UK-EU REFERENDUM: FALSE CHOICE

PROPOSE THE SOCIALIST EUROPE!

The people of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England are being asked to choose whether the UK should remain ‘in’ the EU [1]– or leave it by voting ‘out’ in the June 2016 British referendum. The last time such vote was taken was in 1975 under the Labour government of Harold Wilson. He campaigned for the ‘in’ whilst Tony Benn and the TUC chose ‘out’. It is important to recall that 52% of the electorate abstained; and that the 67% who wanted to stay ‘in’[2] were only 67% of the 48% who voted. The bourgeois class declared a 67% vote for remaining in the EEC, but the true result was less than 34%. Read J Posadas, “On Europe”, republished April 2012, obtainable on demand. 

 

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FOR A REPUBLICAN AND SOCIALIST EUROPE –

The British masses are not preparing for elections in 2020; they are preparing the trade union and Labour political force to bring down the Tory government, and austerity. As world finance dominates the economy, the need is urgent to organise resistance on a European and international scale. The referendum gives the opportunity to discuss this.

The posadiststoday.com are neither for the ‘in’ nor for the ‘out’ of the EU. They call for debates aimed at uniting the anti-austerity struggles on a European scale, and beyond, where possible. The left political parties, the trade unions and the anti-austerity[3] mass organisations need to create a consistent European front. Strong of the determination of those already fighting austerity, this front must develop the force to challenge the power of multinational capital. This can be advanced regardless of the referendum results, and in that sense, this referendum is a diversion.

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When the EEC was set up, many Trade Union and social-democratic leaders spoke of ‘a Social Europe’ coming. This was and remains impossible, because any capitalist regrouping of Europe can only mean the subjugation of the weakest economies to the strongest ones. This is what happens now. And as Greece is being smashed by the strongest sectors of finance capital[4] the hopes fade for a ‘Social Europe’.

The Russian and Chinese Revolutions proved that the Workers State is the social form of organisation that allows any number of nationalities and languages to unite behind human progress. A capitalist Europe cannot really exist, because each capital competes with the other. The present EU only attenuated the violence of its inner rivalries when it could hope of sharing in the spoils of a conquered third party (with US help)[5].

It is not true that the EU was created to stop another war in Europe, and install peace in Europe! The EU was set up when the large European economies – supported by the US when this suited it -[6] clubbed together to crush the European Workers States under their combined weight. When the US and the strongest EU countries partially succeeded in this, they cannibalised the weaker Workers States. Thinking themselves invulnerable, they looked for capitalist expansion and reproduction through the blitzing of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. When this failed, however, virulent competition returned between them, causing them to start cannibalising each other[7]. Instead of capitalist enlargement, they had only achieved  the further disintegration of the EU.

Aware that their crisis is terminal, the European capitalists use the weapon of austerity to intimidate and brutalise the European masses; they hope, in this way, to stop the European masses from rising to take power. In every EU country today, new laws impose austerity against the already dispossessed. Those laws reduce the right to strike and to picket; they mean to justify the destruction of employment protection and its replacement by precariousness.  In Britain, the Railway workers, the Junior Doctors and the Teachers are fighting against more work, less pay and more unsocial hours. The Trade Union rights are under attack, as well as their right to finance the Labour Party. The anger and rebellion this produces, however, already unifies those sectors (and others) and offer opportunities to improve anti-austerity resistance, in Britain and on a European level.

 

Who are the supporters of ‘in’ and ‘out’ of the EU?

International Peoples Assembly (IPA) in support of Greece
International Peoples Assembly (IPA) in support of Greece

Having set-up this referendum, David Cameron wants an ‘in’ result. He belongs to a bourgeois layer tied to trade, armaments, war preparations and Nato. But his is not just a national affair: through Obama, the US too feels entitled to speak against a Brexit[8] – for it normally uses the UK to control the EU. Beyond this, what concerns the US and world capitalism the most, is the impact of a Brexit on other shaky European regions, and on Nato itself!

The official Cameron’s ‘in’ camp generally conceals that its main motive is to keep at least an appearance of world capitalist homogeneity against Russia and China; but the ‘out’ capitalists do the same, really, when they indict the EU for removing powers from the British parliament, but not for being a vast multinational of armaments’ manufacture, armaments’ sales and war preparations. Behind their EU ‘in-out’ disputes, the two British bourgeois camps hide their class adhesion to Nato, Trident, the mammoth armaments industry, the implacable rule of finance capital, austerity and war.

This bourgeois deceit serves to confuse Communist, Labour and Trade Union currents. Even the most thoughtful easily forget the link between the EU, the US and Nato. From the old Yugoslavia to Ukraine, however, Nato and the EU have worked in regular tandem to pulverise nationalised economies, and get ‘reconstruction’ going on the basis of privatisations and bank loans. The issue of the referendum must be seen in the context of the US-EU-Nato war preparations against the world’s masses, starting with potential communist revivals in Russia and China.

Cameron was forced to call this referendum when his government became paralysed by the ‘out’ clique of his Tory MPs and ministers. Some of these, like Grayling, Villiers, Whittingdale, Gove, Duncan Smith and even the London Mayor Boris Johnson, represent the capitalist sector closer to finance capital, the banks and the City of London. They do not want to hear of any EU tax on any financial transaction – least of all to protect EU banker-competitors against their next financial crash! There is no EU concession to Cameron that will ever satisfy these malcontents. It is with every weapon at their disposal that they will guard the ‘commercial’ secrets of their financial transactions. Their anti-EU virulence is moved by the spite of not being better shielded from such intrusion. They are much more moved by illusions of insular grandeur than by a clear vision of Britain’s future outside the EU.

Another ‘out’ sector is UKIP[9]. It draws support from national bourgeois sectors ruined by the multinationals where small enterprise and industrial sectors remain. UKIP has some social support in brutally marginalised popular layers where capitalism spreads its anti-immigrant venom to goad the dispossessed workers against immigrants, Islamists and refugees. The clearest examples of fascist reaction, however, come from the ‘out’ rightwing Ministers of Cameron’s government itself, whose policies harry the very poorest, impose police duties on teachers and landlords, reduce education to training an elite and encourage segregation against immigrant neighbourhoods.  It is interesting however that the medium and petit bourgeoisie is increasingly involved in anti-austerity actions with the Trade Unions, and that the youth leans towards the ‘in’ position without withdrawing upon itself.

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The idea of this ‘in-out’ referendum (that no one asked for) adds insecurity and instability to the already grave crisis of capitalism. The way Cameron pressed the EU for immediate concessions, which he knew would never satisfy his critics, gauges the disarray in the Tory Party. This bodes well for the Labour Party and its political advance under Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour Party calls for an ‘in’ vote, with many caveats. Should an election be precipitated, the pressure will grow on the Labour leadership to step forward and promise to reverse the scandalous austerity policies of the local Labour councils.

Some Labour comrades justify voting ‘in’ by saying: “the EU facilitates the spread of liberty and democratic values in the world”. But what liberty is the EU spreading in Greece? What democratic values underpin the One-for-One refugee agreement between the EU and Turkey? And in Ukraine, for instance, is it liberty that the EU is helping to spread – or ‘the free market’, denationalisations and neo-fascism?

On the side of voting ‘out’, on the other hand, many left groups and some Communist parties wish for the UK to walk away from the EU. They argue that the European Parliament has no power, that the EU Commissioners are finance-capital despots, and that “the EU is a neo-liberal cartel”. On 2.2.2016, a Morning Star editorial posed that “membership of the EU makes […] surrender of democratic sovereignty to corporate clout inexorable and irreversible”. Aren’t these comrades reducing a fundamental class question to a technical one of EU membership?

 

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It is hardly possible to defend staying ‘in’ the EU

In December 2015, the Greek Prime Minister Tsypras was told to drop his “Parallel Programme” by the Troika’s Commissioners[10] of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Having cowered Greece, world finance capital and the EU now write the Greek budgets. If the European Central Bank does not confiscate some Greek Islands to pay back monies due, it is because world capitalism does not have the social authority to ‘get away’ with this. Comrades who say that the EU “spreads liberty in the world” can only know little about this. The present structure of the Labour Party does not lend itself to the proper discussion of world’s events.

The EU actively helped the US to bomb and dismember the Workers State of Yugoslavia. The restoration of capitalism there, hence the spread of privatisations, smashed the economy planned for human need which had drawn many and varied populations into one single progressive country. Today’s Europe is not a ‘Union’. It is a collection of fiercely competing parts held together by the anti-communist hatred of their rulers; but this hatred is precisely what tears to shreds the bourgeois dream of a Social Europe – and this is the deeper significance of Brexit.

The EU brought the ‘refugee crisis’ upon itself with its irresponsible wars. Although it denies this, like Tony Blair does, the consequences impose themselves. The EU leaders step back from their own dreams when they restore the old frontiers, now with barbed-wire fences and soldiers pushing multitudes back down into the mud, the storms and the rejection. The EU One-for-One exchange of Syrian refugees (with Turkey) officialises the arbitrary differentiation between ‘economic migrant’ and ‘war refugee’. With hardly a murmur from the United Nations, this exchange normalises the inhumanity and irresponsibility of the EU (and the US) in front of their own wars.

