Brexit, Lexit, Economic Nationalism and Stalinism

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16/08/2018 by socialistfight

Image result for "The Morning Star" (MS) Brexit imagesDoesn’t seem to be working. The Morning Star (MS) is the foremost ideological advocates of exit from Europe in the labour movement.

Economic nationalism, calling for import controls and the exclusion of immigrants and ‘foreign’ workers, has been enormously strengthened by the Brexit vote. It has also strengthened the aristocracy of labour, those skilled and privileged sections of workers with relatively good jobs, on whom the trade union bureaucracy essentially rests. As the spokesperson for the trade union bureaucracy and primary ideologue of and defender of this layer of workers the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and their mouthpiece, The Morning Star (MS) is the foremost ideological advocates of exit from Europe in the labour movement.

In the last referendum in 1975 the MS could boast that they were the only newspaper to support the No campaign then, gathering under their banner Michael Foot, Tony Benn, Barbara Castle, Enoch Powell, Ian Paisley, the Communist Party of Great Britain, the Scottish National party, Plaid Cymru, the Ulster Unionist party and the Democratic Unionist party. A truly revolutionary popular front who shared platforms without regard to class, creed or politics but which nevertheless failed in its endeavours!

As the CPB/MS are Stalinists, the ideological foundation of which is socialism in a single country, they invariably follow the very patriotic line of defending capitalism in a single country too. In fact, this is the logical theoretical basis of all who seek the parliamentary road to socialism.

Image result for Labour MPs Kate Hoey, Graham Stringer, Kelvin Hopkins and Roger Godsiff. images Labour Leave press conference in London with MPs Kate Hoey (centre), Graham Stringer (left) and Kelvin Hopkins (far right) and businessman John Mills (right). Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Who led the No Campaign?

The Brexit camp MPs includes those on the right of the Tory party, maybe up to 100 MPs, Labour MPs Kate Hoey, Graham Stringer, Kelvin Hopkins and Roger Godsiff. The campaign was:

“bankrolled by a string of millionaire party donors, including Labour money-man John Mills, former Tory co-treasurer Peter Cruddas and spread-betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler, who has pumped a fortune into Ukip”,

according to The Mirror.

MS–influenced TU leaders and many Stalinists influenced by its socialism-in-a-single-country ideology like Arthur Scargill are for exit as are both the Socialist Party (CWI) and the Socialist Workers Party (although the latter is far less ‘patriotic’).

In October 2011 then RMT president Alex Gordon made the following social patriotic statement to a conference of the Peoples Movement (Ireland) in Dublin:

“The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is demanding measures to protect particularly unskilled workers where social dumping is threatening jobs. “It is an iron law of economics that an abundant supply of labour pushes down its cost. It is insulting people’s intelligence to pretend otherwise,” it said in a statement. Across Europe, it is clear that we are witnessing large movement of capital eastwards as labour heads west. And this is happening in accordance to the principles of the single European market, which allow the ‘free movement of goods, capital, services and labour’, regardless of the social consequences. Single market rules, therefore, truncate all forms of democracy, including rights to fair wages, working conditions, welfare and social protection and collective bargaining. These EU policies can only mean a continuation of mass migration and, ultimately, feed the poison of racism and fascism, the last refuge of the corporate beast in crisis. To reverse this increasingly perverse situation, all nation states must have democratic control over their own immigration policy and have the right to apply national legislation in defence of migrant and indigenous workers.” [i]

That amounts to a direct appeal to the ruling class to protect the privileges of the labour aristocracy against the immigrants in the good old tradition of class collaboration pioneered by Joe Stalin in The British Road to Socialism, threading the same road of the German Social Democracy voting for the war credits to the Kaiser on 4 August 1914. “If an employer sacked its workers and employed these c****s on lower wages what would you do Gerry?” as one leading RMTer once asked Gerry Downing.

On 21 August the MS expressed embarrassment that “the loudest voices against the neoliberal bloc are those of Ukip cranks”. But it does not have to be that way. Farage said: “I don’t care if a socialist heads up the campaign.”

Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU Referendum by a majority of 56% to 44%. But ironically the fate of the illegitimate state is represented in the House of Commons by the Brexit-supporting  Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up Theresa May’s increasingly unstable administration. The collapse of the power-sharing Executive in Stormont in January 2017 does not look like being reversed anytime soon so that dilemma looks unresolvable.  Some are linking Sinn Fein’s love-in with the British Monarchy with a re-admittance of a united Ireland to the British Commonwealth. Impossible to see that going down in the nationalist and republican Ireland.

