Monday, August 07, 2006

Se Puede? Not By Protest Alone.

It only took only 24 hours for the effect of the immigration protests to be clear. On May 2nd politicians from both parties gave a wealth of interviews and speeches that clarified their positions: nothing had changed. In fact, many had remarked that the protest had a 'backlash effect', hardening and inflaming the already conservative opinions of Republicans, while dulling the flimsy stance of Democrats. Trent Lott, in speaking for many on the right, implied that a massive deportation sweep during the protests would have been appropriate, given that "we had 'em all in a bunch".

On the other side of the isle, Diane Feinstein gave a more passive response to the protests, representing the unaffected character of most Democrats to the millions who appeared in the streets; the passionate outcry from the masses was referred to as 'counterproductive', since protesting does not "changes votes on the floor of the senate"— the latter point is certainly true, becoming more obvious as pro-immigration and anti-war protests continue to draw millions, but fall onto deaf ears in Congress. Demonstrations, boycotts, protests, or any other indication of public opinion has proven unable to sway the actions of either party. The façade of the two-party system is unveiling itself with impressive speed as political and economical tensions near the boiling point.
The current movement for immigration rights has become more powerful and militant than the civil rights movement of the 60's, but is in danger of suffering a similar fate. Politicians took a divide and conquer approach to the African American problem that resulted in a new, tiny layer of middle-class black professionals. The rest were left leaderless and in squalor. The more probable resolution of the 'immigration debate' will result in a 'two-tiered' approach as well, making citizens of the immigrants who have been here the longest— including most of the current leaders of the movement. The most vulnerable of the immigrants will continue living lives of exploitation and fear, facing deportation each time a prominent politician wants to take a 'tough-stance' position on the subject.

A certain result is that the more 'radical' of the demands of the movement, especially the insistence on 'full rights' for all immigrants, will never materialize under the current context. At this juncture, the racist dimensions of the debate are becoming an important base of support for an alienated class of elites, finding itself in an ever-deepening crisis. The once solid foundation of unity among conservatives has begun to splinter, due to worries about a crumbling economy, the debacle in Iraq, and repeated political controversies. Anti-immigration rhetoric is a desperate rallying cry that will increase with intensity as the crises continues, hoping to divert attention away from the largely bipartisan, antidemocratic polices in Washington. This is why few Democrats are capitalizing on the controversial issue propounded by Republicans, they benefit equally from all the commotion that the immigrant fear-mongering has created.

Obscured by all the rhetoric is that broad layers of society have no political outlet for their concerns. There is a seething anger in many who have been shocked by a militarized foreign and domestic policy. Both parties are unwilling to backtrack on their current course, able only to offer repeated rationalizations for a profit-gauging globalization and an illegal, preemptive war doctrine. As inflation and gas-prices create havoc for millions of working families, no party is advocating nationalization or any other form of sustained relief. Neither party is advancing any policy that will have a positive effect for the majority of the population; oil companies, war-manufacturers, and business in general continue to be the sole beneficiaries under the current arrangement.

It's time for anyone considering themselves liberal, progressive, or 'left' to abandon the Democratic Party for good; they cannot be reformed, fixed, or persuaded. Their continued silence amid the gross crimes of the Bush administration is equal to complicity. The 'anybody but Bush slogan' has been proven futile, as there is no indication that a strategy by Democrats would be any different than that of Bush's, minus the much-touted blathering about 'tactics'.

An independent working class political party is of the utmost necessity. Only a party uncorrupted by business can express the desires of the pro-immigrant and anti-war groups, as well as the sections of society that suffer under the continual assault on living standards by corporations. An independent party is needed to erase tax-cuts for the rich (enabling Social Security and Medicare to remain fully funded), immediately withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, nationalize the energy and health-care systems, and divert the obscene amount of money away from militarization towards social services; these policies seem radical or even insane from our 'representatives' point of view, but the average American would support them unreservedly.

