The story so far: Madrid has been saved a second time by the Working Class, no thanks to the government which fled to Valencia. Durruti is dead, his column decimated, the remainder face militarisation and dispersal. Prime minister Largo Caballero has devoted his energies to re-establishing the power of the state in the republican zone, and Stalin’s grip tightens on it. The Russians have arrived, and so have thousands of foreign antifascists. The following lines from ‘The Authority of the Bootmaker’ by Mal Content.
The fall of Malaga to Italy on the 8th of February 1937 gave the dictator his excuse to unseat Caballero. Malaga suffered from the same government prejudice as Catalonia, agriculture on the coastal strip was mostly collectivised and the city had been held by Confederal militia, only three-quarters of whom were armed; they had sixteen artillery pieces in total. The government’s military representative was Communist fellow-traveller Colonel Villalba, whose incompetence on the Huesca front had inflicted significant losses on the Durruti Column. Weeks of fascist build-up in the surrounding countryside had been ignored. Mussolini’s Blackshirts, nine mechanised battalions worth, descended from the hills to the North and West in little turretless tanks and armoured cars. They were accompanied by thousands of African legionnaires and Carlist Requetés, supported by a hundred aircraft, three Spanish cruisers and the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee. The city had to be evacuated; some ten thousand prisoners were executed while four thousand refugees died on the hundred and fifty mile march to Almeria, simultaneously bombarded from land, sea and air. A nationalist officer wrote:
“During the first week, when no-one could enter Malaga, four thousand were shot. They were shot down in groups by machine-guns on the Playa del Palo. Later on, courts martial were set up. At dizzying speed, people were tried – if that is the right word – in groups of fifty to seventy. In this fashion, by the third month of Malaga’s liberation (sic) ten thousand people had perished.”
– Antonio Bahamonde y Sanchez de Castro: ‘Un Ano de Queipo: Memorias de un Nacionalista’
The reprisals continued for years, in August 1944 the death toll stood at twenty thousand as reported by the nationalist administration to the British consul. I could speculate that the liberal democracies’ indifference to the systematic extermination of non-combatants may have encouraged the Nazis to press ahead with their own genocide; it certainly did nothing to put them off.
The Communists claimed the defeat was due to treachery, and they may well have been right*. Villalba was arrested but swiftly released; the under-secretary of war, General Asensio, one of the few who had failed to join the party, was variously accused of incompetence and duplicity, and Caballero had defended him. He succumbed to the pressure, but his replacement was a left-wing socialist.
*Was Villalba a ‘fifth columnist’ who regretted getting stuck on the republican side? He was allowed to return to Spain after the war, and claim a Colonel’s pension; had he ever been of any use to the Republic he would undoubtedly have been shot. He seriously undermined the Aragon front from the start, when he prevailed on the anarchists to delay the assault on Zaragoza until it was too late. Did he sacrifice Malaga on Franco’s or Stalin’s orders? Or was he just an arsehole?
The Nationalists then sought to cut the road from Madrid to Valencia, which required skirting the south of the city and crossing the valley of the Jarama River. The action was intended to coincide with an attack on Guadalajara by the Italians but they weren’t ready so Franco went ahead anyway. Beginning on the 5th February the Army of Africa with a German armoured company surprised and overran Republican forces on the West bank. They defended their positions to the death, but by the 8th, the Western heights were in fascist hands. The river crossing on the 11th was led by Moroccan commandos who killed the sentries, immediately followed by cavalry that engaged the XIV International Brigade. Another column crossed the Arganda Bridge, which failed to collapse when its charges were detonated, but was halted by the Garibaldi Battalion of the XII I.B. German and Russian aircraft clashed overhead, the Russians retaining control.
