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No to the EU of the Monopolies!:
Commentary: The Debate on the EU Referendum Must Not Be Framed in a Chauvinist Manner
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March 16 marks the 37th anniversary of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).
When the Party held its 3rd Congress in 1999, on the threshold of the new millennium, it declared that the Party of John Buckle, Cornelius Cardew and many other comrades who worked to the utmost to build the Party and give it life had not only survived, but that it was taking up the challenge to set the agenda for resolving the problems society faced in the political, economic, social and other spheres. The Party said that this involved setting the line of march to a new society which has the concerns of the vast majority of the people as its basis.
RCPB(ML) pointed out that in this period there is very big pressure for people to say that the movement is everything, that getting involved with and intervening in the movement is the main thing, while the Party's work comes nowhere. "Our Party, however," the Congress stressed, "is constituted on the basis that the objective conditions are over-ripe for revolution but the subjective conditions lag behind. Our entire raison d'etre, therefore, is to prepare these subjective conditions for revolution." The Party, in discussing the question of the form of democratic centralism, pointed out that its defence is one of defending form once content had been decided. "If any concession is made on the question of iron discipline then nothing will be accomplished."
The celebration and seminar two years ago to mark the 35th anniversary of RCPB(ML) raised the issue that the times are calling for building the Party in the 21st century. It set as its theme that of learning from the example of John Buckle and the work to found the Party and lead the movements of the working class and people. This seminar pointed out that the important struggles being carried out by the working class and people's movements such as safeguarding the right to a health service, the right to education, for a future without war, to settle scores with the imperialist elite, are part of one struggle: they are reserves of the struggle of the working class to change society through its revolutionary transformation. The central struggle is that of empowerment, and the Party's method of work is key, for instance the question of the conscious participation in setting the agenda, working out what favours the interests of the working class within the situation. The seminar underlined that importance in this respect of the question of democratic renewal, the renewal of the political processes and institutions. The seminar issued the call to come and join in and contribute to the work of releasing that human power which will avert the danger of war and build a society with human beings at the centre.
2016 began with a political session organised by RCPB(ML), which set out to capture the momentum built up since the 35th anniversary and provide inspiration for the tasks of the future. At its centre was the discussion on how to successfully develop the work for change in 2016, the necessity to organise the working class and people for change and go all out to defeat the austerity agenda and work to bring into being an anti-war government. The situation clearly cries out for change, the gathering summed up. The people's yearnings and aspirations are not simply for some reforms, but for some fundamental change, for a different kind of world in which the people are at the centre.
RCPB(ML) poses the question for solution: should not the Party build itself in the heart of the working class so that the class is organised and made conscious that it must take control of what belongs to it and empower the broad masses of the people? The Party is confident that it must be built professionally and with discipline, on these lines, and that this is the way forward which will weld all the movements of the working class and people into that torrent which will deprive the ruling elite of its power to deprive the working class and people of that power which is rightfully theirs, which the 21st century is demanding.
A red salute to all those forces working for change, democratic
renewal and empowerment!
Long Live RCPB(ML)!
Workers of All Countries, Unite!
On Wednesday, March 16, Chancellor George Osborne announced the budget. Yet again, he declared further austerity, with spending falling to less than 37% of GDP by 2020 through new cuts of £3.5bn. Not that anybody was expecting any diversion from the government in this respect. Last year's budget, which took place in the context of an election being fought over the issue of austerity and the rights of all, thoroughly represented the continuing austerity agenda and was widely criticised as an attempt to mislead. The Autumn Statement and Spending Review in November likewise reflected a determination to press ahead with austerity in the face of growing and developing opposition.
Amongst the measures, it was announced that, by 2022, every school in England is to be converted into an Academy, the current favoured form to further the role of private interests in the education system. There is to be continued backing for controversial infrastructure projects as demanded by big capital, such as the HS3 rail line. And much coverage is currently be given to the £4bn cuts to disability benefits that contributing to disarray within the Conservative Party itself, such as Friday's resignation of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
This year, the arguments for further austerity given by the Chancellor have centred on uncertainty over the global economy. The tone has been to create fear that the situation is getting ever more fragile. In his budget speech, Osborne repeated over and over the phrase: "act now so we don't pay later".
"The British economy is resilient because whatever the challenge, however strong the headwinds, we have held to the course we set out. I must tell the House that we face such a challenge now. Financial markets are turbulent. Productivity growth across the west is too low. And the outlook for the global economy is weak. It makes for a dangerous cocktail of risks. But one that Britain is well-prepared to handle, if we act now so we don't pay later."
