The latest episode of a long running drama is now playing out on the world’s TV screens. In the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, on the northern tip of Morocco, desperate people facing incredible peril, and willing to sacrifice all they have, are trying to find a new life. What added an extra dimension to the pathos was the reception given to the influx of refugees by the Spanish army, with photos of beatings emerging in the media.
These scenes occurred just one day after the bodies of migrants washed up on Ceuta’s shore. It is also emerging that legal processes to deal with the migrants are being disregarded by the Spanish authorities.
"Spain has sent troops to the enclave’s border and has already returned thousands of people, but groups say officials may be expelling people who legally should be processed as asylum seekers, including children, sick people or anyone who is not a Moroccan national."1
There is video evidence of Spanish troops throwing refugees into the sea and refugees being rounded up and detained in horrific conditions in warehouses.2 Thousands of refugees, rounded up and expelled, have been denied the already meagre legal rights they supposedly have, as summary deportations are only permitted for those detained at the border fence separating Morocco from Spain. There has already been at least one death by drowning.
The immediate cause of the migrants’ desperation, and the consequent brutal reception and hunt for “illegals” which itself formed part of an illegal expulsion, revolves around a three way dispute between Morocco, Spain and the Polisario Front. The latter takes its name from the Spanish abbreviation for the Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro, a so-called national liberation movement aiming to take control of the Western Sahara, which had been controlled by Spain, Mauritania, and, as of 2021, was under the rule of Morocco.3 Morocco objected to Spain’s treatment for Covid-19 of the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali. This prompted Morocco to ease its vigilance of the Morocco/Ceuta border and the migrants grabbed at the straw.
Here we have a microcosm of the current crisis-stricken global reality of capitalism. Its victim are always the dispossessed, those with nothing but their chains to lose. They have been reduced to acts of desperation due to the lack of prospects offered by a mode of production forced to attack the most vulnerable in order to maintain profitability. Against them, the forces of organised violence, army and police, always unleash barbarous violence. Today the focus is Ceuta, but a similar story could be written about the US-Mexico border where again the desperate risk life and limb to escape the economic dead end, now exacerbated by Covid and climate disaster, of Latin America. In Ceuta we see images of children, even a baby which according to the Civil Guard who rescued it "must have been very young because it was unable to hold its own neck" risking drowning and an unknown future, in the USA we see “children being dropped over a 14ft (4.2 m) wall by alleged smugglers at the US-Mexico border in New Mexico.”4 In both cases we are informed of atrocious conditions in warehouses/migrant detention centres for children and adults alike.
In Spain, the government is made up of a supposedly “progressive” coalition, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and Podemos, which claims to offer radical democracy. But in the context of a long running capitalist crisis where profitability requires attack after attack on proletarian conditions, time and time again, capitalism’s left wing reveals its utter bankruptcy and true character of faithful servant of the ruling class with nothing to placate the working class. In unleashing the army and police, rounding up thousands, mistreating and expelling them illegally, we see yet another verification of the authentic communist perspective that every capitalist regime is a ruling class dictatorship and there is no essential difference between the parliamentary and the fascist elements which serve the capitalist elite and are all equally capable of doing whatever it takes to maintain class rule.
We can also mention the fact that the European Union has come down solidly on the side of Spain. There are no lesser evils under capitalism. The rhetoric may vary but the left and right wings of capitalism serve the same purpose – the perpetuation of the exploitation of the working class, the upholding of the state machine which Marx declared “...an instrument for the suppression of the working class, nothing else!” and the waging of the constant war, by whatever method deemed necessary, with rival capitalist gangs the world over. The victim in Ceuta, at the US-Mexican border, indeed, the world over, is the dispossessed, chief of which is the working class.
Another day, another disaster. Today the desperate risk all to escape unbearable conditions of existence, tomorrow…what? – Imperialist war? Climate catastrophe? Human extinction? Today humanity seems trapped in the vice of an unsustainable system built on the divisions of class and nation. Living and working conditions are steadily eroding with no hope of a better day so long as the system, the capitalist system, stands. The crisis may be unfolding on every front but the trajectory to destruction is not inevitable. Grim as the reality may be this juggernaut can be halted. Once again we are approaching a historic crossroads. On the one hand, as illustrated by the events of Ceuta, just one horror amongst many, we seem to be descending into barbarism. Conflict on a grand scale between capitalist powers with the exploited majority caught in the crossfire is in the offing. On the other we can reject the siren songs of every capitalist faction, from left to right and come together as a class to bury a sick system which has played out any progressive role it may have had long ago, and offers nothing but more misery. If sanity is to prevail, we must go to the root of the matter. We must reject capitalism with its divisions of class and nation. The world working class has to organise to make the entire system history. Barbarism or socialism is the historic alternative facing us all.
27 May 2021
- 2A policeman deployed to Ceuta who spoke to El País on condition of anonymity reported the horrific conditions endured by children in the warehouse. “I am also a father,” he said, noting that many were kept over 15 hours without any food. “Some were diabetic, I found them fainting, literally. I had a few nuts on me, and we had to give them food and water ourselves.” wsws.org
- 3In the background, the imperialist manoeuvres of the great powers are involved “… the Trump administration recognised Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in December — in return for Morocco’s normalisation of ties with Israel… Spain does not recognise the republic set up by Polisario or Morocco’s claims over Western Sahara. A UN plan to hold a self-determination referendum in the territory has been stalled for decades.” Financial Times 25th May