There is a persuasive view that for a broad section of the British population, especially the working class, a vote to leave the EU is a way of complaining about being short-changed by their rulers. In these heady days of zero-hours contracts the establishment appears to have forgotten that the natives -unlike recent immigrants – have been loyal to British imperialism for over a century. In short a Brexit vote is a reminder that an understanding has been breached. It is an appeal for more food parcels, not a menace to profit-taking.
How can complaints about capitalist market discipline be resolved in a crisis-ridden world economy, if the complainers want to keep the system that enforces that discipline, and especially the imperial privileges that accrue to one of the leading powers? If the complainers understood this problem, then progressive politics would be in with a chance. However, that is not the case in the UK, or in a number of other rich countries where the working class is loyal to its powerful state. Instead, the political logic is for pro-imperialist policies to win the day. If you want to oppose the depredations of capitalism and imperialism, then please do so, but this is not what the Brexit debate is about. Above all, remember the classic revolutionary phrase: ‘the enemy is at home’.
There is every reason to take the point seriously. I have seen how the struggle against apartheid was stripped of its socialist imperative and reduced to populist anti-racism sop. A generation is now mired in inequality and hopelessness, the main enemy still.at home.
Paul Mason – while acknowledging the EU is an extortion racket whose failures fuel racism and bless the far right -argues that a leave vote would be disastrous.
The conservative right could have conducted the leave campaign on the issues of democracy, rule of law and UK sovereignty, leaving the economics to the outcome of a subsequent election. Instead, Johnson and the Tory right are seeking a mandate via the referendum for a return to full-blown Thatcherism: less employment regulation, lower wages, fewer constraints on business. If Britain votes Brexit, then Johnson and Gove stand ready to seize control of the Tory party and turn Britain into a neoliberal fantasy island…So even for those who support the leftwing case for Brexit, it is sensible to argue: not now. The time to confront Europe over a leftwing agenda is when you have a Labour government, and the EU is resisting it.
I may have misread the plot but I thought democracy, rule of law and sovereignty have been ‘internally devalued’, marked to market and settled as newspeak; that neoliberal fantasy is now the nightmare of reality; that we’re way past vintage Thatcherism, into sacking and looting the isles and quietly constructing the same fascism as our European counterparts.
Bluntly, a Brexit vote offers a singular opportunity for resisting the corporate state which must inevitably consign a large part of the native working class to the precariat. It will help shatter the Westminster consensus that smothers a class struggle in slime and perilously obfuscates reality.
The rich are getting richer. By 2014 the combined wealth of the 1000 richest people in the UK had risen to £519 billion, a 55% rise in just 4 years. And these were the same four years in which most of the people in the UK became poorer, in which food banks became normal, in which evictions arose and life expectancy for elderly women fell. Just spreading that rise over every family in the UK would have made each over £6000 better off… A year later in 2015 the wealth of the richest 1000 families had grown again by £28 billion in little more than a year… They doubled their money in just 6 years…If this trend continues the UK will become a place where the majority of people will pay most of their future income in rent to the rich.
The sharp surge in inequality has been pinned on the Bank of England’s efforts to stimulate a recession-ravaged economy by pumping some £375 billion into the system. Here’s the Positive Money analysis.
The newly created money…went directly into the financial markets, boosting bond and stock markets nearly to their highest level in history…However, 40% of the stock market is owned by the wealthiest 5% of the population, so while most families saw no benefit from Quantitative Easing, the richest 5% of households would have each been up to £128,000 better off. Very little of the money created through QE boosted the real (non-financial) economy. The Bank of England estimates that the £375 billion of QE led to 1.5-2% growth in GDP… It’s incredibly ineffective, because it relies on boosting the wealth of the already-wealthy and hoping that they increase their spending. In other words, it relies on a ‘trickle down’ theory of wealth. A far more effective way to boost the economy would have been for the Bank of England to create money, grant it directly to the government, and allow the government to spend it directly into the real economy.
Unlike the usual two-step hustle, where governments borrow rather than tax and then impose austerity to pay, this is simply exercising the right of the nation to issue its own currency. It shows there is no reason for the government to be blackmailed or the economy bled by banks. The untold truth about quantitative easing, said Richard Murphy in 2012, is “it simply cancels debt – and that means national debt is now just 45.1% of GDP.”
I am saying that the arrangements used in QE hide this economic reality… what is happening in QE is that money is being printed to clear the government’s deficit and that debt is not really being issued at all. Precisely because we are in a slump – not just a recession – that money can be printed without major fear of inflation, and indeed without inflation risk at all if the banks could be kept out of the loop…it means Labour can honestly say it is not constrained by having to repay debt to future generations – because well over half of all debt issued since 2008 has already been repaid. That doesn’t mean we’re not still in crisis. All this can happen simply because we’re in a slump. But what it does mean is that the slump and not the debt should be the focus for debate precisely because it is the real issue.
The slump is of course simply the expression of an inherent feature of capitalism – the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Far better to obsess about debt and deficits, impose austerity, punish the poor and preserve profits. But these are extraordinary times and this is not just another of capitalism’s recurring crises.
Professor Wolfgang Streeck, director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, says for almost four decades rising inequality has been accompanied by a persistent increase in overall debt and steadily declining economic growth, mutually reinforcing trends reflecting a protracted and inexorable process of decay. Capitalism has ceased to be a self-reproducing, sustainable, predictable and legitimate social order.
