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«Δεν φοβόμαστε». Δεν θα τρομοκρατηθούν από τις φασιστικές επιθέσεις ή από την απάθεια της αστυνομίας που κοιτούσε καθώς μαχαιρωνόντουσαν. Το φεμινιστικό κίνημα κατανοεί ότι ενώ κατατίθενται αιτήματα για νέους νόμους, η πάλη για τον φεμινισμό είναι έξω, στους δρόμους, τους χώρους εργασίας και τις γειτονιές.

Δεν Φοβόμαστε: Ο φεμινισμός στη Χιλή κερδίζει έδαφος παρά τις φασιστικές επιθέσεις

Η Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation στέλνει την απόλυτη αλληλεγγύη της στις φεμινίστριες σε όλη τη Χιλή που μάχονται για ελεύθερη και νόμιμη πρόσβαση στην έκτρωση! Θέλουμε να τονίσουμε ιδιαίτερα την υποστήριξή μας στην Coordinadora Feminista 8 de Marzo, την Coordinadora Feministas en Lucha, καθώς και τις δεκάδες φεμινιστικές κολεκτίβες και άλλες οργανώσεις που συμμετέχουν σ’ αυτόν τον αγώνα.

Στις 25 Ιουλίου 2018, 50.000 φεμινίστριες και υποστηρικτές των ελεύθερων και νόμιμων υπηρεσιών έκτρωσης κατέβηκαν στους δρόμους του Σαντιάγκο στη Χιλή. Η πορεία τίμησε την 5η επέτειο από την κατάληψη του κεντρικού καθεδρικού ναού από τις φεμινίστριες στη διάρκεια λειτουργίας που πρωτοστατούσε ο αρχιεπίσκοπος της Χιλής προς τιμήν του Άγιου Σαντιάγκο με επισκόπους, τον δήμαρχο και άλλους κυβερνητικούς αξιωματούχους να παρευρίσκονται. Το γεγονός ήταν η πρώτη φεμινιστική toma (κατάληψη) και αποτέλεσε ορόσημο για το φεμινιστικό κίνημα στη Χιλή που, από το 2013, άνθισε σε μαζικό κίνημα με αντίκτυπο στους πολιτικούς χώρους και διαλόγους σε ολόκληρη τη χώρα.

Το φεμινιστικό κίνημα κερδίζει αργά έδαφος σε όλη τη Λατινική Αμερική. Στην Ουρουγουάη, μετά από χρόνια αγώνα, η έκτρωση πριν τις 12 εβδομάδες νομιμοποιήθηκε το 2012. Η Χιλή, μέχρι πρόσφατα μαζί με το Ελ Σαλβαντόρ, είχε την αυστηρότερη νομοθεσία γύρω από τις εκτρώσεις, που δεν επιτρέπονταν υπό οποιοσδήποτε συνθήκες, νομοθεσία που θεσπίστηκε το 1989 από το καθεστώς Pinochet. Τον Αύγουστο του 2017, η γερουσία της Χιλής ενέκρινε ένα νομοσχέδιο που επέτρεπε την έκτρωση μόνο σε τρεις περιπτώσεις: αν η ζωή της γυναίκας είναι σε κίνδυνο, αν το έμβρυο δεν είναι βιώσιμο, ή στην περίπτωση βιασμού κοριτσιών 14 ετών και κάτω. Στην Αργεντινή, οι φεμινίστριες είναι στο μεταίχμιο να δουν την νομιμοποίηση της έκτρωσης, που περιμένει την ψήφιση της στη Σύγκλητο της Αργεντινής στις 8 Αυγούστου.

Σε ένα άρθρο της Alondra Carrillo, μιας vocera (εκπρόσωπος Τύπου) από την Coordinadora Feminista 8 de Marzo, έγραψε, «Για αρκετά χρόνια, ένα φάντασμα πλανάται πάνω από το κόσμο και, σε αυτή την περίπτωση, είναι το φάντασμα του φεμινισμού». Η Carrillo έχει δίκιο. Το φάντασμα του φεμινισμού μεγαλώνει και η εξουσία και η πατριαρχία που βρίσκονται σε παρακμή, αμφισβητούνται σε πραγματικό χρόνο. Καθώς το σύστημα εξουσίας αμφισβητείται, τα παραληρήματα και η βία εκείνων που χάνουν τον πολιτικό και οικονομικό έλεγχο γίνονται αισθητά.

