Why Doesn't the Left Oppose The EU?

“a derogation of our historic democratic right to select and
remove our governments
" (Tony Benn; Parliament, People and Power
1982).
People on the left who think of themselves as opponents of the banks and
big business should be thinking about their forthcoming chance in the
referendum to oppose them.

In 1975 the Labour Party conference voted 2-1 in favour of leaving the
Common Market, the capitalist free trade organisation that now calls itself
the European Union.

Now Labour is a very different party, it has determinedly severed its links
with the unions it was formed to represent, and made its bed with big
business and their advocates. It doesn't represent the low paid and it was a
long time since you could expect the Labour Party to offer any resistance
to the status quo in capitalism, and it makes no moves to radically alter the
current share-out of wealth.

It is that party, and its middle class supporters who are now giving their
wholehearted support to the European Union, an organisation dedicated to
the smooth functioning of the economy along the lines already determined
by the  owners of capital and to upholding the current apportioning of
wealth.  Its means are a downward pressure on wages, and hostility to
trades unions throughout Europe, and the usurpation of the legislative
rights of elected governments. It has at its core the intention to exploit the
poor of Europe and create a pool of cheap, non-union, migrant labour on
an unprecedented scale, not seen since 1930s America.

Most frightening of all, it is an organisation that has successfully replaced
democracy with the unelected power of the elite administrative class of
Europe. Jose Barossa the twice appointed EU Commissioner called the EU
“An antidote to democratic governments”

Why is it that the left offers no resistance to what amounts to a coup d'etat
against democracy, and therefore of the hopes of the worse off around
Europe and in Britain, to get a better deal? It is one of the great propaganda
victories of history that the EU has managed to make itself appear so
benign to those who ought to be its opponents.

While Tony Benn and the hard left rump increased and maintained their
opposition to the growing beast of the EU, as it gobbled up political and
administrative power, the Labour Party itself, in government and out of it,
gave its support. The unions too eventually fell in line with the project,
despite the European Union's obvious anti-union, anti democratic nature.
One notorious EU laws The EU Posted Workers' Directive  ( the one used
against workers at the Lindsay Oil refinery) ensures that low paid migrant
workers can be denied local union rates; workers can be moved into a
country by a company which only has to pay the wages they might have
received in their country of origin as long as it is the same as the minimum
local wage).  Not what the unions were expecting when  Jacques Delors
made  a speech to the TUC in 1988 that perhaps turned left wing opinion in
favour of the EU.

Facing a TUC that had been badly bloodied by the Thatcher government,
and a left that had just lost its third general election in a row, EU
Commissioner Jacques Delors (the unelected head of the unelected EU
government) offered them the prospect of achieving some of the kinds of
measures they wanted, without the need to win a mandate for them at the
ballot box; These were social democratic measures, mainly in the realm of
employment regulation, measures that ameliorate the conditions of the
poor without altering their cause, low pay. In other words he offered them
Social Democracy by the back door, Capitalism by the front.

And there can and could be no mistake about the capitalist nature of the
European Union and its forebear; These are its four “freedoms” upon
which it declares itself to be built; the free movement of capital; the free
movement of goods; the free movement of services; the free movement of
labour; all the conditions necessary to ensure maximum profits for big
business and the banks. Corporate Capitalism was now enthroned, not just
as our economic system but now as our political one too; as the free trade
club in a spectacular and ingenious move, went beyond its natural realm of
economics and sought to place itself in the political sphere, like a giant
cuckoo, to replace its potential rivals to its power, by making itself the
government. Not even the giant corporations have gone so far in their
audacity as to replace democracy rather than simply try to undermine it.

The nearest analogy is how the cartel of private banks in America formed
up together and called themselves the Federal Reserve, giving an
impression which lasts to this day, of being an arm of the state, whereas
they are in fact a private organisation. But the EU has gone way beyond
that.


The result is that now we have an organisation devoted solely to free
market principles and no other, which has replaced with its largely
undemocratic processes, the several democracies of Europe. With their
eclipse goes the chance of the peoples of Europe to have a voice, any
chance to oppose or even mitigate the direction of economic and social life
decreed by capitalism.  That is the price the left had to pay in their deal
with the devil. The day the left sold its soul for a scattering of employment
regulations.

The chief impression the average left wing middle class voter has of the  
European Union is that created by precisely this deal; a vague notion of
progressive measures in areas of welfare in work, such as maternity leave,
and health and safety. This impression isn't regulated by any very precise
comparison with what was already available in our domestic laws, and any
evaluation of how much these peripheral benefits if such they be,  are
worth. People don't ask if they are worth exchanging democracy for
because they don't know that is what they are being asked to do; they don't
know because they are unaware of this one simple fact; the European
elections do not decide the government of the EU. That is an appointed
body; there are no MEPS in that government and never have been. When
we vote for the MEPS, we are voting for, at best, a rubber stamp with a
right of scrutiny; The EU government is appointed. But its laws take
precedence over our own. Ignorance about how the  European Union
actually works accounts for a large percentage of our acquiescence to its
demands upon us.