The Eastern side was reinforced by the recently formed XV I.B. of British, Irish, Francophone and Balkan volunteers. The British Battalion went into action here for the first time. Things didn’t get off to an auspicious start; their commander Wilf McCartney was accidentally shot by the Brigade Commissar Peter Kerrigan (the Comintern’s British delegate) before they left their base at Madrigueras. McCartney was invalided out so Tom Wintringham took over. The first deployment of the XV was a cock-up; they were poorly equipped, had no maps and had not been told the enemy had already crossed the river, so they came under fire as soon as they began to descend the valley. The machine-gun company found it had been given the wrong ammunition. The truck carrying the replacement batch broke down, and when it arrived, the cartridges had to be belted by hand. The ridge of land that became known as ‘suicide hill’ was continuously swept with fascist machine gun fire, it was held for hours against terrific odds by one of the three infantry companies, led by I.R.A. veteran Kit Conway, who died there.
“Reaching the crest of the hills overlooking the valley and the river, the three companies of the Battalion met the full force of the Fascist advance. Up the slopes long lines of Moors and Foreign Legionnaires surged forward under cover of artillery and machine gun fire, threatening to sweep all before them. No one in his senses could have conceived that this line of riflemen could hold up that onslaught for more than a few minutes. And behind them? Nothing. A clear field down to Arganda, Morata and the Madrid road.
But men who had come hundreds of miles to fight, sustained by an understanding of the cause for which they are fighting, do not act in the way prescribed by the military textbooks. Rapidly deploying in open formation, the Battalion went into the attack against the advancing Moors. The Fascist troops faltered, then hastily dropped down to cover. Only the sheer audacity of this handful of men could have achieved this. Had the Fascist officers been aware of the true position on our side, they would have overwhelmed the Battalion by sheer superiority of arms and numbers.”
– George Leeson, antifascist: ‘Spain Today, February 1947.
The ridge was eventually abandoned, but as luck would have it, just as the fascists came over the top the machine-gunners managed to get re-supplied and mowed them all down. The following day’s chaotic infantry retreat left the machine-gun company exposed and most were captured. Forty infantrymen then charged the position, of whom six survived. On the third day fascist tanks pushed the line back to the road, it was ‘shit or bust’. Frank Ryan and Jock Cunningham gathered the survivors to counter attack, leading them in a chorus of the ‘Internationale’:
“Some were still straggling down the slopes from what had been up to an hour ago, the front line. And now, there was no line, nothing between the Madrid road and the Fascists but disorganised groups, of weary, war-wrecked men. After three days of terrific struggle, the superior numbers, the superior armament of the Fascists had routed them. All, as they came back, had similar stories to tell: of comrades dead, of conditions that were more than flesh and blood could stand, of weariness they found hard to resist.
I recognised the young Commissar of the Spanish Company. His hand bloody where a bullet had grazed the palm, he was fumbling nevertheless with his automatic, in turn threatening and pleading with his men. I got Manuel to calm him, and to tell him we would rally everyone in a moment. As I walked along the road to see how many men we had, I found myself deciding that we should go back up the line of the road to San Martín de la Vega, and take the Moors on their left flank. Groups were lying about on the roadside, hungrily eating oranges that had been thrown to them by a passing lorry. This was no time to sort them into units. I noted with satisfaction that some had brought down spare rifles. I found my eyes straying always to the hills we had vacated. I hitched a rifle to my shoulder.
They stumbled to their feet. No time for barrack-square drill. One line of four. ‘Fall in behind us.’ A few were still on the grass bank beside the road, adjusting helmets and rifles. ‘Hurry up!’ came the cry from the ranks. Up the road towards the Cook-House I saw Jock Cunningham assembling another crowd. We hurried up, joined forces. Together we two marched at the head. Whatever popular writers may say, neither your Briton nor your Irishman is an exuberant type. Demonstrativeness is not his dominating trait. The crowd behind us was marching silently. The thoughts in their minds could not be inspiring ones. I remembered a trick of the old days when we were holding banned demonstrations. I jerked my head back: Sing up, ye sons o’guns!“
– Frank Ryan: ‘The Book of the 15th Brigade’ 1938.
