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Guest Scáthach

Immigration?

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Guest Scáthach

After having a chat with a racist Japanese tourist earlier on today, I've been pondering over the issue of immigration, and Its raised a few questions;

 

-The Irish language has been on life support for the past few decades with English as its only competition, but how will the recent influx of immigrants (and their languages) over the past few years effect it? Little to no immigrants learn it or even have an interest in learning it. Their children are often exempt from learning it in school. My younger brother knows more Polish than Irish because a lot of his friends are Polish. I hear Urdu, Hindi, Polish, and an assortment of Nigerian dialects on a daily basis but not once have I ever heard Irish on the street here. How on earth can we ever hope to revive Irish if we introduce new languages and new peoples who have no interest in or reason to learn the native tongue?

 

-The same question arises about Irish culture. How can we ever hope to revive our own culture while at the same time importing other cultures? It was hard enough to keep it alive with just English culture as a rival, but how will it cope now with multiple competitors? At the current rate its unlikely to survive.

 

-How will the recent influx of immigration effect the issue of partition? None of these immigrants (many of whom come from conflict zones) want to hear anything about the British occupation or the struggle against it. They came here to live quiet, peaceful lives and provide for their families, and they will not sacrifice that for a history that is not theirs.Tone, Pearse, and Brugha's sacrifices mean little to them. In a few years down the line a significant portion of the population will care nothing about republicanism because it is not their history or heritage, and thats on top of the people already permanently distracted by the media and consumerism.

 

-How does this immigration effect developing countries? Many of their brightest and best educated, their very future, leave home and immigrate here, creating a brain-drain in their native countries. Places such as Nigeria are loosing a badly needed educated workforce. It seems to me that immigration, like most 'charities', only further traps developing countries in a cycle of poverty.

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Smash all borders.

This world is shared by everyone in this world and nobody has any right to tell people where they are allowed to go.

 

A lot more should be done to try and revive our native language. I think a long term plan needs to be devised. For example if we aim to have all children being taught in Irish within 15-20 years.

 

Our cultures our culture and should be promoted and celebrated as should minority cultures.

 

You can't force people to support our politics so if they don't like them that's their decision. We should keep campaigning for a socialist republic and hope that all sections of Irish society get behind it.

 

That's true, but to address that problem we need to tackle the roots of the problem. The problem is the deliberate exploitation of those country's by capitalist powers. Smash that and we will see the issues that drive people from their homes resolved.

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Guest Scáthach

A lot more should be done to try and revive our native language. I think a long term plan needs to be devised. For example if we aim to have all children being taught in Irish within 15-20 years.

 

Like I said, little to no immigrants learn it, have an interest in learning it or want their children to learn it.Their children are exempt from learning it in school. And why should they? Its not their history or heritage, they have their own which they are rightly proud of. how will the recent influx of immigrants (and their languages) over the past few years effect the Irish language? How on earth can we ever hope to revive Irish if we introduce new languages and new peoples who have no interest in or reason to learn the native tongue?

 

 

You can't force people to support our politics so if they don't like them that's their decision.

 

Is it wrong then to force them to abandon capitalism or consumerism? If they choose Capitalism does that make it right?

 

Our culture (and indeed many other cultures around the world) are being destroyed without the people realizing what exactly is happening. Their current opinions on the subject are not truly their own but are the opinions that the media has shoved down their throats.

 

 

That's true, but to address that problem we need to tackle the roots of the problem. The problem is the deliberate exploitation of those country's by capitalist powers. Smash that and we will see the issues that drive people from their homes resolved.

 

 

I agree 100%. But how can we help others fight capitalism without getting rid of it here ourselves first? We have enough people suffering under the yoke of capitalism without importing more (who, like i said, came here to live quiet, peaceful lives and provide for their families, and who will not sacrifice that for a history and a struggle that is not theirs.)

 

And trying to help developing countries fight capitalism will be hard when the educated amongst them are leaving en-mass.

