Is the EU necessarily harmful to struggle?

June 22, 2016

NEIL DAVIDSON--as always--writes with clarity and integrity on his reasons for supporting a "Left Brexit" from the European Union (EU). ("Why socialists should support a British exit"). But he avoids confronting a key question: Is the process of European integration--even under the leadership of big capital--necessarily reactionary?

Leon Trotsky did not think so when he wrote, "If the capitalist states of Europe succeed in merging into an imperialist trust, this would be a step forward compared with the existing situation, for it would first of all create a unified, all-European base for the working class movement. The proletariat would in this case have to fight not for the return to 'autonomous' national states, but for the conversion of the imperialist state trust into a European Republican Federation."

It is also worth recalling that in the decades after 1848, Marx and Engels fiercely advocated German unification even though--as they recognized--the German unity movement was led and dominated by Prussian militarist autocracy. Now all three might have been mistaken. So, too, might Michael Kidron, the first editor of International Socialism, when he wrote that what conflicts would follow on the UK joining the EU, it would made final victory more certain. But in what way were they mistaken?

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What is so dismaying is that LEXIT comrades seem to accept the stultifying constriction of a declining and incipiently disintegrating UK state as an unavoidable given.

It is also to ignore the realities of the current balance of class forces in Britain. A Remain victory would over all else be a triumph for the most viciously reactionary wing of the Tory-UK Independence Party alliance. And, by the way, Tory leader and British Prime Minister David Cameron's hard-right successor can be eased into power fairly seamlessly. However, a Remain victory will trigger the greatest crisis in ruling-class politics as the Tories emulate the split and sundering that overtook the Lloyd George Liberals 90 years ago.
John Palmer, London

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