Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

As Left Rallies to Back Another Europe, Verso promotes neoliberal attack on EU.

with 17 comments

photo of John Rowlery Gillingham

Thatcherite Gillingham is Top Author on Verso ‘internationalist’ reading list on EU.

Verso books, the publishing wing of New Left Review, has”put together an essential reading list of books that critically engage with the debate from a perspective of internationalism.”

Brexit and the European Union: Essential Reading.

At the top of the pile of books is this:

The EU: An Obituary — John Gillingham
In this pithy, rigorously argued book, leading historian John Gillingham examines a once great notion that soured long ago. From its postwar origins through the Single Market  and to the troubles of the present, Gillingham explains how Europe’s would-be government became a force for anti-democratic centralization and inept policy-making. The EU: An Obituary is an urgent call to the political Left, Right, and Center (sic) to set things right before it is too late.

The Guardian review of the book by Christopher Kissane is headed

The Thatcherite historian argues that the EU is defunct, a relic of the postwar decades. But would an unfettered Europe be a better place?

Kissane comments,

Euroscepticism creates some strange bedfellows. Many rightwing nationalists view the EU as a Trojan horse of unstoppable multiculturalism. Some on the left see its focus on the single market as institutionalised “neoliberalism” and austerity. And some “neoliberals” such as Gillingham see it as a relic of the postwar decades that binds free markets in red tape. Gillingham is not a typical author for the radical-left publishing house Verso – presumably at least one commissioning editor there has Eurosceptic leanings. From all sorts of angles, the EU seems to be the sick man of Europe.

This is Gillingham’s prognostic,

Only a fool would venture to predict how the official institutions of Europe will become unglued, unravel, fall apart, or simply evaporate into thin air. The list of possible scenarios is innumerable. A reasonable guess would be, however, that Brexit will trigger the process of decomposition and reconfiguration. If past events can serve as a guide to the British referendum planned for 23 June, the tide will shift in favour of the anti-EU cause.

Only a fool…..

Recent polls have swung decisively in favour of the Leave campaign. Behind this shift in sentiment is a reality of awesome significance: Cameron’s promise of a better deal for Britain has little meaning in respect to an EU in disarray, which is untrustworthy, falling behind economically, and unable or unwilling to deliver on its commitments. At the rock-bottom level, moreover, a sovereign national political system, like Britain’s, based on the supremacy of parliament, is incompatible with the existence of a supranational entity, whose leadership remains – in spite of everything – unwavering in its determination to create a European state.

“Gillingham is University of Missouri Board of Curators Professor at University of Missouri and was Professor of History there until 2007. He has authored books on European integration, heavy industry in the Third Reich and the economy of Belgium under Nazi occupation. Gillingham is listed in Marquess’s Who’s Who in America and has received numerous awards and recognitions.”

Now at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard .

Meanwhile back on the left, away from Verso and the (formerly)  ‘New Left’ Review.

John McDonnell issues rallying cry for a democratic Europe

John McDonnell has thrown his weight behind a left-wing remain campaign, saying a democratic Europe is “urgently and vitally” needed.

In a mix of left-wing political perspectives, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor joined former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Labour MP Clive Lewis and journalist Owen Jones, among others, to make their case for remaining in, but overhauling the current European Union.

They were speaking at a rally called Vote In – Another Europe is Possible, at London’s Institute of Education on Saturday.

Mr McDonnell told the gathering that there is a movement across Europe to respond to the challenge of democratically transforming the EU, and also attacked the Tories for dragging the referendum debate “into the gutter”.

He said: “We have the opportunity to regroup the referendum debate away from Tory Brexit and into a debate on a democratic Europe.

“A Europe that is not just possible but is urgently and vitally needed – where we can say yes, we are proud of being British, but we are also proud of the European future we have created.”

He also lambasted the Tories and said the EU referendum debate on the right is “disfiguring political discourse” and causing people to become “tired of the ranting hysteria”.

“(Boris) Johnson’s comparisons of the EU to the Third Reich and (David) Cameron’s claims of impending World War Three, they just beggar belief,” he said.

“We cannot let the right drag this debate into the intellectual gutter.”

He said it is the job of those on the left, and the progressives, to now “step in and save the debate”.

The Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington also said the problems faced by the UK are transnational problems with transnational solutions.

“How can we turn a blind eye to the City of London effectively acting like a funnel to offshortax havens for the taxes of transnational corporations and super rich?” he said.

“Public funding is not just needed in this country but right the way across Europe,” he added.

