Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

American Jacobin Magazine Advises UK Left to “embrace Brexit” and National Sovereignty.

with 3 comments

Image result for jacobin magazine Winter 2018

 El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Why the Left Should Embrace Brexit 

THOMAS FAZI WILLIAM MITCHELL.

“A progressive, emancipatory vision of national sovereignty radically alternative to that of both the right and the neoliberals – one based on popular sovereignty, democratic control over the economy, full employment, social justice, redistribution from the rich to the poor, inclusivity, and  effectively the socio-ecological transformation of production and society – is not only necessary; it is possible.”  What Is Needed Is A Progressive Vision Of National Sovereignty  

In the article the authors argue,

The Left’s anti-Brexit hysteria, however, is based on a mixture of bad economics, flawed understanding of the European Union, and lack of political imagination. Not only is there no reason to believe that Brexit would be an economic apocalypse; more importantly, abandoning the EU provides the British left — and the European left more generally — with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show that a radical break with neoliberalism, and with the institutions that support it, is possible.

Fazi and Mitchell knock down a straw man, that the Remain left considers that Brexit “will lead to an economic apocalypse. Their arguments are based on the idea that the pro-EU left’ accepts the idea that markets are optimal, that “free trade” is the basis of pro-Remain economics, and that we agree that, ” A crucial tenet of the Single Market was the deregulation of financial markets and the abolition of capital controls.”

The authors, one safely based in Australia, conclude,

Indeed: a democratic socialist government led by Corbyn is the best option for the majority of British citizens and for the British economy. This leads to an obvious conclusion: that for a Corbyn-led Labour government, not being a member of the European Union “solves more problems than it creates,” as Weeks notes. He is referring to the fact that many aspects of Corbyn’s manifesto — such as the renationalization of mail, rail, and energy firms and developmental support to specific companies — or other policies that a future Labour government may decide to implement, such as the adoption of capital controls, would be hard to implement under EU law and would almost certainly be challenged by the European Commission and European Court of Justice. After all, the EU was created with the precise intention of permanently outlawing such “radical” policies.

That is why Corbyn must resist the pressure from all quarters — first and foremost within his own party — to back a “soft Brexit.” He must instead find a way of weaving a radically progressive and emancipatory Brexit narrative. A once-in-a-lifetime window of opportunity has opened for the British left — and the European left more in general — to show that a radical break with neoliberalism, and with the institutions that support it, is possible. But it won’t stay open forever.

They ignore this:   New report: the Corbyn moment and European socialism.

Today we are launching a major new report, outlining a fresh strategy to “Remain and Reform” in the EU.

8th March 2018

Transnational institutions such as the EU are essential to pushing forward radical and progressive change, and only if the UK remains in the EU can Corbyn have the necessary influence to achieve these aims.  The report identifies a number of key areas where a Labour government could use the EU to implement its radical programme. These include:

  • Taxing multinationals, including harmonising corporation tax rules and clamping down on tax avoidance.
  • Regulating banks, including with a new financial transaction tax
  • Protecting migrant workers’ rights and strengthening trade unions
  • Digital Rights, where Labour has already played a leading role in the global debate
  • Climate change, using its weight shift EU institutions and overcome big business lobbies
  • Addressing global conflicts, prioritising the security of people, rather than the interests of states, on a humanitarian basis
  • Ending fortress Europe, by radically altering the discourse, opening up legal routes for entry, and treating the refugee crisis as a humanitarian issue, not a security one
  • Reforming the Eurozone, by playing a supportive role and example for progressive anti-austerity parties inside it

A strategy based on National Sovereignty ignores the fact that no country alone is a “sovereign” of the economy, that pooling sovereignty in the EU is the means  to promote these objectives.

If the EU is, as they assert, a “de facto supranational constitutional order “,  what is the British constitutional order? The body administering these processes, the State, is ‘capitalist’, that is, is institutionally wrapped around the existing power structure. It is organised to promote the interests of business. We do not need an elaborate theoretical framework to see this nor can we wish it away by appealing to ‘real’ sovereignty.

