Shocking, but not unusual news reached us as some 1400 refugees in transition drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in just one week. And the Sun’s Katie Hopkins, never shy to urinate over heaps of corpses, including the unburied, gave the British public that article. Meanwhile, the left reacted in predictable fashion. For the National Union of Journalists’ badly eviscerated NUJ ‘Left’ grouping, the tragedy provided yet another opportunity to lament insufficient press regulation – if it were up to the NUJ, some members continue to fantasise, the Murdoch press could not print such bile with impunity Further to recommending the official anti-Hopkins petition in internal discussion, one member went as far as to earnestly suggest that NUJ lefties vent their outrage via the Sun’s online complaints form.
While Left Unity can proudly cite its programmatic commitment to open borders – not that national speaker Felicity Dowling took the opportunity in her official statement – groups such as the Socialist Party of England and Wales, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, and the Morning Star′s Communist Party of Britain, who maintain a ‘realistic’ or ‘transitional’ loyalty to capitalist border controls, have been rather quiet. As always, there are those for whom ‘racism’ is the key issue– as if those who met such an ugly fate in the Mediterranean were specifically selected by ‘racial’ criteria, rather than died simply because they had the wrong passport. These comrades use ‘racism’ not as an objective category, but for effect – ie, as a superlative to express their opposition more forcefully. If you don’t think it is racist, you’re probably not morally outraged enough.
Ironically, this approach very much depends on bourgeois ideology, which now officially considers racism to be a very bad thing, while taking nationalism and the protection of ‘our’ borders for granted. We would ask these comrades to take a long hard look at the terrible human suffering caused by the capitalists’ need to manage their respective pools of wage slaves through border controls, and the hideous ideology of national chauvinism that arises on its back. Do these horrors need to be based on ‘racism’ in order to warrant our utmost opposition?
Weekly Worker writer, Tina Becker, gets it right in her article: the refugees who died in transit were victims of capitalism. Furthermore, I would encourage you to have a look at the collection of Weekly Worker articles and letters on this issue, which – unfortunately enough – remains controversial even on the left.