By Vicki Morris
The Morning Star has attacked the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) conference decision on 19 November “Against British nationalism: for a Workers’ United Europe”. I have written to the Star:
Anti-EU politics are a distraction from the work we need to do: building working class unity across Europe (and the world). This is our proper task, not weighing in on the side of one or other bloc of bourgeois opinion on the question of capitalist integration — a particularly vexed debate in the UK, where both sides of the argument should be abhorrent to socialists.
The Morning Star represents a particular current in British politics. After the LRC conference you are surprised to find that your views on the EU are not as widely shared as you thought; we are not. The current turmoil in the world economy and in Europe in particular makes building European workers’ solidarity ever more urgent, and the LRC conference recognised that.
Your report of the LRC vote for the AWL motion misrepresents our position. We don’t call for a “workers’ EU”, we call for... a workers’ united Europe.
Workers shouldn’t take responsibility for propping up the EU, or help the bosses and our respective bourgeois governments try to to make it work. The EU is a reflection of capitalism’s innate tendency to grow beyond national borders; we don’t support capitalism, so we don’t support European capitalist integration — but we don’t oppose it either.
There are specific aspects of European integration that we might campaign against per se: the Growth and Stability Pact, for example. We would also fight for reforms within the EU: for the EU Commission to be more accountable to the EU Parliament, for example. But neither of these affects our general attitude to the EU (and such questions as UK in or out of the euro) which should be one of pushing to go forward to a more democratic Europe, not back to higher barriers between countries.
Disintegration of the EU now, the possible collapse of the euro, will not help the workers’ movement. In the short term, they will do great harm to all the economies of Europe. There is nothing to cheer in that.
Retreating to a Europe of divided and competing, even warring, capitalist nations — to a situation similar to that before the current European integration project began — would be a nightmare for workers.
The EU is one form that capitalism takes; another form is competing, warring capitalist nations. We want neither.
It is a mistake to make withdrawal from the EU a key demand of the workers’ movement, as the Morning Star does.
PAME in Greece and the CGTP in Portugal call for EU withdrawal, yet other trade union and left forces in those countries do not. Many in those countries know that withdrawal — or expulsion — from the EU will make life at least as hard for workers as staying inside.
In either case, though the manifestations differ, the enemy is capitalism.