To Be or Not to Be in the European Union: That is Not the Question

Brexit has prevailed with 51.9% of the votes in the referendum that took place on June 23. For months, a nauseating campaign was dominated by reactionaries, nostalgic of the British Empire, and xenophobes of all kinds wanting to make migrants responsible for all ills.

Surfing on these same ideas, Prime Minister David Cameron had made the promise to organise this referendum to steal votes from the xenophobic, far right Ukip party, relying on the fact that Remain would prevail… Things didn’t go as planned and he announced his resignation, faced with the displeasure of the leaders of the English upper class and the City, especially concerned to keep access to the European market.

The lure of the retreat behind national boundaries…

In the United Kingdom, like elsewhere, the population faces drastic cuts in social budgets and public services, the increase of retirement age to 66, a growing lack of job security – who hasn’t heard of the famous “zero hour” contracts? And the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, is again preparing to cut social aids to pay for new tax breaks to industry and finance.

But austerity, precariousness and low wages are not imposed from the outside. British governments and employers did not wait for Brussels to privatise railways and mail, or to introduce the most restrictive strike law in all Europe! Just like Valls and Gattaz do not need Brussels to impose the Work law.

The European Union serves the bosses, by opening a larger market and helping put workers in competition with each other. But it is mostly dominated by the bosses of the great powers, France, Germany and United Kingdom, which did not hesitate one second to crush the Greek population on behalf of the debt. When demagogues such as Marine Le Pen, who are now calling for referendums in all Europe, advocate for a return to a so-called “national sovereignty”, it is to conceal the responsibility of the bosses, including the French bosses, in the attacks on workers. But workers have nothing to gain by withdrawing behind national boundaries.

… and of the fortress Europe

During the Brexit campaign, the right and the far right have sought to play workers off against other workers. For instance, the difficulties of the public health service would not be due to budget cuts that accumulated for years, but to an alleged influx of foreigners. In fact, immigrant workers bring in more, through their taxes, than they cost to the English budget. And these new barbed wire will not prevent the bosses from laying off and freezing wages.

This xenophobic demagoguery is even more sickening when the European Union has transformed the Mediterranean sea and the English channel into cemeteries for refugees fleeing war and poverty.

Workers without borders, unite!

Governments and European bosses have built the European Union in their image, reactionary, anti-worker, xenophobic, to the point of disgusting many of the very idea of a United Europe. However, solidarity across borders can only strengthen the camp of workers against the dirty tricks of the employers here and elsewhere. Workers who are fighting here in France against the Work law, but also in Belgium against a similar law and in England against the budget cuts in hospitals, in Portugal with the dockworkers, in Romania and Turkey with the Renault workers, all have the same interests. So indeed, we must build a Europe of the workers. It will come from neither referendums nor elections, but through the unification of our common struggles.