The Hard Left Going Soft
It has been revealed that a grassroots group of Jeremy Corbyn supporters and trade unions will launch a major UK speaking tour that will attempt to persuade Mr Corbyn and his allies to adopt a pro-EU position.
The organisers will argue that the Corbyn-led programme of economic reform and nationalising of British industries will only be hampered by a damaging departure from the EU. They will therefore use this opportunity, not to call for a second referendum, but to call for Mr Corbyn to formally reject leaving the EU and make the case for Labour to vote to remain.
However, by calling for the Labour Party to remain within the EU, they are betraying the values that have always characterised the far-left that Jeremy Corbyn supposedly represents.
The reasons for this betrayal have been aptly summed up by Perry Anderson, the former longtime editor of New Left Review who said that: “The E.U. is now widely seen for what it has become: an oligarchic structure, riddled with corruption, built on a denial of any sort of popular sovereignty, enforcing a bitter economic regime of privilege for the few and duress for the many.”
The EU’s authoritarian project of neoliberal integration is a breeding ground for the far right. By sealing off so much policy, including the imposition of long-term austerity measures and mass immigration, from the democratic process, the union has broken the contract between mainstream national politicians and their voters. Such centralisation has opened the door to right-wing populists who claim to represent “the people,” already angry at austerity, against the immigrant.
Think about the the European Commission; it is an appointed body, not elected, and it is proudly unaccountable to any electorate. The European Parliament too is not a real parliament. It is not a legislature; its deputies neither offer manifestoes nor carry out the ideas they propose to voters. The European Council, an intergovernmental body where decisive legislative power actually lies in the hands of the more powerful economies, including Germany, France and the UK. These are institutions, separate from the working population, that only benefit the wealthy.
Mr Corbyn himself fundamentally understand this issue. In 1996 he said that: “the European Bureaucracy is unaccountable to anybody; powers have gone from the National Parliament, they haven’t gone to the European Parliament, they’ve gone to the Commission and to some extent to the Council of Minister’s.”
Mr Corbyn understands that fundamentally, the EU has allowed the rich to get richer and the neoliberal elite to introduce sweeping reforms that have undermined the working class.
Take for example, the news that has emerged today that Jonathan Hill, or Baron Hill of Oareford as he should be correctly called, as a former European Commissioner, he has now been given the plum position of Brexit adviser at UBS. This is a classic “jobs for the boys” scenario; having done his time at this neoliberal organisation, supposedly defending the rights of ordinary citizens, Baron Hill can now earn his millions of pounds per year, whilst the ordinary citizens struggle to make ends meet.
The EU too, paved the way for the the privatisation of the Post Office and the organisational break-up of the railways; it is in tune with austerity and drives a larger and more deadly version in the eurozone; it escalates problems linked to housing, work, wages and education; creates worry and stirs up anger and threatens people’s sense of self. A lazy acceptance of establishment propaganda and a fear of being branded “xenophobic” have silenced many liberals and left-wingers. And yet the EU is driven by big business. This has been a very corporate coup.
Though the Leave slogan was mocked, Brexit really was about “taking back control.” Democracy needs a demos, a people for whom government is of, by and for. Without one, all you have is inter-elite management, treaty law and money grubbing.
Those protesting Mr Corbyn need to have a long, hard think about who they are benefiting. Those of us who are called “Lexiteers” believe that power has been centralised for far too long in the hands of the elites. We must reject this notion, stand up for the working classes and defend our own democracy.