The sheer stupidity and self-delusion of ‘exit left’

April 13, 2016 at 7:52 pm (CPB, Europe, left, posted by JD, Socialist Party, stalinism, SWP, wankers)


This way to a cul-de-sac

By a London teacher (this article also appears in the present issue of Solidarity and on the Workers Liberty website)

Vote Ukip, get Corbyn!

I have been on the far left for over thirty years, and I’ve seen and heard some pretty strange things.

I have watched women members of a revolutionary socialist group join the back of a segregated Muslim march against Israel. I’ve argued with left-wing British trade unionists who backed the jailing of independent trade unionists in the old USSR. I’ve seen socialists carry “We are Hizbollah” placards, and listened to leftists who refused to condemn 9/11.

These are sincere people, genuinely believing they are doing the right thing. Often they have given many years of their lives fighting for what they hope will be a better world. And yet they have lost the plot. Their immediate actions and views have become seriously detached from the fight for human liberation.

The current left belief that Brexit is a blow against EU racism and will lead to a left shift in British politics is right up there in the Premier League of unreason.

At the National Union of Teachers union conference over the Easter holiday we debated the EU referendum, eventually rejecting Leave the EU by a big majority.

The Communist Party’s Unity bulletin had declared that the EU vote was (despite the words on the ballot paper) about the NHS.

The SWP believe that a vote to leave will be a blow against racism, despite the fact that a tabloid-driven, UKIP-benefiting, wave of racist hysteria will grip the country if Britain votes to leave. The new leader of the Tory Party will preside over a capitalist UK with even more unpleasant immigration restrictions.

Unfortunately the NUT Executive’s amendment which was passed did not advocate staying in the EU and advocated no position on this “divisive issue”. Some speeches urged rejection of the Brexit position because this was a political matter and the union should defend workers, not meddle with politics.

Workers Liberty’s problem with a union adopting a Brexit position is not that it is political, but that it is stupid.

Brexit is an immediate, pressing threat for many workers in the UK. If Britain votes to get out of the EU the first thing which will happen is that the regulations governing the right of EU workers to work here will be seriously worsened.

In my school the cleaners are mainly Portuguese. Some teaching assistants are Spanish. The man in the photocopy room is Polish. The men in the Premises Dept are Eastern European. There are teachers from Ireland, Spain, Eastern Europe and other EU countries. Quite a few students and their families are from Europe. If the NUT had adopted a Brexit policy what would I say to them? The union has concluded that, in order to strike blow against the racism of the EU, we will help an even worse right wing Tory government into office who will then insist you Sod Off Home? What sense could any normal, rational person make of that?

If you are a racist that message might seem reasonable. If you are a white SWPer with a British passport, Brexit might not appear so much of a problem. For everyone else on the left or in the unions it is a serious threat to the working lives of our friends and co-workers.

Nevertheless the SWP and Socialist Party are dimly aware that Leave = more racism. No doubt someone has told them so.

So they have solved their presentational problem by adding an extra delusional twist to their policy. Although Brexit may seem to hand the government on a plate to the Tory right led by Johnson and Gove, in fact it will give us a left Labour government, led by Corbyn. Hey presto! Like magic, like a rabbit from a hat!

In fact, although Brexit would presumably mean Cameron would lose the leadership of his Party, it is unlikely that the government would fall (it would require a no confidence vote). Even if Brexit did lead to an election, given a Leave vote would give a massive boost to the right in British politics the left would hardly be in a position to take advantage. The right would make gains in an election that came after a vote to Leave.

So why do people like the SWP and SP add an extra layer of delusion – vote to Leave and get a Corbyn government! – to shore up their Left Leave position? Because to do otherwise would mean examining their basic framework which says any damage to capitalism and the Tories is good for us. Having a close look at that framework would be difficult and dangerous (because it would lead to an unravelling of a lot of other positions they hold).

