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Editorial: The fight to emancipate working people is one we must win

THURSDAY’S vigil outside the Home Office, today’s emergency protest called by Stand Up To Racism and Care 4 Calais, and the huge amounts of money raised for Channel Rescue and for legal challenges to Patel’s inhumane pushback policy show the strength of feeling in support of refugees among the British people.

In spite of the continuous barrage of lies and propaganda against refugees and migrants, spread by this and former governments, working people have retained their basic humanity and solidarity towards people fleeing war, persecution, economic devastation, murder and torture.

Yet among politicians of both major parties, we continue to hear rhetoric and dehumanising language that could just as equally come from the mouth of a councillor representing Ukip or some other right-wing racist fringe party.

The stream of negative, demonising articles we see each day in the mainstream media, and have done for decades, amount to nothing less than a concerted attempt to strip refugees and migrants of their humanity, to paint them as something less than human.

This is nothing new. Our entire economic system is built upon the super-exploitation of migrant labour, upon the horrors of colonialism and neocolonialism and upon the control of borders and migration, not in the interests of protecting workers’ rights (as some on the right of Labour have tried to claim in the past) but in the interests of capital.

Part of this involves refusing and undermining the right of people to seek sanctuary, to be safe from persecution and from the war and economic crisis created by the western countries that refuse them support.

It is an economic system underpinned by racism — by racist border controls, by racist migration policies and by a racist ideology that underpinned the brutality of the slave trade and British colonialism.

This is why the constant demonisation of refugees is so necessary. How else is it possible to maintain such an inhumane system, except by stripping people of their humanity?

It therefore becomes our job to fight back.

We must fight back by agitating against our racist state, by demonstrations of solidarity such as that organised today. We must continue to show mass opposition to the murderous immigration policies of our government. Protesters are right to claim that these recent deaths are the “direct result of hostile environment policy” and that the Home Office “has blood on its hands.”

We must also educate against the racism that is promoted by the state and the media. The battle over what is taught in our schools, over museums and statues in public spaces, over the control of our media matters.

Changing government policy on immigration, border control and the right to asylum relies on educating current and future generations about the perils faced by refugees, about the impact of imperialist war and neocolonial economics globally and about the history of capitalism’s reliance on super-exploitation and control of migration.

Winning battles over the teaching of colonial history, such as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and integrating education about refugees into the curriculum at all levels is all part of this struggle.

Finally, we must organise against racism and against anti-refugee and anti-migrant propaganda. We must build anti-racist organisations like Stand Up To Racism, solidarity organisations like Care 4 Calais and anti-imperialist organisations like Liberation.

We must also embed this work within the trade union movement. Not as an added extra but as an essential part of the unity and solidarity that our movement needs to win.

The fight for refugee rights, the fight against racism and the fight to emancipate working people from exploitation are different aspects of the same fight — it is one we must win.

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