The cod-dialectics of Euro-exit

Submitted by martin on 29 July, 2012 - 5:32

One line in Greece, another in Britain. Both the SWP's and the SP's international networks say, on the EU, the opposite in Greece to what they say in Britain.

SWP: "get out" for Greece, but not for Britain. SP: "get out" for Britain, but not for Greece!

In Greece, the SWP's sister organisation SEK, and the coalition in which it is a major part, Antarsya, have as their leading slogans: "Down with the Memorandum! Out of the euro and EU!"

They push this call for Greece to get out of the euro and the EU as the big thing setting off Antarsya as a more revolutionary alternative to the bigger left coalition, Syriza, which does not call for exit.

The SP's sister organisation Xekinima, however, pointedly does not denounce Syriza's opposition to calls for Greek exit, and stresses: "the vast majority of Greeks want to remain in the eurozone".

Writing about Greece, SP leader Lynn Walsh says: "Exit from the eurozone will not provide a way out of crisis for Greek society".

In Britain the positions are inverted.

The SP provided most of the troops for a 2009 European Parliament election campaign under the banner "No2EU". "No2EU" did not, in its leaflets, say explicitly that Britain should quit the EU; but no reader could doubt that this was "tactics" and that "No2EU" did indeed, as its most urgent desire for a way out of crisis for British society, want exit.

"No2EU" was the SP trying to ingratiate itself with Bob Crow and other leaders of the RMT rail union, who, though often left-wing on industrial issues, are openly for British exit from the EU, and for that reason support the People's Pledge, an alliance constructed by right-wing Tories with Labour leftists and trade-unionists to help front it.

Weekly Worker editor Peter Manson was at a session at the SWP's "Marxism" festival where SWP leader Alex Callinicos tried to explain the Greece/ Britain contradiction. Manson reports that Callinicos said: "In Britain we do not call for withdrawal - that is why Bob Crow and the 'No to the EU, Yes to Democracy' coalition that contested the 2009 EU elections were wrong. However, in Greece... leaving the euro zone would be 'a start'." (Weekly Worker 922).

Asking itself (SW 13/12/11) "Wouldn't things be better for workers if Britain pulled out of the EU?", Socialist Worker responded with a mumbling "yes, but", very different from SEK's "Out of the euro and the EU!"
"Socialist Worker is against Britain being part of a bosses' Europe... But withdrawing from the EU wouldn't guarantee workers' rights".

Both SWP/SEK and SP/Xekinima, when challenged, talk, with much pretence of "dialectical" profundity, about "differences" between Britain's situation and Greece's.

That "differences" can be cited both as a reason for supporting "get out" in Britain but not Greece, and as a reason for the opposite - supporting "get out" for Greece but not Britain - makes the argument suspicious.

The basic argument for "get out" slogans is the same in either case: that the EU is a capitalist construction.

The basic argument against is the same in either case: that capitalist states split off from the EU are no less capitalist than when integrated into the EU; and that focusing anti-capitalist anger against the international, or at least cosmopolitan, character of the EU, rather than on the capitalist structures common to Britain, Greece, and the EU, veers inevitably towards nationalism.

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