Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 49 Number 18, October 19, 2019 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Brexit Shambles and the Need for Democratic Renewal

As MPs sit today, October 19, in the House of Commons on "Super Saturday" for the first time since the Malvinas conflict, it looks likely that the Amendment tabled by Oliver Letwin will prevail. This will trigger a letter from the government to the European Union requesting a further extension to Britain's leaving the EU. Thus the can is likely to be kicked even further down the road than the deadline of October 31.

What the people cannot allow is that they get disorientated by an agenda which is not theirs and over which they have no control.

When it comes to the economy, for example, the issue is not to remain in or leave the European Union in the hope or belief that that is going to resolve the economic crisis, the austerity working people are facing, the precarious employment, zero contracts, lack of jobs, destruction of whole industries such as steel, mining, or car production, and in social services the agenda of privatisation and cut-backs. True, there are arguments from working people on whether Remain or Leave would ameliorate the situation. But it is working people who still struggle for their rights. And crucially in the course of this it inevitably presents itself that they should discuss how they can possibly control the direction of the economy, and what this must be.

And the fact is that the Brexit shambles where Westminster politics is showing itself incapable of sorting out these crucial questions points to the fact that working people cannot hand over authorship of their interests to the MPs as "representatives" in the system of "representative democracy". How dysfunctional can you get when the House of Commons has no confidence in the government, which has a 100% record in losing the divisions, yet the government carries on regardless.

Who is in control? The archaic system shows by its dysfunctionality that it is certainly not the people. Above them is a higher power which acts supposedly in the "national interest". This is what the dysfunctionality is demonstrating more than anything. And it is working to deprive the people themselves of their own outlook. And the attempt to raise passions and hysteria to create divisions among the people to this end should also be decisively rejected.

The deal presented to Parliament by Boris Johnson is being criticised by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party as a whole and others as doing nothing to guarantee the rights of the people or the health of the economy. It is being rejected from that viewpoint, as was Theresa May's deal. But it should also be remembered that it is the European Union's deal. And it is clearly not the case that working people of all national backgrounds were not fighting to affirm their rights while Britain has been in the European Union. In fact, matters have deteriorated for the working people, with attacks on their conditions of work and strengthening the control of the economy by the financial oligarchy with its agenda of austerity and privatisation. In other words, there is the broad horizon to consider, the fact that while people are organising to defend their rights they also are struggling to find political and social forms in which they are able to speak in their own name and make this decisive.

The youth in this situation, for example, are taking a stand that what is at stake is to advance towards a new society, in which the interests of human beings are put at the centre, and the natural and social environments are humanised. And this is what the people demand of their political parties, yet the cartel party system excludes them. This is a far cry from the attempts to limit their horizons to travelling about Europe without hindrance.

Especially on the question of Brexit, people cannot afford to be tied down to the narrow horizons of Leave or Remain, but set their sights on democratic renewal of a dysfunctional system that would be classed as shambolic were it not that the seriousness of the political crisis is very profound and presents a dangerous situation for the people. It is not a question of personalities and their qualities, but one of resolving how the public interest can be served by the people speaking in their own name, and in that sense becoming sovereign with appropriate decision-making forms which harmonise individual and collective interests, together with the interests of society as a whole.

This is very much consonant with the urgent need for an Anti-War Government, a state-form with a democratic personality, in opposition to everything we know about pro-war governance serving the interests of financial oligarchies under the fiction of a person of state above us in which decision-making power is vested.

People's empowerment, on the contrary, is the requirement of the times, and this is the essence of what the working class and people's movement is organising towards. Let us leave the shambles of Brexit behind, discuss what favours our movements, end the marginalisation of the organised working class, get involved in the great motion to change society, and dare to envision the persona of a modern democratic state.


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