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More Splits Loom as Socialist Workers Party Tries to “defend” Brexit *and* Free Movement.

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SWP Says “racism whipped up by both sides in EU Vote.”

Latest Socialist Worker….

Racism was whipped up by both sides during the EU referendum. But the Leave vote was, as Labour’s Dianne Abbot argued, a “cry of rage against the Westminster elite”.

We have to fight to pull that anger at the establishment in a left wing and anti-racist direction.

To defend freedom of movement, we need unity no matter how people voted.

It’s the Tories and the bosses, not migrants, who slash wages, shut hospitals and schools and sack workers. To stop that assault on working class people we need to be united and resist all their attempts to divide us.

A danger is that defending migrants becomes tied to a defence of the EU’s neoliberal single market.

We have to argue for a socialist and anti-racist alternative—no to the single market, yes to free movement.

Socialist Worker. “United struggle can defend free movement.”

The SWP’s Alternative Fact Factory (London SE11 9BW) is working at full steam.

Busy out campaigning to Leave they perhaps missed the UKIP poster, which was only one of many xenophobic appeals which only one side produced.

Enrolling Dianne Abbott to their cause may not also be such a wizard prang.

Oddly Socialist Worker missed,  “Ms Abbott has consistently said that access to the single market and freedom of movement were “inextricably linked”.” (Express)

In case the Express is not good enough for you this is what she has tweeted,

There can be no unity with those who support the Brexit that Trump welcomes.

Dianne Abbot  also said this last year,

There is no trade-off between the Single Market and Freedom of Movement

Once Article 50 is triggered the eventual deal with Britain has to be ratified by all remaining members. They will in effect be negotiating with each other on the terms of Brexit, not with Britain. Eastern European governments in particular are adamant that there can be no concessions on Freedom of Movement.  They each have a veto.

Cameron failed because he ignored a key principle, that it is always important to understand the fundamental position of your negotiating partners. This has largely been ignored in the insular debate in Britain. Virtually all mainstream parties in Europe are committed to Freedom of Movement. This applies to left, right and centre on the political spectrum.

This is not because of ideology. It is because the European economy would grind to a halt with checks at every border crossing on every train and vehicle, and on the immigration status of the driver and her passengers. In the jargon, Freedom of Movement is one of the Four Pillars of the Single Market, enshrined in Treaty.  If one of the ‘pillars’ falls so does the whole edifice of the Single Market. Practically it is fundamental to the prosperity of the European countries, including Britain.

Given Germany’s pre-eminence in Europe, Chancellor Merkel will be the ultimate arbiter of what the EU agrees to offer in terms of Brexit. She recently told the German equivalent of the CBI that, “If we don’t insist that full access to the single market is tied to complete acceptance of the four basic freedoms, then a process will spread across Europe whereby everyone does and allowed what they want.”

We know that that this is not playing to gallery or an early negotiating stance because this has been the policy implemented in relation to countries such as Norway and Switzerland.  Norway is in the European Economic Area, which means it accepts all the rules, large and small of the Single Market in order to have access to it. Switzerland held its own referendum to restrict Freedom of Movement which was duly passed. But the EU has insisted that this is not implemented, and Switzerland has had to comply simply in order to get the limited but highly lucrative ‘passporting’ of its insurers.

Freedom of Movement is integral to the working of the Single Market. The Norwegian, Swiss and British governments have all tried and failed to separate Freedom of Movement from the Single Market. They all failed. The EU is not intransigent. It simply cannot offer what is demanded without destroying the Single Market. If Britain wants the Single Market, which is currently vital to our prosperity, it will have to drop the delusion that it can negotiate away Freedom of Movement.

A “movement that’s big enough and strong enough to give the Tories and their ilk a kicking.” does not need these false friends of free movement and migrants.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 15, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Owen Jones, “not taking part in Trump Demo because of leading role of the SWP in it, a cult which covered up rape.”

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People who follow these things may have noticed an angry exchange between Lindsey German and comrade Owen Jones over the Trump protests.

As I have no wish to offered comrade Owen, who deleted the remarks, but did not protest at people mentioning it (despite opportunity to do so) I shall not paste it.

People who follow these things may have also noticed that yesterday there were two letters in the Guardian protesting against Trump’s planned visit to the UK.

We stand together against Donald Trump’s toxic agenda

One was headed by Owen’s name, it included  Ed Miliband, senior trade union figures and human rights campaigners, prominent Momentum figures and people from respected left groups, such as Left Unity.

The other, well, let’s just say that it also included respected figures from the union movement and human rights campaigner, and… Lindsey German and organisations in which her groupuscule play a considerable part, the Stop the War Coalition and the remains of the People’s Assembly. Another organisation’s supporters,  Stand up to Racism, best known for the SWP’s involvement, featured. And Islamist organisations, such as the Muslim Association of Britain. (1)

Momentum meanwhile has advertised the London Demo without mentioning the various fronts, groups claiming to represent the Muslim community, and others, behind the demonstration.

