All that was once solid melt away into air. Karl Marx was reputed to have said these words or something similar way back in the nineteenth century, words that feel most apposite in the wake of the Brexit vote. British political parties are in turmoil as is the British State itself. And the political ramifications go so much further. The entire EU project could unravel. The Front National in France are emboldened. In fact, right wing and openly neo-fascist parties across Europe, already somewhat in the ascendancy, are ready to jump on the anti EU bandwagon. And perhaps most significantly of all, in the wake of the Brexit vote, a Trump presidency seems to inch ever closer. Marx also noted that; In fifty year's history barely moves a day and then in one day it can suddenly move fifty years. Once again, hugely apposite, but whether we have moved fifty years forward or fifty years backward is a matter of fierce contention.

What is clear is that the traditional industrial working class of the developed western nations have been caught in a tight pincer-like movement between the forces of capitalist globalisation and the seemingly irrepressible rise of automation. The result deeply entrenched unemployment, demoralised communities and a blind urge to kick out against the system. But inevitably, this anger is not directed at the system itself but against symptoms of the system and ironically, against other equally desperate workers. Specifically, the Brexit anger is directed at those fleeing wars and economic hardships brought on by the very forces that are sucking the life-blood out of Europe and America's traditional working class communities.

Channel 4's Economics editor, Paul Mason gets it, Jeremy Corbyn gets it, as does John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor. But getting it is one thing, plotting an appropriate political response is quite another. Pretending that the old working classes are going to continue to give their unquestioning allegiance to the old social democratic and socialist parties of Europe is pie in the sky. Those days are gone. The working class vote is fragmenting and doing so at an astonishing rate. It's deserting the so-called left-centre ground and experimenting with both radical left and right-wing parties. But if left parties cannot deliver quick solutions to the debilitating effects of globalisation and automation, as seems to be the case with SYRIZA, then expect the radical right wing parties to be the beneficiaries. The spectre of fascism is once again haunting Europe. 

What then should be the immediate political strategy of progressive forces across Europe? Firstly, as Jeremy Corbyn has consistently attempted to do, we must hammer home the message that it is the neo-liberal policies of austerity and unregulated markets that are the cause of our economic stagnation and not the free movement of people. It's a simple message that needs to be endlessly repeated without fear or favour by every progressive party across the developed world. And we should not, must not surrender one inch of ground in this task. This is the defining line between a progressive internationalism and a reactionary nationalistic response. It may not always be popular but it is a crucial line of demarcation. We, the global ninety-nine percent are all in this together and we dare not let the one percent divide us.

Secondly, as Sporting Polemics has previously argued, it is time for a broad coalition of progressive parties both within the old nation states of Europe and across Europe itself. In Britain that must mean a left alliance between the Labour Party under the leadership of Corbyn and other anti-Tory parties that oppose austerity and support a policy of sustainable growth. That coalition would likely include the Scottish, Irish and Welsh nationalists, the Lib Dems, the Greens and the other smaller socialist and communist parties. Capitalist austerity, profiteering and warmongering is the common enemy of mankind, not those crossing borders seeking a safe haven from the ravages of capitalist induced poverty and war.

 

Thirdly, there must be some sort of vision of a better world. That is no easy task whilst the corporates still hold a tight grip on the world's media. But it is an essential task nevertheless.

Collective ownership and control of the world's wealth is still a goal worthy of humanity. It may seem awkwardly old-fashioned to raise this banner in our fast moving, sophisticated high tech world, but private ownership of collectively created wealth still remains firmly at the heart of our collective woes, be it poverty and war, growing inequality, or the existential threat of environmental Armageddon. Not all participants in the progressive alliance need subscribe to this vision. For now, a simple commitment to fighting the policies of austerity and petty nationalism will suffice. But without someone raising the vision of a more rational, more collective world, all our heroic efforts and all our legitimate anger will ultimately get bogged down in a cul-de-sac of our own making.

 

End JPK Copyright 26/6/16

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 20 May 2018 09:38 )