Σε αντίδραση προς την άνοδο και τον αντίκτυπο του φεμινιστικού κινήματος, έχει δραστηριοποιηθεί μια οργάνωση πατριαρχικών ανδρών που ονομάζεται Κοινωνικό Πατριωτικό Κίνημα και περιγράφει τον εαυτό του ως εθνικιστική οργάνωση που αντιτίθεται στην νομιμοποίηση της έκτρωσης και την «ιδεολογία του φύλου». Ο εκπρόσωπος Τύπου τους, Pedro Kuntsman, δήλωσε ότι η οργάνωση δέχεται γκέι άνδρες γιατί δεν είναι υπόθεσή τους τι κάνει ο κόσμος στο κρεβάτι του, αλλά περιέγραψε τις φεμινίστριες ως hembras (θηλυκά ζώα) που θα έπρεπε να στειρωθούν. Αρκετές εκατοντάδες άνδρες μέλη αυτής της φασιστικής οργάνωσης κινητοποιήθηκαν για να εμποδίσουν την φεμινιστική πορεία, γέμισαν το δρόμο με αίμα ζώων, και επιτέθηκαν κατά των διαδηλωτ(ρι)ών, μαχαιρώνοντας τρεις γυναίκες. Ενώ αισθανόμαστε ανακούφιση που δεν χάθηκε κάποια ζωή, στεκόμαστε δίπλα στις φεμινίστριες και τους υποστηρικτές τους που διαδηλώνουν κατά της φασιστικής επίθεσης.

Μετά το περιστατικό, οι φεμινίστριες στη Χιλή γέμισαν τις σελίδες των κοινωνικών δικτύων τους με φωτογραφίες από την διαδήλωση λέγοντας: «Δεν φοβόμαστε». Δεν θα τρομοκρατηθούν από τις φασιστικές επιθέσεις ή από την απάθεια της αστυνομίας που κοιτούσε καθώς μαχαιρωνόντουσαν. Το φεμινιστικό κίνημα κατανοεί ότι ενώ κατατίθενται αιτήματα για νέους νόμους, η πάλη για τον φεμινισμό είναι έξω, στους δρόμους, τους χώρους εργασίας και τις γειτονιές.

Δεν θα υπάρξει πισωγύρισμα! Το φάντασμα του φεμινισμού είναι εδώ για να αλλάξει το κόσμο.

Από την Επιτροπή Διεθνών Σχέσεων της Black Rose/Rosa Negra

26 Ιουλίου 2018

venezuela / colombia / historia / anarchist communist event Thursday September 20, 2018 23:59 byGrupo Libertario Via Libre

Encuentros Ácratas: La experiencia de las Ligas Socialistas y la izquierda abajo en 1970.

[Conmemorando el Paro Cívico Nacional del 14 de septiembre de 1977]

Hernán Darío Correa. Presentación del libro "Como marcas en la brecha. Una historia de vida (2015)".

Viernes 21 de septiembre. 6:30 pm
CODEMA [Carrera 19 # 39B-16]

Encuentros Ácratas: La experiencia de las Ligas Socialistas y la izquierda abajo en 1970.

[Conmemorando el Paro Cívico Nacional del 14 de septiembre de 1977]

Hernán Darío Correa. Presentación del libro "Como marcas en la brecha. Una historia de vida (2015)".

Viernes 21 de septiembre. 6:30 pm
CODEMA [Carrera 19 # 39B-16]

mashriq / arabia / iraq / imperialism / war / debate Tuesday September 18, 2018 23:12 byKahled Aboud

The so-called Syrian Civil War is Syrian in name only. It has seen combatants from scores of countries flooding into the jihadist fanatic armies, while Israel, Turkey, the US, France, the UK, Iran, Russia, the Arab monarchies, they all have meddled, bombarded, funded their own armed proxies and contributed in many ways to destroy the country. Syria is a shame on humanity, seen by everyone as an opportunity to flex their muscles and test each other’s red lines, limits and capacities. And we’ve been surprised to see the Russian emperor come out absolutely naked in this power-game.

