Sunday, 26 June 2016

Europe Declares War On Britain

The EU has declared diplomatic, political and economic war against Britain, following the Brexit vote. Socialists should adopt a position of revolutionary defeatism, in response.

At the start of the Liberal-Tory government, back in 2010, I wrote several posts noting that their regime was characterised by a high degree of incompetence, and ineptness. So, it proved to be, throughout the period of that government, that had in reality been cobbled together on the basis of fulfilling the individual egos of the individual politicians, particularly the leading Liberals. But, the calling of the EU Referendum, and then losing it, is the apogee of that ineptness and incompetence on the part of Cameron and the Tories.

Cameron put forward the idea of the referendum solely to ward off a challenge to his right flank from UKIP and the euroseptics in his own party. He thought he would never have to call it, because he expected not to win a majority at the 2015 election, which would have given him Liberal cover to not go ahead with it. Having won that majority, he could still have faced down the Tory right, and refused to go ahead with it, or at least have kicked it into the long grass. Instead, with the now familiar hubris, mixed with incompetence he pressed ahead.

As Jean Claude Juncker commented, yesterday, in relation to Cameron, you cannot complain about the EU from Monday to Saturday, and then on a Sunday expect everyone to believe that you are a Europhile. What is more, the EU Referendum was never about the EU. In poll after poll during elections, voters signalled that the EU was an issue that did not feature in their top concerns. The referendum, as with most of UKIP's vote in preceding elections, was about immigration pure and simple. It is the problem with referenda, that, in the end, voters often base their vote on a whole series of concerns that have nothing at all to do with the issue on the ballot paper.

In reality, many of those in the Tory Brexit camp did not favour leaving the EU either. They really sought to do what they have done all along, which is to use the EU as a scapegoat. Boris Johnson, who became the figurehead, was well known as a proponent for remaining until this vote gave him the opportunity to take centre stage against his rival Cameron, as a launch pad to the Tory leadership. He made it well known that he saw a Brexit vote as a means of negotiating further concessions from the EU, prior to a second referendum.

But, they gambled and lost. Large numbers of voters, who have been portrayed as traditional Labour voters, but who, in reality, form part of that sub-class, or dangerous class, as Marx described them, that either do not vote, or else vote for parties like the BNP or UKIP, were given a motivation to congeal around the issue that primarily concerns and drives them, a racist, xenophobic dislike of foreigners, the extent of which has been shown in vox pops with them, after the vote, where those elements have felt themselves freed to vent openly what they previously only expressed in couched terms.

The extent of that has also been seen in the attack on a Polish community centre, and in the reports of Asian people, who have lived here for generations, being assailed on the streets by people saying "We've voted to leave, so now its time for you to go!"

Having won, the Tory Bexiters now want to delay implementing its consequences. They now clearly hope, as Bojo said before the referendum, that the EU would come back with another offer to get them out of the bind they have put themselves in. But, the EU have no reason to do that. Its quite clear that, for the EU leaders, Britain is now like a bad smell in Europe that is lingering, and which they want to blow out of the door as soon as possible.

The Foreign Ministers of the six founding members of the EEC met as a Council of War on Saturday, and made that clear. They speak as the leaders of a super state of 450 million people compared to Britain's 50 million people. They addressed Britain accordingly as a puny adversary. They told Cameron in no uncertain terms that he had brought this situation on himself, and that he should either start the Article 50 procedure to take Britain out of the EU immediately, or else he should stand aside and a new British Prime Minister should be appointed within days, who would undertake such action. Anyone who thought that voting to leave the EU would mean Britain obtaining sovereignty will thereby soon be disabused of that misconception, as it finds itself told what to do at every turn, by much bigger, much more powerful players in the global game.

Already, Moody's Credit Rating Agency has downgraded Britain's credit rating, a dangerous thing for a country like Britain that is so much in debt, has such a large trade deficit, and which depends upon the kindness of strangers to lend it money to stay afloat. The EU has also said now that British banks will have to give up their passporting rights, which allowed them to operate in Europe as though they were members of the Eurozone. With the ECB based in Frankfurt, there will now be a fairly quick move of Europe's financial centre to Germany, and away from Britain, which, given Britain's reliance on foreign earnings from Financial Services, will quickly tank the UK economy.

For socialists, we have no reason to support the actions of the EU capitalist state in their war against the British capitalist state. But, nor do we have any reason to support the British capitalist state and its political representatives either. Our task lies as always in building unity between workers across Europe, in order to build a different kind of Europe, a Workers' Europe. For us, in Britain, now that means immediately opposing the Tory government, even if that means that government is defeated by the EU capitalists.

The current situation is unusual in that, its not clear that even the British state is at odds with the EU state here. Its hard to believe that the British state actually wants to be outside the EU. One of the representatives of that state, Lord Hill, has, in fact, resigned his position as an EU Commissioner, negotiating over the unification of capital markets, a move that would have benefited the City of London, to the extent of trillions of pounds. Now that process will benefit Frankfurt, as the new European financial centre instead.

As with all wars, this war is not starting with a shooting war, but with an economic war, a war of words and diplomacy. But, it is no less the start of war.   War is merely the continuation of politics by other means.  The reason it is being undertaken, is precisely because Britain is not Norway or Switzerland. Those two countries are so small that they have no real significance, they pose no threat whatsoever to the EU, and they have already found themselves only nominally outside its jurisdiction and subordinated to it. But, Britain although puny compared to the EU, the US, or China, is still big enough to be problematic, especially given its previous imperialist role. The EU has to squash an independent Britain from the beginning, and ensure that its role as a subordinate is established.  That is how imperialism as a global hierarchical system of states operates.

Socialists should give no succour to the Tories that have created this mess by their ineptness and incompetence. They should also highlight the role played by the Liberals, who facilitated the Tories regime in the first place. But, we should also highlight the role played by the Blair-rights, whose own conservative politics following in the footsteps of Thatcher, created the blight in the urban areas that led to the creation of the under-class and its desperation, whilst their craving for fictitious paper wealth, in the form of huge asset price bubbles created a massive inequality of wealth and income within the country that fuelled this hostility. 

Its rich that the Blair-right Hodge-podge now seeks to use this issue to attack Corbyn, who has been closer to workers on this than they ever were or could have been, because it is their politics, their economic policies that created the basis for this vote in the first place. That Stephen Kinnock lines up in that camp is not surprising, because it was his father that started that process of destroying the Labour Party back in the 1980's, and opened the door to Blair. If Britain is now like a bad smell lingering in Europe, these Blair-rights are a bad smell lingering within the Labour Party. If they cannot reconcile themselves with the Labour Party as it now exists, as a movement of half a million people standing four square behind Corbyn and McDonnell, then they should do the decent thing and Leave themselves. At least their predecessors, the renegades of the Gang of Four of Williams, Owen, Rogers and Jenkins had the courage of their convictions to march off into oblivion in the SDP!

No comments: