We are posting the following article by Steve Freeman of the LUP and RISE and the Campaign for European Republican Socialist Party, which was first posted at:– http://www.republicansocialists.org.uk/blog/.
Every popular rebellion or revolution produces its equal and opposite reaction in counter-revolution. England’s national uprising against the EU was won and lost on 23 June 2016. No sooner had victory had been declared, than the Brexit counter revolution began. The Crown took control with May at the helm. She declared ‘Brexit means Brexit’. As Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, in Brexit wonderland a word “means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”.
The Brexit counter-revolution has only one real aim – make the working class pay for the mess the Tories have got us into, with the City and big business avoiding any collateral damage to their profits. May has told us we are leaving. But don’t take that at face value. It is a ‘clean break with exceptions’. Some are happy with the clean break and others have hope invested in the exceptions.
The words ‘clean break’ are directed to the Tories and Brexit voters. But it tells the EU that the UK is ready to play hard ball. We are ready and willing to walk away and leave the EU with heavy debts still payable to the City of London. “We don’t need you and can live without you” is a good negotiating position.
‘Clean exit’ is code for immigration control. It allows the Tories to play the race card by openly rejecting free movement. However the phrase ‘with exceptions’ keeps the door wide open to special deals for the Tories friends in the City. The devil is in the detail and this is where Crown secrecy begins and ends. Neither parliament nor people will uncover the real deal between the French, German and British ruling classes.
May flagged up the new model of “global Britain” not Little England but Greater America. We will become a Singapore in the North Sea, flying the Stars and Stripes with low tax, low social spending, and anti-union policies. Singapore is described an “authoritarian democracy”, a dictatorship of the free market. The state controls the show and relies on US multi-national corporations. This is a social calamity for the working class.
Global free trade is being heavily marketed to the working class who will have to pay for it. As Donald Trump might say it is going to be “Great”. It will be so great as to be unbelievable. There will be limits on workers’ rights to come from or go to the EU. This will encourage and build even greater divisions amongst workers. There is the empty promise of ‘workers’ on company boards which the Tories will never agree to.
Of course the Tories know their Achilles heel is Scotland and Ireland. May recognised this by promising to “listen” and consult with the Scottish, Welsh and collapsed Northern Irish governments. As we have already argued there was one revolutionary outcome to the Tory referendum, if Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales voted to remain and England voted out.
So the UK referendum has given the ruling class a “clear and ever present danger”. That danger is the possibility that England’s Brexit may trigger a democratic revolution. If there is going to be a democratic future the battle begins in Scotland and spreads to Ireland. All this puts a rocket under English chauvinism of the right or left variety ideologically committed to “Britain” and the “British” and hence to Unionism.
On July 13 Theresa May, the new PM stood at the podium outside Downing Street. She “vowed to be a unionist and lead a ‘One Nation’ government” (1) She explained that “not everybody knows this but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party and the word unionist is very important to me” (1). “It means we believe in the union, the precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland” (1). That is something for Jeremy Corbyn and all the Marxist Cobynistas to ponder.
(1) Daily Star 13 July 2016.
FOR AN INTERNATIONALIST REPUBLICAN POLITICS THAT ADAPTS TO 21st CENTURY TERRAINS OF STRUGGLE
Whilst I agree with the overall thrust of this article, there is some ambiguity in the first two sentences – “Every popular rebellion or revolution produces its equal and opposite reaction in counter-revolution. England’s national uprising against the EU was won and lost on 23 June 2016.”
It would be more accurate to call the Brexit vote a largely English populist rebellion, and to acknowledge the reactionary nature of this particular “national uprising”. It was based on an exclusive ethnic franchise, which meant that only British subjects, ex-colonials and the Irish living in Britain and certain British ex-pats (migrants to anybody else) could vote. EU residents living in the UK were excluded, along with 16-18 year olds. This uprising wasn’t genuinely national (i.e. civic), and so was never “won”. It was not against any reactionary feature of the the British state, but in support of them.
This contrasts with the “national uprising” in Scotland around the 2014 referendum, where EU residents and 16-17 year olds were included The official ‘Yes’ camp argued for the inclusion of everybody from the rest of the UK and the EU who chose to make Scotland their home, i.e. a civic, not an ethnic, version of the nation.
The sad thing for many on the British Left, particularly in England, is that they have abandoned the English democratic and internationalism from below tradition displayed for example by the Levellers and the London Corresponding Society, leaving an ethnic English nation in the hands of the Right. Worse, they equate their ‘internationalism’ with the Britishness sustained by the UK’s unionist, imperialist and monarchist state.
For more on this see:-