U.S. and World Politics

The Refugee Crisis

By Carole Seligman

The multiple crises hitting the U.S. are affecting the whole world—hunger, lack of shelter, clean water, and healthcare, degradation of the environment that sustains humans, and multiple species of animals and plants.

The clearest expose of the worldwide nature of these crises comes from the organization Doctors without Borders. In their current publication, Alert, “Life on the Move, Calling for a Humane Response to Migration,” they quote this staggering fact: “In May, just ahead of World Refugee Day, On June 20, the United Nations Refugee Agency reported that the number of people forcibly displaced from their homes had climbed above 100 million for the first time in recorded history. A figure that’s almost incomprehensible.”

The reports points out that the majority are internally displaced people (IDP) and quantifies some of the largest displacement crises as follows:

Central America and Mexico: 850,000 refugees and asylum seekers, 318,000 IDPs in Honduras and El Salvador; Central Sahel: Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, one million refugees, 2.8 million IDPs; Nigeria: 336,000 refugees in Chad, Niger, Cameroon, 2.9 million IDPs; Democratic Republic of Congo: one million refugees, 5.5 million IDPs; Ukraine: 6.8 million refugees, 7.1 million IDPs; Yemen: 4.3 million IDPs; Syria: 5.6 million refugees, 6.9 million IDPs; Afghanistan: 2.6 million refugees, 3.8 million IDPs; Rohingya Refugees: 980,000 refugees, 223,000 IDPs in Myanmar’s Rakhine State [Burma].

The Doctors Without Borders report highlights the double standards in the world’s response to this huge crisis:

“[N]ot all of these displaced people are treated equally. While the European Union swiftly activated its Temporary Protective Directive for the first time, granting Ukrainians arriving there the right to live, work, attend school, and travel freely within its borders, Doctors Without Borders…teams continue to witness people fleeing crisis in other countries being left to drown at sea, intercepted and pushed back at borders, denied humanitarian assistance, and criminalized for seeking safety.

“It’s not just the EU. This inhumane ‘double standard’ is mirrored in the migration policies of governments from Europe to the United States, with dire health consequences.”

The report points out that the positive response to Ukrainian refugees “shows that the EU and the U.S. have always had the tools to provide safe passage and humane reception for people seeking safety….”

So, why don’t they do it?

Universal, international solidarity is a principle of the world socialist movement. The capitalist system has the opposite approach—war, competition, race- and nationalist-based exclusion of refugees, unless a labor shortage requires immigration.

The capitalist system itself is in severe crisis. The declining rate of profit (amidst a burgeoning wealth gap between the richest .01 percent and the poorest section of the population) is driving the capitalist class toward more severe exploitation of the working class and fighting tooth and nail against even modest reforms such as raising the pitiful minimum wage of $7.25/hour in the United States, the wealthiest country!

The articles in this issue of Socialist Viewpoint elucidate the irrationality of the capitalist system, which dominates all aspects of our lives—the economic system, the distribution of the necessities of life, the natural environment, the very air we breathe, to name only a few. What needs to be said is that in order to begin to solve the crises besetting the world and the U.S., we must embrace a different social system, one based on the health of planet Earth including us humans. As the article titled, “Imagining the Socialist Future on Earth and in the Solar System,” explains, this requires a collective approach, a thoroughgoing revolution to bring about a socialist society that solves our basic problems and crises starting with the abolition of private profit as the motor force of society.

We advocate an end to violence and war by abolishing the weapons manufacturers. We advocate collective approaches to the production of food, housing, healthcare, energy, and the environment. The workers of all these industries—the farmworkers, the construction workers, the doctors, nurses, researchers, the workers in all the energy industries and environmental workers—know best how to organize and run these industries without regard for profiteering. They need to be in control.

When we begin to solve the crises in the wealthy capitalist centers of the global economy, ending the extreme exploitation of, and resource theft from the developing world, then humanity will be able to end the refugee crisis.