Democracy and Class Struggle says while the examples in this article are specific to Norway the message is universal and timely, especially the exposure of conspiracy theories against the Marxist method.An excellent theoretical contribution from Norwegian comrades in the fight against racism and for revolutionary socialism.
Resistance to immigration from the Left is a reactionary dead-end – chauvinism must be fought also when disguised as socialism
Not even reds are vaccinated against racism
The Norwegian singer-songwriter Hans Rotmo was for a period perhaps the best known radical leftist musician in Norway. Over the last years he has stirred up controversy with his racist outbursts against Muslims. Not only Muslims, but also people living on social benefits have tasted the sharp tongue who once berated CEOs and party bosses in the seventies.
Some of the commentators say that the older Rotmo has not really broken with the younger, that he is only continuing the homage of Vømmøl Spellemannslag (his former band) to the Norwegian countryside and agriculture, as well as their resistance to capitalist “modernization”.
Thus they try to denigrate the Norwegian marxist-leninist movement of the seventies with the brown stain of fascism. They try to connect racism and reactionary stances with the Left.
This is correct and mistaken at the same time, but what is correct in this criticism is what makes the criticism invalid at the same time. “The Left” and radicals have never been – and are still not – vaccinated against racism and scepticism towards immigration. But this applies to all political tendencies, and other tendencies are characterized by this to a much greater extent than “the Left”.
Chauvinism is the norm in the imperialist countries
Chauvinism is a not deviation in this society, it is the norm. The Norwegian state and the ruling class promotes every day a gross chauvinism. It must do this in order to explain why particularly this state (the Norwegian) is so rich and “successful”, while most countries and people around the world are poor and oppressed. The chauvinism (“we are better than them”) hides the truth, which is that the wealth of Norwegian capital comes from imperialist exploitation and oppression.
Chauvinism shapes the thought of most political camps, from the Labour Party’s Gro Harlem Brundtland’s “it is typically Norwegian to be good” to the hatred towards Muslims and the battle against “covert Islamization” that the leadership of the Progress Party stands for. We are seeing racists trying to justify their chauvinism with all kinds of rhetoric. Some use race biology and some use quotations from the Bible, but it is even possible to use the language of feminism and humanitarianism in order to spread racist bigotry.
The Norwegian state upholds a racist immigration policy and it upholds a chauvinistic policy when it claims that Afghans need Norwegian military intervention if they are to build “democracy” (which is just a way of justifying imperialism). All the time the Norwegian state is being portrayed as a benefactor and peace arbiter, but this is to turn reality on its head. The Norwegian state is a rogue state that profits enormously on the exploitation of other countries, and which has bombed a number of sovereign states without having been attacked itself.
Chauvinism and imperialism go hand in hand and they permeate society. One does not free oneself from chauvinism by simply declaring oneself a leftist. And left-wing and anti-racist organizations must therefore also work to educate people that have been affected by the dominant way of thinking in society.
To liberate oneself from such thinking requires constant ideological effort. It requires that one sees racism as a structural problem. And it requires that one has a serve-the-people mentality to all the poor and oppressed peoples of the world, not only to those in their own country and/or nation.
Breivik “one of us” – same worldview as Siv Jensen
No liberals, conservatives, or social democrats shall glory over the fact that there are chauvinists who label themselves as “reds” or “leftists”. There are enough examples of bigots (be they anti-Semites, anti-Muslims, or opponents of immigration in general) in most Norwegian political parties.
In the racist Progress Party, gross chauvinism is the official line. In the Labour Party and the Conservative Party chauvinism is hidden under a thin layer of “humanitarianism”, while at the same time they are responsible for the bombing of poor people in foreign countries and the closure of Norwegian borders.
And in the smaller parties as well there is not a vast gulf that separates the “scepticism” towards minorities and refugees from sheer antipathy. Even in the Socialist Left Party it was revealed that leading politicians were also members of the fascist group Stop the Islamization of Norway. There are a number of minor and big scandals where Norwegian politicians have acted or formulated themselves in a gross racist manner – from all Norwegian parties.
