By Dario Argentina in personal capacity.
Up until yesterday, I was convinced that an abstention from the EU referendum vote was the correct position to take, as previously outlined by Aneurin Delmas. Indeed, this referendum was not brought about by a mass working class movement putting forward a socialist Leave programme, but stems from an internal division within the Conservative Party, reflecting the confusion and lack of direction within the capitalist class. Surely, then, this is a referendum based on how best to manage British capitalism, either within the imperialist EU or as an ‘independent’ imperialist state?
Formally speaking, yes it absolutely is. But this is from the point of view of the bourgeois. It’s clear that the main ruling fraction of the British capitalist class support remaining in the EU. This alone, however, is not reason to vote against them and vote Leave.
Instead, we need to consider the working class movement as a whole across Europe. As I write this, French workers are striking and rioting against labour laws that the government intends to impose to make it easier to sack workers. Last month, the Greek government passed a budget for the next round of austerity enforced by the Troika. In Portugal, trade union struggle and the Left is on the rise.
Countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain have become debt colonies for the parasitic finance capitalists that gain their share of surplus value through debt, interest and extortion. This is enabled by the ‘freedom of movement [of capital]’ within the EU framework. Companies like JP Morgan, PWC, E&Y and of course Goldman Sachs engineered Greece’s entry to the EU and adoption of the Euro in order to grant the government multi-billion dollar loans that could never be paid off.
A British vote to Leave the EU would send the whole EU imperialist project into turmoil and could even deliver a fatal blow. Objectively, this would strengthen the working class in ‘Southern’ Europe who are already entering the arena of class struggle.
It’s true that the EU debate in this country has become extremely toxic and centred around immigration. However, even the Remain side is calling for tougher immigration controls! The reality is, whatever way the vote goes, the nationalist genie of jingo is out the bottle. The only way to cut across the chauvinism on both sides is to counter-pose it to a working class socialist programme. Many concerns about immigration, for example, are really due to inadequate and under-funded public services and lack of affordable housing.
Admittedly, the Left are not in a position to do this with any real weight, which was another reason for my initial reaction to abstain. In that sense, the vote is a lose-lose one for British workers. However, for those workers in ‘Southern’ Europe under the heel of Anglo-German finance capital, this offers them a chance to smash the imperialist EU and ignite the European class struggle.
The reality is, the revolution is not going to be started by the English, at least not at this stage. But a Brexit vote could aid socialist forces on the continent and those workers already struggling against EU-imposed austerity. Mass movements across Europe could then inspire us Brits back home to take up our pitchforks and turn them against the main enemy at home.
This referendum is not under ideal circumstances. Whatever happens, it will be bad. But for those Socialist Remainers waiting for the ‘right’ conditions for a Brexit – if not now, when? Workers can’t wait another four years for a Labour government (which wouldn’t support Brexit anyway, based on Corbyn’s current position).
Sectarians can stand on the sideline, but class struggle never takes a pure, ideal form. We have to utilise the limited options that we have available to us, even when they fall from the capitalists’ table. That’s why I’m urging all conscious socialist internationalists and Abstainers to play a role in smashing Anglo-German imperialism for our sisters and brothers across Europe and Vote Leave!