The image I have of the end of capitalism—an end that I believe is already under way—is one of a social system in chronic disrepair, for reasons of its own and regardless of the absence of a viable alternative… In contrast to the 1930s, there is today no political-economic formula on the horizon, left or right, that might provide capitalist societies with a coherent new regime of regulation. Social integration as well as system integration seem irreversibly damaged and set to deteriorate further…Eventually, the myriad provisional fixes devised for short-term crisis management will collapse under the weight of the daily disasters produced by a social order in profound, anomic disarray.
The intervention of the European Central Bank since the onset of the debt crisis in Greece in May 2010 has been ruthless. Under cover of the fallacious claim that irresponsible state spending was responsible for the crisis, the ECB has terrorised governments, toppled prime ministers (Greece and Italy) and installed unelected technocrats. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland have all felt the lash of the Troika as ever harsher spending cuts were demanded in violation of social and economic rights.
By contrast the ECB has provided vast quantities of easy liquidity to banks, swopped reserve bank money for hundreds of billions of toxic assets and facilitated the mass transfer of risk to the public sphere. It’s austerity for the people and welfare for the banks say Andrew Bowman and Leigh Phillips. They ominously note:
The ECB vision, expressed on a number of public occasions … involves two aspects: a radical liberalising programme of labour market deregulation, pensions restructuring and wage deflation on the one hand; and on the other for fiscal policy to be taken out of the hands of parliaments and placed in the hands of ‘experts’ – in the long-term an EU finance ministry – in the same way that monetary policy has been removed from democratic chambers and placed in the hands of Frankfurt…Both the Bank of England and, it now seems likely, the ECB are to be handed additional responsibilities in bank regulation. If the pattern continues, it is one of governments moving ever greater responsibility for economic decision‑making beyond the sphere of democratic control.
Bank welfare now includes the European Stability Mechanism, a permanent bailout fund for private banks with no ceiling set on the obligations to be underwritten by taxpayers, no leeway to negotiate, and no recourse in court. Bail-ins, instituted this year, allow losses to be imposed on depositors threatening the life savings of families and the capital of small businesses. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will reduce governments to window-dressing and move bankers a step closer to ruling the world.
Meanwhile the eurozone jobs crisis is encouraging more southern European migrants to head for the UK to join those from the east. Migration Observatory based at Oxford University reports that in five years (2011-2015) the number of EU nationals living in the UK has gone up by almost 700,000 to 3.3 million – more than doubling since 2004. Almost half were from Poland and Romania but Spain, Italy and Portugal – which shed a million jobs in the same period – accounted for 24%.
Gearóid Ó Colmáin’s excellent series on ‘coercive engineered migration’ suggests the need for more careful analysis than hashtag activism provides. David Cameron and Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban (demonised for legally trying to seal his country’s borders) have quite different reasons for opposing immigration.
To attempt, as some analysts have done, to portray Victor Orban as part of the reactionary, imperialist, xenophobic right is to oversimplify the complex interplay of ideological and geopolitical forces in the current global political arena and, in particular, the deep forces determining the generation and management of the refugee/migrant crisis…British Prime Minister David Cameron plays up his opposition to immigration. But this has nothing to do with the real agenda of the British government. Cameron’s anti-immigration policies are simply the appeal to xenophobia which the Tories require to maintain their electoral votes. Cameron’s regime serves international finance capitalism in its most brutal form and finance capitalism needs constant immigration. Orban’s objections are based more on his conflict with finance capitalism and his criticisms of the liberal ideology driving globalisation.
Europe’s migrant crisis is not a spontaneous development. ‘The weaponisation of the refugee’ is part of a sinister agenda to ethnically cleanse Europe of national sentiment and solidarity in the interests of global corporations.
A key ‘weapon’ used in 2011 by imperialism to destroy the institutions of the nation-state was the smartphone. Thousands of smartphones were provided to US-funded ‘activists’ during Zionism’s ‘Arab Spring’. It is unsurprising, therefore, to see that smartphones are being supplied to thousands of migrants by NGOs once they arrive in Europe…Austrian intelligence officials have reportedly revealed that US government agencies are paying for the transport of migrants to Europe. On August 5th, 2015 Austrian magazine Infodirekt reported: “It has come to our knowledge that US organisations are paying for the boats taking thousands of refugees to Europe. US organisations have created a co-financing scheme which provides for a considerable portion of the transportation costs. Not every refugee from North Africa has 11,000 Euro cash. Nobody is asking, where is the money coming from?”
South Africa under apartheid showed there are scarcely any limits to the scale and ambition of social engineering. There was method in the madness and a need to complete the project before resistance reached critical mass.
The political and financial elite know that pumping fiat money into the system to try to save capitalism cannot go on forever; that austerity must eventually morph into neo-feudal bondage. A bogus war on terror and an increasing number of false flags in the European heartland have set the tone for concentration camps and martial law. The US runs a war economy and the nuclear option is on the table as it confronts Russia and China. Little Britain enjoys an especial relationship with the tyrant. NATO and the EU are now joined at the hip.
There is a deadline. Earlier this year we reached the point at which global warming became a serious threat to life on the planet. The ruling elite does not intend to go extinct. Breaking up the EU is not part of its plan for survival and continued domination.