The shocking massacre of Muslims in New Zealand by white suprematist Brenton Tarrant is part of a wider pattern of anti-Muslim racist sentiments and actions in many countries around the world. This outrage should stimulate all progressive and revolutionary people to step up our efforts to oppose racism and fascism in all their forms.
At the same time we should not overlook the underlying causes of the growth in anti-Muslim sentiments in the imperialist countries such as the USA, Britain and France. If we look into the matter we can see that the growth of racism is in fact a reactionary response to some very positive changes taking place in the world today.
The Western imperialist bloc, led by the USA, has been facing some very serious challenges and setbacks in predominantly Muslim countries. Following the 9/11 attack in 2001 NATO invaded Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban Government, even though it was not involved in the Al-Quaeda terrorist action. (Al-Quaeda had a training camp in Afghanistan and the Taliban were none too pleased about the 9/11 action.) After initial reverses, the Taliban rallied their forces and have waged a protracted guerrilla war against the American, British and other invading armies. A movement of poor peasant farmers have effectively defeated NATO, the most powerful military alliance in world history, and they are just waiting for NATO to get out of their country.
The response of the Western imperialist governments and media has been to try to demonise the Taliban as reactionary religious fanatics thus whipping up hatred of Muslims in general. In particular they have attacked the treatment of women by the Taliban. While the Taliban are deeply conservative Muslims, one reason the movement initially formed was because these people were appalled, after the defeat of the Soviet social imperialist invasion, by the pro-Western warlord armies raping and prostituting Afghani women. Also we are told that we face terrorist threats from the Taliban within imperialist countries such as Britain. The Taliban have never carried out any military operations outside of their own country.
The anti-Muslim hostility was intensified by the Western invasion of Iraq in 2003. Although the Iraqi people were suffering under the fascist Ba’athist dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, they did not want to be occupied by imperialist armies and put up fierce resistance, both by Sunni and Shia Muslims. These patriots were simply defending their homeland from foreign invaders but they too have been represented as Muslim fanatics. One outcome of the imperialist invasion and occupation of Iraq has been to devastate the country.
Another outcome of these imperialist occupations has been to stimulate and increase adherence to the more fundamentalist and very reactionary forms of Islam. The Soviet attack on Afghanistan gave rise to Al-Quaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden, and the war on Iraq spawned Islamic State (ISIS) which has attacked and oppressed Muslims and other religious and ethnic groups in Iraq and Syria. None the less, the great majority of Muslims in the world are not followers of murderous, fundamentalist groups. In Britain, France, Germany and some other imperialist countries there have been terrorist attacks by local Muslims in retaliation for imperialist actions abroad but these have mainly been by isolated individuals and very small groups. The great majority of Muslim people in these countries oppose and condemn such actions.
It is hardly surprising that white supremacists feel threatened by the fightback of Muslim peoples against Western imperialism. Also it is the case that these racists and fascists feel threatened by the migration of large numbers of people of Muslim background into the Western imperialist countries. For centuries now the people of countries such as Britain have been taught that the peoples of the countries dominated by Western imperialism are inferior to Westerners. These reactionary beliefs are deeply embedded in imperialist cultures and are not easily overcome. The arrival of migrants is often presented as an “invasion”. Some “white” people, such as Brenton Tarrant, who feel threatened by immigrants resort to terrorist activities. Many others, to a greater or lesser degree, are hostile to newcomers.
New Zealand is a country whose population, apart from the Maoris, is wholly derived from immigrants overwhelmingly of white European origin. Up until the late twentieth century the rules on immigration were strongly biased against non-white people. In New Zealand today there are strongly held widespread sentiments against immigration especially of black and brown people. It is a big issue in New Zealand politics and all of the main political parties are for more restrictions on immigration. The current New Zealand Government is an alliance between the mildly reformist Labour Party and the anti-immigration New Zealand First Party, a sort of down under version of UKIP. (The country’s electoral system makes for bizarre alliances in its Parliament.)
The massacre of Muslims on 15th. March 2019 has deeply shocked many New Zealanders. One outcome could well be the reduction of hostility towards black and brown immigrants. So, terrible as it is, the response to the massacre might actually reduce the level of racism in New Zealand.
TOWARDS ONE WORLD: THE BREAKING DOWN OF NATIONAL BOUNDARIES
We live in a world dominated by capitalist imperialism. Originating in Europe in the late Middle Ages, around seven hundred years ago, the capitalist mode of production has spread out over the whole world. As well as economic intrusian, the major capitalist countries have used military means to introduce exploitative capitalist economic relations into all countries around the world. The changes and disruption this has caused and is causing have brought about unprecedented movements of large numbers of people between countries, especially from the less developed imperialistically dominated countries into the imperialist heartlands of Western Europe and North America.
For the last century or so the transnational corporations based in the imperialist countries have spread their operations throughout the world. This process of globalisation has been bringing the economies of different countries into ever closer interconnection. At the same time this type of imperialism has many negative consequences for the people living in the less developed countries dominated by transnational capital. This is one important reason why millions of people in such countries migrate to imperialist countries to try to escape poverty. This population movement also deprives poor countries of many of their skilled and educated workers.
These large-scale population movements have had a great social and cultural impact on the imperialist countries. If we take the case of Britain then there has been a considerable impact on culinary habits. Indian food is very popular, partly because over a two hundred year period of British rule, millions of British people lived in India and acquired a taste for Indian food. Then after World War Two there was mass migration from the Indian subcontinent into Britain and the newcomers opened many restaurants. Italian and Chinese migrants also introduced British people to their national cuisines. People from the West Indies brought their distinctive music with them such as calypso and ska. While there was a certain amount of racist hostility towards the newcomers it was also the case that bonds of friendship and affection developed between the established population and the newcomers. There has been much intermarriage and one only has to walk down the street to see the outcome; many people with mixed ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The fact of the matter is that in Britain and the other countries of mass immigration there is a steady erosion of national differences. This is what alarms the racists and nationalists.
Marxism claims that the objective conditions giving rise to communism develop within capitalism in its later stages of development. In the world today there are more workers (wage labourers) than ever before as the peasantry declines in the face of the spread of monopoly capitalism. What is more, this proletariat is increasingly a multinational one turning into an international working class as a result of large scale population movements between countries. The rise of the internet is bringing people across the world into intercommunication on a massive scale. At the same time the destructive character of monopoly capitalism is destroying our natural environment as one fit to sustain humanity. The objective conditions for socialist revolution are very favourable. What is missing is the subjective factor, i.e. conscious, organised revolutionaries able and willing to provide the leadership for revolutionary upsurges.
It certainly is necessary to oppose racists and fascists in all places at all times. At the same time we should recognise that these reactionaries are dying last gasps of people desperately trying to cling onto a disintegrating and decaying system, I.e. capitalism.
WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE
YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR CHAINS
YOU HAVE A WORLD TO WIN!