A victory for democracy, a dangerous step towards fascism, or much ado about next to nothing?
There are a number of ways of looking at the result of the Brexit referendum. Firstly, there’s the economics. On this, it has appeared to me all along that both sides have exaggerated the probable effects, the Remain camp as part of a scare campaign which reached ludicrous proportions. The UKIPpers and others on the far right of the Brexit campaign, on the other hand, basically don’t know their asset bubbles from a hole in the ground when it comes to anything difficult, economics included. As Brett Arends argues in his Market Watch article “The dirty secret about the Brexit vote: It’s all a sham", “the consequences will be far less momentous than anyone on either side wants to admit.” I think Arends gets the economics right, but goes a bit too far when he starts contradicting himself about the political changes it will bring. Sometimes they’re cosmetic, sometimes non=existent. I think they will actually be a bit more than cosmetic.
The campaign turned out to be little more than a hopefully destructive battle within the Tory party and a chance for the far right to strut its jackboots, or, in UKIP’s case, it’s more polite footwear. It gave the excluded a chance to howl their inarticulate rage and ‘liberals’ and their house journal, the Guardian, an opportunity to move even further to the right. The Guardian may have just clinched it for Brexit when it revealed that Richard Branson, Bob Geldof, David Beckham and other fabulously wealthy know-nothings were for Remain. Well yes, they would be, wouldn’t they?
In the end, after campaigning against this European Union and its predecessors for four decades, I didn't really care which way the vote went. All that was important to me was that whichever way it went, nobody but the right would see the result as any cause for celebration. The rest of us just have to roll up our sleeves and join the French workers in fighting back against the power, which is essentially the same whichever flag it clothes itself in.
Not everyone agreed with this stance. Two good friends, Frank Andrews, a retired welfare rights advisor who lives in West Yorkshire, and Brian Denny, who originates in east London, works for the RMT and is a member of Trade Unionists Against the EU, sent their comments. Steve McGiffen, editor of Spectrezine
“The leave vote was a victory for national democracy, with all its faults, over corporate dictatorship…”
The nation state is the only vehicle created that has been able to democratically confront and control capital and build a welfare state.
All empires seek to remove that power and return it to the centre. The obsession with world government has only ever gained any traction in Western states which broadly support empire as a way of developing corporate power.
As Tony Benn once said: ‘I'd rather have a bad parliament than a good king'. What he meant was that you can change a parliament but you can't get rid of a king, rather in the way that you can't change the EU treaties.
Endless activism in support of the latest flare up caused by corporate oppression is pointless unless we support every split with the empire.
The leave vote was a victory for national democracy with all its faults over authoritarian corporate dictatorship. It will also encourage other states to re-establish democracy and further weaken the EU. The EU cannot be transformed into anything else; it was designed that way.
Had labour movement support for this rotten Tory government's remain campaign ensured that Britain remained in this prison house of nations, it would have unleashed a new round of vicious structural adjustment with help from the Labour Party and the TUC.
The biggest beneficiary would have been UKIP, which would have been able to continue to parade as a saviour of national democracy, sucking up EU funds, while socialists would have become more disorientated and disillusioned in the corporate empire they have been told to support.
Outside the EU socialists and democrats can develop a new kind of politics free from outside interference and constitutionally neoliberal treaties which nobody voted for.
“… the most corrupt and venal institutions of bourgeois democracy are preferable to a burgeoning fascism”
It's not a coincidence that the Brexit campaign was led by right wing scum. It is a culmination of years of anti-immigration campaigning by UKIP and the Tory right ("those bastards", as John Major called them). It is therefore no surprise that no socialist of any standing will go near the Brexit campaign.
Brexit is one manifestation of an international movement towards right wing populism exemplified by Marine Le Pen in France, Alternative for Germany, and Donald Trump in the USA. This is the result of a continuing economic depression (eight years and counting) and the determination of the international ruling class to make the workers pay for their failed and kleptocratic economic policies. This is indeed the responsibility of the EU, their brethren in the USA and the rest. For these reasons I support the EU, as Lenin said of his support for a Labour government in Britain, "as the rope supports the hanged man". Nevertheless we are in a situation like the 1930s and the most corrupt and venal institutions of bourgeois democracy are preferable to a burgeoning fascism. Don't forget that Hitler was elected to power. There are times when, as they said in France when Chirac faced LePen, you have to vote for the crook not the fascist.
I also would take issue with you on nation states being democratic. This one certainly isn't. I would remind you that "democracy" entails a fair voting system and I don't need to tell you that unmodified "first past the post" is not fair. In addition democracy demands a free press and media whereas ours is dominated by capitalist grandees and the "Establishment"- loving BBC. The prospect of the British electing a socialist government before the right have looted all remaining public goods is miniscule.
So my advice is hold your nose and vote for anyone and anything - Hillary, Remain, whatever - that can keep the right wing out of power - or you may not get the chance to vote again.