The one hundred and forty volunteers who marched back up the road to suicide hill did not all speak the same language, but everyone knew the tune; to compensate for their lack of numbers they engaged the enemy with a high rate of fire. Evidently the Fascists had not expected to see the routed Brigaders again, and presuming them to be reinforcements, fell back. The breach in the front was filled overnight and did not move for two years. To their right the Dimitrov and Thälmann Battalions held off the frontal assault on their own positions.
There were several costly counter attacks that failed to shift the Nationalist lines significantly, Lister’s fifth regiment advancing across open ground in broad daylight took fifty percent casualties, the North American and Irish Abraham Lincoln Battalion fared no better under similar conditions, their first engagement immortalised in the last words of poet Charlie Donnelly: “Even the olives are bleeding”. Jarama seriously undermined the morale of the International Brigades; they were used as expendable shock troops by inexperienced Communist generals who wanted propaganda victories. A month of bloodshed left both sides entrenched in a stalemate reminiscent of the Western front.
It’s fair to say the republic suffered from a lack of military experience, the Spanish metropolitan army had been little more than a dining club, only those officers who had been to Africa had ever seen combat, or even been on manouvres. Their tactics were from old French textbooks* or gleaned from the First World War, to which they had been spectators. The Russian officers were mostly young and equally untested, as the Red Army was being purged. Their authoritarian culture stifled initiative and they were under strict instructions not to risk capture. The best of the I.B.s were those like the Irish, with recent battle experience, or veterans of the Great War.
*To the extent that Franco believed they were receiving training from the French armed forces.
Flushed with the carnage at Malaga, Mussolini planned a showcase for fascist Italy’s martial prowess; sending his Blackshirts to cut off Madrid to the North East at Guadalajara. Instead they took such a shafting as to acquire a reputation for military incompetence and retreat that outlived his regime. Instrumental in their downfall was the Garibaldi battalion of the 12th I.B., exiled Italian antifascists with a score to settle. On the 8th of March the motorised infantry swarmed into the pass in their fleet of little tankettes. With about five to one numerical superiority they initially made rapid progress but were slowed by bad weather and boggy ground. The vehicles began to get stuck and their air support was grounded whilst the Republican air force benefitted from the concrete runway at Albacete. The 14th division led by the Madrid bricklayer Cipriano Mera counterattacked. The rout at Guadalajara guaranteed Mussolini’s continued support for Franco, to save face, it also led to the latter rescinding Blackshirt military autonomy and caused observers to re-think their strategy regarding mechanised infantry. At the same time, in their capacity as members of the non-intervention committee, Italian and German navies blockaded the Mediterranean coast; the only supply route left to the Republic was across the Pyrenees, and the French were all over that.
Dare Devil Rides To Jarama: For more info, reviews, full tour schedule etc, see Townsend Productions
“An amazing story of Wall of Death motorcycle rider Clem “Dare Devil” Beckett and Marxist writer and poet Christopher Caudwell, at first sight two unlikely friends and comrades, who were thrown together by their shared determination to defend the Spanish republic against Franco’s rising fascist tide.
Marking the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, Dare Devil Rides To Jarama is a world premiere based on the experiences of The International Brigades during The Spanish Civil War. Looking at the powerful political and economic forces that engulfed 1930s Europe, Dare Devil Rides to Jarama follows the life of why so many ordinary people made the extraordinary choice to leave family and livelihoods and fight in a brutal war so far from home.
When Spaniards rose up to resist General Franco’s military rebellion in 1936, it was an inspiration to millions of people worldwide. Their heroic struggle alerted the rest of the world to the threat of fascism. Dare Devil Rides To Jarama commemorates and celebrates the contribution and sacrifice of the Volunteer International Brigades, including two and a half thousand from Britain and Ireland. Compelling and humorous, Dare Devil Rides To Jarama focuses on the contrasting lives of Clem Beckett, born in Oldham and famous star of the speedway track around Manchester and the North, and Christopher Caudwell, a renowned writer, poet and philosopher. Both men were killed together at Jarama in February 1937, having become friends as members of the British Battalion’s machine-gun company.
