Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Europe and the left
We're moving from a horrendous year into what might be a horrifying year.
Workers need a Labour Government, but Scottish Labour's decision to elect a Blairite leader makes a majority much less likely - whilst the "austerity-lite" policies of Balls and Miliband mean that even a majority Labour Government would have a pitiable offer to working people.
A Tory-led Government after the next General Election would effectively outlaw strike action (to which outrage the leadership of our unions would respond by retreating and surrendering). In this century, in which there is no global alternative to rapacious capitalism, our movement appears almost incapable of articulating an alternative to austerity.
Social democracy in one country is clearly no longer a viable option - and this means that the left has to reassess our traditional attitude to the European Union (EU). We have been right, for decades, to be hostile to a project which was always about cementing capitalism in Western Europe. As a 1980s leftist my kneejerk position is to call for departure from the EU.
However, in this twenty-first century workers have to face squarely what is in front of us. The link above is to a pamphlet written by German trade unionists addressing the important question of what the European Parliament should be doing to combat austerity.
This is a vital question.
If, as workers and trade unionists, we organise solely and exclusively at the level of the individual nation state then our adversaries will forever escape us - because capital no longer organises itself in that way.
Our movement needs the international perspective of the German comrades expressed in the link at the head of this post. In the UK this means we must reconsider the left's traditional hostility to the EU.
That is not to say that we should not be hostile to the EU! We should be hostile to the EU as we are hostile to the UK. We represent the interests of the working class and are therefore opposed to the state apparatus (whether "national" or supra-national) which exists to perpetuate a society founded upon our exploitation.
However, we may need to think more about how to build pan-European working class unity and less about leaving the EU. Our trade unions face - from the protagonists of the neoliberal project - an existential threat. It is vital that our response to this threat is robust.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.