Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Brexit and the Breakup of the EU

The current global crisis of stagnating production is bringing a new period of inter-imperialist rivalry as each power seeks to pass on the cost of its crisis to weaker powers and ultimately to the working class. This is passed off as the end of ‘globalisation’ and/or ‘neo-liberalism’ by the fake left. But in reality it is the terminal crisis of capitalism which is incapable of surviving without more wars and revolutions. When the imperialist countries close their factories, unless they get super profits from investments abroad, they go into decline i.e. de-industrialisation and debt. Debt is passed onto the workers via the state bailing out banks, corporates etc, in the name of austerity! That is why we are facing a terminal crisis, because for capitalism to survive it has to kill more and more workers. For workers to live, capitalism must die! 

Brexit: a symptom of EU breaking up

The decision by Cameron to hold the EU membership referendum was no more than an attempt to appease the ‘Little England’ faction of the British bourgeoisie. It backfired when Brexit won by a small margin. Tales of woe and impending doom swamped the media. In reality Brexit was part of a process of the breakup of the EU as its imperialist countries fall out over who will pay for the global crisis. There was almost no mention of the fate of the PIIGS and East European members of the EU which are either semi-colonies oppressed by the EU imperialist powers, or weak imperialisms in danger of joining the semi-colonies.

As we point out below, countries that are already semi-colonies like Greece and Ireland or about to become semi-colonies like Italy, Spain and Portugal, are the only ones where it is necessary for revolutionaries to support the national struggles to break from the EU imperialist powers. That is, where the rate of exploitation, level of debt repayment, mounting political attacks on workers’ rights including the right to political or economic migration, puts the question of secession from the EU on the agenda of the day, it is the duty of revolutionaries to participate in that fight.

However, in the case of the declining imperialist countries whose profits are drawn heavily from their share in the exploitation of other EU members, revolutionaries do not join their ruling classes in seeking to exit or stay in the EU but instead fight directly to overthrow their own ruling class. This distinction was made clear through the weeks of French strike action that coincided with the Brexit vote. The Lexit left diverted British workers from taking industrial action in solidarity with the French workers strike wave.

Break from the Bourgeoisie

As we argued in the last Issue (CS 117) the role of British workers in this process was to abstain in a dispute between their bosses over how to make workers pay for the capitalist crisis. Neither the Lexiteers nor the Remainders on the left advanced the internationalism of the British working class by renouncing class independence as they tailed either their own ruling class or the German ruling class which dominates the EU. To do that was to take sides with British imperialism or German imperialism and to suck workers into defending their own ruling class in any trade or military war between them, or other imperialist powers. Ultimately, as the RCIT has pointed out in their polemic against the LFI, this tailing the bosses rejects Lenin’s position on imperialism, and the program of workers fighting for the defeat of their own imperialist ruling class.

Both British and German bosses know that their crisis requires the smashing of working class resistance. British bosses cannot be better for workers than any other bosses. There is nothing in their genes or the culture of German or British imperialism that makes them less oppressive than the other. There is no way that workers can vote to 'take back their country'. It never was their country and never will be. What is “theirs” is nothing more than the fiction that because workers share in the super-exploitation of semi-colonial nations they should also share in defending the British Empire. Nationalism is the last refuge of the capitalist scoundrel as it is the death warrant for the last worker.

Both the Remainders and the Lexiteers betrayed the working class by painting one or other British bourgeois faction as ‘progressive’. And since the shock outcome both continue to promote their illusions in British capitalism in or out of the EU by agreeing that the rebirth of Labour under the Corbyinite left offers the working class the option of reviving the Labour Party as the instrument of parliamentary reform.

Corbynite Labour entry

We can see that the crisis is generating increasing resistance, if not uniformly, across the EU. In the main imperialist countries the left is still trapped in the bureaucratic institutions of right wing Social Democracy as even the strike wave in France proved when it came to a halt. But Social Democracy is under attack from both the left and the right because it is clear that it cannot solve the crisis for capital. Behind the labor bureaucracy are the fascist gangs marching to attack any concessions to ‘foreign’ workers. The new ‘non-political’ parties such as Syriza in Greece, Podamos in Spain etc., are really ‘populist’ (i.e. non-class) parties acting as a barrier to workers independent political mobilisation.

In the absence of a real revolutionary communist party, worker militancy is still being steered back into left Social Democracy in the hope that this will resolve the crisis in favour of workers and avoid the rise of the fascist right. That means that the class contradiction that is being activated by the terminal crisis of capitalism is still suppressed by the labor bureaucracy. The rise of the Corbyn left is a classic example.

The British Labour Party is a classic “bourgeois workers” party, defined by its working class membership based on organised labour and its bourgeois program. The left labour bureaucracy has the task of attempting to suppress this class contradiction behind promises of reform. It offers new hope that a working class majority in parliament can revive the old dream of a Labour Party nationalising the commanding heights by passing legislation. While such illusions are promoted by this revival it is necessary for revolutionaries to enter the Labour Party to raise their Transitional Program to prove that even a left wing social democracy cannot serve the class interests of workers any more than the right social democratic French Socialists or Spanish Socialists can.

Labour has to split its worker members from the bureaucratic petty bourgeois leadership and their bourgeois program to resolve this class contradiction. This frees workers from the labour bureaucracy to organise in militant unions led by a revolutionary party capable of smashing the rise of the fascist right before it becomes a powerful movement. This can only be done by raising inside Labour the demands that workers need now to deal with the global terminal crisis. That is, a Transitional Program that begins with the urgent immediate demands to end austerity by taxing and expropriating the ruling class.

· No to the bourgeois plans for implementing Brexit as an austerity attack on workers.

· No to British imperialism and all the EU imperialist powers.

· Defend the rights of worker migrants.

· Break from NATO.

· Solidarity with the semi-colonial periphery of the EU and support for their break from the EU.

· For rank and file democracy in the unions.

· For a revolutionary communist party intervening in all the working class struggles.

· For workers councils and self defence militias.

· For the political general strike to pose the question of which class rules.

· For a Workers and Farmers Government and a socialist plan.

· For a United Socialist States of Europe! 

The only way workers interests can be served in the process of the breakup of the EU is to form mass workers revolutionary parties united internationally to strike and occupy workplaces, and build workers militias and communes, so that a the foundation of a ‘New Party of Socialist Revolution’ based on the 1938 Transitional Program can lead the socialist insurrection to put an end to dying capitalism and give birth to a world socialist society.