When the bourgeois media tried to explain the terror of Breivik, they explained it as the actions of an utter deviant and outcast. And even though he himself as a person, and his brutal actions, were clearly extraordinary, it nevertheless remains a fact that many of his thoughts are well in line with what is being promoted in ordinary Norwegian media and forums of debate.
He portrayed himself as a champion against “Nazism, Communism, and Islamism”, a trinity which itself is totally improbable.
But that exact same thinking is also what the leader of the Progress Party (Frp), Siv Jensen, stands for.
In the newspaper Klassekampen (a Norwegian leftist newspaper) she said the following:
“Throughout history we have defeated totalitarian ideologies like Nazism and later Communism. As a Liberalist I will always fight against such ideas and movements. Radical Islam is a dark and terrible ideology, and the fight against it is the most important struggle of our time”
This falls in line with common thinking among “liberals” of all colours, and it is the foundation upon which the so-called “totalitarianism research” taught at the universities is built.
Imperialism breeds chauvinism
It is a fallacy to conclude that mass murderers are ideological deviants. Many times their starting point is in currents that are strong in society, or at least in the milieus and social groups they participate in. When serial killers in the USA are for the most part white misogynists, homophobes, and/or racists, then this is an expression of the fact that such bigotry still remains strong within society, not that these mass murderers are ideological deviants. These are attitudes that are being promoted through patriarchy, capitalism, and white domination.
Racism and other forms of chauvinism is not something that goes against the ruling ideology in our society – rather on the contrary, it is completely in line with the ideology that our rulers promote. When these people discuss refugees it is always a question of expenses versus “our goodness”. The contradiction runs again and again between the “humanitarians” who say that “we can afford to help”, and the “realists” who are sceptical about the expenses, wants to tighten the purse, and instead propose to “help them where they are”. These lines of thinking are both rooted in the same old imperialist attitude, namely “the white man’s burden”. And both of them stand in stark contrast to reality, where Norwegian bomber aircraft and the allies of the Norwegian state murders and maims people in Libya and Syria.
These thoughts do not appear casually. They do not appear because the rulers lay evil plans, either. These are thoughts that are being bred by the system we live in today, of capitalism and imperialism. As long as Africa is being kept down in extreme poverty and is plagued by hunger, suffering, and wars – then this will breed thoughts that goes along the line of Africans being “weak”, that they are a threat to “our social benefits”, or that Europeans are better and more civilized. Just as rich people look down on poor people because of their bourgeois class position, Europe is marked by its past and current history where European and Western states have dominated and still dominate others.
Contradictions and immigration
Just as false as the holier-than-thou attitude of the ruling class, is their view on people. One of Marx’ most important discoveries was the law of surplus value, where he revealed that only human labour produce more value that it costs in capitalism. Immigrants to Norway do not primarily mean more expenses; nay, primarily it means that more people are coming who can do work that produce more value. A couple of years with help and support to become a part of society is nothing compared to the ten years of obligatory school, kindergarten, and all other kinds of “expenses” pertaining to those that are born and raised in Norway.
But people do not represent expenses to the capitalists, because people are the only source to their wealth. When the capitalists choose not to use the entire work force but let many instead remain in unemployment, then this is because it serves their interests having a reserve of potential new workers ready at hand. This helps keeping wages down, since many are those then who stand ready to take the jobs of disobedient workers. Furthermore they wish not only to exploit people, but to exploit them to the maximum and all the time to increase this exploitation. It is therefore no place for those who are sick or those who otherwise are not able to work 100% all the time.
But when we nevertheless observe that the capitalists are shutting out many refugees, the Norwegian state having put an end to immigration in 1976 (which still pertains), and the making of a political role-play when it comes to some thousands of Syrian refugees, then there are various complex reasons for this.
First of all, they have ever since the crisis in the seventies systematically moved the industry out of Europe and to regions where workers are hired on lower wages, like China and India, resulting in the lessened need for workers in many sectors in our part of the world.
Secondly, they have ever since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 had access to cheap labour in Eastern Europe. Industrial production was halved in Russia in only a few years, unemployment increased dramatically in the entirety of Eastern Europe, purchasing power plummeted, and a vast labour reserve was established that could be utilized fully when many of these countries became member states in the EU. There is no reason for the capitalists to import Asians as workers when they have Poles and Estonians ready at hand.
