Autor: Emil

~ 30/12/11

This post is a reply to someone. You can read the original discussion here.

-Originally posted at Revleft on 24th October 2011-

There has been much recurring discussion about this issue and I can be pretty sure that much more is to follow. The following is an answer to a new member. First will be his post and following will be my answer:

[Quoting user “M.Ebow”]

Hi Guys,
Today in the U.K., there is a debate going on about having a referendum about whether we should stay in the E.U. or not. Personally, I’m not completely sure about the European Union; I think it is good for trade, but aside from that, it can be a hinderance at times. Also, that B.N.P. muppet Nick Griffin is an M.E.P. for the north West of England, but he doesn’t have a seat in our own parliament. The European Court seems to be having more and more influence (presumably due to the Lisbon Treaty); is there a point in Europe if we have our own currency?
Anyway, I’d like to know:
1) Should we be having a referendum about this at this time when Cameron should be focusing on other more immediate issues?
2) Do you think Britain should remain in Europe(and give your reasons why please).
3) What is the Euro good for, should we help with the recovery and even join the currency?
4) I even heard someone on the radio saying we should get rid of our governments, and join a U.S.E.(United States of Europe)! What’s Your reaction to that?
5) finally, do you think that the Conservatives should be using a Whip to avoid the referendum? I have heard that 70-odd Tories are going to vote for a referendum anyhow.
please include your political affiliations so I can get a gist of who’s saying what.
Thank you in advance,

There is a lot of contention on this issue on the left. Broadly speaking much of the left takes a position against the EU being a project of the capitalist class arranging European “unity” on a basis of mutual capitalist interest. I think this position is pretty much ok.

However, things go awry when the same people try to offer an alternative and get stuck at national strategies. This can range from “radical” Keynesianism to blunt nationalism. All such roads are a dead end however, since capitalism is a global system and as such national roads away from it will lead to disaster: bankruptcy, military invasion, police state… you name it.

So, instead we have to realise that our positive alternative starts at a continental level. On this level we can start to build towards a better kind of society and transcend the evils of the inherited capitalist society, overcome the rule of value and start to begin a society based on the rule of planning to human need.

Thus, instead of merely attacking the EU, communists ought to engage with this given playing field and incorporate it into our own project of a united European working class, striving for political power as a class.

As for your questions:
1. I think we should generally oppose referendums. Despite their aura of being democratic, they in fact are not. First of all, we do not create the question on the ballot, the elite do and they’ll use that position for their own agenda. Second, it might feed into the idea that people actually have a say about anything in society, while they do not. The Irish referendums on the Lisbon Treaty are a case in point: Just hold a referendum again and again until you have the “right” answer.

2. Britain is a part of Europe, despite that culturally you seem to have this habit of talking about “us” Britain and “Europe”, as if it was on a different part of the world 😀

But seriously, I merely repeat what I’ve already said: We should not buy into the official pro-Europe agenda, but claim our own pro-European agenda. This not being a far away and abstract thing into the future, but by engaging directly with the given playing field. I.e. demand democratic rights in the EU institutions. This will act as a lever to organise the working class as a class on a European level and let them claim Europe as opposed to falling back into nationalist romanticism.

3. A tricky debate indeed. I’m leaning to “yes” as it would mean more (political) unity and thus a common enemy. That said, it is a given that the Euro should actually survive its current existential crisis.

4. I support a European Democratic Republic. That is, a state where the people are sovereign and rule. The “USE” advocates are coming from a more pro-capitalist angle 🙂

5. If the referendum should come, we ought to participate in it and campaign for our cause. I don’t see the point of the Tories using a whip. Against whom? Themselves? They will, after all, be the people starting the referendum!

As for my political affiliation: I’m a member of the Committee for a Workers’ International (the English section of which is the Socialist Party in England & Wales) and consider myself an Orthodox Marxist.

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