Although the Green Party seems like the logical alternative for a political party, a closer examination will prove the contrary. The Green party's ambiguous progressive principles become jelly-like when challenged by a crisis in the profit-system. In Germany, the Green Party has lost complete credibility; it continues to cooperate with right-wing sections of the government in attacking the living standards of the average citizen, though all hope should have been abandoned when it enthusiastically supported the imperialistic bombing of Yugoslavia. Because the Green Party accepts the profit-system as inevitable, it is subject to the unpredictable fluctuations of the market; in times of economic crises, abstract principles like 'social justice' become quickly molded into something exploitable by corporations. Any party that does not have a firm ideological stance in favor of the interests of workers as opposed to business will find itself subtly compromised until the differences between parties are as hard to separate as Republicans and Democrats.

A socialist approach remains the sole political perspective capable of defending the rights of workers during this especially turbulent time in world economy. Not since the 30's have workers faced such a zealous attack on their living standards, something that has now become popular doctrine among politicians and economists alike. The motto is clear: workers must make sacrifices. Few mainstream analysts however, are suggesting that CEO's and share-holders sacrifice any of the immense wealth they are accumulating. This is exactly the 'radical' demands that socialists are making. In a political climate becoming increasingly reactionary, the slogans of socialists are starting to resemble good common-sense.

Crucial to a dependable political party is its unbending subservience to the interests of the working class; thus far, no non-socialist political party will even recognize the existence of 'class' in American society; such an obscurantist approach is not accidental, and highlights the hidden-interests of the parties in question. Class does exist. There are rich and poor, owners and workers— there is Bill Gates and there are the homeless. Any political party that attempts to gloss over this grossest aspect of our economic system hints at having a vested interest in the current arrangement.

The act of creating an independent party is hard work, but an absolutely necessary task. If no political alternative is available for the vast energy of the current protest movement, the power of the masses will be inexorably lead into dead-ends; a worse case scenario could see the movement evolve into aimless riots that end in state repression. The movement for immigrant rights has reached an important juncture: their goal was to apply political pressure in hopes of a legislative change. This has failed. The best that can be hoped for under current circumstances is a racist 'compromise' bill. The mainstream political parties must be abandoned at once, and a party with socialist principles must be sought. At this stage, the Socialist Equality Party appears most capable in addressing the real issues of the workers movement on an international level. Their program can be read at www.wsws.org.

1 Comments:

At 12:40 AM, Blogger david jovan said...

“Illegal Immigrants” or Human Beings?
by david jovan
June 6, 2006

In the capitalist system, capital and corporations have more rights
than people, and the national borders are just one of the instruments
used by the capitalist state to protect the “rights” of capital to the
detriment of the rights and the wellbeing of human beings.

Borders have always been used by the nation-state capitalists to
protect or enhance their profits by either ignoring them or enforcing
them—with bigger, stronger barriers; larger and more efficient military
forces; and ever greater threats of violence—or both at the same time
as in the present case with the US-Mexican border.

There can be no such things as "illegal immigrants," only illegal
borders especially after NAFTA! On the one hand, capital is legally
allowed to flow freely across the border to Mexico or to the US, and
the capitalists are thus able to maximize the exploitation of labor and
thereby reap super profits, while on the other hand, humans crossing
the border from the south—made destitute for the most part by this free
flow of capital—seeking out a most desperate and meager existence, are
held to be “illegal” even though the low compensation these workers
receive translates into a tremendous economic boon for almost everybody
in the US contrary to the right-wing propaganda about how much these
“illegals” are costing the US tax payers.