The idea that Europe ‘cannot take in all the misery of the world’ ignores the misery which it feels able to inflict on the world. It is not ideology that motivates the EU rulers in this matter, but the murderous anti-communist egoism of private property without which they cannot exist. Anti Workers-State hatred pushed the EU – and not just Germany – to destroy Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia had to die because it was showing the way to the Socialist Europe. ‘Europe’ will only ever be a ‘Union’ when it retakes the socialist road opened by Yugoslavia, East Germany and the Workers States of Eastern Europe.

The 2014 neo-nazi coup in Kiev – instigated, financed and supported by the US, the EU and Nato – now permits some of Ukraine’s ministers to be chosen directly by Washington and Brussels[11]. The European Central Bank lends Ukraine money (that it cannot afford) on condition of an EU ‘accession’ based on privatisations and loans. In that country, the EU and Nato declare their “mutually reinforcing roles in supporting international peace[12], but this consists in sending Ukrainian soldiers to fight in Kosovo for the spread of privatisations and austerity.

 

Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the anti-austerity demo of the 16.4.16, 100,000 strong, called by the Peoples Assembly
Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the anti-austerity demo of the 16.4.16, 100,000 strong, called by the Peoples Assembly

The Corbyn Labour leadership opts for ‘in’, and seeks ‘a reformed ‘Europe’

The ‘in’ bourgeois sectors insist that Britain can veto Turkey’s accession to the EU; they also say that Senghen protects the UK’s frontiers. What they do not say, however, is that the British employers themselves organise the entry of cheap labour into the UK, to lower the wages. As to the workers entering the UK from the EU, the ‘in’ Cameron’s side has recently proven that it can keep them out too, by denying them elementary social security rights. This opens the way to everyone working in Britain losing those rights as well. Capitalism does such things without talking about them, to make its anti-working class and predatory projects easier to conceal.

Having centralised the economy to the point where capital accumulation depends on the free movement of commodities, per force capitalism must grant the free movement of labour as well[13]. Whether Britain ends up ‘in’, or ‘out’, the employers will recruit labour where best it suits profit-making and capital accumulation.

This has always been so, but the knowledge about the nature of capitalism is spreading increasingly fast nowadays[14]. Built in previous times, the Trade Union and Labour leaderships feel overtaken by the growing savviness and maturity of the ordinary workers. It is only cautiously that the Corbyn-McDonnell Labour leadership defends its ‘in’ position. Not able – and truly unwilling – to stand by Cameron’s side against UKIP (or Duncan Smith), it is searching for ideas, and European links, to bring about ‘a reformed Europe’.

Hopes for a reformed EU need changes in the Labour Party

Attempts at reforming Europe are directly antagonistic with the vested interests of the oil, finance and armaments’ industries. And these are not just European but worldwide. Dealing with this is going to require much power to the elbow of the British, European and world exploited masses. This is why, as long as the British workers are centralised in the Labour Party, pressure will keep growing for more working class power in the Labour Party.

The Labour Party as it stands has not yet the structure needed for the more accessible battle against austerity. When this struggle starts, however, it will impose changes in the Labour Party’s structure. This is already happening under the pressure of Momentum, the People Assemblies, various united fronts and mass mobilisations. The way the Labour councils implement the austerity policies of the government leaves the British workers at the mercy of ‘the EU neoliberal cartel’. The anger this provokes drives people to abstain, or vote ‘out’.

The referendum is an opportunity to discuss not only the future of the country, but that of the Labour Party. There are already Councillors Against Austerity. Further advances demand the ability to pre-empt and foresee how the capitalist class will use its stooges, within and without the Labour Party. This wants for consistent Labour revolutionary and Marxist currents, capable of understanding and organising the masses’ side.

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Some Labour and Trade Union comrades intend to vote ‘out’ because, as they say: “the EU is a neoliberal cartel”. The idea that voting ‘out’ distances Britain, or perhaps themselves, from that cartel, ignores the role of the British ruling class in the cartel! Hence the need for the revolutionary advance of the British working class against the British ruling class. Where the general left and the workers’ leaders do not use Marxism in Britain, they can fall for the idealist and classless idea of ‘Great Britain walking out’, instead of adopting a firm Republican and Socialist European programme.

Assuming that the ‘out’ wins, the British ruling class will continue operating within multinational governance. Multinational power does not introduce a new class in history. It is still based on private property. Its owners are elusive, but their need to profit – hence to sell their goods – keeps them tied to the nation-states. The political representation of the multinationals, therefore, cannot be other than that of the existing bourgeoisies – British ruling class included. The ‘out’ vote does not liberate us from any ‘neoliberal cartel’  because the British ruling class is part of it.

The antidote is a Europe mobilised for a planned economy to satisfy human need – and this is entirely down to the European (and world) workers and masses. Only the working class and its allies are interested in this, and they can only achieve it by uniting for the Socialist transformation of Europe. The British Labour leadership goes some way towards this when it calls for “a Europe investing not in weapons but in the environment, the climate and the refugees”. The need is to go further than this, and demand the conversion of the arms industries with workers’ control.

Afraid of workers’ power, the Trade Union bureaucracy indicts the EU rather than capitalism; it once used the slogan of: ‘British jobs for British workers’. This concept keeps up a barrage against working class internationalism. The TUC, the ETUC and the European Trade Union Centres do the same. They fall in line behind the local employers against capitalist competitors elsewhere, as when the Bombardier’s workers in Derby were led to divide from the Siemens’ ones in Germany. The ‘out’ of the EU option can indict the EU instead of capitalism.

When the 2.2.16 issue of the Morning Star says : “membership of the EU makes […] surrender of democratic sovereignty to corporate clout inexorable and irreversible”  it also indicts EU membership instead of capitalism. This idealisation of ‘membership of the EU’ underlines the absence of socialist perspectives. The only thing that makes ‘surrender inexorable and irreversible’ is the absence of socialist perspectives. The defence of ‘democratic sovereignty’ in this article is objectively in alliance with the ‘out’ Tories who dream of the times when UK grandeur was free of  regulations because it regulated everyone else.  This position does not do justice to the effort that goes into publishing this paper.

 

Some concrete proposals:

It is necessary to appeal instead for the formation of a European Committee of Trade Unions and Workers’ Parties against austerity, and in support of the refugees. This committee must function daily. It must unite all the struggles and discuss all the problems. Why not discuss the various plans proposed by Front de Gauche, Podemos, Die Linke and others? Why not assess Varoufakis’ idea of a European Constituent Assembly, even if this should not be the answer? Labour comrades must help efforts towards a functioning European Trade Union Centre linking all the struggles across frontiers and towards Eastern Europe. That centre must defend the European workers’ right to life, right to expression, and right to the political space to do this.

The revenues of Europe must serve the needs of the populations living there. Marx and Engels proposed the following transitional programme: Abolition of landed property and inheritance; a heavily progressive taxation system; confiscation of property of ‘rebel’ capitalists; nationalisation of transport and communications; extension of factories [..] owned by the state, and equal liability of all to labour[15]. This was to guide the working class of individual countries. Today, this must be used to guide working class advance on a European scale as well (and beyond).

One first step should be a European Conference of Workers Parties and Trade Unions against sackings. Whilst efforts are being made to unite the Trade Unions, this conference must set up committees that link the struggles across frontiers. An immediate call needs to be sent to all the Trade Unions in Europe, hence in Britain as well, to repudiate the recent attack on the ‘in-work’ benefits of the EU workers employed in Britain and ensure the non-extension of this confiscation to any other group of EU workers.

It is also necessary to unite the European Workers Parties and Trade Unions around the demand of full employment and the dissolution of Nato. And the withdrawal of all European troops from all the countries of the world, particularly the Middle East and Libya, where they have no reason to be.

The multinationals must be forced to open their books and render accounts. Exorbitant salaries and bonuses must be challenged. A permanent European anti-TTIP committee must be set up with the European working class at its centre. Anti-austerity plans must be discussed between the Peoples Assemblies, the Labour left, the Momentums, the Trade Unions, and all equivalent organisations in the rest of Europe.

 

Some conclusions:

The ‘in’-‘out’ crisis shows how capitalism fragments

The antagonism between the ‘in’ and the ‘out’ Tories weakens the British, European and world capitalist front against the new wars capitalism prepares. Deep down, this division in the British ruling class is not about ‘Europe’. It is more about a fear of what it must do to save its system – like war, depravity and savagery. It is more about the fear of where capitalism is going, the US breath-taking global war preparations, and those of world capitalism. It is more like a lack of real determination to win that war, or a premonition that it is going to be lost.

It is not the European Union that drives the European capitalists towards their ‘ever greater integration’. It is the logic of capital accumulation itself that does it. And today, this is magnified by the urgent need for the EU not to let itself, or Nato, be fragmented.

