Flat White

Socialists stand up for the workers against immigration?

5 June 2019

4:28 PM

5 June 2019

4:28 PM

Socialists standing up for workers by opposing immigration? Yes. Apparently, it can happen. Sometimes. “The Guardian” reports on Mette Frederiksen, the 41-year old leader of the opposition Social Democrats in Denmark:

A victory for Frederiksen would be a boon for Europe’s social democrats as they gaze across the continent at a dispiriting political landscape. But it would not be without controversy, for under Frederiksen the party has been ruthlessly reshaped: dragged to the left economically – and sharply to the right on immigration.

“For me, it is becoming increasingly clear that the price of unregulated globalisation, mass immigration and the free movement of labour is paid for by the lower classes,” she said in a recent biography.

Denmark’s current right-wing coalition government last year enacted the most anti-immigration legislation in Danish history and, rather than position her party in stark opposition, Frederikson has embraced much of it.

Under her leadership, the SD have called for a cap on “non-western immigrants”, for asylum seekers to be expelled to a reception centre in North Africa, and for all immigrants to be forced to work 37 hours a week in exchange for benefits.

But it is the government policies her party has supported or failed to oppose which have been most alarming for her allies in the left-of-centre red bloc. The Social Democrats voted in favour of a law allowing jewellery to be stripped from refugees, and a burqa and niqab ban, and abstained rather than voted against a law on mandatory handshakes irrespective of religious sentiment at citizenship ceremonies, and a plan to house criminal asylum seekers on an island used for researching contagious animal diseases. In February, she backed what the DPP has branded a “paradigm shift” – a push to make repatriation, rather than integration, the goal of asylum policy.

“I find it odd that it’s possible to make such a shift, not just in your policy but also in your fundamental values,” Morton Østergaard, leader of the centrist Social Liberal party, told the Observer. “What’s different in Denmark is that we’re seeing parties coming out of a Liberal or Social Democrat value base eating into national conservatism in a race-to-the-bottom contest, because they’ve decided that the marginal voter can’t get tough enough on immigrants.”

Frederiksen’s leftism seems to be of the older, more traditional variety, very much focused on the well-being of the domestic working class, as opposed to the newer, post-modern and intersectional leftism so prevalent today – the woking class.

Frederiksen have stumbled on the realisation that of the menu consisting of “welfare state” and “open borders” you can only pick one. This is not just a matter of finances, though clearly an unending stream of migrants without local language and necessary skills puts an added strain on an already strained social democratic compact, but perhaps even more importantly that mass immigration and its social and economic consequences erode the support for sensible immigration (including a humanitarian intake) as well as generous social safety net among the left’s core constituencies, who see themselves ignored in favour of fancier causes and  trendier categories of the needy.

The success of the northern European social democratic model (such it qualifiedly has been) has owed much to the long history of homogeneity and social cohesion and solidarity among the respective populations. Whether we like it or not, most people still care more about “their own” rather than other, different groups or the humanity as an abstract. It’s not something that those who make policies can afford to ignore, for both practical as well as politically pragmatic reasons.

Frederiksen is not alone – the very much old style commie Bernie Sanders shares the sentiments about prioritising the American working classes over importing a new one:

During a town hall in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Sanders was asked by an attendee about how the United States can afford to fund social services such as health care, with an open borders policy.

The attendee also claimed the Vermont senator is “an advocate for open borders.”

“I’m afraid you may be getting your information wrong. That’s not my view,” Sanders said.

“What we need is comprehensive immigration reform,” he continued. “If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world. And I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point. Can’t do it. So that is not my position.”

Charity begins at home, as the old saying goes. And while at least some socialists are starting to see the light, it should be noted it’s only because the searchlight has been shone directly into their eyes as the traditional blue-collar vote drifting from the left to the populist right, from the United States to Great Britain, France and elsewhere throughout Europe – and maybe even here, in Australia.

Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk, where this piece also appears.

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