It simply says this: ” JOIN THE MARCH TO STOP TRUMP THIS SATURDAY

If you’re in London, join the march to Stop Trump’s Muslim Ban this Saturday, 4th February, from the US Embassy to Downing Street. The Momentum and Labour Assembly Against Austerity bloc will meet at 11am at 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 2LQ. Check out the Facebook Event for more information.

Momentum is in the right direction.

Protesting against Trump  is very important, welcome, and needed.

But we don’t we don’t want to be caught up in the manipulative and dead-end politics of the likes of the SWP or Counterfire (both strong backers of the Brexit that Trump welcomes), the StWC (who oppose any interference in the sovereign politics of Syria) still less MAB and its cohorts.

Now this bombshell comes:

 

(1) “MAB first started working with the StWC in 2002 when they agreed to join together a demonstration they had planned to mark the anniversary of the Second Palestinian Intifada with a demonstration StWC had planned against the looming Iraq war at the opening of the Labour party. The march took place under the dual slogans ‘Don’t attack Iraq‘ and ‘Freedom for Palestine‘.[2] According to Altikriti, MAB ‘spoke to Stop the War and we said to them, we will join you; however we will not become part of your coalition, we will be a separate and independent entity but we will work together with you on a national basis as part of the anti-war movement’.[3] This reassured MAB that it would not ‘melt into that big coalition’ [4] that was known to be led by the Left. They would remain a distinct and autonomous bloc, able to shape the agenda. Altikriti and others in the MAB leadership were working to persuade members that collaboration with non-Muslim anti-war activists was halal (religiously permissible) and that it was within the remit of their organisation. Their argument was that, if gender-segregated spaces and halal food could be provided at meetings, demonstrations and other events, then Muslims could participate in the anti-war movements without being assimilated”

More on Wikipedia.

President Trump and anti-capitalism.

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Callinicos: “Campaigned against the liberal capitalist international order.”

Most of the international left has supported the protests against Donald Trump this Saturday.

But the victory of the ‘populist’ billionaire has created serious difficulties for ‘anti-capitalist’ theories of neo-liberalism.

If there had been agreement that ‘neo-lberalism’ was underpinned by the Washington Consensus, crudely put, driven by US leadership what remains when the President challenges some cornerstones of that agreement?

That is,  “Trade liberalization: liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs” and “Liberalization of inward foreign direct investment”.

Opposing these principles with the – so far only threatened – protectionism undermines some basic principles of ‘neo-liberalism’

Trump  favours privatisation of state enterprises,Deregulation: abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudential oversight of financial institutionsLegal security for property rights. He stands for, as we all know, ” infrastructure investment” tight fiscal policy, and…tax ‘reform’.

But is putting America First in line with ‘globalisation’?

At the end of last year SWP leader Alec Callinicos  offered one interpretation if  Trump’s victory (We don’t want Trump—but neither do the bosses.  15th of November)

Trump campaigned against the liberal capitalist international order that US imperialism has constructed and maintained since the Second World War.

That is to say, against free trade and free movement of capital underpinned by American military power. He denounced the various rounds of trade liberalisation that he held responsible for the decline of US basic industries.

..

More broadly, in the US and Britain the political system is breaking loose from its traditional subordination to capital. Big business wanted neither Brexit nor Trump and is looking on in dismay.

This will probably be only a temporary situation before a new equilibrium between the state and capital is established. But it is a source of enormously instability.

Looking at Trump’s administration it is hard to see how a more pro-business crew could have been cobbled together.

If that’s a protest against the ” liberal capitalist international order” then perhaps the capitalist order is not intrinsically liberal.

Today the Telegraph leads with this story:

Donald Trump is planning a new deal for Britain this week as Theresa May becomes the first foreign leader to meet him since the inauguration.

With hundreds of thousands of people across the world protesting his presidency, Mr Trump’s team was working with Number 10 to finalise plans for White House talks.

Mr Trump has even taken to calling Mrs May “my Maggie” in reference to the close Thatcher-Reagan relationship he wants to recreate, according to sources.

The historic trip comes as:

  • A deal to reduce barriers between American and British banks through a new “passporting” system was being considered by Mr Trump’s team
  • A US-UK “working group” was being prepared to identify barriers to trade and scope out a future trade deal
  • A joint statement on defence was expected to demand EU countries spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence and promise collaboration in tackling Isil

The new relationship – which comes with both countries redefining their roles in the world – is due to be cemented with a state visit for Mr Trump in the summer.

For several decades ‘anti-capitalists’ and, above all, the ‘anti-imperialist’ left have considered the US the engine of neo-liberalism, the promoters of the ‘Shock Doctrine’, privatisation, deregulation, austerity and the ultimate guarantors of free trade.

The only way they can explain a change in fundamental policy is by evoking popular fury at the New World Order.

In the Independent yesterday Patrick Cockburn strayed from  his home  territory to generalise in the same vein as Callinicos (Why the rise of Donald Trump and Isis have more in common than you might think.)