The fact that production gets for ever more centralised, and modernised, is due to technological ability reaching unprecedented levels. The present capacity of production under capitalism is practically limitless, but the majority of humanity is left to starve as if this were not the case at all. What prevents production fulfilling all the needs of humanity today – and more – is the appropriation of all the created surplus by a handful of profiteers.

The economic centralisation of Europe, though it was done via wars and private property, follows ultimately the trajectory needed by the centralisation of the world. As J Posadas says: “Proletarian internationalism needs to have it known, and felt, that matters can no longer be left to the private interest, the group interest, the interests of sectors or of castes. Proletarian internationalism is not for the downtrodden, or the poor – this is the mystical-religious concept of it. The materialist concept of proletarian internationalism is that it is necessary for the progress of humanity.”[16]

 

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Unify the working class’ struggles

Through this referendum, one Tory sector wants a mandate to rule against the other Tory sector, without bringing down the Tory government. Cameron may be replaced by Boris Johnson, perhaps, but the latter will soon face the same problems. The Tories have become weak and exhausted by the crisis of capitalism and the masses’ hatred. If the Labour Party had been ready with an anti-capitalist programme, it would have already brought them down. The masses compensate for this deficit by uniting their struggles, as in the case of the Junior Doctors and the Teachers; the TUC is being pressed to show support, and it does, more than in the past. The relative slowness of this process comes from the need for social transformations, and not just new governments.

Should the ‘out’ choice win, anti-immigrant and pro-fascist tendencies will be unnecessarily encouraged. The ‘out’ option does not help the unification of the working class across frontiers; far from it, because in all the cases of devolution – and moves towards greater independence in parts of Britain – the working class organisations tended to be swayed by parochial nationalism, to lose their UK centralisation  and move apart from each other. It is not true that all the parts of Britain must break from each other before one can unify the working class of the British Isles. In the same way, it is not true that all the parts of Europe must break from each other before one can unify the European working class.

The world centralisation of capitalism (globalism) comes from a few individuals in a position to monopolise the surplus-value of the world. The problem this poses does not come from the centralisation of the world, but from a few individuals monopolising it. Behind this ‘in’ or ‘out’ debate, there is the deeper question of the exploited masses needing to combine with sufficient force to get hold of that centralisation, to put it at the universal service of life and culture. The ‘in’ option of the Labour Party will have served some good if it is followed by the revolutionary organisation of the masses of Europe.

Comrades: Neither ‘in’ nor ‘out’ is not an abstention: Intervene! Propose European internationalism and a Socialist Europe!

Posadiststoday.com – 17.4.2016

[1] European Union

[2] In those days, ‘in’ was a ‘yes’ vote, and ‘out’ was a ‘no’ vote. Read by J Posadas: “The Referendum on the EEC, the abstentions and the Socialist solution to the crisis in Britain”, 8.6.1975, and “The aim of the European Monetary System (EMS) and the European Parliament”, 3.12.1978 – Obtainable on demand mlsculturaleditions@yahoo.com.

[3] Through the trade unions, the left Workers Parties, the Labour left, the Peoples Assemblies, the Momentums, the LRC, the coalitions for housing, against poverty etc. – and with similar organisations on a European scale.

[4] Not to forget that in the Troika, with the European Commission and the European Central Bank, there is also the IMF.

[5] Yugoslavia for example.

[6] With the support of countries like the UK.

[7] Like Greece.

[8] Brexit: the action of Britain exiting the EU

[9] United Kingdom Independence Party.

[10] EU Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF.

[11] Natalie Jaresko, Finance Minister, hails from the US State Department. Lithuanian Abromavicius, Trade Minister, from European Banking groups. (Privatised customs are now owned by a British company).

[12] Public information collected from the EU and Nato sites.

[13] Human labour being the irreplaceable commodity without which no capital can produce other commodities.

[14] Lifting secrets about tax-havens and exorbitant salaries, removing the option of ‘boots on the ground’ abroad, etc.

[15] Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, “Manifesto of the Communist Party”, and “Selected Works in One Volume” (NY International Publishers 1969, p 52). Information drawn from “The Transitional Programme”, Leon Trotsky, Bolshevik Publications 1998.

[16] Read: J Posadas, Proletarian Internationalism, 20.5.1976, re-published 1.5.2010.

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We publish here-below documents of J Posadas on Europe which he elaborated at the time of the 1975 referendum (to stay or leave the EEC) in Britain:

 

Foreword

The reader will find below two documents by J Posadas on Europe:

The first is:

  1. THE REFERENDUM ON THE EUROPEAN COMMON MARKET, THE ABSTENTIONS AND THE SOCIALIST SOLUTION TO THE CRISIS OF CAPITALISM IN BRITAIN – J. POSADAS – 8.6.1975
  2. and the second is: THE AIMS OF THE EUROPEAN MONETARY SYSTEM (EMS) AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT – J POSADAS, 3.12.1978

Although they were written in the 1970’s, those texts serve as a reminder of how correct Trotsky was when he analysed that the historic problem of humanity is no other than its lack of leadership.

This has never been so true. The Socialist and Communist leaders who do not progress towards a Marxist understanding retreat more and more rapidly into the camp of the class enemy. This is very visible in all the Social Democratic parties, as with Hollande in France; the right wing Labour and Socialist leaders retreat into bourgeois parliamentary cretinism, the hostile chauvinism of ‘nation’, ‘language’ and ‘values’, the acceptance of capitalism’s irresponsibility towards the refugees it created, its drone assassinations and its evident nuclear war preparations against humanity[1].

The world working class, being a single class, communicates within itself through its actions in different countries. Its consciousness develops internationally. In 2012, leaders of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions based in Bulgaria sent to the British Trade Unions messages of solidarity in the fight to preserve the National Health Service (NHS). Similar messages were also received from Trade Unions in the United States, Canada, Kenya, France and Russia. This is proletarian internationalism. The European and world working class unites behind the demand to oppose cuts, unemployment and privatisations – a demand that is revolutionary because capitalism cannot grant it.

An illustration of the revolutionary character of the workers’ demands in Britain was given by the cleaners and caretakers’ strike at the Swindon Great Western Hospital[2] – as they fought for the right to be treated with respect and dignity by a private contractor. To strike for such a right is revolutionary, because capitalism cannot give respect and dignity. Only a Revolutionary State or a Workers State can.

It is not by accident that the Trade Unions – from Bulgaria to Kenya and Russia – have sent, at various times, messages of solidarity against the privatisation of the British NHS. The egotism of the private motive is at war with the objective and collective interest of the world working masses. J. Posadas’ texts in this publication raise the need for audacity, anti-capitalist programme and joint mass organisation to create a Socialist Europe.

The European Union and its parliament do not represent the strength of capitalism/imperialism. They represent its historic weakness. The European bourgeois leaders need to coalesce against the European and world masses, but competition, inherent to their system, causes them to fail. This is the significance of the idea of a Brexit[3], even if a Brexit does not happen. Any Workers State is superior to capitalism because it eliminates competition. History presses in the direction of a United Europe, but this is not possible under capitalism. As the author explains, the attempt at unifying Europe can only take the form of a United Socialist Soviet States of Europe, or sink into counter-revolution and war.

It has become impossible to advance the class struggle in Britain in isolation from the rest of Europe. To call for Britain to leave the EU puts one in the same position as the Tory right. The process in Greece is crying out for the internationalisation of the anti-capitalist struggle instead.

We are very close to world war – ‘the final settlement of accounts’ as J. Posadas calls it. See how much world capitalism wishes to smash the Revolutionary States of Syria and Iran. See how it encircles the Workers States of Russia and China with nuclear bases. Netanyahu visited Obama some months ago to demand war against Iran, even if this should mean world war. But US imperialism hesitates. It feels hated in all the countries. The ‘final settlement’ will be ‘final’ for capitalism – and it knows it.

Capitalism/imperialism cannot be cohesive, but the workers and popular masses can. In our Trade Union example, the need is clearly for a Single European Trade Union centre with an anti-capitalist programme. In the near total absence of anti-capitalist leadership in the workers parties, it is the Trade Unions that respond. The Unions are no substitute for Socialist, Labour and Communist parties, but they stimulate the left there. This is what the author analyses in the text on the 1975 Referendum in Britain, when a Labour left appeared (with Ben, and for the first time) in clear opposition to the official line of the Labour leadership. This struggle continues today, in superior forms.

Feeling that its ascendency over people has ended, the capitalist class clings ever more desperately to the coattails of the monarchy. Royal marriages, children, birthdays, jubilees and pageants can no longer gloss over the use of Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Caymans and Gibraltar as tax havens. Social rebellion and organisation have torn off the veils that used to hide the imperialist and military use of Cyprus, the Ascension Islands, Diego Garcia, the Malvinas and Gibraltar.