Through stirring song, poetry and compelling movement and dance, Dare Devil Rides To Jarama captures the raw passions and emotions of the time. Musical direction is from acclaimed folk singer and squeeze box player John Kirkpatrick. The play has a particular resonance in our current climate as it examines how the economic pressures in the 1930s contributed to the rise of xenophobic tendencies throughout Europe and the failure of a unified left to join together to successfully challenge these forces. Dare Devil Rides To Jarama aims to bring the full story of the compelling dispute to life in this powerful and thought-provoking new play. This production follows Townsend Productions’ critically acclaimed United We Stand, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and We Will Be Free.
Director Louise Townsend comments, This project is a tremendous opportunity to tell this very intricate and extraordinary story of exceptional people. The challenge is twofold – to do justice to their achievements and to reflect the dense, turbulent political and historical times.
Writer Neil Gore comments, The play is an exciting and evocative piece about the incredible contribution made by the volunteers that made up the International Brigades to fight the forces of fascism and to uphold the power of democracy. It is also an important examination of the fascinating and brilliant life of Clem Beckett who achieved so much in such a short time as a top speedway rider and a rider in the Wall of Death around Europe.”
La cinquante-huitième de Mars.
My last post on this subject stirred a lively discussion so I’ll try and answer some of the points raised by people who generally express agreement with anarchist principles. Most activists are maintaining a dignified abstention from what they regard as an internal dispute within the British establishment, and none of the anarchist groups have agreed a policy as far as I can see. The arguments expressed in support of voting for the British state to remain in the EU verge on liberalism. As social revolutionaries we are presently fighting a rearguard action, some are confused and understandably torn between thwarting capitalist globalisation – a cause for which many comrades have lost their lives and liberty – and mitigating its short term effects on individuals.
This is not, as has been suggested, about opportunistically kicking the Cameron regime; the entire global bourgeoisie is in agreement on this issue*. They would like us to understand, without betraying their rising panic, that the British state’s membership of the EU is important to them. Of course, in every case we want the opposite of what they want: de-growth, de-alienation, an end to pointless commerce, futile toil, military activity, coercive power and capital accumulation. We must dismantle the political structures they rely on.
*”What about the tabloid press?” – They sell newspapers, and will continue to do so either way, it won’t make any difference to them and the next British P.M. will kiss Murdoch’s arse just like the last one. A few homegrown capitalists oppose it for opportunistic reasons, because they are insulated from it economically. Wetherspoon’s Tim Martin has cunningly engineered a captive domestic market that would probably stay loyal to him if he pissed on their shoes.
An out vote will wipe billions off their capital, which quantifies their power over the rest of us. It will seriously weaken the EU itself, destabilise the United Kingdom, and undermine the security of NATO. It will be a major blow to Western imperialism. Perhaps the most immediate benefit to our class, and the planet, is that it will balls up negotiations on the nightmarish TTIP treaty,* which, along with its Trans-Pacific counterpart would give a handful of unaccountable bourgeois oversight of local policy across the entire world. Working class militants, not only anarchists, are fighting these plans tooth and claw. The UK government’s own report on it, which they’ve been sitting on for three fucking years, predicts no benefit to the economy (See conclusions at the end).
*I recommend this article but the entire Z-Net site seems to have gone down this morning – coincidence? This is quite good, though I don’t share his faith in courts and parliaments, obviously.
Ask yourself: how many of us would hypothetically have to lay down our lives to do that amount of damage to our enemies? This is no time to hedge our bets, sometimes you have to gamble to win, especially when the status quo is intolerable. Cameron only called this referendum to staunch defections to UKIP and win the last election; and according to poll analyst Professor John Curtice it’s ”an awful lot closer than it was meant to be”. However uncomfortable the current climate might be, we’re not going to get another chance.