Across continents there are many who see themselves as the losers from globalisation, but the ideological vehicles for protest differ markedly from region to region 

Inequality has increased everywhere with politically momentous consequences, a development much discussed as a reason for the populist-nationalist upsurge in western Europe and the US. But it has also had a significant destabilising impact in the wider Middle East. Impoverished Syrian villagers, who once looked to the state to provide jobs and meet their basic needs at low prices, found in the decade before 2011 that their government no longer cared what happened to them. They poured in their millions into gimcrack housing on the outskirts of Damascus and Aleppo, cities whose richer districts looked more like London or Paris. Unsurprisingly, it was these same people, formerly supporters of the ruling Baath party, who became the backbone of the popular revolt. Their grievances were not dissimilar from those of unemployed coal miners in former Democratic Party strongholds in West Virginia who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.

In the US, Europe and the Middle East there were many who saw themselves as the losers from globalisation, but the ideological vehicle for protest differed markedly from region to region. In Europe and the US it was right wing nationalist populism which opposes free trade, mass immigration and military intervention abroad. The latter theme is much more resonant in the US than in Europe because of Iraq and Afghanistan. Trump instinctively understood that he must keep pressing these three buttons, the importance of which Hillary Clinton and most of the Republican Party leaders, taking their cue from their donors rather than potential voters, never appreciated.

This is poor stuff.

Perhaps Cockburn would also explain the Iranian Revolution (the original spur of  the development of modern Islamism) and the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s in terms of ‘globalisation’.

To neglect the independent material role of Islamist ideology, and genocidal terror in the Middle East,  to compare its rise directly with the kind of xenophobia and nationalist fervour behind Trump is to jump over several hoops of explanation.

The ‘losers’ from globalisation do not simply ‘choose’ a vehicle to express their protest; they are courted by active political forces. The political forces doing so, Islamism and European/North American populism, are radically different.

Perhaps one should begin to discuss and explanation by considering that ‘neo-liberalism’ is not some inherent drive pushed by the  present stage of ‘post-Fordist’ capitalism’.

It has always had a political framework within which class interests are given voice in administrative form.

In countries with democratic electoral systems parties supporting neo-liberalism has always had to win support for their policies, and get elected, by appealing to voters. From Thatcher, the original ‘authoritarian populist’ to Trump, their message has been recognised by sections of the electorate.

But at the same time neo-liberals have had to build their objectives around a bloc of more direct class forces, the various fractions of capital.

Trump is clearly now attempting to build an international bloc, with British support, for a modification in the  ‘regime of accumulation’. This will keep the main domestic features of neo-liberalism, above all the Privatising State, but change the way trade and international capital flows are organised.

In the meantime onemof the commonplaces of ‘anti-capitalism’, that the US and its businesses are inherently in favour of unrestricted globalisation, is becoming redundant.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 22, 2017 at 11:59 am

SWP Goes Populist at Annual Conference.

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Masses Flock to New SWP Populist Line.

It seems as remote as the fall of Uruk (1750 BCE) but time was when the SWP Annual Conference was of some interest to the rest of the left.

The publication of their ‘secret’ internal bulletins was the occasion for much glee and for outrage at this attack on their inner party ‘democracy’ on the part of SWP members.

Today all we have is this.

SWP annual conference

The themes of anti-racism and the Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) campaign ran through the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) annual conference last weekend.

We shall resist the temptation to remark that the acronym SUTR (suture?) is unlikely to catch on.

Oh yes we will.

This is the new mass line, as announced by cde Weyman Bennett.

He added that racism can be beaten. “The way the ruling class is using racism comes out of its own weakness,” he argued.

He said the crisis of neoliberalism meant people’s living standards had been attacked—and our rulers have to find others to blame.

Weyman said, “We have SUTR but not as a mass organisation.

“It has to be on the same scale as the Anti Nazi League in the 1970s.”

Protests against Donald Trump on 20 January, a trade union conference on 4 February and mass demonstrations on 18 March can help build it.

What ‘racism’ is, how is related to the non-‘racial’ but very xenophobic wave  against ‘foreigners’ that led to Brexit and swoll huge after it, is not defined.

But we learn, “Several Muslim comrades said fighting Islamophobia gave confidence to Muslims.”

Pray, exactly what “fight” is that?

As another cde stated,

Gary from north London spoke about debates in the Black Lives Matter movement, such as the idea that people benefit from white privilege.

Student Antony added, “Identity politics come from a progressive place, but it can be very isolationist. We need to build a movement that can pull away from that.”

Perhaps one might, just possibly, apply this to ‘Muslim’ fights against – undefined –  ‘Islamophobia’.

One might examine the issue of Islamism and the genocides carried out by Daesh.

But apparently not,

“Through LGBT+ Against Islamophobia, which we helped launch a few years ago, we put out a statement.

“It argued that Muslims or Islam were not responsible for homophobia or transphobia and we had a good reception at the vigil in Soho.”

Elites.

This is the centrepiece of the SWP’s strategy,

Amy Leather, joint national secretary of the SWP, introduced a session on building the party. She said, “What we do matters.

“The deep bitterness that exists at the elites can go to the right or the left. We have to intervene to pull that mood to the left.”