"Five years ago we set out on a long term plan. Because we wanted to make sure that Britain never again was powerless in the face of global storms. We said then that we would do the hard work to take control of our destiny and put our own house in order. Five years later our economy is strong, but the storm clouds are gathering again. Our response to this new challenge is clear. We act now so we don't pay later."
For all the talk of a "long term plan", this is a world apart from one where human beings have conscious control of the the economy. The picture is one of untamed weather, where the best one can do is hunker down. As for the "plan", Osborne had to admit to failure even on his own terms, having been unable to deliver the promised reduction in the national debt as a proportion of GDP, despite the massive cuts. Specifically, though the debt is projected to be £9bn this financial year, as a fraction of GDP its forecast has been revised upwards to 82.6% next financial year and remaining around 80% for the following three years. Borrowing predictions have also been revised upwards.
In the face of uncertainty, some kind of decision-making is needed. Then the issue is who decides and what perspective and what theory guides the decisions. In whose interests is the economy being run? What is the measure of success? Osborne cannot answer such questions. Firstly, because of the need to obscure that the government represents the interests of the monopolies; and secondly, because these interests are themselves the problem. The monopolies, in accord with their private empire-building aims, demand the ability to accumulate vast reservoirs of wealth to offset the law of a falling rate of profit. They refuse to even recognise this law, which leaves them with no theory: their outlook is fundamentally anti-conscious. They are overwhelmed by the markets that they themselves dominate. They have no power of prediction beyond the saying, "red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning".
The alternative is based on a pro-social, human-centred perspective of the economy, where the economy is run to satisfy the needs of human beings. It should be pro-worker, and the working class and social programmes should have first claim on the economy. The economy should be planned on this basis with control over prices, etc. Arrangements should be put in place with that aim.
The budget was announced in this period leading up to the EU referendum. This is the other aspect of the fear-mongering, which is being carried out from all quarters at present. Osborne used his speech to promote the Office of Budget Responsibility's less-than-subtle intervention by quoting them directly: "a vote to leave in the forthcoming referendum could usher in an extended period of uncertainty regarding the precise terms of the UK's future relationship with the EU. This could have negative implications for activity via business and consumer confidence and might result in greater volatility in financial and other asset markets." Even here, he was selectively quoting to suit his case.
How could the EU with its neo-liberal aims change the situation? It is diametrically opposed to sovereign control over the economy. Rather, leaving the EU of the monopolies is a precondition for people having the control over the economy required to empower their alternative, human-centred perspective. Such an economy can then trade with other countries on the basis of mutual benefit. The solution to economic problems and uncertainty is neither further austerity nor being tied to an empire-building project, whether that be the British, European or US empire-building project.
The need is to make a break with this whole direction. Economic problems and "gathering storms" are problems for solution, to be dealt with in the course of building an economy that favours the people's interests. Besides sowing fear, the government is trying to defraud the population that it is taking less out of the economy by "cutting costs". Instead, people need the mechanisms to restrict the actions of the monopolies, who take more out of the economy than is put in and do not pay for the social programmes on which they critically rely. People need to discuss how the economy can be brought under conscious control, how to organise its operation so that all value is accounted for, bringing a stop to attempts to enforce monopoly will over economic laws, with all of the havoc this activity creates.
One of the most important questions facing the people in the European Union (EU) referendum is how it is being covered by the monopoly media and how the "Remain" versus "Leave" debate is being framed in a chauvinist manner. The issue facing the working class and people is how to seize the initiative and break the limits that are being placed upon it by the ruling elite and re-frame the debate so that it serves their interests.
In the media campaign briefings and news report sound bites one would be forgiven for thinking that the two camps revolved around David Cameron and George Osborne for the "Remain" campaign, and another around Boris Johnson for the "Brexit" campaign. In this way the debate is framed around the vector of what suits the interests of big business, finance capital and the trade of transnational corporations operating in Britain and elsewhere.
On the one hand, the main argument of Cameron and Osborne is one of trying to stampede the "Yes" vote by claiming that Britain's economy, as compared with other countries, is well on the way to "recovery" and leaving the EU would "end" its trade agreements with European countries and "jeopardise" this recovery. Therefore, they argue, Britain would be better off in what they, just as ridiculously, try to claim is now a "reformed" EU. Also, Cameron and Osborne go on to extend this scaremongering to "British jobs", saying that car workers' jobs, for example, would go if Britain left the EU.