Thirdly, not every part of the bourgeoisie have an interest in the import of foreign labour. Many petty capitalists go bankrupt, or are at least threatened by bankruptcy, because bigger companies import labour and sell services on the cheap. These petty capitalists do not have the same opportunities to hire temporary, contractual workers. The petty capitalists also have their politicians who work to promote their particular interests.
Fourthly, it is not unlikely that many capitalists and politicians fear that more refugees will result in more conflicts and struggles in Europe. It is in the suburbs of several big European cities, suburbs characterized by many people of refugee or immigrant backgrounds, that the most militant riots have happened for the last twenty years in Europe, and not in workplaces in the (remaining) industrial sector.
We name only four points here, without attempting to say which one is the most important of them. Nevertheless, it can be of worth to look at the fourth point more closely. Certain elements within the bourgeoisie dread the consequences of the immigration to the European working class. They speak with the tongue of people like Christian Tybring-Gjedde and Per Sandberg of the Progress Party. The bourgeoisie are – like every other thing and relation – a unity of contradictions.
On the one hand you have those who have welcomed cheap labour; people who has to take the jobs that they can get and who are employed on worse terms than the workers who are established in these societies.
On the other hand they dread riots like the one in the Swedish suburb of Husby, as well as so-called “parallel societies”. Shortly put: They are afraid of losing their control over the working class, even if they at the same time wish to reduce the income of said class.
This is one of many political expressions of the fundamental contradiction in the capitalist way of production; namely the contradiction between social production and private acquisition. The capitalists are dependent upon selling their goods in a society where everything is connected to everything.
They need many people with enough purchasing power to buy their goods, but they are at the same time also dependent upon keeping the purchasing power of their workers down so that they can reap the profits when their goods are sold and the wages paid. This is a contradiction which cannot be solved under capitalism and it will again and again lead to crises related to overproduction and political conflicts.
Social democracy, immigration, and chauvinism
In the economic upswing after the Second World War the social democrats managed to establish strong control over the working class. This way the bourgeois ideology of class cooperation and labour peace, of togetherness between capitalists and workers, and the cross-political project of “the welfare state”, crippled the class struggle and the fight for revolution.
Through several waves since that time, the influence of the social democrats have been weakened; not among the organized “Left” – where reformism and conformity stands perhaps stronger than ever – but among the most exploited and oppressed segments of the working class: Here social democracy has not been so weak for a very long time.
The social democratic influence comes today to a larger degree from academicians, from the media and bureaucrats, and not from a thoroughly organized movement with social democratic local groups, cooperatives, sports teams and union clubs.
This organization is today but a pale shadow of past greatness, and has no longer any basis in neighbourhoods and in work places. This development also harmonize with the development of the social democratic parties themselves, where the very spine of these parties no longer are the worker-aristocrats, union bosses, bureaucrats and politicians recruited from the working class; but academicians and bureaucrats more attached to the state than to Landsorganisasjonen (the biggest trade union in Norway).
Even so the social democratic ideology remains extremely strong among those who label themselves “leftists” in this part of the world. This is not to be taken in the sense of them always aligning themselves with open social democracy or to classics in the history of social democratic ideology, such as Bernstein (a social democratic pioneer whom only a few social democrats have ever read or heard about), but rather in the sense of them surrendering completely to the narrow daily struggles of the working class, to reformism, and to what Lenin labelled “economism” and “spontaneityism”.
The core of revolutionary theory, from Marx to Lenin and to Mao – from Marcus Thrane to the early Labour Party and later to the Communist Party of Norway and then to the Workers’ Communist Party (m-l) – has been to organize the working class to fight the establishment for a new state and a new society. And the core of reformist social democracy has for just as long been to work within the establishment, where spontaneous resistance from working people are suppressed and channelled into harmless forms.