We await a Marxist clarification of the term ‘elite’.

Marxist and elite paradigms are normally considered competing theories on social and political change.

‘Elite’ is one of the most pernicious words in ‘populist’ language. It obscures real power, real property, real exploitation, through an attack on the ‘top’ people.

The charge is that ‘cosmopolitan’ , rootless, metropolitan ‘elites’ are ‘out of touch’ with plain folks.

The  ‘real’ workers, ‘real’ people are mislead by the internationalist elites.

How this ‘mood’ can be drawn to the left is left undefined, but one way that’s being explored in Europe and Britain, is to support sovereigntism: bringing power under ‘national’ control. This was the view of many of the ‘left’ supporters of voting to leave the EU.

The SWP backed Brexit.

The same Brexit, which, see above, is at the centre of the knot of resentments, and hate that lies at the centre of the very racism that the SWP now puts at the centre of its politics.

It will be interesting to see how this works out.

We have to maximise the interactions we have with people and take Socialist Worker wherever you go.

There is perhaps a contradiction between the first part of the sentence (interactions) and the second (taking SW everywhere)….

Written by Andrew Coates

January 15, 2017 at 11:44 am

Sarah Palin, Trump Victory “inspired by Brexit” and “we don’t want this globalism.”

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“Hookin’ up” with Brexiteers against “Globalism”. 

Sarah Palin has responded to Donald Trump winning the White House by likening it to the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

“Well, see, Great Britain and America, see how we’re hooking up now?” she told the Associated Press at a Trump rally as the results rolled in.

“We’re going rogue and saying, you know, the people are going to take back control of our governance.”

Ms Palin continued: “Really, we’re going to be able to say, no, we don’t want this globalism […]

“We can’t be telling other countries, other nations how to sweep their porches if we can’t sweep our own yet.

“So we’ve got to take care of what’s going on here within our borders, just like you all have done, especially recently.”

Reports the Independent.

The Daily Mail is enthusiastic. They continue the story,

Sarah Palin says Donald Trump’s sensational win was inspired by Brexit and said: ‘Britain – we’re going rogue and the people are taking back control’. 

The billionaire tycoon Donald Trump is set to be the next president of the United States after voters gambled on his promise to ‘Make America Great Again’.

It was a similar message to the one used by Brexiteers who successfully convinced voters that Britain’s future was brighter outside the European Union.

Ms Palin, a former beauty queen turned Republican politician, said this spirit had spread across the Atlantic and bolstered Trump’s campaign.

James Corden, now also a big star in the United States, tweeted he had ‘Brexit feelings’ as it became clear Trump would win.

..

Speaking at the Trump Rally in New York she said: ‘See Great Britain! America! See how we’re hookin’ up now?

‘We’re going rogue and the people are going to take back control.

‘We’re going to be able to say we don’t want this globalism, and we can’t be telling other countries how to sweep their porches if we can’t sweep our own yet.

‘So we’ve got to take care of what’s going on here within our borders just like you all have done especially recently.’

It came as Nigel Farage booked himself onto the first plane to America from London this morning to meet his friend Donald Trump.

..

….he’s already thought of a role he could fulfill: President Trump’s ambassador to the EU.

Not to be outdone by Trump, Palin and Farage, the People’s Assembly is said to be preparing its own People’s Brexit march, according to RSL 21 (Is a People’s Brexit possible? Seb Cooke).

There are signs that The People’s Assembly Against Austerity will look to organise an event around the theme of a ‘People’s Brexit’.

As the People’s Assembly will be mobilising and using trade union and labour movement resources for a pro-Brexit rally – pro- in the direction they want, a “People’s anti-European Union events, RSL warns against joining any anti-UKIP activity when Farage leads a pro-Brexit, march against the High Court,

There is a temptation to have a broad, anti-racist demo and campaign with whoever is opposed to Farage. This by its very nature could include several figures from the pro-EU centre. To be so broad, this movement would at best be non-committal about the idea of Britain leaving the EU and at worst have several elements seeking to overturn the vote.

…while Farage’s march will be racist, it has been called over Brexit and that is an important distinction we should make.

The pro-Brexit ‘left’ now claims that their demand for open borders (outbidding the existing EU freedom of movement, in a universal call to tear down frontiers) will protect them from accusations that they have joined in with the likes of Trump, Palin, and Farage,

But as Mark Boothroyd notes  (Brexit ushers in a Carnival of Reaction),

The response to the Leave vote by pro-Leave leftists of increased attempts at migrant solidarity work are welcome, but they rarely confront the point that this activism is necessitated by the very victory of the Leave campaign, and these effects were warned about by pro-Remain activists. Failing to acknowledge what is driving the attacks that they  were warned were coming in the event of a Leave victory, is shortsighted and politically dishonest, and leaves unanswered the bigger questions as to what stance to take towards the ongoing Brexit negotiations and its effects on migrants.