They find it easier to plod on, no matter what damage is done to rational left politics

18 Comments

  1. Glasgow Working Class said,

    If the EU Parliament and Commission were abolished and a trade deal was reaffirmed I would vote to remain. However there are too many people on the EU gravy train for this to happen. We do need to get out.

    • Neo-Pelagius said,

      It’s falling apart anyway … may as well just get on with it and take the Tory ideologues out next.

    • Political Tourist said,

      Be a strange Ukipper that wanted to stay in the EU

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Hey, if we leave we’ll lose 3 million jobs, or is it 2 million? I don’t know the figure keeps on changing. Who is providing these figures? Well politicians and economists of course. The very people who cannot give any believalbe guarantees over the level of employment.

  2. Jim Denham said,

    The TUC has published a 66-page Advice by Michael Ford QC on the potential impact of Brexit on employment and health & safety laws.

    It’s an impressive piece of research. Anyone interested should probably read the summary at the end before attempting the full Advice.

    Essential reading for anyone who thinks workers’ rights are not at risk from Brexit:

    https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Brexit%20Legal%20Opinion.pdf

    • Steven Johnston said,

      Yes, that must be why Cameron & Osborne want to stay in the EU; to protect workers rights.

      • Phil said,

        Yes, that must be why Farage & Gove want to leave the EU; to protect workers rights.

  3. Steven Johnston said,

    Pssst, the truth is, in or out, we will get shafted. But don’t tell anyone, we don’t want to shatter their illusions. I mean why tell the truth when it’s easier to try to hoodwink the working class? Unless you really believe we are better off in or out of the EU?

    • Makhno said,

      “in or out, we will get shafted”

      But if out, EU nationals working in the UK will get shafted harder and faster, as the article makes clear. But fuck ’em, eh? We need isolated “nashnal soventy”, for some reason.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        LOL, capitalism does not care where you come from! It does not pick on a race! But regarding the issue of in or out, who cares? I won’t be voting either way.

  4. As Labour Movement Rallies Behind ‘Stay’ Vote, Corbyn Makes Socialist Case for EU. | Tendance Coatesy said,

    […] For arguments against the increasingly isolated Brexit ‘left, see: Shiraz Socialist. […]

  5. Glasgow Working Class said,

    The Labour Movement are not rallying behind the EU. Workers rights in Greece have been decimated by the EU.

  6. Hugo Evans said,

    The author is correct to point out the contradictions involved for workers rights in a left brexit vote. The British right do indeed hope to lower the cost structure of business at the expense of workers. However from a wider political economy perspective the case for leaving turns on how the EU constitution is designed to block the development of the political business cycle. Today the social democratic reforms needed to restore relative equality and prosperity are simply off the EU table. By remaining inside we help block the difficult integration of governance vital for the preservation of the Eurozone, whilst shielding corporate control of our own economy. We must get out.

    • Jim Denham said,

      With all due respect, Hugo: “the EU constitution is designed to block the development of the political business cycle” is meaningless gobbledegook that seems to rule out political agency of any kind.

      • Hugo Evans said,

        Your form of words is better than mine; ‘ruling out political agency’ puts in perfectly.

  7. Steven Johnston said,

    There are 7 monarchies in the EU, this is not incompatible with socialism because…(insert answer here)
    Regardless of the result the means of production will not be in the hands of the working class, this is not incompatible with socialism because…(insert answer here)

    • Jim Denham said,

      So anything (eg the NHS, nationalisation, the welfare state, etc, etc) short of the overthrow of capitalism, is worthless, eh, Steven?

      Chemically pure ultra-leftism.

  8. Steven Johnston said,

    Bad sound of the week was listening to Michael Gove this morning talking about leaving the EU, apparently it’ll be brilliant, we’ll have more jobs, a freer market with cheaper goods etc.
    The £350 million a week we give the EU, which is actually only £160 million once they take of subsidies etc they will pump into the NHS. But would they really do that?
    Though he did say if the UK stays in the EU it will make law and order impossible, but he refused to rule out resigning as justice secretary.
    If the last part is true then anarchists should vote to stay in the EU then.

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