The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 4th December 2009

Midnight at the oasis

LAST WEEK the bourgeois gurus were telling us the slump was all but over. Now there’s more gloom and doom following the crash in the markets of the United Arab Emirates.

The Maktoum family, who have controlled Dubai since 1833, ruled under the protection of British imperialism, living off an economy based on pearl diving and trade with India. But the discovery of oil in the 1960s gave the Maktoums a cut of the oil profits that propelled them into the world of high finance and enabled them to build a glittering millionaires’ playground based on the labour of thousands of modern-day coolies, lured from the poverty-stricken areas of Africa and Asia to the building sites by the false promises of gang-masters and contractors.

Dubai became a Mecca for every speculator and finance parasite in the world while Western politicians, so eager to bang the human rights drum when it served their interests, turned a blind-eye to the autocratic rule of the Emir and the vicious exploitation of the army of immigrants who worked like slaves on the city’s immense construction projects.

Some pundits thought the ludicrous speculative property market in Dubai would remained unscathed by the global recession. But even the vast wealth of the oil princes was not enough to stop the bubble bursting and the global investment company, Dubai World has defaulted on its colossal debts, leading to a colossal slump in property values and sharp falls on the Gulf stock exchanges this week.

None of this should surprise us. The problems of Dubai and the rest of the Emirates are those of the entire global capitalist economy in the throes of a slump which the bourgeois media say is largely down to “greedy bankers”, “toxic loans”, deregulation, or even the mysterious “market forces” which apparently operate like the weather beyond our control.

In fact the current slump, like all that have gone before it, is entirely due to over-production, which is an unavoidable feature of capitalist relations. Boom and slump are integral to the whole capitalist system. Unlike the weather however, it can be controlled but only by abolishing the capitalist system altogether.

The ugly face of the Alps

The Swiss tourist board likes to paint their country as a winter wonderland — a place that thrives on banking, Alpine sports, chocolate and clocks. It is also the home of a particularly nasty form of racism directed at the Muslim immigrant workers who have now been told that they cannot adorn their places of worship with minarets, the traditional towers used to call the faithful to prayer.

In the 17th century Puritans were offended by church steeples which they believed were a symbol of Catholic “superstition” but they didn’t go around pulling them all down when they had the upper hand. The ringing of church bells on a Sunday may be offensive to some militant atheists but there would be outrage if we launched a campaign demanding their silence. Muslims however are becoming increasingly fair game for attack in Europe, and not just from the fascist fringe.

The ban was advanced by the reactionary Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest party in parliament. They say minarets were a sign of “Islamisation” and claim to be defending the “Christian” identity in Switzerland. While this may strike a chord with some religious bigots in the Swiss Federation, the ban was opposed, to their credit by many of the Protestant churches, the Swiss Catholic hierarchy and the Jewish community.

In fact the ban has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with politics. Though the Swiss bourgeoisie is quite happy to exploit the 400,000 strong Muslim community to do menial work across the cantons, they are not prepared to accept them as anything other than lower caste cheap labour. And this ban, passed by referendum last Sunday, is intended to remind them of their intended place, right at the bottom of Swiss society.

Needless to say, the Swiss decision has been welcomed by the BNP and every other fascist and racist movement in Europe. They want to persecute Muslims like the Nazis who scapegoated the Jews to advance to power in Germany in the 1930s.

We have to redouble our efforts to boost the broad anti-racist campaigns in Britain like Hope Not Hate, to make sure Islamophobia never takes root in our country.