With the spoils of empire, the capitalist class could buy the ‘respect’ of the top Union and Labour bureaucracy. In the name of the British working class, this bureaucracy used to pay capitalism back, by fawning on the House of Lords, the monarchy, the Empire and the flag. This colluding trade union-labour bureaucracy has become as politically inept as the capitalist class itself. This is why the socialist overthrow of one will also be the socialist overthrow of the other. This process has actually started in Britain, through the rise of the Corbyn leadership. This is still limited, but there are Left Labour left currents nowadays, pro-Corbyn Peoples Assemblies, Momentums and community organisations tied to the trade unions. As in every European country, the completion of this task needs the political and organisational solidary of the European and world working class; but the capitalist class is creating the revolutionary conditions for this.

The aim of publishing this document is to guide those who see the need for the revolutionary transformation of the Labour Party – and Trade Unions. This transformation cannot happen without a Labour leadership (and not necessarily an official one) that repudiates the imperialist policies of Labour in the past, and sets out instead to build a planned economy, to serve human need, instead of capital accumulation.

The capitalist class can manoeuvre, but its crisis is total, and terminal. This is why the workers’ leaders and mass organisations are driven to think outside the imperialist box. One first and elementary socialist step for them to propose is the Republic; and this, not just in Britain, but in the countries of the ‘Commonwealth’ and as basis for the Socialist Europe.

We re-publish these texts because they offer method of analysis and programmatic conclusions even more valid today than in the 1970’s.

As the author poses in the 1978 text: Forward to the United Socialist Soviet States of Europe, down with the monarchy and forward to the Federation of the Socialist Republic of the British Isles!

This is a historic necessity. The Editors – 3.6.2016

THE REFERENDUM ON THE EUROPEAN COMMON MARKET, THE ABSTENTIONS AND THE SOCIALIST SOLUTION TO THE CRISIS OF CAPITALISM IN BRITAIN – J. POSADAS – 8.6.1975

The referendum in Britain[4] is part of a European and world campaign to shore up the capitalist system. On a world scale, the large monopolies would dearly want to crush both the Workers States and the world revolutionary process. They have decided to subdue their inter-capitalist competition in Europe, but that is only to attack the Workers States and masses all the better.

The European Communist and Socialist parties represent a large part of the European masses, but they do not share with those masses the passionate determination to overthrow capitalism. The Communists talk of transformations by ‘going to government’, but the masses see beyond parliaments. The Communist and Socialist parties cannot think outside parliament, but the masses do.

Europe is in the tight grip of inflation and unemployment, but there are many successful strikes[5] and factory occupations. Pensioners, women’s groups and even children organise street protests. The European masses are not intimidated by the huge levels of unemployment. See with what confidence they move! They know that there are Workers States, and that Workers States can be constructed. In 1914, this knowledge did not exist, but now it does. The European masses carry the knowledge of the Workers State in their mind. It is only the Communist, Socialist and Trade Union leaders that do not.

Capitalism knows its system is finished. Constantly subjected to strikes and social movements, it is forced to watch the crumbling of its political authority all round. In France – where even the prostitutes are rebels – there are rumbles of discontent in the police and the army. The French police want the right to a Trade Union, and the right not to beat people up. These are indications that capitalism decomposes, and not just in France. The apparatus and superstructure of the bourgeois State are rotten to the core. In the European society of today (1975), the revolution has more authority than capitalism. You see this in the conduct of the prostitutes: they want dignity and human rights – just what capitalism cannot give them. Capitalism marginalised these people and thought them out of the way. It cannot believe that here they are, marching together, self-confident and part of society!

Capitalism wants a final reckoning with the Workers States

The large world consortiums that normally compete so violently between themselves are now talking of ‘the greater economic integration of Europe’. They talk of economy, but what they want is the political leadership of Europe. If this held nothing for them politically and militarily, they would be the last to talk of ‘integration’. World capitalism wants to be rid of the Workers States. It wants a final reckoning with them.

It is to end the economic, political and social competition of the Workers States that capitalism arms atomically. Observe how French imperialism facilitates German access to nuclear power. In the United States (US), Schlesinger and Kissinger[6] have actually declared that the US will use nuclear weapons “should war break out in Europe”. Should ‘revolution’ break out, they mean. Accordingly, the US is equipping the European capitalists with nuclear weapons.

US imperialism is clearly encouraging the European capitalist armies to think ‘atomic’. It spares no expense to ensure that its allies in the world gain every possible foothold and electoral majority. It pushes the European capitalists towards repression and ‘atomic response’. Realising that the world capitalists fear the rise of opponents in their own armies, the US encourages them to the necessary military reshuffles as anti-corruption drives.

A profound reorganisation is taking place in the world capitalist armies, where new military organisms and capabilities arise. General Stehlin[7] was sacked, and then he was linked with scandals involving the US army, ITT and Northrop. Other cases have involved big world corporations. Meanwhile, we are invited to admire the ‘honest men’ who uncover wrongdoing. The same happened in the CIA. Such events have a cost, however: Although the various bourgeoisies – in the US included – are forced to comply, they lose respect for the system. They lose confidence in it.

* * * * * *

The European Common Market (EEC) presents itself in an economic in form, but it did not come about for economic reasons. It came about when European capitalism decided that the political competition of the Workers States and the struggle of the European masses should be confronted and stopped.

It is in the key capitalist countries of Europe like Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, that you find the biggest strikes and protests. The European capitalists are drawing closer together to deal with this. The same reason drives them to wish Britain closer to Europe. This is why they view Britain’s reticence as harmful to their interests.

This referendum in Britain was a response to the pressure of the EEC, its caveats, exemptions, promises and offers of rebates. This is done subtly, to avoid arousing the British proletariat. It is all very defensive. It is not from a position of strength that the EEC comes together in this way. Essentially, all this, British referendum included, is to avoid revolution.

The US capitalists wish for a Europe unified behind them

Capitalism cannot exist without competition. Competition is the mortal contradiction of capitalism because it cannot live without it. The EEC is a giant multinational; if the capitalists within the EEC trusted in the future, you would see them competing madly, but the reverse is the case. With their ‘integration’, what the European capitalists show, most of all, is their fear of the future. Indeed, how could they possibly be confident – what with their intractable crisis on a one hand and the Workers States on the other?

Wherever British capitalism intervenes in the world, it foments situations that cry out for solutions beyond its capabilities. Although it loses control at every turn, it cannot leave Lebanon alone, or the surrounding region. Finished the time when the capitalists could enter, decree and impose. Nowadays, they must ‘negotiate’. And as they do so, they must never forget to keep Israel sweet and willing, even when its attacks return to hit them all on the nose. The matter of the referendum in Britain is not separate from any of this.

World capitalism talks of a ‘United Europe’, but with war-plans in mind.

Yankee imperialism stands at the head of world capitalism. What it wants from “an economic community” in Europe is a political and military bloc.

This is what Yankee imperialism means by a ‘United Europe’. Far from it the intention to arrive at a strong economic Europe that competes effectively with it, but this is just what has happened! Such are the contradictions of the capitalist system!

The decisive sectors of world capitalism realise that any greater political and military unity of Europe is bound to be economic too. If Europe could unite without becoming more competitive, US imperialism would very much prefer it. The US’ view of a United Europe is: all the European capitalist countries in a line, behind it, and under its command. On realising that this will not happen, most US administrators opt for the next best thing: put up with the competition of the EEC and penetrate all its parts, manipulate them, keep them under control. The US uses Britain for this purpose, and partly France. As part of this deal, the US gives the European countries easy access to nuclear weapons. It is often said that since the last war, Germany could not rearm; but who says that Germany cannot be supplied?

Advance the Labour Left to defeat the Labour Right

The referendum in Britain asked the British people whether they wanted to remain in the EEC. This was a golden opportunity for the workers’ organisations to discuss ‘Europe’ and take clear positions. It is true that this referendum was pure inter-bourgeois conflict, and that there was nothing in it for the working class. Less advanced workers voted ‘no’ for fear of greater unemployment perhaps; and a sector of Labour recommended the ‘no’ to exploit this fear. There were huge abstentions, but what else could the mass of the workers do but abstain?

This Labour-initiated referendum offered no opportunity to the working class. There was nothing in the ‘yes’ or in the ‘no’ to oblige the Labour government to implement the Labour Party’s programme of nationalisations. This is why the workers abstained. They were apparently given a choice – ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – but all they could see was Harold Wilson straining to unify capitalist Europe against the world Socialist revolution.

Harold Wilson is cautious with the Labour left, never confronting it head-on. He makes deals, now with Tony Benn, now with others, in the hope of never having to clash with the worker’s base. He is scared of it. He has had plenty of occasions to measure how far ahead of Labour it actually is – what with the miners’ strike, the closure of the Birmingham Saltley Coke Depot, the Upper Clyde shipyards’ occupation, the engineers’ strikes, the strikes of the postal workers, etc, etc.

