Saturday, 27 February 2016

The 'good for Britain' argument in relation to the referendum

I keep hearing justifications both for staying in Europe and getting out expressed in national terms. IN brief, many of the reasons being put forwards for both positions are in terms of why it's 'good for Britain'. Occasionally, some people say being in Europe is 'good for Europe' as if this is a more left wing thing to say. 
Both these positions concede too much to the ruling order. The nation state is withdrawing more and more from being of assistance to working people. 'Good for Britain' now means more than ever, good British capitalism....other than that it's pretty difficult to disentangle 'British capitalism' from the international capitalism that happens to trade in and around the UK.
So the considerations being made by the ruling orders of our time are about what suits the major capitalist powers of the moment - most of which are above the nation state, they are global enterprises. 
The problem for the left is that neither position (in or out) is really much good for us because the left is not in power or anywhere near it. We are at best arguing about which of the two positions is likely to screw working people the less and/or which of the two might enable the left to do well.
I am deeply suspicious and/or cautious of any left position that argues from the point of view of 'good for Britain'. This just plays into ideas that 'we' should be competing everyone else. It may sound terribly abstract, but a truly left position is about, is it good for the world?! There are no 'British' solutions to climate change, war, migration or poverty. 
I say, 'abstract' but when it comes to the production and circulation of wealth, we are now more global than ever before. There has never been a time when working people are in fact employed at the point of production by global capital. The circulation of products is global and the price of money itself is global. With this in mind, some of the things that politicians say about 'Britain' are either pure demagogic crap and/or lies. Then, when politicians talk of 'co-operation' in Europe, that's really no better, because it's about creating a European bloc competing with the rest of the world, and/or putting up barriers to the rest of the world wanting to migrate. 
I doubt whether I'll vote in the referendum. I hope that some time over the next few years, trade unionists working for international companies will emerge more and more out of the shadows co-operaing with each other across national borders, across power bloc borders...
Finally: an observation of who we are as people. Over the last 100 years, my family has been international, living in the US, South Africa and all over Europe and further east in to what is now Ukraine or Russia. This kind of international family-living applies to millions of people. We are not defined by 'nation'. So when I hear 'good for Britain' against other parts of the world, or against peoples in other parts of the world, this feels like an attack on some part of me. Perhaps the left can help focus on this kind of personal internationalism too.