A recent statement by the Heads of State of progressive Latin American countries said that ‘capitalism threatens life on the planet’. In 15 numbered clauses they answer the ‘Draft Declaration of the 5th Summit of the Americas’ which, the Heads of State say, does not provide the answers to the Global Economic Crisis.
I agree with 14 of the 15 points these leaders raise, mainly about capitalism and U.S. neo-colonialism being a cause of much of the crisis, and the need for drastic reform of organizations like the IMF, WTO and World Bank, and the need to remove the U.S. sanctions, etc. against Cuba.
The only clause I take issue with is number 9. calling for free movement of people. The problem is much more complex than that, and it is of course capitalism and neo-colonialism which is to blame for so many people seeking a better life in other countries. It is just not possible, or desirable, for everyone in the under-developed countries and in the former Socialist countries, all of which are exploited as a pool of cheap labor by the capitalist muti-nationals, to emigrate to the developed countries in order to raise their standards of living.
This would not only create unemployment, overcrowding, a housing crisis and a racist backlash which could lead to ethnic cleansing in the developed countries, but would impoverish the less developed and former Socialist countries even more. So many Polish men were working abroad, at one time, that some Polish towns had to recruit women to run their local fire brigades.
All countries have a need and a right to control both emigration and immigration. Thus the Berlin Wall was absolutely necessary, as is the barrier between USA and Mexico, and all other border installations around the world. How these borders are controlled is another matter. Minefields and shooting people trying to cross illegally is not acceptable, but there does need to be some sort of control.
As I see it, the answer to the problem of migration comes in two parts. Ultimately world-wide Socialism, that is true Socialism, is the answer. In the meantime, and as a large step towards achieving the collapse of the capitalist system and its replacement by Socialism, the world’s entire labor force needs to be fully unionized.
In the developed countries, the workers owe their relatively high standards of living not to the success of the capitalist system or the generosity of the capitalists themselves but to the trade union movement which for decades fought to achieve decent wages, better working conditions, etc. We had to withdraw our labor in order to bring the capitalists to their knees, before they’d give in.
The Thatcher/Major/Blair/Brown eras in UK have greatly weakened the trade unions and labor movement generally. So the flood of immigrants from the former Socialist countries and the under-developed world is driving down wages and causing mass unemployment, while at the same time denying these other countries a valuable labor force, and also of course splitting up families in many cases.
A fully unionized labor force in the developed countries would mean any immigrants coming in would need to join a trade union, and would earn union rates, competing on a level playing-field with the local labor force. This would, at a stroke, solve the problem of immigrant workers being exploited by being paid low wages and also putting the local labor force out of work.
At the same time, the labor force in the under-developed and former Socialist countries needs to be fully unionized. They too need to fight for higher wages, decent conditions and an end to capitalist exploitation.
The Polish trade union Solidarity brought down the flawed Socialist system there, but it also brought about an end to Socialist security from cradle to grave, and ended guaranteed full employment. It also let in the capitalist multi-nationals to exploit the Polish workforce, as also happened in the other former Socialist countries. Gone are all the subsidies and many of the public services which existed under Socialism, gone is the guarantee of a job and lifetime security. That is the price of rejecting Socialism, instead of reforming the flawed variety. Of throwing out Socialism, and keeping the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who deformed it, and at the same time inviting the capitalist multi-nationals to come in and exploit the local workforce as well. Talk about jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire!
They did it once, they can do it again. Poles and others around the world need to re-form strong trade unions and fight for decent wages and working conditions at home, not flee abroad and abandon their own countries. It was treacherous to flee to the West in the Socialist era instead of staying to improve things at home and it is treacherous now!
Migration will always be an option for some, but it is not the solution for most people to be uprooted from their natural environment and culture. It is most certainly not the solution to low wages or poor working conditions.
The only solution is to break the system of capitalist/neo-colonialist exploitation of labor. Remember that ONLY labor can create value. All the wealth in the world was created by the workers. Capital alone cannot create wealth, it relies on exploiting the labor force in order to create profits.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels explained these basic facts in the 19th century. They remain as true today as they ever did. So it is apt we all heed the advice of Karl Marx himself: