Exit left: the socialist case for Britain leaving the EU

“[T]he idea of a borderless Europe seems to have blinded people to the shortcomings of the EU. […] After-all, the EU exists within the capitalist mode of production – an economic model which, because of its emphasis on competition and private property, tends toward disunity and division, as well as the concentration of wealth and power. […]

Stripped of its ideological mask, open borders are designed principally to, on the one hand, help big business to circumvent existing workers’ rights through the use of underpaid migrant labour, on the other, to provide the super-rich with easy access to foreign markets. […]

On the related issue of how the EU treats workers, last week Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “EU gave us rights to paid annual holiday, paid maternity/paternity leave, equal pay & anti-discrimination laws.”

This is, at best, misleading.

The Equal Pay Act in the UK has its roots in a 1968 industrial dispute between women sewing machinists and the management of Ford Dagenham, where women workers took three weeks of strike action because of pay inequalities; and the Holidays with Pay Act was introduced in 1938 as a result of massive pressure from trade unions.

Similarly, in France, the government only signed the Matignon Accords in 1936, which mandated 12 days (2 weeks) of paid leave for workers each year, following a General Strike.

Whilst it is true that once the UK joined the European Economic Community (forerunner of the EU) in 1973 these principles were reaffirmed through articles in the Treaty of Rome, to suggest that the EU is responsible for establishing these codes is utterly irresponsible.

Attributing workers’ rights to the EU only serves to further reconcile workers to their own sense of powerlessness. […]

To argue that the EU works to the benefit of the working class when Greek, Spanish, and Italian workers have seen their living standards smashed mercilessly since the onset of the 2008 recession; and Irish workers have been subjected to draconian water charges as well as massive cuts to public services, is absurd. Far from protecting workers from these austerity measures, the EU, alongside the unelected European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, has played a leading role in ensuring that they are implemented.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/11/exit-left-the-socialist-case-for-britain-leaving-the-eu/

Finance as warfare: The IMF lent to Greece knowing it could never pay back debt

“For the last 50 years, every austerity program that the IMF has made has shrunk the victim economy. No austerity program has ever helped an economy grow. No budget surplus has ever helped an economy grow, because a budget surplus sucks money out of the economy. As for the conditionalities, the so-called reforms, they are an Orwellian term for anti-reform, for cutting back pensions and rolling back the progress that the labor movement has made in the last half century. So, the lenders knew very well that Greece would not grow, and that it would shrink.

So, the question is, why does this junk economics continue, decade after decade? The reason is that the loans are made to Greece precisely because Greece couldn’t pay. When a country can’t pay, the rules at the IMF and EU and the German bankers behind it say, don’t worry, we will simply insist that you sell off your public domain. Sell off your land, your transportation, your ports, your electric utilities. This is by now a program that has gone on and on, decade after decade.

Now, surprisingly enough, America’s ambassador to the EU, Ted Malloch, has gone on Bloomberg and also on Greek TV telling the Greeks to leave the euro and go it alone. You have Trump’s nominee for the ambassador to the EU saying that the EU zone is dead zone. It’s going to shrink. If Greece continues to repay the loan, if it does not withdraw from the euro, then it is going to be in a permanent depression, as far as the eye can see.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/21/finance-as-warfare-the-imf-lent-to-greece-knowing-it-could-never-pay-back-debt/

The Left and the EU: Why cling to this reactionary institution?

“Indeed, in its unwavering support for neoliberalism the EU represents nothing less than an attempt to perpetuate an economic model which advantages European businesses, whilst eroding the living standards of most Europeans. Particularly in the countries of the eurozone, democracy has been eviscerated by the adamant insistence of the EU on more cuts to government spending. […]

The EU is not internationalist in any sense that a genuine member of the left would support. It exists to advance the interests of the business class as against workers, and in its zeal to enrich corporations at the expense of ordinary people it has succeeded in creating such disaffection with the political establishment that fascism, the very phenomenon the EU was in theory designed to prevent, has once more become a formidable force in countries languishing in the grip of high unemployment and low wages. […]

There is a moral case for leaving, based on the fact that Brexit would probably result in the dissolution of the EU and ease the suffering of nations currently held captive by neoliberal economics. […]

A myth has gained ground amongst large sections of the left that the rights which British workers have come to take for granted, such as maternity leave and paid holidays, were gifted to Britain by the EU, and that Brexit would free the Conservatives to intensify their assault on the working class, uninhibited by a social Europe which at present exercises a restraining influence over neoliberal governments. Even supposing that the remain camp is right in assuming that the Conservatives will hold onto power until the next general election in four years time, a questionable assumption in light of the fact the Conservatives are deeply split over the referendum, it is simply false to claim that we owe whatever rights we enjoy to the EU, As others have documented, most of the rights that are invoked by the mainstream left as a reason to vote remain were already in place when we joined the EEC in 1973, and they owe not to a beneficient bureaucracy of Eurocrats but to Britain’s working classes, who won these rights over the course of many years and after a series of hard-fought struggles with the capitalist class. Likewise, the retention of these rights will depend not on the good-will of a remote bureaucracy, which is actively undermining those same rights elsewhere, but on the determination of workers to band together in defence of their standard of living.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/22/the-left-and-the-eu-why-cling-to-this-reactionary-institution/