The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Left-wing Case for Brexit

Jacobin recently had an excellent article on left-wing Brexit, which I suggest you read. But this is the graf I want to focus on:

for a Corbyn-led Labour government, not being a member of the European Union “solves more problems than it creates,” as Weeks notes. He is referring to the fact that many aspects of Corbyn’s manifesto — such as the renationalization of mail, rail, and energy firms and developmental support to specific companies — or other policies that a future Labour government may decide to implement, such as the adoption of capital controls, would be hard to implement under EU law and would almost certainly be challenged by the European Commission and European Court of Justice. After all, the EU was created with the precise intention of permanently outlawing such “radical” policies.

That is why Corbyn must resist the pressure from all quarters — first and foremost within his own party — to back a “soft Brexit.”

This is the issue. As Jacobin’s European editor wrote:

I have pointed this out multiple times before. The European Union, in its current form (post-Maastricht) is neoliberal at its core. The Euro (which Britain at least did not adopt) was also intended to break local labor power and gut wages.

Watching the EU break Greece upon the wheel to bail out German bankers indirectly, so that they wouldn’t be seen to directly bail them out ought to have been the corpse on everyone’s doorstep that alerted people to the fact that the people running the EU, are, in certain ways, really, really bad people.

The main reason to fear Brexit isn’t “economic apocalypse,” it’s that the EU elites will do everything they can to make Britain pay to send a message.

In other words, mafia logic: “Once you’re part of the family, you don’t ever leave.”

I agree with Jacobin: Britain’s best hope of an economy which works for most Britons is Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister and instituting the policies he has said he would. Moreover, having this work is the best hope for the left in a world where all major multinational institutions and treaties are coercively neoliberal–intended to take economic decision-making out of the hands of voters and to enable free movement of capital above all other considerations.

None of this is to say that Brexit will be without some dangers and costs, but those dangers are mostly of the “save us from ourselves” variety: Tories and Blairite Labour MPs are even nastier than EU elites. And the loss of the ability to work freely on the continent, or for continentals to work freely in Britain is also a loss (though one that need not be inevitable).

But equally, the EU makes it impossible to pursue a lot of actual left-wing policies.

You can have the EU, or you can move to the left.

It’s that simple.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.


Peace in Korea and the Trump Paradox


Most “High Performers” Are Just Better Parasites


  1. Hugh

    I agree. The idea of “Europe” was a shining con that was sold to the European version of we rubes. But I keep coming back to this: it is failing. Eastern Europe is largely forgotten, but is reverting to authoritarianism. The Southern Tier continues to destabilize. Greece remains crushed. Italian banks and politics both remain dodgy. And Spain is under pressure with Catalonia. Macron may have won in France but the divisions there are only deepening. Merkel is lionized by our Establishment, but she is just another washed up pol presiding over a zombie coalition of intellectually and morally bankrupt parties. I place a lot of the blame for what has happened in Europe and to Europe on her and Germany. They wanted the control but not the responsibility. They wanted the power but not to pay the costs of that power.

    Brexit, the departure of Europe’s second largest economy, is a big deal and another sign of Europe’s, Germany’s, and the Commission’s failure. This is not about British petulance. It is a system failure and should be portrayed as such. A left wing Brexit might not only be good for ordinary Brits but would also serve as a useful critique of what is wrong with Europe.

  2. Webstir

    Interestingly enough, I think you can apply the same logic to the progressive movement in the Untied States. Thus, Trump (if he succeeds with his bilateral trade pact agenda rather than multi-country pacts — which is seeming more and more like bafflegab) is working for progressives. We would progressives seeking to socialize key institutions in the U.S. want to be hamstrung by international agreements?
    No thanks.

  3. Daniel A Lynch

    Agree with Ian, but I don’t see things changing. Britain and the other EU countries are damned if the stay in and damned if they leave the EU, so they’re paralyzed and don’t know what to do. As with so many other issues, it may take a war to force change.

  4. different clue

    Opposition will come from more than just the EU. It will come from the entire Globalonial Plantation elite. If Britain hard-Brexits under a strongly-majority Corbyn Labor leadership, the Corporate Globalonial Plantationists will try to blockade Britain the way the US blockaded Cuba for decades.

    Russia’s Putin may be the only ally a hard-Brexit Labor Britain will have, because his enemies will become Labor Britain’s enemies with such outrageous light-of-day boldness that everyone will see it plainly.

  5. marku52

    Problem is, the UK imports too much to be an autarky. The US could do this, easily. The evidence for the UK shows that when the pound drops, their trade deficit rises. Because imports are such a large contribution to exports, the price rise feeds right through without the corresponding increase in exports that you would associate with a fall in your currency.

    ” We wrote about this right after Brexit, using a 2014 post by Philip Pilkington. The pound fell during the crisis, yet the UK did not see an improvement in its balance of trade.”

    So what would happen, should Labour try to jump start the economy with any kind of deficit spending, the pound would collapse and inflation would skyrocket.

    And of course, the currency trader vultures would be hovering in the wings the whole time.

  6. Ian Welsh

    And the pound has dropped recently and manufacturers are doing very well.

    But yes, the UK is not ideal.

    At certain points Canada could have tried it. Probably not any more.

  7. marku52

    But if labour were to get into power, no matter the underlying facts, which are already not good,
    the foot soldiers of neoliberalism, the financial industry, will immediately attack to mash down the pound.

    And labour gets quashed before it even gets started. I wish them success, but I don’t see how it is possible.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén