The parliamentary debate on Europe this week brought the rabid right of the Tory party out in force. They were fighting for a referendum on membership of the European Union (EU).
The question of Europe unleashes all the bile of the bigots and the “little Englanders”. They hark back to what they see as the glory days of the British Empire.
Back then their upper class ancestors could rampage around the world as they pleased, and didn’t have to cooperate with foreign governments.
Watching them boast about being “patriots” was sickening. But should we defend the EU?
Socialists are internationalists. We believe in solidarity across national borders. So it might seem that we would defend the EU project—all the more because so many reactionary Tories hate it.
But the EU is not and never has been a project for international solidarity. It is a bosses’ club whose sole purpose is to make it easier to squeeze the most out of workers.
It represents a section of the ruling class who believe the only way forward is to create a bloc of alliances to compete with major states like the US and China.
Of course, some in the ruling class have different ideas about what is in their best interests.
But all are driven by the desire to protect and increase their profits.
Those supporting the EU are not necessarily more progressive than those who oppose it.
Karl Marx described the ruling class as “a band of warring brothers”. It is a perfect description of the bickering EU leaders, as this week’s summit has shown.
Bosses fight among themselves for a bigger slice of the pie—but join together to hammer workers’ rights at every opportunity.
Socialists do want European unity. But the sort of European unity we need is one of struggle and solidarity from below.
We have everything in common with the general strikers in Greece, the marchers in Portugal, the “indignados” in Spain and the protesters in Italy.
These struggles show the kind of unity in resistance that can stop bosses’ austerity plans across Europe.
It’s this European project the Tories and EU leaders fear, because they know we have the power to bring them all down.