One could say that there is equally a logic in Palin’s cries against ‘globalisation’ and a wing of the anti-globalisation left. Their demand for ‘no-borders’ cannot be taken seriously when the refuse to recognise the side they have chosen: the Brexit side, for National Sovereignty against ‘globalisaiton’.

The ex-SWP faction concludes that they think many left-wing Remain supporters will accept that they should work with the strategy of the ‘left’ Leave campaign

will be open to working on the basis of a left wing exit from the EU even if they remain pro-EU.

Cautiously they note that some will not.

They

can’t support a People’s Brexit platform because they simply don’t want any Brexit ever.

Oddly many on the left are going to say to the – ineffectual, declining and marginalised –  People’s Assembly leadership (another ex-SWP faction, Counterfire): we don’t want Brexit. 

I suppose in the supple tactical minds of anybody who’s been in the SWP the whirl of constantly changing campaigns is part of the political culture. One day for hysterical Stand up UNKIP campaigns. The next for a refusal to do anything but lie down as UKIP marches to British ‘independence’ and Trump.

These revolutionaries take their cue not from Marxism but from Vautrin, Jacques Collin,  Trompe-la-Mort, one of the central characters of Balzac’s Comédie humaine.

This one of his best known statements, (Le Père Goroit),

 Vautrin : « Il n’y a pas de principes, il n’y a que des évènements ; il n’y a pas de lois, il n’y a que des circonstances : l’homme supérieur épouse les évènements et les circonstances pour les conduire. »

There are no principles, there are only events; there are no laws, there are only circumstances: the superior man shapes his conduct to  fit events and conditions. 

 

Update: Globalisation is dead, and white supremacy has triumphed.  

You’re going to hear a lot of wailing from the left about our “disconnection” with the values of “ordinary working-class people”. It is bullshit – both as a fact and an explanation of what’s happened. In every state in America there are working-class people staffing beleaguered abortion clinics, organising unions among migrant cleaners and Walmart workers.

Those who tell you the left has to somehow “reconnect” with people whose minds are full of white supremacy and misogyny must finish the sentence. By what means? By throwing our black brothers and sisters under a bus? Eighty years ago the poets and miners of the International Brigades did not march into battle saying: “Mind you, the fascists have got a point.”

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Spread Referendum Rebellion *further* in a positive direction says Socialist Workers Party.

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Farage Celebrates ‘Blow’ to Neoliberalism, Capitalism and Political Elite.

Socialists should seek to direct the rebellion of  23 June further in a positive direction and squash any reactionary elements. Those on the left who see only a further spiral downwards are turning their back on an opportunity to connect with and broaden working class revolt.

Says Charlie Kimber of the Socialist Workers Party and Editor of Socialist Worker. (Why did Britain vote Leave? International Socialism October)

I shall not bother with the ‘learned’ examination of statistics Nor with vapid claims that a small fraction of the European left backed Brexit (strangely Kimber does not mention the ultra-nationalist ‘Trotskyists’ of the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), with whom the British ‘Lexit’ campaign formed close ties during the campaign see here). Nor with the rhetoric about a revolt against the ‘elites’.

Instead let’s go to the core of the Kimber ‘argument’: the revolutionary prospects a Leave vote has created.

That is the idea that this was a “working class revolt” that needs to be ‘broadened’.

He observes,

The reasons for that rebellion are contradictory, and the fallout from the vote is uncertain. But that does not change the essential character of what has taken place. We should welcome this development. Liberals fear turmoil, revolutionaries should not. We are not going to get to the British revolution without some complicated and many-sided developments that require the left to grasp the moment—and if they don’t then the right can grab that feeling of anger instead. The year of the referendum also saw meetings in many places to remember 100 years since the Easter Rising in Dublin. Many in the audience would have nodded sagely at Lenin’s understanding of what happened..,

It would be interesting to learn more about how the British Revolution is helped by the victory of Farage and the hard-right Tories. The right has already “grabbed” this moment.

Is Kimber suggesting that this ‘anger’ is something you can go about snaffling for your side if you’re cunning enough?

In the meantime….

Of course the Leave vote was not the Easter Rising. But Lenin’s method is important.

Indeed, the Referendum has so many points in common with the Easter Rising that Marxists will have spotted them immediately.

Apart from welcoming chaos the SWP declares,

The Socialist Workers Party called for a Leave vote. We did so for three main reasons. Firstly, the EU is an openly pro-capitalist institution…  Secondly, the EU, through its Fortress Europe structures, acts to repel migrants and refugees from outside Europe…… Thirdly, the EU is part of the imperialist world order that, along with NATO, delivers important support for the United States and provides reliable partners in its murderous actions. That is why since the late 1940s the US has promoted European integration to secure a stable junior partner for managing global capitalism.

So the SWP voted to leave capitalism by supporting capitalist plans to quit the EU, to back further restrictions on freedom of movement to get rid of racism, and to undermine and get rid of the imperialist world order. No doubt as soon as possible.

The SWP believes the Leave vote will benefit the working class across the world and the struggle against racism. It is a further blow to the coercive neoliberal power of the EU and its racist laws. The dismantling of the pro-capitalist EU must begin with revolts at a national level.