The conflict in Syria has, above all, demonstrated the limits of the military power of Russia. All the jingoistic rhetoric of Putin-loving elements about Russia’s military might have been exposed to the world for what it is: a sham. The emperor is naked –Russia is nothing but a rundown state with pretentions of being a super-power, which may be able to bully the Georgians, but south of the Caucasus, it is others who run the show. And the war in Syria has proved just that. Despite the massive success of the operations to defeat jihadists in Syria and to boost the government of Assad –the only leader of the only country who would be willing to give them a military base in the Mediterranean-, Russia has clashed against a formidable military force which tests the limits of its hard power. This was demonstrated by Erdogan time and again, but particularly with the Sochi meeting which made partition of Syria official, showed that Turkey wouldn’t back down to Russia’s threats and showed its willingness to protect the most back-warded jihadists imaginable. It is Erdogan, not Putin who sets the agenda and who determines what is acceptable and what is not in Syria. Russia was humiliated, proving that getting into a course of conflict with a NATO country is no option for them. Their limits were exposed for everyone to see.

It is not the first time that Turkey slaps Russia in the face. They downed a Russian fighter; their ambassador Andrei Karlov was assassinated in Turkey by a policeman whom jihadists in Idlib parade as a hero; and what does Russia do? Some economic measures against Turkey only to be back a couple of months later with a stronger than ever relationship. They drum-beat like King Kong and then do nothing. Not because they are sensible, or hold the higher moral ground, or because they try not to escalate things. They don’t do anything because they can’t. Simple as that. The outdated Russian army is efficient enough to carpet bomb –they lack capacity for precision targeting- gangs of armed jihadists who spend most of their time reading the Q’uran as opposed to military theory anyway. But confronted to a real army, such as Turkey, they will back. Sergey Lavrov, their minister of foreign affairs, yelled from the top of his lungs that the territorial integrity of Syria was out of question and they would bomb the terrorists in Idlib. In Tehran Putin was saying that a cease-fire was out of question. But Turkey only needed to move its military forces into the region to convince Putin to sit in the negotiating table one week later and accept a de-militarised zone; indeed more than what Erdogan had originally asked for. And what about the territorial integrity of Syria and the fight against Al-Qaeda? Well, now Syria has been officially partitioned and the Al-Qaeda gangs will be well looked after by their Turkish sponsors.

To add injury to insult, that very night a number of targets in Syria, including Latakia where Russia has its military base, came under attack by Israeli fighters. The highly inefficient Russian air-defences not only didn’t manage to stop most of the bombs to hit target, but they actually managed to down a cargo place with 15 Russian soldiers behind which the Israeli fighter jets had taken shelter to attack Syria. The Russian Minister of Defence comes out to say that Russia reserves the right to take appropriate measures against hostile Israeli actions… and what will happen? Guessed right. Nothing. This is just bluffing. Putin already came out to say that the Israelis didn’t mean it and in a couple of days everything will be back to business as usual. Israel will keep bombarding Syria as the please, and Putin will declare that his love for Netanyahu is eternal and that a dozen dead Russians are not that big a deal at all. They will come out of this with a relationship stronger than ever. The harder you hit Putin, the stronger the relationship will be after the blow.

But if you give him what he wants, then he will trample all over you. Look at Assad, renewing the Russian military base until 2049, when Putin accepts the partition of Syria, and actually coordinates with Israel their bombardments so they don’t hit Russians but ‘kill as many Syrians as you like, sir’ –what kind of strange alliance is that? But it is not only that Russians will not stop Israel from bombing their supposed ally –they actually can’t do anything about it. The Latakia bombings demonstrated that Russia can’t even defend the surroundings of their military bases. Let’s see if anyone would dare to bombard jihadists even miles away from the Al-Tanf US military base in Southern Syria! If Russia can’t protect even its own bases and their own military personnel, what can Assad expect in terms of protection from future bombardments and interventions?

