Last week Warwick Anti-Racism Society held an anti-slavery protest of 40 people who braved the cold and abandoned the end of term parties to show their anger and disdain for the human trafficking and modern-day slavery taking hold in Libya.
Over 15,000 migrants and refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean due to the policies of the European Union in creating ‘Fortress Europe’. Now over million refugees are trapped in the collapsed state of Libya, as human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable. Now that the major bourgeois and imperialist countries have destabilised the country, with David Cameron’s government sending known terrorists to Libya; the vultures now smell profits and gouge out any opportunity, no matter how inhumane, to increase the weight of their purses.
The role that all imperialist powers, be it Western or otherwise, have played in the Middle East is despicable but hardly surprising. When your only master is profit, human welfare and freedom are of little concern. Libya is not the only country where this crime was playing out. Similar stories emerge all over the Middle East and Africa, with 21 million people in need of humanitarian aid in Yemen.
Events like this inspire people to act and it was this that was behind the protest at Warwick. Speaking to people on the ground, two immediate goals of the protest became clear. Firstly, there was the need to raise awareness about an issue which the bourgeois press is reluctant to speak on. The aim was to get people together, begin a conversation and ensure these issues do not go unnoticed. This was summed up in the slogan “Silence is Violence”. One protester spoke about the need for people to come together, to be united and fight against right-wing politics, especially the politics of intervention and imperialism, in all its forms. A second and more concrete action was that of raising money for charities and organisations on the ground, including African Lives Matter and the International Organisation for Migration. These are noble aims, but we need to think far bigger, and far more politically about this crisis.
Raising awareness as an end in itself has proven, in the past, to have serious limitations. Two million people walked passed Downing Street to protest the Iraq War, but with no success. Everyone has been aware of poverty and starvation around the world for decades, but still it exists. The reason being that imperialism and capitalism aren’t particularly affected simply by people being aware of problems. To have a meaningful impact on the crisis in Libya we have to take on British foreign policy in its entirety. For that we must put in our crosshairs the driving force behind imperialism: the insatiable appetite of big business for profits. This can only be done by discussing, organising, and acting collectively as the working class to take big business out of the hands of profit-hungry capitalists and putting them into the hands of the working class, who can run them for need, not profit.
For us here in Britain, the fight against modern-day slavery is not simply the fight to raise awareness or money for charities, it is the fight against our own ruling class. We must fight British imperialism, which means overthrowing the capitalist class by nationalising their industries under democratic working-class control and using their resources to build a socialist society and fund foreign policy in the interests of the international working class.
by Thomas Soud, Warwick Marxists