Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The Bizarre pro-Brexit (‘Lexit’) World of US Left Magazine Jacobin.

with 5 comments

Image result for Jacobin brexit

Jacobin, promoter of “a solipsistic dialogue between wings of the ex-SWP and dyed-in-the-wool haters of the EU.”

The US magazine Jacobin claims to be the voice of the American Radical left.

Correction,  it modestly calls itself,  “a leading voice of the American left.”

One of its traits is the way it has presented the left case for Brexit in the UK as the ‘left’ position.

It has published, this year alone, We Need a Labour Brexit, by Costas Lapavitsas of the red-Brown front, the Full Brexit and a minuscule Greek grouplet whose names escapes me for the moment.

Dawn Foster One of the last defenders of Jeremy Corbyn’s isolated position was given space to assert,

The sensible route, currently being followed by Labour, would be backing the vote to rule out crashing out of the European Union with No Deal, and arguing for the least harmful exit to the European Union and resolution of our current impasse, which may still include a vote on whether to accept May’s deal or remain in the European Union.

After the Peterborough by-election she claimed.

Keeping to party policy on Brexit while cultivating the skills and activist numbers that helped shock the pundits in 2017 — these hold the key to any potential Labour general election victory.

Apparently Party Policy is whatever Foster thinks it is – but not anything to do with opposing a Hard Brexit advocating Remain.

Richard Seymour, somebody as distant from the daily struggles of the UK left as it is possible to be, was given space in June to ignore the left support for the pro-EU Remain and Transform left.

The problem is, Labour and the wider left haven’t really had a proper discussion about Europe since the 1980s, when Labour abandoned its critique and became a pro-European party. The idea was that the EU’s mild regulations would protect workers from the worst of Thatcher and, later, New Labour. Corbyn retained his Euroscepticism, and so did some parts of the labor movement, like the RMT union. But this had little influence.

So, when the Brexit referendum came up, it wasn’t a debate that arose on the Left or in the working class. It was a fight between two factions of the Right. Because of that, and because he needed the cooperation of the parliamentary Labour Party, Corbyn agreed to campaign to Remain in Europe in 2016.

Jacobin claims to be on the radical left.

Without going into the complexities of support and opposition within Labour for Brexit, the electoral calculations, and the claim that Corbyn has kept the Labour Party together by his fence-sitting stand, this is the line up of the radical left in the UK on the issue.

Lexit, the People’s Brexit, was a minority view, held by groups like the Communist Party of Britain, the marginalised Socialist Workers Party the remnants of Counterfire (a SWP spinter), the crisis-riven Socialist party of the splintered Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), the Spiked initiated red-brown front, the Full Brexit (a coalition of Brexit Party supporters, left sovereigntists and believers in funny money (New Monetary Theory) , the centre right Blue Labour, some traditional right-wingers of Labour Leave, and the Arron Banks funded Trade Unionists Against the EU, not to mention the Brexit Party voting Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Oh, and another one of the tiny splinters from the SWP, Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century (rs21).

By contrast Another Europe is Possible, which backs calls for a Third Referendum,  has the support of the Green Party, the Editor of Red Pepper, Open labour (a centre-left group), a group of Labour MPs, Love Socialism, Rebuild Britain, Transform Europe is a group of socialist Labour MPs fighting to stop Brexit and transform Britain, radical left groups, such as Socialist Resistance, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, Left Unity, Chartist Magazine. The linked campaign, Labour for a Socialist Europe, has support in Labour constituencies. Other groups, such as Red Flag also oppose Brexit, strongly.

We have some impact.

This week readers of Jacobin are treated to this article, oddly reproduced on the internationalist site, Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières.

Boris Johnson, Brexit, UK Crisis… and the Left? – Socialism After the United Kingdom

AN INTERVIEW WITH NEIL DAVIDSON

This is the principal message (we leave it to others to steer through the rocks of the comments about navigating “the messy politics of national identity”).

Brexit has thrown the British ruling class, its parties, its state, and really its existence as a nation-state into crisis. But this won’t necessarily play out in the favor of the working class and oppressed groups, unless the Left is prepared to take advantage of the crisis as an opportunity to put forward an alternative socialist agenda.