The SWP “believes” that the Leave vote helped the working class across the world, and anti-racism, on the same secure basis that they believe that Lenin would have “nodded sagely” at their ‘line’.

As for the “blow” to EU neoliberalism –  that’s a lot of huff and puff.

Kimber instructs us, “However we voted on 23 June, we have to unite against racism, austerity, the Tories and the anti-Corbyn Labour MPs. “

That is, to unite with those who backed the “rebellion”, ” backed up by a wider programme raising issues that can engage with workers angry at the political elite and austerity.”

Interesting ‘Marxist’ concept that, the “political elite”. (1)

“We must be participants in the outcomes, and that means intervention, innovative thinking, and organising. After the Leave vote the battle is on. Socialists should gladly embrace and shape it.”

After the Referendum the leader of the Fire Brigades Union Matt Wrack said,

The Brexit vote was a defeat for the working class in Britain as well as internationally. It was a defeat for internationalism and collectivism. Brexit was a victory for populist demagogy, xenophobes and racists. Brexit has already had detrimental economic effects and worse is likely to come.

Brexit has resulted in a more right-wing government. It means an already difficult period ahead will be even harder for the trade union movement and the working-class communities we represent.

The Tendance says: we will not unite with those who actively encouraged the defeat of the working class, internationalism and collectivism.

Whatever Lenin said about the Easter Rising.

 Update:

(1) This is the SWP trying to get on down with Podemos and attempting to find a way to say, La Casta.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 24, 2016 at 11:31 am

Susan Watkins, Casting Off. Brexit: a world-historic turn. Alex Callinicos. Assessing Brexit from the Left.

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Socialists must be internationalists even if their working classes are not; socialists must also understand the nationalism of the masses, but only in the way in which a doctor understands the weakness or the illness of his patient. Socialists should be aware of that nationalism, but, like nurses, they should wash their hands twenty times over whenever they approach an area of the Labour movement infected by it’.

Isaac Deutscher, On Internationals and Internationalism. Cited in The Left Against Europe. Tom Nairn. New Left Review. 1/75. 1971.

La terre nous donne une discipline, et nous sommes les prolongements des ancêtres

Nous sommes le produit d’une collectivité qui parle en nous. Que l’influence des ancêtres soit permanente, et les fils seront énergiques et droits, la nation une.

The soil gives us a discipline, and we are the extension over time of our ancestors….We are the product of a collective life which speaks in us. . May the influence of our ancestors be permanent, the sons of the soil vital and upstanding, the nation One.

La terre et les morts. Maurice Barrès. 1899. (1)

Susan Watkins, Casting Off (New Left Review 100. July-August 2016). Brexit: a world-historic turn. Alex Callinicos.  International Socialism. Issue: 151. 2016.)

Casting Off, in the latest New Left Review begins by observing that the “surprise” of the Leave vote in the June Referendum went against the wishes the “ruling class” “much of the intelligentsia” and “much of its youth”. In a choice expression she compares lamentations about the result on Facebook to a “Wailing Wall”. Those beating their brows at the loss of the EU Jerusalem “in one account” were full of “nightmares of xenophobia”. “Britons having ‘voted to make foreigner-hunting legal, if not an actual duty.’”. Many people in Europe, she notes, that is, Germans and French, were unconcerned. Only a third of Germans and a quarter of the French were “unhappy about Brexit”.

Was this the result of the “ressentiment”, bottled up rancour stewing amongst “globalisation’s losers”? An ” insurrectionary protest against neoliberalism, globalism and cultural contemp” as Paul Mason put it (le Monde Diplomatique. July.) ?  Or more simply was a revolt of the left-behind, spearheaded by the working class, the unemployed, the casualised, and the poor. In Brexit, Alex Callinicos has written that, “All the polls show that the poorer you are the more likely you were to vote Leave. This means that millions of working class voters have gone unrepresented by the mainstream of the labour movement”. He trumpets his own group, the SWP, which backed the Leave campaign on a ‘left’ basis (Left-Exit, lexit). “Lexit offered a political voice, albeit a small one, to working class people who wanted to reject the EU on a class basis.” (2)

Anti-Globalisation?

For Watkins the result was not a rebellion against the distant mechanisms of finance capital and the world market. It has domestic origins, in British government policies laid down since the 2008 banking crisis, Gordon Brown’s turn to fiscal rigour, and the Liberal Conservative Coalition’s austerity programme. As a result scare mongering about the potential negative effects on the economy of Brexit had little impact on those already at the bottom of the pile. In “the Leave districts that have been depressed since the 1970s, with gdp per capita less than half inner-London levels, and now hardest hit by cutbacks in services and benefits, bleakness and desperation appear to have trumped economic fear.” She continues. “Anti-globalisation, then? Of a sort, if globalisation means not just deindustrialisation and low pay but disenfranchisement and politically targeted austerity.” In the south the ‘anti-Globo stand was different, “Their economic interests had been carefully nurtured by the Cameron-Osborne governments and their vote was more purely ideological: fear of change overcome by reassertion of ex-imperial national identity. Britain had never been conquered by Germany, so why was it ceding powers to Brussels?”

