Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Capitalism at heart of refugee crisis

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Tim Tran

The current global refugee crisis is the worst since World War Two. There are close to 60 million refugees as the result of bloody conflicts in Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia. The devastating civil war in Syria has produced the biggest number of refugees with nearly 5 million fleeing the country and nearly 7 million internally displaced.

This desperate situation has led hundreds of thousands to risk their lives at the hands of perilous journeys, state brutality and exploitation from people smugglers in order to seek asylum.

In 2014 the German government was one of the most vocal in calling for the Mare Nostrum rescue mission in the Mediterranean to be shut down as they claimed it was a “pull factor” encouraging people to come to Europe. Similarly the Australian government has set up a harsh immigration regime in an attempt to discourage people from seeking asylum.

Mare Nostrum was closed and this led to the drowning of thousands more refugees compared to 2014. This is hardly in line with the way the mainstream press portray Germany, claiming that the state is extremely generous taking in more than 800,000 refugees.

The truth is that there are economic reasons for Germany’s seeming generosity. The long term decline in population and the lack of skilled workers in Germany urgently needs addressing from big business’ point of view. Speaking on behalf of his corporate backers the German labour minister said “we will profit from this too because we need immigration”.

While there is enormous sympathy for refugees from ordinary German people, right-wing forces are attempting to capitalise on the existing housing crisis and budget cuts to polarise this issue. As a result they have been gaining support at the expense of the government.

In order to cut across the growth of the far-right the government has now changed its tone and is talking about more restrictions on the refugee intake and making it easier to deport people. Border controls have been reimposed and the European establishment has now signed a grotesque human-trading deal with Turkey.

The needs of the establishment once again trump generosity and compassion towards those who are fleeing the effects of imperialist war.

Australia has also signed a number of dodgy human-trading type deals with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The so-called “Cambodian solution” saw the Australian government hand over $55 million to the corrupt Cambodian regime. In exchange they settled only two refugees.

Countries like Turkey and Cambodia are seen as dumping grounds – places to put refugees out of sight and out of mind.

The fact is that capitalist governments like those in Germany and Australia are only exacerbating the refugee problem. Through their support and participation in imperialist wars they have contributed to the instability that exists in the Middle East and beyond. In an attempt to exercise influence over the region and plunder its resources capitalist interests create the conditions whereby people are forced to flee their homes in the first place.

These same profit interests are responsible for the world economic crisis which has thrown millions out of work and cut vital social programs for ordinary people. Dealing with the refugee problem requires dealing with the system that creates refugees.

The only way to stop the carnage of people dying at sea is to fight to replace capitalism with a system that democratically distributes society’s wealth in a planned and rational way. Such a system, based on international co-operation and solidarity, would remove the basis for imperialist conflict and use the world’s resources to ensure that nobody was forced to flee in fear of war or persecution.

The Socialist Party and CWI fight for this, side by side with fighting for refugee rights around the world.

We demand:

That refugees fleeing war and persecution be allowed to come to Australia and have their claims for asylum rapidly processed.

That all detention centres are immediately closed and refugees allowed to settle in the community while their claims are processed.

That the money wasted on the current refugee policy is used to create jobs, build homes and provide services for all, including asylum seekers.

Working class unity against racism. No support for a system that creates, war, poverty and refugees.


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