The European Union (EU) is a social war machine against the European workers and people. It is a response of the main imperialist European countries to the economic hegemony of the USA that began in the 1920s and was reinforced during and after WWII. Because of the division of Europe into its different states, imperialist Europe ceased to be the centre of gravity of the world economy.

By Marcos Margarido & Martin Ralph

Under the undisputed leadership of German capitalism, associated with France, the European states agreed to create the EU to overcome the fragmentation of their productive forces. But European integration under the control of finance capital is based on a deepening continental division of labour that increases the differences and antagonism between the countries.

To achieve this division of the continent governments and companies attack the working class and, after the 2007/2008 crash, the division and attacks accelerated. In order to avoid financial bankruptcy, the collapse of the euro and economic depression, the major European imperialist governments rescued the banks, looted the peripheral countries of the EU, and initiated a renewed assault on workers’ gains in the central European countries.

In Germany there are ‘mini-jobs’, cuts to welfare benefits, increase in the retirement age, elimination of the minimum wage, etc. In France, labour and pension reforms have begun including an increase in the working day.

In Britain, zero-hour contracts, benefit cuts and privatisation of the NHS have become the norm.

In the weaker European countries, national budgets were expropriated, and savage attacks imposed with the agreement of the European Bank, the IMF and the EU Commission.

Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy faced the harshest of these attacks, as precarious jobs became the norm and thousands of industries were closed with soaring unemployment levels. Countries like Greece and Portugal were effectively reduced to semi-colonies of German and European imperialism.

EU means capital integration and working-class fragmentation

That is why we cannot agree with the many reformist parties in Europe who are integrated into the European Left Party (ELP), which the Left Unity in Britain is part of. The ELP defends the idea that the EU has a progressive role with its integration of the European population and that what is lacking is the democratisation of its institutional structures.

The opposite is true. European integration for the benefit of financial capital leads inevitably to the non-democratic management of EU governing bodies. The EU means immigration controls, refugee crises and ever-increasing attacks on workers’ gains that further integrate capital and fragment the working class.

That is why we fight for the destruction of the EU of the capitalists and for the unity of the European working class in the struggle for a socialist Europe. This means fighting the governments and capitalists in every country with the strategic goal of a socialist revolution across the continent, as the only way out against austerity, oppression and war.

Brexit does not benefit workers Brexit is not aimed to benefit workers but to strengthen a sector of British capitalism that is losing ground to German imperialism. It does not mean the improvement of working class living standards, but the opposite.

Brexit and austerity go hand in hand. The NHS privatisation will be accelerated, immigration controls will grow, wages will decrease, and more rights will disappear.

The working class cannot expect anything good from British capitalism and its governments, it has provided innumerable examples of its willingness to increasingly exploit the working class –here and abroad – since before the industrial revolution in the 18th century.

That is why we do not agree with the Left parties in Britain, like the SP or the SWP, that put all their hopes – which is their main policy – in a future Labour government under Corbyn’s leadership.

They say that Corbyn would negotiate a “socialist Brexit” (whatever that means!) with the EU rulers, as if socialism could be negotiated with imperialism, inside and outside of Britain.

The only way to leave the EU for the benefit of the working class is uniting all the European working class to destroy the EU and defeat European capitalism. Corbyn will not do that, he will be forced to continue to compromise with British industrial and financial capital.

As revolutionary socialists, we defend the destruction of the imperialist European Union, but we cannot do it that with Corbyn.

Only a workers’ government based on working class organisations can carry out these demands. Without that Brexit would only favour British ‘sovereigntist’ rulers.

A programme to unite the European workers is needed for this fight. The outline of such a programme is:

  • Nationalisation of the strategic sectors of the industry and financial capital, under workers’ control
  • For the monopoly of foreign trade and centralised planning of the economy
  • No NHS privatisation or public assets
  • End austerity, no to pension and labour reforms, for a living wage of at least £10.00
  • No to immigration controls, equal rights for local and foreign workers
  • Against all oppression, say no to sexism, racism, xenophobia and LGBTQIA+ phobia
  • Against any customs union in northern Ireland. Britain, hands off northern Ireland! For the reunification of Ireland.
  • For the free association of the Socialist United States of Europe.