The left has to grapple with this problem, just as it would have had to deal with the limits that “pooled sovereignty” creates.

Our strength does not lie in the nation state but in our popular support and the labour movement: expressed by how far we can condense this power in the administration, not just by legislation but by grass roots backing. It would, we hope, be expressed by Parliamentary representation.

What could a Labour government negotiate within a probable framework after an election?

John Palmer has argued (Corbyn Should Stop The UK’s Drift Out Of The EU January 2018)

Labour should drive home the message that being part of a stronger and reforming EU is an essential means for advancing its programme for radical economic and social reform at home. Social democratic, socialist and green parties in the EU believe this is the real basis of Jeremy Corbyn’s approach which is one reason why he was so warmly received during recent meetings in Europe.

If Corbyn is elected PM before the die is cast on the final shape of the UK/EU relationship, he should seek immediate negotiations of his own with the EU. As the incoming PM, leading a government with a new mandate, this would be very unlikely to be denied.

If, however, Labour does not take power until the UK is fully outside the EU, a Corbyn-led government should unilaterally pledge to fully match all future progressive economic, social, labour and democratic reforms agreed at EU level, coordinate closely with the EU on a new Europe-wide economic recovery strategy and serve notice it will seek renewed full membership of a reforming EU at the earliest opportunity.

What exactly is a break with ‘neo-liberalism’?

Only those gifted with immense “political imagination” consider that a  ‘sovereign’ UK  can negotiate a break with capitalism with the WTO and the EU.

The rest of the Fazi list of idées reçues, , “progressive, emancipatory vision…radically alternative to that of both the right and the neoliberals…. popular sovereignty, democratic control over the economy, full employment, social justice, redistribution from the rich to the poor, inclusivity,….the socio-ecological transformation of production and society” is long on rhetoric, short on specifics.

The final rupture with capitalism is, nevertheless, clearly off the cards.

A Labour government would face, inside or outside the EU, a hard task in untangling the multinational ownership of  “mail (Postal services), rail (ways), and energy firms.” Capital controls is a vague term, but it hardly looks an easy objective to carry out on the world stage, a kind of Bretton Woods of one.

Would Labour, having avoided a “soft Brexit” be in a position to reach trade deals with the ‘soveriegntist’ Trump government, or any other, that favour these objectives?

The key issue for a Labour government is austerity. It will face challenges with tackling the under-funding of the NHS,  public services and social security.

Would it be able to wrangle a way of making arrangements with the EU that untie all the legislation regulating the production and trade flows of companies and rebuild them to its wishes in the British Isles?

What kind of socialism aims for ‘national’ sovereignty other than one which restricts this power to this one nation’s people?

The goal of socialists is not a vision of national but international emancipation.

The irony of a US publication being the vehicle for a lecture to the British left on how to embrace sovereignty cannot have escaped many.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 30, 2018 at 1:55 pm

3 Responses

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  1. “The final rupture with capitalism is, nevertheless, clearly off the cards.”

    “The goal of socialists is not a vision of national but international emancipation.”

    Seems a bit of a contradiction here Andrew, how do we achieve the “international emancipation” of the working class without a rupture with capitalism? One thing is certain Merkel and Macron won’t be emancipating anyone except the super rich.

    There is certainly nothing “progressive” about national sovereignty – the workers have no country. Forward to the Socialist United States of Europe!

    mckee1917

    May 1, 2018 at 8:42 pm

  2. Lord hopes that they publish an anti-Brexit response. They did with that awful piece making “the socialist case for the SAT.” Want to pitch one to them, Coatsey?

    jschulman

    May 3, 2018 at 8:32 pm

  3. Not from me I imagine.

    I had no idea what SAT is incidentally.

    Some kind of secondary school test, but is like our A levels or the Bac, the Abitur and decisive for your future, or (as in A levels) entry into Uni?

    Andrew Coates

    May 4, 2018 at 5:21 pm


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