As for poor Syria, its future looks grim as hell. Assad has been left with a partitioned country and nothing much of a say in the future of it. The Kurdish have been increasingly turned into a proxy army for the US and their dependence on them was tested with the Turkish invasion of Afrin: it fell like a house of cards. Their enclave will be turned into a US protectorate in exchange of oil and military bases –which sooner rather than later will be officially sanctioned by the US, which will never allow a Turkish military incursion where their military bases are. Erdogan’s limits are not set by Russia, but by the US and Israel. Thus, all the transformative and emancipatory potential of the experience of Rojava, the only honourable page written in this senseless conflict, will come to nothing. The US will never allow any serious challenge to ‘capitalist modernity’ in their protectorate. They will possibly allow women co-chairs all over the place to prove the world how progressive Rojava is, same as Israel and their gay parade marches, proof that they are a “progressive” country, nevermind the plight of Palestinians. But to question class relations and imperialism in Rojava? To be serious about self-government? That is really difficult to happen under US sponsorship. Possibly far more pressure will be put on them to distance from the PKK which is getting shattered in Turkey and Northern Iraq. The Kurdish are prisoners now of US presence in Syria, and no amount of PR exercises will change the fact that if your autonomy depends on the presence of a foreign empire, it is empty chatter.

Was there another possible outcome? Yes. A pragmatic alliance between Assad and the Kurds, which would have allowed for Assad to remain as president and the Kurdish to get a degree of autonomy, stood a real chance of defeating Turkey and its proxies, while keeping a certain autonomy from their foreign patrons. A far cry from the scenario every party would have wished for, but no doubt the best possible scenario that could have come out of this absolute humanitarian disaster called Syrian Civil War. But precisely the proxy nature of the conflict didn’t allow anyone to see this chance. The Kurdish thought, and still think (surprisingly, even after Afrin), that the US is their friend. The Assadists thought that Russia was their friend. Imperialism has no friends, only interests. Whether it is the proper US imperialism, or the pathetically hallucinatory Russian imperialism, they only looked for their interests. Israel has won a weak neighbour unable to defend itself and under constant threat from the jihadists pockets kept live by Turkey. Turkey will manage to keep the Kurdish at bay and annex new territories in Idlib, Al-Bab, Jarabulus, and Afrin through proxies to feed the neo-Ottomanists dreams of its caliph. The US won oil and 14 military bases Russia keep their only military base in the Mediterranean, one which they can’t even defend. But there it is. And the Arab or Kurdish Syrians? Irrevocably partitioned into protectorates and unable to have a say in their own future. What a prospect!

Welcome to the New Middle East that Bush foresaw back in 2001.

Απέναντι στον κόσμο της εξουσίας, απέναντι στον σύγχρονο ολοκληρωτισμό κράτους και κεφαλαίου, οφείλουμε να υψώσουμε συλλογικά ελευθεριακά αναχώματα ανάσχεσης της ολομέτωπης επίθεσής τους, αποδομώντας καταρχήν έναν από τους βασικότερους ιδεολογικούς πυλώνες του κράτους, αυτόν της εθνικιστικής-πατριωτικής ιδεολογίας. Η αποδόμηση αυτή αποτελεί ταυτόχρονα και την αναγκαία συνθήκη για την οικοδόμηση της ελευθεριακής επαναστατικής προοπτικής, που στρατηγικό της στόχο έχει την καταστροφή κράτους και κεφαλαίου και την κοινωνική και ατομική απελευθέρωση.

22 Σεπτέμβρη 2018 / Εκδήλωση – συζήτηση: Εθνικισμός-πατριωτισμός ως πυλώνες του κράτους. Η αποδόμησή τους ως προϋπόθεση για την ελευθεριακή επαναστατική προοπτική.

