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Year 2001 No. 30, February 16, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Government’s Stand on "Illegal Immigration" is Racist and Completely Self-Serving

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Government’s Stand on "Illegal Immigration" is Racist and Completely Self-Serving

Letter to the Editor
The Human Genome and the Book of Life

The World in Brief

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Government’s Stand on "Illegal Immigration" is Racist and Completely Self-Serving

At the Cahors Anglo-French Summit on February 9, one of the main items on the agenda was the question of how to combat the "influx of illegal immigrants" across the Channel.

According to Prime Minister Tony Blair, the issue of illegal immigration and asylum is a huge problem, not just for Britain but for the whole of Europe. Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac agreed reciprocal arrangements under which immigration officials from both countries will be able to check travellers’ documents before they embark on the Eurostar cross-Channel link. According to Tony Blair, France and Britain have agreed to take forward their efforts to control the source of much illegal immigration in their common work in the Balkans.

Tony Blair attempts to justify the repressive treatment of this issue by distinguishing "genuine cases" which Britain will treat with "real dignity", and the "illegal trafficking in human beings". It can be seen that under the pretext of clamping down on this "illegal trafficking", the British government is thereby going to treat those human beings it declares to be "illegal immigrants" with less than "real dignity". This is nothing but a declaration that the government is determined to treat asylum seekers as second class human beings. In other words, this is the inhuman treatment of asylum seekers taken to the level of official government policy.

In the case of the Balkans, Tony Blair conveniently ignores that it was the NATO bombing of Kosova that was the impetus for the exodus of the people of Kosova as refugees. In fact, the intervention and interference of the big powers, not least by the imposition of the programme of globalisation of international finance capital, can be said to be the underlying factor for those who are refugees or seeking asylum.

Not for the first time, the government is attempting to create a climate where its racist immigration policies are intensified, and a hierarchy of rights implemented, to say nothing of Britain’s criminal and shameful colonial past, which the English bourgeoisie, despite its protestations, has never broken from. Britain’s very citizenship laws are wholly based on and shot through with racist criteria. The history of its immigration policy has been totally self-serving and racist, and its stand is no different now. When it has served it to recruit both cheap labour and skilled labour from abroad, its immigration policy has been geared to that end. When it has served it to pass racist immigration laws to prevent an "influx" of "Asian immigrants", "non-patrial subjects" or other categories of unwanted refugees and immigrants, it has not hesitated to stoop to do so. At Cahors, Tony Blair manifested exactly the same stand when he emphasised that countries can have their own systems of allowing "legal immigration, particularly to deal with certain problems such as skills shortages". Clearly, if Britain’s immigration policy was anything else, then the issue of the "illegal trafficking in human beings" that the Prime Minister rails against would not arise. It is significant to note that while when it comes to secondary education, the "worth" of every child will be allegedly recognised by the provision of all kinds of diverse special schools, the government is not prepared to extend the recognition of the "worth" of human beings to those seeking asylum here. After having violated the civil and human rights of those refugees and those people seeking asylum by herding them into camps and other inhuman measures, such racist criteria are not to be reversed but further extended by the government.

The whole logic of an "influx" is itself a Hitlerite, nazi logic, based on numbers of non-white immigrants "swamping" the country and imputes to the broad masses of the people the racism which comes from the state. Furthermore, according to such logic there are "safe countries", as Jack Straw said earlier last week, from which asylum applications would either be ruled inadmissible, or subject to greatly accelerated procedures. This also, it should be noted, carries with it the logic that those people seeking refuge from "unsafe" countries will by comparison have their asylum applications greatly decelerated. Of course, those "safe countries" are those which share the same values as are officially promoted by the government in Britain.

It is evident that the immigration policy of the government and the hysteria about illegal immigrants is designed with no other purpose in mind than to provide themselves with exactly the kind of "human capital" it needs to make big business competitive in the global marketplace. As competition is rendered more intense by the process of globalisation, so are the numbers of human beings throughout the world caught as its victims increasing, and so are the immigration policies of Britain and the other major European Union powers geared increasingly to letting the right kind of people in and the wrong kind out, according to these criteria.

