Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Perry Anderson

Brexit Britain: Government Confirms Employment Rights “Under Review.”

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In 2012, five newly-elected Conservative MPs co-authored a pamphlet, Britannia Unchained, which denounced the UK’s “bloated state, high taxes and excessive regulation” and British workers as “among the worst idlers in the world”. Four of it authors – Dominic Raab, Priti Patel, Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng – are now among the leading lights of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet.

Their judgement of the UK workforce was severe.

“We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor,” they wrote. “Whereas Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music.”

The UK, they declared, should “stop indulging in irrelevant debates about sharing the pie between manufacturing and services, the north and the south, women and men”.

Their prescription was that, instead of learning from Germany and the Nordic states, as social democrats advocate, that Britain should copy Australia, Canada and the Asian ‘tiger economies’ of Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea – by slashing regulation and taxes.

For libertarians like them, the promise of a hard Brexit was that it would allow the deregulation they dreamed of. “If we could halve the burdens of the EU social and employment legislation we could deliver a £4.3 billion boost to our economy and 60,000 new jobs,’ said Priti Patel in 2016. What burdens she was speaking of aren’t clear, but the legislation she was referring to contains such onerous measures as paid holidays, safety at work and maternity leave – not something that most employers, never mind employees, would want to be without.

Patel and her colleagues now have a Brexit deal that allows this deregulatory bonfire – at the price of huge, costly, and for many unworkable new barriers to trade. But the UK is, on paper, free from the obligation to stay aligned with EU standards.
This lot, the real force behind Brexit, enabled by the Lexit campaigners to vote with them to Leave,  are now putting their project  in motion.

Update, Border Maniac Wolfgang Streek is unrepentant,


Writing from the sovereigntist Brexit ultras of  New Left Review he writes today,


Ins and Outs

For several years now, a serious effort has been under way in Brussels to learn nothing from Brexit, and the way things are it may well be successful. What could have been learned? Nothing less than how to shake off the late-twentieth century technocratic, anti-democratic, elitist chimera of a centralized European neoliberal empire and turn the European Union instead into a group of friendly sovereign neighbour states, connected through a web of non-hierarchical, voluntary, egalitarian relationships of mutual cooperation.

As to the United Kingdom, for the Lexiters Parliament rules again, unconstrained by ‘the Treaties’ and the European Court, and British citizens finally have only their own government to blame if something goes wrong: no responsibility without responsiveness.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2021 at 6:00 pm

Farewell to Perry Anderson: “Westminster is vastly superior to this lacquered synarchy.” (the EU).

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Perry Anderson and the French Left After Macron. | Tendance Coatesy

“It may grate that, for all its woeful shortcomings – think only, beyond … realm – Westminster is vastly superior to this lacquered synarchy” Perry Anderson Distinguished Professor of History and Sociology at the  University of California Los Angeles.

Briefings for Britain, a pro-Brexit site, is in love.

Perry Anderson’s evisceration of the European Union’s past and present in three long articles in the London Review of Books is remarkable in at least three ways.  First, for its lucidity and intellectual richness: my summary can in no way substitute for reading the whole, which I strongly recommend.  If many of its arguments are broadly familiar to critics of the EU, they have rarely been so cogently expressed, or with such controlled anger and command of detail.  Second, because it comes from a leading Left-wing intellectual—though this will be no surprise to Left-inclined Leavers or to those who have followed some of Anderson’s earlier writings.  Third, because it appears in a journal whose overwhelming majority of readers must be archetypal metropolitan Remainers: so all credit to the LRB’s editors.  I look forward with anticipation to a flurry of Letters to the Editor attempting to reply to Anderson’s indictment.  But so far, not one.


The final article, ‘The Breakaway’ (21 January), continues its examination of the political history of the EU focusing on Britain’s relationship with ‘the project’ from Macmillan to Johnson.  Few Brexiteers, I think, would disagree with his overall interpretation.  He discusses several prominent British commentators, both Remainers (noting the ‘weakness’ of their stance, attacking Leave but offering no vision of Britain in the EU, and averting their gaze from its defects), and Leavers.  Among the latter, he recognizes the ‘substance’ in the ideas of our friends Noel Malcolm, Richard Tuck and Chris Bickerton, who differ in their political starting points but agree on the legitimacy of Brexit.  Given his own political views, Anderson is a stern critic of the British system of government.  This makes the comparison he draws with the EU all the more compelling: ‘for all its woeful shortcomings … Westminster is vastly superior to this lacquered synarchy.’


