Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The TUC Position On Europe Is Crazy

The TUC has decided to threaten David Cameron by placing a gun to the head of British workers.  It is telling Cameron, in effect, "stop threatening to kill us, or we will commit suicide!"  That is the closest analogy I can think of, to describe just how crazy the current position is that they have adopted.  In fact, its crazier than that, so crazy that its impossible to actually find a fitting analogy.

David Cameron is proposing to hold a referendum on continued EU membership.  Everyone knows, or thinks they know, that Cameron does not want to leave the EU.  The belief is that Cameron was snookered into offering a referendum as a means of assuaging the right-wing Eurosceptic backbenchers of the Tory Party, who were running scared of the inroads being made by UKIP into their vote, and in any case, whose conservative, nationalist ideas they support.  Cameron, by contrast, so the theory goes, realises that the EU is vital to the economic interests of big capital, and so will ultimately want to remain in the EU, with just minor changes.

The thinking behind the TUC strategy seems to be, therefore, that if Cameron does not want to leave the EU, and is actually relying on the Labour Movement to do the work, and deliver the votes to stay in on whatever basis, then the Labour Movement should deny him those votes, unless he drops the idea of negotiate away all of the current protection for workers contained in the EU legislation, and treaties.

But, this is a crazy strategy for several reasons.  Firstly, its not at all clear that Cameron does want to stay in the EU.  The fact is that the Tories represent specific economic and social interests.  They represent on the one hand the owners of fictitious capital.  That is those people who own, not real capital in the shape of factories/shops/offices, machines and labour-power that produce profits, but who own purely financial assets such as shares, bonds and so on, upon which they receive interest, and capital gains from speculation, and those who own land and property who earn rent, and obtain similar capital gains.  Secondly, they represent those small capitalists who do own actual productive-capital, but whose interests like those of the owners of fictitious capital is antagonistic to the interests of big, socialised capital, because its continuance is always at threat from that big capital.

A look at the Tory membership, shows that it is overwhelmingly comprised of people that fall into these categories, and those who vote or it are either comprised of the same social groups, or those whose ideas do not rise above those engendered by those forms of capital.  In fact, the interests of the owners of fictitious capital, and those who make their money in Britain from trading it, is not at all served by the EU.  Not only can the owners of fictitious capital, such as shares and bonds, shift that ownership to similar fictitious capital, anywhere in the world, at a press of a button, but with Britain outside the Eurozone, the financial centre of the EU, is inexorably moving from London, to Franfurt, where the ECB is based.

The interests of all those small capitalists, who rely on a continuation of the early Victorian era measures against workers rights that the Tories are pushing through, most certainly do not have an interest in remaining in the EU, which represents a much greater opportunity for big socialised capital to be concentrated and centralised even more, and thereby make the remnants of the old private capital even more irrelevant.  So, it is no wonder that the Tories, and UKIP that are both based on those reactionary elements of society should be opposed to the EU.  It is also objectively why the working-class should be in favour of it, because it represents a rational continuation of the process of the development and maturing of capitalism, and thereby brings it denouement, and replacement by socialism all that closer.

A strategy that has as its core the idea that Cameron wants to stay in the EU at all costs, is, therefore, deeply flawed.  But, even if cameron personally did want to stay in the EU that is irrelevant, because just as he has been led to hold this referendum, so he will be pushed by the Tory Party, and the reactionary class interest it represents to push increasingly within that referendum campaign, for Britain to leave.  If not, he will, and may in any case, be simply replaced by an even more authoritarian, Bonapartist representative of those class interests, such as Boris Johnson.  The continual erosion of civil liberties, and basic rights by the Tories, is a fundamental aspect of that process, as I set out some time ago, comparing the trajectory of the Tories with the process analysed by Marx that led to the coup of Louis Bonaparte.

But, it is a crazy strategy for another reason.  The threat being posed to workers rights, is a threat being posed by the UK government, to rights that are provided to all European workers, by the EU. So, on what rational basis does it make sense to threaten to withdraw from Europe, which provides those rights and guarantees, in order to retreat into Britain, which wants to undermine and to remove them?  It makes no sense whatsoever.  A withdrawal from the EU, under such circumstances, would not be a means of recovering those rights, but of making it even more difficult to retrieve them.

John Major's Tory government, negotiated an opt out of the EU's Social Chapter, but even Blair, when he was elected in 1997, was able and prepared to overturn that, and to sign Britain up.  Even if the worst happened, and Cameron signed away those rights again, a future Corbyn Labour Government could simply sign Britain up once again.  But, if you have left the EU that option has then been removed, and in the meantime you have separated British workers from a struggle by all workers across Europe for an extension of workers rights within the EU as a whole.

The idea that workers rights in Britain can be defended or extended by a Little Englander retreat into the British state is crazy, because it is that British state which is the main proponent of such attacks on workers rights not the EU.  The crazy strategy of the TUC and elements of the Labour Party, is simply a reflection of the fact that the Labour Movement itself continues to be dominated by conservative, nationalist ideas that have weakened it throughout its history.  Its time those ideas were defeated and cleared out once and for all.

We should return to the basic idea, not of throwing up additional national borders, but of pulling them down.

Workers of the World Unite.

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