Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A Socialist Campaign For Europe - Part 3 of 5

The Collapse Of The Political Centre

A Return of the colonels? 

All across the globe, today, we see that the ideas that ruled for the last thirty years are in tatters. The money drugs of low official interest rates, and money printing that boosted asset prices at the expense of real productive investment, have thereby made things worse, rather than better, and they are now even incapable of achieving their original intention of blowing up these stock, bond and property bubbles. Real productive investment, as Marx showed long ago, is a fundamental requirement for capitalist growth, without which the payment of rent and interest, and capital gain is impossible, and that requirement is reasserting itself. That accumulation of real productive-capital can now only rationally be conducted on the scale of the EU, and within the kind of social-democratic framework that such conditions have generated in the past. It is a requirement of this socialised productive capital, which stands diametrically opposed to the interests of fictitious capital, and of the conservative political forces that have reflected its interests over the last thirty years.

Either social-democracy will take up the reins or else, it will fall to more reactionary forces to pursue the interests of that productive-capital, which is why national-socialist parties have always been able to stand on a platform of economic radicalism. Bismark in Germany, Louis Bonaparte in France, and similar figures across the globe fulfilled that role of state directed industrial policy. The same has been seen in the middle east, in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq, as well as in Latin America. Hitler fulfilled a similar function via the use of Keynesian stimulus, and national economic planning.

Those same dynamics have created the existing split between the Tories and UKIP. That is likely to intensify, as the EU referendum proceeds. The divisions that opened up between the Tories and Liberals over the AV referendum, will be as nothing compared to the divisions that will open inside the Tory Party, because, unlike with AV, the division over Europe reflects real, material differences of interest within capital itself. I wrote some time ago that if Syriza buckled in Greece, it would be Golden Dawn that would fill the vacuum, and, in the same way, I wrote conditions in the UK mirrored those described by Marx in “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”, which led to the rise of a Bonapartist dictatorship, with Boris Johnson playing the lead role.

Marxists do not, therefore, hold any illusions that social-democratic forces such as those of Syriza, Podemos, Corbyn or Sanders are socialist. They are not proposing the building of an independent worker owned property, and independent organisation of workers-power and democracy, increasingly standing in opposition to capitalist property, and the capitalist state, or workers self-government as Marx described it. But, we do recognise that they represent the rational interests of socialised capital, looking forward, whereas the conservatives look backwards, in their representation of forms of property that have had their day, even within the confines of capitalism. It is that objective reality, that underpins the collapse of the political centre, and which means that its only resolution, currently, within capitalism, resides with a rejuvenation of social-democracy, or else with the rise of some form of fascism or Bonapartism.

It is on that basis that Marxists give critical support to social-democratic forces such as Syriza, Podemos, Corbyn and so on. To the extent that these forces can link up across Europe, and extend their influence, the more the objective reality exerts itself against the current appearance of the hegemony of conservative ideas and power.

But, one of the reasons that Marxists can only give critical support to these social-democrats is precisely the limited nature of their own position, which continually lags behind the development of the working-class, and its own forms of property. Socialised capital, in the form of corporations have existed as multinationals for more than sixty years. Some co-operatives operate on an EU or wider international basis. Yet, social-democratic parties and trades unions continue to reflect the dominance of nationalist ideas, despite the oft claimed “internationalism” of those parties. They work together on a loose basis within the EU Parliament, and some half-hearted attempts to build a European trades union movement have taken place. But, as the current moves to loosen the ties in the British Labour Party indicate, with proposals to essentially create an independent Scottish Labour Party, rather than strengthening and drawing closer across borders, the lingering statism and nationalism, that lies behind their ideology continually pulls them apart.

Not only, therefore, should Marxists have no truck with sharing a platform with Tories and other nationalists – we can leave that to the likes of national-socialists and demagogues of the ilk of Galloway – but, we should also have no truck with sharing platforms with those social democrats who frame their arguments in nationalist terms either. There is no more reason to stand side by side with Labour politicians like Hilary Benn, for example, who have welcomed parts of Cameron's reactionary package, and who have only demarcated themselves from the Tories over the removal of workers rights and benefits, by presenting themselves as a pale imitation of the Tories, just as they have done over austerity. Marxists are in favour of staying in the EU, not because it is in the interests of British workers to do so, still less that it in the interests of Britain to do so, but because it is in the interests of workers full stop. It is in the interests of building unified workers' organisations across Europe, of undermining the ability of our enemies to sow division on nationalist grounds, and it is in the interests of building socialised capital, and worker-owned property across Europe.

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