EU: In Defence of the System: Vote Remain

Politics is certainly us and them. But, what they are very good at is tricking us into misrecognising who they are. This is done either by pitting us against each other (as with nationalism and fascism), or by blaming an inessential subset of them that is not in any danger (the bankers, the EU). The British Right has done the latter for decades. It has blamed the EU for everything, saturated our common consciousness with a vague ignorant suspicion of the institution to the point where a referendum that should never happened and that should be a decisive “remain” even if it did happen is too close to call.

It’s important to remember who they are. Marx and Engels drew the battle lines for the left very clearly: we are the workers, they are the owners of the means of production. Note that the owners are the problem, not the means of production. Though luddites attempted to tear down the industrial revolution as a cause of injustice, Marx and Engels wanted the workers of the world to take control of it. The industrial revolution was a fruit of our labour, and to throw it away would have been shortsighted. Indeed, this was the content of the good old Clause IV.

To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.

While the term “means of production” might be a very loose fit for capitalist institutions such as the EU and the IMF, it is accurate. The common market is a condition of the possibility of a certain type of trade which allows economies to develop, grow and produce profit. The GDP of the EU is a fruit of our labour and the problem is not the institution itself anymore than the problem of the industrial revolution was the machine. The problem is who has control of it. At the moment, the IMF is controlled by unelected capitalist powers as is the EU, if only partially (lets not forget the actually existing EU parliament that the left clearly aren’t turning out to vote vote given the success of UKIP).

This system is rightfully ours but not currently under our control. But, the response of the left cannot be that of the luddite any more than is the communist critique of capitalism a call to return to feudalism or some primitive barter system. Our response has to be to defend these institutions from the idiocy of the neo-liberals. This was the true problem with the Greek crisis: not the existence of the euro, not the presence of Greece in the EU, but the forced austerity on a country for moral and ideological reasons against the advice of all economists even the IMF. This was neo-liberalism out to destroy itself, hence Žižek’s comment that only a radical left can save Europe.

The left is a force for development not regression, and our task is to build on these institutional developments render them just and annihilate capitalism by bringing its own tools under our control. Imagine how useful and IMF and a common market will be when our descendants eventually pull this off. Imagine how backward will be their world if we fail to defend such institutions for them. That is, if the world even exists in spite of the environmental crisis.

I intend to vote remain because in the short term we will be worse off for leaving and in the long term we will be worse off for leaving and because anything the Tories hate this much must be good. I also think this is the only consistently socialist response. Nationalism can never be Socialism and the term International Socialism is redundant. Do not trust anyone claiming to be left wing who wants to tear down the system (in other words, the economy).

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