Ιστορικά, σε περιόδους καπιταλιστικής κρίσης εντείνονται οι εκμεταλλευτικές και καταπιεστικές συνθήκες, με αποτέλεσμα την όξυνση των κοινωνικών/ταξικών αντιθέσεων. Η διαρκής υποτίμηση της εργασίας, η ένταση της εξαθλίωσης και η συνολική υποβάθμιση των υλικών όρων και της ποιότητας διαβίωσης της τάξης μας, αποτελεί τη βασική στρατηγική επιλογή στην κατεύθυνση επιβίωσης και διαιώνισης του κυρίαρχου εξουσιαστικού συστήματος. Σε μια τέτοια συνθήκη, η κοινωνική συναίνεση και ο διαρκώς επιδιωκόμενος έλεγχος του πληθυσμού καθίστανται ιδιαίτερα επισφαλείς. Συνεπώς, προκειμένου να επιτευχθεί η αναγκαία κρατική και καπιταλιστική αναδιάρθρωση, επιστρατεύονται αφενός οι κατασταλτικοί μηχανισμοί του κράτους στην κατεύθυνση της τρομοκράτησης και της πειθάρχησης της τάξης μας (ποινικοποίηση κοινωνικών/ταξικών αγώνων, εγκλεισμός και εξοντωτικές ποινές σε αγωνιζόμενους/ες, πρακτική κατάργηση απεργιών, θεσμικός ρατσισμός, με στρατόπεδα συγκέντρωσης μεταναστών/στριών) και αφετέρου κάθε δυνατός μηχανισμός προπαγάνδας και αποπροσανατολισμού του κοινωνικού σώματος. Μια τέτοια συνθήκη βιώνουμε στην παρούσα συγκυρία, τόσο παγκόσμια όσο και ειδικότερα στο ελληνικό κράτος.

Οι κυρίαρχοι μηχανισμοί προπαγάνδας, επιστρατεύονται από κράτος και κεφάλαιο προκειμένου να επιτευχθεί ο ιδεολογικός έλεγχος των εκμεταλλευόμενων και καταπιεσμένων τμημάτων της κοινωνίας. Τα θεσμικά ΜΜΕ, ο εκκλησιαστικός μηχανισμός της θρησκείας και το εκπαιδευτικό σύστημα, αποτελούν δομικούς μηχανισμούς για την προώθηση των πιο συντηρητικών και σκοταδιστικών δογμάτων, στην κατεύθυνση προώθησης της «εθνικής ενότητας και ομοψυχίας». Το τρίπτυχο «πατρίς, θρησκεία, οικογένεια» επανέρχεται ενισχυμένο στο προσκήνιο, καθώς οι κυρίαρχοι επιχειρούν να διασπείρουν και να ενισχύσουν τα θεμελιώδη ιδεολογήματα και δομικά χαρακτηριστικά του κρατισμού, της αστικής δημοκρατίας και του εθνοκεντρισμού (εθνικισμός, ανορθολογισμός, πατριαρχία). Ο εθνικισμός-πατριωτισμός, ως ιδεολογικός πυλώνας της αστικής κυριαρχίας, έχει ιστορικά αποτελέσει πετυχημένο ιδεολογικό εργαλείο του κράτους, για την χειραγώγηση των συνειδήσεων των υπηκόων του. Σε συνθήκες καπιταλιστικής κρίσης, ανάγεται σε κυρίαρχο ενοποιητικό αφήγημα πλούσιων και φτωχών, καταπιεστών και καταπιεσμένων, εκμεταλλευτών και εκμεταλλευόμενων. Ως πολιτική ιδεολογία του κράτους και ως βασικός πυλώνας της κοινωνικής του νομιμοποίησης, ο εθνικισμός-πατριωτισμός αναβαθμίζεται από τους ιδεολογικούς (σχολείο, παν/μιο, ΜΜΕ, στρατός) και κατασταλτικούς (στρατός, αστυνομία, δικαστικό σύστημα) μηχανισμούς του, προκειμένου να επιτευχθεί η πολυπόθητη για τα αφεντικά «εθνική ενότητα», ως αντίβαρο στη διαμόρφωση ταξικής συνείδησης. Για την ενίσχυση της εθνικής ενότητας επιστρατεύονται τόσο εξωτερικοί (Μακεδονία-FYROM, Τουρκία) όσο και εσωτερικοί (όσοι δεν εμπίπτουν ή αμφισβητούν την κυρίαρχη εθνική αφήγηση) «εχθροί του έθνους». Το εθνικό αφήγημα, που προσπαθεί να θολώσει και να σκεπάσει τις οξυνόμενες ταξικές και κοινωνικές αντιθέσεις, βρίσκει εύφορο έδαφος σε κομμάτι του κοινωνικού σώματος, με αποτέλεσμα τα εθνικιστικά, ρατσιστικά και πολεμοχαρή συλλαλητήρια του τελευταίου χρόνου σε Θεσσαλονίκη, Αθήνα και επαρχιακές πόλεις.