Ever since the dawn of capitalism parts of the working class – and other segments of the labouring people – have made spontaneous resistance against aspects of capitalism, but it has not always been directed against capitalism itself or against the capitalists. The Luddites attacked the emerging machinery which threatened small production. It happened also that many workers hindered women from taking work within their trade, because they feared that their wages would come down. And men from the cities fought against those coming from the countryside to seek work, who might have accepted lower wages. Foreigners could be perceived as a threat, due to the same reason. The bourgeoisie’s ideologues and the ruling ideology have always encouraged false consciousness and the dividing of the working class. Oppression of women, racism, chauvinism, hatred towards peasants – all of this have been valuable tools for keeping people down and divided, whether it is employed consciously or unconsciously.
Reactionary “socialism” and guild systems
In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels wrote about different forms of socialists that in words challenged capitalism, but who through their practice would not at all guide the working class to power. They describe amongst other things reactionary socialism; petty bourgeois and bourgeois currents that offered resistance to the development of capitalism, but on the foundation of a reactionary stance that everything was better before. They write:
“In the countries where modern civilization has developed a new petty bourgeoisie has been formed, which drifts between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and constantly forms anew, as a completion of bourgeois society. But competition casts all the time the members of the petty bourgeoisie down into the proletariat. Verily, with the development of big industry they see themselves the moment closing in when they will evaporate as an independent part of modern society and in commerce, manufacture, and agriculture, and are replaced by labour overseers and servanthood. In countries like France, where the peasantry represent far more than half of the population, it was natural that writers who acted to the benefit of the working class against the bourgeoisie utilized the yardstick of the petty bourgeoisie and the peasant in their criticism of bourgeois government, and aligned themselves with the working class from the standpoint of the petty bourgeoisie. Such was the way in which the petty bourgeois socialism was formed.”
Marx and Engels conclude thusly:
This socialism dissected in a highly shrewd way the contradictions in modern relations of production. It revealed the hypocritical sugar-coating of the economists. It demonstrated irrefutably the destructive effects of the machinery and the division of labour, the concentration of capital and basic property, overproduction, the crises, the petty bourgeoisie’s and the peasantry’s necessary demise, the misery of the proletariat, the anarchy of production, the gross disproportion in the allocation of wealth, the industrial war of annihilation between the nations, the dissolution of the old customs, the old family relations, the old nationalities.
In its positive content this socialism will either lead to the reestablishment of the old means of production and communication, and thereby the old relations of property and the old society, or it will result in a forceful shutting in of the modern means of production and communication within the framework of the old relations of property, which was broken by them, and which had to be broken. In both circumstances it is reactionary, and thereto utopian. Guild systems in manufacture and a patriarchal mode of production in the country, this is its last word.
It is a fitting description also of the socialists of our time; they who reveal the deficiencies of capitalism, but who do not set up any other alternatives than guild systems and a wish to stop or turn back the clock.
The dream of the welfare state, of the Swedish “folkhemmet” (literally: Peoples home), the romancing of the social democracy of the fifties – these are all expressions of the petty bourgeois frustration and of their repugnance to the development of capitalism. The so-called “class cooperation” after the war is being portrayed as a victory for the working class, when in reality this was a historical defeat for the revolutionary proletariat in Western Europe.
The flattering picture is also a deceiving one; in the fifties there were many who were poor, and there even existed veritable slums in Norwegian cities. It is therefore probably too much ignorance, combined with nostalgia, on the part of those who remember those times fondly. Marx and Engels writes about the guild systems, and it is worth dwelling on this point.
Before the modern working class and its trade unions, it was the guild who organized the working classes in the city. Craftsmen organized in professional guilds, and only members could become masters and recruit apprentices. The task of these guilds was to establish monopoly on labour within their trades, reduce competition, and increase payment. We still see the remains of such guild systems today, as when Norwegian medical doctors strive to keep the number of people in their profession down and their own wages high, through their influence on how many can enrol as medical students and through their influence over how many that can be appointed as doctors.
When socialists today claim that the task of the trade unions was – and is – to establish monopoly on labour, then that might just as well describe the guild system. This way of thinking then influence the view on immigration, where this immigration is seen as a threat to social welfare or wages and the solution becomes to strengthen the guild character of the trade unions.