The determination of the workers is so strong that it has inspired the Labour left. Because the workers are so resolute, the Labour left now proposes a programme of 25 nationalisations as part of an even wider anti-capitalist programme[8]. It is the first time that the British working class succeeds in stimulating a Labour left bold enough to clash with the Labour Party machine and create two Labour wings.

On the occasion of this referendum, the Labour left has thrown its weight behind the ‘no’ vote. This option saves it from having to discuss the EEC on an anti-capitalist basis – showing that it is still very uncertain – but this ‘no’ is in direct collision with the official ‘yes’ of the Party. It breaks the old mould of Party ‘consensus’ and ‘unity’. This will help matters to mature.

In this referendum, the British proletariat did not see a struggle of social classes. It only saw a conflict between the bourgeoisie of the ‘yes’ and of the ‘no’. Tony Benn called for a ‘no’, but he was only opposing the EEC, not the EEC’s market rules.

Be sure that it isn’t the bourgeoisie that abstained. Not to the tune of 52%! The bourgeoisie split between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – but it did not abstain. Hence those who abstained can only be the workers and layers of the petit bourgeoisie – sectors that saw beyond the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ – in other words, the most conscious. This is bound to become clearer in due course.

If you discount the customary abstentions, a good 30% of the other abstainers did not vote because they did not care for the EEC. If you add to them the actual ‘no’, the result is a big majority of people not in favour of the EEC. The ‘yes’ was declared the winner, but as a stratagem, because it did not win. People have no respect such consultations and their results.

This ‘yes’ has no authority over the proletariat and the advanced petit bourgeois people. For them, this referendum is a bourgeois device to confront the workers, the revolution and the Workers States.

The building of the EEC [European Economic Community] is not an indication of strength

Don’t expect any growth amongst sectors like Enoch Powell [semi-fascist right, opposed to the EEC] because these don’t decide. Those who decide are the European capitalists; they want this ‘yes’ to shore up Europe against the rest of the world – for indeed they have more than the European masses to worry about! The European capitalists feel that they disintegrate. One of their motives in drawing closer, and in seeking more cohesion, is to increase their European competitiveness. They want to compete better against the rest of the world, the US included.

This European transformation does not indicate strength. The European capitalists feel that, so far, their inter-capitalist competition has weakened them too much. Their growing weakness causes them to wish for the formation of a political leadership that speaks in the name of the European capitalists, of the most powerful of them, at least. They hope this will save their system from its decadence and disintegration. The EEC leaders say that the present trouble is due to the oil crisis and to the need to be more competitive; but these are false reasons. The true reason is that the capitalist system is in a crisis without solution.

* * * *

The leader of the French Socialist Party, François Mitterrand, said recently that “although the crisis of capitalism is total, there will always be more capitalist crises”. This is not true – or rather, it is true only as long as capitalism is not overthrown. Obviously Mitterrand does not think in terms of capitalism overthrown. He says this to reassure the bourgeoisie, to tell it not to worry, the Socialists are still conciliating with it.

Still Mitterrand calls the crisis “total” like someone desperate for a rearrangement. The word ‘total’ does not necessarily mean that everything falls down this minute, but it surely means that everything is at stake, the whole of society; from the economy to society, to the prostitutes who demand their human rights in the streets. Indeed, the whole of society needs change: the economy, investments, consumption, production, the church, the police, the army, the prostitutes.

Capitalism’s defeat in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia keeps reverberating around the world. This major blow at the foundations of capitalism strengthens the Workers States. The victory of the Vietnamese masses inspires the world working class and the exploited everywhere. It fills people with an enormous joy. The example of Vietnam edifies everyone, the millions who must to live on the margins of society particularly.

The victory of Vietnam sends a message of confidence. It raises the so-called prostitutes above the brutality of their condition. These persons no longer feel degraded by the corruption that surrounds them. Sensing that deep social movements are marching under the banner of human dignity, they want to participate. Prostitution does not represent the struggle for human dignity, but the protest of the prostitutes does. It forms part of the quest of humanity for its dignity.

The defeat of imperialism ¡n Vietnam is central. It is infinitely significant. The European proletariat, the workers centres, the Communists and the Socialists must base themselves on this. They must create Parties/Trade Unions United Fronts to overthrow what remains of bourgeois life. There is no other way to eliminate the crisis, unemployment, prostitution and degradation.

There is no prostitution in the Workers States! In Saigon (S. Vietnam) the prostitutes were immediately integrated into the revolution, giving them back their human dignity. As we said, what the prostitutes are demanding in France is the right to live as human beings. Of course they will only live as human beings when the capitalist system is overthrown. The existence of prostitutes is a direct expression of bourgeois relations. Capitalism can only deliver indignity, and human dignity will only come with the elimination of the capitalist system.

Let us dwell a little on the US defeat at Mayaguez[9]. This was a month ago. The US military invaded Cambodia in the same ad-hoc way as it had previously invaded Tonkin[10]. But after tremendous slaughter and mayhem in Mayaguez, Yankee imperialism was thrown out! Feeling defeated, it threw-in the towel and fled. This action was not due to any US respect for treaties! The US was stopped. And it was stopped by the Soviets, who were watching, finger on the button.

At Mayaguez, US imperialism started repeating the same scenario of lies and provocations that it had used in the Tonkin attack. This time, however, the Soviet Union was not going along. This gave wings to the Cambodians who redoubled their efforts in defence of the Socialist advances of their country. It is important to note also that the Cambodians who captured the crew of the Yankee ship were all youngsters – the youngest was barely fourteen!

Through its regular attacks on country after country, Yankee imperialism means to reassure its allies, the various bourgeoisies of the world. For these latter, isn’t Yankee imperialism the guarantor of their continuing power? But what guarantee? In Mayaguez, the US imperialists gave the guarantee of their power to be kicked out, and this, by the Armed Youth of Cambodia.

When the Mayaguez episode ended, the US marines gave interviews. They said that they had all been freed, and allowed to return to their ship. One of them said: “The Cambodians treated us well, they left us alone, but our side kept killing them for no reason”. This episode is no small matter, considering that 84 US marines died. And we are told that another 40 disappeared. Disappeared? In little less than 30 square yards!

The abstentions are the signal of new struggles to come

When we deal with events in Britain, it is important to view them against the background of the preparations of world capitalism for a ‘final settlement of accounts’. By ‘final settlement of accounts’ we refer to the war that capitalism/imperialism prepares against the Workers States and world masses. Note however that this warmongering is constantly being undermined by the system’s internal debacle and ungovernable competition. Indeed, rampant competition continues to dominate the relations between N. American, Japanese and European imperialism[11].

To return to the referendum in Britain, it is necessary to read in its result the fact that the proletarian vanguard abstained with the feeling that the answer is elsewhere. The ‘no’ advocated by Tony Benn sought to keep in contact with this feeling, but that was not adequate.

The choice offered by this referendum to the dockworkers, shipbuilders, posties, engineers, miners and millions of others, was no choice. It left millions unrepresented! The workers wanted jobs and job security, but they had no voice. So, they abstained! They abstained with much determination, as we have seen, and this will express itself soon, in other ways.

A Government of the Left, with an anti-capitalist programme

It is important to analyse the nature of Benn’s opposition. His stance for the ‘no’ tried to acknowledge (although very superficially) the existence of an opposition in the Labour Party. This is an important change. Indeed, it is the first time in the history of Labour that a clear disagreement appears so publicly and so firmly on the Labour Left. This sort of thing used to happen in the past, but on the Right. Roy Jenkins – who voted enthusiastically with the Conservatives – is now losing ground and is being left behind[12]. A Labour Left is imposing itself on the Right and the Centre of the Labour Party, unmasking these. On the part of the Labour left, a ‘no’ to the Labour Right and Centre is a ‘no’ to the bourgeoisie. This will have an effect on the proletariat.

The British proletariat observes that there may be hope for the formation of Labour revolutionary and class tendencies. Indeed, everything cries out for anti-capitalist responses. As the struggle is being raised on a European level, the Labour Left has to propose solutions on a European level too, and not just for Britain. This is going to take time, but this is what needs doing.

The official victory for the ‘yes’ does not mean that Harold Wilson has support. The proletariat and the British population have not supported him, only a minority has. Those who insist that ‘abstention is always high in Britain’ are hiding the truth. The level of abstention in this referendum is unusual, considering that the bourgeoisie made every effort to vote. Those who abstained were the proletariat, a large part of the petit bourgeoisie and similar sectors in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The bourgeoisie voted integrally because it was integrally interested. It made a united front with Wilson to pull the Labour Right and Centre away from the Labour Left. Appeals must be sent to the comrades of the European Communist and So­cialist parties, and to the European Trade Unions, asking them to draw conclusions from this referendum.

We believe that the outcome of this referendum has shown to the Labour Left the need to focus less on the EEC and more on an anti-capitalist programme: A programme resembling more closely that of the Popular Union in France[13]. The Labour comrades should try this. Then they will find the struggle in the Labour Party much easier.