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Guest Connolly

I think you make some very valid points. Immigration is a tricky issue, and I have yet to see any socialist organisation with clear and realistic policies on it. They just bury their heads in the sand. It is a non-issue amongst the left. But Engles wrote on immigration:

 

"With such a competitor the English working-man has to struggle, with a competitor upon the lowest plane possible in a civilised country, who for this very reason requires less wages than any other. Nothing else is therefore possible than that, as Carlyle says, the wages of English working-man should be forced down further and further in every branch in which the Irish compete with him. And these branches are many. All such as demand little or no skill are open to the Irish. For work which requires long training or regular, pertinacious application, the dissolute, unsteady, drunken Irishman is on too low a plane. To become a mechanic, a mill-hand, he would have to adopt the English civilisation, the English customs, become, in the main, an Englishman. But for all simple, less exact work, wherever it is a question more of strength than skill, the Irishman is as good as the Englishman. Such occupations are therefore especially overcrowded with Irishmen: hand-weavers, bricklayers, porters, jobbers, and such workers, count hordes of Irishmen among their number, and the pressure of this race has done much to depress wages and lower the working-class. And even if the Irish, who have forced their way into other occupations, should become more civilised, enough of the old habits would cling to them to have a strong, degrading influence upon their English companions in toil, especially in view of the general effect of being surrounded by the Irish. For when, in almost every great city, a fifth or a quarter of the workers are Irish, or children of Irish parents, who have grown up among Irish filth, no one can wonder if the life, habits, intelligence, moral status -- in short, the whole character of the working-class assimilates a great part of the Irish characteristics. On the contrary, it is easy to understand how the degrading position of the English workers, engendered by our modern history, and its immediate consequences, has been still more degraded by the presence of Irish competition." - http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/condition-working-class/ch06.htm

 

To add further to your points. I find that immigrants that come here feel they have entered a society of "freedom", and that they tend to adopt an "American Dream" type ideology. This because they are coming from places like Nigeria or China where political freedoms are not the same as in the free-state/west, or where the potential possibilities to aquire material wealth/greater standard of living are not the same. They therefore, in my view, will tend towards justifying the status quo. For examkple there are countless Chinese in the Gardai.

 

And as you say, they are not coming from a culture or background of struggle. To them, these freedoms just "exist", and are ignorant of the fact that these relative political freedoms exist because of historical struggle - a struggle they most likely know nothing about. Joining the Gardai does not make these freedoms exist, on the contrary. And, to be honest, it grates my teeth more to see a Chinese Garda inflicting coercion for this reason.

 

In regards "Irish Culture"/nation. That these people have no cultural roots in Ireland, I also assume that the "sense of Irishness" that many of them adopt, and that they want their children to adopt, is a sort of astroturf Irishness. That is, I think they will equate being Irish with an allegience to the Free-state and the dominant cultural discourse the Free-state promotes. Patricks day, Arthurs day?, and so on.

 

Overall I think no matter where immigration occurs it will transform the native culture. Its a given. Thats not good in terms of wanting to preserve the Language, music, cultural traditions and so on. Or indeed wanting to preserve a political-historical line of struggle like Irish republicanism.

 

But what can we do about it? One could form a government to keep them out, which the far-right aim to do. But it is not a problem of political governance, it is an economic problem. It is, ultimately, the economic demands of capitalism which is driving immigration policy at the moment - or indeed causing these people to seek a better life elsewhere to begin with.

 

Any attempt to find a political solution can only be short term as the economic forces will create new ideological forms when needed. This is why far-right attempts will not 'preserve' the nation in the long run - as - at some stage, capitalism will once again require cheap labour, thus changing the political discourse. Immigration serves capitalism.

 

It is strange to see Irish people emigrating while immigrants are still being let in to the country. But a recent survey of those emigrating found that half (or was it a third?) already had jobs before leaving. It would seem to me that immigration is keeping wages down in low paid sectors such as retail and hospitality - and you might find a disproportionate amount of them serving in shops, hotels and so forth. I would say ISME and IBEC are pressurising the government to maintain a soft touch on immigration.

 

At the same time you have a generation of young people with higher, and probably unrealistic, expectations, and who will not be satisfied working their lives in a shop or a hotel. Colleges are turning out graduates with no hope of native employment in their fields, and so they are going abroad to make a "career" for themselves. Thus immigrants are serving a function of doing the low paid and low skilled work.

 

I am against immigration. I think multiculturalism is a type of artificial social experiment with many problems. But I am saavy enough to realise that without breaking the economic forces which drive immigration, it will continue to happen. Nobody wants to leave their homeland, their family, friends, culture and so on. People must not be made to.

 

In the meantime our demands should be socialism. Demanding an end to immigration would most probably be politically detrimental.

