Okay, after considerable thought and research I have decided that I will be voting to stay in the EU.
I was initially persuaded by the traditional left-wing argument against the EU, that it was founded as an institution of global capitalism and will always be such, but I am now persuaded that the British working class will have more chance of resisting global capitalism by collaborating with our European comrades from within the EU than we would fighting from within atomised nation states. This is some of my thinking:
- The struggle of the left v right, the people v the elite, goes on whether we are in the EU or not.
- Capital is global. Corporate global capitalism is today more powerful than nation states. The European working class working within the EU stand more chance of protecting and indeed improving the social and political standards and rights of the citizens of the UK against the oppressive forces of global capital, than the working class of any individual nation operating outside of the EU.
- UK ‘democracy’ is no more meaningful than EU democracy. Our first-past-the-post system means that the current government with only 24% of the potential vote can act as an elected dictatorship and pursue policies never approved by of the majority of the electorate.
- EU democracy is still forming and the combined power of the European working class could determine the direction of travel of EU democracy. See Yanis Varoufakis http://diem25.org.
- Although the EU IS currently an institution of global neoliberal hegemony, this is largely because the majority of governments of nation states in the EU share the neoliberal ideology. Infant, you could argue that the current neoliberal character of the EU actually confirms the effectiveness of EU democracy because it demonstrates that the EU reflects the aggregate views of the elected governments of the nation states.
- In terms of ‘business’ and the ability of the UK to ‘compete in the global market’, if, as the Brexiteers claim, the UK can’t influence or control the EU from within, what chance would the UK alone have of ‘influencing’ say China? For example how could the UK alone halt the dumping of cheap, state-subsidised, Chinese steel in our markets? UK protectionist tariffs would be met with retaliatory measures from China and the UK would not have the resources to resist. On the other hand the EU could resist Chinese economic power and indeed on steel would have done if the UK Tories had not vetoed the proposed protectionist tariffs!
- It wasn’t the EU that destroyed UK manufacturing it was Thatcher’s Neoliberalism.
- If we leave the EU we will nonetheless HAVE to have a trade deal with the EU, we MUST have access to the European ‘free market’ zone. The evidence of Norway indicates that such a trade deal will involve accepting much of EU legislation, standards and rights but with no input at all into there devising.
So all in all, I’m now voting in.
There are for me still outstanding issues and I am not an enthusiast for the EU.
There is a ‘democratic deficit’ in the EU and it has to be addressed. But it could be addressed and the European Left simply have to fight for a socialist vision of the EU. And that fight is no different to the fight we face within the UK. Leaving the EU doesn’t make that fight easier.
The currency and competition rules of the EU have been framed in such a way that the ability of nation states to plan their economies in a socialist or even Keynesian way are significantly hindered. This needs to be changed and as above it is up to the European left to make the case and push for change.
The other big issue with the EU is more intractable, and that is the economic dominance of Germany. The united Germany has a population of 80 million (UK 64, France 63) and the success of the German economy means Germany’s dominance in the UK cannot be denied and has profound implications for smaller nations – as Greece found out. But a dominant Germany without the institutions of the EU would manifestly be more dangerous than a Germany constrained by the rules of the EU, so again I am left convinced that staying in is a better way to deal with the problem than leaving.