The Drowning at the Edge of Europe

Over the weekend around 1,000 people lost their lives whilst feeing the horror that is being wrought by the fascist scourge of IS. Well, I say they lost their lives –in reality their lives were stolen from them. First by the murderous rampage of IS and then by the states of the European Union who collectively decided to turn their backs on people fleeing murder and terror. This is a shocking and woeful example of the utter inhumanity of the desire by the ruling class to control the flow of people –of labour, around the world.

The issue of the movement of refugees and migrant labour around the world is a political football in most, if not all, of Europe with the various political parties making noises about being ‘tough on immigration’. There are a handful of notable exceptions but these are in the minority. What shocks me most about this situation though is the attitude of some on the left that I have encountered towards the issue of immigration.

There has long been a thick vein of protectionism running through the authoritarian left that seeks to prevent the free flow of people across borders in order to stop the bourgeoisie from exploiting migrant labour in order to mitigate the bargaining power of the organised working class. Indeed, this was the argument put forward by Marx and the First International and has been a part of the British Trade Union movement for over a century. On this matter I have to say that Marx was wrong. Very, very, fucking wrong.

It is true that the ruling class uses migrant labour, or the threat of migrant labour, to sow unease amongst workers –just as it uses the threat of unemployment, homelessness, and starvation to do the same.  To react to this by attempting to prevent the free flow of people around the world is, on the part of the left, an act of utmost cowardice. My politics are based on some very basic principles (from which come a more nuanced and complex understanding of capitalism and the world in general) that are base lines for how we must approach politics. For starters the working class is international in character –a worker from Senegal has more common interests with a worker from Scotland than either of those country’s ruling class. Secondly I believe that an injury to one is an injury to all –that an attack on any section of the working class, regardless their nationality, gender, sexuality, or race, is an attack on every single one of us.

The reaction to the use of migrant workers to destabilise the working class should not be to close borders it should be to organise those migrant workers! Bring them into the union –the more of us that there are then the more powerful we become. There is power in the union, remember that old song?

But, the argument goes, there are only so many jobs to go around! To which I respond: and? If there are more workers than there are jobs then it is the task of the left to argue for higher wages, shorter days and shorter weeks. Not to turn against other sections of the working class that happen to have been born in the wrong part of the world. More workers means less work to do, which means more leisure time if we only have the courage to organise and to fight.

We need open borders, we need to welcome people who wish to come here and we need to fight to improve the quality of life for people both here and elsewhere in the world. A strong and organised working class here can offer solidarity and support to workers elsewhere in the world but to do that we need to be strong and we need to be organised. If we do that then we can win fights with the bosses, we can win fights with the state, we can win.

Attitude Problem

This song is pure class. Working class that is. 😉 I’ve been searching for a decent quality version of this tune for years and lo and behold it’s now on Soundcloud. WOOHOO! (Lyrics below)

 

I thought I was working class 
But after all that, it was an attitude problem
I thought I was working class, but it was only me
And I drink too much and I smoke too much
Curse too much and I cough too much
I get a lot of paranoia and I never go to church

And I love too much and I care too much
I laugh too much and I share too much
I know a lot of things but I’ve still got a lot to learn
And I’m not afraid to say it
Ha ha ha I’m not afraid to say it

I thought I was working class, but after all that it was an attitude problem
I thought I was working class but it was only me
Because there is no working class, there’s just some people with an attitude problem
There is no working class, there’s only you and me

I build too many walls, use too many tools,
Lost touch with my mates I took too many days off school
I hardly ever see my folks
And I spit in the street all the time

But I’d give you anything I had,
Because that’s what I inherited from my mum and dad
I could kiss with passion and stand with pride on a picket line
And I’m not afraid to say it
Ha ha ha I’m not afraid to say it

I thought I was working class but after all that it was an attitude problem
I thought I was working class but it was only me
Because there is no working class, it’s just us people with our attitude problems
There is no working class in a classless society

Who digs the roads
Who drives the buses
Who works the markets in the pouring rain
Who cleans the floors
Who cleans the toilets
Who does the mining where the mines remain

Who drives the tubes
Who collects the tickets
Who puts the letters through your front door
Who shifts the bins
Who does the packing
Who fills the shelves in the superstore

Who makes the beds
Who wipes the arses
Who does the cooking in the school canteens
Who works the ferries
Who packs the terraces
Who keeps all those offices clean

Who are the labourers
Who are the plasterers
Who are the chippies and who are the sparks
Who reads the meters
Who picks potatoes
Who put the apples on the apple cart?

Who made my clothes
Who built the ring-road
Who works in those factories
Who pulls the pints
Who collects the glasses
Who gets the gear off the back of a lorry

Who drives the trains
Who laid the track
Who made the shoes that are on my feet
Who cuts the grass
Who sweeps the gutters
Who put the road signs on my street

Who’s never missed
Who’s on the waiting list
Who does all the work in all those posh hotels
Who’s never named
Who’s never mentioned
Who’s signing on in Tunbridge Wells

Who works in the chippy
Who does deliveries
Who does the service wash in your launderette
Who’s got a head for heights
For chimneys and street-lights
Borrows money to pay their debts

Who are those kids
Standing at the bus-stop
Or playing in the rain with an old tin can
Who helps the nippers
Get across the road
It’s a lollipop lady or a lollipop man

Who cleans the windows
Who works the check-out
Who makes the carpets and lay ‘em on the floor
Who’s forever saying sorry
Who drives the lorries
Who put up the statues of your ladies and lords

Who cleans the drains
Who laid the gas-mains
Who made the water run out of my tap
Who made my bread
Or the hat upon my head
Who treats the turdies when I’ve had a crap

Who are the nurses
Who’s in the fire brigade
Who takes care of the sick and the old
Who’s the receptionist
Who’s the telephonist
Who’s drinking in the park, sleeping in the gutter

Who’s on the bus
Struggling with a push-chair
And all them shopping in the carrier bags
‘Cause they’re on the double
Whenever I’m in trouble
Who are the best mates I’ve ever had

Who d’you call the housewives
Who made my bread-knife
Who made this pen and paper in my hand
Who drives the minicab
Works in the rehab
Holidays in margate or camber sands

Who fails at school
Works in the typing pool
Who laid the pipes underneath your floor
Who takes the rap
Who takes the rubbish
And who’s in the trenches in every war

Who’s dying in the trenches in every war
Defending our enemies in every war
Well I thought it was the working class
But it was just me with my attitude problem
I thought it was the working class
But it was only you and me
Because there is no working class
So you’d better get to bed you’re up early in the morning
There is no working class
So you’d better go back to sleep!

Image from prole.info
Image from prole.info