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There is an important distinction to be made when dealing with immigration policy.  You have economic liberalisation which permits workers to enter the country and carry out cheap work.  However, this is very different from the other limb of immigration policy of trying to exclude the marginalised sections of the world's population.  Migration is generally permitted at the higher skills end, and excluded at the bottom.  Western policy is not only about securing cheap labour.  If it were, then the unskilled African or Asian worker would have no problem getting permission to enter.

 

An increase in skilled workers deflates wages in the economy, creates pressures on the workers themselves.  However, an increase in irregular/unlawful migration (generally of unskilled or semi-skilled workers) does not involve the same pressure, as such people are not generally permitted to work (lawfullly at least).  It puts pressure on the capitalist system who must house, feed or repatriate them.  The first type of migration is used by the capitalist system.  The second type however is a direct threat to the system, and I think contains some considerable revolutionary potential.  I doubt that most Somalis or Eritreans that end up in Italy or Greece see those countries as in any way free.

 

The positive that I take about both types of migration however is that they both expose the global nature of economics.  Western workers live in a cocoon, without appreciating or caring how their lifestyle is directly funded by the exploitation of other continents.  When thousands of people from those exploited lands arrive on their shore and demand a share of Western wealth, it unmasks the nature of economic imperialism, it brings this conflict into direct sight.  Without it being in sight, the issues will never enter western worker consciousness.

 

This conflict often resolves itself by the western worker then taking sides with the western capitalist, believing that the true enemy is the foreigner.  I'm not 100% sure that such a xenophobic response is not justified.  I do tend to think that the western worker and the third world worker have more in common, they certainly have a common enemy in the western capitalist, but increasingly that line is becoming more blurred, the gap between the west and the rest of the world is growing.  Increasingly the western worker relies on the wealth extracted from the developing world's proletariat.  If things continue to move in this direction, at some point the economic interests of the western worker will clearly be against the workers in the rest of the world.  The western worker will adopt the position of the petit bourgeoisie, and to a certain extent they already perceive that they are in this position.

 

I think that this question as much as any else is the one which the western left has done its best to avoid, because they do not want to face the possibility that the western working class are no longer the universal revolutionary class, but are in fact a parasitic class who stand in the way of the world's masses.  I'm not convinced of this argument, but I think there are serious questions which the left have failed to address, as they always seem to be chose their own narrow interests over global solidarity.  We need to answer these questions if we want to raise the consciousness of the western worker.

 

It is a very convenient argument to exclude foreign workers from Ireland to protect wages.  I don't buy the given rationale that by excluding workers from Ireland that they will then stay and fight in their own countries, not unless the people making these calls actually do something to help that fight.  I have yet to see the hardening of borders in any country result in increased solidarity and practical assistance to revolutionary movements elsewhere.

 

I do agree that a socialist country would want to control its borders, at least when faced with a capitalist world.  However, we do not have a socialist country.  We need to present a short-term and medium term position that deals with the issues today, or we will not be taken seriously. although of course that does not stop us presenting our long-term views on the subject.

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Guest Connolly
Western policy is not only about securing cheap labour.  If it were, then the unskilled African or Asian worker would have no problem getting permission to enter.

 

It is not so much about securing cheap labour. But rather increasing the competition amongst workers, and which thus reduces overall wages both high and low, skilled and unskilled. The capitalist pursuit of increasing labour competition is not a black and white issue. It is not just an option between "open the floodgates" or "lock the borders".

 

If the powers that be set immigration policy as such that an "unskilled African or Asian worker would have no problem getting permission to enter" then there would be a myriad of consequences. The capitalist class do not want the political or social instability that would result from a "flood-gate" approach. And if they did opt for that then you would have another section of the capitalist class who want stability seeking to gain power to maintain and assert it. Cue the far-right.

 

As a result you have a piecemeal approach in which immigrants can enter, say, Ireland, in lower quantities - some as students (but working in local shops or as Taxi drivers illegal hours), some as Asylum seekers (illegally working without any apparent oversight of their activities). Like 'White Collar Crime', much immigration is illegal, and many/most that come here legally engage in illegal labour, and yet somehow the 'illegality' of it is not particularly enforced to any great degree.

 

Because it serves the economy for it to be that way. Whether it is legal or illegal it dosnt matter.

 

 

However, an increase in irregular/unlawful migration (generally of unskilled or semi-skilled workers) does not involve the same pressure, as such people are not generally permitted to work (lawfullly at least).

