This constant banging on about people wanting ‘facts’ upon which to decide on the EU referendum is driving me crazy.
All the ‘facts’ are contested and those that aren’t are inconclusive.
As always in politics we are each of us going to have make a judgement based on our experience and values.
Calls for ‘facts’ are an attempt to avoid having to make such a judgement, the idea being that the ‘facts’ will determine that only one choice is rational. But this is rarely the case in politics or indeed economics, as the meaning of ‘facts’ always has to be interpreted, especially if they are being used to ‘predict’ future outcomes.
So having examined the facts to the extent I have been able, I have concluded the following:
1./ The EU is a profoundly undemocratic instrument of global neoliberal capitalism.
2./ The EU political project of federalising Europe has been pursued surreptitiously and bureaucratically and is not a project I support because I think a federal Europe is both politically undesirable and democratically unachievable.
3./ The EU is probably beyond ‘reform’ and will probably need to disintegrate before an alternative economic EU can be rebuilt.
4./ That disintegration could be initiated by Brexit.
Thus clearly I will be voting Brexit? Except I won’t. Why?
Because the referendum is taking place with neoliberal hegemony in the UK still in place. The right-wing Brexiteers are arguing that the EU is not neoliberal enough and a referendum vote for Brexit would mark a massive leap to the right in UK politics and in the short-term would almost certainly rapidly accelerate the dismantling of the NHS and the welfare state and the removal of workers rights.
For the first time in 35 years there is a possibility that the global neoliberal hegemony in the West is fragmenting. We could be living in a transitional era. We could be seeing the beginning of the post-Neoliberal age. The next UK election could be as important as the election of Thatcher in 1979 that began the Neoliberal era.
A vote for Brexit and a triumph for the right in UK politics will be a huge step backwards and possibly postpone the end of Neoliberal hegemony in the UK by ten years.
So, like Paul Mason, I will be voting to remain, not because I believe in the EU, I don’t, but because to vote for Brexit now would be to hand the far-right in the UK a victory that would be a significant set back for the progressive anti-austerity agenda.