Kolektivně proti kapitálu October/November 2016 . .
The idea of holding a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU began as a promise by then Prime Minister Cameron to the “Euroskeptic” right wing of the Tory Party in January 2013.1 The Tories won the general election in May 2015 with an overall parliamentary majority so they had to go through with it. On 23 June 2016, a majority of UK citizens who turned out to vote (certainly not a majority of registered voters, much less a majority of the adult population), 52%, voted in favor of leaving the European Union.
The most important thing to understand is that nobody expected the Leave vote to win, least of all the “Brexiteers” themselves! Britain’s major political parties were not prepared for it, and neither were most big companies (despite the modern focus on “business continuity” and “disaster recovery”). The consequences of this are that the Tory Party, the Labour Party and even UKIP (the party whose whole raison d’être was Brexit) were thrown into crisis and the economy is sinking as uncertainty delays investment and complicates terms of trade.
The Leave vote can certainly be seen as a kind of “protest vote” — this was clearly demonstrated by the fact that the “Leavers” didn’t expect to win and had no idea what to do when they did! It can be seen as part of the rise of “right-wing nihilism.” In the 1970s it was punks, hippies, and anarchists who said “fuck the system” without caring too much about what to replace it with — now it’s disaffected nationalists and social conservatives. Antiglobalization is the modern “socialism of fools” (as leading German Social Democrat, August Bebel said of antisemitism).2 It’s an ideology which really grew to prominence among the liberal left in the 1990s, but now it’s increasingly the right — Trump, Putin, UKIP, Front Nationale, etc. — who are its standard-bearers.
On a global level, victory for the Leave campaign is part of a wider tendency towards economic protectionism and isolationism (accompanied by bigger or smaller doses of racism and xenophobia) facilitated by a rise of political “populists”3 — “populist” in the sense of just spouting a collection of crowd-pleasing slogans with no concrete program addressing either the material concerns of their followers or the problems faced by capital accumulation.
The EU migrants’ ordeal and the limits of direct action
We begin this article with a case dealt with by Brighton Solfed (SF) and CASE Central social center — the story of an EU migrant in Brighton.
At the end of 2015, L., a Spanish hospitality worker, sought help from SF. She had worked in a restaurant for more than a year but, as soon as she fell ill, her employer sacked her with a flimsy excuse, in order to avoid paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Receiving SSP would have been this worker’s right under both domestic and European Union (EU) legislation. However, the employer insisted that she left her job voluntarily, and refused to re-employ here.
One then claimed a sickness benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). As an EU worker, she should have been entitled to equal rights under EU legislation, and to ESA. However, the state refused the benefit: they said that, due [to] a “gap” between the end of her job and her claim, she was no longer a “worker” when she claimed ESA. A benefits advice group helped with an appeal, but the state refused to reconsider. L. was in a desperate situation, with no money and far from her family, and was tempted to move back to Spain. This would amount to economic deportation — not imposed through physical force, but through extreme hardship.
Back in [the] 1970s the UK’s membership of the European Common Market was opposed by left-wing militants, as the Common Market was seen as a neoliberal club designed to prevent the advance of socialism, or just the implementation of Keynesian policies. Continue reading →
Glad the British Parliament stood up and finally determined not to be the US’ bomber-buddy. Funny though, because what’s being projected for Syria is so much less involved than in Iraq, and they went in all guns blazing with that one. Somewhat surprised, to be honest. Apparently the Blairites are going ballistic — threatening to resign, moralizing blather about the West’s supposed “humanitarian” duty, and similar histrionics.