 

I would say that most do work. And what figures can I point to? Well, none, because it is, by its nature, under the table labour. All I can say is that of the asylum seekers I do know, they all work. I know others who are students here and are working illegal hours. Indeed many of these "English Schools" you see around Dublin are sham operations enrolling people as students for money while they engage in full-time illegal labour. And I dont say that with bitterness or anything, nor do I have any particular far-right xenophobic agenda. But I am stating this as facts that I am aware of.

 

But again, I think it suits the system perfectly for this arrangement to continue.

 

 

 

It puts pressure on the capitalist system who must house, feed or repatriate them.

 

It depends 'what type' of capitalist system you are talking about. There are various types that couldnt give a shit about housing  or feeding them. Indeed, the whole idea of having a native unemployed "reserve pool of labour" would apply as much as an immigrant pool of labour in terms of requiring food and housing. But a 'reserve pool of labour' is an inherent feature of capitalism.

 

 

 

The second type however is a direct threat to the system, and I think contains some considerable revolutionary potential.  I doubt that most Somalis or Eritreans that end up in Italy or Greece see those countries as in any way free.

 

Places like Spain, Italy, Greece and so on have specific conditions that places like Ireland, Sweden and England dont have. That is, with the former it is more difficult to keep migrants out given their geographic location. Their social stability is threatened by high rates of immigration -> and you might have a far-right faction in the wings ready to assert greater stability. With the latter the immigration is easier to control in definite terms - yet it is not.

 

I dont think immigration is a threat to the system. I think what could emerge when the system becomes unstable is one or other form of capitalist government/state - far-right strict immigration control or a "far-left" state capitalist/totalitarian strict immigration control. That is, one or other political arrangement which maintains and administers capitalism and creates social stability.

 

Immigration, like emigration, rather than being a threat, serves as a sort of safety valve. Instead of capitalisms demand for greater exploitation leading to greater class struggle between domestic workers and capitalists -> that demand for greater exploitation is satisfied through the importation of external labour. Its almost like imperialism's demand for ever expanding quantities of untapped resources - but in reverse.

 

The class struggle would be intensified if the capitalist class had fewer people to call upon to exploit when the internal logic of capitalism requires.

 

The positive that I take about both types of migration however is that they both expose the global nature of economics.  Western workers live in a cocoon, without appreciating or caring how their lifestyle is directly funded by the exploitation of other continents.  When thousands of people from those exploited lands arrive on their shore and demand a share of Western wealth, it unmasks the nature of economic imperialism, it brings this conflict into direct sight.  Without it being in sight, the issues will never enter western worker consciousness.

 

One would hope that that would be the result of 'thousands of people' arriving. But I wouldnt be so wishful. I would have far greater concerns about the other way people might take it...

 

 

This conflict often resolves itself by the western worker then taking sides with the western capitalist, believing that the true enemy is the foreigner.  I'm not 100% sure that such a xenophobic response is not justified.  I do tend to think that the western worker and the third world worker have more in common, they certainly have a common enemy in the western capitalist, but increasingly that line is becoming more blurred, the gap between the west and the rest of the world is growing.  Increasingly the western worker relies on the wealth extracted from the developing world's proletariat.  If things continue to move in this direction, at some point the economic interests of the western worker will clearly be against the workers in the rest of the world.  The western worker will adopt the position of the petit bourgeoisie, and to a certain extent they already perceive that they are in this position.

 

I think that this question as much as any else is the one which the western left has done its best to avoid, because they do not want to face the possibility that the western working class are no longer the universal revolutionary class, but are in fact a parasitic class who stand in the way of the world's masses.  I'm not convinced of this argument, but I think there are serious questions which the left have failed to address, as they always seem to be chose their own narrow interests over global solidarity.  We need to answer these questions if we want to raise the consciousness of the western worker.

 

I dont think we can say that 'this is the way capitalism is' by its present form. The current epoch of capitalism is marked by a high energy and versatile substance called oil. Oil, and as a consequence shipping, has allowed for the sort of detached/alienated consumption the western worker 'enjoys' as production is based and structured on a global scale. With the decline of oil, I suspect we may see the reconfiguration of production to a more energy efficient domestic form.

 

Such a domestic form of production would make socialism a more viable and feasible proposition for western workers, and would make much of what you refer to obsolete.

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