Plain and inescapable is the fact the reason for the referendum on membership of the EU is, when we wish to discover the motive for the really important activities of capitalist nations and their political spokesmen, the motive is one of harsh, real, cold economic interest. Basically Big Business needs a big market. The EU is an example of the continuous centralisation of capital into bigger and bigger units. The dominant elements of the capitalist class in Europe see an advantage in organising the economy of Europe on a continent-wide basis because the EU is an attempt to overcome the limits of developing the productive forces within Europe's nation-states. British manufacturers fear that they will be undercut, not only in Europe, but in world markets. It is a question of staying in Europe or being crushed by America and China. The argument for and against the EU is basically between those companies who think they will gain from remaining inside and those who think they will gain from exit. Many say that the EU is a good idea but it is just another super-power. Some nationalist delusions might disappear, but this would be no advance if they were replaced by another, different one. Whether or not Britain stays or goes is a capitalist not a working class issue. Neither solves, and is not meant to solve, working class problems. It may not even solve British capitalism's problem of markets. We are neither for staying in the EU, nor are we against leaving. We regard this referendum as an irrelevant issue. Cameron’s campaign to stay inside is to argue that to leave is too much of a gamble. Capitalism, in fact, is one big gamble. Since its fortunes hang on the tail of its unpredictable market, it can never be sure of what to do to secure its own interests.
Marx and Engels identified that 'the bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country' (Manifesto of the Communist Party.) Marx in Brussels in his January 1848 speech On the Question of Free Trade said 'the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution.' Earlier, Marx had attended a free trade congress in Brussels in September 1847 for which he prepared a speech which he never delivered. Engels wrote an account of the conference, summarising Marx's view, and a fragment of the speech dealing with protectionism has survived: 'If they (the protectionists) speak consciously and openly to the working class, then they summarise their philanthropy in the following words: It is better to be exploited by one's fellow-countrymen than by foreigners.' (The Protectionists, the Free Traders and the Working Class)
We are neither British nationalists nor European federalists but world socialists. But we can see the special fallacy of the nationalist argument. In the world as it is today, it is neither possible nor desirable for the people of one part to stand apart from the rest. The pro-EU politicians, for all their faults, at least realise that the people living on this island off the north-west coast of the Eurasian land-mass need to be closely associated with those on the mainland. Where they go wrong is in imagining that this can be fruitful within the context of capitalism. There are small benefits for some of the working class in Britain and those living abroad in the EU, other sections of the working class in Britain may benefit from leaving EU, but the majority of the working class will be unaffected by the dispute over the EU. The dispute within the British capitalist class has no class interest for workers. We advocate instead the establishment of a world community without frontiers based on common ownership with production solely for use. We shall register on our papers our commitment for world socialism. The question you are being asked to answer—Stay or Leave—is of no concern to members of the working class. Whatever the outcome of the vote, capitalism will continue. And continue it will until you and a majority like you take the revolutionary step of deciding to abolish capitalism in all its forms and to bring into being a new society.
Socialism cannot operate in one country or in one continent. It is a worldwide concept to deal with worldwide problems. Away with all the trappings of capitalism—tariffs, customs duties, monetary union, competition, buying, selling etc. Vote for nothing but common ownership. What is required is association with not only the other peoples of Europe, but also beyond that with those of the rest of the world, on the basis of socialism. What is required is not a European Union but World Socialism where the Earth's resources will be owned in common and democratically controlled through various inter-linked administrative and decision-making bodies at world, regional and local levels. We appreciate that this vision of a united one-world represents a nightmare scenario for both Cameron and Boris Johnson but that's their problem not ours.