This is in stark opposition to what has historically been the radical and revolutionary line in the trade unions, namely to unite those who can be united to fight in the class struggle, and not mainly to establish an economic monopoly directed at raising wages, but to establish a fighting community to combat capitalism; as well as not to fight for the interests of only parts of the class against other parts of the class, but to combat a common enemy.
In the so-called Strasbourg theses to the Communist International the communists advocated to unite workers independent of distinctions pertaining to trades and disciplines – even independent of membership in the trade unions – and to establish strike committees independent of social democratic control. This is in clear contrast to particular modern left social democrats who demand that only workers organized in trade unions should have tariff wages (in order to enforce membership of the trade unions)
Trade union consciousness and chauvinism, or the organization of revolts?
In his book What is to be done Lenin said that the working class cannot develop a revolutionary socialist consciousness spontaneously, but that this will have to be attained through science, studies, and organized political struggle. Spontaneously the working class will only develop a “trade union consciousness”, a simple understanding of the fact that it is wise to stand together to defend common interests. A trade union consciousness like that is no vaccine or protection against chauvinism or guild mentality. All the way throughout the organizational history of the working class, there has been a struggle between different strategies that increase or decrease the distinctions of disciplines within the class. The revolutionary line has as a rule been to unite all who can be united against the main enemy, against the capitalists; while different social democrats and chauvinists have fostered hatred directed against peasants, women, foreigners, or they have promoted their own profession against other professions and on the expense of them.
Spontaneously it can seem logical to band up with those who are like oneself, and to hold one’s own group interest against others, even within the class. This, however, is remarkably harmful if the goal is to unite the entire working class and all oppressed peoples against a common enemy, and to isolate this enemy as much as possible. Differences and several layers of oppression can be used by the enemy to drive a wedge through the working class; but it can also just as well be utilized to instigate an intense and diversified war against capitalism from innumerable fronts.
Poor refugees in Norway today represents no threat to the Norwegian working class – rather on the contrary, these are people who have even more reason than native workers to rebel against capitalism. There are concrete examples of this, like when the Union of Hotel and Restaurant Employees concluded that many of its members with foreign backgrounds take with them to Norway a more militant trade union culture and more socialist consciousness from countries where the class struggle is fiercer than in Norway. The riots in the suburbs are also an expression of something similar. Real revolutionaries do not dread these struggles or riots, but would rather work to organize these, organize the participants, and make sure that they do not become only a spontaneous gust of discontent – but that they can be developed into a prolonged struggle against the capitalist system and become part of the foundation of a revolutionary movement.
Modern reactionary “socialism”
In this context we find “leftist oriented” chauvinists who are not content with promoting a guild like system, but who also adopts the language of the Progress Party and the Sweden Democrats when they talk about “mass immigration” as a strategy used by the “elite” in order to destroy Scandinavian and European culture and welfare, and who feels themselves oppressed by the “PC mafia” (PC = “politically correct”) in the media. Here one can find more intellectual formulations of the same thinking that Hans Rotmo expresses in a vulgar way.
These people will of course not consider themselves racists, but in the Facebook group “We who care about the newspaper _Klassekampen_” there is a flourishing of statements against immigration, as well as much attention dedicated to “Jewish power”. The French Front National and Marine Le Pen are described as skilful politicians who address issues the Left ought to take up (immigration versus social welfare).
This is how deep reactionary “socialism” can sink, that it establishes a common worldview with conspiracy theorists, racists, and fascists. It is in no way typical of people who stands on the Left, but unfortunately not something entirely new or alien, either.
In the beginning of the 20th century the German August Bebel wrote that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools, because it connects the exploitation which must necessarily be a part of capitalism to a particular people or religion.
It is as idiotic to connect organized crime, poverty, and marginalization – conditions that have to occur in capitalism, and especially capitalism in crisis – to particular minorities.
Here the technical functionaries can be found, those who study and work with technical solutions and who therefore easily attains an attitude towards society marked by their fixation on technology. To them, progress in society follows mechanical progress in technology, and development in general happens in a seemingly systematic manner, from organized systems. When their daily work routine, and often spare time as well, is characterized by technology, they hasten to assume that society in general works like technology, mechanical cause-and-effect, and someone pushing the buttons. A way of thinking like this opens the door wide open for conspiracy theories.