The government statistics show that the immigrant laborers from south
of the border pay $10 billion in US taxes and receive $2.5 billion in
government services, and, it seems, that at least $5 billion of this
that they pay to social security will never be claimed because of the
use of fake social security numbers, and this money will only go to
shore up the social security system. If these figures are accurate, it
is evident that these workers are more than paying their own way, but
if they were paying no taxes whatsoever, it is a complete
misunderstanding to see the amount that they might receive in social
services as a drain on the US tax payer and as a mere unwarranted
handout to these workers. The low wages that these immigrant laborers
are forced to accept result in a much lower price for almost all our
fruits and vegetables as well as for many other products and services
resulting from their long hours of extremely hard work, and if these
immigrant laborers were paid just the average daily compensation of a
US worker, the added cost of these goods and services that these
workers provide would amount to far more than the $2.5 billion tax bill
for the government assistance that they receive. If, however, these
laborers were paid enough to keep mind and body together out of their
own wages, they would not be in need of public assistance, so the $2.5
billion really amounts to nothing more than a subsidy to the employers
of these immigrant laborers, i.e., the government must supply a safety
net due to miserly pay by the employers. Simply put, then, these
immigrants are poorly paid, poorly treated, provide a bon marchè for
the consumer, pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits, and are
excoriated as if they were free-loaders and thieves for utilizing the
government safety net which is, in fact, nothing more than a subsidy to
the penny-pinching employers paying them starvation wages.

It must be realized that if it were possible and if it were
accomplished that all the laborers coming from south of the border were
expelled and an invulnerable border established that successfully
blocked any further migration, and if the old employers then hired only
true-blue, red-blooded, documented, flag-waving US citizens for the
same wages that they are now paying the immigrant laborers, the social
costs would go up, because they would be less able to keep mind and
body together on those wages without government assistance and they
would be far more likely to take advantage of this assistance since
they would not fear deportation and would as well have real social
security cards.

Working people only become “free-loaders” for the most part when there
is no employment—which should never happen—or when wages are so low—for
which there is no excuse—that they do not have the means to pay their
way, i.e., out of real need. Employers and corporations on the other
hand are notorious for pilfering the government blind with blatant as
well as every subtle devious subsidy they can devise, i.e., out of
greed, all the while complaining about the inefficiency of government
and extolling the superiority of private enterprise. (It is most
paradoxical that the capitalists through special laws and favors—pork
politics—fraud, and corruption suck the government dry, then extol the
virtues of private enterprise in the light of government’s inefficiency
and waste, and they hold up free enterprise as the back bone of freedom all the while the large corporations use the govenment to crush the smaller competitors.)
The problem is not with the workers, but with the workers’
compensation and the economic system of capitalism that necessitates a
constant struggle by employers to lower the cost of its main
commodity—labor—in order to maximize profits which thereby pauperizes
huge sections of the working class and holds down the living standards
of labor in general.

Employers SHOULD NOT be held accountable for whom they hire as no human
seeking work to support himself and his family should be labeled or
considered in any way illegal, but the employers SHOULD be held
accountable for what they pay, and they should pay adequate wages to
keep their laborers from having to use public assistance in any way,
and those employers that do not should have their produce and property
expropriated.

No border, fence, wall, or any other kind of barrier in history has
been successful in overcoming migrations that have social and economic
origins. The influx across the Mexican border has increased
substantially in the last few years in spite of the billions of dollars
that have already been spent on trying to make this border impregnable,
and any new barriers or “improvements” built along this border will be
far more costly to build and maintain than the cost of the present
government assistance expenditures for which these workers are already
paying themselves through their taxes. With out doubt, the new
proposed Maginot Line will prove to be just as unsuccessful at stopping
this economic migration and even less successful than the US has been
at stopping “illegal” drugs from entering the US.

NAFTA did away with the border as far as capital and trade is
concerned, so a better solution is to do away with the border
completely and force all US corporations and employers in or from the
US, as well as employers making goods and services for the US and for
US corporations, to compensate adequately and uniformly their employees
to the point that no public assistance from any government will be
necessary, and as well, to comply with US laws concerning workers’
rights, discrimination, union organizing rights, wages with
unemployment and workers’ compensation guarantees, Social Security,
Medicare, environmental protection laws, plant safety, etc., plus
workers organizations of and by only the workers themselves on each
site completely independent of management and any government to make
sure that these provisions are being instituted and fairly applied.

The borders are the problem and not the solution, and the key is to do
away with the borders completely—rights are not for corporations,
rights are for people; make the borders illegal, and make human beings
equal!

 

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