All the arguments currently being raised for and against exit are entirely bogus from my point of view, but it was still never going to be a difficult question. Basically, the fewer people rulers have to rule over the less power they wield, the more powerful we are. It makes sense therefore, to cut them down to size by always devolving power to the smallest administrative unit possible. For this reason alone I was excited by the near-miss of Scottish independence in 2014.
The trouble with politics of course, is politicians; their choices depend on precisely whose vested interests they are paid to lobby for. Both campaigns are focusing on what benefits the rich and how best to screw the poor: compromising their health and safety, suppressing their dissent, denying them human rights and benefits, spying on them, stopping them striking or moving about.
Whereas all parties stand for the bourgeoisie, the Tory party strives to represent the landed aristocracy as well. Within it there is a long-standing cognitive dissonance between giving free reign to global capitalism, and the palaeolithic idea that there ought to be some advantage to having been born within a given geographical boundary. Squaring up to pork and pigeon abusers Cameron and Osborne for a theatrical toff-off are posh buffoons Johnson and Gove, and the bungling ghoul Duncan-Smith. Never mind whether you despise any one more than the others, they are all our enemies, as are the proto-fascist Farage, the tankie gobshite Galloway, the parliamentary Labour party and that other bunch that John Cleese likes for some reason.
National interest – well there never was such a thing. What possible common interest could there be between the oligarch in their penthouse and people sleeping in doorways over the road? For the wage-labourers in between, neoliberal capitalism has taken great pains to destroy any commonality of interest by atomising our communities and turning us into a socio-economic continuum with each worker half a point above the next one. Whenever politicians use this term they mean the interest of the ruling elite in maintaining the value of its property and its dominance over the rest of us. The slimy use of the pronoun ‘we’ by hereditary millionaires talking to paupers sets my teeth on edge. I especially detest the phrase ‘UK-PLC’, but it does emphasise that this isn’t your island, you only work here.
“This ideological construct of a unified “national interest” includes the fiction of a “neutral” set of laws, which conceals the exploitative nature of the system of power we live under. Under corporate capitalism the relationships of exploitation are mediated by the political system to an extent unknown under previous class systems. Under chattel slavery and feudalism, exploitation was concrete and personalized in the producer’s relationship with his master. The slave and peasant knew exactly who was screwing them. The modern worker, on the other hand, feels a painful pounding sensation, but has only a vague idea where it is coming from.”
– Kevin A. Carson: ‘The Iron Fist behind the Invisible Hand – Corporate Capitalism as a State-Guaranteed System of Privilege’.
The Economy – fuck that! What has the economy ever done for us? It’s what keeps oligarchs in penthouses and their victims in doorways.
“Businesses hate uncertainty and that’s what we would give them,”
Cameron spluttered, and the I.M.F.’s Christine Lagarde echoed:
“Uncertainty is bad in and of itself. No economic player likes uncertainty. They don’t invest, they don’t hire, they don’t make decisions in times of uncertainty”
The poor bastards! No doubt these arguments will resonate with those in precarious employment, on zero-hours contracts, or under constant threat of sanction by the D.W.P. – You could give the bosses a taste of their own medicine, but Cameron’s probably counting on you being too repelled by their toff wars to participate. Referenda are directly democratic; we’re fine with practical questions being settled this way (with the proviso of course that a majority can’t vote away the freedom of a minority).
Let’s spy on another class enemy; this is from the C.B.I. website:
“The vast majority of CBI members are clear that the benefits of EU membership outweigh the costs, but that the EU must reform to be more competitive. Sir Mike Rake called for businesses to speak out on the benefits at our Annual Dinner in May, which an increasing number of CBI members are doing.”
It goes on to list the benefits to its class:
- The importance of access to the Single Market
- The value of EU membership for attracting investment
- How EU trade deals help to grow exports
- How EU free movement helps businesses to grow and create jobs
- How EU reforms like digital single market, TTIP and other trade deals help businesses grow
- Where reducing EU red tape and fewer rules can help make it easier to do business
Creating jobs – bollocks: ever wanted to do something more useful than making the rich richer? Saving the environment, feeding and housing people, fighting disease? The issue for them is how to reduce the price of labour to its absolute minimum and piss off with the proceeds before they have to give any back.
Cameron claims that ‘all countries friendly to the UK’, want it to stay in the EU.
“That’s what the New Zealanders think, the Canadians, the Indians, the Chinese, everyone. I’m yet to meet a serious friendly country, one that wants a stronger relationship with us, that thinks we will be better outside.”
He blithers on, betraying the infantile level of this debate:
“I say you should listen to your friends about what they think would be good for you and would be right for you.”
Let’s deconstruct that statement a little.
