Earthquake in Morocco, Floods in Libya: Natural Phenomena, But Social Disasters

September 14, 2023 editorial of the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) in France. Translated from French.

Morocco: our solidarity and anger, false pity in high places

On the night of Friday, September 8 to Saturday, September 9, an earthquake struck Morocco. The disaster has already claimed more than 2,900 lives across the country and injured more than 5,500. The final toll could be much higher: material destruction, landslides in the Atlas Mountains and damaged infrastructure will worsen the survival conditions of tens of thousands of Moroccan families. In the face of this immense tragedy, many of us are thinking of our friends, relatives and colleagues who have been affected.

The hypocritical tremolos of Jordan Bardella, President of the Rassemblement National (right-wing political party in France), do not prevent him from developing his anti-immigrant and Islamophobic propaganda. Nor does (French president) Macron, who says he is “distressed” but seems open to a nauseating referendum on immigration. Sad faces are deceptive and cheap!

And humanitarian aid does not cost much either, really. It is necessary and urgent, but how much of the few million euros released to help the population weigh against the profits that major groups from France and elsewhere are making in Morocco, under the protection of the regime? The King of Morocco’s personal fortune is estimated at six billion euros. And it represents ultimately no more than the tip that imperialist powers give to their local watchdog.  

It was impossible to predict the strength of the earthquake, its date or the exact location of its epicenter. But such earthquakes do not hit rich and poor alike as hard. Anti-seismic construction techniques and prevention drills are now extremely sophisticated. But in the poorest regions of a country where, just five years ago, a whole section of the population was not even connected to running water, such measures appear to be a luxury. And what really counts are the luxury resorts and hotels that keep the economy of tourism going. They are built to anti-seismic standards.

Libya: a country ravaged by the imperialist powers

At virtually the same time, after violently sweeping Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, where 27 people were killed, storm Daniel reached Libya on Sunday, September 9. The city of Derna, in the east of the country, was submerged when two dams broke. The Red Cross expects thousands of deaths among the 10,000 missing.

Macron expressed his “solidarity with the Libyan people” and the U.S. State Department spokesman his “sympathy and condolences.” What hypocrisy on the part of the leaders of the two great powers who bombed the country in 2011, before plunging it into chaos! At the time, they claimed to be acting to overthrow Qaddafi’s barbaric regime, with which they had been trading for years – and to which they had even subcontracted their dirty work as border guards responsible for parking would-be emigrants. Conducted to threaten the Libyan people and all the peoples of the region who had risen up during the Arab revolutions, this imperialist intervention sowed chaos throughout the country. Libya has since been torn between warlords who seek and obtain the support of rich countries, including France, by monetizing oil and the retention of sub-Saharan migrants willing to reach Europe but are doomed to a life of slavery. War and chaos are therefore added to the same evils which, in all poor countries, exacerbate the consequences of natural disasters. Needless to say, coming to the aid of disaster-stricken populations is not one of the concerns of the generals tearing Libya apart, nor of the imperialist powers.

Humanitarian solidarity, class solidarity

The emotion generated by these tragedies has given rise to a degree of international solidarity. But after the initial shock, what will be left? An endless field of ruins looms. And neither government aid (which is meager in any case) nor private donations will suffice. Rebuilding slums as quickly as possible, or even simply cramming people into tents for an indefinite period of time, and at the same time locking down more and more borders when Europe could be welcoming any refugees who wish to come, and above all arranging for business to resume as quickly as possible, are the only concerns of the bourgeoisie in the various countries. Workers the world over have much better things to offer in solidarity with the people of Morocco and Libya: working together, whatever our nationality or religion, to build a world free of borders and capitalism.