Τα φασιστικά και ακροδεξιά κόμματα υποστηρίζουν ιδεολογικά κι εκμεταλλεύονται αυτόν τον κρατικό σχεδιασμό, αυξάνοντας την πολιτική και κοινωνική τους επιρροή μέσω της προώθησης της εθνικιστικής ιδεολογίας. Από την άλλη, η ουσιαστική πολιτική συμφωνία της αριστεράς (κυβερνώσας και αντικυβερνητικής, κοινοβουλευτικής και εξωκοινοβουλευτικής, μνημονιακής και αντιμνημονιακής) στο ιδεολόγημα της φαντασιακής κοινότητας του «έθνους», παίρνει σάρκα και οστά με την προπαγάνδιση κρατικών μοντέλων «εθνικής» ανεξαρτησίας, προωθώντας και ενισχύοντας την εθνική-πατριωτική συνείδηση των κατώτερων κοινωνικών στρωμάτων. Με αυτό τον τρόπο, η αριστερά ενισχύει τις στρατηγικές επιδιώξεις κράτους και κεφαλαίου.

Το σύγχρονο αστικό κράτος, τόσο ως δομή όσο και ως κοινωνική σχέση, δημιούργησε και εξέθρεψε τον εθνικισμό-πατριωτισμό και συμπορεύτηκε μαζί του, σε τέτοιο βαθμό που να θεωρούνται πλέον από την συντριπτική πλειοψηφία, ως αξεδιάλυτες έννοιες. Έτσι, κάθε ιδεολογικό σύστημα το οποίο αποδέχεται το κράτος είτε ως το ιδανικό σύστημα κοινωνικής οργάνωσης, είτε ως εργαλείο για την ταξική και κοινωνική χειραφέτηση, είναι αναγκασμένο να αποδεχτεί, σε μικρότερο ή μεγαλύτερο βαθμό, και το ιδεολόγημα του έθνους. Το μοναδικό πολιτικό ρεύμα που επί εκατοντάδες χρόνια αντιτάχθηκε, από τη γέννησή του κιόλας, τόσο στο κράτος όσο και στο αστικό ιδεολόγημα του εθνικισμού, ήταν (και παραμένει) το αναρχικό ρεύμα. Απέναντι στον κόσμο της εξουσίας, απέναντι στον σύγχρονο ολοκληρωτισμό κράτους και κεφαλαίου, οφείλουμε να υψώσουμε συλλογικά ελευθεριακά αναχώματα ανάσχεσης της ολομέτωπης επίθεσής τους, αποδομώντας καταρχήν έναν από τους βασικότερους ιδεολογικούς πυλώνες του κράτους, αυτόν της εθνικιστικής-πατριωτικής ιδεολογίας. Η αποδόμηση αυτή αποτελεί ταυτόχρονα και την αναγκαία συνθήκη για την οικοδόμηση της ελευθεριακής επαναστατικής προοπτικής, που στρατηγικό της στόχο έχει την καταστροφή κράτους και κεφαλαίου και την κοινωνική και ατομική απελευθέρωση.

ΚΑΝΕΝΑ «ΕΘΝΟΣ» ΔΕΝ ΜΑΣ ΕΝΩΝΕΙ, ΚΑΝΕΝΑ ΣΥΝΟΡΟ ΔΕΝ ΜΑΣ ΧΩΡΙΖΕΙ.

15 Σεπτέμβρη 2018

Αναρχική Συλλογικότητα Καθ’οδόν & Αναρχική Συλλογικότητα mⒶnifesto

Εκδήλωση – συζήτηση, Σάββατο 22 Σεπτέμβρη στις 18:30′, αρχιτεκτονική σχολή Π.Θ.

aotearoa / pacific islands / migration / racism / opinion / analysis Sunday September 16, 2018 08:04 byPink Panther

This article looks at the phenomenon of recent migration to Europe and Aotearoa/New Zealand, highlighting both commonalities and differences.

The fascistic Sweden Democrats have become the third largest political party in their Parliament in this month’s elections. The two main political parties have stated they won’t form a coalition with them. However, there might not be an option if they want to avoid having to go back to the polls.

All over Europe ultra-nationalist and racist parties are springing up and winning elections. Why?