Even Porky couldn’t claim that the entire populations of those territories and this island are on friendly terms, much less that a third of the human race gives a flying fuck about the outcome of his referendum. What he means of course is that the rulers of China for example, a one-party dictatorship that presides over sweatshops in which 70,000 people die at work annually, are sympathetic to his ends. From human rights watch 2015 report:
“The government targets activists and their family members for harassment, arbitrary detention, legally baseless imprisonment, torture, and denial of access to adequate medical treatment.”
Both India and China retain the death penalty for civilians, the number of executions in China is a state secret, but is rarely below 2,000 per annum – more than the rest of the world put together. With friends like those, who needs Iain Duncan-Smith?
Sovereignty – another irrelevance; the sovereignty of a parliament full of crooked millionaires and politics graduates versus a load of crooked political appointees. The market is global, as politicians never tire of reminding you when they fail to deliver their promises. It really isn’t up to them but their corporate sponsors; they need the market and the market needs them. According to Alex Edwards, currency analyst at UKForex, the very fact of proles having a say in such weighty matters will terrify the global bourgeoisie, as it did in Greece:
“It’s going to be a very bumpy ride for sterling in the run up to June’s referendum, and we can expect new lows and increased instability as the rhetoric heightens, polls are released and rumours abound.”
The greatest ever surrender of sovereignty by the British state was its entry into NATO, which has led to the absurdity of professed allies fighting on opposite sides in the Syrian conflict. Although the Turkish state is backing deash against both the Kurds and the Assad regime, the U.S. government will never move against it because it keeps air force bases on Turkish soil, with tactical nuclear weapons.
Some workers fear the loss of social legislation, driven from regions where workers’ organisations are integrated into the state. But stop; if we have to rely for our emancipation on other people’s efforts, we really are in the cart. In the last century liberation movements thought they could get a better deal by being proxies of the U.S.S.R. The German unions have a lot of bargaining power; they also have a vested interest in the stability of the state, thereby supporting prosperity in capitalist terms. The French unions do well because they take to the streets and kick off, we don’t need the common market to do that! In Spain, a wave of political repression is underway that recalls the dictatorships of the twentieth century. Greek workers are at war with their government and the E.U.
Social change that benefits the working class only comes through direct organising with other workers, not through top-down institutions. Activists will continue to work with their overseas counterparts against capitalist globalisation, fascism and environmental destruction. Revolutionary syndicalism is international and does not rely on the political alliances of governments. When we make common cause with workers in European countries, or any others for that matter, we’ll sort it out between ourselves. The E.U. bureaucracy isn’t going to help us organise a Europe-wide general strike, is it?
Freedom of movement within the E.U. is likely to be curtailed in the short term as the squabbling partners all rush to get their fences up. Britain was never going to be in the Shengen zone, and they won’t even let you on the channel ferry without a passport any more. A bilateral agreement between the French and British states places the U.K. border firmly on the other side of the channel. Comrades are regularly accosted by state-terror spooks on their return from oversees events, and political integration of European states facilitates this. For the rich of any zone, travel has never been a problem and never will be, either way. For those of us who want the borders down, don’t worry, that’s going to happen anyway; no force on Earth can stop it. Over the next twenty years large sections of the planet’s surface will become uninhabitable, which is why the ruling class and its client media are relentlessly stoking fear of the ‘other’ to soften us up for some serious crimes against humanity. The very last thing we need is the rulers of Western Europe getting together on this behind closed doors and coming out with a plan.
The EU is nothing more than a bourgeois cartel that can only serve the interests of the bosses and we have an opportunity to break it. We don’t need Brussels any more than we need Westminster; both represent the hegemony of old, rich, white men. What’s more, if the Referendum produces an overall majority for exit this will most likely not be reflected north of the Scottish border* and will re-open their independence debate. It’s unlikely that many in the North of Ireland will want to see a ‘hard border’ with the South again and will be similarly reluctant to follow Britain. The result could be a move towards re-unification or at least to marginalise the bowler-hat merchants. If we’re very lucky, we could see off the U.K. altogether!
*Not because it’s in their interests, but because many are in thrall to a political movement that postulates a softer social democratic capitalism, and they would understandably rather tie up to the mainland than to England’s toffocracy.
Going back to my first paragraph, an independent England with a guaranteed Tory majority in parliament doesn’t scare me in the slightest; the present government acts with impunity already, despite representing less than a quarter of the population. I’d cheerfully take Dorset out of England if I could – and we’ve got the worst of the worst down here: Chope, Drax, Ellwood and Letwin – but we’d be fighting a ruling class so weakened and demoralised I doubt the toffs would have the front to set foot outside their houses.
Ignore all the fuglies on the out campaign; Cameron wants you to vote in, the U.S. government wants it, the Chinese Communist Party wants it, the C.B.I. wants it, the I.M.F. wants it, Hollande and Merkel want it, what more reasons do we need for voting out?
More thoughts on the EU referendum.