Note: The socialists who support Britain leaving the European Union console themselves by calling for a left exit or “lexit”. This is like somebody preparing to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge and calling for gravity to cease its operation in advance. If what Roger Silverman writes below is anything near accurate, it won’t be a “lexit”; it will be a “rexit”. This has nothing whatsoever to do with any claim that British workers who are anti-immigration are racists or xenophobes, but those are the forces which will be strengthened by what is, in practice, an anti-immigrant vote, no matter what the socialist “leave” campaigners call for. And the results will be felt all the way across the Atlantic in the US where the anti-immigrant forces will get a boost also.
And as far as the point that the EU sets limits on what the state can spend on social programs, etc. — this is just a clear reminder of what Marx said, that the law is just the recognition of accomplished fact. That’s because it’s not so much what is in the EU statutes that matter; what matters most is the fact that international capital sets limits in practice because it can and does simply move to those markets where the lowest taxes and fewest limitations are imposed on it.
Most of the left groups must be squirming now at the appalling blunder they have made in allying themselves with the bigots of the LEAVE campaign. The Socialist Party, for one, justifies it as follows:
“As The Socialist predicted, voters – particularly working class voters – are increasingly seeing the referendum as a chance to protest both against Cameron and everything they have suffered in recent years: low pay, zero-hour contracts, benefit cuts, the lack of affordable housing, and public services cut to the bone.”
Isn’t there something missing from this list of gievances? There could not be clearer evidence of the Socialist Party’s persistent, blatant, willful refusal to acknowledge the wave of xenophobia aroused by the LEAVE campaign. What began as a debate on Britain’s membership of the EU has become ovewwhelmingly a plebiscite on one single question: immigration.
The left groups console themselves that a victory for LEAVE cold split the Tory (Conservative) Party and that Labour under Corbyn could win a subsequent general election. On the contrary: by far the most likely outcome would be an ulra right-wing Johnson/Gove/Farage government.
And, in a grotesque parody of history, today, too, just as then, those who claim to uphold the legacy of Marxism find themselves on the same side as the ultra-right, and justify their stance by blaming the social democrats. I’m beginning to understand better Trotsky’s famous reference to the village idiot who sings wedding songs at funerals.
What position might Trotsky have taken on this issue? Certainly, he called for a socialist united states of Europe; but he also considered what at the time must have seemed a very far-fetched hypothetical situation:
“If the capitalist states of Europes succeeded in merging into an imperialist trust,” he wrote in his “Peace Program”, “this would be a step forward as compared with the existing situation, for it would first of all create a unified, all-European material base for the working class movement. The proletariat would in this case have to fight not for the conversion of the imperialist state into a European Republican Federation.”