NOTHING summed up the crisis that is gripping the leadership of the trade unions like the TUC’s joint statement this week, with the bosses of the CBI and ‘Business Europe’ urging workers to accept staying in the EU and to overturn the referendum result.
At the same time, the GMB union, which was a party to this treacherous statement, denounced the latest trade deal between the EU and Canada (CETA) as a ‘full frontal attack on parliamentary democracy’ that will impose on the working class of Europe the dictatorship of multi-national companies.
This raises the fundamental question. If the EU is agreeing to trade deals that will effectively smash up the rights of every single worker across the continent, why are these union leaders so keen to stay tied to it? The answer to this is simply that these reformists see no alternative other than clinging to the sinking ship of the bosses’ and bankers’ EU.
The trade union leaders along with the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party are tied up in this Gordian Knot – a seemingly impossible and intractable problem that has in fact one glaringly simple solution, but a solution that is beyond the political outlook of reformists who believe capitalism is the only possible system that must be preserved at all costs, even at the expense of the working class. The sword that will cut through this knot is the sword of the socialist revolution.
An article in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph by bourgeois economic commentator Ambrose Evans-Pritchard points to the need for a break with the EU, but admits that such is the diseased nature of the British capitalist class that it is incapable of making it.
Evans-Pritchard starts with the fact that Germany, the strongest economy in the EU and the dominating force in all the Brexit ‘negotiations’, is actually on its knees economically. Germany, he points out, is facing a war on three fronts. These are Brexit, the threat from Trump’s trade war that will close the US to nearly half a million German car exports and the threat posed by the new coalition government in Italy.
This coalition is threatening to repudiate Italy’s national debt, owed mainly to German banks, and crash the euro, actions which would bankrupt the German banking system. As Germany exports more cars to the UK than to the US or China together, the combination of a Trump trade war and Brexit would amount to ‘cardiac arrest’ for the core German motor industry.
Evans-Pritchard is clearly incensed by the position taken by the German bourgeoisie that despite their vulnerability and weakness: ‘They demand that Britain remains in the full regulatory and legal structures of the EU just to secure this dog’s dinner’ of accepting the single market and customs union.
He is also clear that the May government ‘has effectively abandoned Brexit and will opt for the lamentable halfway house of EU duties without EU rights.’ Significantly he adds: ‘There is a 1940 feel to this, except that this time we are France.’ He is likening the British capitalist class and its Tory government to the French Vichy regime installed after the defeat at the hands of Germany to become the de facto client state of Nazi Germany.
Evans-Pritchard’s answer to this is to stop negotiations with ‘people who have demonstrated an intent to harm us’ – in effect break off all negotiations – refuse to pay a penny of the £39 billion exit fee unless the EU acts in a ‘civilised fashion’ and for Britain to ‘declare unilateral free trade from March 2019’. In other words, tear down all trade barriers.
The only problem is that, as he himself notes, this is not going to be carried out by an unwilling British bourgeoisie and a demoralised May government. In fact, this programme will not be carried out by any bourgeois government. As well, it certainly won’t be carried out by Corbyn who is completely under the whip of the right-wing Remainers in Labour.
The only way that the break with the bosses and bankers of the EU will be made is through the mobilisation of the working class to take the power, overthrow the crisis-ridden capitalist system, expropriate the bosses and bankers and bring in a planned socialist economy. That this revolutionary example will be followed by the workers throughout the EU is becoming more and more obvious!