Since at least 2012 Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen have been plunged into civil wars that have been marked by levels of atrocities, massacres and other war crimes on a scale that haven’t been seen in decades. Millions of people have been driven out of their homes and forced to leave their war-torn countries. Millions more are on the move, cast out by repressive regimes or the loss of livelihoods as the result of economic, political and social instability or upheaval in their countries.

It’s estimated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that there are fifteen million Iraqis and Syrian refugees and internally displaced people (Millions of refugees at risk in the Middle East as winter funds dwindle, October 3rd, 2017, UNHCR website). It is impossible to tell how many of these refugees have fled to Europe but the European Parliament estimates that around 2.5 million migrants entered Europe between 2015 and 2017 (“EU migrant crisis: facts and figures”, European Parliament News, June 30th, 2017). Most of them have ended up in Germany and Italy.

Their arrival in Europe was initially mostly welcomed but the sheer numbers of people arriving quickly began to overwhelm local housing providers, social agencies and other organisations. It also didn’t help that a few were involved in anti-social crimes. Of course, the establishment media coverage was often sensationalist around those isolated incidents. On January 3rd the BBC website had an article emblazoned with the headline “Germany: Migrants ‘may have fuelled violent crime rise’.” On January 17th the New York Times had the headline “A Girl’s Killing Puts Germany’s Migration Policy on Trial”. However, it was the far-right vigilante mobs in Chemnitz in Germany who were hunting down and attacking foreigners, including two migrant teenagers – an Afghan and a Syrian – who were accused of killing a German man that finally revealed how deep anti-migrant sentiments run there.

It’s not just in Germany that this sentiment is being expressed. Xenophobic views have played a major role in the election of anti-immigration nationalist governments in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

In Aotearoa/New Zealand we haven’t faced large numbers of refugees putting pressure on already over-stretched social services, state housing and health care. That is primarily the result of the tyranny of distance but it’s also because general immigrants encounter a points system to determine if a person has the qualifications, skills or wealth that the bosses and government deem valuable. The more points a person has the more likely s/he will be allowed to move here.

Refugees don’t go through the points system. They go through a refugee centre where they learn about local cultures, customs and laws. By the time they enter the community they will usually have a place to live, an income (often a social welfare benefit) and someone to help them to integrate.

As a result of the points system, processing procedures and geographical isolation it’s nearly impossible for undocumented immigrants to get here. This has helped to create the belief that immigrants are better educated, harder working and wealthier than many of the locals so they are more likely to be hired to work in better paying jobs than their counterparts in Europe. There is also a more prevalent culture of accepting immigrants and refugees here. Perhaps this is a legacy of the fact everyone here with the exception of the tangata whenua are fairly recent immigrants themselves or descendants of immigrants. As a generalisation, ignorance rather than outright bigotry tends to have been the biggest barrier faced by the most recent arrivals in Aotearoa.

However, it would be misleading to claim there’s no anti-immigration sentiments. Some people labour under the delusion that the Muslim community is seeking to impose Sharia law upon this country (“Sharia Law Inside New Zealand”, www.whaleoil.co.nz, April 13th, 2017) while others, like the Salvation Army, believe that immigrants are taking jobs away from the unemployed (“Too many jobs going to migrants – Sallies”, RNZ, October 19th, 2016). Perhaps the biggest source of discontent with immigrants in recent times was due to the mistaken perception they were driving up house prices to the point few locals can afford to buy a house. Riding on the back of this anti-immigrant populism, the Labour-led government banned foreigners from owning existing housing stock earlier this year. Thus far, house prices show no signs of coming down.

It would also be wrong to assume that life has been sweet for all of the immigrants coming to this country. According to the RNZ website exploitation of migrant workers living in New Zealand is becoming such a big problem that the government has set up an inquiry to look into the issue. (“Migrant exploitation cases growing – advocate”, RNZ, March 8th, 2018.)

Despite some grumbling from certain quarters immigrants and refugees are mostly still welcome in Aotearoa and, at a time when countries in the rich regions of the northern hemisphere are calling for an end to immigration and taking in refugees, many here want the refugee quota to be doubled from 5000 a year to 10,000. So why are so many Europeans supporting anti-immigration parties?

