Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The Internationalist Anti-Brexit Left faced with Trump and Johnson, Popular Front Government or United Front Against Brexit?

with 5 comments


‘Taz’s Angle on Johnson-Trump ‘Deal’.

One of the many fairy tales that self-identifying left-wingers who back Brexit tell themselves is that the dispute between other Brexiteers and Remainer is just a dispute between “two nationalisms”.

One of the contes de fées  that toadies of Boris Johnson tell each other is that the British Prime Minister is standing up for Britain in the famous trade negotiations with the US President.

There is little doubt that nationalism is one of the commonest traits in politics today.  That and whingeing about vaguely defined “elites” and “oligarchies”.

But what is really at stake in Brexit as comrade Paul Mason explains, is that the British bourgeoisie- a class which rules this country in the Marxist and democratic socialist point of view,  is divided.

The moneyed elite of Britain are split along the same factional lines as in the US. There is a coalition of interests that needs to break down the rules-based multilateral global order that was built during the previous 30 years: the frackers, the hedge-fund managers, the casino owners, the property developers and, above all, people who’ve sunk money into fossil fuels.

They need climate science to be proved wrong and for the multilateral commitment to reduce carbon emissions to break down. They need central banks to underwrite their business strategies but states to allow them to evade tax. They need governments to permit monopolies, speculative development and rent-seeking business strategies. And they need democracy to be a sham.

Above all, they need chaos. Because chaos is the environment in which people with money make more money. Johnson’s cabinet is basically a hand-picked team of yes men and women for this faction of British capitalism. Johnson, like Donald Trump, understands that to succeed he must become a chaos engine.

By contrast,

On the other side there are, of course, the real bosses of real businesses based in Britain, like Airbus, Honda, BMW – and the vice chancellors of the big universities, plus the major law and accountancy firms. They are terrified of no deal, and the atmosphere of xenophobia it will bring. Plus, there’s tens of thousands of small firms – from the metal bashers to the care home chains to the local garden centre – who will see their access to finance evaporate in a no-deal crisis.

The Tory Party which gives voice to these interests has, Mason argues, has changed over the decades,

Instead of being a tool for protecting the interests of British capitalism, the Tory party has, over the 30 year period of neoliberalism, become the tool for protecting oligarchic global capital in Britain: it represents the Saudi monarchy more than it represents Suffolk.

The traditional business elite won’t stop a no-deal Brexit — only Labour can be trusted to

The problem with Mason’s view is that he considers that Labour can be ” be trusted with the national interest even where the capitalist elite is split and factionalised. ” He believes in a coalition of the left and centre to carry this forward, a “popular front”.

This is different to the views of many radical internationalist left-wingers.

For a start Trump’s use of tariff wars suggests that the picture of globalisation as the inevitability of ever more fluid capital and good flows is flawed.

Capitalism may be accelerating but nationalist politicians can put spokes in its wheels.

It is also the case that Labour needs to build an electoral  coalition, a left bloc, that appeals to a majority by expressing the views and interests of those who are in conflict with both wings of the bourgeoisie, the global chancers and those based in “real Britain”.

There is a lot of attention on Mason’s call for a “popular front”.

There is many problems with this.

It is not because Mason uses the term refers to a period of history – past – where the European left was urged by Communist parties and their left allies, to unite with liberals against fascism – with degrees of success. One such electoral alliance  in 1936, in France, the Front Populaire, achieved some of the kind of social democratic reforms (workers’ rights, working hours, holidays and security) that Attlee’s post-war Labour government did, and is warmly remembered for its achievements.  Nor that it evokes images of the Spanish Frente Popular which ended, after heroic resistance to Franco, in tragedy, events which still sear in the hearts of the left across the world.

This is the past.

Today we have to create a left that is open-looking, internationalist, that is not just an electoral coalition, but has the politics that can challenge not just the backward looking nationalism of the Tories and the Brexit Party. We have to refound our politics on outward politics that avoid the trap of the “rooted” “somewhere” left, part of which has fuelled, if not participated in a “red-Brown front” with the right wing pro-Brexit bloc.

There is not doubt, however, were the principal contradiction lies.

The ‘trade deal’ with Trump  under which we will have to accept this, illustrates it.

With Boris Johnson as PM the ‘thriving through chaos’ wing have taken off.

The issue of Brexit calls for unity on stopping it, not on a whole programme for an election aiming at winning office.

All are welcome in the United Front Against Brexit!

March separately, strike together.

As in here:




Written by Andrew Coates

August 25, 2019 at 12:33 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Comrade Coates, instead of dredging up every anti-Brexit article you can find, why don’t you just come clean and admit that you have your own vested interests for the UK remaining in the EU. Or rather one of your close relatives does. One who ‘subsidises’ you.

    J Cohen

    August 25, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    • You mean my old mucker and illuminati ‘father’ George?

      Andrew Coates

      August 25, 2019 at 3:04 pm

  2. What the f**k is Cohen on about?

    Jim Denham

    August 25, 2019 at 7:42 pm

  3. Paul’s analysis is wrong for a more fundamental reason. He identifies the wrong sections of capital as standing behind the Tories. I suspect that is because it is difficult given many of the truisms that people on the Left have absorbed is the idea that the Tories are the party of big business. So, although Paul identifies some big businesses that have interests opposed to Brexit, he has to find some section of big business to identify as the basis of the Tories current politics.