In the petty bourgeoisie one can find the cultured counterparts to these technicians, whom with their sociological and social anthropological models of explanation ends up seeing everything systematic as the result of culture, ideology, thoughts and feelings. These two tendencies are apparently very different tendencies, but they are able to become combined, like when someone concludes that the elites controlling the world does so because of culture-specific group affiliations. Just around the corner, then, lies the bourgeois theoretician Samuel Huntingdon’s “clash of civilizations”, Russian Dugin’s “national bolshevism” or Norwegian Brendberg’s “the Jewish lobby governs the foreign policy of the USA” .
Brendberg writes in an article on Jewish influence that “the grand conspiracies” do not exist, but that the Jewish “networks” becomes an uncoordinated, spontaneous conspiracy by virtue of a common identity. He writes:
“Replace the conspiracy with networks and you close in on the realities. Networks and conspiracies are two different things. The network has only a tiny, if any, coordinating central. It is not governed through orders and a chain of services, but through improvisation, ideal, common understanding, common taboo and common identity. Network organizing was the traditional model of organization the Jewish minority had. In this manner the European Jewish bank families exchanged capital and marriage.”
Brendberg was in the past driven out of the Red Party because of his monomaniacal agitation against Jews, and in the above quotation he gives a good example of how seemingly different ways of looking at the world can come together.
It is also a good example of Bebel’s “socialism of the idiots”, where a general capitalist organization (in this particular instance a network between the powerful) is made into something distinctively Jewish.
Conspiracy theories against the Marxist method
These are other ways of seeing development than the one following the Marxist method. Engels opined that the greatest discovery of Marx was Historical Materialism, in effect the dialectical materialism of Marxism applied to history (the next most important discovery was in his eyes the discovery of the law of surplus value in capitalism). This Marxist view on history is an understanding of societal development where technical innovations – the development of the means of production – requires changes in how production happens, but that these changes are inhibited, hindered and kept back by the classes who dominate the status quo. Marx’ thesis is then that only class struggle, led by the class(es) that have an interest in continued development and abolishment of the established relations, can enforce the necessary revolutions.
Engels writes the following in his preface to the Communist Manifesto:
“The consistent fundamental thought in the Manifesto: that the economic production and the societal division that necessarily follows from it, forms in every historical epoch this epoch’s political and intellectual history: that as a result of this the entirety of history (ever since the dissolution of ancient common property of earth and soil) has been a history of class struggles (…) but that this struggle now has reached a stage where the exploited and oppressed class (the proletariat) no longer can liberate itself from the exploitative and oppressive class (the bourgeoisie) without at the same time liberating all of society forever from exploitation, oppression and class struggles.”
And in a different preface to the same work he says that this theory is in his opinion “destined to do the same for history as the theory of Darwin has done for biology”.
Thus Marxism does not view history first and foremost as a struggle between clever minds who conspire, or the struggle between the networks of ethnicities, or the “elite against the masses”; but as a struggle between classes with differing class interests. The most important and governing system
Marx and Engels revealed was not conspiracies from above, but the contradictions in the depths of the capitalist production, which rises up and acts through the class struggle. Such an understanding can of course become mechanical and flat if:
One only sees the class struggle and no other contradictions.
Or if one only sees the influence upwards (from base to superstructure) and not the influence downwards (from superstructure to base).
Or if one believes that the classes themselves are not units of contradictions, but instead are simple and monolithic groups that always have common interests internally.
By using a mechanical and not a dialectical understanding it becomes difficult to comprehend why particular groups in the bourgeoisie goes far in order to defend liberal freedoms, while others quickly turn to fascism; or how parts of the bourgeoisie have an apparent desire of a liberal immigration policy, while others want to “tighten it”.
Communists are not averse to take advantage of these contradictions and even to ally themselves with bourgeois democrats against bourgeois fascists; but we must all the way combat every indication of chauvinism. When some liberals are rousing hatred against Muslims (for example in connection with the Charlie Hebdo massacre), secular socialists might be tempted to jump on the bandwagon against reactionary religion – but then they will soon end up kicking a minority which already lies down and is persecuted. And even worse if one accepts the agenda of the Progress Party by attacking the working class youth of Groruddalen (a working class district in Oslo with many immigrants) or blaming immigrants for the attack on social benefits and social rights instigated by the bourgeoisie.