In Europe it’s hard for some in the middle class to grasp that much of Europe’s working classes have still not recovered from the 2008 Great Recession. The majority of the migrants have ended up in areas where there is already high unemployment, shortages of affordable housing and poverty caused by austerity measures that have hit the poor and the working classes the hardest. For a lot of workers these migrants are seen as competition for scarce resources. It also doesn’t help that these areas sometimes have minimal cultural diversity. The local people aren’t used to living with anyone but other people from their own culture, ethnicity and nationality. This is particularly true in the case of Austria, eastern Germany, Hungary and Sweden.

For all concerned in Europe the migrant crisis has been one heck of a culture shock and this has led to the rapid rise of populist anti-immigration, alt-right identitarian and other fascistic groups. It has also led to violent clashes between migrants and extreme-Right groups, especially in Germany. There has been some effort to counter this, but the mainstream attempts have often been things such as marches or music festivals. While holding anti-fascist rallies and concerts can be a component of a co-ordinated and comprehensive fightback, they will achieve little beyond the symbolic in themselves.

Two key issues mark the difference between European and Aotearoa/New Zealand immigration.

The first is that the immigrants and refugees coming here mostly want to be here. In the case of Europe many of the migrants don’t want to be there. They are stuck in Europe because there’s no other option. As the Irish Times article “Road to Damascus: the Syrian refugees who want to go home” (December 2, 2017) makes clear they face legal, financial and practical hurdles which prevent them from returning and many, if not most, of them can expect to be arrested, conscripted or executed if they ever set foot back in Syria.

The second is that most immigrants coming here are lifestyle immigrants looking for a better life for themselves and their families in a country perceived as relatively peaceful and stable and economically and environmentally better than their places of origin. The reality of course is more nuanced than that.(there are real problems of economic disparity, housing, environmental damage and social and economic legacies of the colonial robbery of indigenous people etc.) but that’s the perception or draw card at least. Many have the option of returning home if they choose. Even the refugees in New Zealand seem to like it here and most of them would prefer to stay rather than return home, (“Resettled Syrian refugees talk of life half a world away from their homeland” Stuff website, June 25th, 2016.) In Europe they’re not looking for a better life. They’re looking for a place where they can feel safe and stay alive until they can return home.

Immigration is a big issue everywhere but there are differing factors which drive immigration in different parts of the world, despite the fact there is a common underlying economic system. Also, the impact on the societies which immigrants end up in can be primarily positive, negative or a combination of both. That’s the complex reality.

When local working people perceive they have largely been forgotten it should not come as a shock when their reaction to immigrants is far from welcoming. It should come as no surprise when they vote for demagogues and political parties preying on their fears. It should also not be a major revelation when liberals end up being abused for their willingness to open up opportunities to these migrants. After all, they aren’t moving into the nice middle class neighbourhoods where most liberals live or applying for the types of jobs that most liberals are employed in.

The migrants risking literally everything to get to Europe are not to blame for the situation they find themselves in. Blaming them and running them out of town (literally in some cases) is not the solution. Nor is electing racist and ultra-nationalist leaders and political parties into office. The only solution in the longer term is to sort out the mess that colonial powers of the past, primarily France and the United Kingdom, and various current local tyrants, despots and rival regional powers have created. That means people at the grassroots working hard to alter the map of the area in their own favour, to amend the artificial boundaries and hierarchical structures in place now and finding more natural alternatives. These islands would also benefit from a similar process.

We also need to address the built-in inequalities and injustices of a Capitalist class system that pits local workers against migrant workers for the same jobs and resources. This same class system also entrenches many of the tyrants and despots whose actions have forced millions of people in the Middle East and North Africa to flee to Europe. It also divides immigrants into various classes of desirable and undesirable people with working class people often being relegated to the ranks of undesirables who never get selected for refugee or points systems quotas.

In this country immigration control is relatively easy because these islands are so remote and so it’s difficult to get here. As noted, the people who migrate here mostly want to be here and they are, for the most part, accepted by the local people. It is worth noting however, that the points system and, therefore, those who can get into Aotearoa, is weighted heavily in favour of the middle classes and petty bourgeoisie classes.

To conclude, we need to put our heads together and work out methods for dealing with both the differing and shared aspects of the immigration phenomenon that exist in the antipodes and Europe. Perhaps then we might get real solutions to the challenges posed by immigration and the bigger threat that lurks behind most of the world’s injustices: Capitalism.

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