Under the forty-year golden era of British EU membership, we had the introduction of zero-hour contracts, the rise of food banks along with poverty wages, chronic levels of personal debt, a chronically underfunded welfare system, a crumbling transport infrastructure and a completely dysfunctional housing system. The reason was simple. The EU was, despite some useful social and environmental legislation, firmly in the hands of the transnational corporates and the big banks. Neo-liberal globalism was the order of the day and to hell with the indigenous working class. In the southern nations of Europe, some 50% of the youth population were and still are unemployed. The vicious and self-defeating policy of austerity was imposed on all the nations of Europe while a tiny elite of corporate bosses and money speculators became obscenely rich.  Greece was reduced to pauperism and politically, the widely discredited neo-liberal economic model has ushered in the rise of the far-right parties. So, regards to the benefits of the EU for Europe’s working classes, not that much to cheer about. And after Brexit, it will be more of the same.

Brexit is really a struggle within the ruling class in Britain over whether to continue to tie their wagon to European capital, which of course will eventually involve greater political and economic integration, or do a runner and take a chance in the unpredictable and shifting sands of the global trading markets. Either way, most working people in this country will continue to see their living standards decline and their limited political rights further eroded. This is the essence of capitalist globalisation whereby nationally generated capital increasingly ignores any responsibility for research, education and investment and simply looks for maximum short-term gain. In other words, capital everywhere continually and relentlessly moves to the highest point of return.

As for national sovereignty, this is just a fiction spun by the rouges and charlatans that run the Tory Party in the interests of big capital.  And rest assured, under Brexit Britain, decision making will remain in the hands of the global corporates and their political puppets. The far-right political parties understand this perfectly well and have set their political compasses to exploit the inevitable discontent. And if the British Labour Party, even under the inspirational leadership of Corbyn and McDonnell, doesn’t get to grips with this new reality, they too will likely get swept away. Neo-fascism is a spectre now haunting all of Europe and indeed the rest of the developed capitalist world, and only a fool would pretend otherwise.    

So, what should be on the Labour Party’s political agenda? Certainly not the Brexit debate. Leave that to the Tories. It’s a mess of their own making. No, Labour, as a socio-economic class and a political party, has far more pressing concerns. Forward thinking writers like Paul Mason and George Monbiot are on the right track. They are posing the right questions; what will a post-industrial, globalised, increasingly automated society look like? What jobs will there be left after the next big wave of automation? What sort of education should we be offering future generations? Is it time to create a universal citizens wage? What could democracy look like in the new era? Can global governance and local democracy co-exist? And critically, how long can the planet sustain the current levels of environmental destruction? Oh yes, and there is that small matter of thermo- nuclear wipe out. Yes folks, it really is back on the agenda, as if it ever really went away. When we contemplate the gravity of these questions, you can see that the whole Brexit debate really is a total irrelevancy.

To be honest, the Green Party has been debating the big existential questions for decades and they should be applauded for it. Now Corbyn’s Labour Party must adopt much of their agenda and not allow itself to be distracted by and drawn into the Tory Civil War. I think the majority of rank and file delegates, and especially those Labour Party members grouped around Momentum, get this, and  are trying desperately to refocus their attention on bread and butter issues. And that is good, because bread and butter issues like pay caps and workers’ rights and NHS funding are vitally important.

But the future well-being of Britain’s work-force won’t be solved by Keynesian tinkering and a few re-nationalisations, no matter how well intentioned. Those days have long passed. As have the particular concerns and idiosyncrasies of the individual nation states. It’s a radical, global agenda that is now required. So radical in fact, that it wrong-foots all the competing wings of the Tory Party, all the Blairites still plotting and scheming in the Labour Party, and all the Little Englanders and far-right head-bangers and assorted fascists inside and outside of UKIP just waiting for their moment to pounce. We might even give this radical agenda a name. Something catchy like ‘socialism’ perhaps. I understand this term was quite popular once in days gone by.  Perhaps it might, if we were to rid it of its historical sectarian baggage, still have some resonance today. I for one, am rather partial to the term ‘communism’ complete with its underlying economic philosophy; ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their need’. Could it catch on? I think it just might.

End JPK Copyright 25/9/17

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