The solution to the crisis in Britain does not revolve around ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the EEC, but around the anti-capitalist programme and a Government of the Left on Popular Union lines. The essence of the matter is not the EEC. To focus solely on the EEC exonerates the bourgeois Labour leaders from the duty of having to explain why they do not fight for the workers.

The alliance Labour Left/Trade Unions needs to become organic

World capitalism is preparing for war. It is world capitalism that seeks, for Europe, the sort of economic unification that Europe may accept, under the domination of Yankee imperialism. In view of this plan, it tries to attenuate some aspects of competition. How else can it achieve the political and military coordination demanded by the war which it seeks? But since its system cannot stop competing, all it does is drive its divisions deeper down, and wider, on a world sale.

It is necessary to appeal to the European proletariat, and to the large Communist and Socialist Centres. Comrades must call for the creation of a proper Left in the Labour Party, whilst still appealing to Benn and others. It is necessary to appeal to the left of the Trade Unions.

There is nothing to stop the Unions calling meetings to explain what the EEC is all about. Nobody can stop the Unions meeting, making analyses and launching appeals. It is necessary to reiterate constantly that the EEC is no answer to the present crisis, or to the declining living stan­dards. What it has to offer, it offers it to capitalism! And capitalism uses it to repress the masses and prepare for war.

The alliance of the Labour left with the Trade Unions needs to become organic and programmatic. Things are moving in this direction, but the Labour Party programme for 25 nationalisations remains largely ignored. It has not been mentioned at all in the last period, not even by those in Labour who spoke for the ‘no’.

Notions of “industrial planning” and “workers directors” have arisen[14], but capitalism is opposed. Any programme presented by the left must be based on the knowledge that capitalism will oppose it. The advance of the Labour left within the wider Labour movement must be rooted in the recognition that capitalism will not, and cannot, accept their demands.

       * * * *

Forward to the Socialist Republic!

The monarchy must be liquidated because the advance of the economy requires a Socialist Republic. The comrades must accept and value the superiority of the Workers States.

The Workers State is the solution to the problems that the EEC cannot solve: Unemployment, crisis, repression and war. There will be insurrections in Europe; you will see more rebels like the prostitutes. In the Workers State, there is no economic crisis, no unemployment and no reduction of living standards.

In Britain a Government of the Left with an anti-capitalist programme is necessary; a government that nationalises the banks and the main centres of production. A government that allows workers control; and that relies on workers control to carry out its programme.

The process demands the development of workers and employees’ councils in the workplaces. These councils should then be allowed to become the essential levers for the development of the economy and society.

Meanwhile, it is necessary to say loud and clear: ‘Down with the monarchy!’ and ‘Long live the Socialist Republic!’ – Never forgetting to give support to, and to seek support from the rest of the workers’ movement, in Europe, and in the world.

J POSADAS – 8 June 1975

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

THE AIMS OF THE EUROPEAN MONETARY SYSTEM (EMS) AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT – J POSADAS, 3.12.1978

 

[This document is an extract of the speech given by J. Posadas on the occasion of a Conference on “The Common Market and the Socialist Europe of Lenin” , 2-3 Dec 1978, in the presence of Trotskyist, left Labour and Communist comrades. The entire speech is obtainable on demand. Editorial.]

One of the most important conclusions to discuss in Britain is that the standard of living in the Workers States is constantly rising, whilst it is constantly falling in capitalism. In capitalism, technical capacity increases, but culture and intelligence decline and decline. It is not like this in the Workers States, because there, the development of intelligence, culture and human love are the goals of the State. In the USSR, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, a toddler can get lost in the streets without coming to any harm. Can you say that of capitalism? In the relations that capitalism induces, self-interest is king; the development of the anti-capitalist and revolutionary struggle attenuates this reality, but capitalism keeps reproducing self-interest.

In the matter of the human relations, one can never insist too much on the difference between capitalism and the Workers States. Technology in the capitalist state is used to produce plenty, but it produces self-seekers even more. Compare this with the East German Workers State: At the end of the recent Communist Party Congress, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was played, and tens of thousands of youngsters sang the chorus in the streets. East Germany is said to be ‘backward’, but in the West, the Symphony of Death is played every day – like the Guyana massacre[15]. Compare the two!

Capitalism prepares for war, and this absorbs all its scientific preoccupation. It postponed the launching of the atomic war many times already, but it goes on preparing. Although this is completely contradictory, it seeks to coordinate its competing parts – at least the US, Europe and Japan. The ‘European Common Market’ is part of this, along with the European Monetary System (EMS) and its creature ‘the snake’[16].

It is to get a better grip on the capitalist crisis in Europe that the large European capitalist countries invite Spain, Portugal and Greece to join the EEC. In so doing, the larger countries are not doing the others any favours. They want to control the competition of Spain, Portugal and Greece, and ‘the snake’ is a tool they use for that purpose.

Capitalism reorganises Europe as part of its war plans. It does everything possible to coordinate, regulate and control its inherent competitiveness. As they look for a more united political leadership in Europe, some EEC leaders have set up financial ‘snakes’. Of course they know that money and its fluctuations are only representations of economic events, but they still hope to create more unity that way. They talk of “the European Monetary Union” but what they do is impose the will of the mightiest European capitalists over the rest of Europe.

*****

The facilities offered by the EEC to Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece – countries with weaker currencies and less competitive economies – must not be confused with gifts! They are devices that crush the competition of these ‘poorer’ countries underfoot, whilst exposing them to the overwhelming competition of the richest economies.

For the strongest European countries, this has the double advantage of keeping control over the rest of Europe and preventing the emergence of new Workers States.

All the bustle of financial talks, summits and currency manoeuvres hides a simple rule: No new Workers State in Europe! All said and done, this is the ultimate aim of all the ‘snakes’, EMS, Ecus, etc. The Common Market/EEC is a cloak behind which capitalism hides not only the full extent of its crisis, but the full extent of its anti-Workers’ State preparations too.

Do not think for a moment that the ‘snake’, the EMS and the EEC are for the improvement of the European economy, or for the cultural improvement of Europe. Far from this! The aim is purely to regulate inter-capitalist competition. Since the economy is capitalist, the administration of this regulation necessarily takes the form of the strong controlling the weak. And even in the relations between the strongest (Germany, France and partly Britain), each one wants to regulate the other. The overall result is total and pure empiricism.

Human intelligence has no place in these circles. When a shred of it wanders near them, it is immediately assaulted by a mass of independent, conflicting and competing economic interest, each with its private motives, properties and markets. The only time when these interests come together is when they manipulate banking, paper values or numeric ones. Since human wellbeing is none of their business, nothing that they do needs to correspond to achievements in production, productivity or consumption.

The priority and dream of capitalist functioning is more profits for the biggest consortiums – in a world preferably cleansed of Workers States. ‘Europe’ is a strategy to confront the Workers States and the social system that they represent. Here you have the EEC in a nutshell.

There is a certain margin of freedom for every European country within the EEC, but it is France, Germany and Britain that decide. Within this margin, some EEC structures have been devised to confront the competition of Yankee imperialism too, but even these are now being used to reduce the violence of the clashes between the US and Europe.

In this situation, the European workers’ leaders must always remember that a ‘United Europe’ is not possible within the capitalist system. The term ‘snake’ is evocative of nasty bites and zigzags. It expresses the obligatory ‘zigzags’ of economies unplanned. The ‘snake’ may succeed in limiting the financial deviations of competing currencies, but the big countries reserve the right to a big snake, and countries like Italy get only a little one. Meaning that the currency of the countries considered ‘poor’ can only deviate to the extent allowed by the rich. The European workers are bound to see in this ‘snake’ a kind of poisonous creature adapted to the undergrowth of unemployment and productivity.

* * * * * *

But what exactly is in crisis? Is it the technical ability of society? Is there a lack of automation? No! The capitalist system is in crisis, full stop. But there is no Workers State so incoherent as this! Yugoslavia exhibits aspects of capitalist crisis, but this is due to its re-introduction of market and self-management measures. There is China too, but again, this comes from the capitalist elements that it has incorporated. These are the only two Workers States in this situation, proving the same point: Capitalism is crisis. Going towards capitalism brings crisis.

Capitalism means death to human development. Take the case of the ‘developing’ countries, like Algeria today. Algeria will not advance if it stays with capitalism. The latter makes no room for these countries because it has none for itself. It only accepts a mixture of capitalist and Workers States’ measures when it can do nothing else.

History is at a crossroad: capitalism which means degeneracy, or the Workers State which means progress. The capitalist system has an immense productive capacity, but it replaces hundreds of millions of workers and technicians by machines. Production grows, but so does structural unemployment. The capacity of capitalism to produce is unprecedented, but it does not meet the needs of people.

And all the while, capitalism poisons people, their physical environment and their cultural one. This is the difference between capitalism and Workers State! In the Workers States, even in Yugoslavia, the economy advances and so does culture; technology advances, and so do the human relations.