AS
So that raises the question of what the Left should do amidst the seemingly unending Brexit crisis.

ND
To be honest we’re in a very difficult situation. Unlike in the Scottish independence referendum, the radical left failed to hegemonize the argument for Leave. Consequently, the center left immediately associate you with Farage and the right. It becomes even impossible to talk about the EU and its actual nature because all opposition to it is wrongly identified with that of the populist right.

Aside from the barefaced cheek of somebody from the fringes of the fringes talking for ‘the left’, Davidson is one of those who have tried to explain away their support for what was rightly predicted to be Hard Right Brexit bringing in its wake a Carnival Of Reaction.

That is the simple reason by Brexit is identified with the national populist right: it is the politics of that right.

This is now the view of the overwhelming majority of the left, moderate to radical, social democratic, democratic socialist, green left,  to democratic Marxist.

To get a grip on Davidson’s background here are some of his previous witherings and turnings (extracts),

After Brexit

No, Britain is neither on the eve of the October Revolution nor in the last days of the Weimar Republic (note by TC: sigh of relief! ) . There were working-class voters on both sides and they had both good and bad reasons for voting the way they did. Trotsky used to quote Spinoza to the effect that we should neither laugh nor cry but understand so, therefore, let us try to understand the class forces involved.

First, socialists have to accept the result of the referendum, in the same way that we would have expected others to accept the result of the Scottish referendum if it had been Yes. The idea of ignoring it, or running the referendum again until “we” (i.e. the Guardian-reading middle classes) get the “right” result (i.e., the one most of the British and global ruling class want), is deeply undemocratic—although there are many precedents in the history of the EU. The starting point should instead be to campaign for the right of all migrants currently in the UK—whether on an EU passport or not—to remain, and in the longer term, to fight for open borders regardless of the UK’s or its component’s relationship to the EU.

The EU may break up of its own internal contradictions over the long term. In any event, that kind of collapse—the result of structural failure rather than conscious intervention—is unlikely to benefit the working class. No, it will have to be destroyed, and perhaps the most serious argument facing the European Left at the moment is to convince a majority of comrades of this necessity.

So, a man who thinks the European Union should be “destroyed” is, for a US audience, presented as spokesperson for ‘the left’.

Many people consider that this  distorted coverage – that is, ignoring the influential and large left internationalist side for Remain and Transform,   may be due to Jacobin’s European Editor. he is somebody, somebody with great merits, but a sad personal history of conflict, one feels his pain,  with much of the European left and particularly the forces making up Another Europe is Possible in Britian.

But this does not excuse misrepresentation on an heroic scale of the political line up in the Brexit conflict in Britain. Jacobin’s articles on the topic are, frankly, a solipsistic dialogue between wings of the ex-SWP and dyed-in-the-wool haters of the EU.

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5 Responses

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  1. The biggest impediment to the progress of the working-class is countries. We need to tear down borders, get rid of man-man artificial barriers. We are one planet after all. In the words of the wise sage, Jeremy Corbyn “all countries should be abolished” as “socialist redistribution of power and wealth… is not achieved through erection of national barriers of any kind”

    Bernadettte Humperdinck

    August 13, 2019 at 9:03 am

  2. Burtenshaw also edits Tribune, where he has written similar anti-EU pro-“Lexit” stuff. Here’s an excellent response:

    https://theclarionmag.org/2019/07/05/for-class-politics-against-brexit/

    Jim Denham

    August 13, 2019 at 10:43 am

  3. I really don’t see position on Brexit as this important litmus test for the left. There are plenty of interesting articles in Jacobin magazine including some I disagree with. If I favoured remaining in the EU, I doubt my opinion of Jacobin would change much.

    You are applying thought stopping techniques. “You can’t listen to A because B wrote for A but also for C and C is associated with D and D said something positive about E and E is really terrible.”

    This is just a method for closing your mind. It’s something cults teach.

    Eric

    August 15, 2019 at 5:00 pm

  4. Cults only present one side of an argument, that’s Jacobin for you on this issue.

    Andrew Coates

    August 15, 2019 at 5:49 pm


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