    The trouble is the Tories were never really the party of big business. Historically, they were the party of the landed oligarchy against which big business had to wage a determined political struggle – Peterloo, being a manifestation of it, when the bourgeoisie were engaged in trying to get the vote and parliamentary reform to wrest power away from the landed aristocracy – whilst it was the Liberals with the support of the working-class that emerged out of that struggle as the clear representatives of industrial capital. When Labour was created, it essentially took over most of the political programme of the Liberal, which was itself already by that time, social-democratic in the sense defined by Marx and Engels, as based upon a necessary coalition and compromise between the working-class and the “functioning-capitalists” who now exercised control over “socialised capital”.

    So, long as the fortunes of the economy were clearly seen as dependent upon the fortunes of this large-scale industrial capital, this social-democracy was necessarily dominant, and the Tories themselves had to accommodate to it, as witnessed by the fact that it was Chamberlain, in the 1920’s who first put forward the proposals for a welfare state, that were later codified by Beveridge and then implemented by Attlee. It was signified by he fact that post-war Tories governments up to Thatcher did not really seek to diverge from that model – so called Buttskillism. It was the crisis of the 1970’s that brought it to a close.

    It no longer appeared that the future was necessarily dependent on the fortunes of large scale industrial capital. It appeared that money could be made from nothing simply on the back of financial and property speculation, that instead of creating new value, and the revenue that derives from it, it was possible to simply liquidate paper capital gains from rising asset prices, as a means of providing what looked to be just as much revenues, as actual revenues from the creation of new value. But, that model too necessarily collapsed in 2008, although central banks and conservative governments have done all they can to keep it going by printing even more money to push up asset prices, and the ridiculous situation that these asset prices have risen so astronomically that the yields on $15 trillion of them have become negative, whilst businesses seeking finance for real capital accumulation cannot get it, and workers face interest rates of 4000% p.a. on pay day loans!

    The reality is that those whose is based on the ownership of these assets know that this situation cannot continue, and that the only long-term basis for their continued wealth and power depends upon a resumption of economic growth and real capital accumulation, to provide the profits from which their dividends, rents and interest is paid. But, for all of the large corporations that make that possible an extension of the very social-democracy that existed prior to Thatcher, and created the conditions under which that large-scale capital accumulation could take place. Its an irony that when such investment does occur, as was happening between 1999-2008, the immediate effect is going to be that interest rates rise, and a huge crash of asset prices will again follow as happened in 2008. They are trying to avoid that, by all means but it is simply a real contradiction they must face.

    So, its simply not true as Paul says that on the one hand there are large sections of this big business that need chaos and Brexit etc. There may be some mavericks, as there always are, but objectively, the interests of big business, including of its shareholders, is to oppose Brexit as well as to oppose the economic nationalism of Trump et al. It requires an extension of social-democracy on an internationl scale, which is precisely what the EU represents. The forces lining up behind the Tories, as with Trump are not those of big business, but of all those that need to go back to the days before the rise of social-democracy in the latter part of the 19th century. The membership of the Tory Party is overwhelmingly comprised of the small, usually very small (Del Boy, White Van Man, Window Cleaner) capitalists, whose individualist mentality and anti-state views is determined by their own existence which depends upon a belief that their fortune rests in their own hands, not to mention the ability to screw any workers they employ without the kind of restrictions or niceties that large companies are easily able to absorb.

    Paul graciously included me in the acknowledgements for his book “Postcapitalism”, but in my critique of the book I point out in relation to his argument about fossil fuels that its a bit like someone arguing prior to the use of coal as the main source of fuel for industry that stopping using wood would spell the death knell for the forestry industry. In reality, given the extent to which oil and other fossil fuels are used as raw materials in manufacturing, for example production of plastics, petrochemicals and so on, and given the likely explosion in the use of new types of materials and polymers, as 3-D printing becomes a central method of production, there are in fact far more profitable uses of fossil fuels than just wastefully burning it, just as their were far more profitable uses of wood than just burning it. Again developing these other more profitable uses will itself depend upon large scale investment in real capital, and research and development, most of which will be done by, or funded by the state, which again requires a return to a more traditional social democratic model of planning and regulation.

    The division really is not one involving different sections of big business, but of a division between the progressive elements of capital, which tend to be those very big businesses, as against reactionary (in the true sense of seeking a political counter-revolution to overthrow the social-democratic state that has developed since the late 19th century) sections of capital. Socialists should support the former as against the latter, but not as part of any popular front, only on the basis of building our own united front to promote workers interests within the wider context – as indeed the Chartists did in supporting the drive for bourgeois political freedoms, or as Marx and Engels did in 1847, when they supported the bourgeois German Democrats, by acting as its organised left-wing.


    August 26, 2019 at 10:48 am

    • Thanks for bringing us back to reality Boffy.

      Yes, broadly that these are issues worth discussing, but I feel, this is in some respect a minor aspect but not for social policy, you neglect those sections of capital which have parasited the state, from PFI, to running unemployment ‘training’ disability assessment and a whole raft of public services, many of which are footloose multinationals as with Capita, “Capita plc (LSE: CPI), commonly known as Capita, is an international business process outsourcing and professional services company headquartered in London.”

      These have influenced the social agenda of successive governments, preparing the state and the population for the ‘world market’.

      Andrew Coates

      August 27, 2019 at 1:20 pm

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