A devastating indictment of the EU

Robert Tombs

Perry Anderson offers a critique of the European Union, a history of Britain’s relation with the EU, and an account of the Referendum and the vote to Leave. The tone of that critique is summed up in these passages, on the EU Court, the Commission, the Council, the Parliament and the Central Bank.  “The founding fathers of the Court, notes Anderson, included former Nazis, an Italian fascist, and a French collaborator: nearly all appointees were not lawyers but politicians…” And so it continues, ” corrupted by immunity in their occupance  (sic) of power”

Those familiar with Anderson writings over the last decades, which found admirers not just in Briefings for Britain, but a former foe, who found much to relish in his anti-EU écrits, the late Roger Scruton, will no discover more than an endlessly indulged proliferation of citations, books garnered from every nook and cranny, to support the view that the EU is a bad, failing, thing, full of “tawdry episodes”, whose effects have been to “dilute sovereignty without meaningful democracy, compulsory unanimity without participant equality, cult of free markets without care of free trade..”

The length of the present LRB  articles, the periodic style of the sentences, hides some crude and contentious judgements. An orrery of errors, as one of the leading thinkers of the First (pre-Anderson) New Left, E.Thompson might have said, were he not also a fervant opponent of the ‘Common Market’. Basically, there is very little of the new left left.

Politically, the two camps were divided by contrasting perceptions of what was at stake in the referendum. The Remainers consisted essentially of two groups, those who were moved principally by cultural issues and those principally by economic issues.

For the first group, composed of the young and most of the well-educated, the driving force was overwhelmingly a hostility to chauvinism – a rejection of the blind xenophobia and racism that threatened, they believed, to make Britain a suffocating prison of reaction. For the second group, leaving the EU threatened living standards, which were bound to drop cruelly on exit. Leavers were also divided into two groups. For the first, overwhelmingly located in the plebeian categories C2DE, the key issue was control over their own, and the country’s, destiny, something that could only be secured by departure from the EU. For the second, it was recovery of the independence that had been the basis of Britain’s prowess in the past. To these more general considerations, control of immigration and borders came second. Close to three-quarters of Remainers thought Britain a better country than thirty years earlier; nearly three-fifths of Leavers thought it worse.

Contrast with this, after a lengthy paragraphs on the way that, kept outside the Euro, voters felt no danger in voting to Leave.

The masses who voted for Brexit believed they were striking a blow at Brussels and the neoliberalism under which they had suffered for a quarter of a century. In reality, that neoliberalism – harsher than anything on the Continent – was British in origin, and could be overthrown without any of the instant penalties that would have been incurred if the UK had been a loyal member of the EMU. As for those who voted against Brexit, their warnings of disaster were for all immediate purposes irrelevant.

So in other word “taking control” was in Anderson’s eyes, with the unique talent for reading voters’ thoughts about “neoliberalism’, as they speak about all the time down the Duck and Dog.

Anderson describes the ‘shenanigans’ of the Second Referendum movement.

He proceeds to patronise left wing anti-Brexit supporters.

within their general mouvance, the youthful cadres of Momentum that had formed the shock troops of Corbynism shifted to an increasingly militant pro-Europeanism. This development, however, made clear a substantial gap between aspirations and abilities. That a passionate internationalism moved the new recruits to the idea of a second referendum was clear. But what kind of internationalism was it?

For a start, and a finish, not many of us can speak foreign languages….”. Among the young, an internationalism that is so largely sentimental yields solidarity with other Anglophones, of Commonwealth or other backgrounds. But in any wider or more lasting sense, sympathies without skills lack depth and staying power.” So welcome to the post New left world of the Anglosphere, joining the ERG and Nigel Farage.

Or, so the Distinguished Professor of History and Sociology at the  University of California Los Angeles  who has spent most of his academic career in the USA, tells us.

And, well that’s our effort to work for Another Europe, it’s just not Possible….

The mysterious synarchy thwarts them. Our “mouvance” – French for a “sphère d’influence”, in orbit of – a locution Anderson struggles with instead of simply saying wider movement – has come to nought.

Reforms, it seems, don’t work, never did, but then Anderson also gave up on revolution long ago, his songes of dual power,(Arguments in English Marxism, 1980s), replaced in New Left Review, with a wholesale slow burn up of leftism and any hopes for the European left. Post-New Leftism without apologies is the new mass line.

The man who once blamed the failures and supine position of the British working class movement and the Labour Party for its deference to institutions, the UK failure to experience a Second Democratic Revolution, is now prepared to acknowledge the superiority of the Palace of Westminster, imbued with the ghost of Hobbesian sovereignty, an election system that gives result that “that bear no resemblance to the divisions of opinion in the country; an unelected upper chamber crammed with flunkies and friends of the two dominant parties; an honours system devised to reward bagmen and sycophants” to the  wily manoeuvrings of Continental elitists.

A lengthy stay in Anderson’s well furnished library has shown us all up.

We could begin our re-education by reading this further marvel from Briefings for Britain,

Variable Geometry: Global Britain’s Opportunity Post-Brexit

Former diplomat Nick Busvine argues that we are already seeing positive signs of a more coherent and influential foreign policy as Global Britain begins to exploit the freedom of manoeuvre offered by Brexit.


Sráid Marx  has posted today, on Anderson’s fellow Lexiteers, aka the Gammon Left.

