The deaths of more than 1,300 people in only one week in the Mediterranean Sea has been called a tragedy. It is. But it is not a natural or inevitable one.
The people who died, and the thousands who have drowned before them, are fleeing war, poverty and the violence of counter-revolution.
They are desperate to find somewhere safe to build a future for themselves and their families.
Handwringing politicians such as David Cameron are hypocrites.
The media has focused on the possibility that many passengers may have been locked in the hold.
They are keen to blame the deaths on people traffickers who take refugees’ money to transport them on unseaworthy ships.
But the traffickers are a symptom of the problem, not its cause. The real culprits are the Western politicians.
They waged the imperialist wars. They have driven the racist anti-immigrant agenda and built up Fortress Europe to bar people from entering.
They made the decision not to fund rescue missions in the Mediterranean. They made racism mainstream and opened the way for the rise of far right and racist populist parties across Europe.
Some people dismiss Nigel Farage as a fool. But this is a dangerous mistake.
Ukip’s rise has pulled politics even further to the right.
Immigration became an election issue because the politicians made it one. The Tories and Ukip have been foul, but Labour has played its part too.
They all want us to believe that we can’t cope if we allow migrants in. They say there is not enough to go around.
But there are plenty of resources for council homes, the NHS and schools— if the richest were not hogging it all.
So when Ed Miliband makes an issue of NHS workers’ English, he is helping whip up racism.
When Labour makes controlling immigration one of its five pledges and produces a mug to drive the message home it is joining the racists’ game. It’s a game to compete with the Tories and Ukip over who is toughest on migrants.
But this game ends with people drowning in their thousands.
Ordinary people have swum out to the wreckage to rescue refugees. They do this out of basic human solidarity—something politicians cannot recognise in their self serving lives of privilege.
The revolutionary Karl Marx wrote that workers have no country. He meant that wherever workers live—whether that’s Syria, Eritrea, Britain or Italy—they do not have control.
They do not have common interest with those at the top who run society. Instead he said “workers of the world unite”.
Socialist Worker believes that immigration controls are racist and should be abolished. That’s why we are proud to say, “Refugees are welcome here.”