There is widespread confusion over the, European Convention on Human Rights adopted by the 47 states of the Council of Europe, which, despite using the same flag, is not related to the European Union and pre-dates it. The UK government is planning to do away with it anyway. Of more concern to libertarians is the European Arrest Warrant that allows governments to pursue dissidents across member states. It waives the convention in International extradition law that you cannot be extradited for an act that would be legal in the state you are being extradited from (called double criminality). Hidden among the list of heinous crimes this clause applies to is “participation” in a banned organisation. Since my last post the Spanish state has imprisoned two anarchist comrades for twelve years without a shred of evidence.
Some fear that a boost will be given to the far right, who will take it as a victory; fair comment, but they take everything as a victory anyway, and they were always going to be there. Was there ever a likelihood of the National Front campaigning for the EU? In Dover recently we were treated to the spectacle of Greek-Cypriot fascist and friend of Golden Dawn Paul ‘pitt’ Prodromou burning an EU flag with the words: “Stick it up your arse, we don’t want your foreigners” As a reflex comrades rushed to defend the institution, rather than just ridiculing the idiot. The EU cannot by any stretch be considered a buffer against fascism; xenophobic parties, including neo-Nazis are well represented at European and national level. In corporatist Europe ‘the left’ still means bureaucracy and top-down control for its own sake, and this contradiction gives the right something to get their teeth into. The Daily Express would be mostly blank without it. So is the EU in fact dragging the continent to the right?
Fear of the fash can be healthy, if it means you take care to steward public events, advertise wisely, monitor local fascist groups, ensuring you know where they meet and when, how many, how active, how mobile etc. But you’re doing that already, aren’t you? Clinging to the hope that if all else fails the state will step in is the triumph of optimism over a century of bitter experience. In 1920’s Italy, after two years of wildcat strikes, land and factory occupations, landowners and industrialists funded Mussolini to recruit a scab army of Blackshirts to evict the workers and break up union meetings. They obtained arms and vehicles, received training and logistics from the army and preferential treatment from police and courts. Firearms permits were selectively granted to right-wingers (like the brits did in Ireland). Left politicians invoked the constitution to protect their rights, but no-one was listening. When the official unions eventually organised armed resistance it was too little, too late. The same mistakes were repeated in Germany, Portugal and Spain. A world war, sixty million dead later and in London, Mosley was back in business with a police escort. There is no good or bad ruling class; there is one ruling class that operates differently over different terrain. Nobody is ever going to save anybody from anything out of moral sentiment.
“No government in the world fights fascism to destruction. When the bourgeois see power slipping out of their hands, they resort to fascism to hold onto their privileges.”
– Buenaventura Durruti
It has been suggested that workers settled here from the mainland may be removed; even the most rabid of UKIP spokesmen are not proposing this, it would wreck the economy instantly and remember there are far more British citizens over the channel than the other way round. Martin wouldn’t go for it either; he’s too fond of underpaying his staff. The British government is however, planning to remove all non-EU citizens earning below £35,000 p.a. leaving only the wealthiest.
The saintly Jeremy Corbyn having renounced his long-standing Bennism, the reason he’s struggling to make a socialist case for the EU is that there isn’t one. All his arguments are bourgeois; he speaks of the interests of “the people of this country” – which ones? If he actually believes workers’ rights are granted by politicians he needs to do a bit of reading. This is the kind of thing we’re up against in Poland and Hungary. Why is he pandering to this crap? Like everything to do with party politics, Corbyn’s conversion is dictated by internal power dynamics. He has chosen the parliamentary party over his social base, Momentum – bulked up by fractious Trots and tankies who aren’t allowed in the Labour party and are instinctively anti-EU – which declared neutrality so as not to embarrass the leader.
Cameron is on his arse and a good kick would finish him off. It’s Labour doing what it always does, offering to rescue the ruling elite just when its own venality has rendered it inoperable. Labour belongs to the possiblist tradition that holds that capitalism will eventually abolish itself if we would only be patient, and use the institutions it has given us. It the meantime, it’s not so much “bigger cages, longer chains!” More like what Unison might call “a negotiated and phased reduction in chain length and cage size”, to keep us all in alienated wage labour. Valiant French workers are fighting the bosses and the state right now, whatever they win will be theirs, let no one claim any credit because they voted for something.
