by Marcel Cartier 27 May 2014
I've been in Calais, France for a day. It's a complete mind fuck. I've been here (or rather passed through it) so many times before en route either to or from the UK. But, I never really saw the real deal until now...
I woke up this morning in my nice and comfortable hotel that sits on a street named after Salvador Allende, the Chilean socialist revolutionary who died on Sept. 11, 1973 during the fascist coup. Ironically, as I awoke it was a party that very much resembles a fascist outfit that was claiming electoral victory in France (the Front National).
At the port today, Calais was vibrant and alive with many happy looking (mostly white) tourists from both sides of the channel filing into or off of boats very freely, without a care in the world.
Meanwhile, just out of their sight sits one of several camps where migrants hoping to get to the UK live in abysmal conditions. One of these camps is named the "Syrian camp" while one is referred to as the "Eritrean camp." The news broke this evening -- late as it often does -- that another man died on Friday when he tried to climb onto the bottom of a bus bound for Dover. Many have been rescued off the coast trying to set sail on fragile rafts that would have very little chance of reaching the coast of England.
Tomorrow morning, the French authorities have stated that they will facilitate the bulldozing of the major camps that currently hold at least 500 people. Where these people are to go is a mystery at the moment. Important to note that none of this is happening under a Front National government, although they have become the largest party sending MEPs to Brussels. This is actually taking place under the "Socialist" Party government of Francois Hollande (though in Calais, I know the mayor represents the UMP).
"Social" Europe is a sham. Yes, the outright fascist outfits are a monumental problem and threat, and should be deemed as such. Many people voted for the Front National because the "socialists" have been unable to offer any kind of solution to the problems of unemployment and general defuturization. Real talk, though --- in the final analysis, neither the PS in France or Labour in the UK has shown themselves capable of being a truly progressive force. These social democratic parties are parties of imperialism and colonialism at the end of the day. Their policies on immigration only look progressive when lined up against the likes of Le Pen and Farage. Can't we do better than that? Isn't it time for a true anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-capitalist, anti-homophobic, anti-imperialist movement to step up to the plate and perform its historic duty?
The sign reading "Rue Salvador Allende" continues to make me both smile and nervously shake my head. "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite". A fantastic motto, and an expression of a revolution that at that time was one of the most progressive events in human history. However, that motto doesn't hold weight in the France of today. It certainly didn't when France was engaged in the most brutal colonial domination of the peoples of Algeria, Syria, Tunisia, Mali, Senegal (to just name a few), it doesn't under the "socialist" leadership of today, and needless to say it won't under the Front National. For it to have any currency will require a genuine socialist revolutionary movement based principally on anti-imperialism and internationalism --- I realize this reads alot like the end of your average lefty newspaper column....but it's real talk. The Syrian and Eritrean brothers and sisters will be able to testify tomorrow morning about just how real that slogan is for them in 2014.