“We know that if we clamp down here, the tax evaders will avoid us and will move elsewhere.

“That’s why European agreements are necessary and which form the basis for global agreements to track down and confront tax evasion and avoidance.

The Guardian adds,

The Another Europe is Possible tour started at the UCL Institute of Education in central London on Saturday. Momentum, the Labour-supporting network, also joined Corbyn in launching a platform called Your Referendum to boost grassroots campaigning for remain.

A vote by Momentum’s national committee, a poll of Momentum’s supporters and a YouGov poll of Corbyn-supporting Labour members have all overwhelmingly backed remain.

Momentum said Your Referendum was inspired by the US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaigning methods of providing tools for volunteer-led organising.

In a statement, the group said: “Your Referendum is Momentum’s effort to take the toxic Brexit debate out of Westminster and the TV studios and into our communities, with the hope of reaching leftwing and younger voters, who polls say are less likely to turn out although they tend to support remain.”

The national organiser for Momentum, James Schneider, said: “Through the Your Referendum platform and the activities of local Momentum groups, we hope to encourage more activism, engage more people actively in the EU debate, and mobilise the harder to reach young or leftwing voters, who are turned off by Stronger In’s defence of the status quo.”

Other rallies as part of the tour will involve trade unionists and the Labour MP Clive Lewis at cities including Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester.


Written by Andrew Coates

May 29, 2016 at 11:18 am

17 Responses

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  1. “Momentum, the Labour-supporting network, also joined Corbyn in launching a platform called Your Referendum to boost grassroots campaigning for remain.”

    But but but… Momentum are a hard left infiltration of Trotskyite Stalinist Fascists who want to hang all right wing Labour MPs from lampposts and bring back the 1980s and and and…

    Aren’t they?


    May 29, 2016 at 12:50 pm

  2. The press stands corrected…..

    Andrew Coates

    May 29, 2016 at 12:51 pm

  3. There now appears to be two people in the country who believe the EU can be reformed. David Cameron, and John McDonnell.

    It’s a funny old game…..

  4. I find it amazing that there re deluded individuals out there that think the EU is not reformable, what were Maastricht and the Lisbon Treaties all about if not major reforms? The right may not like Thatcher’s insistence at Maastricht for the freedom of movement of labour and the Left has major reservations about many aspects of the Lisbon Treaty but both were unarguably major reforms of the way the European system works.

    Pete Shield

    May 29, 2016 at 3:29 pm

  5. I agree completely Pete, that is exactly what “pooled sovereignty” means.

    I am more interested to see the development of poor old Tariq Ali and mates in New Left Review and Verso.

    The impression I have is that they, like the SP, SWP and all the other ageing anti-Common Market crew, thought that the left was going to leap at the opportunity for a ‘class’ campaign to Leave in the Referendum. probably on the model of the French Referendum on the EU Constitution in 2005, which of course was not about quitting the EU at all.

    They were steamed up, raring to go.

    Now they find they are isolated shrill voices yelling from the sidelines.

    Things have changed; the left has moved on.

    Andrew Coates

    May 29, 2016 at 3:44 pm

  6. Pooled sovereignty is one description. Another would be collective bonapartism by smoke and mirrors, where the ruling classes of the core member states have agreed to hand over part of their sovereignty to asupa-national institution in order to help achieve a new neo-liberal settlement, which they are too weak to achieve and sustain through normal democratic means. I also believe that Britain should remain but it should remain as part of a fight against this. DiEM25 is absolutely right say it is democratisation or disintegration. Lisbon was not a ‘reform’ except in neo-liberal newspeak. It was a reworking of the ‘Constitution’ which was defeated in the French and Dutch Referendums. So they changed the cover page, said that it’s just a treaty and hey presto, no more referendums.

    Colin (@colin_odr)

    May 29, 2016 at 5:53 pm

  7. The anti-EU “left” are an unsavoury bunch of nationalists, racists and Stalinists, tied by sub-political sclerosis to a Llittle-Englandist agenda that was past its sell-by-date when Tony Benn put it forward in 1975, but is now simply a sick, reactionary joke. This shower will be held to account by the serious, internationalist left, regardless of the outcome on June 23rd.

