Italian and Immigrant Workers: Same Class, Same Struggle

The document which follows is the English version of a tri-lingual leaflet given out at a demonstration for the unity of the working class in Parma (Tuesday March 1). The Italian ruling class have been recently screaming about the “flood” of immigrants that will reach their shores after the revolts in North Africa. What they don’t say is that they paid Ben Ali, Ghadaffi and Mubarak to ensure that no-one left the economic disaster zones these dictators had created. And of course like the ruling class throughout Europe they have not been slow to exploit the worries of Italian workers to incite them to attack their fellow exploited workers. Our leaflet is part of our effort to combat this. For more on this see

We are going through an unstoppable crisis. A deep social malaise consisting of ever lower wages and job insecurity oozes from it, leaving everyone with an uncertain future. This is fertile ground for reactionary forces, well paid by capital, who as part of their job tell the working class that the enemy they have to fight are the immigrants if they are to survive the crisis and the social agony it brings. The immigrant – like the “white” casual worker – is the first to be laid off (or maybe kept on in the factory whilst others go into the cassa integrazione, but only because they can be squeezed like lemons) and thus the immediate effects of the crisis fall on her or him.

And this is the climate which has given birth to laws and various anti-immigrant provisions by governments of all shades.

The Northern League (Lega Nord) naturally has a major role in this ideological sewage. Even if it gets quite a few workers’ votes the Lega remains the political expression of the petty and middling bourgeois sectors of the North, who in many small and medium enterprises, exploit thousands of immigrants, underpaid or working in the black economy, where they can be blackmailed with threats of revoking their visas.

In the last year Maroni and his governing gang have vomited up laws with the ferocity of those who fear they will lose the privileges they built through exploitation and oppression. Going into hiding has become a crime *(even for new-born children)*, prison sentences in detention centres have lengthened, they have incited mass denunciations, they have made it more complicated and difficult to obtain a residence permit. A “regular” job, the only kind that would allow the immigrants to be free, (i.e. allow them to live a little less badly off compared to the slave conditions in which thousands and thousands of those uncertain of their status are reduced to by going into hiding), is thus beyond them.

It is an ever-present recipe. Get the least well off to identify, not with their class, but with the territory in which they live. What better mystification can they offer to that fringe of the proletariat who – after the collapse of state capitalism in the USSR – are deprived of faith in an alternative? They see in capitalism the only “natural” possibility, and at the first sign of a crisis, are thrown into the arms of those who whisper “Abdul is taking your job”. Today very few see security as a guaranteed income, a house and access to education for their children. And no-one unleashes campaigns of blind hate or vigilante patrols against the bosses, despite the fact that they are responsible every day for the deaths at work of many workers, including non-Italians. And yet as soon as immigrants are said to be responsible for any incident on the news anger explodes – never against the upper class but always against those at the bottom and on the same social level.

The crisis of social insecurity comes from one factor – capitalism. It is because of capitalism that millions of people, robbed and impoverished at home, make the decision to come and “enjoy” at least a small step forward from the crumbs and bones of the system which are now increasingly scarce. It is the world capitalist crisis which raised the storm of rebellion that now shakes North Africa and parts of the Middle East. However the bourgeoisie want us to look on this, and those who flee such a situation of poverty and deep social insecurity, with fear and ill-concealed hostility. Instead of biting at them like dogs we Italian proletarians should at least begin to snarl at the bosses who have chained us all to the same fate.

Any division between immigrant and Italian workers is damaging and it is a mistake to leave the most exploited and oppressed section of the working class on their own. The struggle has to be as one, just like the class to which we all belong. But try telling that to the unions…

For this unity we need to breathe life into a political organisation of all those wage workers, permanent or casual, immigrant or Italian who are coherently anti-capitalist. The alternative is barbarism.

We meet every Wednesday at 21.15 at Borgo S. Giuseppe 5, Parma

On nous trouve tous les mercredis a 21.15 a Borgo S. Giuseppe 5, Parma