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Our European future…

The news that the European Parliament voted in favour of adoption of a report by Greek Socialist, Anni Podimata which included a range of progressive measures, including a tax on financial transactions (aka a Tobin or Robin Hood tax) should give the left pause for thought. Were there to ever actually be an ‘In/Out’ referendum on our membership of the European Union, the left would probably split with, broadly speaking, the more socialistic left campaigning alongside UKIP, the right-wing of the Conservative Party, the BNP, etc for our withdrawal. The EU is a ‘capitalist club’; a ‘neo-liberal monster’, so surely we should withdraw?

While the above is all very true, I seriously wonder what these comrades think an independent Britain would be. Hardly likely to be a socialist nirvana now is it? Neither, considering that, in withdrawing from the European Union, it would have rushed headlong into the embrace of nationalism, would it ever be in a foreseeable future. Some, however, take a different view — a view vindicated by the events yesterday. Units like the European Union and their partial dissolution of national barriers are progressive vis a vis independent capitalist statelets because they represent the embryo of the new society in the old. The real problem is that they are held back by capitalism and take shape in undemocratic ways; however, this does not mean we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Rather we take what is good in these institutions and strive to make it better.

In the case of the European Union that means we should be firm proponents of our continued membership and wish for the maximum involvement possible but address its flaws by campaigning for democratic changes. It is the democratic shortcomings of the EU that foster nationalist sentiment and give succor to  reactionary and thoroughly backward urges to withdraw. Addressing that would foster democratic integration from below to challenge the bureaucratic integration imposed on us by the European bureaucracy. For example, the European Parliament should be given absolute sovereignty over the unelected Commission and all the other unelected bodies which leech off the European body politic. The democratic deficit in the EU actually has as its main cause the unwillingness of its component parts to surrender ‘national sovereignity’ and which insist on the power being vested in the unelected and unaccountable bodies comprised of the representatives of the various nation states.

If we want socialism to work in a way that is democratic and truly sweeps away capitalism then this must be done on a global scale. Currently, the left is hidebound by the mistaken and short-sighted analysis which said that capitalism laid the foundations for this along time ago. Early imperalism did not lay the foundations for this because the empires it created still drew their power from the nation-state and it could never have led to the globalisation of socialism. This myopia has led the left into many tragic cul de sacs from which it often seems never to have escaped. In reality, capitalism has only recently started laying the foundations for global governance through globalisation. This process is one it will not be able to complete without either turning in on itself or giving birth to a system of global socialism. We should not stand aside from this process and ‘withdraw’ from it but urge it forward; confident as we do we are furthering the fight for the kind of society we want to see.

7 Comments

  1. John says:

    There is nothing democratic about the EU. There is nothing but slavery for the people in globalism.

  2. Pat Byrne says:

    An excellent article on the EU! I would go further – let’s develop a full transformational programme for a democratic socialist European Union. Tremendous gains could be delivered in living standards, environment and social benefits if the vast resources of Europe were organised for the people rather than multinational corporations. Lat’s raise our sights rather than grubbing around in the dirt trying to return to a mythical national democracy that never was.
    Globalism, like everything else, offers positive or negative possibilities – it’s our job to bring out the positive ones. Was Marx reactionary when he promoted the slogan ‘Workers of the World Unite’? Of course not. Historically, socialists were the internationalists and capitalists nationalists. How is it that we have allowed ourselves to be backed into a position of defending the nation state? And let’s remember that Britain is one of the most reactionary members of the EU and has used its veto and influence to introduce neo-liberal measures and prevent progressive legislation. It has also opposed measures to democratise the EU’s institutions. So what would working people gain by Britain leaving the EU?
    No wonder that the Left is now seen a backward-looking and reactionary by much of the world’s population.
    Instead, let’s call for a people’s globalism and use online technology to campaign for it. We need a truly socialist and democratic European Union in a Democratic Socialist World.

  3. Darrell says:

    John,

    Agree there is nothing democratic about the EU but the question then becomes what are you going to do about it?

    Your wrong on the second point, very much so, maybe in capitalist globalisation yes but in what we aruge for there is also freedom from slavery too within it as well.

    @Pat,

    Thank you. I totally agree with you on that. The potential for Europe is amazing and a democratic and socialist Europe would be a beacon to the world.

    I agree that its our job to bring out the positives. I think its a combination of things but I think the strong emphasis placed on the nation state by both Social Democracy and Stalinism has left us with a bad legacy to deal with from the start.

    Agreed. An independant capitalist Britain would be no workers paradise, far from it. That’s very true and I wholeheartedly agree. Lets start getting people lifting their heads again and looking forward to a brighter future; not looking back to a mythical past and confusing that with progress.

  4. Galen10 says:

    Good to see some positive voices about the EU from the left for a change! I agree with Pat about the Left being seen too often as backward looking and reactionary.

  5. Darrell says:

    @Galen 10,

    Thanks for the comment. I agree with you and Pat but then its sadly not surprising when we see things like we have on the other post, leftists lining up with the likes of Gadaffi.

  6. Galen10 says:

    @ Darrell

    Leftist reactionaries kinda shade into rightist ones in my view; they have as much in common with each other as they do things which seperate them.

  7. Darrell says:

    @Galen,

    I think your right…it all blurs into one…

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