Anti EU petty bourgeois nationalism V Proletarian InternationalismJune 27 2012 at 10:52 PM
|Prince Rupert |
From the Weekly Worker
The far left has found itself in two minds over Syriza; while the latters remarkable and sudden electoral ascendancy has rightly been welcomed, as a sign that the Greek masses are not ready to roll over yet and also a sign that the left - for now - is benefiting more than the far right from popular anger (compare France), its political character has caused some consternation. Overwhelmingly, this hinges on the problem of the EU. Syriza, broadly speaking, wants Europe without the memorandum. Most far-left groups, on the other hand, are committed to calling for a unilateral withdrawal - both for Greece and for everyone else.
This position, to state things bluntly, amounts to a hopeless, petty bourgeois utopianism. In order to demonstrate what is, after all, a casually overused polemical dismissal of an opponents position on the far left, let us take a closer look.
At the core of this policy are two different ideas. In Stalinist and Labourite variants, the EU represents a block on national sovereignty, and thus an obstacle to the fulfilment of a broadly leftist programme of some future social democratic government. In this form, it is quite transparently naive, as a serious look at Britains relation to the world state system will attest. Despite membership of the EU, Britain is in its essentials dependent on the US, with whom it is in close strategic alliance. Its role in the EU, in practice, has been to pursue policies congruent with the interests of the US state department.
The choice actually posed for any serious party of government in Europe is not subservience to Germany or full national sovereignty, but rather subservience to Germany or subservience to the United States. A nationalist autarky is simply a direct road to economic devastation; this argument against the EU bosses club falls to the same critique of socialism in one country that has been good all along.
The more leftist variant (where it is theorised at all) posits that the EU amounts to a common bloc of all Europes exploiters, and a position of strength from which exploitation can be ever-further intensified. Thus, forcing its break-up amounts to a strategic gain for the working class of all countries, who will then be able to enter into more meaningful solidarity with each other.
In its various Trotskyist and post- Trotskyist forms, this is rendered problematic by its partial contradiction with the policy of the Bolsheviks. Lenin uses a telling example, arguing against pacifist opposition to World War I:
The bourgeoisie makes it its business to promote trusts, drive women and children into the factories, subject them to corruption and suffering, condemn them to extreme poverty. We do not demand such development, we do not support it. We fight it. But how do we fight? We explain that trusts and the employment of women in industry are progressive. We do not want a return to the handicraft system, pre-monopoly capitalism, domestic drudgery for women. Forward through the trusts, etc - and beyond them to socialism!
This is not a fatal problem - even the most robotic Leninist in the world would accept that Ilyich was wrong on this or that. What is fatal is that, in this instance, Lenin merely concretises with a couple of examples what is quite straightforwardly a fundamental principle of Marxist theory - that it is capitalism, in its fullest development, which makes communism possible.
If the break-up of the European Union is progressive by virtue of divesting the class enemy of a key weapon, then the same is true of the break-up of transnational corporations, which equally use the divisions between states to heighten exploitation. From there, there is no reason to consider national-scale big capital progressive with regard to local, medium capital; and so on, until we are left with individual family enterprises, whereby a petty bourgeois is at least only able to exploit his wife and children.
The conclusion is thereby inescapable - where Marx argued that socialism was made possible by capitalism, through its progressive socialisation of production, and through its (limited) tendency to overcome national barriers, one would (on this argument) have to say on the contrary that capitalism makes socialism more remote, and the whole theory and practice of historical materialism must thereby be junked.
Nobody - except certain Greens - would actually make these arguments; but the truth is that the lefts fetishism of EU withdrawal is at the most fundamental level a petty bourgeois, anti-Marxist position, which can only be reconciled with Marxism through an equally petty bourgeois eclecticism.
The inadequacy of this perspective is crystal-clear in the Greek case. It is simply not true that the Greek crisis is something that is being done to Greece by Germany with the EU as a weapon. It is a product of a properly global crisis, which in turn results from global and highly uneven relations between states.
Greece and Europe
If some truly dreadful misfortune should befall Samaras in the next few days, and Syriza is propelled into government, it will face - in reality - the same unpalatable choices. There is no serious possibility of a Greek national autarky; any return to the drachma will be accompanied by runaway inflation; and the social devastation that results will be quite as terrible, if not more so, than anything Samaras or the troika could dream up.
Getting out of this impossible choice means breaking working class political action out of its various national cages, and building united action and organisation across the continent. This is not some far-fetched pipe dream. At a time when strikes and protest movements are popping up everywhere, the failure of our side to coordinate action - and the blasé attitude of the far left to this task - represents a criminal waste of opportunity. Such European unity must be accompanied not by foolish attempts to form a Syriza-type workers government in a single country, but a position of extreme opposition - not just to austerity, but to the capitalist state and the entire bourgeois order
In the next six months - or however long the new Greek government can put up with the work of national salvation - Syriza and the Greek far left will not be kicking their heels. Neither should any comrade on the continent. No nationalist delusions should be entertained - from the EU, as from all the products of capitalist society, the only way out is through.
|Jacques Konrad Adenaur|
The new Euro-communists
|June 28 2012, 8:34 AM |
Well that seems an entirely sensible, rational and well thought out argument doesn't it? The whole euro-project is going to hell in a handcart and the PCC luxuriates in pompous prose about opposing the whole bourgeois order and total abstention from the concrete struggles since that might involve nasty Stalinist issues about sovereignty and state power. They seem to have gone a bit quiet on their "build a Communist Party of the European Union" slogan of a few years ago, just as they have on "CP of the UK".
I see their "Communist Student" group has been having a few problems too.
As they say in Bruxelles, quelle surprise.
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