If imported goods and overseas holidays become more expensive and cross-border trade falls, all the better for the environment. Maybe folk will be slower to chuck away food that’s been air-freighted around the globe. Perhaps consumers and farmers would by-pass the supermarkets and deal direct, as they do in Greece. We should be moving towards localised production anyway, repairing equipment instead of replacing it, like we all did only a few years ago, and we didn’t expect to eat bloody strawberries at Christmas. Weak sterling stimulates manufacturing, if that’s your bag. Scots who favour independence could vote ‘out’, to force the issue, and if an independent Scottish state benefits economically from re-joining that could even out the North-South wealth gap.
Meanwhile in NATO’s other bulwark against whatever-it-was, Turkey, persecution of the migrants being rejected by the EU is underway. The deal struck between big-hearted Angele Merkel and the Turkish state declared this despicable fascist regime a safe destination while it was burning women and children to death in their houses at Cizre. The Turkish state does not abide by the Geneva Convention and is simply driving the refugees back into Syria, according to this Amnesty International press release. It’s got a worse human rights record than some of the countries the Western powers have invaded in recent times, and US air force bases.
On radio 4’s Today programme of the 4th April, the day the agreement took effect we heard that two boatloads of our fellow workers had already been deported from Greece in defiance of international law. Both the EU and Turkish governments are ultimately responsible for the plight of these people (as proxies of the United States) but no one is going to hold them to account for it. That’s the thing about international law; it’s an agreement between the rulers of nation-states, which are subject to change from time to time. They make it up to suit themselves, and decide how and if it gets enforced. The Syriza-coalition government’s Migration Spokesman rather despondently absolved his administration of any responsibility for the resulting chaos and misery by pointing out that the arrangement was between the EU and the Turkish government, nothing to do with him. He couldn’t help mentioning that the Greek economy is flat on its back thanks to the measures imposed on it by its creditors in its desperation to remain in the euro zone. He proceeded to bang on about ‘economic migrants’, with as much venom as any neoliberal.
The Greek state has itself suffered the most complete loss of sovereignty since its occupation by the Axis in WW2 and subsequently becoming the first battleground of the cold war under the Truman_Doctrine. NATO interference in Greek affairs led logically to the CIA-sponsored military coup of 1967 by a group of former Nazi collaborators. It is now entirely the plaything of global capital, but the Greek workers do not look to Brussels for salvation, but their own efforts.
In the last one I hinted that climate change will make borders redundant before we do, here’s the article if you want it. I for one would like to see free movement of peoples, not limited to an arbitrary geographical area where most of the population happens to be white, and certainly not subject to the whim of politicians. European economic and political union is essentially a white-supremacist project; Europeanism is as unpleasant as nationalism. Europe being simply one end of a much larger land mass has always defined itself by what it isn’t. Its history is of the conquest and exploitation of everything that wasn’t Europe, and its creation of the capitalist hegemony through primitive accumulation (the economist’s euphemism for armed robbery). Its present cultural identity is framed in terms of antagonism to the ‘other’, and the myths of civilisation and enlightenment that were and still are used to justify slaughter and brigandage. Small wonder that we are being implored to think of ‘security’ – the continued hegemony of European cultures across the globe, and that includes the United States, an entity spawned by European imperialism. Boris Johnson’s racial slur against Barack Obama misses by miles. If his Kenyan heritage causes him to ‘hate Britain’ (whatever that means) he would likely bear similar animosity towards the territories of Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal Spain and the Netherlands, whose rulers also perpetrated genocide in Africa, and most other places.
Fear of change has never been part of anarchist thought. We speak of building the new world in the shell of the old; soon we will have to crack that shell, and it will require personal sacrifice.
“It is we, the workers, who built palaces and cities in Spain, America and elsewhere, we can build them anew, and better. We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth, there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a New World, here, in our hearts.”
– Buenaventura Durruti
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:
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?