Jun - 24 - 2016

Most of the British voted for leaving the EU

In yesterday’s referendum in the UK, a majority of 52% of the voters chose “Leave”.

The first thing to point out is that the campaign for the breaking-off relations with the EU was hegemonized by the right and extreme right sectors, that is, a wide sector of dissidents from the Conservative Party led by the former London mayor, Boris Johnson, and the UKIP of Nigel Farage, a decidedly racist politician.

The central theme of his campaign was the warning on the wild African, Polish and Rumanian immigrant hordes which would invade the UK. These hordes wouldn’t just take the work away from the British; they would also “put British women at risk of massive rapes”.

It was a demagogic campaign which exploited fears and perceptions linked to the worsening of life conditions of wide sectors of workers, blaming immigrants for it. They also question globalization, but from an imperialist, protectionist and nationalist angle, which seeks to extol the “lost glory” of Great Britain (The exact same angle which Trump preaches in the USA, in the sense that Yankee imperialism recovers its “national greatness”!).

However, the other point to be stressed is that both the vote to leave the EU and to remain had different motivations than the official “Leave” and “Remain” campaigns.

Brexit gathered the rightful condemn towards “austerity” and privatizations that exists in wide sectors of society, and which is the “brand” of the European Union. It also reflected the rejection towards David Cameron’s conservative government, who led the campaign for remaining in the EU and has a record in passing attacks on workers. Thus, one of the most important unions in the United Kingdom, the railways, campaigned for “leaving” with the justification that remaining in the European Union would make the renationalization of railways impossible, which is this sector’s main struggling point.

On the other hand, the campaign for staying in the EU appeared to be more “favorable” towards immigration, or the rejection to “wars” that might come from Europe, etc., etc.

The fact is –according to The Economist prior the referendum- that 54% of workers and unemployed leant towards leaving the European Union and only a 34% agreed to remain. On the other hand, between businessmen, executives, etc., not by chance, the proportion was inverted; a 54% was in favor of staying in the EU. However, and despite Cameron, 66% of youth (18 to 24 years old) leant towards staying in the European Union. They did not like the racist patriotism of “leaving” leaders! These are the social and generational sectors of referendum’s votes that were expressed in yesterday’s result.

A  European and worldwide earthquake

In any case, and aside from the balance on the positioning of the left towards the referendum (which we deal with below), there is the concrete fact that the triumph of the Brexit has caused a European and worldwide earthquake. It enlarges the tendencies towards disaggregation of the world order erected in the past few decades.

To consider this event as a “British problem” would be a tremendous mistake. The Brexit referendum is a continental bombshell. It is the European Union as a whole that is called into question, in a bigger or lesser degree, throughout Europe. The Brexit only represents its crisis and global de-legitimization.

The EU is an institution that dedicates itself to apply neoliberal policies of privatization and austerity against workers, the masses and European youth, which has less and less consensus. It works exclusively for the benefit of financial capital and the great European corporations, mainly the German and French banks.

It is, besides, deeply antidemocratic. The European parliament is just a farce without the least power, stablished to conceal the reality that everything is run by high functionaries and executives named at finger point by those powers.

Today we are, perhaps, in front of the biggest crisis in the history of this imperialist freak. On top of that, as a boomerang effect of the referendum itself, the very unity of Great Britain has been gravely wounded. As soon as the referendum was over Scottish authorities –and also those from Ulser (Northern Ireland)! – stated their desire to remain in the EU. Scotland also demands a referendum to consult the population with the aim of leaving Great Britain to join the European Union.

It is necessary for the European left to rise an independent alternative

In this situation, of loss of legitimacy and consensus, of growing anger of wider and wider sectors hit by the diktats of Berlin and Brussels, it is urgent for the whole European left to rise an independent alternative facing both the EU and the “isolationist” right and extreme right.

Sadly, in the case of the British referendum it wasn’t so. The great majority of the left and Trotskyite organizations alienated themselves with one or the other option (to vote “leave” or “remain”), trying to present a “red version” of each alternative.

But the reality is that the campaign to “exit” the EU was hegemonized by the conservative dissidents and the UKIP racists (and given the European and British political situation there was no chance of this not happening!). And the campaign to “remain” in the EU was led by Cameron’s conservatives, with the Labor Party as mere auxiliary. That is to say, a campaign of the main bourgeoisie sectors, defenders of the current status quo of neoliberal globalization.

To take sides with one or the other sector was a serious mistake. That the main forces of English and continental left couldn’t present an independent alternative is dramatic. In the case of the referendum, an independent alternative could be realized in a null vote campaign in the face of both bosses’ sides.

The real problem is that neither going on with this “European Union”, nor going back to the disaggregation of the old national States is favorable outs for the working class of the continent. Both benefit only these or those sectors of the great capital and their corporations.

The only out that can benefit us is to fight for a third option, a socialist federation of European Workers States.

Statement of the international current Socialism or Barbarism, 24/6/16

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