In this vein both Watkins and Callinicos play down the role of xenophobia and, more specifically, anti-migrant worker sentiment, in the referendum. Both note the mainstream Remain campaign’s supporters, beginning with the Prime Minister David Cameron’s “talking tough” on migration. For Callinicos, “at least as powerful a force is likely to be an alienation from the economic and political elite crystallising the experience of 40 years of neoliberalism and nearly 10 years of crisis expressed in stagnant or falling wages, unemployment, dwindling social housing and a shrinking welfare state. The EU as the incarnation of neoliberalism and contempt for democracy is a perfect symbol of all these discontents. London, site of a global financial hub, may have voted to Remain”

The pair concur on one point, “….the main reason given by the bulk of Leave voters—49 per cent—was the notion that ‘decisions about the uk should be taken in the uk’, a more ambiguous formulation that could include democratic, sovereign and nationalist perspectives. “ (Watkins), “Lord Ashcroft’s referendum-day poll found that nearly 49 percent of Leave voters said the biggest single reason for wanting to leave the EU was “the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”, compared to 33 percent who gave the main reason for leaving that it “offered the best chance for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders.” (Callinicos).

There are three central problems with these claims.

Racism.

Firstly, it is absurd to compare the Conservative Remain campaigners’ talk of ‘control’ of migration in the same breath as the blood-and-fire rhetoric of UKIP and their echo-chambers on the Leave side. To dismiss the issue by ranking its importance on the basis of an opinion poll is to assume that one motive trumped the other rather than coalescing with it.

As Kim Moody has argued, immigration was at the centre of the campaign. “A majority of all those who voted Leave ranked immigration and border control as their 1st or 2nd reason. Those in the top social rank were less likely to give this as their first reason than others, but all groups were the same for 2nd choice and all Leave voters put immigration high on their list. Anti-immigrant and xenophobic views were prevalent in all social groups. This is not meant to be a comforting conclusion.” (3) Furthermore, “One section of British corporate capital that threw its majority weight loudly behind Brexit was the daily press.” “The Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star, Daily Telegraph, and Sun, all known for their anti-immigrant bias and with a combined daily circulation of just over 5 million, supported Brexit.”(Ibid)

It would not have taken long, a visit to the pub in less well-off areas, would suffice to hear people publicly repeating the right-wing tabloid’s anti-migrant propaganda melded with their own prejudiced anecdotes. Perhaps it would have taken longer to visit Ipswich market and see the UKIP placard carrying crew sitting on the benches ranting about Romanians. But such sights were not rare. Anywhere.

Few could doubt that cosmopolitan pro-European hipsters would shy from these displays. But what exactly drove the minority who followed Lexit to cast their ballots in the same way and how do their asses their achievement in bolstering the nationalist right? Callinicos asserts that “The emergence of the Lexit Campaign, advocating a left, internationalist opposition to the EU, was one of the successes of the referendum. Not because it swung a massive number of votes, but because it brought together a significant spectrum of forces on the radical left to campaign for a Leave vote on an anti-capitalist and anti-racist basis that (unlike some earlier left anti-EU campaigns) had no truck with migrant-bashing.” Really? Is the Socialist Party’s call for control (by trade unions?) of the entry of migrant labour, joined by the Morning Star-Communist Party of Britain, part of this “anti-racism”? Does the SWP really have that much in common with the CPB who push a barely revamped version of the 1970s Alternative Economic Strategy, completed – and why not? – with capital and import controls? Was it a ‘success’ to see New Left review, the SWP and all the others, cavort on a Camden stage in the company of a – suitably disguised – supporter of the French ‘Lambertist’ current, one-time Trotskyists who having sipped from that poisoned cup have become ultra-nationalists? (4)

Austerity.

Secondly, what were the “non-immigration” issues behind the Leave vote? Casting Off describes “the slow, still inchoate politicisation that had been taking place in the aftermath of the financial crisis”, and “the Exit vote would not have happened without the financial crisis and skewed, class-based recovery.” Callinicos talks more broadly of UKIP’s rise as part of “ordinary voters’ revulsion against the entire political and economic elite.” The “very unanimity of establishment opposition to Brexit is likely to have goaded many people into the Leave camp simply as an act of defiance.”

Absent is any account of the mass, country-wide, left and trade union austerity campaigns, co-ordinated by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity (PA) Had this no effect in channelling ressentiment against the ‘elite’ towards progressive solutions? Did its protests, marches, conferences, pickets and pressure on local councils, count for little?