Reactionary “socialism”, or forwards-looking communism?
The alternative of the communists is not to fight for a romanticized picture of the past, It is all too common to dress the past up in a veil of forgetfulness. Sterilization of Roma people, assimilation of the Sami, blind obedience towards NATO and the hunt for communists, dissipates in a romantic portrayal of the “safe and secure” welfare state and a homogeneous society.
The Red Party has gone far in this context, as exemplified by them reprinting old Labour Party posters with the slogan “Build the country”. And there is something sad about the Red Party’s last attempts at combating “crimes in the workplaces”, and thus trying to take up the political struggle in the favoured domain of both the Labour Party and the Progress Party. They could have had a chance if they made themselves the representatives of poor people, people on welfare, beggars, and drug addicts, but instead they try to become the “law and order” party in Norwegian workplaces. Slightly tragic and comical at the same time, but also an expression of the petty bourgeois socialism – the one which ends up as reactionary and therefore utopian. It is to no use attempting to carve out red politics for the working class in the future, when the romanticized picture of Norway in the fifties and the Labour Party state are your ideal. You get just as far (or short) with religious visions of utopian future societies. Revolutionary communists do not view immigrants or refugees as a threat to our class or to our struggle.
We see them as part of the people we wish to serve. And we do not see the welfare state of the fifties as a good alternative for this people – not then, and not now. Our vision is not reactionary backwards-looking, but revolutionary forwards-looking. We see no idyll in the future, either. We know that a Europe riddled by crises will not offer any lasting safety for those who are here already or for our comrades who come here from different parts of the world. But we will not meet these challenges by supporting the walls and barbed wires of the reaction.
Resistance to immigration and social democracy
The concern for immigration politics is a dark variant of social democracy, where radicals beg for the opportunity to partake in administrating capitalism. In festive speeches they talk about socialism, but every day they try to appeal generally to reason and emotions in order to have a more benign capitalism.
They have no qualms with blurring their own analysis, as long as it leads to them reaching out more broadly with politics they believe can halt the development of capitalism or its bad aspects.
In Europe we see welfare cuts all over. These cuts do not depend upon immigration. To believe that this is how things are, is to confuse how the world looks on the surface with how it is on the inside. It is not the case that the capitalists must have foreign labour in order to reduce purchasing power, nor is it the case that welfare cannot be upheld as long as immigrants move here.
The crises in capitalism come as a result of this system’s own contradictions, which Marx revealed already 150 years ago. Ever since that time events have confirmed his discoveries. And even if cuts can be halted by struggling, it is only when the class struggles reach their conclusion in the revolution that the crises will be stopped. Until then the crises will occur – as certain as the Sun rising every day in the east – and with these crises come the destruction of capital, bankruptcies, and unemployment and wage cuts. To think that limiting immigration can succeed in stopping this is just as fruitless as saving the bankers and other capitalists when these crises occur. The crises will happen anyway as long as the system remains capitalistic.
It is much more likely that trade union activists begins talking like this, ending up cultivating chauvinism among petty bourgeoisie, the lumpenproletariat and the most backwards white workers – than succeeding in defending these groups against social dumping. The capitalists are not at all dependent upon immigration so as to dump wages or discard social rights. And if they cultivate the chauvinism among these groups, then the recruitment pool of the fascists will be increased; particularly when the social democrats prove that they in no way can stop these crises, even if they “take the problems concerning immigration seriously”.
The wars of the imperialists and Norwegian bombs cause more refugees than we will ever see in this part of the world. Only New Democratic and socialist revolutions can stop this barbarism. And until that happens communists stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who are bombed out of their homes, against “our own” bourgeoisie. And this we do without ending up in the swamp of conspiratorial internet warriors who speak about “helping the refugees where they are”. The best help we can give is to organize people for class struggle and a struggle against fascism and imperialism, here where we are. In order to do that it is crucial that we are not led astray into the dark bog of reformism or reaction.