Looking at the websites of several of the minor political parties putting up candidates for the June 4th EU elections in the UK (I’ve given up on the three major parties since they have such similar policies), I notice how the EU has become the scapegoat/whipping boy of far left and far right parties, blamed for every ill in our society today.
Let’s try to set the record straight by examining the claims one by one:
The far right claim the EU is responsible for uncontrolled immigration. Well yes and no. There is indeed free movement of people within the EU (with some temporary restrictions), but immigration from outside the EU is still controlled.
There is indeed a problem with cheap labor coming in from Eastern and Central Europe and taking jobs from British workers. But this can easily be resolved by raising the minimum wage, by imposing it strictly in all cases, and also by strengthening the trade union movement and re-introducing the closed shop in many industries and services. This latter solution would mean nobody could get a job unless they joined a trade union, and got paid union rates for the job. Thus British workers would compete with others on a level playing field.
Another criticism from both far left and right political parties, is about the free movement of capital within the EU and the power of the banks. This, however, is not restricted to the EU. With globalization there is free movement of capital everywhere, and many jobs have been exported to places in Asia where labor is dirt cheap. This is how capitalism exploits the workers of the developing world. To a lesser extent jobs have been exported to the cheap labor markets of Eastern/Central Europe. But essentially, whether we are in the EU or not, it would make little difference to this constant capitalist quest for maximum profits. The only answer is Socialism.
This brings me to the next criticism from Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party and other far left groups: that the EU is a capitalist club of nations. Well, this may well be true at present, but it is not necessarily true for all time. They also accuse the EU of being bureaucratic and undemocratic, but are totally opposed to moving towards a federal Europe or a United States of Europe.
They really can’t have it both ways. The reason why the European Parliament and institutions are bureaucratic and not as democratic as they should be is because we have not moved to a fully federal constitution, such as the United States of America has. This would establish a fully democratic federal government, and also devolve strong powers to member states.
As to being a capitalist club and a barrier to Socialism, I would argue the opposite. Many EU countries have very strong Socialist and Communist traditions, including all of Eastern and Central Europe, Greece, Cyprus, France and Italy among others. Eastern Germany was also Socialist for over 40 years, and many there have nostalgia for the old GDR. France and Italy had huge Communist parties. Scandinavia also has good public services, their form of Socialism. So in a federal Europe we’d actually be more likely to get a Socialist government, than if the UK were to leave the EU.
Then both far right and left complain about bureaucratic dictats coming down from Brussels. Well by and large, the legislation passed down has been progressive, and have dragged the UK kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Human rights legislation guaranteeing equal rights and no discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, age, etc. for instance. Next I hope they include religion/atheism/agnosticism, so that the Church of England, Bishops in the House of LordsÂ andÂ the Christian Head of State (monarch) can be disestablished.
Another accusation, from the far left, is that Brussels has encouraged privatization of industries and services. In actual fact it was of course Margaret Thatcher who inaugurated this policy, continued by the Major, Blair and Brown governments. Nothing to do with the EU at all, in fact they’ve just followed Britain’s lead. The collapse of Socialism in the former Soviet Union and the other Socialist countries also led to mass privatization. The World Bank, WTO and IMF also dictate privatization as a condition for loans to under-developed countries.
However, there is no EU legislation which bans public ownership or cooperatives. There is therefore nothing to stop Britain or any other EU state from taking industries and services into some form of public or cooperative ownership and control.
If several EU states were to adopt Socialism, then they could always break away from the EU and form their own European Socialist Union (ESU), a sort of democratic successor to the USSR/Soviet Union. But in this day and age it is not practical for countries like Britain to be isolated and alone in the world. The trend is towards bigger federations, confederations and super-states.
It was a tragedy that the Soviet Union, the Yugoslav federation and Czechoslovakia all broke up into supposedly independent states, many of whom are now either EU members or clamoring to join. They realize they can’t survive in the modern world on their own.
Let’s not make the mistake of leaving or jettisoning the EU, like they did with these Socialist federations. The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia could easily have been reformed and made more efficient and democratic, and similarly the EU can be reformed and made more efficient and democratic.
We had terrible wars in Europe twice in the last century, this is another important reason European states are bound together in a close political union. It is a step towards a World Government, which is the only way to secure permanent peace.
In any democratic federal or confederal system member states have considerable autonomy. Each state of the USA has its Capitol with a Senate and House of Representatives, and their own laws. We see it already within the UK, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland having their own Assemblies or Parliaments, with separate policies and legislation from England. A federal EU would be much more democratic than the present fudge, with clearly defined areas of responsibility for state governments and the federal government. Voters in individual member states would, as at present, elect their own state governments, preferably under the system of proportional representation, multi-round electionsÂ or alternative transferableÂ votingÂ rather than the undemocratic first-past-the-post system so they truly reflected the wishes of the people and every vote counted.
The Euro is the currency of the EU, and the sooner Britain and Northern Ireland adopt it the better. I want to be able to travel freely around the EU as an EU citizen, without having to show my passport, and using the same currency, the Euro, everywhere. That is not to say we won’t protect our English, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish and Irish heritage. We will retain our national flags and culture, but join with the other nations of Europe in a united continent, free from the fear of past wars.
I am proud to be an EU citizen. I would stand up for the EU anthem and respect the EU flag. It is a new country in the process of being born. It will not always be capitalist, it will change as the political climate changes, bowing to the will of the European people.
All member states have the right to leave the Union of course, but hopefully they will not do so singly. Individual states will find it difficult to survive on their own. If ever England or the other British/Irish nations leave the EU I hope they join another federation, such as a European Socialist Union. For now our future is in the European Union we know today, the United States of Europe of tomorrow.
Possible ESU flag