What was the positive case for a Remain Vote?

In 1929 Trotsky explained:

“The basic task of unification (of Europe – GD) must be economic in character, not only in the commercial but also productive sense. It is necessary to have a regime that would eliminate the artificial barriers between European coal and European iron. It is necessary to enable the system of electrification to expand in consonance with natural and economic conditions, and not in accordance with the frontiers of Versailles. It is necessary to unite Europe’s railways into a single system, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. All this, in its turn, is inconceivable without the destruction of the ancient Chinese system of custom borders within Europe. This would, in its turn, mean a single, All-European customs union – against America.” [ii]

But surely, we must not attempt in any way to confuse the Socialist United States of Europe with the present imperialist cabal that is the European Union? The United States was established in the War of Independence and maintained in the Civil War in revolutionary struggles. France’s internal customs borders were demolished along with the ancien regime by revolution. However, both Germany and Italy were unified from the top down basically by reactionary political movements. Trotsky explains:

“It has happened more than once in history that when the revolution is not strong enough to solve in time a task that is mature historically, its solution is undertaken by reaction. Thus, Bismarck unified Germany in his own manner after the failure of the 1848 revolution. Thus, Stolypin tried to solve the agrarian question after the defeat of the 1905 revolution. Thus, the Versailles victors solved the national question in their own way, which all the previous bourgeois revolutions in Europe proved impotent to solve. The Germany of the Hohenzollerns tried to organize Europe in its own way, i.e. by uniting it under its helmet.

“The leadership of the Comintern, and particularly the leadership of the French Communist Party are exposing the hypocrisy of official pacifism… The slogan of the United States of Europe is not a cunning invention of diplomacy. It springs from the immutable economic needs of Europe which emerge all the more painfully and acutely the greater is the pressure of the USA… In the person of the Opposition the vanguard of the European proletariat tells its present rulers: In order to unify Europe, it is first of all necessary to wrest power out of your hands. We will do it. We will unite Europe. We will unite it against the hostile capitalist world. We will turn it into a mighty drill-ground of militant socialism. We will make it the cornerstone of the World Socialist Federation.” [iii]

The leadership of the Tory party, the Labour party (with the small opposition above), the Liberal Democrats (almost no opposition here), the Scottish National party, Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalists), the UUP, SDLP and Sinn Fein (three of the four north of Ireland parties) were in the Remain camp. The nationalist parties all hope to attract US investments by low corporate tax and large tax breaks and that vitally depends on staying in Europe, hence the big change there since 1975. Of the far-left Workers Power, the Alliance for Workers Liberty were for remain. The CPGB (Weekly Worker) changed its position to abstain. The SSP in Scotland and Left Unity in England and Wales also supported a remain vote. Socialist Resistance was divided although Alan Thornett was for remain and has strongly argued for it. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT, British section) were for abstention, on the basis that this referendum was the equivalent of an inter-imperialist war on which Marxists must be dual defeatist.

Obama urged Cameron to fight to remain in Europe and Cameron visible strengthened his stance as a consequence, the leadership of France and Germany want the UK to remain in. Of course, we acknowledge that the EU is a ‘bosses’ club’ that its structures are undemocratic even in the very limited terms of bourgeois democracy, that it does not have the advantages of a federal capitalist state in terms of bourgeois democracy, that monetary union is not fiscal union so all the weaker states in the EU are at the mercy of German imperialism in particular which exploits the size and strength of its economy to oppress all other nations. But revolution against the British State would be in a far better position to defend and extend itself with the assistance of the European and global working class if they are joined together in the EU.

How will it advance this historic task if we, first of all, succumb to national socialism, reject alliances with the other working classes of Europe and seek national solutions to the problems facing the working class in Britain alone, which are profoundly global in origins and whose solution is to be found only in the international arena? Lexiteers may argue that it is profoundly contrary to their intention to advance British chauvinism in voting left Brexit but that is what has resulted as we predicted.

