The architects of the EU yearned to create a continent of peace and prosperity - both politically and economically - and wanted to see a situation that people could easily move from one country to another without visas or entry and exit permits. Yet today Europe has distressingly lost its way. Border controls are being re-enacted, frontier fences re-built. Nationalism is still alive. Economic ties are supported but full political integration, no. Euro-scepticism is on the rise again and the European dream seems to be receding from people's imaginations. Socialists express hopes and fears, but not predictions although many of us do not fore-see a return to those yester-years of long wars and rampant nationalisms within Europe, or but nor have we ever envisioned a Europe that underpins the values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. We do not deny that national sentiment exists. National sentiment exists, like national tradition, although national tradition is largely fictitious, being based on falsified history. National sentiment is something which is deliberately provoked and exploited by the ruling class. Unity does not exist because the machinery exists. The machinery cannot make unity exist. Unity is something arising out of a common aim and a common purpose, and when they exist there is no need to worry about machinery to make them effective.
The Socialist Party’s stance on the EU referendum is to advise fellow workers to spoil their ballot paper with the slogan “world socialism”, or at least to abstain. It's not that we possess some irrational phobia of putting crosses on pieces of paper. Socialists are generally in favour of more direct forms of democracy, and the referendum arguably would fall under that, though of course the present referendum on the EU doesn't have anything to offer us in the SPGB or the working class. The rule of capital is international and will have to be combatted internationally - EU or no EU. The referendum is a choice between two capitalist factions: pro-EU capitalism and the Little Englander mind-set. A vote for the EU is for Fortress Europe, war on migration (as long as EU citizens don’t need a passport who cares about people from the outside of the EU), EU war on terrorism, EU austerity (anyone remember Greece, Ireland, Portugal etc.), the war in Ukraine. Whether we remain or leave the EU it is no interest to most workers as basically nothing would change as we’d have the same economics and bosses no matter the outcome.
One of our party comrades has said in support of the EU that it protects mobility of labour. He recognises capitalism as a "prison" but he is willing to vote for the bigger prison cell that the EU offers rather than accept the smaller one of the leave campaign. An understandable position to take but this blogger feels, as the ‘Fortress Europe’ phrase indicates, the prison walls are not to keep us in but to keep outsiders out.
We have to recognise class interests, not personal, sectional or nationalist interests, no matter if it is because our jobs depends upon keeping out competitors for work or European products from GB Ltd, or excluding people and trade from outside EU Plc, with visa and tariff barriers.
Our class loyalties extend beyond the frontier fences patrolled by Frontex and encompasses solidarity with the world-wide working class, and not simply the UK or EU workers. This referendum may have specific implications for some certain individuals but holds little relevancy for most of us.
Call us naive or an idealist if you wish but socialists organise for world socialism and the global class struggle. That should be the message we have to send and we shouldn't be distracted by squabbles within the capitalist class that doesn't benefit us as a class regardless of the referendum outcome. Capitalism was just fine before British business joined the EU, and it will be just fine if the UK leaves. The only thing which can get rid of capitalism is the working class deciding collectively to take control of society, appropriate the means of production and decide to run things for ourselves.