On the other hand, the main argument of Boris Johnson for a "Brexit" is limited to the same claim of talking up Britain's economy as a "leader" in the world but that the EU is "burdening" Britain's economy with over-regulation. The argument goes that this over-regulation "costs" Britain's economy and "holds back" Britain's trade with Europe and the world and is the result of the "interference" in the British economy by "Brussels". He also goes on the argue that this is better for "British jobs" because Britain would "control its own borders" and blames an influx of foreign workers for holding back the economy, and so on.
In other words, the way the debate gets framed is in a chauvinist way, around the vector where everything in Britain would be better if only Britain were allowed to carry out its anti-social, pro-austerity, neo-liberal, anti-immigrant agenda on behalf of finance capital, within the EU with the "Remain" campaign, or to carry on this same agenda outside the EU with the "Brexit" campaign. This is the limit that the ruling elite are desperately trying to place on the discussion among the people on the EU referendum. They are well aware of the dangers to this anti-social agenda in a Europe of the monopolies should the people start to seize the initiative in the discussion on the EU referendum, just as the Scottish people seized the agenda for a modern sovereignty of the people in the Scottish referendum on independence.
For the working class and people the necessity is to re-frame the debate on the EU referendum in the way that serves their interests. In spite of the media campaign to limit serious discussion of the issues in the EU referendum, people everywhere are wanting to find out more and discuss within workplaces, schools, colleges, trade unions and communities. In progressive circles, the debate must not be narrowed down to prevent people from seeing the world as it is. So, for example in the trade union circles, both those for remaining and leaving the EU, there is a danger for the discussion to get reduced to what is "good" for British workers, jobs and so forth, creating the illusion that either leaving or remaining protects workers jobs, when the security for jobs lies in the fight of the working class and people themselves to defend the livelihood of all.
For example, the Trade Union Bill is not going to be defeated by staying in the EU, or by leaving but by the fight of the working class against it to provide their right to organise with a guarantee in Britain. In other circles, the discussion gets reduced to whether workers see themselves as European, or British, or the issue gets further confused in left circles to the divisive vector of whether you are "nationalist" or "internationalist". Then alongside this amongst these circles the argument gets promoted for remaining in the EU as more of a "reluctance to leave", almost mirroring Cameron with a call for critical support to "reform the EU".
However, all of these arguments confuse the debate and are a block to releasing the initiative of the people. So, for example, Britain's membership of the EU has nothing to do with whether an individual considers themselves a "European" or an "internationalist". The EU is on the side of neo-liberal imperialist "internationalism", not on the side of the working class and people regardless of their views. The EU of the monopolies wants to decide everything, and the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of those EU forces, such as the Troika, who want to impose monopoly right is wrecking whole economies. The case of Greece is a prime example. The privatisation of European public services and other industries through the "free-trade" laws as well as through sanctioning TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) further allows the penetration of US monopolies for the same purpose. At the same time, Britain as part of the EU, along with the other European powers, is imposing austerity at home and in Europe. The EU has nothing to do with the unity of European countries but quite the opposite. It is a Europe run in the interests of monopolies riding roughshod over the sovereignty of the peoples and their governments.
For the British working class to avoid infection with the chauvinism of the ruling elite, the debate must be framed with the proletarian internationalist perspective of fighting as one with the working peoples of Europe, and upholding the sovereignty of peoples and nations. It is about the interests of the working class and people being served and the necessity for the people to make the decisions on how their society and economy is run. It is about the working class and people discussing how their agenda and their programme can be addressed.
Then the issue workers face is how can they throw a spoke in the wheel of this Europe of the monopolies and the European powers, Britain, France, and Germany who exploit the countries of Europe for huge profits, wrecking their economies and privatising their public services, as they are doing at home in Britain as well.
In the coming months in the run up to the vote on June 23, the working class and people should vigorously take part in this discussion and support building this Workers' Opposition to the EU of the monopolies and the whole austerity agenda of the ruling circles in Britain and through the EU. Deepening the discussion along these lines will break the limits that the ruling elite and the monopoly media are trying to place on the discussion on the EU referendum. To have a serious debate would mean that more and more people will see through the bankruptcy of the "two camps" represented by Cameron, Osborne and Boris Johnson and other vile racists. Such a discussion would let the working class and people see that in the struggle to empower themselves the EU of the monopolies represents a major block to progress. It would further enable the Workers' Opposition to call for a "Leave" vote that unites and serves the interests of all the people and strengthens their demands and the fight for sovereignty to lie with the people and not the monopolies in Britain and elsewhere.
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