Is learning from Brexit possible?

Last week the ‘Financial Times‘ revealed that the Tory Government is working with big business on plans to tear up those workers’ rights enshrined in EU law.  This would include ending the 48-hour limit on the working week; changing rules on work breaks and ending the inclusion of overtime pay in holiday entitlements.  This is the list reported but there are undoubtedly others.

That this was one purpose of Brexit and its likely effect was both predictable and predicted, it comes as a surprise to no one.  Yet large swathes of the Left in Ireland and Britain supported it, although much less vocally in Ireland because it is so unpopular.  In any case their support for it has assisted putting in place these projected attacks and is indefensible and inexcusable.

An analysis of why they took such a position would have to look at such things as an originally opportunist position becoming hard-wired into their politics; their nationalist perspective arising from the view that the nation state will introduce socialism and come to embody it; general simple-minded opposition to the EU on the shallow grounds that it is a creature of capitalism, and the strong tendency to have a more concrete idea of what you are against than what you are for.  There’s also a large dose of ignorance and stupidity involved.

The significant role of stupidity first hit me when I read that left supporters of Brexit were complaining that the negotiations on the British side were being conducted by the Tories.  Further examples became clear when they, like the rest of the Brexit movement, demanded a harder Brexit as the only one worthy of the name, and for the same reason – there was no point otherwise.

Now that even a blind man can see what the future invites, what are the chances that this left will reconsider its support for Brexit and the political approach that led to it?  What might this involve?

Well, much of this left also supports Scottish nationalism, which perhaps should be no surprise since this too involves an obviously nationalist project that harbours illusions in a separate capitalist state.

Read the full post through the link above.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 18, 2021 at 12:47 pm

The Last Stand of the pro-Brexit Left, “Brexit could have meant more than this” Socialist Worker.

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Non, Je ne regrette rein.

In his Tour d’ivoire an elderly Mandarin takes a Hittite tablet from his shelves. Reading the cuneiform he smiles at the clumsy use of the ergative case and puts it back. Ten centimetre long finger-nails grasp a porcelain cup of Darjeeling. Perry Anderson turns to his latest works.

The modern Montaigne marvels at the magniloquent phrases, the elegance of the periodic style. The enemy, Perry reflects, is just what the elites of Europe themselves decry and fear most: ‘populism’. His majordome brings a wafer biscuit. Europe’s most gefeiert Marxist pauses. How true, how very veritable, “But what would Brexit actually mean for the European Union, or for Ukania in parting with it? So far, all that was clear was that ‘Blairized Britain has taken a hit, as has the Hayekianized eu’ and ‘critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks to it’, against which the entire global establishment had inveighed.”

He winds up the gramophone and puts an Édith Piaf disc on. A delicious reverie begins,

These apparatus must be broken as organised institutions for any revolutionary transfer of power to occur. This can only be achieved by the creation of a organs of socialist democracy, mobilising a popular force capable of undermining the unity of the coercive unity of the established state, and cancelling the legitimacy of of its parliamentary machinery….The emergence of such forms of second power, incarnating the sovereignty of a proletarian democracy alternative and antagonistic to that of bourgeois democracy must be the long term of the socialist movement. (Arguments Within English Marxism. Perry Anderson. 1980)  (1)

Socialist Worker has also entered the land of dreams.

Brexit could have meant more than this

The feeling against the elites could have led to a Brexit in the interests of working class people. 

That would have broken from the pro-business single market regime but maintained and extended workers’ freedom of movement.

It would have been linked to more money for the NHS and education, a higher minimum wage, action on climate chaos and other issues. This is what supporters of a left exit from the EU (Lexit) argued. To win such a Brexit would have required mass pressure. 


Instead the Tories have come up with various versions of Brexit designed to make it even easier for the bosses to exploit people.

So unforeseen…..

One chap who like his peer, Perry Anderson, regrets rein, is now the darling of the Express.

GEORGE GALLOWAY has demanded a clean break from the “fading, failing EU” as Brexit trade deal negotiations were extended until the end of the weekend

“The sun is rising in the East. I want to set sail for there. Brexit Now!”

The former Labour MP, who said he supported the Brexit Party at last year’s European elections, has been a vocal critic of the time the trade negotiations between Britain and the EU have taken.

One of his supporters tweeted: “I agree. Clean break then negotiate a Free Trade Agreement as a truly independent nation.”

Mr Galloway’s calls for a clean break come as Ms von der Leyen admitted it will now be “difficult” to reach a post-Brexit trade agreement as she ordered officials to step up no deal planning.

Here is one group that takes a different view:



(1) Perry Anderson. Ukania Perpetua. New Left Review. 2/125. Sept/Oct 2000.

The European Coup Perry Anderson  London Review of Books Vol. 42 No. 24 · 17 December 2020

Pages 194 – 195. Arguments Within English Marxism. Perry Anderson. Verso. 1980.