The government’s immigration policies and its recent deal with France must be vigorously condemned by all democratic people. These policies are designed to deprive whole sections of the people and definite nationalities of their human rights. They go hand in hand with both the increased promotion of racism at home and stepped up interference and aggression abroad. Whole peoples are categorised as "terrorist" or states as "rogue". Any expression of support for these people are states is becoming further criminalised, as with the implementation of the Terrorism Act which comes into operation next Monday. Thus the stepped up propaganda against "illegal immigrants" and "asylum seekers" is going hand in hand with increased police repression against the struggles of the people as a whole, the demand that all citizens espouse the same values and that the working class and people submit to the anti-social offensive.

The war against asylum seekers and immigrants must be ended now!

An injury to one is an injury to all!

Article Index

Letter to the Editor

The Human Genome and the Book of Life

I have been interested in the discussions that have broken out over the publication of the news that the Human Genome Project has determined that there are no more than 30,000 genes in the human genome.

The discussions seem to be centring around the debate of "nature versus nurture". According to these discussions, that there are only 30,000 genes rather than 100,000 or more decisively tips the argument of "nature versus nurture" in favour of "nurture" by proving that there cannot be a "gene for everything". I am not convinced, however, that an argument based on the quantitative nature of genes can have relevance to the debate about whether human beings are determined by their genes or not. If 300,000 genes had been discovered, would this have done anything to tip the argument in favour of "nature"?

The issue presents itself, given that DNA plays a determining role in shaping the physical structure of a human being, what does that tell us about human beings, their consciousness and their activity? Does it tell us anything of importance about human consciousness or not?

To get to the bottom of the debate of "nature versus nurture", should not we look at the conception that underlies the prevalent conception of the human genome that something is what it is it, and that is that? The very conception of the "book of life" is questionable. You have the blueprint, the word, in the genome, and in the beginning was the word, and this word has been made flesh. But then how was this book of life written and who wrote it? Can it be accepted that it exists, and that only random events alter its existence, and then the debate arises how much it determines the human being and how much the environment determines the human being?

Already the debate is shifting away from the DNA to the proteins or linked amino acids that it codes for. These are to be the new determinants of human existence, and so the chain can go on. The "hegemony of the gene" can be replaced by the "hegemony of the protein". Or it can be asserted that the mechanism by which genes express themselves are to be the new determinants of human behaviour and existence. In that context, how much relevance does the argument for or against a "gene for everything" really have?

What is even more fundamental is that the role of the human being in changing their society and changing their environment in their favour, moving on to a new stage of society, and hence becoming truly human, is never even considered in this debate of "nature versus nurture".

South London Reader

Article Index

The World in Brief

13-20 February BELARUS: IMF mission visits Minsk to continue discussing a short-term reform programme with the government. A visit in December 2000 failed to produce an agreement on an IMF-supervised programme.

14-28 February LATVIA: World Bank and IMF officials visit to examine the situation in the country’s financial sector.

15-22 February CZECH REPUBLIC: Training of NATO staff to check on procedures of NATO emergency command bodies. Called NATO CMX 2001, it will involve staff from 19 member countries, NATO command and countries in the Partnership for Peace scheme.

16-20 February SAUDI ARABIA: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visits to continue his drive to strengthen OPEC.

18-25 February SOUTH AFRICA: The heads of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank travel to Africa.

19-21 February RUSSIA: NATO Secretary-General George Robertson visits Moscow to open a NATO information bureau on the premises of the Belgian embassy and to hold talks with the Russian leadership. The old NATO office was closed by Russia after NATO attacked Yugoslavia in March 1999.

24 February RUSSIA/USA: Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to meet US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Cairo for talks on ABM Treaty.

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