by Barry Weisleder
John Pilger, the award-winning journalist and documentary film maker, hit the nail on the head. When 52 per cent in Britain voted to leave the E.U. it was a devastating blow to the British ruling class and the European grand masters. It is not a matter of choosing between the European Union and the United Kingdom. Instead, as Pilger says, it is a matter of recognizing the virulently anti-working class agenda of big business in both the U.K. and the E.U. — an agenda of austerity and growing inequality, of pillage of the environment, and endless wars of intervention.
So the Earth moved on June 23. It did so for an array of reasons that have as a common denominator mass opposition to the arrogant establishment and its hideous policies. Now the big capitalists are on their heels, spitefully lashing out at the voters, especially those they regard as the ‘ignorant losers in the globalization game’, who ‘should never have been trusted with such an important decision.’ Referendum? Never again, the rich bastards say.
But the genie is out of the bottle. The U.K. Conservative Party is deeply divided. And the British rulers may lose more than “their markets” in Europe; they may lose the North of Ireland and Scotland in the bargain. It is also, as Pilger correctly argues, a blow for peace, and against the New Cold War aimed squarely at Russia and China.
The question now is this: Will the radical left take the initiative, and act to win the broad left to a course of mass struggle to reverse social cuts, privatization and layoffs? Or absent that, amidst so much hand-wringing over the fake democracy and illusory humanity of the E.U., will the left allow UKIP (unilaterally anointed by the business media as the sole voice of Brexit) to enjoy the benefit of the majority vote against the tyrants of the E.U.?
As Tariq Ali wrote in Counterpunch, Brexit “was a revolt against the political establishment (former Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband acknowledged this fact) and had Jeremy Corbyn come out for LEAVE his party would have been in a very strong position. The Tories are wounded. Labour and others should demand an early election. Impossible to wait till 2020. And the election campaign should be waged fiercely for an anti-capitalist programme and fighting the Right on racism/xenophobia, etc. Mass campaigning of the sort that won Corbyn the leadership is the way forward.”
Jeremy Corbyn needs to shift radically to the left, and to mobilize his base against capitalist austerity. His movement must quash the Blairites who are now out for his skin, targeting him as a weak campaigner for the troika. What hypocrites! The Blairites governed in the spirit of Margaret Thatcher, laying the basis for the social misery that found a popular outlet in the Brexit vote.
This is a turning point in Britain, a potentially terrific one. Sadly, some British leftists fail to recognize that. Worse, they continue to defend a totally unprincipled line of setting their political compass according to the positions of assorted left liberals, social democrats and ‘left’ labour bureaucrats.
Just imagine if ‘Remain in the E.U.’ had won. Everyone now in charge of disaster capitalism would be celebrating. Celebrating what? The status quo, of course. Instead, we have a new situation where the only obvious result is that there are question marks over everything. It is a situation that socialists should welcome — and then quickly get to work.
On June 23 the Momentum group in the British Labour Party issued a statement, which included the following: “We recognise that people voted ‘Leave’ for many reasons. Much of this vote reflected anger in communities which have experienced many years of industrial decline with the subsequent loss of secure employment. Many such working class communities have been utterly neglected for years by those in power. Millions appear to have chosen ‘Leave’ to vote against the unfettered globalisation that has seen living standards stagnate or fall, as the cost of living rises. We share this scepticism of big business dominance, austerity and distant elites, be they British, European or Global, and share that demand for a country where working people have control.
“Many ‘Leave’ voters usually vote for Labour, or are working people Labour should represent. Now the Party and the whole labour movement needs to show the country that it alone can offer working people genuine control over their lives, workplaces and communities. Labour must clearly demonstrate how it will improve lives through policies that will increase wages, tackle the housing crisis, and give people a greater say at work and in their communities.”
Amen. This is the view that should now be advanced in the New Democratic Party and in unions across Canada, as we continue the fight against the TPP and CETA, the latest of the nefarious corporate trade deals.