    Jim Denham

    May 29, 2016 at 9:29 pm

  8. Pete – of course the EU is reformable. It is a dynamic project which is developing all the time. The question should be – is it reformable from below? Have the major changes which have taken place since the UK joined in 1973 taken place as a result of democratic pressure from below, or have they been the consequence of top-down initiatives? So far as I can see, the EU’s trajectory is determined almost entirely by the political elites of the states which make it up, together with the political elite of the EU structures themselves, with input from large corporate interests. It seems pretty impervious to popular pressure – not least because it is almost impossible to organise a transnational citizens’ movement of any size or significance. The political cultures of the member states lag far behind the institutional integration of the EU. It may well be that the consequences of leaving would be worse than the consequences of staying, although I remain to be convinced. But the notion that a remain vote in the UK will do anything to advance the cause of “another Europe” seems fanciful in the extreme. It will be taken as a vote for “business as usual” by those in charge.


    May 29, 2016 at 10:18 pm

  9. the EU cannot be reformed.
    Jim Denham is not an internationalist, as i presume he doesn’t believe in open borders for Israel.
    Internationalists such as the SWP, Counterfire, RS21, Respect, the CPB, the CPGB ML, the NCP, Tony Benn, Michael Foot, George Galloway are internationalists. It is you Jim who are not.

    Say no to the EUSSR/Fourth Reich!

    Grassroots Out!


    May 29, 2016 at 11:04 pm

  10. Cutting through all that incontinent waffle in the Salvage article (thanks for the link, Jason), the simple answer is: the left should advocate our programme, regardless of what the EU says: if, eventually that gets a socialist or even social democratic UK government chucked out of the EU, so be it. But what is to be gained by voluntarily walking out?

    Jim Denham

    May 30, 2016 at 8:01 am

  11. McDonnell:
    “(Boris) Johnson’s comparisons of the EU to the Third Reich and (David) Cameron’s claims of impending World War Three, they just beggar belief,” he said.

    What Cameron actually said:
    “Can we be so sure peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt? Is that a risk worth taking?

    Cameron is evidently talking about the threat from Russia, who have made it abundantly clear that they see Brexit as serving their interests in destabalising Europe. The same Russia which issues threats to nuke somewhere practically weekly, is deploying its propaganda to fan hatred of migrants and is flexing its military and other muscles around the Baltics and increasingly in Central Asia. Not to mention already occupying parts of a European country where a war continues daily. In that context we CANNOT be sure that peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt.

    The EU was very largely set up to bind Europe together so another continental war could not happen. Of course the EU plays a role now, still in ensuring peace. Cameron is correct.

    Calling this ‘Cameron claiming World War Three is coming’ turns Boris’ response into received wisdom and ignores the reality of a Russian threat.

  12. Colin, I believe that the existing EU structures, above all the importance of states in determining the decisions, which are then put on the Commission, is a problem.

    The difficulty with the forms of popular sovereignty based on ‘peoples’, as a basis for the EU, which DiEM25 offers (so far) is that there are types of cross-national alliances beyond states which could be the basis for a wider form of ‘self-managed’ democracy beyond existing national law and parliamentary structures.

    For example, the labour legislation could be developed through a direct inlfuence of cross-European trade union and worker input -something which does not correspond to national ‘peoples’.

    Ideas on a “social Europe” were current on the European left before DiEM25. The ones I am most familiar with were developed inside the French Gauche Sociaiste – inside the PS – during the early years of this century.THere are plenty of other sources, including the parties inside the Party of the European Left.


    The particular French contribution has a longer history going back to the PSU and figures like Phillpe Martinet.

    This interview with Martinet outlines the history of these ideas about a social Europe from the 1960s to the 1970s: http://archives.eui.eu/en/files/transcript/15905?d=inline

    Andrew Coates

    May 30, 2016 at 12:37 pm

  13. Andrew Coates

    May 30, 2016 at 12:44 pm

  14. Reblogged this on Redvince's Weblog.


    May 30, 2016 at 4:57 pm

  15. “Incontinent waffle,” Jim? It wishes that an organized boycott was possible. It says that the UK left should’ve started organizing such a boycott some time ago.

    A Third Camp position, one might call it.


    May 30, 2016 at 6:33 pm

  16. In theory, yes, Jason: and indeed, that’s the position the AWL’s forunners took in 1975, and our general approach to issues like Maastricht and the Euro. But the reality of the present referendum is that the “out” campaign is dominated by the far right and by the question of immigration, in a way that was quite predictable from the outset and which the left was never going to change. In such circumstances, an “no” vote would be a scandalous, third period betrayal and an abstention would be an irresponsible, sectarian self-indulgence. These realities have been self-evident to serious Marxists in the UK for years.

    Jim Denham

    June 1, 2016 at 9:42 am

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