It is true that their impact was decreasing in the run up to the Referendum. An April London March barely attracted 20,000 – despite the freedom that the end of Police estimates gave to the organisers to claim an attendance of 175,000 (in a half empty Trafalgar Square). Clearly this ‘incipient politicisation” has drained away in a different direction. A look at how the politics of protest are foundering might throw up the reflection that the victory of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party indicates that political institutions can be the focus of change, rather than the street. The hard task of getting Labour local authorities to oppose austerity, not just because of the legacy of Blair’s accommodations, but as a result of an armour-plated legal budget controls over councils, has begun. The problems this turn to Labour creates for those, like Callinicos, and his former comrades in Counterfire, the majority of the active leadership of the PA, begin with the recognition that the Brexit vote as a “representation” of opinion, which more walking about in the roads, attempts to bathe in Corbyn’s reflected glory, and calls for general strikes, are unlikely to revolve.

Sovereigntism.

Thirdly, the Brexit result was a boost to sovereigntism, the belief that politics has to focus on nations, and on the ‘people’s’ control over the national body politic. In this respect Chantal Mouffe’s declaration that the vote was a “salutary shock” is less significant than her immediately following words. The Belgian political philosopher stated, “That’s because I am one of those so-called ‘left-wing Europeanists who are not sovereigntists but instead demand a democratic refoundation of Europe” Pleasure with the damage to the City and neo-liberal forces is one thing, but what harm did this create to ‘sovereigntism”? (5)

The evidence against rash claim lives in Downing Street. Yet, against Mouffe for many it has reinforced the illusion, that in some form sovereigntism can be the basis of left politics. To cite the most obvious source of how far this ideology has crept into leftist circles: the conclusion of Mouffe’s  jointly-authored of Podemos (2016) Iñigo Errejón has called for the construction of a “..we the people “that demands sovereignty and a new social contract”. To build this we have “to think about the effective, mythical and cultural commonness of any identity construction”. Or, in an even more abstract vein, to follow Frédéric Lordon, politics based on “un commun passional” bound to “une certaine appartenance” (belonging) not to a hypostatised nationality but to “la nation politique” a political construction. (6) In other words, in contrast to Barrès, a newly minted sovereign feeling, without the clamour of ancestral voices, embodied in institutions. They would surely be able to take “decisions about the UK in the UK.” The evidence is that those appealing directly to the dead voices of our forbears, the racist populist right, have had more success in the sovereigntist venture.

Callinicos, with customary grace towards those who disagree with him, outlined the choices for the left at the start of the campaign, “between the neoliberal imperialist monstrosity that is the EU, strongly supported by the main echelons of British capital, and the xenophobic and racist Thatcherites that dominated the Leave campaigns.” In his conclusion he opines, no doubt to warn those not averted to the possibility, that British capitalism is “entering very stormy waters.” The defeat of an invigorated Tory party under Teresa May, at the helm of state, will doubtless be the coming work of a mass movement conjured from the depths.

Democratic Refoundation?

Those who chose to vote for the “monstrosity” as “not worse” may well still feel unhappy at the result – for all the tempests in the global capitalist oceans. Many of our legal rights, consolidated in EU law, are now to put to the test of a sovereign Parliament for which we have ambiguous passionate feelings. The democratic refoundation of Europe, if pursued, and developed by forces such as DiEM25, will take place without our directly interested participation. We risk becoming further stuck in our backwater.

But for others there is this consolation. Our “sub-imperial” “far from prefect Hayekian order” has taken a blow. Watkins speaks of a victory for British (English) nationalism, in a “a semi-sovereign state” Yet the defeat is clear, for several – scattered – targets, “ For now, though, it is plain that Blairised Britain has taken a hit, as has the Hayekianised EU. Critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks to it, against which the entire global establishment—Obama to Abe, Merkel to Modi, Juncker to Xi—has inveighed.” (7)

The prospect of the “actuality of revolution” by “critics of the neoliberal order”, a “world-historic turn”….still leaves them shaking in their boots….

For the rest of us, Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union,  expressed our view (Morning Star 12th of September),

The Brexit vote was a defeat for the working class in Britain as well as internationally. It was a defeat for internationalism and collectivism. Brexit was a victory for populist demagogy, xenophobes and racists. Brexit has already had detrimental economic effects and worse is likely to come.

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(1) On Barrès and his concept of the “people” and nation see the illuminating, Le peuple chez Maurice Barrès, une entité insaisissable entre unité et diversité. Brigitte Kurlic. SensPublic. 2007.

(2). See also: The internationalist case against the European Union. Alex Callinicos. International Socialism. Issue: 148. 

(3) Was Brexit a Working-Class Revolt? Kim Moody. International Viewpoint. 14th of September 2016.

(4) Both the Morning Star’s CPB and SPEW advocate immigration controls and socialism in one country, notes Mike Macnair. Weekly Worker 15.9.2015. In report here: Paris Anti-EU Rally: French ‘Lambertist’ Trotskyists Receive Backing from UK ‘Lexit’ Campaign.

(5) A Salutary Shock. Chantal Mouffe. Verso. (From Mediapart 27th June 2016)

(6) Podemos. In the Name of the People. Iñigo Errejón in Conversation with Chantal Mouffe. Lawrence and Wishart. 2016. Imperium, Structures et affets des corps politiques. Frédéric Lordon. La Fabrique. 2015.

(7) See: Prognoses. In: The New Old World. Perry Anderson. Verso 2009.