of regime change.
Because of British imperialism’s close alliance with US imperialism and the latter’s continuing determination to oust Syria’s legitimate government, which could in the present circumstances only be replaced by fascistic fanatics such as ISIS or any of the other similarly vicious outfits whose cruel fanaticism drives desperate people out of their homes in their hundreds of thousands to seek sanctuary in Europe’s unwelcoming embrace, we can be sure that British bombs are not the way to bring peace back to Syria.
So let us not be distracted by refugee quotas and apolitical aid work. As long as there is imperialism there will be war and misery and as long as we do not organise to seriously challenge our own imperialist ruling class, we will share part of the blame. Let us unite to bring down imperialism!
Hence we demand:
- FULL BACKING FOR SYRIA’S LEGITIMATE ELECTED GOVERNMENT HEADED BY PRESIDENT ASSAD
- FULL SUPPORT FOR THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT IN DEFEATING TERRORISM
- ALL MILITARY OPERATIONS IN SYRIA TO BE UNDER THE EXCLUSIVE CONTROL OF THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT
- NO MORE IMPERIALIST INTERFERENCE IN THE AFFAIRS OF SOVEREIGN STATES
HANDS OFF SYRIA!
NO MORE TERRORISED DEAD INFANTS!