The SP has not softened their position on immigration control here in their British Perspectives 2013:

“We staunchly oppose racism. We defend the right to asylum and argue for the end of repressive measures like detention centres. At the same time, given the outlook of the majority of the working class, we cannot put forward a bald slogan of ‘open borders’ or ‘no immigration controls’, which would be a barrier to convincing workers of a socialist programme, both on immigration and other issues. Such a demand would alienate the vast majority of the working class, including many more long-standing immigrants, who would see it as a threat to jobs, wages and living conditions. Nor can we make the mistake of dismissing workers who express concerns about immigration as ‘racists’. While racism and nationalism are clearly elements in anti-immigrant feeling, there are many consciously anti-racist workers who are concerned about the scale of immigration.” [iv]

Imperialist governments are the executive committees of finance capital and the transnational corporations representing Wall Street, the City of London, Paris, Hamburg and Tokyo. The great corporations and their governments (executive committees) can only be defeated when we understand and fight them from the perspective of the world revolution like Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks did in 1917.

Left Remain

In order to fight for a left remain perspective, we must evaluate the current situation. The Morning Star/CPB, the SPEW and the SWP are for Brexit/Lexit still, despite the enormous damage it does to race relations and fuelling the rise of the far right. There is an extant Left Remain and Another Europe is Possible campaign, but they are led by the AWL. The role they have played in Momentum in assisting the anti-semitic witchhunts against Jackie Walker and the rest of the left is really despicable. Grassroots Momentum, which initially seemed to pose an alternative to John Lansman’s coup against all democratic rights in Momentum proper has effectively collapsed because of the pro-Zionism of the AWL.

This is how they describe Another Europe is Possible Left Against Brexit tour it sponsors:

“A grassroots group of Jeremy Corbyn supporters and trade unions is to launch a major UK speaking tour, billed as the left-wing campaign to remain in the EU.

The Left Against Brexit tour will attempt to persuade Corbyn and his allies of the left-wing case for a pro-EU position and will argue that the party can reap electoral benefits from a shift.

Speakers on the summer tour of British cities will include Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the transport union TSSA, Michael Chessum, who was on Momentum’s first steering committee, the Labour MEP Julie Ward and the former shadow minister Catherine West.

The speakers will not call for a rerun of the referendum on EU membership, but for Corbyn to formally reject leaving the EU and make the case that a vote for Labour would be a vote to remain – although the UK is set to formally exit the bloc before the next scheduled election in 2022.

“There is nothing about Brexit that will make life better for the working class,” Cortes said. “It was a right-wing brainchild won – and only narrowly – on a deceitful programme of dog-whistle racism and the big lie that the NHS would get £350m a week. “

Michael ChessumThe Telegraph describes Michael Chessum (above) as a leader of the 2010 student protests which ended in the Conservative Party offices at Millbank being smashed up and looted, rioting in Parliament Square and the ambush of the Prince of Wales’s car. They quote him on the BBC: “I don’t think I’m going to wade in and condemn violence from [the] protesters. They’re doing it because the normal processes of democratic accountability are failing them… The vandalism we’re seeing from the Government outweighs 10 times the vandalism that we saw on famous public buildings, on statues.” If only the AWL could take that stance on the Twin Towers and ISIS!

Another Europe Is Possible is led by AWL supporter Michael Chessum.

“Another Europe Is Possible was established to campaign for a radical ‘in’ vote in the EU referendum on 23rd June 2016. We said, ‘stay in Europe to change Europe’. We come from across the spectrum of the progressive left, working across party political lines to campaign for democracy, human rights, and social justice.

After the bitter disappointment of the referendum result we are continuing our campaign to defend the six progressive elements of EU membership. We identify those as workers’ rights, environmental sustainability, the free movement of people, human rights, science and research funding and transnational innovation.

We are also fighting for democracy in the Brexit process. That means transparency in the negotiations and ensuring that corporate interests do not run riot and take over.  We are also arguing for a referendum on the terms of exit once they have been negotiated with Europe with an option to remain in the EU if the terms are rejected. We respect the referendum result, but there is no popular mandate for any particular exit.”

Is it possible to engage in this movement, given the forces involved? And, if not, what other forces can we turn to fight for either another referendum and at least oppose the hard Brexit that seems increasingly likely now?

Notes

[i] Trade Unionists against the EU, Social Europe is a con, http://www.no2eu.com/?page_id=263

[ii] Trotsky, Disarmament, Opus cit.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] British Perspectives 2013: a Socialist Party congress document, 28 March 2013, http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/campaign/Anti-racism/Immigration/16413

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