 

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

What perspective does the European Parliament offer to the masses? In it, the European capitalists meet, negotiate and decide what is good for them. The EEC is an office for capitalists, with a boardroom called ‘European Parliament’. The idea of the ‘snake’ was hatched at one of its meetings.

In the European countries, the voice of the workers is never heard in the national parliaments. Will this be better in a European Parliament focused on EEC matters? The European parliament is not going to change the capitalist relations in Europe, but the capitalist relations of Europe have full expression in that parliament. Of course capitalism is not about to create a structure that sprouts Soviets, but it is necessary to be clear that the main purpose of the European Parliament is to control the workers’ struggle. Its task is to hinder the fight of the Communists, the Socialists, the left and the Trade Unions. In order to keep these comrades hoping for better things, there are periodical reminders of the promise for “a social Europe”. The social Europe is around, and social change will come – in 500 years perhaps.

The fact that the European Parliament gnaws at national sovereignty in every country – which it does – should not be the greatest concern. What is concerning is why it was created. The EEC and the European Parliament try to attenuate competition and the class struggle. But competition and the class struggle continue, taking new forms. It is necessary to be clear that the intention behind the European Parliament is the creation of a single European capitalist structure.

Comrades of the left who think that they can use the European Parliament to further the cause of the struggle of the masses are wrong. Those comrades must to put forward aims, programmes and means of struggle that raise other perspectives, like the United Socialist States of Europe. Lenin was the first to propose this. He saw the need for a United Europe, long before the bourgeois politicians did.

The stance of the various Communist parties on the EEC and the European Parliament is incorrect. Certainly, Europe needs to be unified, for all manner of reasons – geographic, economic, scientific, technical and cultural. But while we are on the subject, it is important to note that science and culture are much more important than technology. The latter is important in that it lowers the socially necessary time to produce, but there is a difference between technological development and intelligent development. Technology favours the development of intelligence only when it provides the socially necessary time to improve the human relations – and not just production. The creation of a machine in 10 minutes may be valuable if it does not destroy the human relations. But if it only leads to technological relations and no human relations, it is useless.

Some Communist parties prepare to stand candidates for the European Parliament. Although this is not wrong in itself, these parties must be entirely clear that the European Parliament is a swindle. It is the continuation of capitalist power. True, this applies to the national parliaments, but it is even truer of the European Parliament because it represents the biggest multinationals. The problem is not that the Communists and the Socialists stand candidates, but that they nurse the illusion that they may advance the cause of the population in that way. They will not be able to do it. The reason for the creation of the European Parliament is precisely to stop them doing it.

Use the European Parliament as a tribune

Comrades must discuss that capitalism is creating, through the European Parliament and the EEC, instruments that are new and emblematic of a historic retreat in human organisation. Germany, France and Britain are going to become the absolute bosses of the EEC. The collective assassination that they perpetrate every day is going to continue: unemployment will continue to rise, whilst culture, knowledge and science will continue to nose-dive, and finally even technology itself.

It is true that technical and scientific knowledge are allowed to grow in capitalism – but not the scientific knowledge of life. Capitalism is not interested in that branch of science. The Communist and Socialist comrades must discuss: Where is the EEC going, and its European Parliament? They must discuss beyond the EEC procedures, and ask what the EEC is for. Can power be taken through it? Can capitalism be dislodged by it? Can the EEC develop? Of course not! The “Single Market” of capitalism can only be the rule of the strongest. It is absurd to believe that capitalism might listen to historic reason. Capitalism is preparing for war; it is not preparing to listen. In the last instance, there is no need for capitalism at all, and that is why it is armed to the teeth! The crisis of capitalism is of the sort that can only lead to war.

The European Parliament is one form of the multinationals, but we still agree with standing candidates[17]; it is not in contradiction with what we have just said. The programme we would defend would be the same as for national parliaments.

The Bolsheviks participated in the Duma of the Tsar. They took part in the first debates, as on whether Russia wanted war or peace. When they gained the majority, the Bolsheviks broke their previous alliances and refused to be bound by the discipline of the parliament. They intervened in the Soviets instead, and when they had a majority in the Soviets, they sent the Constituent Assembly packing. The Soviets decreed that they were going to take power, and they did. This policy of the Bolsheviks did not amount to class disloyalty or to a disregard for democracy. It was guided by a correct assessment of the historic progress at each new juncture. That assessment of the Bolshevik leaders was based on their grasp that human progress could not be made through the Constituent Assembly. They looked for every way to let the working class prevail, and they found the way. See what it takes to bring about the progress of history.

The European Parliament is a diversion and a way of resolving problems between capitalists, but there is more to this: the European capitalists are constantly facing unions, strikes, demonstrations and the opposition of workers parties. The European Parliament is a way to divide, channel off and divert the energy of the protests. The capitalists cultivate the illusion that people are represented by their European MPs – and what a great alternative to the Workers States the EEC is! But this also shows capitalism on the defensive.

Without making this central to our activities, we would like to take part in the European Parliament too. When we manage to do this, we will use it as a tribune, to explain that the Parliament is a fraud and that no progress can be made through it. From that tribune also, we will explain that this Parliament is a tool to divert and deceive the workers’ leaders – and above all to corrupt them. It is a fact that the European Parliament fools quite a lot of workers’ leaders. The Socialists and the Communists go to this Parliament with misplaced hopes, although they are very unwilling to admit this fact!

The Soviet Socialist United States of Europe

The Communist and Socialist comrades go to the European Parliament with the idea of eventually eliminating capitalism and using the Parliament for progress. But this hope is false. In that Parliament, the multinationals decide. Should this be any other way, the multinationals would break it up. They have ways and means! See how the various parliamentary elections never fail to return the representatives of the multinationals! And if, by some miracle, the working class were to alter this, the capitalist class would make a Paris Commune[18]. The ruling class has the weapons, atomic included.

The EEC is a monument to capitalist relations; and the European Parliament takes the teeth out of the struggle of the working class and its parties. It encourages them to think in terms of transformation through Parliament, although everyone knows it is a lie. This was always so, but it is more so now. Today, the brutal crisis of capitalism is completely at odds with human progress! It is absurd to believe that the European Parliament will serve to create better social relations. Apart from regulating inter-capitalist competition, the role of that Parliament is to stimulate workers’ careerism, spread the scope of the parliamentary illusion and reinforce Communist and Socialist reformism. Capitalism is good at this.

The Soviet Socialist United States of Europe must be made. Nothing else can respond to the call of progress – a call which wants more than the progress of production, but that of science, culture and the human relations. For the human relations are a form of production too. The most elevated form of production indeed.

The masses are objectively collective. They are objectively open to every form of progress. They cannot wish for anything that harms humanity because they are humanity. When allowed, they only use their experience and intelligence to make progress, and it is collectively that they do so. The only way they can express progress is collectively. The capitalists can only see ‘progress’ in terms of profits, but they, the masses, can only see it in the form of the collective advancement of life. Here lies the essential division and parting of the ways in contemporary human thought.

Any intervention in the European Parliament must serve to repudiate the aims of the bourgeoisie. But more than that, it must promote ideas and debates. The matter of how many MPs one has is not fundamental. The important is to use the European Parliament as a platform to address the masses of Europe and the world. The Party of Lenin did this. Social transformation does not rely on the number of MPs. It depends on one’s ability to create situations favourable to social change.

Proposals of state ownership and planning form part of this. One must constantly reiterate that the working class is the sole representative of the progress of society. Governments can be brought down and replaced, but they will not last long if they continue to defend capitalism. The capitalist system is rotten and finished. Corruption is now its entire character.

In the ‘great United States’ there was a demonstration of grandparents – mostly over the age of 50 – demanding human rights. It is necessary to create similar social organisms of women, pensioners, children and everyone, to struggle in the defence of science, education and culture. This can be done. Human progress is accelerating. In the past, the grandchild depended on the grandparent, the grandparent on the son, and the son on work. That was, roughly, the chain of dependency, mostly based on economic necessity. Today, people still face economic necessity, but they have social emancipation in mind. They have stopped feeling socially dependent.

The masses are always just. Historically speaking, they do not make mistakes because they have no individual interest. When they truly decide, they do it for the common good. This is not a mystical statement; it a dialectical and materialistic conclusion based on the evidence of every historic experience.

It is necessary to stimulate the masses to intervene. The traditional labour industrial and political leaderships do not do this. They lack the preparation, the security, the organs and the political structures for it. But one must combat this. It is not easy because people have learnt to mistrust the machineries of their own organisations: Haven’t these always been used them? The masses have learnt to mistrust and resist their leaders. The task, therefore, is to develop the most complete preoccupation to let people intervene.

Capitalism only improved the life of the workers when it had no choice. And it always retook with one hand more than it conceded with the other. Capitalism allowed slightly higher standards of culture and science when this suited it, or when it wanted to outsmart the Workers States. It was the struggle of the masses that forced capitalism to reduce the working week. And when this was won, this achievement did not just defend the worker. It was an achievement in the defence of life.

