Letter from an editor: anger and hope in the face of imperialist barbarism

The following letter was written by an editor of marxist.com, Jorge Martín. Every day, the capitalists’ own media outlets show the horrors of this system. From the deaths of child refugees in Europe, to the victims of the western-backed genocidal war on Gaza. Who are the killers? Our own callous politicians.

Tonight I watched the BBC News at 10. Perhaps I shouldn't have. I usually don't. I get my information from online sources, social media, etc. But tonight I watched the news. And I got really angry. Really angry.

First there was a segment about a little Iraqi girl, seven years old, whose name was Sara. She was trampled to death on an overflowing dinghy trying to cross the channel from France to Britain. There had been a conflict between two rival gangs of people smugglers. Too many people had boarded the precarious boat. She had been on her dad’s shoulders, but then he left her to help his other daughter, Rahaf, get on board.

As a group of another 60 people attempted to board the already-full dinghy, Sara was pushed around and trampled to death. Her dad fought and kicked his way past others on the dinghy in an attempt to save her. To no avail.

The whole incident had been filmed by a BBC crew. The French police stood on the shore, less than 50 metres away, but did nothing to help those on the dinghy. When a rescue boat arrived it was too late.

There were over 100 people on board. Ahmed's wife, Nour Al-Saeed, and their two other children, 13-year-old Rahaf and eight-year-old Hussam, were also on the boat, pushed against each other but still able to breathe. Four others were not so lucky and also died.

The BBC crew interviewed the dad, Ahmed and asked him the question, “why did you risk your lives?” He explained that he was an asylum seeker fleeing threats from militias in his birth city of Basra. He arrived in Europe 14 years ago (!) and had been rejected for asylum in Belgium, Sweden and Finland several times. Apparently, Basra is classed as being ‘safe’. They were now facing deportation.

For the family, crossing over to the UK, a non-EU country, was their last hope, and they had attempted the perilous crossing four times. Ahmed, a building worker, stressed: “I don't want handouts, I am strong and both me and my wife can work and sustain ourselves. All we want is a safe and stable future for our children.”

The news showed pictures of Sara. A seven-year-old girl. A seven-year-old girl!

Now, think about this. What level of desperation pushes parents with three young children to take such measures? And whose fault is it?

First of all, the imperialist powers which have destroyed Iraq, unleashing two devastating wars and then a brutal decades-long military occupation. This is a wealthy country, an oil producer. Under capitalism this very wealth becomes a curse.

Then there are the callous migration policies of those same imperialist countries, whose capitalist politicians use refugees and migrants as convenient scapegoats, so that people don’t blame the real culprits of the lack of housing, collapsing health services, and austerity-hit education systems.

The blame goes right down to the gangs of people smugglers, profiting from people’s desperation, and the cynical approach of the French police, watching as people die, watching as seven-year-old Sara is trampled to death just metres away.

Think about this the next time Sunak and the Tories raise a hue and cry about Britain being overrun by swarms of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. And think about this when Starmer’s Labour echoes the chorus, promising to be “tough on migration”.

Between them, they killed Sara.

Then came a story about Gaza. After an IDF colonel cynically lied about Israel allowing aid into Gaza (never mind the constant bombing for seven months), there was the story of ten-year-old Mayam al-Al. The BBC showed footage of her being rescued from the rubble of her house, hit by an Israeli strike. 16 children in her extended family had been killed. Mayam told the BBC that all she now wanted was “to go to God”.

That is just one story. There are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands like that.

But sometimes from one story, by knowing the names and the concrete circumstances, you become more acutely aware of the enormity of the massacre.

This is not a natural disaster which might have been prevented. No. This is a deliberate genocidal campaign carried out by the Israeli state with the full backing of US imperialism, which funds it, supplies it and protects it internationally. Of course, also with the full backing of Sunak, and yes, Starmer too.

“Israel has the right to defend itself.” Those in positions of power who made that statement are responsible – directly responsible – for the killing of Mayam’s 16 young relatives, and so many others. Tens of thousands of others.

Finally, the news programme also contained reports from the student Gaza solidarity protests in the US. One reporter in New York explained how hundreds of heavily armed NYPD officers assaulted Columbia University students who had occupied one of the buildings. The other reporter, from the West Coast, reported on hundreds of Zionist thugs, armed with sticks and stones, pepper spray and firecrackers, attacking the Gaza solidarity encampment at UCLA.

BBC News at Ten came to an end and I was furious, angry, tearful. Yes, but also, my resolve to organise and fight against this rotten system had become stronger, more powerful. I felt the sense of urgency more clearly.

stand up UAWThe power of organised labour must be mobilised / Image UAW, Facebook

Then, just scrolling through social media, I read how the Executive Board of UAW 4811, organising 48,000 academic workers at UCLA, had decided to ballot their members for strike action in protest against the Zionist attack on the solidarity encampment and the lack of action by university administration.

Yes. That’s the way forward. The power of organised labour must be mobilised, in defence of democratic rights, in solidarity with the student protesters, and against the war machine.

Then, chatting to a comrade in the United States, he pointed out that the UAW had just released a video calling for a general strike. A general strike! In the US!! Yes, the idea is to synchronise contract expiration dates so that they are all due on May Day 2028.

That’s four years down the line. Nevertheless, the language is powerful. When was the last time a major US labour organisation even used the words ‘general strike’? I’d say you would have to go back decades. Many decades. Probably all the way back to 1886 and the strike which led to the hanging of the Chicago Martyrs and the birth of May Day.

There is hope against this capitalist imperialist barbarism. That hope is the power of the organised working class. It requires a revolutionary leadership, a revolutionary party and a revolutionary international.

That’s why we do what we do.

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