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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Immigration, Class, & Ideology

I'm still catching up and recovering from recent events, so I'll turn the microphone over to Chris Dillow:

Immigration, Class, & Ideology: ...the effects of immigration take place in a class-divided society. For those in power, the benefits - high profits - are quick and easy. But for those at the bottom end of the labour market, they are less pleasant.

But it needn't be so. Imagine our retailer were a full-blooded worker coop. Workers would then think: "Isn't it great we don't have to that dangerous job now, so we can do nicer jobs and get a share of higher profits". And if redundancies are made, they'll be on better terms. (And of course, in a society not disfigured by class division, unemployment benefits would be higher).

In this sense, it is obvious that immigration - insofar as it does worsen the condition of some workers (which is easily overstated) - is a class issue. Rather than ask: "why are immigrants taking my job?" Dave could equally ask: "why are there class divisions which prevent the benefits of migration flowing to everyone?"

So, why is one question asked when the other isn't? The answer is that capitalist power doesn't just determine who gets what, but also what issues get raised and which don't. As E.E.Schattschneider wrote in 1960:

Some issues are organized into politics while others are organized out. (quoted in Lukes, Power: A Radical View, p20)

In this way, it is immigrants who get scapegoated rather than capitalists.

    Posted by on Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 09:36 AM in Economics, Immigration, Politics | Permalink  Comments (42)

          


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