The reduction of the working week improved human health enormously, but capitalism went on killing. If capitalism does not kill more workers, it is only because the latter insist on working conditions, safety, hygiene, etc. Capitalism has no time for any of these things! The Trade Unions impose them.

Workers’ committees in the factories and the enterprises

Capitalism will not give more than it has already given. Unemployment, now reaching 15 million in Europe, can only increase (1978). Technology keeps growing, but unemployment too. Technology is applied to food through cheap substitutes. The workers’ health is attacked by the technologies applied to production and to the machines. People are being poisoned! This is why there are Greens and Ecologists, and this is why they are right. If they are not right in every way, they are right to fight against the general adulteration and poisoning that goes on. They would not need to exist if the workers parties and the Trade Unions retook what the Ecologists pose. The Ecologists exist because the Trade Unions and the workers’ parties do not organise for the overthrow of capitalism.

This is why we say that the Ecologists have a logical reason for being, and the same goes for the Feminists. These formations exist because the workers parties and the Trade Unions do not struggle with an anti-capitalist programme. A programme that ignores the demands of the Ecologists and the Feminists cannot be anti-capitalist. The Ecologists can win up to 5% in some elections. Those who vote for them can be bourgeois, petit bourgeois, scientists and technicians – that is to say, people who reject the present form of production.

Those who vote for the Ecologists are friends and allies of the anti-capitalist struggle. Some come from well-off sectors, but they have opened their intelligence. They realise that the capitalist system needs overthrowing. They must be counted upon in the struggle to overthrow capitalism.

The European Trade Unions must discuss all these questions. Such are the problems of today. It is wrong to say that Trade Unions must not intervene in political matters. Trade Unionists or politicians who defend this view have an electoral or political axe to grind. When union leaders use this to sign quiet deals with the boss, the workers cannot criticise the leaders, cannot weigh directly in situations, cannot impose change.

It is necessary to call for factory committees to discuss the need to organise on a European scale. There must be Trade Union and workers United Fronts created in Europe, to defend jobs, wages, purchasing power. The Unions must not deal just with the wage, but with the purchasing power of the wage. They must denounce the constant reduction in the quality of food, of transport, of life. Militants must defend the sliding scale of wages and working hours: No redundancies, work sharing without loss of pay! If the capitalists cannot afford it, well then, let the State expropriate them, and take charge.

These problems must be discussed in the workplaces. Capitalism does not allow the changes necessary to make progress. We are told that discussing in this way causes dissentions, but the daily political experience of the masses is going to impose this anyway, and enforce change. The question of Trade Union democracy is not a matter of the right to speak, but the right to speak in support of the advancement of life.

If the left groups want to come and discuss, let them. Let them contribute their ideas. The working class knows how to consider, assess, accept and reject orientations. It also knows how to persuade! And what it knows best is how to concentrate the will to struggle. In the workplace, it is not just a matter of demanding democracy, but of using democracy to discuss the programme to keep jobs, improve living standards, organise production and organise society. This is the way it happened in Russia, at the time of the Soviets. This is how the Cubans progressed. All over Europe, is necessary to discuss these matters.

J POSADAS – 3.12.1978

 

 

Note from the Editors: The above documents by J Posadas were re-published in 2012 as  a Supplement to Red Flag, the organ of the British Section of the Posadist IV International.

The Red Flag of the Posadist IV International appeared monthly from 1962 till the year 2000. It no longer appears any more, but it must not be confused with the Red Flag of the anti-Workers State organisation called ‘Socialist Alternative’, which publishes in Australia and London.

The Posadists Today, 3 June 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

£1

 

 

 

 

 

www.quatrieme-internationale-posadiste.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correspondence to:

SCPE, Suite 252

61 Praed Street

Paddington, London W2 1NS

Great Britain

 

 

 

[1] See John Pilger: The War has Begun.

[2] Feb 2012: the catering, cleaning and general staff at Carillion went on strike to denounce rampant racism, bullying and corruption in the hospital and in this private company. These workers, mostly from Goa, India, struck for “the right to respect at work” and won improvements.

[3] The idea of Britain leaving the EU expresses the material reality of each capitalist country competing with the next – this being the actual reason why capitalism cannot, and will never unify Europe.

[4] After Labour won the general elections in 1974, Harold Wilson organised a referendum in 1975 asking the British people: “Do you want Britain to remain in the EEC, yes or no?” It is often overlooked that 52% of the electorate abstained. Of the 48% who voted, 67% said ‘yes’ – mainly because the Wilson Labour leadership called for a ‘yes’ vote, and so did Margaret Thatcher (who had become the leader of the Tory opposition). An important part of the Labour Party around Tony Benn called for a ‘no’ vote, along with the TUC leadership of Len Murray; but these leaders did not challenge the laws of the market underpinning the EEC, today called the ‘European Union’ or EU. Britain had joined the European Common Market (EEC) in 1973 under the Ted Heath’s Conservative government.

 

[5] In the period covered by this text, and still now, some British capitalists admit that their crisis is structural. But this makes them madder, not meeker! In the 1980’s, the manufacturing base of the country gave way to the ‘service industry’ mostly based on finance-capital speculation, the oil cartels, war, and the arms industry. Editorial.

 

[6] James R Schlesinger, US Defence Secretary, 1973-1975 under Nixon and Ford. Henry A Kissinger, US Secretary of State 1973-1977.

 

[7] In 1974, General Paul Stehlin resigned from his positions as top leader in the French Air-force and Vice President of the French National Assembly. In 1975, it became public that he had been receiving bribes from the US plane-maker Northrop. He was found dead soon after that.

 

[8] The Labour Party’s programme of 25 nationalisations was never implemented, but in only a few years, the two Labour governments (Wilson and Callaghan) created British Aerospace, British Telecoms, British Leyland, British Steel and the British National Oil Corporation, and many others. Edit).

 

[9] On 12 May 1975, a detachment of US marines initiated the invasion of a Cambodian Island called Mayaguez. The immediate excuse of the US government was that the crew of one of its merchant ships had been taken hostage on the high seas by Khmer Rouge soldiers. The real reason is probably that the US, thrown out of Vietnam, was looking for a new foothold in the region. The 3-day battle ended in a complete fiasco for the US and the loss of many of its marines. A number of Yankee combatants ‘disappeared’ (from such a confined space that they could not possibly have become ‘lost’, as J. Posadas underlines below), in a way suggestive of desertion. Faced with the irrational and lunatic ferocity of this Yankee action, the Cambodians kept their courage and uprightness. They released the crew of the merchant ship unharmed, and this last act of the war on Vietnam completed the rout of Yankee imperialism.

 

[10] In 1964, the US had claimed that its destroyer ‘Maddox’ was attacked twice in the gulf of Tonkin by North Vietnamese torpedo-boats. It ‘retaliated’ of course, but the pretext was soon proven false, and the lie was made public. The large US army contingent was finally defeated, and in 1973, Nixon had to sign a peace treaty with North Vietnam. In 1975, North Vietnam and the Vietcong reunited Vietnam.

[11] The words ‘capitalism’ and ‘imperialism’ seem interchangeable in this text; but the reader must remember that Lenin characterised this stage of history as “imperialism, the higher stage of capitalism”. Edit.

[12] Roy Jenkins had been a progressive bourgeois figure in the Labour Party for many years before this referendum. He resigned from the Labour Party when he felt that his pro-‘Common Market’ stance was too much at odds with sentiments in the Party. But this could only have happened because his disagreement with the Party went much deeper than the EEC question. Edit.

[13] In 1972 in France, the Socialist and Communist Parties, and the Left Radicals, signed a Common Programme. The programme proposed very important measures of nationalisations; but what frightened the bourgeoisie most was this unity which challenged its power comprehensively. The Alliance with the Communist Party was removing the ground from under the Right and Centre of the Socialist Party. Edit.

[14] In 1975, Tony Benn and others proposed the setting up of a British National Enterprise Board (NEB) with sufficient State funds to be invested in the most important branches of British manufacturing. Benn wanted to force companies to produce necessary products and show respect for the workers. This was never accepted by the Labour leadership. In 1975 too, the Bullock Committee was set up as part of the Social Contract between Labour and the TUC. The intention was to increase industrial democracy by allowing workers and Trade Unions on the boards of directors. The TUC wrote a report on similar experiences made in some countries of the EEC.

 

 

[15] This refers to the mass murder of 909 persons at the Peoples’ Temple Agricultural Project led by Jim Jones in Jonestown and Georgetown, Guyana, 28.11.1978.

 

[16] The EMS was started by France and West Germany at the Bremen Summit in 1978. It adopted the Ecu as a [financial] currency. As an EEC member, Britain was implicated. The ‘snake’ was the value of variation permitted between European currencies, and between the Ecu and the dollar.

[17] “We” is the Trotskyist-Posadists. If we had the numerical force, we would do this. Editorial

[18] Refers to the violent repression of the ‘Communards’ in Paris, in 1871.