Aside from this is perhaps something else, something deeper and even
more pervasive than ignorance itself; a cynicism about democracy that is
born of disappointment and frustration with its failure to deliver certain
important overdue improvements, namely to end the gross inequalities
that still degrade our society, and condemn 11million to lives of grinding
poverty for generation after generation.

This is no small failing, and it would be no surprise if the 11 million poor
would feel cynical about a system that claims to allow for the interests of
the whole population to be considered, and yet ignores the sore plight of so
many. But it would still not explain why they would instead give their
support to a body whose express intention is to remove their democratic
rights and uphold the four principle requirements of free trade capitalism,
the very system that put them where they are.

But it is not anyway, as far as the polls have so far shown, these 11 million
worst off who will be voting in favour of the EU in one years time. Instead it
is the same middle class left who have shared in the re-shaping of the
Labour Party into one of non-conservative capitalist managers.

But if you ask the average middle class left wingers about the EU, apart
from displaying their ignorance of its undemocratic nature, its unelected
government, they will say that they believe it to be vaguelyleft wing they
perceive it as being on the whole more left wing than the average British
parliament, even perhaps that it has the welfare of the people more at heart
than the British parliament. (remember the powerful executive of the EU is
not from the European Parliament, but is the appointed Commission).
They might also say that the EU is in favour of immigration, while its
opponents are against it. All this despite the fact that the EU is anti-
democratic, and persistently anti union (for example ruling against and
heavily fining a Swedish Union that tried to secure union rates for migrant
workers), and as far as welfare of  the people is concerned, is predicated
solely upon capitalist economic principles and has no other concerns; and
despite the fact that the European Union superstate has strict border
controls against non-EU immigration, whereas the British parliament has
welcomed immigrants from outside Europe for hundreds of years, and it is
only now, when under pressure from the EU migrant system that the
immigration that has made us who we are today is finally at risk of being
reduced.

They might also say that the EU is an ideal above petty nationalisms and
parochial priorities, the antidote to the perceived Little Englander; this
despite the fact that the EU is at best nothing more than another state, only
this time a superstate of 450 million born solely out of economic
imperatives, with hard borders against non-EU immigrants, and an inward
looking Eurocentric view of the world, not least of trade, whose endless
restrictions and regulations actually hamper trade with the world at large.  
A superstate with the largest unelected regime outside China. A superstate
with where a coup d'etat has put back in power the administrative elite
whose grip on power democracy has struggled to loosen.  To invest your
idealism in a worse, more backward version of what you profess yourself
dissatisfied with is no idealism at all, and more like an impatient resort to
totalitarianism to settle intractable problems.

They usually say the EU preserves peace, when we know that the last time
they abolished democracy in Europe 20 million people died. Maybe they
think that war can be stopped by making smaller countries into one big
country; well haven't they heard of civil war? They can surely remember
what happened in Yugoslavia when countries pressed together by an
economic imperative finally tore each other to pieces, not least because
they had been un-naturally pressed together.(Remember it was EU troops,
Dutch, who stood by while the greatest mass murder since 1945 was
committed in Srbrenika, and eventually NATO had to intervene)

They might say the EU is good for trade when 80% of potential markets are
outside Europe.(Gordon Brown said that the old policies of trade bloc
Europe were not just “out of date but counter productive for the global
era.")

Historically the left were instrumental in gaining democratic rights for the
people. Now it seems their inheritors are on the verge of giving it away on
little more than a whim, or from being ill-informed. We should beware of
giving away what we cannot take back.

There was a time when the left were democrats; but there has always been a
strain of leftwingism that was impatient of democracy, and wanted to get
what they wanted by other means. But there has not until now been a left
who have abandoned democracy in favour of a capitalist junta; that is a
really peculiar development, and one which hopefully will be dispelled as
people grow more informed about the EU over the coming year.

Perhaps somewhere, those who have decided not to bother fighting any
more for equality, are content to see the means of that struggle, democracy
and politics, removed by a group of administrators who know better what is
good for us. Maybe throwing over the old fashioned establishment for one
who seem more modern gives them all the satisfaction they can ever hope
to get, no matter how complete an overturning of left wing values it
represents. Perhaps there is a loss of faith in the freedom to decide, or an
unwillingness to carry the burden of choice and the burden of blame

But if anyone on the left thinks that something remains to be won, such as
equality of wealth, pay, better housing conditions, in Britain, then they had
better make sure that we preserve the right to chose and dismiss our
governments; if anyone thinks that at some point they  might want to elect
a government that wants to right the wrongs of our society and that has the
power to do so, then we had better make sure that the political will is not
dissolved amongst that of 400 million others with other ideas, and that our
elected parliament has the power to make laws that are not overruled by
the EU laws made to serve the needs of big business.

David Milliband laments the turn to the left (sic) that he sees in brother Ed's
leadership, and says the only way Labour can win elections is to be Blairite.
He also says that even talk of leaving the EU is "dangerous". He has noticed
that his American friends seem to want us to stay. Reason enough to leave.
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